As I was thinking about the NON-controversy with Michelle Obama, I thought about her role in this campaign, and how integral she has been for the Obama campaign.

First and foremost, Michelle Obama humanizes her husband. Her teasing and chiding in the beginning was a signal that Barack Obama is a very gifted man, but he’s not the Second Coming, so don’t see him that way, because he can’t do anything but disappoint you. But, if you see him as a man with gifts, talent, service and inspiration, then he’s your man, and stick with him.

While much has been written about Barack Obama’s ‘appeal’ to the White community, because of his non-traditional background (growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia), you can’t run a campaign across racial, ethnic and religious lines, if you don’t have a narrative that those White audiences can relate to.

And, that’s where Michelle Obama comes in, and that has been her major task:

To show the common universality of the ‘ American Experience’, and point out that we’re not all so different. Using herself as an example, not only within the context of how SHE, was skeptical about Barack Obama in the beginning, not knowing what to make of this ‘Skinny Black Guy with a funny name who grew up in Hawaii’, thus relating herself to the general audience – both BLACK and WHITE – but, also by bringing up her OWN background.

Another important part of the challenge of the Obama campaign, in its quest to reach out to the General American populace, is that they have had to try and reshape the very IMAGE of the BLACK FAMILY.

From the Black Point of View, when Michelle Obama tells the story of her family and talks about her father, as I have written before, I see the Black men that I grew up with in my life. The Black men who never get stories written about them in the papers, and certainly never make the news. And, she seems to have been talking about the Black community in which I was raised. As a community, we’ve not had someone talk about the Black Family in the way that Michelle Obama is doing. We’ve not had those hard working, Black men and women, especially of that generation, acknowledged in what they did, and what they demanded of their ‘ striving’ children. For those in the middle class, we all know Michelle Robinson’s family, because they were our neighbors. A generation ago, this was the family of the working class.

As Mrs. Obama has said herself, she finds nothing extraordinary in how she grew up; people like her and her family have ALWAYS been there – they’ve just been ignored by the MSM. And, because the Obamas are running, they can’t ignore that story anymore, because in order to tell the story of the Obamas, you have to tell Michelle Robinson Obama’s story, and thus the story of an entirely ignored swath of the Black community.

To the White community hearing this rarely told story, they can relate to it from their end; how many of them had fathers who weren’t professionals, but worked to put food on the table through adversity, and had mothers who stayed at home, keeping the house together and the children in line, stressing education and hard work as the keys to achievement in society. To be able to relate to Michelle Obama’s upbringing is a way to reach over that divide and show that we have fundamental values in common in this country, and if we can work through those, we can make this country a better place.

It’s a daunting task for the Obamas – to try and counter the massive denigration of the Black Family that the MSM has done, but they have to do it, in order to be competitive. And, it’s just another example of what Barack Obama has to do as the BLACK Candidate in this race that just doesn’t apply to the other candidates.

Related Articles:

Michelle Obama – the latest Racial Rorschach Test

Michelle Obama Making A Case For First Lady

My Women for Obama Experience

Michelle Obama Sees Election as Test for America

Interesting Obama Site

26 Aug 2007

Hat Tip: The HNIC Report.

I love the internet, because you can see how people use their creativity to support the candidate of their choice. The website Go Tell Mama – I’m for Obama is part of that creativity. Just go and take a look for the artwork by the siteowner. I’m going to get a few of his posters because they look fabulous.

NPR Redux & Followup

24 Aug 2007

In case you missed it, here is the audio from the Blogger Roundtable section of NPR’s News & Notes, hosted by Farai Chideya. The show aired Wednesday August 22, 2007 at 1pm Eastern Time.

Bloggers at the table this week were:

Liza and I were in the NYC studio (thanks to John Guardo and Studio Engineer Manya for hookin us up), and Avery was in DC. We had originally planned to discuss four topics but had to drop Jose Padilla due to time constraints. The three we did get to were:

  • Black Hollywood doing major fundraisers for Clinton (Magic Johnson) and Obama (Oprah)
  • What Kind of Black Are We? (a WaPo story about the evolution of American black identity in light of voluntary immigration from the diaspora)
  • The death of Pfc. LaVena Johnson in Iraq

If the embedded player is not working, you can access the mp3 directly here or click on over to NPR and stream it here.

More on the topics.

