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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 Black vote. (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 Louisiana GOP.”

Last week, a reader sent us a link to an April 7 op-ed piece in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, titled “Study 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.”

Maginnis 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.

There must be something in the liquor. But you can be sure the White Man’s Party has learned its lesson in Louisiana.

Scalia said What?

Click to view entire Scalia cartoon

In 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 mouth:

“Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.”

A 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."

Scalia 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."

As 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.”

The Waltons’ Billions

There 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.”

Click 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.

Progressives are hard pressed, as it is. The two principal advocacy organizations 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.

If 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. That’s overkill.

The Wal-Mart “model” is a threat, not only to American and global living standards, but to the preservation of the public sphere.

Sister Halimah Allah writes to us, from the Black Woman's Wholistic Exchange.

The 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. 

As 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. 

I refer 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. 

A 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.

Carolyn 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.

I 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.

Interestingly, one of my other sources of information is through NPR and especially 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.

Keep 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.

Thank you for the thorough and well written article about the parasitic creature 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.

Even 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.

It may take one village to raise a child, but it will take a huge circle of citizenry to defeat the Wal-Mart "model."

Lyla Bartholomae, of Las Vegas, fears that Wal-Mart and its fellow corporate citizens have already done irreparable damage.

As 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 the article. 

Condi the Criminal

National 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 our April 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.

In the false glow of their delusions, Republicans truly believed that Condoleezza 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….

Rice 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.

Rev. Jeanette Pollard sees Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell as a package – or maybe, more like a trick bag.

I 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!

From Minneapolis, Kristina Gronquist writes:

Thank 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.

Cameron McLaughlin has some nice things to say about us, and a harsh assessment of Rice.

Your 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.

I 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.

Thursdays, 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.

Novak, 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 that regard.

Teresa Turner is a director of sales and marketing who believes that Rice misperceives her value to the Bush men.

I 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 other factor. 

Oakland, California’s Leutisha Stills doesn’t think much of Rice’s credentials as an intellect.

In referencing your Guest Commentary piece of Mr. Lloyd Cata (“Condoleezza Rice 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 it.

Condosleeza Rice is a brilliant and educated...fool. 

It 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 dignity.

The betrayal of that trust is the one thing that I cannot ignore in Mr. Powell’s behavior.

Having 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 as “benevolent 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.
George 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 way:

History will judge Rice infinitely more harshly than the 9/11 Commission, which 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.

The last thing a pirate should wish for is justice.

Gates swings wrong way

Frequent contributor 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.”

Accepting the dominant privilege-friendly and Euro-bourgeois notion that success, 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 decently….

Gates’ admonition 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 likewise.

Another bravo 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 the radio. 

Some 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!

Alassan Kamara says Gates goes “with the white flow.”

Gates 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 as possible.

The 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.

But 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.

But 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.

Educator C. Goodison challenges Gates’ assumption – that the poor suffer from an ethics-deficit.

I 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 generation.

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

George 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.”

The President’s 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.

The 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 wrote:

Bravo 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. 

Majette ducks out

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 his April 1 commentary, “McKinney Foe Runs Away – for the Senate.”

In 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….

Cynthia 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.

Majette won less than one in five Black votes in 2002. Vic Chaubey doesn’t consider her to be a “Black” candidate for anything.

I 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.

Ethelyn Barksdale writes:

Thank 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 open primaries? 


It 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 Race

Our 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.

The 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….

We 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)

Willis’ piece 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:

That 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….

So 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 White.

Not so fast, says Columbus, Ohio’s Peter E. Fowler. Simply placing Jesus’ birthplace in Israel doesn’t address the issue of race.

I've just read 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.

Perhaps 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.

R. J. Taylor cites chapter and verse – and the evidence of his own eyes.

I 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 African.

The movie is just another sick and deceptive attempt to hoodwink the young 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 is.

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:

After 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.

Also, one can only wonder what constitutes an African Black to Mr. Wonderwheel? 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.

Lastly, 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.

Marking MLK’s passing

Two issues ago we marked the assassination of the most celebrated Christian of 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.

I 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 Malcolm X.

G.W. Bush, May 1, 2002:  "We have some Difficult Days Ahead.”

G.H. Bush, in his speech before the 1991 Desert War:  "By Any Means Necessary.”

Words by Black men make White men feel brave.

Sudan Ethnic Cleansing

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.

In 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.”  

My 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.

We will present an article on Sudan as soon as we have properly educated ourselves on the subject.  

going strong!

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 readership.

Joseph Osorio, Oakland, California:

Congratulations on your milestone. May you continue to grow, and continue to be a voice of sanity.

Just 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.

OK, back to the topic - keep up the excellent work. Your keeping us informed is more necessary than ever.

Deborah Barabino, New Orleans:

I 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 and black!

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, Florida:

Your 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, Indianapolis, Indiana:

Congratulations 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 institution. 

Again, thank you for your vision and initiative and continue to fight the good fight! 

Kathleen Jill:

Your April 8th edition of 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, Georgia:

Thanks for another excellent edition, especially the cover and the very timely Hate American Style and From Schoolhouse to Jailhouse. 

Whenever 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 it up!

Blake C. Lawless:

Thanks 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.

Keep writing.

gratefully acknowledges the following organizations for sending visitors our way during the past two weeks:



Information Clearinghouse

Black Planet

In These Times

Black Electorate

All Facts and Opinions

What Really Happened

Op-Ed News

Bush Watch


Liberal Oasis

Pacific News Service – NCM

Sons of Afrika


The Misanthrope



April 15 2004
Issue 86

is published every Thursday.

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