It’s always nice to
be proven right, especially in connection with a setback for
the opposition. Last year, the Louisiana GOP gambled on a scheme
that might have been hatched at a Mardi Gras masked ball. State
Republicans thought they could retain their status as the White
Man’s Party – the key to their dominance in the Deep South – while
running an Indian-American for governor. Party leaders also
deluded themselves into believing the gambit would split the
(Apparently, people of all classes drink too much in Louisiana,
including rich Republicans.)
When a Cajun-country
Democrat beat Bobby Jindal, the local corporate media went on
a binge of rationalizing and euphemizing to avoid the obvious
fact that Louisiana rednecks would not accept a brown governor. studied
the election results (we happened to be in New Orleans at the
time) and titled our November
20 Cover Story, “Black Voters and White Racists Frustrate
week, a reader sent us a link to an April 7 op-ed piece in
the New Orleans Times-Picayune,
Scares Up Ghosts of David Duke.” Author John Maginnis sliced
and diced the precincts where whites strongly supported former
Klansman David Duke for governor in 1991, and compared them to
the results for Indian-American Bobby Jindal in 2003. Although
Maginnis performs the usual not-all-Duke-voters-were-racists
ritual (Duke racked up a majority of whites), he found that “Jindal
fared poorer than [2002 GOP Senate candidate Suzie] Terrell in
nearly all of the 19 parishes that Duke carried and in seven
more where he had more than 45 percent of the vote.”
then concludes that Governor Kathleen Blanco did well against
Jindal among whites
because she was conservative on most issues, and that she “would
have clobbered Duke worse than [Governor Edwin] Edwards did” in
1991. This amounts to playing peek-a-boo with racists – while
snorkeling in the Mississippi River.
must be something in the liquor. But you can be sure the White
Man’s Party has
learned its lesson in Louisiana.
to view entire Scalia cartoon
our March 25 cartoon by The-Artist-Known-As-Twenty-nine, we
caused the following words
to issue from U.S. Supreme Court “Hanging Judge” Antonin Scalia’s
factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence
number of readers wanted to know where to find verification
for the quote, which
is associated with the 1993 Herrera Decision. Another, somewhat
less provocative version goes, “Innocence is no bar to a guilty
verdict properly arrived at."
has never clarified the wording, nor denied authorship. The “quote” deserves more
than an apocryphal rating, since it fits the philosophy of the
High Court’s most right-wing member. (As Scalia’s protégé, Clarence
Thomas deserves a lower place on the marquee.) However, by barring
recorders from his heavy speechmaking schedule, the loathsome
Scalia has made himself fair game for possible misquotation.
He recently caused two federal marshals to bully and erase the
tapes of a group of reporters invited to one of his speeches
at a Christian high school in Mississippi. The Reporters Committee
for Freedom of the Press sent a letter
of protest to Attorney General John Ashcroft, and the Society
of Professional Journalists (SPJ)
called on Scalia "to respect the First Amendment rights
of journalists to gather news when he speaks at public events."
it turns out, the First Amendment was the subject of Scalia’s speech to the Christian
students. “It's unfortunate that Justice Scalia provided a lesson
in disrespect for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
he claims to so dearly love," said SPJ President Gordon
McKerral. “This incident makes his remarks ring hollow and places
him above the law, the epitome of arrogance for a judge, much
less a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.”
is a deluge coming – a
tidal wave of right-wing subversion that will soon break over
the Black body politic – and there’s nothing we can do stop it.
The Waltons, the family with “the world’s most dangerous genetic
markers,” who brought us Wal-Mart, plan to transfer $20 billion
to their Hard Right philanthropy, the Walton Family Foundation.
Most of the yearly dividends from the unprecedented cash infusion
will fund education “reform,” a euphemism for the Walton’s pet
project: privatization of the public schools. $20 billion will
yield about $1 billion per year in disbursements to voucher-privatization
organizations – the phony “movement” largely invented by the
Waltons and Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation.
Thus, we did not exaggerate
in titling our April
8 Cover Story, “Wal-Mart Prepared to Bury the Left Under
a Mountain of Money.”
to view entire "The Waltons" cartoon
How much traction
can a billion dollars a year buy? Nobody in Black America
has ever seen the kind of money that the Walton Foundation
will have at its disposal once the $20 billion stock transfer
is completed. The prospect is, in a word, terrifying.
are hard pressed, as it is. The two principal advocacy
opposed to vouchers are People for the American Way (PFAW)
and the NAACP, with annual budgets of about $15 million and
$30 million, respectively. The teachers unions – the National
Education Association (NEA, 2.7 million members) and the
American Federation of Teachers (AFT, one million members)
spend about $350 million a year combined, for all purposes.
Only a tiny fraction of these organizations’ resources can
be spared for the anti-voucher fight, while rightwing foundations
and the Bush Education Department lavish tens of millions
on voucher propaganda, recruitment, cooptation and institution-building.
the Waltons continue their policy of allocating about 80 percent
of their grants to education, and if only half of that amount
is targeted to “reform” – privatization in one guise or the
other – their yearly “choice” war chest would be larger than
the combined budgets of the NEA, the AFT, the NAACP and PFAW.
Wal-Mart “model” is
a threat, not only to American and global living standards,
but to the preservation of the public sphere.
