Thursday, January 22, 2009

Media, President Obama, and questions from Logan Calder

This is a response I made to a comment recieved from Logan Calder on my post America is still America. I felt this deserved to be heard on it own as well.


I love involved comments that reflect when someone has read what I have written. Thank you. I will try to respond as clearly as I can.

The question of why so many, including myself, have said “I never thought I would see a black president” is pretty easy. It comes from the fact that for some 400 years African Americans have been in fact or in effect second class citizens. For those that are old enough, basically my mothers generation or older, to have lived in segregation the thought of a Black President is hard to conceive of when you can recall water fountains being segregated. For those in my generation, roughly 45 – 30, the memory of blatant discrimination provides the same disconnect. Perhaps the only generation that is oblivious to blatant daily discrimination would be those 20 and under now, though it does happen via television and movies everyday as I have often mentioned.

“Does this suggest that the country is not as racist as they believe??, or do you think that it is simply dramatic behavior?? or something else??.”

No the country is definitely as racist as it has always been in my life. The means by which that racism is enacted or portrayed has changed though.

The 200 incidents of nooses reported in 2007, an act that was unreported prior or since the Jena 6 issue hit the major news media – after 6 months of having been on-going, is one example. The singular consistency of police across the nation to overkill unarmed African American men, ONLY, and the fact that national news media avoids reporting this while relatively trivial news (Anna Nicole Smith's death, the Casey Anthony case, ect.) is followed every day for a year is another example.

But it must be said that President Obama was elected by a majority of all Americans. So there is a change in acceptance. I know of many people that voted for Obama because of retribution against President Bush (which is stupid since he wasn’t running). Others voted against the Republican ticket and the ridiculous adage that Democrats used to great effect – “a third term of President Bush”. And more than a few people were swept away with the thoughts of “change” (which is unspecific and dumb), an end to the Iraq and possibly Afghanistan wars, and/or receiving another stimulus check (which will not happen according to comments on the next stimulus package which I believe will fail miserably).

But for all the reasons Obama was elected there was a clear and steady voice of about 10% of the nation that vocally stated they would not vote for a Black President. If that is an extreme, which I think it is, then on the sliding scale to those that would vote for a Black President we must cross a percentage of Americans that might vote for a Black President under certain circumstances only, and those that would vote for a Black man because they felt peer and/or media pressure to do so, as well as those that did not vote for President Obama but were unwilling to be vocal about it. Put together that is a scary but illustrative number of Americans.

Still there is no question that the media made this election incredibly dramatic. The news media swooned over President Obama back in October of 2007 and never stopped to this point. It was so bad that the media had no choice but to admit their partisan manipulation of information about the election – though they waited until after the election to admit it.

So there are a number of factors that came together to get President Obama elected. Blind Democratic voting blocks, historical passion, a mood of change in the public attitude on key issues, an unpopular war, economic disappointments, a less eloquent and less attractive opponent, the age and health factors, news media bias, and the introduction of the internet as a new medium of great power. All of this combined led to President Obama’s win.

“1. Most white people that I talk to voted for Obama and felt, purely from a political standpoint that he was the best candidate.”

Most people in America right now expect another stimulus check from the Government, though it has been directly and repeatedly stated that it won’t happen. Most people hear and believe what they want to based on 30 second soundbites they watch on television. They infer policy from polispeak, and invariably get it wrong.

There are dozens of reasons to question President Obama’s politics and economic views. One of the most unrecognized is the fact that every economic policy President Obama advocates has been proven to not work in the past. These are not new economic plans, and they have never worked in the past – why do so many believe it will work in the future?

One great indicator of what business believes is the stock market. It is a forward indicator of the economy. While moved dramatically by emotion it is always based in the expectations of success or failure of economic plans.

Thus a positive expectation will cause a factual 10 point move to be a 100 point move, and conversely for negative indicators. The market has lost some 12% as President Obama has been revealing more of his economic intentions. That does not indicate the best political standpoint to me.

“2. I heard several times that “they would never let him win”…”they” obviously refers to white people. And since he won, and received massive support by whites, does this play into the original thought of racial paranoia??.”

Yes the “they” refers to Whites. And yes that is based on the legal, social, and media disparities that exist in America at this moment as well as the last several hundred years.

But again I refer back to what I have said before. The win by President Obama is a culmination of multiple factors. While race was one of those factors, the economy, the wars, and other immediate policies were of far more concern than race. Which is a positive in some respects, and very sad in others. Still there is a bit of paranoia in that as well, just as the scale reflects the racism of some in this nation.

“3. Is there a silent feeling of “wow, I didnt expect that…now what do we do” among blacks that are most likely to use race as an excuse for failure?”

Failure for a President has nothing to do with race. Which is an unfair statement because we have never before had the option to prove that point. But I believe that if President Obama is successful his race has nothing to do with that. Yet considering the nature of the media to emphasize negative racial stereotypes (when the media bothers to cover non-Whites at all) a failure of President Obama will likely be framed in Black and White. That is just an honest observation.

But I believe the nation as a whole is just now starting to ask the question that Democrats avoided throughout the Presidential campaign, ‘what does change mean?’

From a Black perspective, speaking for myself based on my views and those I have heard, there is no expectation of failure for President Obama in the Black community. And were he to fail, that is not about his race but his politics. Yet I again state, the media is more likely to create an issue of race motivating blame than any American. And once the media does so, the nation will likely be engulfed by the issue. Which ultimately helps the media make more money.

“4. Last, do you think that a large portion of blacks are silent about, but resent, the fact that Obama is half white. And could be just as easily (and fairly) called white…if the thought of calling him white is offensive, then you would be a racist, in my opinion.”

I personally could care less. There are millions of African Americans that are mixed with some other race or nationality. In fact most Americans whose family goes back to 1865 or earlier (as mine does) have a mixture of White and Black blood. It may not be spoken about, since much of that mixture from that time was the direct result of White slave owners committing rape – but not always as seems the case with Thomas Jeffesron, a rarity indeed. So President Obama’s heritage is about as important as that of President Bill Clinton, President Bush, President Roosevelt, President Lincoln, President Washington, and so on.

At the same time I must correct a thought you have. Race has always been a factor of what people see in this country. If you have dark skin you are presumed to be Black. You could be Hispanic, African, Arabic, Indian, and so on but you will be seen as Black at least initially. Just as every person from any Southeast Asian nation is considered generally from the same nation. It is an attitude that America has maintained since the days of slavery.

Any non-White is generally regarded as a lump of people of the same color. And because there is a visible difference there is a discrimination placed upon them, historically. Thus President Obama would and will never be called White, though he is a 50/50 mix. Because when those that care about such things look at him they see a Black man.

But I doubt many in the Black community care about his mixture. Because most African Americans can trace a fair amount of White ancestors to their family. There are always extreme views of course, but that is the exception and not the rule. But again the key here is the media.

The media has the unique ability to focus on the issues they wish, in a manner that emphasizes what they wish to convey. Right now the Casey Anthony case in Florida has been on national news programs for about a year. To my knowledge only Bill O’Reilly (for 4 minutes) and ABC News (for 30 seconds) have covered the Oscar Grant case. Exponentially less time has been focused on the 2 other Black men killed by police on New Year’s Day, while unarmed, one also on the ground and the other shot in the back 12 times.

Of just these 4 items of news, which do you believe has a greater impact on the society, and make a more clear statement about law enforcement? What is more worthy of coverage; the abuse of power by police on a seemingly national level or the question of what one deranged mother might have done to her own child that has no effect on anyone else in the nation?

Thus I expect that if the question of how African Americans feel about President Obama’s lineage comes up, it will be due to the media. The answer will reflect what they wish to promote. It will likely have nothing to do with what the majority of African Americans believe. Though it will be promoted as if the Black community was speaking in a consensus. Something that I have not seen since the Civil Rights Movement, other than the election of President Obama.

I hope I have covered all your questions. If not please do let me know.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

America is still America

Well it has to be said by someone. I know the hate mail will flow.

I understand, and am gleeful, about the history being made as President Obama becomes the first Black man that is President of the United States. It is a moment that I never expected in my lifetime.

That said, I have to wonder and comment on the way the media and many people are treating this as if the world has instantly changed. It is as if suddenly every wrong in America has been wiped away. Or so the media would like many to believe.

I recall a recent television commercial on BET that I caught as I was flipping channels. It had a little girl trying to watch the inauguration, but was far too short to see over the crowd. Then Dr. Martin Luther King comes and lifts up the girl so she can watch the Oath of Office. The commercial ends with the words, The Dream Achieved.

Hogwash. The television commercial is inspirational, but the message is false. President Obama is not the fulfillment of the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, and to suggest as such belittles what he strived for. The Civil Rights Movement was not about just gaining political stature, or a title. It was about the understanding of the fundamental rights of equality that Government and society needs to recognize.

Yes, President Obama is one aspect of that realization. But that does not mean America has reached a point of equality. Oscar Grant was murdered after Obama was elected. Millions of African Americans are drop-outs, and single parents. The pay rates of African Americans still lags that of White peers. The stereotypes of African Americans being criminals and/or violent still permeates music, television and movies (when we have the chance to be seen) by and large. Drugs are still allowed to enter Black and poor communities. The dream is not achieved.

President Obama is just one man. He has entered one position, powerful as it is. And it is worthy of acclaim and celebration. But we should not distract ourselves from the reality that exists before, during and after this moment.

Racism and prejudice still exists in America. It is part of the legal system at every level. It still unbalances the opportunities African Americans (and all other 'minorities') experience in this nation.

10% of this nation vocally stated that they would not accept a non-White president. That is huge. Who knows how many were unwilling to make that same statement publicly. Obviously not enough to prevent President Obama's election, but far more than enough to put me at unease.

There is still only 1 African American in the Senate, a mere handful in the House of Representatives. There are few Governors and Mayors that are African American, or just non-White. There are far less than 1% of major CEO's that are 'minorities'. Even in the far-left, politically highly liberal, halls and studios of Hollywood there is barely more than a scattering of non-Whites in front of or behind the cameras.

It took 14 days for the ex-cop who murdered Oscar Grant in cold blood to be arrested. Protestors of the inaction of police in Oakland were arrested the day of protests. National news media coverage of the murder spoke only to the riots and lawsuit the murder provoked. And virtually nothing was said of other acts of police abuse in the nation at the start of the new year.

The dream has not been achieved, yet.

I am exuberant about President Obama's accomplishment. But the world has not changed this second. Racism has not died. Prejudice has not faded away. The ills and wrongs of this nation have not been wiped clean. The slate is still filled.

Rejoice today because it is a day worthy of celebration. But let us not be distracted from the truth that is daily life. President Obama may change many things, but it won't be tomorrow. He has become a symbol, but action still needs to be taken. Millions will remember this day, but it is only one day.

President Obama is not THE answer. He is not THE only change. He is one part of a huge goal that was hoped for by millions of Americans, including Dr. Martin Luther King. But he is not the end of the road nor the ultimate answer to the challenges before us. The dream is still a dream. And we must still strive to make it a reality.

But thankfully we are one step and one day closer to that reality. Let's just not lose focus.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Race relations in 2009 and beyond

“Many ___ feel that the country their forefathers built has been ... stolen from them, so there's in some places a real boiling rage, and that can only become worse as more people lose jobs."

This is about President Obama, the economy, and America. But not exactly the way you might be thinking. The above comment is a quote missing just one word. And that word changes the meaning completely.

That word is “Whites”, placed after many in the first sentence.

But take a moment and imagine that in its place the word African American. The meaning changes, but how it changes might be really interesting for the nation.

The reason why this is important is because since the election, 200 racially motivated hate incidents have occurred. Each of these incidents are crimes, of varying degrees and severity. And the offenders have been across the gambit of age ranges from teens to far older adults. And of course some are small minded racists.

The thing is that most of these people, though White, are not the stereotypical image the media has created of modern-day racists. Many are high school and college educated. Some are from middle class or higher income homes. Of course the traditional isolationist, less educated, poor, weak willed, and essentially backwards racist still have not disappeared from the earth yet.

It seems that since the election many Whites are coming to the view that the current status of the Government is exemplified by the Presidency of Barack Obama. And that’s without him having taken the Oath of Office, or serving a single day in office yet. Which is even more baffling when the fact that Government has been run by Whites for 232 years is ever considered.

But I started this conversation considering the quote. And I asked what you thought when you interject different races into the spot where Whites was stated.

As an educated Black Puerto Rican the change in the word makes the statement make sense. It is the anger of living in a nation that was literally built on the bones and blood of ancestors – and never receiving a thank you or I’m sorry. It’s the anger of being kept from schools, jobs, homes for hundreds of years. It’s the way America has been everyday up to and including today. And tomorrow looks only slightly better.

Considering history, especially any aspect of Black History in America beyond the paragraph that existed when I was in school, it makes sense for that statement to be said by Blacks. And it seems foolish for Whites to say it. It actually sounds laughable when I hear it worded that way.

But if some Whites, who today have a greater potential to achieve virtually anything they want than I do after 40 years of work, believe this statement to be true what does that mean for America? When people who enjoy ownership of 99% of the wealth of the nation, 90% of the Government positions, 95% of ownership and executive management positions, start to get anxious where is the nation going?

I had a statement back when I was a kid

“If it takes more than 1 guy at the same time to beat me in a fight, I must be a badass and damn intimidating.”

