- Created on 06 December 2012
Outrage over an incident of gun violence should be equal, no matter the perp's race.
(The Root) --The recent killing of 17-year-old Jordan Davis has black folks and social-justice activists up in arms over yet another senseless death of an unarmed black boy at the hands of an armed white man in Florida. I'm still trying to figure out how an argument over the volume of music escalated to the use of deadly force against unarmed teenagers.
I'm also perplexed as to why the shooter, 45-year-old Michael Dunn, allegedly fled the scene if he felt that the shooting was justified and he was "covered" by Florida's controversial "Stand your ground" law. If he hadn't done anything wrong or excessive, then why leave the scene, particularly when there were eyewitnesses?
What I find most perplexing is the national outcry by black folks when a black boy is gunned down by a nonblack person, but there's a "business as usual" attitude (from some media organizations and political leaders) when black boys and girls are gunned down for sport by other blacks in communities of color throughout the country.
One has only to look at what is happening in the streets of inner-city Chicago as an example. A weekend in August of this year was one of the deadliest in the city's history. Six people were killed on Aug. 18, tying the record for killings in a single day in Chicago set on Feb. 19. Four of the victims were teenagers. The record-setting killings were dwarfed by the total number of people wounded during that weekend: 36, to be exact.
To add insult to injury, five people were wounded the following Monday night in a shooting on the city's South Side, including two teenage girls who were grazed while sitting on a nearby porch. Blood has been running through the streets of Chicago for far too long, yet there is very little being said or done on a national level about what's happening there.
What about Detroit? In February a 9-month-old died after being hit by bullets from an AK-47 after his house was "sprayed," allegedly because of a dispute over seating at a baby shower, and a 6-year-old was killed in what appears to have been a carjacking by a pair of 15-year-olds wielding AK-47s -- this after a 12-year-old girl was killed in January after getting caught in the crossfire of a man and a woman engaged in an argument that turned violent. Where was the huge national outcry about these killings?
Record numbers of murders are not found just in Midwestern cities. One only has to look at Camden, N.J.; Stockton, Calif.; Oakland, Calif; Memphis, Tenn.; St. Louis, Mo.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Baltimore to find murder rates that are out of control. Statistically speaking, most crimes are committed by people who look like their victims, because crimes occur in neighborhoods that are largely segregated racially and economically.
I find it maddening that the same outrage and disgust expressed when an unarmed black teen is killed by a nonblack adult is not reflected on a national level, when incidents of gun violence, murder and mayhem -- many involving teenagers -- are happening on a regular basis in communities of color throughout this country.
Why does it seem less acceptable when someone from outside the community kills a black teenager than when someone from inside the community does the killing? The level of anger and desire for justice for the victim and punishment for the perpetrator should not be driven by the color of the alleged assailant's skin. If black folks do not appear to value the lives of our children every day in our communities, then why do we think that people outside the community would value those same lives?
Unlike in Trayvon Martin's case, Davis' killing had several eyewitnesses who are helping the police build a case against Dunn. In some of our communities, if there are eyewitnesses to violent crimes, we often discourage them from reporting the crime and working with the police to apprehend the suspects. Instead, they are often labeled "snitches" if they actually report the crime and offer testimony.
We still don't know who killed Tupac, Biggie or Jam Master Jay, and there were eyewitnesses to all three of those high-profile murders. What difference does it make if you are considered a pioneer, genius or game changer in the American mainstream and in black popular culture if your life isn't valued enough for someone to reveal, "Who Shot Ya?"
I understand that there are many cultural reasons for this phenomenon of silence (fear of retaliation, police occupation instead of protection, economic inability to leave the community where the perpetrator might also reside). However, at what point do we stop leaning on these factors and start standing up for the black bodies -- many of them teenagers' -- that are lining the streets of our communities?
What happened to Jordan Davis is awful, and we should all be calling for justice at the tops of our lungs. That demand should be just as loud when the alleged killer of one of our children looks like us, because if we don't value our own, then who will?
- Created on 06 December 2012
(CNN) -- Earlier this year, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, expressed support for raising taxes only on households earning $1 million or more, a higher threshold than the $250,000 dividing line backed by President Obama.
Eventually, Schumer and Pelosi declared their support for the president's position. But the $1 million proposal might serve as the basis for a bipartisan agreement.
A number of Republicans, led by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, have called for raising tax revenue by capping deductions at $50,000, a proposal that would leave virtually all middle-income households untouched while substantially raising average tax rates on households in the top 2% of the income distribution.