Halimah Allah writes to us, from the Black
Woman's Wholistic Exchange.
article titled, "Wal-Mart Prepares to Bury the Left" makes
me think of the potential power inherent in collective
economics, and the damage that is done by rampant consumerism.
a nation of people, Blacks generally buy what we want
and beg for what we need, although its is generally agreed
that collectively we have some $165,000,000,000 in spending
(investing) power! Unfortunately, like so much
of our potential and talent, it goes untapped for the
benefit of our people.
to Wal-Mart's methods as, "Predatory Capitalism." Clearly,
in Black communities, Wal-Mart senses all
the elements of their typical prey: dollars
and dependency. The Bible says, "the
prey will be taken away..." Many
have said that the battle, is for hearts and minds. Personally,
I think the Wal-Mart-mentality (consumerism in general)
has the same components as the "master/slave" relationship
and is just as destructive.
cursory review of history reveals that many of the products
of prosperity which have made America great were in fact
created and invented by Black people. Surely if we were
able to make another people successful while in a
state of bondage and abject depravity (chattel slavery),
with today's modern technology and education we can, and
should, begin to find ways to do the same for the
30-40 million members of our Nation of People.
D. Sartor has noted that Wal-Mart is spending its money strategically,
in Black-oriented media – with as much emphasis on propaganda
as on prices.
am so impressed with the Black Commentator newsletter and
the wonderful job
you do of digging deep for the facts. I look forward
to the new issue each week and usually read it from "cover
to cover." Recently I sent the link out to my
email list so that my friends and associates, both black
and white, could have access to your publication and
its insightful coverage. Having spent the early part
of my career as a news writer and public affairs television
producer I know how important it is to be vigilant about
the plans others have for us. I am often amazed at
the apparent deep sleep our community seems to prefer but
with voices like yours there may be hope of an awakening.
one of my other sources of information is through NPR and
Tavis Smiley. I am torn because I appreciate most of
his interviews but must admit that I am now wary of his
and his show’s association with Wal-Mart. A couple
of weeks ago I even heard him interview what I believe was
the CEO of Wal-Mart and after having read some of your
articles I found myself questioning the motives of the interview.
Time to put our thinking caps on and stop taking everything
at face value. I realize that sponsorship dollars are
the lifeblood of Public Radio but Tavis may need to reassess
his connection with Wal-Mart.
up the good work. We need you.
Ron Chandler is
a scientist specializing in water quality who has joined
the ever-growing circles of resistance to Wal-Mart.
you for the thorough and well written article about the
that is Wal-Mart. I am working with a group of concerned
citizens that truly represent the community – African American,
Asian, Hispanic, white, Hindi, Muslim, Buddhist, Christians,
scientists, teachers, small business owners, ministers – to
stop Wal-Mart from building a “super center” on (literally)
the headwaters of the principal stream flowing through Gainesville,
FL. The project would destroy most or all of 90 acres of
wetland, significantly alter the hydrology of the stream,
as well as diminish its water quality, while interrupting
groundwater recharge. Groundwater is Gainesville’s sole source
of drinking water. The project would also cause tremendous
traffic congestion, and facilitate sprawl development far
out to the West of town, increasing infrastructure costs,
and further depleting resources needed to repair existing
infrastructure, to revitalize close-in and failing east-side
neighborhoods, and to provide assistance for working poor.
The beneficiaries? A handful of wealthy white developers.
though the majority of the citizenry are opposed to the project,
the battle is an uphill one. Articles such as yours help those
working for fair governance, fair distribution of wealth and
resource conservation in many ways. We are indebted to you
for your efforts.
may take one village to raise a child, but it will take a
huge circle of citizenry to defeat the Wal-Mart "model."
Bartholomae, of Las Vegas, fears that Wal-Mart and its fellow
corporate citizens have already done irreparable damage.
a person who has watched the rise and power grab of Wal-Mart,
I cannot thank you enough for your insightful and truthful
article about them. I have copied and stored this excellent
piece. I am aging and want to show my great grandkids
what America once was like and how it got to where it will
be when they grow up. So I am saving what I consider
to be important papers, like yours. Thank you again for
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice’s “reputation,” if that
is the proper term, shrank further under questioning from
the 9/11 Commission,
last week. (Click
here to visit the Radio page
where you can listen to our commentary on her testimony.) In
1 issue, the week before her testimony, we wrote that “Condoleezza
Rice is finished as a Black political asset of the White Man’s
(War) Party…gone are the heady days when rich rightwing society
floated cocktail dreams of Condoleezza for the Senate or Vice
President in 2004, and even Condi for President in ’08.” She
has largely outlived her perceived usefulness as a deflector
of the administration’s core racism.
the false glow of their delusions, Republicans truly believed
Rice was the ultimate political asset – a Black woman who
could by her presence wash them clean of racist stench, and
then perform the same ablution the next day, and the next.
Rice made it easy for the super-privileged to love themselves.
Unlike coy Colin Powell, Rice did not bargain or seek her
own space, but settled into the very fabric of Bushness.
In so doing, however, Rice lost all power of personal agency.
Having surrendered everything to the Bushes, her Blackness
gradually lost its value as a cloak for her patrons’ racism.
The affirmative action opinions of a loyal Black servant
carry little weight, as Rice discovered in January of last
year when Colin Powell’s pronouncements on the subject totally
eclipsed her own. Her benefactors noticed that, too. That’s
when the talk of high office, stopped….
has mused aloud that segregation would have faded away in time
without the intervention of the Civil Rights Movement. This
is no doubt what rich racists say over drinks in Texas – and
what George Bush might have said to Rice back at the ranch
in the days when they were both young and he still drank – but
it is not what the “most powerful” Black woman in the world
says in public if she has a brain in her head.
