The real Charter School threat to “Public” Schools

Conventional wisdom informed me that Public Charter Schools are a threat, not an ally of urban public schools. Pushed by conservatives who have never valued public school education, charter schools and school voucher programs for poor students to attend private schools are an obvious drain on meager public school resources.

I thought that was it: charter schools and vouchers drain off funds (and presumably the most highly motivated inner city students) from the public schools; hastening the demise of urban schools, discrediting the public education system even more than it does on its own.

I read once that public education began in this country after the Civil War, as a way to educate the freed Black slaves. After all, teaching a slave to read had been illegal in some states, hence the open, racist, hostility to any kind of public education, not to mention desegregated public education in the South.

At the time of the Brown v. Board of Education decision for example, the state of New York spent four times the amount per pupil, per year that was spent in the state of Mississippi, my home state. That was for all children, not just Black children. Down South, while it appeared that only Black children were being cheated by separate and unequal schools, White children were also being cheated by their state governments.

But the true danger of charter schoos, in my opinion, is much, much, much deeper than just that. Continue reading

The Promise is True…Tony Snow

The last time I saw Tony Snow.

I really shouldn’t say anything about him.

We disagreed so fundamentally, on

Just about everything.

But the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad reminded

Us of a promise, that we would have

Money, Luxury, Good Homes, and Friendship in all walks of life.

I bear Him witness.

The Promise is true.

The last time I saw Tony.

Tony Snow was Press Secretary

For the President of the United States of America,

George W. Bush.

Some say the “W” stands for the “Worst” President in U.S. history.

But I owe Tony Snow my respect Continue reading

The Civil Rights “Generation neXt”

In the American youth-obsessed culture, young Blacks consigned Jazz music–American Classical Music–over to young Whites for its perpetuation and continuity. Jazz had already undergone one transition after another: from New Orleans Preservation Hall, to Ragtime and Harlem “Jungle Music,” to the Swing Era, to Be Bop, to Hard Bop, to Modern, to Avante Garde, to Free Jazz.

But one Jazz expert I know says he won’t consider the merits of a young Jazz group today, until he hears them play some of the old Jazz Standards, so he can “see if they can play,” by comparing their skills to the performances of the music’s Masters.

There is no such thing as modern Rhythm & Blues. That form, now called “Old School,” is simply relegated to reunion tours and performances on public television fund-raisers and Hand Dance celebrations by whichever original group members can still stand in matching sequined suits and groove in front of a microphone.

Musically, young people today have moved on, and now even the original progressive, consciousness-raising Hip Hop has devolved from so-called “Gangsta Rap,” into pure shake-your-backside debauchery. Continue reading

What’s wrong with being a Muslim…Muslims?

Before the 2008 election, Black people in the American political firmament, were customarily ignored by the Republicans and taken for granted by the Democrats. Pretty low. There is however now, one, even lowlier constituency: Muslims. They are even worse off.

The fact of the matter is: Muslims are still secretly considered America’s sworn enemies from the days of the Crusades, especially among the rock-ribbed, Red, White and Blue Republican true believers. And of course they’re shunted away by the Democrats, who are still afraid of being perceived as “weak” on terrorism.

And yet mainstream Muslim political types are mostly supporting Sen. Barack Hussein Obama Jr., who emphatically reminds everyone who’ll listen, that he’s not a Muslim, and furthermore, anyone who says otherwise is engaging in patent rumor-mongering. Okay. Message received.

What’s wrong with being a Muslim? Did I miss a memo? A meeting? I can’t see anything worse about being a good Muslim than there is about being a good Christian. A good Jew. In fact, some of my best friends are Muslims. And all of them are really fine people, excellent neighbors. They’re downright decent human beings, if you ask me. Continue reading

Jesse Who?

The Rev. Jesse Jackson told me once that he once returned to his hometown, Greenville, South Carolina, where he had been known as “Bo.” By this time he had marched side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his picture had been on the covers of Time, Newsweek and Jet magazines, he had frequently appeared on the Nightly News and on various Sunday interview shows.

When he walked through the streets of Greenville folks who remembered him would shout: “Hey, Bo! Where you been? What you been doing?”

That Rev. Jackson. Such a sense of humor.

Then, he went on and ran for President of the United States, winning the 1984 presidential primary in his home state, and earning more than 7 million votes all over the country. And the rest, as the expression goes, is history. History because in 1984 the Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke other than the truth in a desperate ploy to save that political campaign, when he said he had never used the term “Hymie-town.”

I heard The Country Preacher use that very expression four years earlier, off-camera, after a 1980 taping of the TV show “America’s Black Forum.” Continue reading

Black, anti-Obama Republican ads

I wondered to myself why Shannon Reeves, the Republican National Committee head of African American Outreach was a no-show at the June 17 monthly forum of the Washington D.C. Black Republican Committee. Maybe he had “fatter fish to fry” that night, than to meet with the party’s local Black loyalists.

The shindig was at Duke’s City Restaurant on U Street and was intended to help Blacks in the local GOP better understand what the Republican National Committee is doing about outreach to African American voters and to offer the GOP higher-ups, some insight on what African Americans want from the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

I spoke with members of the DCBRC casually about the non-event. They were disappointed at the Reeves non-appearance. He sent three deputies. Some members wanted to cancel the meeting to protest the non-attendance of Shannon Reeves, but the will of the group was to hear the three deputies out. Ironically, the DCBRC members with whom I spoke confidentially, are not really ready yet to publicly complain about what some consider a slap in the face from the GOP-HNIC.