President-elect Obama has yet to pass a law, take an Oath, or even pick a Cabinet. But the fearful are already reacting, shifting blame of any perceived or real ill on Obama’s back. This isn’t about politics, this is just racial. And Obama must be the biggest badass of all.

The more I hear of these things, the more concerned I become for the nation. Because if we do not speak about and come to terms with the issues of race that pervade every instance of life in America, we are going to have an explosion. Maybe not during the Obama Administration (though it could be), but at some point in our collective future.

And it will be bad. For everyone.

But what does that quote make you think?

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Ralph Nader insults the Presidency and sets precedence to racial comments

Well today has been a busy day of video editing. I hope those that see my Youtube channel enjoy it. One of the topics I hit on today is the comments of Ralph Nader.

Nader was speaking in reference to President Obama and likened his Presidency as being either for the people or a sell-out to corporations. It is that sell-out potential that I want to focus on.

The words used to describe the potential that Nader fears was

“...or Uncle Tom for giant corporations” - radio station KTRH

Besides the fact that I take great offense to even hinting that our next President could be an Uncle Tom (which is offensive enough to any Black American) is the precedence it provides. This is a comment that is racially based and negatively at that. Its implication is perhaps the most offensive comment I have ever heard directed towards a President.

The office of the Presidency is an honorable one. It is the highest office in the land. And those that occupy it are the representation of America to the world. As such it demands a level of respect.

That does not mean a President is above ridicule, question, and/or criticism. But the manner in which these things are done should have respect for the office is not the individual. Anything less demeans not only the President but the nation as well.

Nader has in a few words insulted America. He has also opened the door to racially belittle the actions of our 44th President before he has even uttered one word of the Oath. This has never happened before to my knowledge.

So what I take from this is the thought that if President Obama acts in any manner in which Nader or others don’t like its fair game to demean him by calling him Uncle Tom or n-word. I don’t mean the average Joe on the street, I mean in the media, press, and pundits. That this is acceptable is to tell the world that it’s ok to demean the President and every other American in the nation.

Can you imagine President Obama pushing for a law that some group dislikes and calling him a dumb coon because of it, on national TV. Or likening him to an n-word on national television if a controversial law passes? Nader has opened that door.

Already I have received comments at Youtube trying to remind me how much Nader has done for the nation and African Americans.

"...more like a metaphor to the point he's making, uncle tom has different connotations). His point is that obama votes and sides with corporate interest because his campaign was pocketed by them.

...Nader is an intellegent man, a great man who has exposed more ills done to blacks than Obama, he's not a raciest, he didn't call him an Uncle Tom and be very honest, i didn't think the uncle tom thing was that necessary." - thediversion77 on Youtube

That’s wonderful that his past is truthfully impressive. That does not take away from what he is doing right now.

And this is not like calling President Bush dumb. This is like cursing the President out.

No President should be subject to this kind of treatment, especially when they have yet to even utter a word. It is harmful to America, and the office of the President. I cannot imagine any justification for such commentary and I can only see these creating rifts in America so wide as to further damage the nation.

Race is not a criterion to judge anyone on. As such it is not a comment that should be casually used to criticize a potential action of a President. And having a respected past is not justification for such actions.

One other thing I would note is that Sheppard Smith of Fox news was correct in confronting Ralph Nader on this comment. I have my own problems when it comes to Smith and certain issues (like his glee over OJ). But he also rightly challenged Nader and offered him an escape route, which Nader denied.

It seems odd to me that Fox News is constantly criticized for its reporting; accused of bias constantly, but over this entire election it has been the only station that has predominantly avoided blatantly using race and/or active promotion to a particular candidate. And this may be why it quickly and directly has questioned Nader on this issue. Because the ramifications of this will show up over the next 4 years. And it will only get worse.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

M V Consulting, Inc. election poll results

For those that were curious about the results of the polls that were on the sites of M V Consulting, Inc. about the presidential election I have the numbers. These polls were on the site for a year, and visitors were able to vote only once each.

The visitors of the M V Consulting, Inc. sites broke down as follows:

  • 28.5% Democrat
  • 53% Republican (not including Michael Vass)
  • 16.3% Independent
  • And believe it or not 2.2% checked of that they didn’t think their vote matters – which I disagree with

  • In addition 84.2% stated they were old enough to vote, 81% had voted before 6% were to young prior and 6% just did not vote. 50% had family members in the military and 17% of those were in Iraq. 83% felt their jobs were not secure.

    29% believed one candidate was a dead-on choice for them, 64% felt one candidate was 50% or more aligned with their views.

    43% felt the next President would affect their daily lives a lot or more, 28% thought the effect would be a little or not at all, and 29% were unsure.

    83% follow politics everyday.

    The top issues affecting America were ranked from most important to least

      Illegal Immigration
      National healthcare
      Foreign Policy
      National Defense
      Race Relations

    Final votes ended up as 64 million votes and 52% overall for President Obama, 56.4 million voters and 46% of overall votes for Senator McCain.

    So do you agree with my readers that voted? Do you feel these results reflect the concerns and attitudes of the nation?

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    President Obama - the expectations start now

    President Obama has won the 2008 election. I am as elated by that news as any African American or minority in America right now. But at the same time I am looking at what the nation said last night.

    At 6pm initial exit poll results started to flow and there were several important facts that were provided by the polls, granted that the information was slanted as all exit polls have been shown to be.

    While 93% stated that the economy was negative right now, only 47% thought the economy would improve in 2009 and 40% supported the $700 billion bailout package that is still working it’s way into the economy. This bailout may be part of the reason that 73% disapproved of the job the Democrat-led Congress has done. And it may also be part of the reason that 70% predict that taxes will be higher under President Obama.

    And that’s the important thing to note. The economy was the single most important issue among those polled. 62% felt the economy was priority #1. It was that thought and the thought that Senator McCain would continue the policies of President Bush (50%) resonated with the masses along with the feeling that President Obama was in touch with them (57%).

    Honestly these are dumb reasons.

    Several key Democrats presided over the downfall of the mortgage crisis, thus directly requiring a bailout, which had it’s creation in the Democratic policies of President Clinton and Democrats pushing loans to people that did not qualify to receive them. Somehow this escaped the public notice. As did the thought that there is nothing to stop a Democratic President with a liberal agenda and voting record, backed by a Democratic Congress, from creating more bad policies that even more Democrats may ignore in favor of Party unity in a time of an economic downturn.

    $1.2 trillion dollars may well look cheap before the next 4 years are up. Especially since President Obama has promised to expand the Government by $837 billion and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is waiting for the inauguration to present a $300 billion stimulus plan (at least, it may be higher by then based on her comments). That means 2009 may well start with a Congress approved budget, passed without consideration in full, with a stimulus plan that doesn’t work in an economic downturn. That’s another $1.1 trillion and that does not include anything necessary yet. And all of it must be paid by the American public at some point soon.

    Still 51% felt that Obama’s policies were just right (obviously they didn’t have a calculator handy), though the polls also showed that 60% felt that Senator John McCain and not President Obama has the experience to traverse things properly.

    And for those like Harry Reid that want to say that President Obama was elected as a statement of the people, the polls (which skew Democratic) stated that only 30% of voters picked President Obama because he shared their views. That’s piss poor low. What is more accurate and clear is that voters made a statement about President Bush – whose disapproval was just 2 points better than Congress at 73%. Sadly he wasn’t the one that was up for election so the point is moot.

    It was the economy, and the promise of President Obama to provide money to low income Americans even if they don’t file taxes that made the election – which was stated in the poll by the 51% that thought the Government should do more to solve problems. So the more that pundits and politicians alike explained why this plan to offer the equivalent of welfare at the cost of the economy, the more it guaranteed a win for President Obama. For the 81% that feared that their family finances would be hurt by the mortgage crisis/credit crunch, it was like manna.

    Don’t get me wrong, millions were voting in this election (in excess of 105 million by the last count I saw). Not all of those that voted agreed with all of the above. But more than enough did to provide President Obama with the win. Also in that group are Americans that voted for Obama based on race – some 47% believing that President Obama would mean an improvement in race relations for the nation. That part I hope is true, both for selfish and national reasons.

    But while the electoral vote was huge, and will be the focus of comments by Democrats in justifying their agenda and giddy news media, the popular vote was quite close. For most of the race up until the well after 11:39pm there was only a 3% difference in votes (which was the margin I had previously mentioned I thought would decide the election). This was no landslide victory.

    The nation is still as center-right as it was yesterday. But it will be lead by a left of center Government in the Executive, Legislative, and potentially by the end of 4 years Judicial branches. That means higher inflation, higher taxes, Government run healthcare (equal in stature and performance to the way the VA is run), retreat from Iraq and likely Afghanistan, legal abortion at any stage (so effectively an alternative contraceptive), gay marriage, public votes for unions, higher electricity costs, and no nuclear power. Oh I forgot fewer coal plants, higher demand for electricity due to electric car mandates and less supply, more ethanol gluts, and limited if any domestic drilling.

    Doubt me if you will but just keep track of these items as the next 4 years go by. In fact I expect the 111th Congress to vote on these 4 items in January or February

      2nd stimulus plan
      Tax code change for people below $200,000 - $250,000 and corporations and investments
      End of secret ballots for unions
      Passing the Fairness Doctrine – effectively either limiting free speech that does not express liberal views or glutting media with liberal speech that would not make it without Government intervention

    Some may find all the above appealing. But almost half the nation did not, and with reason. Reasons we all may well learn very quickly.

    Not to mention the crisis that Vice President Biden promised to occur. And that President Obama would seemingly fail at, again as VP Biden promised.

    But I could be wrong. The economy could rebound without help, or inflation and slowdown. The stock market might not sell off another 1000 points by the end of the inauguration in January. Americans might just go right out and spend all the credit they can find this holiday season and Wind energy may become effective in 6 months (much to the benefit of Nancy Pelosi’s stock account). I hope I am wrong.

    Because I honestly want the First Black President to be the greatest President ever. I want him to be seen as a strong leader. A world leader that will defend America with force if pushed, with wisdom to improve – or at least stabilize – the economy. A President that lifts the nation such that teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates fall lower. A President that inspires small business start-ups and job creation. And if he can convince China to join us in cleaning the earth, and ensure quality healthcare I’d love it.

    Throw in reparations and an apology for slavery and I’d be tickled pink.

    But we all know that isn’t going to happen. But we will get change. And I will blog about the positives, negatives, promises kept and broken. And I’m more than willing to eat crow and say I was wrong – especially if the First Black President can sustain history in the manner I described above.

    We will see. It all starts in 76 days.

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    Monday, November 03, 2008

    Picking a President doesn't make you more or less Black

    I find it interesting as we come upon the 2008 election to reflect on what has occurred in this year. From the surprising Democratic Primaries up til now there has been a shift in politics that will never be undone. I never thought I would see this in my lifetime, and now I look forward to the fact that it will happen again and again.

    Obviously I am speaking about Senator Obama, his rise in prominence, and the potential of his becoming the First Black President.

    It’s a proud moment for every African American. Especially for those of us that have lived decades without the chance even being a glimmer in possibility. This in many ways is the culmination of the struggles of the 1960’s.

    To bad that I won’t vote for him.

    And that is the big thing. I have been slammed by associates, readers, and too many others on this one point. The non-acceptance of my decision to not vote for Obama has been a sledgehammer in my blogs and my personal life. You would think I was stabbing someone.

    This has been a very personal election, unlike any other in my life. I’ve been questioned, insulted, disputed, and more often than not cursed. Were it not happening to me I’d even say it was sort of funny.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told I’m not Black. That I’ve done something wrong. That writing about the issues, and noting the problems I have with Obama’s policies is somehow a disservice to my race. I’ve even been told I’m un-American. And of course there have been more than a few racists that have misused my words and thoughts for their own twisted ends.

    But tonight I was just sitting back writing and listening to my MP3 (I bought my first one just this year) and James Brown’s Say It Loud came up. I listened to the lyrics several times and then read them.

      Uh! With your bad self!

      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud!
      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud!

      Some people say we've got a lot of malice
      Some say it’s a lot of nerve
      But I say we won't quit moving until we get what we deserve
      We have been bucked and we have been scorned
      We have been treated bad, talked about as just bones
      But just as it takes two eyes to make a pair, ha
      Brother we can’t quit until we get our share

      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud!
      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud!
      One more time!
      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud!

      I worked on jobs with my feet and my hand
      But all the work I did was for the other man
      Now we demand a chance to do things for ourselves
      We're tired of beatin' our head against the wall
      And workin' for someone else

      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud
      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud
      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud
      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud

      We're people, we're just like the birds and the bees
      We'd rather die on our feet
      Than be livin' on our knees

      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud
      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud
      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud
      Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud

    I’m Black Puerto Rican and I’m Proud. I’m also insulted that I have to make such a statement because of my political beliefs.

    I have worked hard, lived through fights, slurs, been denied jobs, and been homeless twice. I’ve gained an education, never been hooked on drugs, lived overseas, been part of the military, and helped more than a few on my path to where I am today. And every day I’ve lived I woke up as Black Puerto Rican as the day before. I have no illusions, and no problems with that.

    But to try to discredit my lineage and birthright because of a political position is just absurd. It pisses me off.

    This election is not about righting the wrongs of racism, segregation or any other race based issue past or present. Obama is not Malcolm X, Martin Luther King or any other civil rights activist. Electing Obama will not suddenly make police forces in L.A., New York, Philadelphia or anywhere in the nation treat Black, or any other racial and ethnic group, any better than the day before. And racists won’t wake up with larger minds or a better understanding of humanity.

