I once had the temerity at a Black Press luncheon at the National Press Club to whisper to Army General Vincent Brooks: “Don’t mess up. Don’t embarrass us.”
I had a lot of nerve.
Gen. Brooks is “The Barack Obama of West Point.” He is the first Black Brigade Commander at the U.S. Military Academy–the highest rank attainable by a cadet at West Point. That’s like being the President of the Harvard Law Review. Like being first in his class.
And just like Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) who is poised to be elected President of the United States, Gen. Brooks has Hollywood-leading-man good looks, and he earned his honors based on his undeniable qualifications inside a system that remains to this day, everything but a meritocracy, a level playing field.
But unlike Sen. Obama, who was reared by a single mom with the help of her parents, Gen. Brooks is the younger brother of an Army General–Leo Brooks Jr.–and his father, Leo Brooks, was also an Army General.
I had a lot of nerve cautioning a distinguished soldier like Gen. Brooks. But I come from the generation of Black men whose memories are fresh with the example of friends with college degrees, sometimes master’s degrees, who still worked the night shift at the U.S. Post Office because they could not get work in their fields of preparation. We knew the Post Office to be the “Graveyard of Black Ambition.” Continue reading →
If the joint appearance at the same forum by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at Saddleback Church near Los Angeles and broadcast on CNN, was any clue as to what the rest of the campaign will be like, then all the “Obamaniacs” of the world can stop chilling the champagne and get ready for the third term of the Bush-Cheney administration–on steroids.
Sen. McCain was clearly pumped up with Viagra, or caffeine or some other performance enhancer, while by contrast Sen. Obama must have taken his Quaaludes or some sleep inducing barbiturate, because his performance, in my view, was weak.
First, when asked about three people on whom he would rely as President, he mentioned his wife Michelle (okay…) and his grandmother (read White lady) living in Hawaii, with whom he and his family had recently visited.
I don’t know about women in the Obama family, but if my wife Alverda or my now deceased grandmother Ollie Lee Canteberry knew I was going to be on television for any reason (not to mention at a church to discuss my possibly being elected President of the United States) they would have certainly told me to be sure I SAT UP STRAIGHT! Continue reading →
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 →