Black Hollywood Fundraising
The jump off was an LA Times story I had suggested for discussion. (Big Up / Hat Tip to Negrophile’s Twitter posts for putting me on to the story. Gotsta love the Interweb.) We discussed several angles including: the generational gap between Obama and Clinton supporters and how that mirrors the black political generational gap; the effectiveness of fundraising; the ability of events like these to translate into black votes

What Kind of Black Are We?
This was based on a recent-ish Washington Post article by Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs. We covered: the importance of the labels “black” vs. “African” vs. “African American”; the distrust and misinformation between descendants of American slaves and those from the diaspora who have come here later; and what is “black” anyway? who gets to define it?

LaVena Johnson
Pfc. LaVena Johnson died in Iraq two years ago. The military says it was a self-inflicted wound, but evidence points to sexual assault, beating, shooting and an attempt to burn her. For a heart-wrenching and frustrating version of events, check the video below of LaVena’s father, Dr. Jack Johnson, at a Veterans for Peace Rally

The roundtable discussed the logical connection to the Pat Tillman case and if the blogosphere is an appropriate place to get this sort of issue out. Of course it is, and I hope we can collaborate as in the Jena 6 case to shed light and action on this tragedy

(cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK)

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“Victory is Mine!” by Rentahamster via Flickr

Our long national nightmare is over. Finally, FINALLY, the plug has been pulled on the abomination that was to be the CBC-Fox “News” Democratic presidential debate. From CBS/AP in full. Note the bolded text of Mr. Bernie Sanders:

Fox-Backed Democrat Debate Called Off
DETROIT, Aug. 23, 2007 (AP) Fox News and a black political group say they will not hold a Sept. 23 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, which the leading candidates already were planning to skip.

A new date had not yet been set, Fox News spokesman Michael Murphy said Thursday.

The campaigns of U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards had said they would not participate in the debate. Opponents have criticized Fox as biased against Democrats.

The debate, co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute, was to have been held at the Fox Theatre.

Institute chairman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement on the group’s Web site that the “overwhelming number of party presidential debates has created a scheduling challenge.”

“Revisiting the CBC Institute’s debate schedule will allow the time necessary to complete all debate logistics in an effective manner,” he said. The group had said it planned to sponsor two Democratic and two Republican presidential debates.

Big Up/Hat Tip to all in the netroots that helped kill this thing including Robert Greenwald at Fox Attacks, Color of Change, and many, many, many more.

Oh, and can we please contact CBS and tell them to stop adopting the childish and annoying GOP tactic of referring to the adjective “democratic” as the irritating “democrat?” It’s the democratic debate, you imbeciles.

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One of my favorite blogs is the Black Agenda Report. I’ve heard from publisher Bruce Dixon over there that BAR (which also publishes the excellent CBC Monitor scorecard of black legislators) is planning something extra-special for the CBC’s annual celebration of itself in Sept. It’s called the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference. It’s also a pretty good time if you believe Afro-Netizen’s inside account from a couple years back — though Chris Rabb came away notably conflicted. Oh and corporate sponsors, please take note of the branding opportunities available this year.

Were you wondering if Hurricane Katrina will come up at all during the CBC Weekend?

Or Iraq, given that 25% of the U.S. Armed Forces is African-American?

Well, wonder no longer. I searched the agenda for the keywords “Iraq”, “Katrina”, “Middle East” and “Gulf”. I found nothing. Perhaps they plan to address the subject indirectly in sessions like: Making Money in South Africa (Rep. Diane E. Watson), Contracting with Homeland Security (Rep. Bennie G. Thompson), Franchise & Finance – How to Choose and Fund Your Franchise (Rep. Gregory Meeks) or perhaps Black Love IV (Rep. Bobby Rush, who will also lead the Telecom Braintrust session).

That’s not to say that there aren’t some sessions of importance being discussed. Big ups to Barack Obama on choosing Climate Change for what is likely to be a well-attended session. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr appears to be rallying Clinton supporters in his session “In It to Win It”. There are also sessions on violence, veteran’s affairs, innovation, equal pay for equal work, HIV, prosperity for working families, environmental justice, the judiciary and more with the usual progressive heroes of the CBC selecting more substantive themes.

This split among our black power elites between greed and civic responsibility is becoming more and more stark. That’s why the 1st Annual Lawn Jockey Awards are a great way to call attention to those who may have forgotten the public interest in favor of their own. Like Rep. Artur Davis, recently profiled on Open Left who interestingly enough has chosen “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Future of Black Politics” as he attempts to gain more power in Alabama.