A deduction cap is expected to raise roughly $800 billion in revenue above current policy, which is only half of the $1.6 trillion the Obama administration hopes to raise from high-earners. It is, however, an amount that many congressional Republicans appear to have deemed acceptable.
One of the central problems with a deduction cap, however, is that it is likely to be opposed by politically influential charitable organizations, which recognize that it will greatly undermine the incentive for high earners to make large charitable donations. Moreover, President Obama has insisted that tax rates on high earners will have to increase, though he has not made an explicit commitment to the Clinton-era statutory top rate of 39.6% (which compares to today's top rate of 35%).
So, is there a way out of this impasse? Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, along with Reps. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, Bob Dold, R-Illinois, and Mary Bono Mack, R-California, have called on congressional Republicans to back legislation that would extend all the Bush-era tax cuts except for the high-income rate reductions, which would be allowed to expire. This remains a minority view among congressional Republicans, but it may well gain support in light of the popularity of allowing the high-income rate reductions to expire.
Another possibility is that congressional Republicans will embrace the Schumer-Pelosi proposal. That is, rather than embrace expiration for the high-income rate reductions for households earning $250,000 or more, they would accept it for households earning $1 million or more.
This would shield a large, politically influential constituency of affluent households, a disproportionately large share of whom live in high-cost metropolitan areas in blue states, while allowing Democrats and Republicans to take a politically popular stand.
To raise somewhat more revenue, this threshold could be set at $500,000 or $410,000, the latter of which would more precisely target the top 1% of households by annual income. Rather than set the tax rate for this new top bracket at 39.6%, Congress could set a rate of 36% or 37%, a face-saving gesture that would contribute to an appearance of moderation.
Back in 2007, Alan Viard, a tax economist at the right-of-center American Enterprise Institute, offered a detailed explanation of why increasing taxes on high-income households alone is unlikely to raise enough revenue to reach ambitious deficit reduction goals. At the time, he estimated that raising $1 trillion in additional revenue relative to the Bush-era tax code from households earning $1 million or more ($500,000 for singles) would require raising the tax rate from 35% to 57%.
If the goal of a millionaire's tax bracket is not to raise revenue in the most efficient manner but rather to make a political point, as seems at least somewhat plausible, it is easy to imagine it as the basis of a political compromise.
The Obama administration is eager to secure more fiscal stimulus for the coming year in light of sluggish global economic growth. So a tax compromise that raises relatively little revenue is arguably desirable, at least in the short term, as it would help forestall an economic contraction.
If some small number of Republican senators from swing states are willing to cross the aisle to back a millionaire's tax bracket, President Obama will be able to claim he has a bipartisan consensus in favor of his broad approach to resolving the fiscal cliff. This in turn will make it very difficult for House Republicans to resist.
- Created on 04 December 2012
(CNN) -- Readers reacted strongly to a Monday op-ed on CNN.com about Jovan Belcher, the Kansas City Chiefs football player who murdered his girlfriend and then committed suicide. The piece was written by Kevin Powell, an activist, public speaker, and writer, and discussed how the tragedy related to depression and what Powell called "very warped definitions of manhood." It stirred a lot of conversation, including over 1,500 comments and numerous tweets.
On Tuesday, Powell will host a live Twitter chat on @CNNOpinion from 12:30 to1 p.m. ET to discuss issues such as domestic violence, depression, gun violence, and the definition of manhood. Please ask questions in advance and join him for the chat by using the hashtag #JovanBelcher and mentioning @CNNOpinion.
Here, Powell addresses some of the readers' reactions that he has already received.
As men, we must begin to think about manhood in a very different kind of way. I've gotten two distinct responses to my article so far. The first batch is from men who agree that we've got to go in a different direction -- it's unhealthy to squash our true feelings about issues and to never talk. Some men actually admitted to me in very personal and private e-mails that they are hurting right this very minute.
Then there were the angry messages from very angry men, accusing me of being anti-men, of male-bashing, of being on the side of women, of not being willing to let a man be a man. Well, my personal definition of manhood is that it should be rooted in self-love and respect for all people, including women. We should view women and girls as the equals of men and boys. And the foundation of manhood needs to be about peace and nonviolence and communication, not anger, hatred, violence and ugliness.
chippy1 comments: If he was just a blue collar worker with access to a gun, killed his girlfriend then himself, this story would be back with the comics. Since he was a "great" football player the whole planet goes into a tailspin, just making his victim a footnote. This demonstrates the American attitude towards its "idols," and the American persona, the more violent and bloody and scandal prone, the better.