    I respect and admire Senator Obama. He’s accomplished things I wouldn’t try to do. The fear of being murdered, especially before I could enact positive change on some issues is too strong in me. He is going for it anyway and that takes balls.

    But that does not mean I must follow blindly and accept his every word and policy as best because he said so. His path was no less difficult or extraordinary than my own, and that of millions of other non- and White Americans. As such he is subject to the same critique as anyone. In fact I would consider myself much less of a man, and less of a Black Puerto Rican, if I did not judge him in the same way I would anyone else.

    Listen to that song. James Brown didn’t ask for any corners cut. He didn’t demand obedience to a color, in fact he demands the opposite. He demands that we empower ourselves and live by the standards we create. That everyone that meets us shows the same respect and dignity that we exemplify individually and as a group.

    And when I have lived a life of just that, how dare anyone try to denigrate me for that.

    Obviously I am speaking about a few people. Many have sound reasons for believing in Obama. Many never considered race and they came to a separate decision than mine. And I respect that.

    But that’s not who I am talking about.

    I’m talking about the people that loved me when I supported Senator Obama over Senator Clinton in the Democratic Primaries. They also ignored my support of Fred Thompson and Senator McCain at the time. They ignored my strong Republican views. They only saw my race and that of Obama. Some where White, and some where not.

    It’s those same people that have abandoned my blogs, or attacked them since. And I have to wonder how they came to see me as any less of a man, no matter my color.

    When America comes to a point where race is more important than the man or the message, the nation is in trouble. Just as the nation was falling in the late 50’s and 60’s the same threat still exists. And when that same color-focused blinders are on and any deviation is attacked we return to the same dangers that existed a mere 40 years ago.

    Maybe I’ve followed this election for too many years, been too involved in trying to cover the facts that too few have the time to see. Maybe I’m up to late every night and day for you my readers. Maybe I need a vacation as my skin is getting a bit thin.

    So yes I’m venting. But as that may be, I’ll get some sleep and be back at it tomorrow like I have for years now. I hope to see you all then.

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    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    The election issues that decides it all?

    As the hours count down, and over the weekend I hope that tens of millions will be searching the web for information on the Presidential candidates, I wanted to revisit the most controversial point of this election. The deep tan Obama has everyday.

    At this point most people know who they will vote for. Already the votes are coming in. But to say that those with an issue on Obama’s race are only Democrats is a misstatement to say the least. Racism is not a political face. As much as many want to isolate the political parties by color the fact is Americans of all walks of life hold views and political affiliations of every type.

    That said, I do note that Democrats do seem to love to discuss Obama’s race far more than Republicans. They love to attack him on it (ie. the Clinton’s and their campaign), and defend him from it – even when no one else is discussing the issue.

    The big part of the video that I find important are the 30th – 45th seconds. The fact that saying you are not for Obama leads to near persecutions. If you are Black and say this people nearly jump out of their skins, especially if they are a Democrat. Because there should never be anyone that questions Obama – just ask Barabara West, The Washington Times, Dallas Morning News, and who knows who is next (besides Fox News of course). And according to the implications of the Obama campaign and supporters they are all racist and anti-Black. Hogwash.

    Honestly I don’t see the issue. But because I am Black, and Puerto Rican, maybe that is the reason. After having lived a lifetime of comparing and voting for politicians that are of a separate race voting for a politician of any race is no big deal. They all get to be scrutinized and fact checked. They all get to be considered, and then a choice is made.

    Some seem incapable of using their eyes while thinking. You might notice those people as they can’t chew bubble gum and walk either. And they won’t vote for any reason other than race. All they see is skin color, and they will vote for or against just because of that. Most aren’t honest enough to say this, but the few that are get the gold stars among the special ed crowd.

    I just have to wonder. How does the color of a person change the person? At what point does a Harvard educated lawyer get less intelligent when viewed by a racist? How does his skin make him less intelligent especially since he has already proven that he is far more capable than most.

    Look, Obama is just a man. He is running for President, and he has a set of qualifications. Some would say those qualifications are enough, other don’t (like myself). It is only those qualifications that are relevant. His clothing, the shoes he wears, his favorite television show, his favorite opera or square dancing are not important to whether or not Iran decides to build a nuke. Having a mole on him, going on vacation and getting a tan, having or lacking a tattoo, having a scar from childhood, growing a beard and more could and do not have anything to do with international interest rates, the level of the Dow Jones, or picking a Chief Justice for the Supreme Court.

    And if you think, based on his answers and policies that Obama fails to have the right answers, that is not racist. No one should call you such because you made a decision, based on facts.

    Being called a derogatory term because of your race and/or the race of someone else has never been fun. Normally it’s been a negative for Blacks, but right now that pressure and resentment is mostly on Whites. While it feels bad, and the irony is intellectually stimulating, it is not a reason to vote for a President. Hundreds of years of Slavery, and over 100 hears of Jim Crow and Segregations, and another nearly 50 years of “red light, green light” with race relations and laws will all not be smoothed over, forgotten, or absolved because Obama is, or is not, President.

    Race relations in this nation have yet to get resolved. A President with a tan does not resolve the issues. People talking and confronting the issues resolves race relations. A President resolves domestic safety, energy policy, economic strategies. Voters should not confuse the 2 thoughts.

    Ok, the thoughts have gone all over the place on this post. Take that for what you will. And remember to vote!

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    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    Politics today: what troubles you the most?

    Considering everything that is going on in America today I’m just not sure what is the most troubling thing happening.

    Of course the major media is hyping the mortgage crisis bailout, which has now become dubbed a ‘rescue plan’, and politicians are making the most of this coverage to promote their political party’s Presidential candidate while blaming all the woes of creation on the other Party. But it’s the other things the major media isn’t talking about that has me equally as distraught.

    There is the fact that the Bush Administration has quietly approved a $25 billion loan to the auto industry. There is the fact that Senator Obama is feared to be incapable of winning the election in just over a month, not because of his political views or plans for the nation but because he is Black. There is Barney Frank and Chris Dodd screaming that anyone and everyone else but their banking and finance committees are to blame for the current crisis, or for not seeing the impending problems as late as this July. And there is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    Nancy Pelosi is special. In a kind of special needs kind of way (and I don’t want to insult those with such needs by associating Nancy Pelosi with them).

    She is the most powerful woman in politics right now, if you can believe it. She is 2nd in line for the Presidency if anything happened to President Bush before the election. Yet she has run an extraordinarily expensive budget in her position as Speaker, with a Congreess that has achieved the least in at least recent memory. She presides over a Congress that has the lowest approval rating since ratings have been kept.

    But that is not enough. She has tried to block any discussion of domestic drilling, like Pharoh forbidding the name Moses from being spoken. Which is fantastic for her since she makes money on that delay because she owns stock in alternative energy companies. She also helped to write a bailout plan that allowed the Treasury Secretary to wield sole control over virtually a trillion dollars. When that failed she helped write another plan that took any repayments and gave them to a Democratic pet project, ACORN, which is under federal investigation. And now we learn that paid her husband just under $100,000 from political donations – which she voted to ban in 2007.

    “Financial Leasing Services Inc. (FLS), owned by Paul F. Pelosi, has received $99,000 in rent, utilities and accounting fees from the speaker's "PAC to the Future" over the PAC's nine-year history...

    FLS is on track to take in $48,000 in payments this year alone - eight times as much as it received annually from 2000 to 2005, when the committee was run by another treasurer [which is now her husband].”

    So we have Democrats that won’t cross racial lines, asleep while watching the nations money, pushing to give people homes they can’t afford, spending money they don’t have without control, blocking the near-term solutions of America’s energy needs for personal profit, and violating laws they are supposedly trying to pass, while doing the least work in Congress possible. You have to admit it is an impressive cluster of failure all at once.

    And Senator Obama has no intention of not spending another 800 billion dollars in new spending, nor failing to raise corporate taxes in a decidedly negative economy. But he will speak with Iran about not building nukes – pretty please. And he will tell Russia that they are being bad when they invade other nations, after he thinks about it for a while.

    Honestly I don’t mind Obama’s inexperience that much. In combination with his other plans for the nation means that things will get worse though. But the supporting cast that would come with him, especially if Democrats were to win the Congress again, really spells “Danger Will Robinson, danger!” (Those older readers will get the reference).

    But I wonder for those that don’t follow politics everyday, that aren’t up at 5am reading the latest political news, what bothers you most?

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    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    The Presidential election of 2008: Seen as Black and White

    The Presidential election of this year is special. Perhaps this is the most special election for over 100 years, perhaps going as far back as to the Civil War. That is because in this one election multiple events are going to happen that will change America forever, no matter which candidate wins.

    Specifically I want to focus on Senator Obama. By his historic nomination he has set off dominoes that continue to fall, and will fall for decades to come. And every one of those dominoes is connected to race relations in America.

    I know many people have wondered what are Senator Obama’s chances of winning the election. And I must say that they are pretty bad. And this has little to do with his political intentions. Because if anyone was honest they would admit that in an election year with a President that has one of the worst (if not the worst) approval ratings since they kept these ratings, and a war as unpopular as Viet Nam it is unheard of to not be leading the opposing Party with at least 10 – 20%. The words landslide should be in play.

    But what is holding America back? The Congress is Democratic, and ineffective. While this is the hands-down worst Congress ever, with approval ratings even lower than the President, no one really believes that Congress is all that effective even in the best of times. But the Congress is chanting the latest political fads – change, environmentally positive everything, more money in the average guys pocket, and an end to the wars. The Democratic nominee should be swimming in the excess.

    But this Democratic nominee is Black. Which means he has Black friends. And Black wife and children. All of them will be in the White House, and not as cleaning staff.

    It would be a laughable statement, except this is America land of the worst memory in history. This nation can’t remember that slaves built the foundation of everything. This nation can’t remember that African Americans fought in every war this nation ever had, of their own free will. This nation strives to forget that up until 1922 lynching a Black man was not a crime. Or that the murder of an entire town went unpunished. Or that laws based on skin color were as real as laws from Congress.

    Because in America we forget that people of color exist on television, movies, cartoons, and books. We insist on populating news footage with negative images of people of color – to such an extreme that exactly the same photos of survivors of natural disaster portray Whites as foraging for food, and Blacks as looters. It’s because of this complete unwillingness to admit that our past is as ugly as any nation, and that this past was rather recent, that we see many people shun Senator Obama.

    I’m sure most have forgotten already that during the Democratic Primaries polls showed that 11% of Democratic voters (who tend to be the most liberal part of the Party) in Pennsylvania and Ohio felt that race was important in selecting a candidate. And in West Virginia there was a large group that were sure that Senator Obama was a secret Muslim terrorist.

    But now there is even more proof that not only some Democrats, but the nation makes decisions in Black and White.

    The Associated Press, Yahoo, and Stanford University conducted a poll of 2,227 adults between August 27th and September 5th. 55% were between 30 and 60 years old. 52% were women. 86% had high school or better educations. 57% were married, 27% single. 27% had kids. 84% lived in a city of some size. 59% were employed. 71% made $25,000 or more per year. 49% were Democrats, 36% Republican, and 7% Independent. Most importantly 69% were White, 11% were Black, and 13% were Hispanic.

    Here are the important results of the poll.

    • 54% had a somewhat or very favorable opinion of Senator Obama.
    • 55% had a somewhat or very favorable opinion of the Democratic Party.
    • 64% somewhat or strongly disapproved of the job President Bush is doing.

    Up to this point you would have to wonder why Senator Obama is not doing better in polling results. Both he and his Party enjoy a better than 50% favorable opinion. And President Bush represents Republicans (supposedly) so he should be doing gangbusters against anything that sounds remotely like a President bush policy. Yet we know he is not.

    The following is verbatim from the poll (wave 6 is the version of the poll):

      RAC3. Please indicate HOW MANY of the following upset you.
    • The federal government increasing the tax on gasoline
    • Professional athletes getting million-dollar-plus salaries
    • Large corporations polluting the environment
      Wave 6
      0 4
      1 14
      2 31
      3 51
      Refused / Not Answered 0

      RAC4. Please indicate HOW MANY of the following upset you.
    • The federal government increasing the tax on gasoline
    • Professional athletes getting million-dollar-plus salaries
    • Large corporations polluting the environment
    • A black family moving next door to where you live
      Wave 6
      0 1
      1 12
      2 41
      3 38
      4 7
      Refused / Not Answered 0

      RAC5. Please indicate HOW MANY of the following upset you.
    • The federal government increasing the tax on gasoline
    • Professional athletes getting million-dollar-plus salaries
    • Large corporations polluting the environment
    • Black leaders asking the government for racial equality in the work place
      Wave 6
      0 3
      1 9
      2 32
      3 30
      4 25
      Refused / Not Answered 1

      RAC6. Please indicate HOW MANY of the following upset you.
    • The federal government increasing the tax on gasoline
    • Professional athletes getting million-dollar-plus salaries
    • Large corporations polluting the environment
    • A black person serving as president of the United States
      Wave 6
      0 3
      1 11
      2 28
      3 46
      4 10
      Refused / Not Answered 1

    Notice what is different in each of the above. The numbers jump dramatically when adding in a Black person. Especially if that African American is a leader asking for equality, or is President. But isn’t it nice that there is only a slight increase when a Black person lives near Whites. I guess racism doesn’t exist – as long as we don’t try to do more than live near Whites.

    But the pool goes on.

