- Created on 19 October 2012
By Raynard Jackson
With the presidential election right around the corner and most of the pundits saying the race is Obama's to lose, I have begun to ponder the possibility that Romney might win and the impact that would have on the Black community.
Romney has been polling around zero percent of the Black vote. We all know that the usual Black liberal groups have sold out to Obama years ago – Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, Urban League, etc.
Romney, like Bush in 2000, will owe absolutely nothing to Blacks should he win the election. But, unlike Bush, I have no allusions that Romney will surround himself with the number of Blacks that Bush did. Romney will feel compelled to make some token hires, but not much beyond that.
This will lead to the above-named liberals to complain that Romney is ignoring Blacks and not being inclusive. But these same groups have yet to raise their voices to criticize Obama on the same issue. Bush had more Blacks in his administration than Obama or Bill Clinton. How's that for a White supposed racist Republican?
So, how can they, credibly, hold Romney to a standard that they refused to hold Obama to?
Let's assume that Romney agrees to meet with these liberals and they make their typical left-wing demands: higher minimum wage, amnesty for illegals, homosexual rights, input on hiring decisions, etc. If the current incarnation of Romney shows up, he will not agree to their demands.
So, how will they respond if Romney says to them, "Why should I do these things when Obama didn't do them for you? Congressman Cleaver, will you promise not to march on the White House during my administration like you did for Obama? Mr. Jealous, if I don't address your annual conference, like Obama, will you give me a pass because my schedule is supposedly full? Members of the CBC, if I tell you to stop complaining like Obama did, will you label me a racist, even though you didn't call Obama a racist?"
If the first Black president ignores the Black community, how can we then make demands on the next White president, regardless of party? This is why having Blacks put all their votes in one party is so dangerous. We have absolutely no leverage if Romney wins the White House.
What's amazing about the groups that claim to represent all Blacks is they all claim to be non-partisan. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.
On election night, should Romney win, he will say all the right things about wanting to be president for all of America, even those who did not vote for him.
But, in raw political terms, why should Romney engage with these liberals? They don't represent the Black mainstream. They have been bought and paid for by the Democratic Party and the likes of George Soros.
To the Black community, you must become more politically sophisticated and not continue to allow you and the community to be ignored and taken for granted. To Republicans, get rid of your silly notion of a color-blind society. If you can't see the changing demographics of this country, then you are truly color blind – blind to people of color.
- Created on 19 October 2012
By George E. Curry
The affirmative action program at the University of Texas now under review by the United States Supreme Court should not be looked at in isolation. As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in Grutter V. Bollinger, an affirmative action case involving the University of Michigan, "context matters when reviewing race-based governmental action under the Equal Protection Clause."
An amici curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief filed by the Advancement Project, an equal opportunity advocacy group, in support of the University of Texas provides excellent context of how the issue of race has played out in Texas and the University of Texas for decades.
"UT is the progeny of a state that seceded from the Union in 1861 with the explicit goal of preserving 'negro slavery' for 'all future time,'" the brief observed. "Even after rejoining the Union and despite passage of the Reconstruction Amendments, Texas sought to implement its goal of excluding blacks from public life and political personhood. In the early decades of the twentieth century, the Court repeatedly struck down Texas statutes designed to deny blacks full citizenship."
The brief noted, "Nixon v. Herndon, 273 U.S. 536 (1927), ranks among the many Texas-based cases that illustrate the state's relegation of blacks to second-class citizenship. The litigation involved Dr. L.A. Nixon, a Black physician in El Paso, Texas and a member of the Democratic Party. Dr. Nixon filed suit claiming he was unlawfully excluded from participating in the Democratic Party primary elections. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing for a unanimous Court, held that Dr. Nixon's rights had been violated under the Fourteenth Amendment."
Despite the ruling, Texas refused to allow Dr. Nixon to participate in the political process. He appeared before the Supreme Court again five years later and got another ruling that forced Texas to comply.
Higher education was also subject to state-mandated segregation.
"Texas's flagship university was founded by white Texans for white Texans," the Advancement Project brief stated. "UT categorically barred black Americans from the University and from its graduate and professional schools."
In one of the most famous Supreme Court cases, Sweatt v. Painter, the court forced the University of Texas Law School to admit Herman Sweatt, a qualified African-American who had graduated from Jack Yates High School in Houston and Wiley College.
"As the public face of the struggle against segregation in higher education, Sweatt faced harassment, on and off UT's campus," the brief recounted. "During Sweatt's first semester at the law school, a cross was burned on the law school grounds. Opponents of integration threatened Sweatt's life, in person and by mail. Vandals defaced his home and threw rocks, shattering windows. Sweatt fell ill and struggled academically, financially, and personally. Life at UT became unbearable. Sweatt eventually dropped out of school—a "physical and emotional wreck."