Bruce’s email said:

No less a personage than George Curry, former publisher of Emerge
magazine, has agreed to hand out the first annual Lawn Jockey Awards,
which will go to the four lowest performing African American members
of congress. It’s time to reclaim the black political conversation,
and ridicule some of our worst renegades.

The affair will be Wednesday Septermber 26 at Dukes’ restaurant in DC
(full details, address and all in this week’s Black Agenda Report on

Only four?

Oh and btw, if you are looking for a lawn jockey to style up your lawn, you can get one from Be forewarned: they ain’t cheap. The white one (painted and pictured above) costs $190. “Jocko” costs only $145. The irony is killing me, especially since the history of the black jockey is connected to the successful subterfuge of the Underground Railroad. Perhaps the redemptive power of the Lawn Jockey might help some CBC members who’ve lost their way to keep it real for the people they represent once more.

I spent last weekend at Camp Obama – a two- day orientation for the hardcore possible volunteers.

Arriving at the new Volunteer Headquarters, it’s a peppy, Obama-positive space. There were 85 people there from the following states and countries:
Virginia, Ohio, California, North Carolina, Texas, Singapore, Massachusetts, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Iowa, Colorado, Rhode Island, Michigan, Connecticut, Washington, Mississippi, Arizona, The Balkans and, of course, Illinois.

There were at least 3 High School Students there, not old enough yet to vote, and the youngest participant was a young lady, 13, who was there because she wanted to go into politics, and wanted to find a way to convince her parents to vote for Obama.

Since it always comes up, I’ll break down the numbers. Out of the 85 people there, Approximately 30 were from Illinois, and at least 20 were African-American. A good third of the people there were from Students for Barack Obama, and they were very motivated.

We went around, introduced ourselves and answered why we were there. Very interesting comments from the audience.

There were some technical difficulties, so we didn’t get the usual first day training. There was a good third of the participants that had been involved in political campaigns previously, and those of us who had not had to go to them and ask what they did. A number of them had done phone banks, and canvassing, as well as the usual office work. I met a woman from Oak Park, Illinois, who had already been to Iowa twice to canvass…very enthusiastic.

There was a lot of discussion about campaigns, and what their purpose was. That we were not to consider ourselves volunteers, but ‘ organizers’, and to that point, we had three Obama-centered articles which we had to read for the next day’s activities.

We had a long presentation with one of the Deputy Directors of Students for Barack Obama – it was his responsibility to explain the website to us, and how to use it. I swear, I’m getting old, because he looked 12 (just kidding). But, he was very knowledgable, and he was very patient with us, as he took us through, as well as I was quite impressed with how the website enables a group to organize and keep in contact with one another. I can definitely see how and why Obama’s been able to use the web to break new ground fundraising.

We separated into groups according to region of the country, with the Illinois group being a separate group unto themselves. The MISSION of Obamans from Illinois is one:



Nothing else counts, and every effort you make in Illinois needs to be put towards that effort.

We had a session with two guys from the Policy Department, but more on that later.

We also had a session with someone from the Communications Staff, and my one complaint about him, though he was thorough, was that I didn’t find his answer about reaching out to the blogging community satisfactory, but then again, I’m not the first person who has had issues with Obama and the blogging community.

Day #2

Day #2 had a specific focus. The main lecturer for morning was man named Mike Krugler. Krugler worked with Obama when he was a Community Organizer.

I have to admit, he began slow, and I was like ‘ oh no, you gotta be kidding..I woke up on Sunday for THIS?’

But, then, Mr. Krugler hit his groove about 20 minutes in and didn’t stop until he had been there THREE HOURS.

He was, in a word, AMAZING.

He spoke about the tools of community organizing. The disciplines that needed to be involved. The principles of power and politics, and how they could be brought to ordinary people. That relationships have to be built upon self-interest. That to be an organizer you have to be tough and agitate.

Power comes from organizes people and organized money – I have to admit, as he goes through his presentation, I am bringing it back to Obama and his campaign.

He challenged the group on words like power, powerlessness, ruthless, selfishness vs. selflessness.

What is a leader?
Connecting with people so that they’ll follow with what you want to do.

Interesting concept, no?

Blunt, brutal and hilarious at times, he was damn good.

I definitely understand what I have been seeing come out of the Obama campaign after listening to this guy. The concepts of a campaign that I thought were happening, and what Obama is trying to do here.