    • 60% of the respondents like a little to a great deal Whites (which is funny since 69% are White)
    • 52% of the respondents like a little to a great deal Blacks
    • 52% of the respondents like a little to a great deal Hispanics

      Do you happen to know the religion of each of the following candidates? If you don’t know, you can mark that too.

    The key in this response is the fact that 14% feel that Senator Obama is a Muslim. That’s after 16 months of pundits on television, campaign ads, and the actual words of Obama dispelling rumors about his faith. And since 9/11 being a Muslim in this nation can be painful if not deadly.

    But couple that response with this next question:

      CQ8. Does Barack Obama’s religion make you more likely to vote for him, less likely to vote for him, or have no effect on whether you’d vote for him?
      More likely 6
      Less likely 18
      Has no effect 75
      Refused / Not Answered 0

    That’s 18% that would be less likely to vote for Obama, and 23% that fail to recognize or believe in his Christian faith – most believing him to be Muslim.

    But what about Reverend Wright, a Christian and much spoken about during and since the Primaries?

      CQ9. Does Barack Obama’s relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright (his former pastor in Chicago) suggest to you that Mr. Obama would be a better president, a worse president, or suggest nothing to you about how good or bad a president he would be?
      All Respondents Wave 6
      A much better president 2
      A somewhat better president 3
      A somewhat worse president 15
      A much worse president 19
      Suggest nothing to you 61
      Refused / Not Answered 0

      Whites Only Wave 6
      A much better president 0
      A somewhat better president 2
      A somewhat worse president 18
      A much worse president 23
      Suggest nothing to you 56
      Refused / Not Answered 0

    The total of all respondents was 34% feel Rev Wright was a bad influence on their vote
    The total of White respondents was 41% feel Rev Wright was a bad influence on their vote

    Yet 50% said they want Senator Obama as President with or without a Democratic Congress
    47% said they want a moderate President but 63% feel Obama is slightly to extremely Liberal

      RAC8. When it comes to politics, would you say that each of the groups listed below has too much influence, just about the right amount of influence, or to little influence?

    Now I found it interesting that 87% of White respondents felt they had just enough or too little influence on politics. Yet 75% White respondents felt Blacks had too much influence or just enough.

    This question really makes me wonder

      RAC10. How often have you felt admiration for blacks?
      All Respondents Wave 6
      Extremely often 8
      Very often 18
      Moderately often 43
      Rarely 21
      Never 8
      Refused / Not Answered 1

      Whites Only Wave 6
      Extremely often 3
      Very often 15
      Moderately often 49
      Rarely 23
      Never 8
      Refused / Not Answered 1

    What do they mean admiration? And for whom? Do they mean if Whites admire Tiger Woods for his golfing ability, or Shaq for being able to play basketball, or do they mean Tyler Perry for his business success? And guess which one the average White American knows the name of.

    When the poll asked:

      RAC11. How well does each of these words describe most blacks?

    • Whites responded 57% that Complaining was a moderately to extremely well description
    • Whites responded 38% that Lazy was a moderately to extremely well description
    • Whites responded 40% that Irresponsible was a moderately to extremely well description
    • Whites responded 48% that Violent was a moderately to extremely well description

    Another question asked how much people agreed or disagreed with a statement:

      Generations of slavery have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class – 51% of Whites strongly or somewhat disagreed with this.

      Over the past few years, blacks have gotten LESS than they deserve – 44% of Whites strongly or somewhat disagreed with this

      Over the past few years, blacks have gotten more ECONOMICALLY than they deserve – 29% of Whites strongly or somewhat disagreed with this

    So in looking at these questions you get this picture – Whites (at least in this poll) feel that Blacks are violent and complain too much, in particular about slavery and Jim Crow laws and the effect being a considered a non-human that did not deserve the right to read and/or write for centuries might have had up until 1965. And that it’s irresponsible for us to believe we deserve anything more than EXACTLY what we have now.

    That how I read that section.

    Another question of note:

      RAC14. How much of the racial tension that exists in the United States today do you think blacks are responsible for creating?

    85% of the White respondents believe that Blacks are responsible for most or some of the racial tension in America today. But if you go to your TV right now, and flip thru 5 channels (excluding Unavision and BET) I doubt you will be able to find more than 2 main black characters, 1 Hispanic, and 0 Asians on all the programs combined. But being made invisible on a medium that broadcasts 24/7 wouldn’t make you feel invisible or tense. Just like if no one ever spoke or looked at you for a day or two. Wouldn’t that be relaxing, now imagine that happens everyday of your life.

    Another great question:
      RAC15. How much discrimination against blacks do you feel there is in the United States today, limiting their chances to get ahead?

    81% of the White respondents believe that there is little to some discrimination. Refer back to the example above. Or better yet provide me with a video or link to news about a White man being shot 50 or more times by police.

    Now I realize that this has been very long. And if you have followed this to here I thank you. But more importantly I hope you are thinking about this poll, and what it says about America.

    There are very real issues about race in this nation. It’s more than the fact that in June of 2007 Senator Obama had to have a Secret Service detail because of the death threats he was receiving – before he became popular and months before any other potential candidate was made a similar offer. It’s more than the fact that fully some 10% of people polled in every state have said they won’t vote for an African American. It’s not even solely about the lopsided justice that the Jena 6, Wesley Snipes, Megan Williams, Sean Bell and the 3 men beaten by 15 Philadelphia police received. It’s that America has issues with anyone of color, and that issue is exponentially greater if that person has or tries to attain a position of power.

    Has America improved its race relations since 1965? Yes, because police dogs and fire hoses are not used when a Black kid goes to an integrated school. But that fact, and that 1 Black man is running for the Presidency, does not mean that racism has been abolished.

    Not when during the time of this election cycle African Americans have been beaten, killed, and persecuted by the same Government that he is running to be elected to lead. Not when so many believe Blacks have too much power, or are innately violent and/or lazy, and so many have problems with the idea of a Black leader or President.

    In that kind of an environment are you surprised that anyone might wonder if Senator Obama can win? Even though he is well liked, his political party is favored, and the current policies and President is virtually despised. Is it really any wonder that this is not a landslide election for the Democrats and Obama?

    I mean think about this. Of all the questions asked in the poll, not one mentioned a single political issue. Not one mentioned any change in the government. Not one question focused on a campaign promise that Democrats and/or Obama has made. Yet consistently for reasons revolving around the fact that Senator Obama has an excellent tan every day of his life, he is viewed as a violent, lazy, irresponsible, Muslim, that creates racial tension and complains too much with too much political power for the likes of some 20% or so of Americans.

    Please tell me how this does not bode poorly for the nation and our future?

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    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    The 500th post at VASS - Our future demands understanding our past

    I took some time in thinking about what I might discuss in the 500th post for VASS. There is the American Presidential race in general, the candidates - Senator McCain and Senator Obama, race relations, the recent apology by the House of Representatives for slavery and Jim Crow, the lack of a similar apology out of the Senate, domestic drilling, energy and its cost, inflation, the economy, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and of course fanatical groups like Al Quida and Iran. Obviously there is no lack of issues that are current and important to discuss.

    But because this is the 500th post, and because one of the most important issues facing America has been and continues to be race relations I decided to go there. Considering the fact that CNN recently wanted to discuss their view on what it is to be Black In America, and that there has been no fanfare accompanying the actions of the House, I felt the issue of an apology would be fair game.

    But I don't think anyone can really dispute the apology. The wording of the House Resolution 194 is very clear and consice. But there is another part that goes with it. Reparations.

    Like the elephant in the room, everyone is afraid to discuss this issue. Most don't even know the history of it. Especially those that dispute reparations. So I am reposting a portion of an early post I made that deals directly with this question. It is not the only reason or explaination of reparations to be found on my blogs, but it does clarify the history.

    And here you are:

    Reparations is what is being directly referred to when the term 40 acres and a mule is brought up. As mentioned in the goals of Blackout, it is directly part of the compensation for unpaid labor by African slaves from 1619 to 1865. More fully it is linked to General Sherman and War Department, Special Order No. 15 –

    "The islands of Charleston south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering St. Johns River, Florida, are reserved and set apart for the settlement of [N]egroes now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States."

    Additional reference to First Freedmen’s Bureau Act, which stated

    “…shall have authority to set apart for use of loyal refugees and freedmen such tracts of land within the insurrectionary states as shall have been abandoned or to which the United States shall have acquired title by confiscation or sale, or otherwise; and to every male citizen, whether refugee or freedman, as aforesaid there shall be assigned not more than 40 acres of such land...”

    While the order by General Sherman did in fact provide for land, the above mentioned First Freedmen’s Bureau Act was shot down by Congress, this was later rescinded by President Jackson, even though it was argued that
    "...In my opinion this order of General Sherman is as binding as a statute."

    Reparations have been discussed and proposed to Congress since that time for roughly 138 years, and has not been resolved yet.

    Starting in 1989, U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr. began annually introducing legislation calling for a study of the lasting effects of slavery and possible reparations. Why some would ask? What benefit could it bring?

    Well there is NO question that America was built largely due to the efforts of slaves. The U.S. was an agriculture based economy and the cash crops of cotton, tobacco, staples such as corn and rice, were grown in the south with slave labor.
    Estimates of the value of the unpaid labor and/or the above mentioned land has been placed from $9.7trillion to $24trillion, with other estimates slightly lower and many higher. Such estimates only confirm the absolute value and impact slave labor had on the formation of this nation. The foundation of this nation, upon which all other advances and achievements have been accomplished, is based in that fact.

    After the slaves were freed, which happened with the 13th Amendment and not the Emancipation Proclamation [you can see President Lincolns' thoughts on this matter in my post to a comment at History in America comments], Jim Crow and other equally repressive laws and actions hindered Black African Americans. Incidents have occurred even in the 20th century and include the Tuskegee syphilis experiments in the 1930s, the destruction of Tulsa’s Black neighborhoods in 1921 and the loss of life and property when the all-Black town of Rosewood was destroyed by a white mob in 1923. The need to have a civil rights movement clearly states that there was massive widespread and constant repression of Black African Americans over many decades at the least.

    Even with the many individuals and groups who have actively supported reparations, including Mr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr., there still has been no action. Yet reparations have been made to Japanese Americans and Native American Indians, at least to some degree. Remorse has been expressed by the Government to both groups. Yet the United States Government has never apologized nor acknowledged the wrongs done with slavery and its actions/attitudes in the over a century since that time. [Now corrected, a portion of the Government has taken some non-binding action towards an apology on July 28, 2008]

    It seems incredible that any government or institution could overlook such actions, I think. The world could not abide a lack of reparations for the Holocaust, yet the unknown numbers of Black African Americans that died (as damaged goods lost in transport for sale, or by slave owners as useless property, or from acts of cruelty) for centuries is something that can't even be discussed. I have a major problem with that.

    Why reparations? In my mind it is simple... the nation has never healed, and never will until admission of its actions up to and including the civil rights movement is made. Monetary repayment is due, made perhaps in other manners besides direct cash payments [perhaps a fixed tax credit that is used over a lifetime and transferable to offspring until used], but denial of the fact of how this nation came to be is no excuse. We will never get beyond the nations largest and most subtle activity which is the division of Americans based on race, if we cannot come to terms with the past.

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    Friday, July 04, 2008

    Reader comments on the 2008 election

    I write for a lot of blogs. Currently the number is up to about 45 blogs, besides those owned by my M V Consulting, Inc., where my posts can be found at. That says nothing of the blogs where others comment on my posts or quote some portion of what I have said. As such it’s sometimes very difficult to respond to each comment someone makes, though I do try.

    It is also difficult for all my readers to see comments made at various blogs on some of the posts I have written. To that end I want to take the time to not only post some of the comments made but to also try to respond to them. And I invite everyone to comment as well, either here or on the blog the comment corresponds to.

    Your thoughts are important to me and if you write a comment, I think it deserves to be seen in the least.

    The following comments come from Presidential Race Blog, and African American Political Opinion though more comments can be found throughout the web.

    Democratic Nomination - Path to where?

    with Obama as president candidate for the democrates, i have no confidence. Interestingly, I remember most of obama’s speech as rhetorical and superficial, taken from other speeches which he studied, and repititious of other people’s ideas. The first two instances I looked and listened to him via the television, I got goosebumps from inspiration; in retrospect, i can liken most of his speeches and line of arguments to those i heard in the past. his fever, i think he got from his hypocritic church which he attended the last 20 years. his racism, he also got from there, and the fact that he is half-black and has to depend heavily on the black american community for most of his votes. his elitism, is a reflection of where he came from and where he now is. These are the bumps i get when i listen to him now. i agree with hilary with her claim that she won the majority votes. she has indeed won almost the same amount of votes as obama, and a variety in her combination of voters, some blacks, white, hispanic, etc., etc., I only disappointed that the media did not cover obama with the same amount of scrutiny that they did to hilary, i think the results would have been different if they has done so. I do hope that the general elections will be covered fairly, and obama will not be given the easy path, sheltered for all slips, so that the outcome of the general elections be fair game.
    thank you for your space

    janet Felix


    While Senator Obama has used lines from other speeches of politicians (with permission and thus not plagiarism) it’s not a unique action. Most politicians have done this to some degree over the last 20 years or so.

    You mention that his former church is hypocritical. How so? You also call them racist, where is the proof?
    I’ve spoken a lot about Rev. Wright and the polispeak soundbites used against him. I think it’s an unfair portrayal. But most of his comments and sermons that I have been made aware of are not racist. They are racial, which is not the same, and they do point out issues that exist in America. While some will feel offended or embarrassed by truth it does not change the truth.

