Michelle Obama and Stokely Carmichael

My friend Juan Williams is losing it if he thinks comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) is a bad thing! Furthermore, Black journalists and others who took offense at the Williams absurdity should do some research before they recoil in horror because Stokely Carmichael was and is a hero.

On a cable TV show, on a network I avoid watching like the plague, Mr. Williams baselessly attacked the First Lady recently, claiming that “her instinct is to start with this ‘blame America’ stuff.”

Well the cable, so-called “all news” channels really offer nothing “new.” That’s first. Rather they simulate the sound of the AM-talk-radio, junior varsity, locker room, echo chamber, where snide putdowns resound like the snap of towels on bare bottoms. The remark was intended to appeal to the White-guy, beer-guzzlers in the cheap seats.

The author of the television documentary “Eyes on the Prize,” and a biography of former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall clearly forgot everything he learned doing research on those projects when he asserted that Michelle Obama’s “instinct” is to “blame America” or to be “the victim.” Then he said she has “this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going.” Rim-shot! Zinger! Continue reading

President Obama: more than “half White”

The saga of the election of President Barack Obama has drawn out some pretty silly expressions from some people who would otherwise be thought to be intelligent.

Pres. Obama’s status as a “real Black man” has always been an open question. First, when he declared his candidacy, some Black folks said he wasn’t “Black enough.” After his victory some White folks began saying he’s “half White,” he’s “bi-racial,” wanting to rob the delirious Black folks of their moment of pride in the man who “self-selected” himself to be Black. Some Whites belittle his Kenyan father, Barack Obama Sr., for abandoning his wife–Ann Dunham–and his young son Barack Jr.

I continue to say that Barack Obama is “an American politician with an African father.” When I think about him, I realize he’s more than “half White.” He’s a pure American who, when faced with the identity choice in his early adulthood, made the best and proper intellectual, cultural, and spiritual decision–that was to self-identify as being Black. If he had chosen to identify as “White,” or “bi-racial,” or any other watered-down version of being a Black man we would have never heard of him. He would have been just another dude, trying to deny his true soul. Continue reading

America to GOP: You lost!

More than 20 years ago, I wondered aloud about the patriotism of corporate executives who urged American consumers to buy American-made products while they consistently exported jobs manufacturing products to sweatshops overseas in order for them to pocket a few more shekels from the exploited labor abroad.

Those were the days when “greed” was the name of the game. I remember seeing an expensive Mercedes Benz in those days with a vanity license plate reading “GREED.” Those were the days before the savings and loan crisis in recent history, which preceded the stock market meltdown, which preceded the crash of The Big Three automakers, which preceded the Congressional-Wall Street-handout, which preceded Bernie Madoff, making off with $50 billion, fleecing everybody, even including thousands of greedy, savvy, bankers, who were supposed to know better than to fall for the same kind of “Murphy” they’ve been running on the public all these years.

You’d think by now, someone might have figured out that scam and gotten wise. But no. Maybe the only person who’s minding the store in Washington is Pres. Barack Obama, and judging by some of his cabinet picks, I even wonder about him (He couldn’t find anybody who paid their taxes before being picked for an appointment? And that Treasury Secretary came from Wall Street. He’s another fox guarding the henhouse).

To his credit, Mr. Obama called a spade, a spade, during his first prime-time press conference Feb. 9. “Now, you have some people, very sincere, who philosophically just think the government has no business interfering in the marketplace,” The Pres told reporters. “And in fact there are several who’ve suggested that FDR was wrong to intervene back in the New Deal. They’re fighting battles that I thought were resolved a pretty long time ago.” So did I Mr. President.

“What I’ve been concerned about is some of the language that’s been used suggesting that this is full of pork and this is wasteful government spending, so on and so forth. First of all, when I hear that from folks who presided over a doubling of the national debt, then I just want them to not engage in some revisionist history. I inherited the deficit that we have right now and the economic crisis that we have right now.”

Yes, he did inherit, what one commentator described as “the in-box from Hell.” He inherited it from all those Republican, fake-fiscal-conservatives. There was nothing “conservative” about them, unless by conservative you mean against progress for Blacks. Continue reading

New Black GOP Chairman: no Fred Douglass

As the Bi-Centennial of the birthdate of the 16th President of the United States–Abraham Lincoln of Illinois–approaches, just days after the incumbent, the 44th President–Barack Obama of Illinois–took his Oath of Office with his hand on the Lincoln Bible, the comparisons abound.