We spent the rest of the time after lunch learning about the Iowa Caucus, by participating in a faux caucus. Then after the caucus, we were able to meet with the man who heads Obama Illinois and the Chicago Area Field Director. Their focus was getting us to see how important Iowa was, and that they need the bodies on the ground in Iowa, and the Chicago Area Field Director wanted us to know that she would work with any group for any time length to get people on the ground in Iowa.

After we signed up for volunteer time, we could go.

All in all, it was well worth going because of some of the people that I met, and definitely for the Krugler lecture because he was terrific.

Now, that was the positive for Camp Obama. What did I see as the negative?

It came up during the session with the gentlemen from the Policy Section. It was early into the session when the landmine came up:


Immigration is The Willie Horton Issue of 2008.


I sat in a room full of the hardcore Obama supporters, because nobody who pays money to come across the country to train is anything less than hardcore. And, this was THE most passionate, heated issue.

They wanted to know Obama’s policies on it, and when the guys told them, the women from North Carolina were like – ‘ Amnesty?’

They rattled off all the problems with illegal immigration; those who had canvassed in Iowa before said that they had been asked questions about immigration. Some even brought up the Newark executions.

That’s when the nightmare commercial came into my mind. Newark, The execution of that young girl in Los Angeles; the killing of the Black policeman in Texas…

There it is. There is the GOP commercial next time out – marrying illegal immigration with unfettered crime, and laying it on the feet of Democrats unwilling to ‘secure our borders’ or ‘ protect us’ from illegal alien criminals.

Can you imagine the power a commercial using ALL BLACK VICTIMS with ALL HISPANIC ILLEGAL ALIEN CRIMINALS in its ability to undermine an Obama candidacy?

I understand it. And, it just upsets me. The commercial would hurt ANY Democrat, but Obama most of all.

And, this sort of tactic also has the possibility of derailing any substantive discussion on the Prison Industrial Complex, and possible reform.

The Democrats better wake up, and take away the immigration issue from the GOP. They better put forth GENUINE proposals to secure our border and ports, or they will lose again in 2008.

White Youth Happier

21 Aug 2007

Sometimes you just come upon interesting articles that make you go ‘hmmmmm’.

White youth happier
U.S. More content with parents, jobs than minorities

August 21, 2007

NEW YORK — From their relationships to their jobs to their money, young white Americans are happier with life than their minority counterparts.
According to a survey of 1,280 people ages 13-24 by the Associated Press and MTV, 72 percent of whites say they are happy with life in general, compared with 51 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of blacks.

”It doesn’t surprise me,” said Martin Carpenter, 21, a black New Jersey resident. ”You can still go to certain places and feel uncomfortable, like you don’t belong there.”

Among whites, 67 percent usually wake up happy in the morning; for minorities, the figure is 61 percent.

Those numbers extend into all aspects of life:

• • Parents: 66 percent of minorities are happy with their relationships, compared with 79 percent of whites.

• • Jobs: 51 percent of minorities are happy, compared with 64 percent of whites.

• • Money: 44 percent of minorities are unhappy, compared with 35 percent of whites.

Carpenter, one of the survey participants, spoke for the majority of minority youths who feel their race will not cause problems later in life.

”I don’t think so,” he said. ”I’m thinking on a smaller scale. In my community, it’s not that big a deal.”


Are the minority youth right or wrong? Is it youthful naivete, wishful thinking or do they actually see something different?

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Obama says he can turn out Black voters

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
Mon Aug 20, 9:16 PM ET

CONCORD, N.H. – Barack Obama predicted that black voter turnout would swell by at least 30 percent if he wins the presidential nomination, giving Democrats victory in Southern states that have been voting Republican for decades.

“I’m probably the only candidate who having won the nomination can actually redraw the political map,” Obama told a Democratic voter skeptical that he could defeat a Republican candidate.

“I guarantee you African-American turnout, if I’m the nominee, goes up 30 percent around the country, minimum,” Obama said. “Young people’s percentage of the vote goes up 25-30 percent. So we’re in a position to put states in play that haven’t been in play since LBJ.”

Lyndon Baines Johnson ran for president in 1964 and won in a landslide. But since then the South has turned into a Republican stronghold.

Obama’s comment came in response to former New Hampshire state Rep. Carol Moore, who told him the candidate to get her vote will be the one she feels has the best chance of winning in the general election because she’s so scared another Republican will replace President Bush. She asked Obama what made him think he could win. Another voter later told Obama because of his lack of experience, “by any stretch of the imagination, it would be a leap of faith to vote for you.”