    As for the church, which was in the forefront of trying to abolish Apartheid, has helped the homeless, has gay and White parishioners, what is wrong about them?

    You also make a misstatement. While Senator Obama received a huge vote from Black Democrats, he also had huge numbers of college educated, young, male, and other Democratic voters. If he only received the African American vote, then he would not be the Democratic nominee. Nor would he have won the multiple states where the Black population was barely 10%. You do a disservice in making that claim.

    Ultimately Senator Clinton did get a huge number of votes. Much of this came as Senator Obama reeled from the Rev. Wright media blitz. But I still find that Senator Clinton was a deceptive and horrible choice for Democrats (and I made that clear in multiple posts).

    The coverage of the Presidential candidates by the media has been overwhelmingly for Democrats. Along with that it has been for Senator Obama. That may lie in the fact that the media is overwhelmingly liberal and he is the most liberal Senator in the Senate. So to hope for even handed coverage seems a waste of time to me.

    But there has been enough coverage that your misperceptions should not exist as well. I invite you to read through my blogs and to see what I mean.

    Leading Democratic candidates Pros and Cons

    The VP choices are the most important ingrediant in this Election. Everyone knows that Obama has a Bulls Eye Target on his Back, and McCain is on Death’s Door. I cannot figure out why none of our TV, Radio, Newsprint, or Magazine Newsies have picked up on this Point?

    Steve ONeill


    I have to say that I disagree with your conclusions. While Senator Obama is no favorite of the KKK or other narrow-minded racist groups, I believe that the Secret Service is far to aware to allow him to be killed. And while Senator McCain is older, he is more fit than most men half his age.

    I doubt that either man would die in office, though it is possible. But that is the purpose of the VP and is no different than any other election cycle. The emphasis is not on who they pick but the overall policies they and their VP believe is best for America going forward.

    To vote for or against a candidate based on imagined health issues or potential nutcase attacks does not help the nation gain the best President or future. Rather than obsess on the VP pick the best choice for President and the nation will go from there, I think.

    What Senator Ted Kennedy endorsing Senator Obama means

    The Racial and Ethnic classification of Americans is nothing more than institutionalized racism and must be ended. The United States of America has been known as a country of rugged individualism based on individual freedom and liberty. Why has America become a country obsessed with classifying its citizens into different racial and ethnic sub-groups?

    The only groups that actively support the continued collection of racial and ethnic data are big government bureaucrats and “racial and ethnic special interest groups” that also happen to receive significant funding from the federal government. These organizations argue that identifying people by race and ethnicity is necessary in order to redress some past injustice and that the federal government must continue to collect and use this information in order to set up special racial and ethnic programs, affirmative action quotas and other set-asides for these groups, some of whom consist of new immigrants, illegal aliens and non-citizens. Nothing can be further from the truth. In a country where we can no longer ask people what religion they are, what their party affiliation is or what their sexual orientation is, why are we still asking them about their racial and ethnic background?

    Americans are beginning to realize that racial and ethnic identification is more a matter of personal choice than anything else. In the 2000 Census, seven million American citizens refused to place themselves into a single category by refusing to describe themselves as only white, black, Asian, Latino or any one of the other specific categories listed, because they were of mixed race. Attempts by the government to create a “mixed race” box for the 2000 Census was met with resistance by racial and ethnic special interest groups like the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza, because they feared that a mixed-race box could pose a danger to the justification for their existence. The fuzzier such racial and ethnic categories become, the harder it will be for these racial and ethnic special interest groups and the government to traffic in them. If a mixed-race category were to be added, every brown-skinned person of mixed race registered in this category would shrink the government’s official count of Blacks, Latinos, Asians or American Indians, eventually reducing their political influence and ultimately the amount of money these groups receive from the federal government, which amounts to approximately $185 billion a year.

    Through the mandated collection and use of racial and ethnic specific information, more and more of American taxpayers’ hard earned money is being routinely distributed to these racial and ethnic special interest groups at the expense of all other Americans who may or may not be members of these groups. Through executive orders, congressional legislation, affirmative action programs, racial set-asides, quotas and other programs based solely on race and ethnicity, our federal government is playing the key role that pits one racial and ethnic group against another, which could eventually lead to our destruction as a country.

    Rather than helping a diverse population become assimilated and united as one nation, the Federal government is doing what the Nazi government of Germany did in the 1930’s and 40’s; creating government supported institutionalized racism by the intentional classification of it’s citizens by race and ethnicity.

    With the support of racial and ethnic special interest groups, our federal government seems to view our citizens not just as Americans, but rather as “pawns” in some social science experiment to be classified and separated into different racial or ethnic sub-groups for some unknown purpose. By mandating the classification of Americans into specific racial and ethnic sub-groups, the federal government and the advocates of “diversity” are actually perpetuating institutionalized racism and keeping Americans divided. Maybe the real purpose of collecting this data is to justify the continuing flow of government money to these racial and ethnic special interest groups.

    If we want to help poor Americans escape poverty, get better health care, find a job or get a good education, why should it matter what their race or ethnic background is? The answer is: It should not! Americans need to come together as members of one country and remember that we are all individual Americans, regardless of race or ethnic background. Martin Luther King, Jr., inspired a nation when he voiced his dream for a color-blind nation, a nation in which people would be judged by the content of their characters, “not the color of their skin.” The answer to this government encouraged racism is the concept of Liberty with a limited, constitutional government that is devoted to the protection of individual rights rather than the claims of different racial and ethnic special interest groups. Where Liberty is present, individual achievement and competence are rewarded, not people’s skin color or ethnicity.

    I will support legislation barring the federal government from the collection of racial and ethnic information about the American people and/or the classification of American citizens by race and ethnicity, including the collection of census information. Exceptions should be made for law enforcement, hospitals and medical research purposes.
    I will also support legislation that bans affirmative action programs, racial set-asides, quotas and any other programs that give special preferences based on race and ethnicity.

    Candidate for Congress
    New York’s 20th Congressional District


    I will have to address this in a post of its own. Expect that shortly.

    The real power of Senator Obama and Oprah Winfrey

    I hope Oprah is prepared to deal with the false adoration she engendered by supporting Barack Obama. He has an agenda that has not yet surfaced,but I predict, if president, she will sorely regret what she put into action by supporting this man, who is all show and no integrity, political experience or skill. We can all canvas and do community organizing. or is she hoping that like most black women, Michelle will run Obama, not the people?

    deb hart

    False adoration? All show and no integrity? Black women run their men? You seem to have some major issues and they are poping out all over your comment.

    First of all Oprah Winfrey is the major daytime celebrity, and has been for decades now. The adoration she has received is earned by the effort she has put forth. To assume less is to insult what she has accomplished.

    While I agree that Senator is not very experienced the rest of your comment rings false. Please point out where he lacks integrity or skill? As a lawyer and community leader I have to believe skill and integrity come to the fore. Yet you dismiss this, why?

    Are you sure you know as much as you believe you do about what either Senator Obama or Oprah Winfrey have done?

    And as for the last part of your comment, I am offended. You don’t seem to have any clue or perspective there, but you do have what seems to be a racial agenda. You’re right on the edge of stereotyping. I would help you pull your foot out of your mouth except I’m fearful of what else you might say.

    Simply put your comments make me believe you have an issue with any successful African American, and I have to wonder how you didn’t notice that I am a Black Puerto Rican. Do you think I am run by a woman, or without skill and integrity, or seeking false adoration? You really need to look at yourself and what you are saying, because it’s real close to bile.

    Presidential Candidates Lies: Update

    Some of your statements are just looking for technicalities.
    I am not supporting any candidate, but am just giving one example to not take up time.

    One example:
    McCain said that Hillary wants to waive a white flag. You say this is a lie because there is no official army to surrender to. Are you seriously saying that because we aren’t fighting a government recognized army that we can’t “technically” surrender? And that makes one of our candidates a liar?

    Some of the facts you pointed out are obviously correct, but looking for every technicality is a waste of time. You will find thousands more if you want. We should be look at flat out lies. Like when a candidate says that he/she is against free trade agreements yet vote for those same agreements and write about the value of free trade in his/her own books.

    I hope I don’t sound like I’m going for a specific candidate, because I’m not, but just making a few examples.


    Nitpick all you want but the facts are what they are. And I did not claim these are lies, Polifact did (which I noted in the post). And yes a lie is still a lie even if the details are minor.

    In fact you cannot surrender to someone that does not have someone to surrender to. If there is no army who do you declare a war against or lose to? And that does make McCain a bit of a liar, or if you prefer misguided in his statements.

    I have posted blatant lies, and minor ones as well. This was not the first post I address the issue on. And Polifact has a huge list discussing the degree of truth or lies the candidates have made.

    But the issue is this. If there are candidates that continuously lie, big or little, to the American public do you want them in office? Especially if they are making multiple lies that sound really close to the truth so no one notices?

    But if you look through my blogs I do point out major lies candidates make in multiple posts. But I was just adding a few that Polifact had which I had not covered.

    Senator Hillary Clinton: Ireland and Sinbad tell the truth

    It is easy for those unconnected with Northern Ireland to decry those who even played a small part in the peace process here but every building block played a part and Hillary Clinton’s input was just as key as any other vititors to these shores.David Trimble himself probably played less of a role than the Clintons if truth were known. One didn’t have to sit amongst the peacemakers in negotion in order to bring about the climate that led to peace. Hillary Clinton, through her good offices, played a major role in bringing vadidation to the various womens groups in Northern Ireland and it was pressure from Women that led to the first talks. More importantly the role Hillary played back home, although not mentioned much, was in making it much more difficult for Americans to contribute to the supply of guns to the IRA whether through pressure on the crime elements or on the funds collections. There is a lot more to Hillary Clintons involvement in the peace process than most Americans know about. Just because the first lady didn’t make a big deal of it does not mean that she was not instumental in her role in the process.


    I am unconnected to the actual events in Northern Ireland, as are the majority of Americans. But according to the reports I have read, Senator Clinton did nothing but have tea. That does not qualify for bragging rights in my book.

    You state she was working with women’s groups in Ireland at the time, which ones? What did she do to help and/or motivate them? I’ve seen nothing documented stating this.

    And as for the NRA, it was not Hillary but Bill Clinton, the President, that was taking action. To my knowledge and information the then-First Lady had only one political action during Bill Clinton’s presidency – national healthcare – and it failed miserably. If you can point to anything that helps validate her claims, and refutes the claims of someone that is internationally recognized as having influence, I would be happy to read it.

    Until then I will again state that she was using the actions of others to fabricate experience and political clout she does not have.

    Rev. Wright, Senator Obama, and the media

    I do wish that there were other people who view things the way that you do. There seems to be a rush to find anything on anyone that is degreading. I do hope that Americans have grown to a level that is above the spind-doctors. Thanks for a refreshing thought provoking statment.

    George O’Neal

    Hannity and Colmes are replaying a March 1, 2007 interview with Rev. Wright. He was incredibly hostile. They have been a topic on talk radio for months while there has been a de facto MSM blackout of Barack’s church. It is interesting that Wright’s views were little discussed while Mitt’s church received intense scrutiny. To borrow a phrase, it has taken a while for the chickens to come home to roost.

    John Austin TX

    Thank you. I do try.

    I will say it again, the religion of a candidate has nothing to do with their ability to be a President.

    It was not Mitt Romney’s church that was questioned but the Mormon religion. That was unfair and wrong. It had no reflection on his ability to govern – which his time as Governor proved.

    As for Senator Obama’s church, what is wrong with standing up against Apartheid, feeding the homeless and welcoming parishioners of all races and sexual orientation?

    What you mean is the questions of his pastor. And I have fully covered my thoughts on that. I invite you to check them out.

    Remember those before us

    Eddie G. Griffin said...
    Written history is always subject to re-write (revision), plus the fact it was never acurate to begin with, written from a bias perspective.

    chocolate_matters said...
    Hello, just blog hopping and wanted to just have some input into the discourse here. Nice blog by the way.
    Exactly what the brother above stated. History is always written from the perspective of the victory and any and everything we read should be scrutinized for its accuracy. As a student of history I have learn to question, question, and question some more everything I read.

    Eddie and Chocolate

    I agree that history is written from the winners view. And that is why I wanted to remind my readers that there is more to our past as Americans than what is selectively taught. Our nation is a wonderful nation and I would prefer no other even with the problems we obviously have. Yet we must be honest about where we come from and have done.

    I think we all agree that more needs to be learned and spoken about to ensure that EVERYONE in the nation benefits from a better future.

    Senator Obama to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan

    Francis L. Holland Blog said...
    He can go anywhere he wants, as long as he doesn't fall for the okey-doke of going with John McCain.

    I can't see why John McCain's people and the Republicans are so desperate to get Obama to go with McCain to Iraq, except to create the impression that they are both reasonable people trying to solve a problem together. When the premise of Obama's candidacy is that he is reasonable and McCain is not on Iraq.

    I say to Obama, 'Go wherever you want, but leave McCain home.' Birds of a feather flock together.


    Perhaps Senator John McCain wants Senator Obama to see the places that he has been, and to hear first-hand the chances that have happened. I doubt that Obama had much of a chance to notice anything in the less than 48 hours he spent in Iraq.

    The point is that the Democratic Party has consistently promoted the view that Iraq is a lost cause after they voted to go their. They have taken every opportunity to promote a doom and gloom view without paying any attention to changes or improvements. That narrow-visioned view of international events is unwise for a President.

