Friday Open Thread

18 Feb 2011

Today, Richard Pryor

African-American comedian Richard Pryor grew up bombarded by mixed messages. Pryor’s grandmother owned a string of brothels, his mother prostituted herself, and his father was a pimp. Still, they raised Richard to be honest, polite, and religious. Living in one of the worst slums in Peoria, IL, Pryor found that he could best defend himself by getting gang members to laugh at instead of pummeling him. This led to his reputation as a disruptive class clown, although at least one understanding teacher allowed Pryor one minute per week to “cut up” so long as he behaved himself the rest of the time. At age 14, he became involved in amateur dramatics at Peoria’s Carver Community Center, which polished his stage presence. In 1963, Pryor headed to New York to seek work as a standup comic; after small gigs in the black nightclub circuit, he was advised to pattern himself after Bill Cosby — that is, to be what white audiences perceived as “nonthreatening.”

For the next five years, the young comic flourished in clubs and on TV variety shows, making his film bow in The Busy Body (1967). But the suppression of Pryor’s black pride and anger by the white power structure frustrated him. One night, sometime between 1969 and 1971, he “lost it” while performing a gig in Las Vegas; he either walked off-stage without a word or he obscenely proclaimed that he was sick of it. Over the next few years, Pryor found himself banned from many nightclubs, allegedly due to offending the mob-connected powers-that-be, and lost many of his so-called friends who’d been sponging off of him. Broke, Pryor went underground in Berkeley, CA, in the early ’70s; when he re-emerged, he was a road-company Cosby no more. His act, replete with colorful epithets, painfully accurate character studies of street types, and hilarious (and, to some, frightening) hostility over black-white inequities, struck just the right note with audiences of the committed ’70s. Record company executives, concerned that Pryor’s humor would appeal only to blacks, were amazed at how well his first post-Berkeley album, That Nigger’s Crazy!, sold with young white consumers.

As for Hollywood, Pryor made a key early appearance in the Diana Ross vehicle Lady Sings the Blues. But ultra-reactionary Tinseltown wasn’t quite attuned to Pryor’s liberal use of obscenities or his racial posturing. Pryor had been commissioned to write and star in a Mel Brooks-directed Western-comedy about a black sheriff, but Brooks replaced Pryor with the less-threatening Cleavon Little; Pryor nonetheless retained a credit as one of five writers on the picture, alongside such luminaries as Andrew Bergman. When Pryor appeared onscreen in The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings and Silver Streak (both 1976), it was as a supporting actor. But Pryor’s popularity built momentum, and by the end of the ’70s he became the highest-paid starring comedian in films, with long-range contracts ensuring him work well into the next decade – when such efforts as Stir Crazy, Bustin’ Loose, and The Toy helped to both clean up the foul-mouthed comic’s somewhat raunchy public image, and endear him to a whole new generation of fans. His comedy albums — and later, videocassettes — sold out as quickly as they were recorded. The only entertainment arena still too timid for Pryor was network television — his 1977 NBC variety series has become legendary for the staggering amount of network interference and censorship imposed upon it.

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The Obama administration is taking action to hold accountable for-profit colleges that prey on low-income students. But some Democrats in Congress — including several members of the Congressional Black Caucus — are siding with Republicans to block the administration’s efforts.

Hundreds of thousands of people go into debt every year enrolling in for-profit higher education programs like DeVry and Argosy — sold on the idea that they’ll graduate with skills that will lead to opportunity and a better life. In reality, many come out with a mountain of debt they can’t pay back and no better prospects at employment.

Thankfully, the Department of Education is preparing to stop federal financial aid from going to higher ed programs that don’t actually help students get jobs and pay off their debt. Not surprisingly, the industry is fighting back hard, despite its atrocious record: their students make up 10% of those in higher ed but 40% of students who stop making payments on their loans.