But there is one comparison which may look like it’s similar to that of the time of The Great Rail-Splitter, which is decidedly unlike that time. One of Mr. Lincoln’s Republican Party contemporaries was runaway slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who hailed from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and lived right here in Washington, D.C. Today, there is a prominent Black Republican leader from Washington who once served as the lieutenant governor of Maryland.

But that’s where the similarity ends.

After six grueling votes, Maryland’s Michael Steele was elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee Jan. 30. Mr. Steele, who unsuccessfully sought a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2006, is the first Black man to lead the GOP.

The new African American RNC chairman won 91 votes to Katon Dawson’s 77. Mr. Dawson is the GOP chairman of South Carolina, who only cancelled his 12-year membership in the Whites-only Forest Lake Country Club in September, just weeks before the presidential election. Ohio’s former Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who is also Black, was also a candidate.

By recent Republican standards Mr. Steele is considered a “moderate.” And he definitely was the pick of this year’s Grand Ole Party Litter. Even the other African American candidate has a tainted past. As Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell was an active co-conspirator in the Ohio 2004 election fraud which enabled Pres. George W. (for worst in history) Bush to steal his second, presidential election. His first theft of course was the much more widely discussed 2000 Florida, “hanging chad” election debacle.

And then, there was the candidate for the job Mr. Steele eventually won, who sent hundreds of Christmas greetings to people with a CD containing a song parodying the-then President-elect, called “Barack The Magic Negro,” sung to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

Ha-ha-ha. Very funny. Not! Continue reading

If this ain’t treason…

If I had ever uttered some of the epithets against Presidents Ronald Reagan or George W. (for worst in history) Bush, which are being sworn loudly, by the hour by some of these right-wing radio talk show hosts against Pres. Barack Obama, then I would have surely ended up in a stockade somewhere.

The well known, corpulent talker with the drug addiction problem famously proclaimed that he did not need a 400-word essay to say what he felt about the President of the United States, less than a week after Mr. Obama took office. “I can say it in four words,” he brayed from his stable. “I hope he fails!”

The way I see it, to announce one’s desire that the leader of his or her country “fail,” in any dangerous endeavor is tantamount to wishing for the victory of the enemy of that person’s country.

That’s not like declaring that you think the President is wrong. That’s also different from observing, after the fact, what the effect of a dismal policy may be. That is a wish for the defeat of one’s own country’s leader, and all the patriots who follow that leader. Now, if that ain’t treason, then I don’t know what is.

Recall that Cindy Sheehan and all the Gold Star Mothers for Peace were unforgiving critics of former Pres. Bush. But Ms. Sheehan earned her Gold Star after her son was killed in the reckless, needless, immoral, and illegal war and occupation of Iraq, declared by Mr. Bush. Many other critics still hope to see him, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and other members of that administration investigated and brought up on war crimes charges, either in this country or in the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Continue reading

Obama exposes skeletons in White House Press closet

Now that the unthinkable–an African American President–is happening before our eyes, some light is being cast on a number of other White House realities.

One of the most glaring is that the lens through which the world looks at the first Black Commander-in-Chief is focused almost exclusively by White hands. Yes, the White House Press Corps is just that: virtually all White. No surprise there.

Like the rest of the “Big Time” media, the White House Press Corps is a tight, White coterie. Way back–28 years ago to be precise, long enough ago to be forgotten, then forgotten again–my Black Journalism Review commissioned and published an article in a special edition with Howard University, commemorating its annual School of Communications Conference asking the question: was there “Racial Discrimination on Sunday TV Panel Shows?”

The answer was in 1981, and is in 2009, a resounding Yes! “…some of the nation’s leading Black writers believe that the (Sunday) shows discriminate against African American journalists, denying to all but a few Blacks, the prestige and authority which comes from appearances on (those) programs,” John W. Lewis Jr. wrote in 1981.

And that reality remains across the board in the elite media circles today, most especially at the White House, the most elite news beat there is. Continue reading

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris and ‘buzzard’s luck’

By way of full disclosure, I worked as press secretary for U.S. Senate appointee Roland Burris’s first statewide campaign for Illinois State Comptroller in 1976. I was never paid a dime, and never got out of Chicago’s Loop with the candidate. It was that kind of a campaign. It went nowhere.

Roland Burris has been appointed to fill the remaining two years of the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. The Senate Democratic leadership and 50 members of the Democratic Caucus have vowed not to admit him, or anyone else appointed by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, because of the governor’s arrest on so-called “pay-to-play” corruption charges.

Although Senator-designate Burris has had many subsequent statewide political and electoral victories (he eventually won the State Comptroller’s race three times and was elected the state’s Attorney General), and I believe he will ultimately prevail in this ordeal, in his current plight in political purgatory reminds me of my first impression of this decent, honest, and ultimately honorable man. He has “buzzard’s luck.” That is: Continue reading

What if Obama’s grandfather was Palestinian?