Jeanette Pollard sees Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State
Colin Powell as
a package – or maybe, more like a trick bag.
am so disgusted with Condi and Colon, oops – Colin, I don't
know what to do. Both think they have themselves and
their immediate families – parents who worked hard and sucked
up – to thank for where they are and who they are. Well guess
what C and C – none of us are who we are on our own strength
alone. There are countless unknown ancestors, not just
well known people like Dr. King, but thousands of people whose
names will never be known. People who were lynched, shot, throats
slit, fire bombed, etc., etc., etc., just for the RIGHT for
both of you to get the national positions you now hold. Your
actions disgrace their sacrifices and disgrace the Black race. You
both will find out when it’s too late, the one thing the white
man hates worse than a "field nigger" is a "house
nigger," 'cause the "house nigger" will sell
his/her soul to the highest bidder!
Kristina Gronquist writes:
you for your sharp and insightful analysis of Ms. Rice. As
a Swedish American feminist who is also an anti-war activist
and a person who tries to confront racism within and without,
it is difficult to see a black woman in power fail so dismally.
The feminist and the anti-racist in me wants her to succeed.
And yet this is not success, because God knows she can't promote
African American or feminist issues by participating in Bush's
hall of war horrors. Your piece put it all in perspective,
with cutting humor and wit.
has some nice things to say about us, and a harsh assessment
analysis of C. Rice's political future is, as usual, brilliant
and fearless. Here are some other little factlets about her:
1. Former administrators
at Stanford say that she had little interest in and almost no
knowledge of affirmative action law while she served as a top
admin there. An individual I know who worked with her indicates
that she could not distance herself fast enough from doing substantive
homework on the subject; yet she hasn't hesitated to make public
statements about recent litigation affecting universities, and
she has absurdly and insultingly compared the Iraqi "struggle" to
the US civil rights movement.
2. A former Soviet
analyst I know says that her reputation as a Soviet "expert" was
exaggerated. Everyone in his field recognized her as an academic
opportunist who had no real expertise in the subject. He says
this is the dirty little secret that no journalist dares to reveal
because Rice has (pompously) played the race card on several
occasions when her expertise was questioned.
3. Early in the planning for the Afghan invasion, Ms. Rice suggested playing
off Iran and Pakistan against Afghanistan, revealing a complete ignorance
of the ethnic and religious tensions and complexities of south Asia. My source
for this says that every area specialist he knows is embarrassed by Ms. Rice's
having gotten in over her head. She is a master at academic politics and
jockeying for position and has a well-developed ability to disguise the limits
of her subject expertise. She is of course bright enough to backpedal when
faced with exposure.
I agree with you that Rice represents the worst of a certain type, and Gen.
Powell is simply a more sophisticated version of the same. I'm deeply disappointed
by his having sold his soul to some degree, but I believe he probably deserves
to survive politically. She does not. She is a house slave in the worse sense.
I've known a dozen like her in the academic and corporate worlds, and they
are worse than mediocre because they cultivate a deceptive aura of excellence.
I hope Rice is forced out in disgrace and that black men and women of integrity
will emerge to counteract the damage done by Rice and Powell.
Russell Camp believes
Rice and Powell are harming Black people as a whole.
truly wish that the presence of black people in high government
positions had not been damaged by the RNC and the Bush Pirates.
There are people of conscience in the black community that
could build a more positive image for black people in politics.
It is sad that these condescending Ultra-White racists have
managed to deal yet another blow to the legitimacy of competent
black people in high office. This is likely the worst crime
the Bush Administration has committed against this nation’s
people, for even though many have died needlessly in pursuit
of another country's assets, this assault against the image
of the black community is one that will last for generations.
Andrew Thomas says
Rice fits right in with the Bush crowd.
being near the end of the week but not quite Friday, are usually
a drag. But the best thing about Thursday is definitely
Black Commentator, which I almost always enjoy. I also
appreciate the net-links, which allow me to delve into many
of your thought provoking articles more deeply.
I particularly enjoyed
the article on Condi
Rice. This Administration
is like the "Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight": they screw up
almost everything they touch. Anytime a commentator criticizes Condi
Rice, suggestions are often subtly (sometimes not so subtly) made that
the criticizer is a racist. You ought to send this issue to Bob (The
Traitor) Novak of CNN's Crossfire.
an arch bigot, attempted to play Rice like a Republican “race card” on a recent
Crossfire – and was casually dismissed by the targeted Democratic
congressman. Like we said, she’s outlived her usefulness in
Teresa Turner is a
director of sales and marketing who believes that Rice misperceives
her value to the Bush men.
had hoped that she (Condolezza) would come to her senses but
unfortunately she is going to learn the hard way that Black
is Black regardless of your position, education, money or any
Leutisha Stills doesn’t think much of Rice’s credentials as
referencing your Guest Commentary piece of Mr. Lloyd Cata
and the Politics of Personal Power,” February
19) where he relates a conversation he had with his son,
I was reminded of that article when you state that Dr. Rice
effectively gave up her power of personal agency when she "settled
into the very fabric of the Bushes." I know there
was talk of her running for Governor of my home state, but
since the Terminator got the office, there's no need for
the Republiscams to try and reach out to us African-Americans
here with the Skeeza.
Is Dr. Rice delusional in musing that the practice, policy
and law of Jim Crow would have faded away without the intervention
of the Civil Rights
Movement? Does she even realize that if it had not been for the Civil
Rights Movement, she would not be "Dr. Rice," let alone a Stanford
University provost, or getting a Chevron super-tanker named after her.