Now, the for-profit college industry has help from a handful of Democrats, including CBC members Reps. Alcee Hastings, Donald Payne, Ed Towns, Andre Carson, Bobby Scott, and Charlie Rangel. These Reps. are preparing to vote on an amendment that would make it impossible for the Department of Education to regulate this industry the way it wants to. And they’re pushing their colleagues in the CBC to vote with them.

This is what one CBC staffer had to say about it:

“It’s disgusting to see Democrats, especially members of the CBC, actively shilling for an industry that disproportionately preys on low-income and minority students.”

We couldn’t agree more.
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Afternoon Open Thread

17 Feb 2011

21 years last week, Nelson Mandela was released from Robbin Island Prison.

CNN did a couple of pieces with Mandela’s family.

First, one with a daughter.

Good Afternoon.

As you go through the rest of your day, don’t forget JJP.

Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.

And continue to have a peaceful day.

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Lordy, did a pig just fly by your window? Did a snowball just have a chance in hell? Did a moon just turn blue?

Because for once, black bloggers and the Congressional Black Caucus are agreeing on something. We got beef with the President’s budget.

Here’s African American Political Pundit wondering how far Obama is willing to compromise:

There are a number of Black bloggers, Progressive bloggers and journalists who are reporting on how Obama’s budget proposal will hurt the poor, cut aid to middle class & burden students.  Read: Black Americans Especially Vulnerable To Budget Austerity, Study Shows
Now the question is whether President Obama is Channeling Ronald Reagan?
reaganobama Channeling Reagan, Obama Moves to Slash Programs for Urban Poor

Is Barack Obama trying to be more Republican than the Republicans, in order to appease the GOP?


AAP says: I knew it was going to be ugly for the black community when President Obama gave Black leaders the bad news on likely budget cuts. Candidly, I’m also wondering like other black bloggers, why are blacks always the biggest targets of budget cuts? I’m also wondering how our President could do this to us, after all black voters  did, to help in get into office?

You should read the whole piece. It’s good.

Meanwhile over at Colorlines, Shani O. Hilton breaks it down on the CBC’s “Say What Now?” reaction to the budget:

…the Congressional Black Caucus is emerging as one of the loudest House Democratic critics of a plan that Marc Ambinder at National Journal calls “The Budget Nobody Likes.”

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Speaker Boehner, you opened your yap during the campaign season to ask the President ‘ WHERE’S THE JOBS?’

Now, any thinking person knew that you and your fellow Republicans didn’t give a rat’s ass about jobs. Only those dumb enough to vote for you actually thought you were sincere in being concerned that there are jobs needed. WHY they thought this, considering that yours is the party which voted against everything in the stimulus, and held up unemployment benefits until you got tax breaks for rich folks, and were the party to challenge that unemployment isn’t actually needed…but, there are those delusional souls out there who actually thought you and your party cared about unemployment.

Since you have gotten into office, it hasn’t been about jobs. It’s been about redefining rape, then letting women die if they actually need an abortion to save their lives, or it’s been about repealing Obama CARES, or it’s been about reading the ‘Constitution’, but only the parts that feed into your delusions. What we, the people have not heard from the GOP is an actual plan to CREATE JOBS in America.

What we’ve heard from you is the following.


Boehner: If Jobs Are Lost As A Result Of GOP Spending Cuts ‘So Be It’

If House Republicans succeed in cutting tens of billions of dollars in discretionary spending over the next six months, some of the most immediate victims will be federal employees, many of whose jobs will be slashed as their agencies pare back.

At a press conference in the lobby of RNC headquarters Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) shrugged this off as collateral damage.

“In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,” Boehner said. “If some of those jobs are lost so be it. We’re broke.”

There we go.

First of all, the 200,000 new jobs is a LIE.

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Below is a collection of some nice offerings from the interwebs, Twitternets and our very own comments section backed by the musical stylings of the Song Du Jour. Go ahead, get some get right.