Obama often rejects the politics of “who’s up, who’s down,” but he showed he was following the polls. He said he fares best among independent voters, that he has lower negative ratings than his Democratic rivals and is leading Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson in head-to-head matchups.

“I would include McCain, but John’s having trouble right now, so that’s not that big of a feat,” Obama said of the Republican senator from Arizona, drawing laughter at the packed house party in the state capital attended by about 70 people.

Obama noted that in Mississippi, blacks make up more than a third of the state’s population, but make up a smaller share of the electorate.

“If we just got African-Americans in Mississippi to vote their percentage of the population, Mississippi is suddenly a Democratic state,” Obama said. He said Georgia would also turn Democratic and South Carolina would be in play.

Let me say that I believe this is a response by Obama to the latest column by Robert Novak entitled: Clinton backers see Warner — not Obama — as best V.P. choice
I see this as nothing but a DLC ploy.

I also say, good for him. I’m glad he’s speaking up positively for himself, and I happen to agree with him. I believe, if he actually runs the table and gets the nomination that Black folk would turn out in unprecedented numbers. So, I’m glad he’s out there showing a little ‘ audacity’….LOL

Not that I think he can win those states, but then again, I’ve said all along, Hillary will never win them either, so it’s a wash. And, if the Democrats had any ‘ audacity’, they would match the nerve of the California Republicans, who are trying to break away some of the electoral vote, by trying to change to proportional apportionment. Instead of whining about the GOP, they should have their own strategy of fighting for this throughout the South. If they just passed it in a few Southern states, with heavy Black populations, it would help the Democrats.

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Per Yahoo:

Vick to plead guilty in dogfighting case By LARRY O’DELL, Associated Press Writer
Tue Aug 21, 7:44 AM ET

RICHMOND, Va. – Less than a month after saying he looked forward to clearing his name, Michael Vick now acknowledges the heinous acts associated with his name are true.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback said through a lawyer Monday that he will plead guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, an admission that likely will mean prison time.

For now, any hopes of salvaging his NFL career are secondary to his impending confinement.

“His focus is on his family, his focus is on answering to this judge,” Vick’s lead defense attorney, Billy Martin, told The Associated Press after announcing the plea agreement Monday.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson can sentence Vick to up to five years in prison and fine him $250,000, although federal sentencing guidelines will call for less. A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the terms are not final, told the AP that prosecutors will recommend a sentence of a year to 18 months.

The official said such a sentence would be more than what is usually recommended for first-time offenders, reflecting the government’s attempt to show that animal abusers will receive more than a slap on the wrist.

Vick will return Monday to the same courthouse where he pleaded not guilty and resolved to prove his innocence just 25 days ago. This time he will plead guilty, and Hudson will schedule a date for sentencing.

Since that initial court appearance, all three of Vick’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the government’s case against him, including testifying against him if the case had gone to trial in November as scheduled.

The co-defendants said Vick bankrolled virtually the entire “Bad Newz Kennels” operation in rural southeastern Virginia, including providing gambling funds, an act that could trigger a lifetime ban from the NFL under the league’s personal conduct policy

This is a cautionary tale. A tale that men…young Black men, need to learn how to exercise good judgement. They need to understand that, if you have a contract like Vick’s, you have a target on you, plain and simple. You might believe being an athlete erases that you are a Black man in America, but THAT’S NOT TRUE.

OJ happens once in a lifetime, and you best believe, it’s not going to happen again.

If you have a young Black male in your life, sit him down and discuss this case with him.

1. Poor Judgement…
2. Poor Choices….
3. Poor Decision Making…
4. Do you have Friends or Associates?

Michael Vick was a grown man who chose poorly. He didn’t take his brand – Michael Vick, Incorporated – seriously. If he did, he wouldn’t have put it at risk by routinely hanging out with known criminals and partaking in criminal behavior. I’m not a dog lover; I only had fish for a few weeks as pets, but that doesn’t matter. I see how many folks in this country treat their pets, but more importantly, I know that Vick knows what he did was ILLEGAL.

Which brings me to my fundamental question:

Is it too much to ask, when you make more money than 99% of the world, no matter what race, ethnicity, nationality….

That you find your amusement through LEGAL MEANS?

Is it really that hard?

And, don’t expect ANYONE to go jail for you, outside of Mama and Daddy, and not even them.

Dave Chappelle said it best…

Michael Vick is a living example, up front and personal of…


Barack Obama has called for an easing of the embargo against Cuba.