Additionally, she would not be National Security Advisor, but maybe, the
house slave by-day/concubine at night to good ol' GeeDubya, himself, if
it had not been for the Civil Rights movement, or Affirmative Action. I
guess you can be so brilliant to the point of being stupid and delusional. That
is, if she were truly brilliant – right now, she has the brilliance of
a sock puppet, and the horrifying thought is, even a sock puppet would
have known about the potential for 9/11 and probably would have acted on
Rice is a brilliant and educated...fool.
turns out that Lloyd Cata, the Guest
Commentator whom Ms. Stills spoke of, also wrote us a letter.
I am giving
Mr. Powell “the benefit of the doubt” as to his role in the
machinations in this administration. I simply have a hard
time categorizing him with the likes of Clarence Thomas,
yet I know what he has done and not done with respect to
Haiti is a treacherous betrayal of Black people everywhere.
(See “Godfather Colin Powell: The Gangster of Haiti,” March
4.) Whether in support of “his” president or because
of his own agenda, I agree wholeheartedly that he should
be rebuked and censored by the Black community worldwide.
His acquiescence, and indeed participation, in the armed
overthrow of President Aristide has blemished the record
of the American Black community and damaged the trust between
the worldwide Black community and the rest of the world.
That same trust is what led to downfall of apartheid, and
it is that trust that Black American leaders must be able
to draw on to continue the fight against injustice and human
betrayal of that trust is the one thing that I cannot ignore
in Mr. Powell’s
recent roots in the Caribbean region, I could understand if
Mr. Powell was doing something constructive in the region besides
arming and arm-twisting to advance the US agenda for the region.
And I say US agenda because it essentially has not changed
since the birth of this nation. It has at times been depicted
interest” in the welfare of the Caribbean peoples, but the
themes remain the same, from the Monroe Doctrine to Teddy Roosevelt’s
charge up San Juan Hill. Neither Mr. Powell, nor Mr. Bush,
created the US policy, but for Mr. Powell to embrace and put
his stamp on this policy may be the most blatant act of betrayal
since Clarence Thomas repudiated the affirmative action programs
that nurtured his ambitions of power. No, it is much worse,
because those affirmative action programs did not impact the
world respect and the self-respect of Black peoples around
the world. Many Black people worldwide are speaking with consternation
at Mr. Powell’s actions, but it was nice to see Harry Belafonte’s
words about Mr. Powell ring so true and clear. (, October
17, 2002.) We can, and will, maintain our dignity
despite the designs of those who would use clearly treacherous
Black elitists to lead us back into subjugation and slavery.
Bush wants the world to “choose sides” and the American Black
community cannot stand on the sidelines during this crucial
time in world history. Let it be known that we respect even
our enemies, but let's be clear about who they are...and unfortunately
I must add Colin Powell’s name to that list.
We called our April
1 piece “Condoleezza’s Crimes,” and concluded it, this
will judge Rice infinitely more harshly than the 9/11 Commission,
is concerned only with harms done to Americans. Rice, Colin
Powell and a cellblock full of Bush Pirates deserve to be
tried for the highest crimes yet delineated by mankind: crimes
against peace (i.e., waging a "war of aggression"),
war crimes and crimes against humanity. So, let’s hear no
more about Condoleezza Rice being unfairly made a scapegoat.
last thing a pirate should wish for is justice.
Paul Street rejects, as we do, the bankrupt and servile notion
that the oppressed must be held responsible for their own misery.
(Rather, the oppressor must one day be held responsible by the
oppressed.) Needless to say, people with power and privilege
pay big bucks to be absolved of culpability in the systematic
creation of gross inequalities. Some of these dollars went
into the creation of Harvard Professor Louis “Skip” Gates’ latest
public television project, the subject of Paul Street’s April
8 article, “Skipping Past Structural Racism: Center Trumps
Left in a Recent PBS Series of Race in America.”
the dominant privilege-friendly and Euro-bourgeois notion
empowerment, and freedom are essentially available to all
who exhibit proper individual initiative and “personal responsibility,” [Gates]
thinks that African-Americans at the bottom of the steep
US socioeconomic pyramid are largely to blame for their own
misery. “Class” for Gates means that that lower-class blacks
simply need to work harder and smarter to acquire the skills,
education, habits and values possessed in greater degree
by their black class superiors, including the imperialist
figurehead Colin Powell, featured as an example of what blacks
can accomplish when they work hard, study, save and behave
to Chicago’s black underclass – “take refuge from [your] culture
of chaos through education, deferred gratification, and hard
work” so that you “too…can claim [your] stake in the American
dream” (Gates, America Behind the Color Line [New
York, NY: Warner Books, 2004], p. 343) – is excessively idealist
and unintentionally cruel. The harsh material and structural-racist
reality of American society interacts with timeworn, victim-blaming
ruling-class explanations of poverty to play an ugly game on
the nation’s most truly disadvantaged. They are expected
to magically leap beyond their social-historical circumstances – to
exercise an inordinately high degree of sound personal responsibility
just to keep their heads above water – while others are structurally
empowered to “pass Go and collect $2 million” without such
exercise, and indeed to deepen the well of black disadvantage.
Luther Allman thinks
article peeling away the fat of double-speak. Skip Gates is
merely doing the bidding of PBS which wishes to push it's views
with a Black face mouthing it! Whatever damage he does is certainly intentional rather
than unintentional. Whatever they paid him was sufficient for
him to make his false analysis and conclusions. I saw the special
and concluded that the “fix was in” as Paul Street also concluded.
Marilee Thome, of
Troutdale, Oregon, encountered on
time ago I heard the last half of an interview with one of
your publishers on our local progressive radio station, KBOO.