Black Unemployment Pisses Off The Black, Unemployed [Black Voice News]

Crackdown on Protesters in Bahrain [Voice of America]

Egyptian Army Won’t Field Presidential Candidate [The LA Times]

180: US Agrees to Rebuke Israel in Security Council [Foreign Policy]

Nir Rosen, Journalist Cum Turd, Feels ‘Like Shrinking’ After Lara Logan Comments [Media Bistro]

Michael Vick Dares Cancel His Appearance on The Oprah [ESPN]

Great Scott: The Influence of Gil-Scott Heron’s Work [The Loop 21]

VIDEO: Cee Lo’s ‘Bodies’ Video Which Is Hopefully Unlike the Bodies Exhibit [YouTube]

Happy Thursday, JJPers. Try to stay faithful.

There will be a vote for the new Mayor of Chicago on February 22nd. I’ve already cast my ballot, and as I said before, it was NEVER EVER going to be for Rahm Emmanuel.

I’ve been asked why I would never vote for Rahm. I’ve always said I never needed anything he did as COS to not vote for him, and I meant it. Look to the man’s own commercials. What does he brag about; pretty much how he helped Clinton be ‘ tough on crime’. Well, considering that I believe Clinton created the Prison Industrial Complex, which is on its 2nd if not 3rd generation of young Black men as commodities for said complex, why would I support anyone who brags about being part of the architects for it?

On a local level, they tout Rahm’s ‘ experience’ at the Chicago Housing Authority, while not releasing the memos from the meetings during his tenure at the CHA, where he oversaw the raising of public housing, so that they could get that land for gentrification purposes, all the while dispersing those folks into previously stable Black middle class neighborhoods that have since become destabilized.

Look at his record in Congress. He voted against CBC Proposals 128 times. He had no qualms in helping create the Prison Industrial Complex, but couldn’t find it to vote FOR measures that would help former inmates find re-entry back into society. Locally, another vote was against funding for the pharmacy school being set up at Chicago State University (a school that serves a predominant Black population).

Ask him for proposals for the Black community, and all he could come up with was that he’d ‘extend the Redline ‘el train’. REALLY? ‘Extend the REDLINE’?

Don’t ask me why I wouldn’t vote for Rahm. What I want to know is why anyone Black WOULD vote for Rahm.
I want someone Black to come and tell me 5 things that Rahm has done in his public life that have ever benefited Black folk – and you can’t use anything that happened as COS. He has a legislative record. Find something in those votes.

But, I stand by what I said – I’d chew ground glass before I’d ever vote for him and never needed anything he did as COS as for the reason why.

Many in the Outdoor Afro community are elated by the announcement of the greatly anticipated America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative by the Obama Administration. Following in the tradition of Lincoln, FDR, and Teddy Roosevelt — Presidents who each made great strides toward conservation, President Obama left his own mark today by initiating an historic initiative that is likely to change the way Americans perceive and engage with the outdoors.

Read or Watch the President’s remarks:

From the America’s Great Outdoors website, “AGO recognizes that many of the best ideas come from outside of Washington. Instead of dictating policies, the initiative turned to communities for local, grassroots conservation initiatives.” So after ten months and fifty-one listening sessions from around the country to hear what Americans value about the outdoors, the result is a carefully developed report and plan to help re-engage all Americans with their natural spaces.

On the conference call following the President’s address, I was delighted to hear Lisa Jackson, Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, remark about the importance of inclusion that considers urban environments and the people who live in them.

When asked by Charles Thomas, “What elements are envisioned to serve underserved communities?” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar responded that there is a “deliberate focus on employing young people who are reflective of the diversity of the country — otherwise we’re selling America short…”

These are exciting times for Americans and the outdoors.Outdoor Afro will continue to promote, make visible, and encourage its growing community to foster stronger and more empowered connections to nature that benefit us all.


How do you think the AGO initiative will support your engagement with the Great Outdoors?

Rue Mapp is the founder of Outdoor Afro, a community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, fishing, gardening, skiing — and more! Outdoor Afro uses social media to create interest communities, events, and to partner with regional and national organizations that support diverse participation in the Great Outdoors.