    To simply assume that Republicans want to point out that Senator Obama has no international experience belittles his need to be in Iraq. He has no international experience, and he took no time to learn about what is happening in Iraq. Wisdom is knowing your own failures and gaining knowledge from those with more experience than yourself. Then you can make a more educated decision.

    Isn’t that what you want from a President? So doesn’t it make sense to go with Senator John McCain who has been to Iraq at least 6 times in as many years?

    Senator Clinton Wins – Sorry I Misspoke

    The Indypendent said...
    Obama’s Race Against Race
    By Nicolas Powers
    From the April 25, 2008 issue
    A black man runs from a howling crowd. If he’s caught he’ll be torn apart. If he reaches sanctuary he’ll be loved. This ritual is the Sacred Lynching. It’s a scene from Olaf Stapledon’s science fiction book, The First and Last Men. Set in the future, humanity has mixed and few people are “white” or “black,” and the ritual is a nostalgic celebration of racism in a post-racial world. It resembles our own supposed post-racial politics, and I see Senator Barack Obama as that last black man on earth trying to outrun our media mob.


    And what does this have to do with Senator Clinton lying about her experience, failure to make a big primary win, and attempting to by votes (again) with a silly promise of giving the public a paltry sum of money that cannot possibly pass Congress?

    Is Rev. Wright a reason not to vote for Senator Obama?

    Ghost said...
    I would have to agree with the writer of this blog in most part since I have heard these types of prophetic sermons throughout my upbringing in a town 90 miles north of Chicago. Yet, I think the bigger issue here should not be about Rev. Wright. Since Obama announced his candidacy for the Presidency I have wondered how and when he would attempt to traverse the chasm that is race in this country. What concerns me is that he would be so careless as to allow himself to be forced to have this discussion under duress. Now he has allowed yet another distraction to pull attention away from his message of unity by not addressing the genesis of the symptoms that we manifest today, namely de-facto racism and reverse racism. As far as I am concerned he should have distanced himself from this man long ago, not because he didn't like him but simply because it did not fit with his plan. You cannot expect the general American public to fully support Obama, while he emits such an aura of irresponsibility. He is smarter that this and we all know it. He needs to be concerned about votes and it's time he learned that you cannot pick and choose what you want to be transparent about. I bet in the next 48hrs the Clinton camp will give up their taxes and the history of her time as 1st Lady while the nation is caught up in the racial fervor since it is a more interesting topic. C-ya next time.

    RJM said...
    No. But I know a many who would find at fault with the statements that were made. Seriously, one thing that gets me was when he talked about our terrorism caused 9/11. It is very true. It was our actions that caused it. The HiJackers didn't just get into a plane and said hey lets blow this up. They were angry. They'll never forget the removal of their land for Israel or the removal of a democratically elected government in Iran for one of Tyranny. How many people know that though? The Clinton's Campaign is riding on the famous American action of inaction. Of thoughtlessness instead of thought. To the Clinton Campaign,her best shot at winning is this for all the voters:
    Ignorance is Bliss.

    msladydeborah said...
    Pastor Wright is not a major factor in whether or not I will continue to support Obama.

    I happen to feel very strongly about this whole issue because it is not reflective of his leadership as a minister.

    I have been encouraging people to check out his background and to see what his leadership at Trinity UCC has produced.

    He did not say anything that cannot be justified. We only need to look at the past to see why he and other people feel this way.

    What bothers me the most is the attempt to make it seem as if something wrong is going on because he is the head of a black populated congregation.

    This whole action is walking a fine line in terms of rights.

    Pastor Wright can say whatever he wants to inside of his church. That is his right and if the members do not like what is being said, then they are the ones who needed to handle the business of that issue.

    I also feel that Barack is going to have to deal with race up front now. There is no way around it.

    But so are we. And I feel that we are going to have to be a lot more tough on the subject. We are going to have to learn how to deal with what is major and don't sweat what is not.

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    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    West Virginia and the Presidential election

    So the primary race is now in West Virginia. And while it’s very early, indications are that Senator Clinton will win her 3rd state with a margin of over 20 points. That compares to Senator Obama in that he has won over a dozen states with that same margin. Thus a question comes to mind of why Senator Clinton winning with such a margin, especially when she has rarely been able to muster such a rally and of late has barely been able to accomplish a win at all.

    One answer stands up among many others, and it’s an answer few have been willing to comment on though it has been a factor in this Democratic nomination process since Senator Obama announced he would run in 2007. Race. The other factor, to a far lesser degree is gender.

    Let’s be honest. That is the motivating factor today, and in several of the states so far. Several commentators have mentioned that voters in West Virginia are noting that Senator Obama’s perceived religion is a factor. Perceived because they claim he is a Muslim. And Senator Clinton’s recent remarks, which can be boiled down to ‘elect the White woman not the Black man’, is also showing influence. So we see bias based on religion, gender, lies and racism hold sway with more than just a few voters in America.

    And the pundits act as if they are shocked. Like the Clinton campaign never promoted images of Senator Obama as a drug dealer, or emails claiming he is a fanatical Muslim spy, or just directly insulting him because he is African American and running for the Presidency. Obviously they seem to have forgotten all the news events I have been writing about since 2006 here.

    What does it take to look at the factual evidence and see what has been done for what it is? Or is the prospect of dealing with the reality of racial prejudice, even in the most liberal party, too unsavory for White Americans to deal with?

    The fact is that both Senator Clinton and Obama are virtually the same on their political views. Their proposed platforms are near mirror images of each other. Differences are slightly more than cosmetic, more points of contention for pundits and news junkies like myself than actual preferences for most Americans. Thus the 2 things that are different have been emphasized and manipulated.

    The Clinton campaign has not been shy in trying to use race and gender to their advantage. Calls seeking to minimize the damage to the Democratic Party have been unheeded since back in February. And in West Virginia, a state not known for its tolerance of religion or race, the lines cannot be crossed.

    Remember, this is the same state where Megan Williams was kidnapped, raped, tortured and abused for over a week. It’s the same state that avoided national attention on this case. It’s a state that has virtually eliminated coverage of protests over the handling of the case – where the 6 White criminals still have not been charged with hate crimes though race has been seen as a big factor in this case.

    Am I angry over this case? Hell yes! And I have made that clear in at least a dozen posts on multiple blogs. But when a Presidential candidate that has overtly used her race as a campaign tool is winning in a landslide in West Virginia, I can’t say I am shocked or even remotely surprised.

    This leads me to another question. What factor will race play in the general election?

    Senator John McCain seems to be above such petty actions as using race as a tool. I believe that as a soldier that has seen combat alongside soldiers of every race in America he is not so blind. I could be wrong. But I don’t feel he will use race. And Senator Obama has clearly tried to avoid this issue as much as possible, notwithstanding the attacks and comments of former-President Bill Clinton, Senator Clinton, and her campaign (and the media driven insanity over the five 10 second polispeak clips of Rev. Wright from over an unknown number of years).

    But race is going to be as big a factor in this election as what America will do in Iraq. It may not be spoken directly, but it will be there. And I have no doubt that many of those less bold than some in West Virginia will bring it to the fore, even if the media tried to turn a blind eye to the racial storm they have helped to build.

    So can America look at 2 men for the same position and not see their race but just their qualifications? If we take our cue form the business world, the answer is no. Just count on one hand the CEO’s of major corporations in the stock market. If we go by law enforcement the answer is no. Just listen to the changes in testimony of the Sean Bell case, or the actions of the police in Philadelphia. If we look at the media in general we get an adamant no. With barely 2% of the population shown in media being non-White, and the propensity of news organizations to demonize African Americans (see my comments on the full coverage of Wesley Snipes, or Bobbie Cutts, or OJ Simpson, or Sean Taylor, or the Jena 6, or Megan Williams, or the ‘Barbie’ bank robbers of Atlanta, or Sean Bell, and I can keep going on), the position is undeniably clear.

    Given all that, this election will be a landmark for many reasons. The degree and manner in which race is used. The vocalizations of citizens over race. The perceptions promoted about race in various formats. The number of people that will vote based on color, and the number that will vote based on color to make a point of one extreme or another. And of course there is the question of the issues facing America.

    Now I do notice and comment on how race affects me and the nation as I see it. Of course that comes to fore in covering the Presidential election. But I am not motivated by, nor condone or agree with the use of race as a factor on who should win. I believe that America needs the best person possible to lead this nation on a path that we will not be able to alter for at least a decade or more.

    While I will not shy away from race being used in the race for the Presidency, I will not advance it as a reason. As I have noted at the beginning of covering this election, my goal is getting the best President elected. That is still my focus. With Senator Clinton all but out of the election my focus is now on the 2 remaining candidates. Both have been individuals that I favor. I will soon make my own decision on which I feel is best. I will make that decision known. But I will not let that color my coverage, as best as I am able.

    Remember, we as citizens have an obligation to our nation. That obligation is to vote and pick the best person possible for our future. We only get one vote, so make it count. Because one it’s done we can’t go back.

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    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Presidential candidates and the media - lost focus hurts America's future

    With less than a week to go before the next set of Democratic Primaries, the media driven effect of Rev. Wright continues to weigh upon Senator Obama. Even as I write this, he is denouncing the comments made yesterday by Rev. Wright to the National Press Club. Amazing how things change.

    A year ago Senator Obama was considered a joke. Pundits and the media basically ignored him as the believed there was no real candidate for the Democratic Party beyond Senator Clinton. At the same time emails were circulating the internet (some at the promotion of members of the Clinton campaign) declaring that Senator Obama was a Muslim and/or secret terrorist.

    Today there is a new fervor about Senator Obama being a Christian. The fact that his pastor has several unconventional views is now the focus. And the media and pundits are wondering if he can gain the Democratic nomination as they place the views of a religious leader not running for any political office on Senator Obama.

    Today the major news media is upset that Senator Obama has not been fully vetted as has Senator Clinton and McCain. Of course Clinton and McCain have been in the ublic eye for decades, so obviously more is known about them. And the major news media completely fails to notice that it was their job to investigate Senator Obama when he announced his election hopes rather than to laugh him off. Thus we have the pot calling the kettle black.

    Of course there are a few things that are being missed today as they were a year ago.

    There has been no real discussion about the decades long anti-war proponent Hillary Clinton’s ascertion that she tried to join the military (either the Army or Marines depending on the version of the story being told).

    There has been no real focus on the lies that have been told to the American public. Some may have felt that the Clinton’s were accomplished liars, but over the last month Hillary Clinton has been proven to be a liar. From invisible snipers and unseen terror in video tapes of Bosnia, and peace talk treaties during tea parties in Ireland Senator Clinton is a proven liar. How does that make her any more trustworthy or beneficial to the American public than what opponents decry about President Bush?

    There has been no real discussion of the involvement of a known criminal in the Clinton campaign. Lest some forget, the Clinton campaign took and tried to hold onto $1 million stolen and donated to them from Norman Hsu. He was a criminal fugitive that was a high ranking donation bundler for Senator Clinton. Or is that not important? And if it isn’t why is Rezco?

    Senator McCain, since winning the Republican nomination, has gone silent. He is amassing funds and peppering the middle of the nation with reminders of his military career and years of experience. But he is not being challenged on his plans about exiting the war in Iraq (minus the military bases like those we have left in other former warzones like South Viet Nam, Germany, Japan, and so on). Little is being said of his self-professed ignorance on the economy, at a time when oil prices are creating a new plateau at levels never before seen and more people fear for their jobs than in the past 25 years.

    As the Presidential race devolves into a question of race and to a lesser extent gender the real issues that most Americans actually care about are being ignored by the media. What about national security, illegal immigrants, the legal system and such?

    I doubt that so many Americans suddenly forgot about these issues. I doubt that the most important issue in America is the vetting of Rev. Wright – a figure that has been shown to have no influence on the political decisions of any of the candidates. And if this association is so important, why have we not heard of the investigation into Senator McCain’s pastor? (We can’t do this for Senator Clinton as she is not a member of any church since her husband left the Oval Office)

    The issues following Senator Obama’s run has been consistently everything but politics. His appearing in native garb while on a trip overseas (which is a common political practice), his full name, the degree of Blackness he maintains (as if there is an official level or list to check off), his religious belief, people he has known in his life (with some searching back to his kindergarten days), the fact he has interracial parents.

    Can anyone name another President that has had the same questions asked of them? Or even a candidate?

    Seriously, the media has focused on the least important issues in this Presidential race so far. Questions that no White male candidate has ever been asked are important today. Name 3 President’s middle names, if you can or even 3 candidates from this year. Name 3 pastors of anyone who was running for the Presidency this year. Name the heritage of 3 of the candidates racial heritages form this year. Name any friends that any of the candidates had that were questionable or have been in trouble with the law – from over a decade ago.

    I doubt anyone can answer those things. So if they aren’t important for any other candidate, why are they important for Senator Obama. And for those that would say they aren’t important because they haven’t been reported on – how do you know? No one has checked so are you sure?

    So given all this what am I left with? That America is being disserved. We are not dealing with the issues that are important for the nation. Therefore we will not have the best choices for President and may get a President that will not benefit the nation.

    Think about it. If we focus on the least important facts about a potential President, we will possibly elect a President that we have no idea will do in office. That means the critical choices facing America in this next Presidency, issues that will affect the nation and world for decades to come, issues that will affect your children, student loans, job, and ability to own a home will be in the hands of someone you never asked important questions of.