Blacks who followed Sweatt at the University of Texas also faced barriers.
"UT excluded blacks from living in the on-campus dormitories designated for whites and specifically forbade all black students from entering the living quarters of white women," the brief recounted. "UT established separate and inferior residential housing for blacks. UT barred black students from intercollegiate athletics, excluded them from extracurricular activities such as music and theater, and permitted segregated fraternities and sororities. UT even banned black students from using the same bathroom facilities as whites. All told, in Sweatt's wake, blacks faced an all-encompassing stigma, purely on account of race."
Not surprisingly, the Brown decision was not well received in Texas.
"One of the most significant racial flare-ups in recent years at UT concerned a campus landmark built in 1954 and named in honor of William Simkins, a professor at UT's law school from 1899 until his death in 1929," the brief stated. "Within five weeks of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, UT named its new dormitory in honor of Simkins ...
"Simkins was not merely a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He, along with his brother Eldred James Simkins (a regent of UT from 1882 to 1896), was 'a criminal and a terrorist, a gun-toting, mask-wearing, night-riding Klansman who headed a group in Florida that murdered 25 people in three years in just one county.'"
The Advancement Projected brief stated, "Black students continued to experience a hostile environment. In 1969, for example, Professor Robert Hopper greeted black sociology major Rosetta Williams on the first day of class in a most unwelcoming way. 'I want feedback from the students because I don't want you sitting around like a bunch of niggers nodding your heads not saying nothing.'"
A campus statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was defaced in 2003 and again in 2004. The Daily Texan, the campus newspaper, came under fire earlier this year when it published a cartoon that mocked the killing of Trayvon Martin, unarmed Florida teenager, and ran a feature referring to him as "a colored boy."
As Justice O'Connor stated, context matters.
- Created on 15 October 2012
By Lenny McAllister
The "detached Republican" and the "people's president" combined to mention the word "poor" less than five times during the first presidential debate despite our hard economic times. Is this a political symptom of a civic value we all share?
The numbers say it. The talking points from many advocates shout it – sometimes in politically-coded and insulting ways.
Poverty is growing in America.
The amount of Americans on some form of government assistance - be it food stamps, Medicaid and Medicare, or other forms of government aid – is budget-busting and economically-troubling. The number of people employed in positions that match their work talents is dauntingly low. Working-class poverty is rapidly becoming "the new black" that more Americans are forced to fashion this economic season.
Too bad candidates have not spoken to it enough during this general election season.
Perhaps it is because pollsters have informed campaigns which way the poor are most likely to vote. Regardless, the failure of candidates such as Governor Romney and President Obama to articulate the need to move more Americans from the perils of poverty into the hope of self-perpetuating prosperity during debates such as Wednesday night's event was troubling.
Perhaps more troubling is our collective response to this void to date.
We have to ask ourselves: are we really addressing the elephant in the room - that more Americans (and tragically, more people of color) are descending below the poverty level and taking the hopes of future generations with them? Are we willing to push the issue of poverty, especially considering the growing level of impoverishment in the United States?
Black Americans are more apt to be behind our countrymen on the economic, education, and employment curves. We are more inclined to be on the precipice of poverty with the delay of a paycheck or the loss of a job. As it stands, Black middle class wealth is being decimated during the Great Recession. The American Dream of advancement is rapidly becoming a nightmare that includes institutional and generational poverty. With that trend comes the yoke of poverty: lessened educational achievements, decreased access to good-paying jobs, and heightened odds of poor health and crime-impacted lives. Despite all this, most candidates – and much of the rest of America – are not speaking enough about one of fasting-growing segments of the American population.
Much of this is politics. Candidates focus primarily on persuadable voters in the hopes to swing elections with rousing rhetoric and campaign promises. The growing American poor – often those without the campaign dollars to contribute to campaigns and the electoral weight to move swing districts throughout gerrymandered electoral maps – are not the focus of attention in campaign ads and high-profile speeches. Yet, many of the popular talking points about budgetary cuts impact them at a high level. Through all of it, do we really see the humanity of the American poor in the poll numbers, talking points, and the flowing speeches? Even if we do see them, are we engaging them (including many of those that we call family, co-workers, and neighbors) in a tangible fashion to reverse the trend?
As Americans, we have a choice that has much more to do with who we are as a people than it does with who we are as voters. As conservatives, the principles of smaller government and lower bureaucratic spending must be met vigorously with the mantra of "smaller government, bigger people" that prompts a genuine, consistent, and effective interaction between conservative leaders and the growing American poor. This effort must regularly and inspiringly articulate its plans to infuse self-perpetuating prosperity into the everyday lives of more Americans.
