- Created on 01 November 2013
In a petition circulated online, change.org minced no words, "NAACP: Hire the First Woman President in the NAACP's 104-year History." Seventy percent of the respondents agreed that it was time that the NAACP elected its first permanent woman president in its history to lead the organization. The petition and the clamor for a woman president of the NAACP came virtually within moments after current NAACP President Ben Jealous announced that he was stepping down at the end of the year. This is hardly the first time that there's been a loud clamor and an even louder criticism of the dearth of female leaders at the top of the major civil rights organizations.
The litany of civil rights organizations past and present has been earmarked by two things. One is that throughout the history of the best known major major civil rights organizations, the Urban League, SCLC, CORE, SNCC, and of course the NAACP, there have been no women at the top spot in these organizations. The sole exception was the SCLC which in its markedly declining years finally elected the first woman head, Bernice King, Dr. Martin Luther King's daughter in 2009. But that breakthrough was short-lived when King could not reach agreement with the SCLC's male-dominated board regarding the terms of her presidency.
The second thing that has been an earmark of civil rights organizations has been the number of prominent women who played pivotal roles in the fight for justice and equality. They are well-known: Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Gloria Richardson, Dorothy Cotton, Septima Clark, Dorothy Height, to name a few. They had to wage two fights. One was for civil rights and one was against the blatant sexism and male dominance among the rank and file and leadership in the civil rights organizations. The men frequently denigrated and minimized women's role and importance, or pigeon holed them into so called women's roles -- typists, phone answerers, general gofers, and just plain flunkies for the men. In some cases, they sexually exploited and abused women. The Achilles Heel of the civil rights organizations remained the quiet and destructive sexism within its ranks. This history burst into public in the run-up to the 50th anniversary commemoration celebration events of the March on Washington this past August. A number of women took dead aim at the 1963 MOW organizers for what they considered the deliberate exclusion of women from a major role in the planning, organizing, and deliverance of any of the keynote speeches at the March. They didn't stop with a nostalgic glance over the shoulder critique of the events fifty years ago but openly wondered how much had really changed within the major civil rights organizations today.
Apart from the towering roles that women played in past civil rights battles as activists and organizers, women still had to struggle against marginalization by male leaders. Despite their prominence and name recognition, they constantly bumped up against the intrinsic and galling reality that when it came to leadership and decision making in organizations, the hard edge of traditional and ingrained male domination and female marginalization continued to be the order of the day. While many applauded an Angela Davis and rallied to her defense, she was still seen by many men as a woman first, second, and often last, and not a black leader. Yet, just as in the past, there were powerful examples of women as activists and leaders in the civil rights movement, there are even more women today who are fully capable of being not only the visible face of a major civil rights organization, but one of its leading decision and policy makers as well.
The NAACP has legions of women in local decision and policy making roles in their various chapters any one of whom could step into the top presidential spot. There are also prominent women outside the organization that BlackAmericaweb.com named who could assume the president's mantle. They include: Stefanie James Brown, former NAACP youth and college director, Aisha Moodie-Mills, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Sherrilyn Ifill, President and counsel-director NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
The appointment of any one of them to head the organization would signal that the NAACP has shattered the glass ceiling at the top within this organization, and would send a powerful message that the fight for gender equality and against sexism is seen as just as potent and compelling as the historic and continuing fight for racial justice and equality. The NAACP has a golden opportunity to open the door of its male only room at the top to women. It's an opportunity that it and no other civil rights organization that purports to call itself a champion of civil rights should blow.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.
- Created on 31 October 2013
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 29: Don Lemon attends the 17th Annual National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association New York benefit at the Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams SoHo Store on March 29, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images) | Getty
Don Lemon is at it again.
The CNN anchor is dished out more advice with his thoughts on young people in the black community, and this time the subject was Chris Brown. Lemon took on a big brother role, sending a message to the troubled singer who is now headed to rehab.
In the past, Lemon's been harshly criticized for singling out black teenagers as the "cause of their own demise" but in Lemon's latest segment on the Tom Joyner morning show, he says he feels sad for Chris Brown and is conflicted on the situation as a whole.
"Conflicted because he's a celebrity, and I know it's easy to make him out to be the poster child for bad behavior, especially for bad behavior among young black men because he's a young black man," the 47-year-old journalist explains at the beginning of his segment.
Lemon pointed out the fact that Brown is not the only celebrity making headlines for the wrong reasons "Justin Bieber, Shia LaBeouf, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Charlie Sheen" are also known for their trouble with the law. However, Lemon points out the key distinction with Brown is the severity of the incident with Rihanna.