Thursday Open Thread

17 Feb 2011

today: Dick Gregory

Richard Claxton “Dick” Gregory (born on October 12, 1932 in St. Louis, Missouri) is an American comedian, social activist, social critic, writer, and entrepreneur.

Gregory is an influential American comic who has used his performance skills to convey to both white and black audiences his political message on civil rights. His social satire changed the way white Americans perceived African American comedians since he first performed in public.

Influenced to stand up for civil rights by his early surroundings of poverty and violence, Gregory was one of the first comedians to successfully perform for both black and white audiences.


After completing military service, he performed as a comedian in small, primarily black nightclubs while working for the United States Postal Service during the daytime. In 1961, while working at the Black-owned Roberts Show Bar in Chicago, he was hired by Hugh Hefner to work at the Chicago Playboy Club after Hefner heard him perform the following material before a largely-white audience:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent twenty years there one night.

Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant and this white waitress came up to me and said, “We don’t serve colored people here.” I said, “That’s all right. I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.”

Then these three white boys came up to me and said, “Boy, we’re giving you fair warning’. Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you”. So I put down my knife and fork, I picked up that chicken and I kissed it. Then I said, “Line up, boys!”.
This routine caused a direct request from publisher Hugh Hefner and he was booked as a replacement for the white comedian Professor Irwin Corey. Until then Gregory had worked mostly at small clubs with predominantly black audiences.

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So you’d think that Gov. Haley Barbour, thought to be considering a run at the GOP presidential race, would have kept his big mouth shut about racist, confederate, KKK stuff.

He just managed to emerge from the cloud of his own apologist and historical revisionist statements about the Council of White Citizens and his own non-role in the struggle to end segregation in the South if you believe folks who were there, like Verna Bailey, actual civil rights hero. If you’ll recall, Haley said he didn’t think segregation was all “that bad”.

That didn’t go over so well for some reason. Barbour recently conceded to NAACP and online activists’ demands to release the Scott sisters, one of whom needed the other sister’s kidney to live, from jail. He did this because, you know, he loves himself some black folks! He’s just a good ole boy…never meanin’ no harm – like they sing about in Dukes of Hazzard. Right?

Think again. Now this via Politico and Black Politics on the Web:

In the latest racially charged incident in his home state, Haley Barbour on Tuesday drew fire when he refused to condemn a proposal honoring a Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate general on a state license plate.

“I don’t go around denouncing people. That’s not going to happen,” Barbour, who is considering a run for the White House in 2012, said when asked about the plate, the Associated Press reported. “I know there’s not a chance it’ll become law.”

The state NAACP has denounced the proposal from the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to honor Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who went on to become an early leader of the KKK.

So there are a number of problems here. Right off the bat, Forrest was a native of Tennessee, so why would Mississipians even want a license plate celebrating him? Unless they’re racist white supremacists that wanna ride like the Klan — America’s first homegrown terrorist organization?

Haley’s trying to play both sides — he thinks by saying “it can’t win” that that should please folks against the bill while not coming out strong against KKK supporters.  Can’t have your KKK plate and eat it too, Haley. He’s dry-humping Confederates because he’s not sure how far he can penetrate without getting in trouble, I reckon. This is just another nail in the coffin of a presidential campaign that’s not likely to go too far — not with a Klan license plate on it, at least.

The GOP has no future in America if they imagine that emerging and more diverse generations will be amused at this winking at racist terrorists…

Afternoon Open Thread

16 Feb 2011

CPL has written about her experiences at the Medal of Freedom ceremony down below in a post. Here are some pics. And a wonderful short piece by Lawrence O’Donnell on Bill Russell.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Good Afternoon.

As you go through the rest of your day, don’t forget JJP.

Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.

And continue to have a peaceful day.

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Hey fam,

One of the things that’s been occupying me lately is the day job at The Onion. We’ve got two televisions shows on air right now (Onion SportsDome, Tuesdays 10:30/9:30c on Comedy Central and Onion News Network, Fridays 10/9c on IFC), and there’s a lot of work going into each one.