I've been reading your site ever since, and look forward to
your thorough and incisive explorations and analyses of issues
and people – Paul Street's piece on Henry Louis Gates' series
is a fine example. I am a middle-aged white woman who
continues to learn how my own race has privileged me in numerous
ways of which I was unaware. Thank you for your significant
contributions to my comprehension of complex issues, and congratulations
on your superior quality publication's having reached three
years of life!
Kamara says Gates goes “with the white flow.”
represents the "same-old-same-old" sly white appeal to the "enlightened" black
to get the victims to blame themselves. Gates is quite silly
not to know that practically ALL human choices and decisions
are contextual. OK, some people escape the cultural conditioning
deliberately foisted on them by society, but very few do.
Examples: very few Americans can avoid speaking with American
accents or avoid liking hamburgers, etc. The very obvious
solution is if you change the environment (the context)
then choices and decisions will change. And that's why white
America is opposed to basic social engineering European style – proper
education, proper schools, proper housing, universal medical
care, etc. White America knows that if social environments
are changed then the blacks would offer them too much competition
and threaten their way of life including the feeling of racial
superiority. So what is the practical solution: one has to
think outside the box with new solutions offered. If whites
continue to balk at implementing the humane, civilized model
of Scandinavia then blacks have no alternative but to do
as the Jews have done: seek to control the vital organs of
society – banks, media, real estate, schools, etc. – with
raw cash and group power. Also seek to buy off as many politicians
black middle class was forced to get involved during the days
of segregation but once the white door was cracked open (to
allow just a few) they just squeezed through. Gates is an example
of such: he wants to stay in the room full of whites (HNC status)
so he has to go with the white flow. Simple. Looks like the
black man has to do for himself what modern governments in
every industrialized country except America do collectively.
note that there's a subtle genocide going on: like the
proverbial frog in the
lukewarm water that is slowly heating up. Blacks were brought
to America to do a job and once that job was done – the big
question was/is what to do with the "guest workers.” All
kinds of tricks are now being tried – since "shipping
them back” is impossible. So why not reduce their numbers – slowly:
jail, abortion on demand, self destruction (murder rates,
etc.) and tell them that they are no longer the "largest
minority" by cobbling together a fake group of people
called "Hispanics" that includes whites, blacks,
Native Americans from Mexico, mestizos and anybody who has
some connection (however tenuous) with Spanish.
why this continuing animus against the black? Simple answer
provided by Gunnar Myrdal (American Dilemma) many years ago:
the whites fear (based on many interviews) the loss of their
white identity if society were allowed to amalgamate with the
black man. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
C. Goodison challenges Gates’ assumption – that the poor
suffer from an ethics-deficit.
enjoyed the article on education by Annette Fuentes (“From
Schoolhouse to Jailhouse: Doing Hard Time in Public Schools”),
as well as Paul Street’s essay on structural racism. Both articles
were on time in their observations, of course. In reference
to both pieces, I'd like to make a personal side note. Two
years ago I taught summer classes at an elementary school in
the Mississippi delta as part of a educational project. I’ve
been trying to get it started up again and am hoping I’ll be
successful in getting funding.
On the teaching side, the kids were wonderful: bright, eager
to learn, mature, individual, impressive and talented. Very
much so in fact. I had no trouble
keeping a full class at 7 in the morning in the dog days of summer. So here
were these delightful children and then there was the school system, namely
the Mississippi public school system. I would say the school these children
attended, not just in the summer but year round, was representative of what
you'll find all over the country starting with the fact that it was segregated.
The white children of the area attended “private” schools, made possible
through public funds.
For whatever reason the powers that be in the state of Mississippi
decided that these beautiful young black kids, and I do mean
beautiful, should go
to a school where there was no library, no gym, no gym activity, no magnifying
glass (forget microscope), inadequate and useless textbooks dating back to
the 60s (have to be seen to be believed), not a single working computer,
cockroach infested rooms cleaned by pin-striped free labor from the county
jail etc etc. However little they had at home, at school they had even less!
The local government had also decided that they could no longer afford the
measly lunches these frequently hungry and very poor children needed. I’m
sorry but hungry children can’t learn properly no matter how much they try.
I could go on listing what I consider blatant injustices but would rather
not. What made the experience worth it was the attitude of the children and
of their parents and grandparents, all of whom had very challenging lives,
but continued to believe so strongly in education despite the system’s hard
backhand slap at their many efforts to improve the lives of the most recent
Paul Street in his article talks about Prof. Gates' BBC-PBS
documentary essentially preaching personal responsibility
to the, using one of the Prof.'s favorite
words, "underclass." Is this a message black folks need to hear
from the professor, by the way? My impression is it would be rather redundant
to most. I won't spend a lot of time responding to the suggestion that what
ails kids like the ones I worked with is their lack of appreciation for the
Protestant Work Ethic. Why bother? Despite the very real deprivations and
unfairness, black children like the ones I saw were taught by their parents
and grandparents the value of an education and they worked very hard for
it in ways that touched me deeply.
Some of them, because of the lack of prescriptive care, would work through
undiagnosed, untreated mental, physical, emotional (and social!) illnesses
that didn't make life any easier. Prof. Gates and his ilk could learn a thing
or two from these youngsters.
Is it true that members of the black upper classes like the
professor gained their status through sheer merit and merit
alone? Perhaps. I would suggest
though that starting with Dr. Gates, each of those beneficiaries of a just
and generous meritocracy examine their upward climb a little more closely.