Per Yahoo:

MIAMI – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is leaping into the long-running Cuba debate by calling for the U.S. to ease restrictions for Cuban-Americans who want to visit the island or send money home.

Obama’s campaign said Monday that, if elected, the Illinois senator would lift restrictions imposed by the Bush administration and allow Cuban-Americans to visit their relatives more frequently, as well as ease limits on the amount of money they can send to their families.

“Senator Obama feels that the Bush administration has made a humanitarian and a strategic blunder,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an e-mail. “His concern is that this has had a profoundly negative impact on the Cuban people, making them more dependent on the Castro regime, thus isolating them from the transformative message carried by Cuban-Americans.”

Obama was explaining his position in an op-ed piece Tuesday in The Miami Herald.

Rest of article here:

It’s been long since past the time that the embargo should be lifted. I want it lifted so that we can tell the Cubans to stay the hell where they are as we do the immigrants from Haiti, who get thrown back into the water even if they get here.

Oil was found near Cuba.

I stand by my belief that the next President of the United States, irrespective of party, is going to lift the embargo. Obama is putting this out there, and will be seen as having taken initiative. While, of course, the old horses will scream bloody murder, the New Generation of Cubans do not take such a hard stance, and this will not offend them.

Good one, Senator Obama.

James Brady, columnist at Forbes, needs to STFU. Ugh:

It’s beginning to look like Imus is coming back. A multi-million dollar settlement announced Tuesday with CBS is greasing the wheels. And talks are said to be underway for a new gig, possibly at WABC Radio. There’s some growing sympathy for his return. And I’m one of the cheerleaders, though I sometimes feel like a solitary voice.
The New York Magazine piece, in somewhat more moderate lingo, suggested that Imus’s hotshot freedom-of-speech lawyer (Lenny Bruce was his first marquee client) Martin Garbus has been doing just that, re-positioning him “as a victim, not a villain.” In Garbus’ view, “Imus wasn’t the bad guy here, the suits who fired him without cause were.” (Jill’s note: My eyes just rolled back so far in my head, they might well be stuck.)
What of longtime producer Bernie McGuirk? He was supposed to have nailed a producing job in Boston until a local activist got on the soapbox. Then it was said Al Sharpton had dropped all objections to an Imus comeback, but in return was asking that a black producer be named. Bernie’s hide for Don’s?

That’s where the human side of all this comes in. Don is out of work and has plenty of dough, especially after the CBS settlement. Bernie is out of work but doesn’t have the cash. Chuck McCord is working but misses the guys.

For Imus junkies like me, there’s an emptiness in the morning.

I really hope this remains a cautionary tale that the days of profiting from racist misogyny are slowly falling away. I really do. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask Imus to consider hiring a more diverse, perhaps less racist staff. Wasn’t poor Bernie the same guy whom Imus admitted was there to tell the “nigger jokes”? Give me a break. God willing, Bill “O’Racist” O’Reilly will soon follow suit, banished into the twilight where old racists go to fade away and die.

Forbes has released a list of top hip hop moguls. These are businessmen (all men so far). Only two, Russell Simmons and his meetings with John Edwards and candid comments on Barack Obama along with P.Diddy and his Vote or Die 2004 GOTV initiative have thrown real weight into politics.

Wouldn’t it have been interesting if P.Diddy or Russell Simmons had been invited to keynote at the YearlyKos Convention? Or maybe even Common, Mos Def, Ludacris, Dead Prez, Kanye West or some of the other enlightened artists. Crazy idea? Maybe, but these are real people with real dollars, some of whom have shown real interest in progressive causes. Hip hop reaches millions (black, white — all colors) with its messages. Yes, some of the messages coming out of hip hop are toxic — sex, drugs and rock and roll sells. Let’s not point fingers at hip hop without also looking at the wider and whiter history of popular music in the modern era.

Like the majority of African-Americans, chances are, at least a few of these influential artists have strong feelings about the Iraq war, healthcare, the environment and other issues impacting our nation. Could they be further tapped as contributors, strategists and spokesmen that appeal to a younger generation? Say what you want about Vote or Die, but the fact is that (for a lot of reasons) 2004 featured one of the highest participation rates for voters under 25 in history. Youth voting surged by 11 percentage points in 2004.

Should African-Americans consider asking more of these leaders (for better or worse) that have risen from our communities than just blingin and singin?