Each show has had a clip which I think the JJP community would especially appreciate. The first is from ONN with the headline: Judge Rules White Girl Will Be Tried As Black Adult. It was the first story to air in the series.

Judge Rules White Girl Will Be Tried As Black Adult

The second aired on last night’s SportsDome as: Tall Black Man At The Gym Could Be The Next NBA Superstar

Consider this post good for your lunch break. Long live smart satire! Oh, and watch the shows. Keep me employed :)

Be there: watch the entire 40 min Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony above.
– Jill

In the past, the recipients of the President’s Medal of Freedom award have registered on my radar from “Good Choice” to “W-T-F?” (the “W-T-F” moments were during the Bush Crime Family Administration, and many of you know why.) the ceremony for JJP was a real honor and privilege; one I don’t take lightly.  The magnitude and significance of the event was not lost on me, or the other Bloggers of Color who attended the ceremony.  Although the East Room was crowded, and most of the media were standing and jockeying for position, the merit of those receiving this award was never in question.  Even GeeShrubya’s daddy had some meritorious achievements to his credit – everything that the son COULDN’T DO.

I mean, Poppy Bush was a fighter pilot in WWII; and did some humanitarian efforts with Bill Clinton in organizing relief in disaster areas, but somehow, I couldn’t get past the fact he was Head Spook during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations.  That does not mean his humanitarian efforts, and his somewhat decent run as POTUS (ending the Cold War without a shot being fired) made him less deserving of his award.

And who can deny Dr. Maya Angelou was worthy of her award?  Most of us remember her telling us “Why the Caged Bird Sings” and showing everyone how “Phenominal” we Black Women really are, while telling all of us through her art, her writings and her poetry, that African-Americans have always had their fingers “On The Pulse of the Morning.”

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Wednesday Open Thread

16 Feb 2011

today, Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby Biography
in full William Henry Cosby, Jr.

Actor, comedian, writer, and producer. Born on July 12, 1937, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With numerous awards to his credit, Bill Cosby is one of the top names in comedy. He also helped break down racial barriers on television in the 1960s with I Spy and later with The Cosby Show.

Cosby grew up in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood as the oldest of four boys. At first, the Cosbys did okay financially, but their fortunes began to slip as Cosby’s father, William, Sr., began to drink heavily. After his father enlisted in the Navy, Cosby became like a parent to his brothers while his mother, Anna, worked cleaning houses. He and his family ended up living in the Richard Allen Homes, a low-income housing project in his neighborhood. At the age of 8, Cosby suffered a great loss when his brother James, the second oldest of the boys, died.

With money very tight for his family, Cosby started shining shoes to help out when he was 9 years old. He also later found a job at a supermarket. Despite their hardships, Cosby’s mother stressed the value of education and learning. She often read to Bill and his brothers, including the works by Mark Twain. A gifted storyteller himself, Cosby learned early on that humor could be a way to make friends and to get what he wanted. Cosby excelled at making things up. As one of his teachers once noted, “William should become either a lawyer or an actor because he lies so well.”


In the middle of his junior year of college, Cosby decided to drop out to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. He toured extensively, winning over fans along the way. In 1963, Cosby made an appearance on The Tonight Show in 1963, which helped introduce him to a national audience. He soon landed a recording contract and released his first comedy album, Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow . . . Right!, that year. He won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Performance for his next effort, 1964’s I Started Out as a Child. For the remainder of the 1960s, Cosby released hit album after hit album, winning another five Grammys. He would later pick up two more for his recordings for children.

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Afternoon Open Thread

15 Feb 2011

hat tip-butterfly at BooMan Tribune

If you haven’t seen it, Fareed Zakaria has some interesting history comparing the Obama Administration in this crises to other similar crises for Reagan and Clinton.

Good Afternoon.

As you go through the rest of your day, don’t forget JJP.

Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.

And continue to have a peaceful day.

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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