How many times did the right intervention by the right person at the right
time help in your success? A caring teacher? A parent willing to go toe to
toe with a hostile system? Getting treatment for a hearing problem or depression
so you didn't spend the rest of your schooldays in the "dummy" class
preparing for one of the many recently constructed jailhouses? When it comes
to making the climb from “underclass” to “successful” luck plays a bigger
part than folks like Gates would admit. I wonder, for example, where would
he be if he didn't have the, um, foresight to compose his attack against
the Afrocentrists of the early 90s? My guess is he wouldn't have been plucked
from obscurity to head Afro-Am Studies at Harvard making unenlightening documentaries
preaching the value of work and responsibility to the masses.
Fetus as fetish
Bush, the “War
President,” also pretends that he is the Lord High Protector
of Fetuses. Margaret Kimberley last week challenged the Un-elected
President of the Unborn. Her Freedom Rider column was titled, “No
Fetus Left Behind.”
No Child Left Behind educational act is opposed by states
and localities across the nation because it provides no funding
for its ill-conceived provisions. It sounds good to allow
children to transfer out of poorly performing school districts
but if there are no slots in the better districts the point
is moot and the bill is an expensive waste of time. There
is even a little known provision, section 9528, which requires
school districts to give the military access to students’ names
and addresses for recruiting purposes.
Perhaps the Republicans do care about children. They have
to save them for warfare later in life.
right wing love for the fetus but neglect if not hatred for
children is summed up by the attitude of a fisherman with a
disappointing catch. “Throw ‘em back, kill ‘em later.” The
right wing encouragement of child bearing without any concern
for the care or education of children is very sinister and
reminiscent of fascist regimes that honored and rewarded large
families. They also had no regard for life and wanted to snatch
as many young people as possible for use as cannon fodder.
A reader named Luther
to the Freedom Rider! I recently wrote a similar piece
to a local Black Pastor who is wrapped up in right-wing Republican
politics and the so-called “pro-life” movement which is really
nothing but an anti-abortion political agenda. Hopefully I
can awaken him to the scam these guys are running and prevent
unaware Blacks like him from supporting them.
On the subject of
scams and scammers, Georgia Congresswoman Denise Majette, who
amassed near solid white and crossover Republican support to
unseat Cynthia McKinney in 2002, backed off from a rematch
in favor of an ill-starred run for the U.S. Senate. Associate
Editor Bruce A. Dixon rated Majette’s chances “iffy at best” in
1 commentary, “McKinney Foe Runs Away – for the Senate.”
large and diverse jurisdictions, Democrats run strongest
when they have truly
progressive social and economic messages and can count on
a large and unified black vote. Majette’s failure on both
counts would seem to doom her in the primary, and doubly
in a general election. What use is a black Democrat
who can’t mobilize black voters? A Republican until
recently, a protégé of Zell Miller, and a captive of the
DLC, AIPAC and
other interests, Majette’s entire political act consists
of flogging out big numbers of white voters (including Republicans)
to vote against black Democrats. But in general elections,
Republicans won’t need her; they can win on their own….
McKinney has proven her courage as a congresswoman. The
next four months will test her mettle as an organizer. If
she can register and turn out a large enough vote in her base
areas of Dekalb County, she will be returned to Congress.
won less than one in five Black votes in 2002. Vic Chaubey
her to be a “Black” candidate for anything.
really like your article on Mckinney-Majette. Majette is a
fraud created by white America. I believe she is scared
of McKinney and that is why she did not run. I fully expect
McKinney to win this race. Let us to do whatever we can
to support McKinney.
you for the article about Cynthia McKinney. I am behind
her all the way. I also think you are right on the money
about Denise Majette. What can be done about Georgia's
is clear that Georgia's white-led, Democratic Leadership Council-dominated
machinery has gone along with the "open" primary
system because it did not force whites to choose parties. When
push comes to shove, a majority would opt for the Republicans.
Despite the open primary, in recent years increasing numbers
of Georgia whites have joined their Deep South brethren in
the GOP – creating the current crisis in the party. It is past
time for the state’s Black Democrats to take charge and close
the primary gates.
The “Passion” of
decidedly secular magazine has gotten lots of mail about
Jesus Christ. The cause:
Miles Willis’ March
11 Think Piece, “The Passion of the Whites,” which argued
that Mel Gibson’s “Passion” film is so wildly popular because “white
people desperately want to believe that Jesus was white.”
problem I have with this film, and the very reason that
I will not see it, is its casting. This film is just the
latest example of the one thing – with regard to virtually
all dramatizations, representations and depictions of Jesus – that
is almost never questioned: that is, that Jesus was white….
know that the entire Jewish nation, including all members
of Jesus’ genealogical lineage, lived in Egypt for many years
before Moses led them out. Jesus Himself is known to have
lived in Egypt for a time when his earthly father Joseph
was visited by an angel and told to flee there with the Christ
child from Herod the king, who intended to kill Him. (Matt.
2: 13) (Why would they have been sent to hide in a place
where they couldn’t have blended in with the local population?)
God Himself heralds His return with the words, “Out of Egypt
did I call my son.” (Matt. 2: 15)
has been partially eclipsed by the line of argument begun
by Alan Gregory Wonderwheel. The Santa Anna, California attorney
said it is self-evident that Jesus “was
a Jew of the day from the area known as Nazareth at the foot
of Mount Carmel. He was raised as an Essene Jew of the Mt.
Carmel community of Essenes.” Wonderwheel’s April
1 letter continued:
Jesus went to Egypt as a child has absolutely no relevance
to his ancestry
since Egypt was a great crossroads that included Romans,
Greeks, Jews, Arabs, Persians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Berbers,
Ethiopians, and Sub-Saharan Africans along with the Egyptians.