[...snip from Forbes: Hip Hop's Cash Kings]Jay-Z also owns the 40/40 Club sports bar franchise, with locations in New York and Atlanta, and a small stake in the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. (He’s often photographed in courtside seats alongside his girlfriend, pop superstar Beyoncé.) Plus the native New Yorker (from Brooklyn’s hardscrabble Marcy Projects) collects income from blue-chip endorsement deals with Budweiser, Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HPQ – news – people ), and General Motors (nyse: GM – news – people ). All told, Jay-Z banked an estimated $34 million in 2006, earning him the top spot on Forbes’ first-ever list of hip-hop Cash Kings.

Unlike traditional music genres like pop, rock and country, whose artists generally make the bulk of their money selling albums and touring, hip-hop has spawned an impressive cadre of musicians-cum-entrepreneurs who have parlayed their fame into lucrative entertainment empires. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who nabbed the No. 2 spot on the list, presides over G-Unit, a diverse portfolio of businesses that includes apparel, ringtones, video games and even a line of fiction. All told, “Fiddy” as he is known to fans, made an estimated $32 million last year. “I’m creating a foundation that will be around for a long time, because fame can come and go or get lost in the lifestyle and the splurging,” he told Forbes last year. “I never got into it for the music. I got into it for the business.”

At No. 3 is impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs, formerly known as “Puff Daddy,” who lords over Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group. That enterprise is responsible for TV series like MTV’s Making the Band franchise, the Sean John clothing line, the bestselling Unforgivable cologne and a pair of restaurants called Justin’s, named after one of his sons. The Bad Boy Records label, backed by Warner Music Group (nyse: WMG – news – people ), released albums last year by Danity Kane, Cassie and Yung Joc. Last year, Diddy himself released his first album in four years; Press Play debuted at the top of the U.S. pop and rap charts. All told, Combs made an estimated $28 million last year. (Representatives for Diddy, ever the showman, insist that figure is much higher.)

Generally, the most successful “hip-hopreneurs” run their own labels, taking a cut from the artists they sign. Both Eminem ($18 million) and Dr. Dre ($20 million) boast Interscope-backed imprints; both helped produce and release 50 Cent’s last two albums, which have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Fifty owns his own G-Unit label which produces artists like Young Buck and Lloyd Banks, among others.

Hey Fam,

Good news, Jack & Jill Politics will be participating in the blogger’s roundtable over at NPR’s News & Notes, hosted by Farai Chideya!!

Here’s a brief description of the show for those that don’t know:

From newsmakers to performers, health to finance, News & Notes explores fascinating issues and people from an African American perspective.

The show will be recorded and broadcast live this Wednesday August 22 at 1pm ET. Last week’s roundtable included LaShawn Barber, Jim Collier and L.N. Rock (AA Political Pundit). This week will include Jack Turner/Baratunde (me) from Jack & Jill, Avery Tooley [Stereo Describes My Scenario] and Liza Sabater [Culture Kitchen, among others].

I want to crowdsource this joint. What hot topics do you think we should discuss from the past week or few days in the news?

Topics on my mind:

  • Racism in healthcare (great dnA post last week)
  • Black celebrities as major political players (latimes)
  • CARE makes dramatic change in food aid policy, saying US aid may hurt poor people in Africa and elsewhere (nytimes)

More? Post it up in the comment section.

Technorati Tags:

Per Huffington Post:

3 Rescue Workers Killed at Utah Mine

PAUL FOY August 17, 2007 11:47 AM EST

HUNTINGTON, Utah — The search for six miners missing deep underground was abruptly halted after a second cave-in killed three rescue workers and injured at least six others who were trying to tunnel through rubble to reach them.

It was a devastating turn for the families of the six men trapped in the Aug. 6 collapse at the Crandall Canyon mine and for the relatives of those trying to rescue them. It’s not known if the trapped miners are alive.

“It just feels like a really hard blow to swallow after all we’ve been through the last week and a half and everyone trying to hope in their own individual way,” Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon said in telephone interview Friday with CNN’s “American Morning.”

All rescue workers were evacuated from the mine Thursday evening and work underground was stopped. Asked if the search would be suspended, “that’s something to be determined,” said Rich Kulczewski, a U.S. Department of Labor spokesman.

While this entire Utah disaster has been horrible, once again, the MSM must be called out. With the exception of Huffington Post, and Keith Olbermann, I haven’t seen the OBVIOUS part of this story being reported:


Do you actually think it’s a coincidence that we are hearing about more of these mining disasters in the last seven years, since Bush & Company came into power?

Hell no.

One of the functions of government, IMO, is to PROTECT the citizens in the workplace. Workplace safety rules were not put into place because government wanted to ‘beat up on business’.