Kasandra Perkins is the victim's name. Let us always say the names of women who are the victims of violence. I would also add it does not matter whether the man is famous, a professional athlete, or someone nobody has ever heard of. Violence against women is unacceptable. However, when it involves a high-profile individual like Belcher, perhaps the tragedy can be a teachable moment so that more people will pay attention to domestic violence. Otherwise Kasandra Perkins' death will truly be in vain.
Mattias Von Bismark comments: I thank you for this comment. It's a hard thing to say. It subjects you to this slander that you are, somehow, supporting the murder of that poor woman. It takes true courage and strength of character to stand up and say, "Yes, what this man did was awful, but there was something at the root of this tragedy which was unaddressed. If this man had received help, his life and the life of the poor woman would have been saved." Those who have never dealt with mental illness need to keep silent on this subject. As we have seen above, they have nothing helpful to add, and denigrate the serious discussion we should all be having.
Mattias, I agree with you. Sadly, many of us do not want to deal with contexts for behaviors or situations. We are quick to name-call and judge and write someone off. The fact is that violence is normal in our country. One-fourth of American women have experienced some form of violence at the hands of men.
I always challenge men to talk with their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunties, female cousins, or their wives or girlfriends, and they would be surprised to find out how many women have been assaulted in some way at some point in their lives. Just read your local papers, the crime reports, and note the number of attacks on women. Dissing Jovan Belcher may make you feel good in the short term. But it does nothing to stop this kind of violence.
Dana, I understand completely your feelings. Do I condemn violence? Absolutely. But am I in position to determine who is going to heaven or hell? No. I am Christian. I just think we've got to be careful of passing judgment on anyone at any given time.
Kyle Jarvis Chan Wu comments: I get the idea that you are actually sticking up for someone who murdered his wife. He shot her. That is a fact. I don't need to stand in the shoes of someone who would act violently against a woman. There is a difference between someone who takes their own life to depression and someone who goes on a killing spree ending with their own life. One person needs help, the other person doesn't deserve a marker on their grave.
Kyle, that is absolutely untrue. I do not condone violence, and I hope for peace and love toward all. But as someone who has overcome personal challenges in grappling with violence and anger, I know that there are some serious issues around manhood and mental illness that we are not fully addressing as a nation. We need to start talking about how to help those in need.
Desiree, that is why we must not forget Kasandra Perkins, Jovan Belcher's girlfriend. I'm not a woman but I can certainly empathize with what women and girls deal with every single day of their lives. I can only imagine. Sexism is alive and well, and the fact that Ms. Parker's name is barely mentioned in most media outlets means that there's a lot of work we need to do to change this situation.
AB comments: the entire story is horribly sad, BUT why was there a moment of silence for him? he murdered his child's mother, and then, killed himself, leaving a baby with no mother or father. ... He murdered someone and you are giving him a moment of silence? If that was my daughter, it would make me more than angry if you gave her murderer this.. everyone is saying he was a great guy, well this great guy, did a horrendous crime.
That is incorrect. There was actually a moment of silence by the Kansas City Chiefs for victims of domestic violence, as it should have been. My hope is that the National Football League, as well as other sports leagues, will take the same kind of very visible stance on domestic violence as it has on breast cancer.
- Created on 05 December 2012
"Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that can't keep promises it made you during election time and you're dumb enough to continue to identify with that political party, you're not only a chump but traitor to your race." – Malcolm X
What's your personal political ideology and most important value? Do you agree that certain political parties and issues are more important to Blacks than Whites? A political party typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating candidates with aligned political views and trying to seat them in political office. In your political alignments, are you getting what you need and deserve in return, and not chump change?
It was a Republican president who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The Republicans Party was the party of most Blacks prior to the 1960s, including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Booker T. Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. Some of the founding fathers of the NAACP were Republicans as was the party that desegregated the South's schools and implemented America's affirmative action programs. Republicans believe in the free enterprise system. The Office of Minority Business Enterprise, a federal agency dedicated to minority business, was established by Republican President Richard Nixon in March of 1969.
African-American history is most often presented through liberal political lens that skew contributions and examples of African Americans outside the liberal mainstream. Black Americans have been taught that Republicans are racist and care nothing about Black empowerment. Black Republicans are often labeled "insufficiently Black."
In truth, the history of the Republican Party's relationship with Blacks is one of a bright start followed by steady decline. Unfortunately, a reliance on family and faith has become a casualty of the modern welfare state, contributed to the destruction of family cohesion and supplanted faith in God with faith in government. Black conservatism is a political and social movement rooted in communities of African descent that aligns largely with the American conservative movement.