There was absolutely no homogeneity of race, ethnicity, or
culture in Egypt at that time which would make a Jew standout
or require a Jew to blend in. To assert that this is a factor
completely undercuts the plausibility of the thesis that
Jesus was an African Black….
while I wholeheartedly agree that Jesus was not "White," as
well as with the thesis that the imperative importance of Jesus
being White is tied to White supremacy, it is the most unquestionable
of all theories that the historical Jesus was a Jew of Northern
Israel from the Mt. Carmel region known as Nazareth. The claim
that Jesus was an African, and therefore Black or Egyptian,
is just as fantastic and ludicrous as the claim that he was
so fast, says Columbus, Ohio’s Peter E. Fowler. Simply placing Jesus’ birthplace
in Israel doesn’t address the issue of race.
the impassioned replies of several readers regarding the
phenotype of Jesus in Mel Gibson's controversial movie. While is
clearly neither a biblical nor theological journal, and not
the venue to resolve the identity issues surrounding Jesus,
those issues are themselves of tremendous importance, particularly
to African-Americans. As it is my area of expertise, may
I simply offer the readership 5 titles from 2 scholars for
those who seek the answers to those questions? By James H.
Cone 1) Black Theology & Black Power, 2) A
Black Theology of Liberation, and 3) God of the Oppressed;
and by Cain Hope Felder (author/editor) 1) Troubling Biblical
Waters, and 2) Stoney the Road We Trod.
Yet anyone with
any sense must admit that since Jesus was, in fact, from
ancient Israel, the Afro-Asiatic nexus seated in the heart
of the Cradle of Civilization, Jesus was clearly a man
of color. That was not an issue in his context because
color-based racism did not develop as an institution for
another 1500 years (give or take). But it is an issue
today, unfortunately, because we live on this side
of that historical demarcation. As W.E.B. DuBois foretold,
the great divisive issue of the 20th century (and
we might add the 21st) will be/was the problem of the color
line. Jesus then was a man of color. In other words,
he was non-white. And in this world so polarized by
pigmentation that means "black." So with regard
to Gibson's film, yes, the portrayal of Jesus and his disciples
as white or of European decent is historically ludicrous.
That is why I recommend the two books by Felder. They help
explore some of the historical issues behind the whitewashing
of biblical history.
more important is the issue of who Jesus is today. This is
where James Cone and his articulation of Black Theology comes
in. Black Theology is very much a dialogical between Black
Power and Liberation Theology. It has more to offer black people
now perhaps than it did when it first appeared in the 1970s.
Black Theology does not deal in abstractions and obscurities;
it deals with realities and human needs. Black Theology begins
at the point of human suffering, human need. Jesus becomes
real in the midst of releasing the oppressed from their bondage.
Not just pie-in-the-sky spiritual bondage, but from
economic violence, from institutionalized injustice (see bc
article on black incarceration rates). Yes, Jesus is Black.
J. Taylor cites chapter and verse – and the evidence of his
agree with Mr. Miles Willis on his views about the Passion
of the Christ. I will not see this movie either, because
the casting takes away credibility and unfairly portrays the
Jews as another race (white). During my college days
at Alabama State University I studied paintings of the Hebrew
people dating back from the First Century BCE, and the images
on those paintings were indistinguishable as being Hebrew or
Caucasians into thinking that the Jews were white, and that is part of the
reason for their bloated superiority complex. In his article, Mr. Willis
contends that the bible contains no specific physical description of Yahshua
(Jesus), however scripture does provide a brief physical description of him
if may say so. Now, in the watered down, corrupted, contaminated and
lie filled King James Version of the Hebrew Scriptures, the disciple John
gives us a description of Yahshua as he saw him. In revelation 1:14-15,
scripture says his head and his hair was white like lamb's wool, as white
as snow. This verse is mistranslated and the correct translation should
have read: the hair on his head had the look and feel of lamb's wool.
Rev. 1:15 says, and his feet like unto fine brass, as
if they had burned in a furnace, John is giving a physical
description of Yahshua (Jesus) as
he saw him. In Rev. 2:18 Yahshua gives a description of himself: and
unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; these things saith the son
of man who has his eyes like unto a flame of fire and his feet are like fine
brass. Scripture proves that Yahshua looked nothing like the man portraying
him in the film the Passion of the Christ, we all know what color burnt brass
One last note, Mosheh's (Moses) mother and father were
Hebrew and he lived in pharaoh's household and was indistinguishable
from the Egyptian, which
are Africans. Well, Yahshua's mother and father were Hebrew as well
and if Mosheh looked like an African so did Yahshua, they were both Hebrews.
I want to thank you for letting me express my opinion on that wonderful article
by Mr. Miles Willis.
Andrew Freeman pulls
out his map, and writes:
reading Mr. Wonderwheel’s rather scholastic response to
Mr. Willis, I immediately recognized one huge mistake and
some major generalities
he made. Lake Mareotis does not exist in Upper Egypt but
in the Delta about 60 to 70 miles southwest of Cairo. This
location puts Mareotis in Lower Kingdom of Ancient Egypt.
He states that the
historical Jesus was raised among the Essenes. However, in
the next sentence he states that Jesus lived in Egypt. Indeed
the Bible states he lived in Egypt for close to 16 years.