So, what do I discover, but an item on the Huffington Post, under the headline: “Black Republicans Launch Racial Anti-Obama Ads.”

Now I’ve got to know: What does Shannon Reeves think about that? I’m certain I will soon learn.

“Look beyond Barack Obama’s skin color and soaring rhetoric and you will see an arrogant, elitist millionaire whose voting record is the most liberal in Congress,” says one of the radio ads produced by The National Black Republican Association, according to author Sam Stein. “Look at the people around Obama, and you will understand that Obama lacks the judgment to be our next president.” Huh? Continue reading

Is Obama ‘The Man’ or ‘The Omen?’

Is Barack Hussein Obama “The Man?” Or is he “The Omen?” Is he “The One?” Or is he Neo? The Shadow knows. Seriously.

I always thought the fundamental question facing America–White America–this presidential election cycle would boil down to a question of whether or not America–White America–could accept its salvation if it meant that the “Savior” had to be a Black man? Would Americans–White Americans–vote their best interests, or would they, blinded by racism vote for their own doom, because they just could not support a Black man in that office?

But that’s just part of the picture. Now, I have discovered, there are some militant (White) “U.S. Christians who regard the prospective presidency of Barack Obama in the nature of a biblical plague visited upon a sinful people,” so said columnist Robert D. Novak on May 12, 2008.  And in late June conservative Christians openly challenged Sen. Obama’s biblical interpretations.

What Bible are those Christians reading?

The prospective presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, just might be a biblical plague visited upon a sinful people? Where is that? I guess it’s near the chapter and verse where it says a slave is supposed to love his Master more than he loves himself.

In 1831, the Terrorist Nat Turner understood that same Bible very differently. He was in Southhampton, Virginia, and to him the Bible said that on a certain day he should rise up and lead his followers to murder their slavemasters and seize their freedom by force of arms. Same Bible. That’s the Bible (coincidentally) I believe in. The one that says the slaves will be set free! That Black Liberation Theology. Same Bible. Continue reading

I’ve got your ‘terrorist fist jab’ Lady

I’ve got your “terrorist fist jab” right here lady, and I know just where to put it.

Please excuse the coarse language.

I am more than just a bit agitated.

On June 6 on that “Fair and Balanced” Fox News network’s “America’s Pulse,” host E.D. Hill promoted an upcoming discussion on the gesture Sen. Barack Obama shared with his wife Michelle after clinching the Democratic nomination. They touched fists. It’s the “Cliff’s Notes” version, it’s what has become of the “Soul Handshake.”

And so there was an actual prime time, network cable television news discussion about that gesture!? Let me get this straight. We also have to pay in order to watch cable news networks? Right?

“America’s Pulse” host E.D. Hill teased: “A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently.”

“A terrorist fist jab?” have you lost your mind lady? What’s next, a collard greens joke? Maybe a “Watermelon Jihad” reference, or a “Fried Chicken Hostage?”

What in heaven’s name made the word “terrorist” come out that Fox News Network anchor’s mouth?

I join with all those who have already signed the online petition at www.mediamatters.org in saying with my full throat: to Fox News, to Roger Ailes to Rupert Murdoch, to Junebug Jabbo Smith; and to Lottie, Dottie, and Everybody: that racist, xenophobic comment by E.D. Hill on the Fox News Network is appalling and unacceptable, and I demand an apology from E.D. Hill!

What did she mean, “a terrorist fist jab?” anyway? Continue reading

I’m no way jealous of Benjamin Jealous

You know you’ve grown older (not “old,” just “older”) when you are older than the President of the United States.

For the last 15 years, the Resident-in-Chief at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been junior in age to me: Bill Clinton by one year; George W. (for Worst in history) Bush, by two years. And the next President is all but certain to be much, much younger than I am. I have made peace with that reality.

But now, the Executive Director of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization is not just younger than me, he’s in fact the same age as my daughter! That’s an entire generation gap.

When I met Benjamin Jealous a decade ago when he was Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association–the Black Press of America–he behaved like a man who was wise beyond his years. I had no idea he was a neophyte. Continue reading

Wright’s wrong. But White’s right?

Granted, when the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright “threw up The Hooks” symbolizing Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. during his remarks at the National Press Club, he quickened the pulse of many Ques in the room and those watching on television. But his timing was way, way off.

Later in that question-and-answer session, when he defended himself and the savage, unjustified, taken-out-of-context attacks against his distinguished career as a pastor, a scholar, and a veteran of military service in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, by likening the attacks on him as nothing better than the Black-ghetto, school-yard tradition of “Yo Momma” trash-talk known as “The Dozens,” he had already stepped way over the line.

Even truth, when spoken out of season, does not bear fruit.

So, to continue in the ghetto vernacular metaphor, presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), was bang-on-right to “Pimp Slap” his former pastor, and throw him overboard for the sharks to devour.

Okay.

So, what if a White candidate for office speaks before a group which wanted to discuss the effects of pornography and prostitution on young “White” women and girls, but not “all” women and girls? Does making that kind of a distinction in a political contest rise to the level of “reject and denounce,” “denounce and reject?” Continue reading