Although the public may have been willing to give him another chance, Lemon listed the string of other violent incidents affecting Brown's redemption since then: "the Good Morning America dressing room incident; the Drake entourage altercation; the Frank Ocean altercation; the hit and run in Los Angeles and now this latest arrest in Washington, DC."
Even still, he didn't place the full blame on Brown -- instead he pointed to the people the singer has around him.
"Okay Chris and I mean this with all honesty and with the best of intentions. I've been 24-years-old before and felt invincible; that fades over time and with age comes wisdom and you realize that not everyone talking in your ear has your best interest at heart.
Most of the people you think are your closest friends or closest to you: your boys, your fellas; they don't give a damn about you.
When you go to jail, you go to jail alone. You don't know me from Adam but if I can offer you a bit of advice from one man to another, one black man to another."
Listen to the full segment here.
- Created on 30 October 2013
(CNN) -- Conservatives are expressing shock and outrage that the Obama administration knew that many people in the individual insurance market would not be able to keep their plans once the Affordable Care Act took effect. Such shock is not surprising; overblown outrage is the stock and trade of conservative politics these days.
But here's what conservatives won't tell you, lest it undermine their theatrics: Many insurance plans are shutting down because they don't meet the higher bar of quality benefits required under Obamacare, and of those people who lose access to their plans, many will pay less and all will have better and more comprehensive options.
Also, with a few exceptions, no one is really noting that this point isn't quite news. In 2010, the fact that certain insurance plans would not be grandfathered into Obamacare because of their inadequate coverage was widely covered by the press. It was a given, after all that, if standards for health insurance were going to be raised in America -- a good thing -- then some plans that don't meet the bar would no longer be available. One could blame this on the Affordable Care Act, or alternatively, one could blame this on insurance companies for providing such substandard care in the first place.
Here's what this boils down to:
Will some people lose their current insurance? Yes.
Will these same folks lose health insurance coverage? No.
They will all have access to better plans and in many cases pay less because of expanded options and tax credits.
This whole kerfuffle ignores that insurance plans were changing all the time and premiums were skyrocketing pre-Obamacare. Suddenly, a whole range of bad behavior on the part of insurance companies is blamed on the Affordable Care Act. It's just like employers trying to shaft their workers by cutting hours and benefits and blaming it on the Affordable Care Act, even though employer mandate provisions don't take effect for another year.
Trying to blame Obamacare for every problem in the private insurance market is paradoxical: The whole reason for passing the Affordable Care Act was to fix what's broken with private insurance
If we as a nation object to the inherent and deeper flaws within the private health insurance system in America, then we should embrace a single-payer system. But instead, because conservatives were so wed to propping up the private insurance market, we got Obamacare. It's disingenuous to turn around and point fingers at Obamacare for faults that have always been -- and will always be -- pervasive in private health insurance.
The Affordable Care Act prevents some of the worst abuses of the private insurance market and makes coverage overall more inclusive and affordable. It doesn't fundamentally alter the private market equation -- and incentives to cut corners and care.
I know Republicans love their manufactured outrage, as much as they loved it back in September 2010, when Republican Sen. Mike Enzi cited the same 40% to 67% numbers for those expected to lose plans that NBC now reports as "new news." But the fact remains that about 80% of Americans get their health insurance either from their employers or from a program like Medicare, and that won't change at all under the Affordable Care Act.
Millions more are uninsured and will be thrilled to have access to affordable insurance at subsidized rates. This saves us all money, because the cost of their emergency room care isn't offloaded onto the rest of us in rising premiums. What we're focused on now is the small sliver of Americans who, like myself, get insurance through the individual market. Some of us will see our current plans disappear, but all of us will see our plans upgraded -- with many becoming more affordable.
When it comes to President Obama and his policies, conservatives have a steady supply of manufactured shock. But improving the quality and affordability of health insurance for all Americans and providing real facts along the way, that's an important accomplishment.
- Created on 28 October 2013
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The president of the NAACP says laws that aim to undermine the coalition that helped elect President Barack Obama are the No. 1 issue facing Americans.
Benjamin Jealous told a Salt Lake City audience on Friday that the nation's power structure has seen the way blacks, Hispanics and students of all races are voting and it realizes time is running out on its "strategy for power."
He says attempts to place restrictions on voter registration in Florida are aimed at those outside the power structure, but populists can defeat "organized money" every time if people are organized.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports ( HTTP://BIT.LY/H8MJOB ) that Jealous' remarks were made at the NAACP Salt Lake branch's 94th annual Life Membership and Freedom Banquet.
Jealous has made voter rights a hallmark of his five-year administration, which ends next week. He announced earlier this fall that he would leave the position but pledged to remain an active civil rights leader.