    The major media may not care, but I do. Thus I have followed and written about all the candidates since 2005. Search and learn, because once you vote you can’t take it back.

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    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Will Senator Hillary Clinton denounce Bill Clinton?

    In yet another display of racial insensitivity and polarizing commentary we have former President Bill Clinton making statements yesterday and today. Now I want to make something clear up front, that every pundit I have read so far has avoided on this latest issue (and which could be applied to previous ones).

    If the comments of Bill Clinton, husband of Senator Hillary Clinton, have no influence or connection to the actions and policies of Hillary how can the words and/or association of Rev. Wright – former pastor to Senator Obama – be relevant to Barack?

    Former President Bill Clinton said in South Carolina

    More recently he said

    He goes on to say (which I have not been able to locate on Youtube) in the same comment

    CLINTON: "… And, you know, do I regret saying it? No. Do I regret that it was used that way? I certainly do. But you really gotta go something to try to portray me as a racist."

    INTERVIER: “OK. Well thank you very much, Mr. President.”

    CLINTON: “Thank you. I hope everybody will go out to vote tomorrow. Buh-bye… I don’t think I can take any sh#& from anybody on that, do you?
    [The bold is my emphasis]

    And then covered it with

    So who exactly is using race as a weapon and a tool of polispeak in this Democratic nomination race?

    And Senator Hillary Clinton has yet to be asked the following questions:

    • Do you renounce and reject the comments of your husband?

    • Does your husband have influence on the way you make decisions?

    • Do you think your spouse’s comments accurately reflect the way you see America?

    These questions were certainly asked of Senator Obama about his wife and Rev. Wright. So why has no pundit or reporter asked her this?

    The Democratic Presidential nomination race has long ago devolved into a question of character and associations. The actual issues important to liberals and Democrats haven’t been spoken about in a month or so. That being a given, I ask why is the polispeak game not being played equally when the weight and importance given to what a former President is normally covered extensively? Why is the former President making comments, on behalf of Senator Clinton, where he is looking to avoid “take any sh#&”? Does that not imply the statements are merely being made to get a certain spin, and not the truth?

    This may have come out too late for the Pennsylvania Primary, but it is not too late for future primaries and the Democratic Convention. Be assured that if Superdelegates ignore these words and select Senator Clinton I will be mentioning this constantly up to the election. Because, former-President Clinton, I have reviewed the question and comments you made. And I’ve come to my own conclusion.

    I suggest that you copy this and send it to you loacal superdelegate if you agree. Because I at least feel that all candidates should be held to the same standards, and I really want to hear how Senator Clinton would answer these questions.

    Don’t you?

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    Monday, March 24, 2008

    Beginning to move on from Rev Wright - 3.24.2008.1

    As the nation moves on to the news of Bill Richardson endorsing Senator Obama in a move to probably get a nod at the Vice-Presidential I want to step back. The fact is that Senator Obama needs the change of direction to be nominated, but the issue is too important to fade.

    The immediate anger that was expressed across the media, and the nation via poll results, makes it clear that America has issues with people of color. When a couple of words, spoken by someone other than Senator Obama, creates a furor it is obvious why. And let’s get the facts straight.

    Rev. Wright was a pastor for 35 years. He has made perhaps thousands of sermons in that time, each perhaps 1 or 2 hours long. But the media was able to find roughly 5 sermons, and within those sermons 1 or 2 snippets of 10 seconds each, to crucify the entirety of his career. And what was so objectionable in those 10 seconds of commentary without context? That America is run by White Americans, that Senator Clinton has never been called the N-word, that American government did nothing to retard crack until the drug spilled over to White neighborhoods, and so on. In effect, many got angry over hearing truthful comments – and to be fair there were a couple of 2 second blurbs that were a bit harsher that I did not agree with, from my own research.

    Then Senator Obama was forced to respond. Though the media did not provide coverage of what was said by the pastors of Senator McCain, Senator Clinton, or any other elected official. Not even the most recent and current comments. Because they were fine – at least we are lead to believe so in the absence of coverage.

    So Senator Obama made a speech about race. And it was a good one. And the nation was astounded, it would seem, that the Civil Rights movement did not resolve every issue for people of color any more than the Equal Rights movement for women resolved issues of pay or treatment. And as the conversation continued it was warped.

    I have already had several personal conversations where the actual words of Rev. Wright or Senator Obama have been misquoted towards a more racial bent. Some are angry at what they chose to hear, and not what was said. And the Clinton campaign delighted as they finally achieved a goal they have struggled to employ for months. The polling for Senator Obama dropped.

    Then Senator Obama made a reference to “a typical White person”. Oh, the outrage. How dare he lump White Americans like this. I mean the fact that television and movies are dominated, as they always have been, with these amorphous amalglamations of society is not important. The fact that across the country people of color can tell the same exact kinds of stories of racism, prejudice and hate is not important. The fact that the deaths and beatings of people like Diallo and Bell are so similar to deaths and beatings in California like Rodney King is just a coincidence I suppose. Actual acts against me personally based on race are just an oddity, though I cannot count the number of people of color that have had the same experiences across the nation over the last 40 years.

    Nope, it is just a horrible thing to point out truth in America. And responses like this one are seen

    “Poor guy – whose middle name and lack of executive experience we’re never supposed to mention, and who was not aware of the insane, anti-American, racist rantings of his spiritual advisor of 20 years – now blabbering incoherently about “typical white persons,” simply needed a little shut-eye.

    Perhaps Sen. Trent Lott was tired when – at Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party in 2002 – he paid Thurmond an innocuous off-the-cuff compliment by mentioning the aging senator’s run for the presidency more than a half century earlier.

    “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him,” Lott said. “We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

    Lott’s statement meant absolutely nothing. It carried no weight. It wasn’t meant to. It was simply an innocent “attaboy” for an old man who was at the end of his career and nearing the end of life.”

    This was in response to the typical white person comment of Senator Obama. The above quoted writer is obviously upset. And a bit obfuscating of the truth.

    The reason that Senator Obama’s middle name is an issue is that – 1. none of the other middle names of candidates are ever used, 2. His name is used in a manner to imply and provoke fear in those less educated and more prejudicial in America.

    The experience issue is commented about constantly. By and about both Democratic candidates. Neither has experience. And every one mentions it.

    As for Rev. Wright, he is far from insane (just like Jerry Falwell, Robert Grant, or Pat Robertson), was American enough to fight in the Marines, and never made a disparaging comment about race or gender to my knowledge. That fact was apparent when Greta van Sister of Fox News was challenged to find racist comments while in an interview with Rev. Sharp ton, and 24 hours later was incapable of doing so.

    And the comparison fails with the comments supporting the Senator best know for his racist stance for the last half of the last century. Sen. Strom Thurmond’s Presidential bid was hardly nothing or innocent. It was an attempt to support and reinforce segregation. That is a historical fact (which the writer touches on briefly) as is the fact that Sen. Thurmond changed his stance after privately coming to terms with his illegitimate Black daughter.

    The point is that America wants to hide its head in the sand, and deny any negative about race in current days (let alone the past). This is the real 3rd rail of American politics, and potentially Senator Obama’s biggest hurdle.

    Is it important that Gov. Richardson endorses and/or joins Sen. Obama on a Presidential ticket? Sure, because it’s about race. Getting Hispanic/Latinos to be active in his campaign. Because the Clinton campaign assumes they are already going to get those votes, as they assumed they would get the Black, White male, and college educated vote. But if you say that this vote is about race, prepare to be shunned.

    Because I cannot tell you how many of the “typical White people” that I know who have come to me and are upset about Senator Obama’s comment and Rev. Wright. How often they misquote both, and how few actually ever heard of Rev. Wright before the mishmash of videoclips. Nor can I tell you how many of these same people cannot understand the privilege and advantage they enjoy simply because of the color of their skin. But I can tell you, that long before this current debate over my 40 years of life, maybe 10% of these same people have confided in me that they do act in exactly the same manner as Obama’s grandmother from time to time. It’s just the fact that it’s being brought into the light that is the problem I suppose.

    So let’s do this. Accept that race is a continuing issue in America. It has been since the 1619 and it has not ended though the degree and manner has changed. And because of that White Americans are not the shining images that movies and television wishes to portray. Equally people of color are not without fault either, and they are not the images of poverty, violence and anger that television, movies and the news media try to convey to the world.

    Given that, this election should not be about the race or gender of the candidates. It’s about what is best for America. Issues like oil dependency, pollution, Social Security, mortgages, the economy, jobs and others are all colorblind. Only the best choice for America will resolve even some of these issues.

    If we focus only on the least important factor of the candidates, we may lose as a nation. So vote, not for your race or gender, but for the best choice for America. And if that vote is for a non-White male, so what. America is neither one color (no matter what the media portrays) nor gender. If we remember that we remember that we are the greatest nation in the world because of that fact.

    Vote and keep America great. Vote and pick the best choice for the nation’s path to the future.

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    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    The Full speech of Senator Obama - 319.2008.1

    There are so many things I could say about Senator Obama's speech, and the response that the news media has had to it. But rather than do that, At least for now, I will provide you the full speech so you can see more than just the 15 second soundbite the media provides. It's short soundbites that got this whole situation started.

    "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

    Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

    The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

    Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

    And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

    This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

    This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

    I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

    It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

    Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

    This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

    And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

    On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

    I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

    But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

    As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

    Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

    But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

    In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

    “People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

    That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

    And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

    I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

    These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

    Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

    But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

    The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

    Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

    Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

    Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

    A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

    This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

    But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

    And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

    In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

    Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

    Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

    This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

    But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

    For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

    Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

    The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

    In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

    In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

    For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

    We can do that.

    But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

    That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

    This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

    This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

    This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

    I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

    There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

    There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

    And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

    She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

    She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

    Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

    Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

    “I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

    But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins."

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    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    Rev. Wright, Senator Obama, and the media

    Wow. The media has finally gotten something that they have been waiting over a year for, and they are feasting. I’ve rarely seen such a universal and demostrative move by all the major media in the same direction.

    Of course this is all about Rev. Wright, the former pastor of Senator Obama. It is the first time that there has been an issue placed against Senator Obama that has stuck, and there is no question this is not going to be let go. I’m sure Senator Clinton is gleeful.

    Regarless on how you feel about the Democratic Party or candidates, you have you see that right now the media is jumping on this like white on rice. I have seen more 5 and 10 second clips of Reverend Jeremiah Wright than any other single issue ever. And in fairness, no one can be represented in 5 or 10 second clips of conversation. Thats a fact no matter what those 10 seconds of conversation discuss.

    I will add that I have reviewed a full 3 minutes of one of the sermons that Rev. Wright made and has been used often in news media. And in that 3 minutes there was roughly 15 seconds of material that was questionable and worthy of refutation. Of course review of one piece of controversial material is hardly a means of making a conclusion. But neither is the multiple 10 second clips without context, though media would like to portray that.

    What I am seeing is something that Senator Clinton has been attempting to do since November of 2007. Making the Democratic nomination a matter of race, and banking on the fear of African Americans to ensure a win.

    The Clinton campaign has approached this through multiple means, from rumor emails to photos of Obama in a native African garb. In each case she and her campaign have been shown for what they were doing. Race baiting and using deplorable tactics to fuel her raw ambition for power.

    This is differnt though. It’s an independent source, and a lot of them. Yet the question is how much of what Rev. Wright says is really wrong, or different than what African Americans (or just all Americans) think.

    As I have stated, Hillary Clinton, and former-President Bill Clinton, don’t know what it is to be poor and Black. They have not had cabs refuse to carry them or been called the most disgusting, insulting, and derogatory terms in the english language. They have never been called traitors to their race while being called too aligned with their race. And every video clip of Rev. Wright saying so is just factual, if a bit uncomfortable to White voters.

    But comments stating that the America created and spread AIDS, or that we caused the attacks on 9/11 are blatantly wrong. They are deplorable and insulting. Most importantly they are wrong.

    But does any of this have anything to do with Senator Obama’s politics? I have yet to see a connection made between the objectionable comments of Rev. Wright and a pattern of voting by Senator Obama. In the frenzy to finally have a negative that can be used against Obama, no media source has shown a connection that makes this a valid concern. I find this no better than what was done against Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith.

    Show me the connection. Show me where religion intersects with politics and I will call for any politician to be removed. Especially if those remarks infringe on the rights of an American citizen. But at the moment there is only video clips that last 10 seconds.

    Senator Obama has served on the Illinois State Senate, and was elected to the federal Senate. Rev. Wright has been a pastor for 20 years. I’ve heard no connection to problems with the pastor up until about a week ago.

    I have heard that Rev. Wright was in the lead against Apartheid when few were willing. I’ve heard he was an advocate of gays. I’ve heard he’s done many positives. So in combination with his negative remarks I take him to be just human and flamboyant. But I have yet to find him influential. But I can name several White Christian pastors and preachers that are more flamboyant, vocal, political, and questionable that are not given this same treatment.

    Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell are but a few of many popular names that have been promoting political ideals and laws since at least the mid-1980’s. Several have made scandalous statements repeatedly. And Republican candidates are loathe to confront or refute their comments lest they lose these votes. Yet I have never noted a day filled with videoclips of portions of their sermons.

    I am not standing up for Rev. Wright. But I am noting the diametrically opposed manner in which he his suddenly being treated and Senator Obama along with him. And I have to question why, after over a year of campaigning and 2 decades of sermons, is there such a furor now? What suddenly changed that every media station is suddenly learning this information that Chicago and Illionois have know for years. That have been available since the day Senator Obama announced his run for the Presidency?