While John the Baptist probably was a Essen, Jesus was not
raised among them.
one can only wonder what constitutes an African Black to
Does he use a Nigerian, Tunisian, Kenyan, Egyptian or Ancient
Egyptian as his standard or does he also includes the
wide variety of different hues of peoples of African descent
that one finds in the so-call New World. This constitutes
an important fact that he does not define.
Next, to say that
Jesus was a Jew does not identify Jesus's skin color. A Jew
is define by the Jewishness of his mother and by that definition
can be any color depending on who constitutes his father.
Mr. Wonderwheel mentions the historic Jesus. My question
to him would be
exactly whom would that be. There exist no contemporary data
about Jesus from a cross cultural point of view. There exists
no evidence that Jesus existed at all. That seems why "Christians
have to believe and have faith," because they cannot
prove Jesus ever existed.
issues ago we marked the assassination of the most celebrated
the 20th Century, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shot down in
Memphis on April 4, 1968. The night before, King delivered
his famous speech, “I’ve
Been to the Mountaintop.” Eddgra Fallin, of Huntsville, Alabama, has read the
speech many times, but she appreciated our posting it, again.
Thank you for reprinting the last words Dr. King said to us. Thank
you for reminding us that we are still struggling to get
to the Promised Land.
Mary Gravitt notes
that the words of Black heroes have been put to evil uses.
just read the Dr. King article. And I find it interesting how the
greatest enemies of true "Peace and Security," the
Bushes are such great purloiners of his words of Dr. King and
Bush, May 1, 2002: "We have some Difficult Days
Bush, in his speech before the 1991 Desert War: "By
Any Means Necessary.”
by Black men make White men feel brave.
Thabo Sanyane is an
academic assistant at the Unisa Centre for Latin American Studies.
He rightly takes us to task for failing to do a proper treatment
of the ethnic cleansing now occurring in western Sudan.
as much as I understand the frustrations of African Americans,
can I bring
to you're attention that some of our own are being persecuted
in Sudan in the name of race, class and religion. They deserve
the same attention like those of our own in Haiti and elsewhere.
Please let us not do what Clinton did when he left the people
of Rwanda killing each other, including us South Africans,
because Clinton and CNN were concerned with the Balkans,
not the “niggers.”
institution, the University of South Africa, will be sending
a high level delegation of senior academics from different
fields and disciplines (May 13-15) to look at how we can assist
the peace process in Sudan.
will present an article on Sudan as soon as we have properly
on the subject.
The publishers of
The Black Commentator were overjoyed to announce that we entered
our third year of
operations, last week. Readership has doubled in the past twelve
months, as it did the year before. We are, quite frankly, feeling
pretty good about ourselves, and better still about our brilliant
Joseph Osorio, Oakland,
on your milestone. May you continue to grow, and continue
to be a voice of sanity.
to stray off the topic for a moment - are you as puzzled
as I am by Whites
who react to the mob killing of the four mercenaries in Fallujah
by saying "Those people don't value human life like
we do" immediately followed by something like "We
need to go in there and level the place." Your phrase
Depraved Indifference is so apt.
back to the topic - keep up the excellent work. Your keeping
us informed is more necessary than ever.
am writing this note to say that I am pleased and happy that
Black Commentator is two years old. I read it religiously and
even though I do not always agree with the writers I confess
I do like it because it is like good New Orleans coffee: strong
The balance of this year will require that we take the democratic process
seriously and stand up for what we believe. There are many issues that need
our attention and many fires to put out. It helps to have issues raised,
discussed and examined in order for us to clearly know who is not for us
and what is in our best interest. Black Commentator provides the information
and points of views that are marginalized in the traditional media. Thank
you Black Commentator.
Although, I am still in mourning over the demise of Encore Magazine, I have
come to see Black Commentator, as being the next uncompromising voice in
Black America. Thank goodness for you!
May I ask that you include more articles about what is going on the continent
of Africa? What country in Africa should we be pushing our government to
help? These are things I want to know as a reader and a low-keyed activist.
Finally, I want to thank you for your courage to step out on faith and begin
what for me is one the most important sources of information about our national
community. May you continue forever.
Paul M. Whalen, Hollywood,
newsletter provides a hope for a fair and just world. It’s
because of work like this that I can maintain a tenuous grip
on sanity. Three and counting!
David Leander Williams,
co-publishers Ford and Gamble for a job well done. You
add a voice to those of us Africans struggling in the wilds
of North America and give us direction as we steady our course. May
God/Allah/Yaweh continue to bless your mission of good as you
galvanize us, a powerful people, who (contrary to media reports)
can make a change and a difference. God's speed!
Reynard Blake, Jr., esteemed contributor to :
Congratulations on the wonderful news regarding 's readership and exposure! This represents your vision and hard
work in highlighting and presenting issues of major significance
to African-Americans, the African diaspora, and the Americas. I
feel truly honored to be affiliated with such a rapidly-emerging
Again, thank you for your vision and initiative and continue to fight
the good fight!
April 8th edition of blackcommentator.com was great. Paul
Street's "Think Piece" and Annette Fuentes' "From
Schoolhouse to Jailhouse" article were excellent. Also,
congrats on your 3rd year anniversary.
Ava Roberts, Savannah,
for another excellent edition, especially the cover and
the very timely Hate
American Style and From Schoolhouse to Jailhouse.
my list reads your publication, they're always astounded
at your ability to put to paper things we've always known but
were somehow helpless to express. Keep
for your righteous work in expressing a viewpoint not exclusively
Black, but humanistic and relevant to our current global political
environment. I have sent your site reference to my
associates, many with doctrinaire conservative persuasions. Best
to you in providing enlightened perspective to our world.