As progressives, the rhetoric about doing more for the poor must be more than merely fighting for the procurement of another extension of unemployment benefits or other low-paying benefits. "Economic equality" must mean that progressives are less worried about taxing the very rich at a higher rate than they are with bringing more American families into higher tax brackets as quickly as possible.
As African Americans, we have a higher historical obligation to address the issue of American poverty and the particular aftermath it has reeked on our communities. Failures we experience in education, business growth, civic and political power, and crime control have their roots in poverty. Private investment to eradicate poverty and its symptomatic consequences must become a greater priority to those within our communities with the means to do so. Public investment of tax dollars must be more efficient, yield more direct results, and become devoid of the political cronyism and corruption that have stymied progress for those in need. Political leadership must be bold and flexible enough to advocate for the poor effectively while fending off the senses of alienation or demagoguery that may flare up due to their actions.
Whether we immediately force our political candidates to invest more time and attention into these problems or whether we invest more personal resources and efforts ourselves, the time is now to actively seize the growing problem of poverty by the horns – before it chokes the life out of our communities at an irreversible rate.
LENNY MCALLISTER is an internationally-recognized political commentator and public speaker featured on several national and international outlet including BET's "Don't Sleep! Hosted by TJ Holmes", Current TV's "The Young Turks", CNN, and Sirius-XM Radio. His new book, "Spoken Thoughts of an Amalgamated Advocate in Today's America" is now available electronically on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.com . Catch Lenny's "The McAllister Minute" regularly on The American Urban Radio Network.
- Created on 18 October 2012
By Lenny McAllister
Everyone wants change. No one wants to continue on with the level of violence, disrespect, depravity, and economic hopelessness that we have in our communities today.
At the same time, what are we willing to give up in order to turn things around? What is the cost?
A recent high-profile and controversial video (of increasing urban myth notoriety) prompts this decades-long question once again. After watching a fed-up Black male Cleveland bus driver deal with an unruly Black female rider (and her criminal behavior) by stopping the bus, calmly approaching her, and hitting her with an upper-cut that would send nearly her flying off of the bus, I have to ask:
Is this what we've come to as a people?
Yes - there is a clear need for moral authority and civic sanity to return to the Black community, especially as one considers the acceptance of violence and dysfunction that are engrained into the mindset of urban living today. And no – this mindset is not used by everyone in cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, Compton and elsewhere, but everyone living within these cities is familiar with the mindset.
Yet, some openly think this is what is needed to deal with some of the dysfunction of Black America. So, is the ultimate "tough love" approach the best approach to begin reversing the social dysfunction of Black America, particularly the violence and disrespect from our youth?
I say no.
The symptoms found in that infamous You Tube clip reflect problems that have more to do with civic and social alienation than they simply do Black-on-Black violence and lack of generational respect.
Poor people with good educations find a way to stop being poor through time. They use language to find ways to empower situations and find resolution to problems, not insult each other to the point of throwing punches at professionals or women young enough to be one's grandchild.
Poor people with access to true political and societal empowerment do not need to fight for self-esteem in the microcosm of an inner-city argument over much of nothing. They are capable of articulating their vision for respect and community-wide esteem through the marching of their feet, the sounds of their hands at the ballot box, or the tone of their message as they voice their demands for better conditions.
Even as poor and disillusioned people, regaining respect as Black Americans – both within our communities as leaders and within the broader national community as citizens - will come when we collectively embrace the true avenues for regaining our strength, potential, and progressiveness that our communities desperately need.
That comes through upholding our moral authority when engaging the tempers of ghetto disappointment and frustration, not socking people in the jaw with an equal temperance that has been stewed over additional decades of life experiences full of discrimination and hurt.
Addressing the symptoms within our communities – the violence, the devaluing of education, the failures to find self-perpetuating economic prosperity – is not addressing the problems of our communities. Punching out someone - even if one believes that the person "deserves it" - may feel good, but it ends up being the same fleeting feeling that our young Black men feel when shooting someone – even if the shooting victim "deserved it" as well.
Unruly children will fulfill their roles of respectful young people when those called to lead with courage and love in our communities fulfill their roles as bold, selfless leaders within our communities – and specifically for them and their future. Nothing less will do.
Standing up to unruly female passengers on a bus is not courageous. It is not easy being disrespected or being otherwise marginalized. Doing anything worthwhile in the secular, civic, or spiritual realms – especially for the sake of positive, healthy change - ever is.
Moving past the symptoms that we confront everyday (whether it involves mouthy teenagers on the street or dangerous gang-bangers on the corners) requires us to stand up to the actual problems within our communities with love over ignorance, focused activism over vigilantism, and moral authority over gutter justice.
