The First Pic of CPL…..hint, I’m wearing pearls.  From the White House Online Summit with African-American Bloggers

Boy, CPL is sleep deprived, but I feel like a real writer because of the events I covered in the last 48 hours.

Yesterday, I went to Philadelphia to attend the POTUS “Moving America Forward” rally, which was attended some 20,000 strong, and waiting lines going at least two miles to get into the park where it was held.  Since CPL had a press credential to get into the event, I got some really envious looks as I walked past the two-mile long crowd into the event.

I wont’ spend a lot of time on this, except to say:

DJ Diamond Cuts was da bomb mixing Old-School hits and even the POTUS gave her a shout-out when he took the stage and cut the rug:

The ROOT is a class act and I want their CD;

And, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter was booed by his hometown.  Like  DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, Nutter is feeling the wrath of pissing off the base that brings you to the dance.  DC was subtle about letting Fenty know they were pissed off – Nutter’s constituents was in his GRILL and unashamed.

I asked one of the locals what was the reason for the cold reception Nutter got and was told the man signed off on a law that essentially allows the people to be harassing by the Philly Po-Po for any reason (stop and frisk is what the law is called).  Facilitating more harassment of POC by the Po-Po is NEVER A GOOD IDEA.

The POTUS laid out the foundation for the administration’s accomplishments – which was reiterated in the summit I attended at the White House today.  A four hour policy briefing, and request for feedback from the Black Bloggers and journalists in the room.  This summit was HUGE – look, if Russell Simmons sends his blog producer to the event, and Essence Magazine shows up, plus BET being in the house – you know how important it was.

Organized by the White House Office of Public Engagement (formerly Liaison Office), and the White House Office of Urban Affairs, we were informed that there is an “on-the-ground” need to get the word out about the accomplishments of the Administration and the efforts to communicate to the public how important the midterm elections and beyond are.  I took copious notes and am still deciphering them, but you will see evidence in my posts in the coming week or so, because you will need more than one blog post to take it all in.

The Administration has a lot of initiatives going on that will help our communities in positive ways, but something was needling me as I sat and listened to the presentations and briefings, ’cause that’s what they were.  While we were interested in hearing them, the majority of us, starting with Cord Jefferson of the ROOT, as well as my friend and colleague, Keli Goff of Huffington Post, spoke to the elephant in the room that I mentioned at the DNC meeting with Tim Kaine two weeks ago, and which facilitated this blog post:

We essentially told the White House that we are not willing to be “pimped”.  Oh, we used better articulation, but it was direct and could not be taken out of context, misunderstood or ignored.  As I listened to Cord, David and others articulate the “we won’t be pimped” message, it hit me what was missing from the policy briefings.

The “E” words.  As in “engagement” and “Enforcement”.

UPDATE: Hopefully this pic stays up this time.  (Fingers Crossed)

Okay, so the infrastructure to improve our communities, our schools; facilitating and stimulating the economy; as I said in the September 30th Blog Post – I really, REALLY GET IT. But some of the initiatives, like environment sustainability, economic competitiveness and social justice – well, as I recall, there’s still Federal Civil Rights Laws on the books, and a condition of any entity, state or municipal, taking government funding, they are REQUIRED by LAW to implement programs that ensures the targeted communities get their money, and not have the state legislature hijack it.  So, when the member of the Economic Team, Jared Bernstein, sat down I drilled him with the questions:

“What’s going on with enforcement of the LAW?  There used to be a REQUIREMENT when entities took Federal money, they had to deliver the funding where it was targeted.  Money could be withheld and sanctions imposed if the laws were BROKEN.  Why isn’t there any enforcement of already existing laws?”

You can talk about initiatives, create initiative all the day long, and they don’t mean squat if there’s no ENFORCEMENT of the LAW, POLICY and REGULATIONS. You cannot trust that if you put an initiative out on the street, that everybody’s going to do the right thing and implement it – in fact, they’re looking for ways to circumvent or hijack the initiative’s benefits WITHOUT PENALTY.  Lyndon Johnson knew that the Civil Rights Bill wasn’t going to be voluntarily implemented – that’s why he had Congress craft laws and regulations, so there would be penalities and repercussions for violating the LAW.

As far as I’m concerned, this Adminstration would do well to reinstate the “teeth” in existing laws and regulations pertaining to these initiatives (most, if not all, have a Civil Rights Component) that Bill Clinton continued to defang in the 90s with that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” crap and other lukewarm civil rights initiatives that gave the “impression” of sympathy towards Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity, but really repealed the gains accomplished to this DAY.

Now, we’re having a good discussion, and the White House Office of Public Engagement listened to us – at least I got the sense they did, which is better than the treatment we got from Gentleman Jim Clyburn last week (hint – if you’re going to engage us on a conference call or a sit-down, it really helps if you don’t monopolize the conversation while you admonish us to quit critizing your organization, and the complaints are really legitimate, but I digress.)

So, we’re waiting to meet with Valerie Jarrett, and I was flipping through my notes, when I heard a collective gasp.

In walked the POTUS.  And that surprised me, because I didn’t expect to see him, and usually, these White House gigs are held far away from where he is.

We all stood and he made his way around the room, shaking hands and personally greeting us.  He smiled, but I sewar when he got to me, and I said, “Leutisha Stills, Jack & Jill Politics” that grin became just a tad more speculative, as in, “I know this blog organized the last Black Bloggers meeting during the summer here.” (shameless plug for JJP, y’all) 

Then he gave a brief chat about how the Administration needs us to get the word out about their agenda and their accomplishments.

This moment was not lost on US – but I was amazed at the energy he brought into the room – after he left, we proceeded to continue with our train of thought – CONTINUAL ENGAGEMENT. For me, it’s still ENFORCEMENT of the existing law that makes these initiatives effective and beneficial.  And Ms. Jarrett committed to having these summits frequently, but there’s a few of us who chatted after the summit and suggested the idea of a Black Bloggers’ Press Corps – which blew me away, because after my September 30th post, I got a few emails making the same suggestion. 

We discussed how to maximize this “influence” the White House says we now have.  We’re planning an agenda; one that encompasses what we write about in our communities, and to keep out seat at the table of policy formation, planning and discussion.  I think we made that clear – now it’s up to the White House, because as things have played out over the past three weeks, Black Bloggers DO have influence to organize, educate and marshal our connections to not only get the word OUT, but keep a seat at the table of Policy making and Influence, and we let them know we plan on using it.

As I said in my previous post, if you want me at the dance, I better get something in RETURN.  One can always be pimped – it is a whole different ballgame when you’re treated like you have the influence to change the course of events.

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