    The only reason I see is the most sad and deplorable. This sudden focus and negative attention is because Senator Obama stands on the threashold of running for President, and because he is Black many are getting scared.

    I knew America is still racist in areas and in legal matters, but I thought this was still fair game. It would seem I and many were wrong.

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    Saturday, January 26, 2008

    Explaining my fiction post about a President Obama - 1.26.2008.1

    Due to several direct comments, and a couple found on DIGG, I see that the intent of my posts Excerpt of President Obama - a what if press release and President Obama - a what if press release - 1.25.2008.3 were not understood for what I was intending. To that end I am providing the following clarification of what I intended.

    Wow, the responses are really amazing. So far I’m noticing that few are getting the point of my fictional future press release.

    I’ve been told I’m fear mongering, and that it was completely inappropriate. And a few other comments as well. Well let me be more direct since that seems the only way to get the point out to more people.

    I’m not advocating the death of Senator Obama. Far from it. I would never suggest such an act on any Presidential candidate or President. But such an act is a potential reality, and I feel the reactions I’ve received so far prove it. I think that it’s a fear that all African Americans have for whoever becomes the first Black President.

    The post was intended to highlight that there are deep and real racial divisions in America today. That Senator Obama is not only fighting against Senator Clinton, but the perceptions and prejudices in America that have endured for centuries.

    My fictional President was a man that was principled. He helped America achieve several breakthroughs that we all wish to have happen in America. He resolved the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that currently divide much of the country. He resolved the economic crisis that currently, and in the near future, is a reality and a problem for the nation. He minimized the threat to our lives from fanatical individuals that wish the death of every American for no reason other than the way they wish to observe their faith.

    And in trying to further unify a nation, that previously was divided on issues of injustice in the legal system, sexual orientation and bias of gender religion and color, he was killed by a couple of small minds that refused to see America beyond a limited black and white.

    It’s a sad tale, and tragedy often tells some of the best stores of mankind. It’s a morality post. A point that while we can resolve many of the transcendental and even serious issues that face America, the underlying issues at our core are not being addressed. And the cost of ignoring those issues can be devastating.

    I went on to suggest that the loss of a great leader could have an impact that covers the globe, potentially affecting everyone on the planet. That even out most determined enemies would not wish to take on the wrath of a nation that would then be in the throes of a social upheaval that was caused by people closing their eyes to an issue for centuries.

    Of course African Americans would be in riots. No less so than at the loss of Martin Luther King. Or after the Rodney King riots. The shock of injustice and the festering pain of centuries of inequality often lead to bouts of rage and anger. Especially if those emotions are bottled up generation after generation.

    I’m highlighting that it’s the same kind of small-mindedness that is being employed by the Clinton campaign against Senator Obama. And that tactic is working, which it could not unless such racial divisions still festered under the surface of modern day America. That we are seeing race used as a tool to provide a means of segregating Democrats, and the nation.

    I fully intended to shock people with the post. But I also wanted to show that even in the worst of outcomes, there are moments of greatness. The greatness in this case being the legacy and achievements of what my fictional President Obama did with the Presidency. Not hollow platitudes, not campaign promises but real action that benefits tens of millions of Americans.

    I further went on to ask question that I thought would further provoke thoughts. Because there are many who fear the thought of a Black President. Because there are those that assume that a Black President will inevitably be killed. Because there are those that fear a Black President will change everything in America. And yes that a Black President might mean that the racial tensions that have always existed in this nation, and the war for equality suggested for decades by multiple organizations for multiple reasons, could come to pass.

    I asked if America would be better off if each event happened. By that I meant

    “…winning of the nearly decade long Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the virtual elimination of the terrorist organization Al Quida, … his quick actions to restore normalcy in the earthquake ravaged suburbs of San Diego, the recovery from the 2 year economic recession of 2008, his work on balancing the American legal systems’ enforcement and punishment and rights of gays, women and minorities.”

    Don’t we all want the wars to end and America win if at all possible? Don’t we all want a government that can react to natural disasters and ensure or ability to return to normalcy? Don’t we all want a stable and growing economy that allows us and our children to live the American dream of better lives? Should we all not live by the same laws, enforced equally with fairness and justice? Shouldn’t we all have no fear of persecution based on our color of skin, our religion gender and sexual orientation?

    In truth there are some that don’t want these things. But I feel the majority do. Yet it is that minority that must be guarded against.

    Perhaps my post was too realistic. Perhaps the fears we all don’t speak about came to life for a brief moment. If so that is good. Because it is in discussing those fears and their causes that make us grow and become stronger.

    And in truth I don’t care if a woman, a Republican or Democrat, Black White or Hispanic are President. Not if they have the best intention of America at heart. Right now some of our candidates do. Some are just seeking power for their own personal gain. And some are just looking to extend the political power and partisanship that has existed and weakened America for decades.

    I truly believe that America is a great nation. I know from experience in traveling part of the world that it is unique. Our freedoms and unity, such as they are, are unseen in the scope and depth they attain here.

    And I believe without reservation that if all America votes we will gain the best President we can, and eventually the best President period. That in voting we will gain a better stronger and more unified nation. Because this still is a nation of the people.

    Sometimes a shock can remind us of how fragile these rights and freedoms are. Sometimes we forget what happens if we aren’t open and honest about our past and present. Because everything can change if we let a few closed minds take control and make decisions for us all. But we need to be involved.

    If you are angry by my mock post, good. You should be. It wasn’t meant to be a nice thing, but it was meant to provoke shock and thought, and discussion. If it causes you to act, to vote, to be involved with the Presidential election and the things happening around you then it is worth the anger being directed at me.

    But don’t just read it on the surface and let it pass. Don’t assume I have anger in my heart. If you’ve read my 1000+ posts, you will understand that I am passionate in my views. Perhaps I could have worded this better. But sometimes a blunt weapon is better than the finest point.

    I hope not to lose readers because of this fictional post. It was not made lightly, or in jest. There was no humor in its creation. Nor is there any attempt to generate fear. That was not its point.

    I suppose I could have made this part of the original post, but I did not think that was necessary. I was wrong. But I stand by the post, and its original intent.

    Hopefully now it is more clear on why I created it. Hopefully all my readers can understand that and respect me for it.

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    Saturday, December 01, 2007

    Preparing for the TV One Heartland Presidential Forum Part 2 - 12.1.2007.1

    Continued from Preparing for the TV One Heartland Presidential Forum Part 1...

    What do I expect the debate to go over today? I think that most people are more concerned about education for their children, the economy continuing to be stable and prosperous – so they know they have job security, illegal immigrants – taking away jobs and receiving benefits funded by taxpayer money (including income taxes which illegals don’t pay). Not necessarily in that order.

    Lower on the list are issues like race relations (the inequalities in the law enforcement and justice system that plague minorities as seen via Sean Bell, Megan Williams, Genarlow Wilson, and the Jena 6 as recent examples), anti-terrorism actions to keep us safe in this country (the Canadian border is still my biggest issue), and entitlement programs (like Welfare though not necessarily including Social Security). Again that is not a guarantee they are in that order of preference.

    I base this on my conversations with people across this country. Friends, associates, clients, blog readers and authors, as well as polls found on my blogs and corporate website. That is what I think the real America wants to hear answers to. Yet pundits and candidates of both parties have given short shrift to these issues.

    Think about it, other than one question in one debate, I don’t recall any candidate speaking about their plans to ensure our kids graduate high school, and are able to read. Yet in the African American community alone dropout rates exceed 50%. I recall one question, early in 2007, that dealt with AIDS and HIV, yet a recent announcement states that AIDS cases in kids 15-19 are up 20%, and those 20-24 are up 22% (according to 2005 numbers which are the most current known). The numbers for African American youth are appallingly higher.

    That says nothing about youth pregnancy (in the Black community up an estimated 60+%). And what about other issues that are not as close to home as the abovementioned? Like the Child Soldier Act (which Congress seems determined to ignore) or HR 180 IH which deals with Darfur (now nearing its 5th year of genocide). No, but there has been plenty of talk about green energy (which most regular people don’t even think about as far as I’ve heard) which we could not resolve immediately even if there was an energy source that we could use effectively right now.

    I hope that when these serious issues are asked by the regular people in the audience (hopefully not planted by the Clinton campaign which seems like a common practice for them based on recent revelations) there are full real answers.

    But don’t be surprised if you only hear 30 second soundbites that sound motivating but answer nothing. I mean I’m not running for any office and this quick recap takes about 5 minutes to read in full. When was the last time any candidate actually took 5 minutes to explain 1 issue without going off on a tangent, blaming Congress or the President (or both), or sliding the discussion into a completely different direction altogether?

    But we will see.

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    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Facts are not as important as myths - 11.7.2007.1

    So recently I had a comment on a post where I was told about homicide rates of Black on White crime. Now considering the source of the information, I had serious doubts on the credibility of the information. So I decided to look around and find the facts.

    The facts (as reported by the Department of Justice) are that 86% of White victims are killed by Whites, and 94% of Blacks by Blacks since 1976 to 2005. A White is most likely the attacker in murders of family, at work, with poison, or if more than one person is killed. If drugs are involved, or an argument, then the numbers make it more likely to have a Black offender.

    But that still did not answer some questions I had. So I looked further. I found that a Black or White friend is highly unlikely to be a victim of a person of the opposite race (8%), and a stranger is only killed by a person of the opposite race 25% of the time.

    Focusing on 2006 (estimated data from the FBI) there were 611,523 violent crime arrests and 17,034 people murdered. 70% of all arrests were for Whites, with 59% of those responsible for violent crimes being White. And White teens represented 67% of all teens younger than 18 arrested.

    And in 2005, 61% of all hate crimes were committed by Whites (20% were by African Americans). There were 828 incidents and 975 victims of anti-White hate crimes. As for anti-Black hate crimes there were 2,630 incidents and 3,322 victims. Black-on-White murders were 934 (8.8%) vs. White-on-Black murders of 337 (3.2%).

    There were 296,507,061 American citizens in 2005, and 299,398,484 in 2006.

    Ok, so those are all the numbers, but what does it all mean? Why did I bother doing all this research?

    Because the numbers are often twisted and misrepresented by the media and those that have a bias one way or another. Because these stats are the basis of ignorance and prejudice in the hands of some.

    If you go by major media reporting you might not get the same kind of impression that these numbers give. That impression, spread across the world, is that Blacks kill Whites on a regular basis. You might believe that all African Americans are violent, or that Black teens commit most crimes. You could gather the opinion that most criminals arrested are Black and that the Black community is filled with murderers and violent felons.

    Watch the nightly news; see how often an African American face is attached to violent crimes. Count the time that Black images are shown in regard to crime, or how many news stories feature alleged African American perpetrators. Notice how often reports claim a non-White is being sought in connection to a crime. When you actually notice these things, you see a trend.

    Continued in part 2...

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    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    The uneven hand of justice - 3.3.2007.1

    I’m sure most have heard of the two 19 year-old girls that walked in and robbed a bank Thursday. It’s made the national news, and had lots of local coverage from what I gather. No weapons were used, and it now seems that it was at least in part an inside job as an employee of the bank has been arrested as well as the 2 girls.

    What you may not have heard, and is not making major news is that the robbery is now being called a theft. You may say so what, but it makes a big difference. If it’s robbery of a bank then it’s a felon and that’s major time. If it’s theft then it’s a much lesser charge. I believe the difference is 10 – 15 years in jail time and having a record of a felony following you for the rest of your life. In essence the road is being paved to let these 2 girls walk away from this now high-profile crime with the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.

    Now imagine if I made this robbery. I doubt whether or not I had an inside accomplice that the charge would be lessened to theft. I seriously doubt that the news media would regard my actions in the light-hearted manner in which these girls have been. There would have been an immediate man-hunt. Rumors of a hidden weapon used in the crime would be rampant. The community would be in arms about violence and the undisciplined youth of today. Allegations of drug use would pop up. And several media sources would call for my incarceration at the most extreme penalty of the law to make an example of me.

    What is the difference? I’m not a teenage, white, woman. Does that change the crime? No. Does it affect what has happened? No. Does it affect how the legal system will be applied? Apparently it does.

    This kind of unbalanced application of the law and penalties is something that every minority in the nation is aware of intimately. If it were 2 Latina/Hispanics, or Asians, or Black women nothing about this case would be similar. Stand back if it were 2 young girls that were Arab, Muslim, or looked like either of those. There would have been cries of terrorist connections and probably crowds of vigilantes roving the streets in pursuit of them.

    I mentioned this story to two friends, a Black woman and her husband who is White. In telling them the story I left out the color of the 2 girls. When I asked what the charges should be they thought it was obvious that it was a felony. They were amazed when I said the charge was theft. The amount of money taken qualified for Grand Theft, which is a felony and it’s a bank even with an insider involved. The husband noted because of the insider it can be considered embezzlement. As they were bedazzled by this I told them the race of the women, and their reaction was swift and sharp. The whole thing was being washed away they stated. The fact that it was unbalanced application of the law made sense, once the race was known. Considering it was the Atlanta area they had assumed that the girls were Black.

    Many may question why race is such an issue in America. Some argue that we have grown beyond the need to continue to fight racism. But events like this highlight the fact that the problems are persistent. We cannot expect anyone to believe that there isn’t a problem when the punishment for crimes are handed down on a sliding scale of justice.

    This is what I think, What do you think?

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