Allen West is an example of an elected Black Republican. Atlanta-born West, who was defeated for re-election this year, is known for comments alleging that Democratic "handouts" to the poor have resulted in a "modern form of slavery" and rejects Black History Month honors the achievements of African-Americans throughout history and that is a good thing.Unfortunately, a reliance on family and faith, which allowed many African-Americans to survive the horrors of Reconstruction, racial injustice and violent acts of discrimination, has become a casualty of the modern welfare state, which has contributed to the destruction of family cohesion, supplanted faith in God with faith in government and fashioned many African-Americans into a Democratic voting bloc that has not improved the lot of the impoverished among them.
While African-American history is important, the way it is most often presented through a liberal political lens skews the contributions and examples of African-Americans who do not toe the liberal line.One especially sees this in the civil rights establishment's response to Justice Clarence Thomas and more recently to Rep. Allen West, R-Fl "the idea of the safety net becoming a hammock." West's point is that Democrats who claim to care so for African Americans, in reality, have done them a grave disservice by perpetuating myths of Republican racism and addicting them to a government check instead of liberation through education and strong families. Heritage Foundation data supports West saying: "The public's dependence on the federal government shot up 23 percent under President Obama."
Since the 1930s, the Democratic Party has put forth and promoted social liberal and progressive platforms; and for more than 40 years Blacks have increasingly aligned themselves with Democrats rarely questioning social policies rooted in low expectations and government dependency; economic and tax policies that stifle economic growth, job creation, personal savings and investment; and education policies that refuse to subject public schools to the competition of "school choice."
Blacks are naïve if they continue in their status and low regard among either of the dominant parties. The Democrats, led by President Obama, plainly ignore Blacks, while the Republican establishment disrespects and disregards us. But, apparently Blacks cannot envision leveraging our voting bloc into party platforms, policies and programs that reflect Black Americans' needs and wants.
- Created on 30 November 2012
Let's face it... Black America has too much experience living on the edge of the cliff, fiscal or otherwise, and Black business owners occupy the most precarious position in America's market place. Fortunately, President Obama's second term agenda is designed to create much-needed jobs and restore middle class security by investing in small business, manufacturing, education, and clean energy. I can assure you, he looks forward to getting down to business and working with Congress -- in a bipartisan way -- to help the middle class.
You've heard by now that unless Congress acts to extend middle class tax cuts by the end of the year, most families will see their federal income tax bill rise by a little more than $2,000. At the same time, taxes will stay low on every business owner's first $250,000 of income. But if Congress fails to act, a small business owner making $120,000, for example, could see up to a $4,600 tax increase.
It should be clear that we've got a little more work to do, even after the election. We've got to contact our U.S. Representatives and Senators and let them know we want them to work closely with the administration to hold the line on tax increases. And, we want them to focus sharply on ways to cut unnecessary spending from the federal budget. The President has long supported the need for both new revenue and spending cuts to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. Fortunately for us (not everybody is as experienced as us at living on the edge!) there are encouraging signs that Republicans and Democrats in Washington are open to a bipartisan solution. That's significant.
The President's plan targets small businesses. Small businesses create two out of every three net new private sector jobs. You've heard us say that if all the nearly 1.8 million of America's sole-proprietor Black businesses could hire just one new employee, we'd just about wipe out unemployment in our communities. President Obama's work to protect these business owners' earnings from tax increases is helping spur economic development in communities across our country and giving millions of families and individuals the opportunity to achieve the American dream. If Congress agrees – and acts – it will keep taxes low for 97% of small businesses and it will create j-o-b-s!
From the mom-and-pop storefront shops to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy. In his second term, the President plans to build on the 18 small business tax breaks he already signed into law, but first we need to find common ground and compromise to keep taxes from going up on 97% of small businesses on January 1, 2013.
It's a no-brainer for us... Since the President's approach to the "fiscal cliff" reduces the deficit in a balanced way by $4 trillion by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share and preserves the investments we need to grow the economy, what's the problem? The $1 trillion in spending cuts President Obama has already signed should signal to both Democrats and Republicans how committed he is to a balanced approach to further reduce our deficit.
Here's your assignment: Call, write, email, tweet using #My2K, post on facebook or send up smoke signals! Let Congress hear the voice of Black Business on the President's tax plan.
In the Spirit of Success,
Ron Busby, Sr.
U.S. Black Chamber, Inc.