They were put into place to help make the workers safe. To make sure, that after a long shift at your job, ESPECIALLY if it’s a dangerous job, that you have the best possible chance to GO HOME TO YOUR FAMILY.

THAT is why workplace safety rules have been put into place.

Of course, Bush & Company have spent the past seven years GUTTING WORKPLACE SAFETY, thus endangering the lives of these workers.

HOW MANY fines had the owner of this mine gotten, and STILL was allowed to continue business?

HOW MUCH money had he contributed to the Bush campaigns?

And, just WHO is in charge of Worker Safety and Protection in the Mine Industries? Could it be yet ANOTHER business flunky who has NEVER had the MINERS’ SAFETY as the focal point of his job.

Yes, I blame the Republicans, and anyone who voted for them. You wanted ‘ smaller government’ – THIS IS ONE OF THE RESULTS.


Why isn’t the MSM connecting the dots? Following the fines, the money, the donations, the gutting of the government agencies – how many employees have been eliminated from the government agency that is supposed to oversee mining safety? And, what is the background of the top management? Why not study the past five years, and compare it to the last five years of the Clinton Administration? How about doing some frigging JOURNALISM?

Related Articles:

Mine Safety Czar Richard Stickler: Another Bush Fox Guarding the Henhouse

Governor calls for underground rescue at Utah mine to cease immediately

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Though Dianne Feinstein betrayed the Black community by voting FOR Leslie Southwick, we can STILL STOP HIM from being confirmed by the Senate.

I give the floor to Skeptical Brotha:

I love cooking shows and the Food Network. I’ve been bothered by the lack of ethnic diversity on the channel, but I am buoyed by creative and cheerful southern cooks and restaurateurs like Paula Deen. Miss Paula is probably my favorite. People with her charm and warmth are part of what making living in the south tolerable. Her recipes are full of rich ingredients and served with love. It’s more than just cooking for Miss Paula; it’s almost her way of saying thank you to God for the many blessings he’s bestowed, and for the comfort of good food, good friends, and close family.

Fine dining is a combination of all of those important ingredients and she understands that intuitively. Like entertaining and fine dining, column writing is an art. Among the ingredients of good column writing: a sense of humor, a strong vocabulary, and the ability to tell a story. George Will, the conservative Washington Post Columnist that also has a gig on ABC’s public affairs program, “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” is reputed to be a columnist of legendary prowess.

He and other conservatives have overplayed the sanctimony in their crocodile tear commentary over the last several years. We’ve been consistently treated to well coordinated campaigns of right–wing talking points while they’ve been surreptitiously engaged in a long ideological march to remake our courts in their overwhelmingly white, right-wing and indifferent image. George Will’s latest Sunday column is no different. However, along with a dash of tasty hypocrisy and indifference, he also adds some special ingredients: fantasy and prevarication.

Will measured the ingredients in his column to deliberately poison people like me with severe allergies to white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Will’s foils this week are liberals, and by extension, Barack Obama. Obama announced his “opposition” to the Leslie Southwick nomination some time back. As I’ve said before, he gon’ must do a helluva lot more than issue a press release to stop my criticism. He gon’ hafta do some heavy lifting’ instead of going through the motions of opposition as he usually does.

Anyhoo, Will does a great job of minimizing the racial insensitivity of this nomination and this nominee. He has the audacity to criticize African American critics of this nomination and dismisses out of hand the fact that only one African American sits on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and more than 37 percent of Mississippians are African American, says Will, “This “diversity” argument suggests that courts should be considered representative institutions, like legislatures, and that the theory of categorical representation is valid: people of a particular race, ethnicity or gender can be understood and properly represented only by people of that same category.”

I hate taking mothfucka’s to school, but I’m forced to in this instance. First, Will’s argument with respect to the courts not being representative institutions, like legislatures, is totally, and completely disingenuous. We all know that for purposes of ideology, the makeup of the courts are methodically tracked by liberals and conservatives alike and any omission that fails to recognize this constitutes hypocrisy.

Read the rest at the link above.

So you can contact your Senators and any others about the Southwick Nomination:

U.S. Senate Contact Information

Some Articles of Reference:

Diane Feinstein’s Betrayal on Soutwick Nomination

Stop Judge Leslie Southwick

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Who We Are

Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell

Special Contributors: James Rucker, Rinku Sen, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Adam Luna, Kamala Harris

Technical Contributor: Brandon Sheats


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