Could President-elect Barack Hussein Obama’s “historical memory”–inherited from his paternal grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama–of the brutal British suppression of the Kenyan independence movement in the 1950s affect the “special relationship” between the United States and long time ally, the United Kingdom?

But what if his grandfather had been Palestinian?

After reporting on the barbaric torture inflicted on Hussein Onyango Obama in a Dec. 3, 2008 article published online by The Times of London, writer Ben Macintyre says that the first African American President-elect’s views towards the United Kingdom just might be different from those of the previous 43 White U.S. presidents.

“Barack Obama’s grandfather was imprisoned and brutally tortured by the British during the violent struggle for Kenyan independence,” Mr. Macintyre and co-author Paul Orengoh reported. “He was arrested in 1949 and jailed for two years in a high-security prison where, according to his family, he was subjected to horrific violence to extract information about the growing insurgency.

“The African warders were instructed by the White soldiers to whip him every morning and evening till he confessed,” said Sarah Onyango, Hussein Onyango’s third wife, the woman the President-elect refers to as Granny Sarah,” the article states.

Hussein Onyango Obama served with the British Army in Burma during World War II, yet four years after the war his employer, a British Army officer for whom he served as a cook, rewarded his loyal valet by firing him, then denouncing him to the authorities on suspicion of “consorting with troublemakers.” Continue reading

The ‘Revolution’ Will Not be Televised: it’s over

More than a generation ago, singer, poet, troubadour Gil Scott-Heron advised us sardonically: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”

Gil was right then. And if I may be permitted to update his wise prophecy today through my lens I like to call “Obama-view,” I would add that now: “The Revolution is Over. Finis. Dead.”

But there may have never been a real Second American Revolution brewing on the front burner, or the back-burner in the first place. Sure, in the 1960s we talked a good game, loudly. But real revolution? I don’t think we were ever really ready for that. I say that as one of those who thought himself to be most ready, back in the day. And if Black people are not dissatisfied, then there can be no revolution in America.

I believed and still believe the 1968 words from Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) which pushed me over the edge: “If you’re used by The Man, you’re useless to your people.”

But at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, Black Dudes are “The Man.” And not just President-elect Barack Obama either. Black Dudes are Governors of both New York and Massachusetts, and in the recent past, the incumbent Mayor of Richmond (the Capital of the Old Confederacy) served as Governor of Virginia. What could be more “The Man” than Governor of Virginia? How about President of the United States? We’ve stopped counting the number of Black mayors, and Cabinet Secretaries, and police chiefs, and other potentates.

Forget about the George Jefferson America. We’ve got the Cliff Huxtable America, in living color, moving into the White House in a few days, on television, right before our eyes. Continue reading

Did J.J. Jr. want to be Senator too much?

After Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s name was disclosed as “Senate Candidate 5″–the Congress member who may have engaged in some minor, good-faith, “Pay-to-Play” action with Gov. Rod Blagojevich over his possible appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama–he quickly came forward to confess his role in the alleged bribery scheme.

Rep. Jackson, now in his sixth term, admitted he had talked to Gov. Blagojevich, the person with the sole power to appoint the President-elect’s successor, just one day before federal agents arrested the Illinois governor. Mr. Jackson said he only presented his credentials and polling information that suggests he could win re-election in 2010.

For weeks (two years all totaled) FBI agents had been listening to Mr. Blagojevich talk about a number of potential prizes he could get in exchange for his appointment to the Senate seat. The guy is clearly delusional. Because he knew that the Feds were investigating him, but he still said out loud that he thought he could get anything from an ambassadorship to a corporate board slot for his wife. From who?

Okay, I am not so naïve as to forget who mayors and governors always appoint to panels, boards, and commissions–their supporters who raise and contribute money to their coffers. But this scheme by the governor was bizarre. What could they have been thinking?

What tipped the scale for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, was when the FBI said they overheard Mr. Blagojevich saying he was giving “greater consideration” to one potential senator–Senate Candidate 5, because of his willingness to raise money.

Even though the prosecutor’s case would have been stronger had he waited for one of the conspirators to actually commit a crime before arresting the governor, Mr. Fitzgerald swooped in prematurely, not to necessarily convict Gov. Blagojevich of a crime, but in order to prevent him from appointing Rep. Jackson. If the Feds hadn’t rushed in, by now the governor might have already named Rep. Jackson to succeed Mr. Obama. The arrest was executed in order to stop a Jackson appointment. Continue reading