Our political actions must begin immediately to be more than about advocating for the first Black president's re-election carte blanche or taking a strange pride in standing against him without facts or figures to support one's position. Our social interactions must begin immediately to be more about healing the explosiveness within our communities rather than simply fighting fire with gasoline.
Positive change and community healing has a cost, but it is a cost with a very specific price. It is a price set by historical precedent, obligation, and example. It cannot be paid through meeting the price at all costs, including perhaps selling out who we are supposed to be.
It can only be paid successfully through knowing what we gain – and what we might lose – through each interaction we put our energy and authority into, all in the efforts to advance ourselves past the symptoms we feel to secure the solutions we need.
LENNY MCALLISTER is an internationally-recognized political commentator and public speaker featured on several national and international outlets including BET's "Don't Sleep! Hosted by TJ Holmes", Canada's CBC and Sun News Network, CNN, and Sirius-XM Radio. His new book, "Spoken Thoughts of an Amalgamated Advocate in Today's America" is now available electronically on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.com . Catch Lenny's "The McAllister Minute" regularly on The American Urban Radio Network.
- Created on 15 October 2012
Mitt Romney is quietly plotting to move into the White House in January.
Deep inside the Romney campaign, six weeks before Election Day, Romney’s transition to the Oval Office is being called “The Readiness Project,” which is designed to assemble a list of candidates for top White House jobs and offer a blueprint for Romney’s first 200 days in office.
The transition is being led by former Bush Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, a Mormon, like Romney, who is also major player in Romney’s campaign, according to POLITCO.
It seems that Romney’s people have been conducting low-key meetings in Washington, D.C. to review potential candidates to serve as Romney’s advisors and begin the transition from candidate Romney to a Romney administration.
The Romney campaign didn’t want to telegraph this news because Romney’s advisors don’t want the public to think Romney is overconfident in the final stretch of the campaign.
So much for secrecy.
But if national polls are any indication, Romney, the Republican nominee for president, may want to slow his roll and not appear too eager to start measuring the drapes at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
A new Politico-George Washington University Battleground Poll of likely voters shows that President Barack Obama now has a national lead in his close presidential race with Mitt Romney. He leads 50 percent to 47 percent, with a 50 percent job-approval rating, Politico reports.
And according to a new Washington Post poll, Obama now has a significant lead over Romney in Ohio and holds a slight edge in Florida, which puts great pressure on Romney to focus his vision for America during the first presidential debate on Oct. 3.
Obama also has history on his side: No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio and Florida.
“The window is narrowing for Romney, and he’s in deep, deep trouble,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told reporters. “Ultimately, people don’t like this guy. If they don’t like someone, it’s hard to get people to vote for him, particularly to fire someone they do like.”
Romney, the billionaire candidate, is in trouble for several reasons: Polls show that voters are skeptical of Romney because of his clandestine overseas bank accounts, his arrogant and out-of-touch persona, and his failure to release all of his federal tax returns. Many voters correctly believe that Romney acts as if he has something to hide.
But there’s more: Aside from Romney’s flawed domestic policy ideas, Romney often makes comments that are just plain thoughtless and raises serious questions about his intelligence.
This week, for example, when Romney was asked about his wife’s plane making an emergency landing in Denver after the cabin filled with smoke, Romney made a startling admission.
“When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem,” Romney said.
So Romney doesn’t know why airplane windows don’t open? He actually thinks it’s fine to crack a window to get a little fresh air at 32,000 feet?
This goes beyond his “not elegantly stated” excuse after Romney tried to explain away his remarks last week when he was caught on a secret video telling wealthy donors that “47 percent” of Obama’s supporters think of themselves as “victims” who are “dependent on government” and don’t take personal responsibility for their lives.
“(My) job is not to worry about those people,” Romney said. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
That was the real Romney – an arrogant billionaire who is only concerned about tax breaks for the rich.
But the bizarre airplane window comment is something altogether different: It highlights Romney’s blatant stupidity and further demonstrates that Romney has no business in the White House making critical decisions that will impact the lives of millions of Americans.
Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC talk show host, said Romney has hit a new low.
“It’s a real problem that the windows don’t roll down on airplanes? Is it also a problem that guns don’t shoot backwards through the barrel this way? Or that diving boards are only really ever mounted over very deep water? Why don’t the windows roll down?” Maddow asked. “I don’t think he was joking because he couldn’t possibly be joking about his wife almost being in a plane crash. You can’t joke about that, especially with her standing right there.”
Maddow is right. And I’m not sure what’s worse, that Romney truly wonders why airplane windows don’t open or that he was dumb enough to ponder it out loud.