Where’s The Money? In Wisconsin and Elsewhere

I recently overheard a group of young people chatting about the best places in this area to live. One young man, who admitted he was a Maryland resident, asked a member of the group who lives in the District of Columbia, why she wouldn’t want to live in Virginia. After all, he pointed out the taxes there are lower…

I remembered the time when George Allen was governor of Virginia. Rep. Bobby Scott, a brilliant member of Congress from the Commonwealth, pointed out to me that his governor had embarked on a clever plan.

Back in the “New Jack City” days when drugs and crime were among the main concerns Rep. Scott told me, Gov. Allen set about to build a number of new prisons, even though there was no real overcrowding in the state’s existing jails. His strategy was to commit the state government to having to staff and maintain those prisons, forever, and ever, and ever, amen.

Voila! Continue reading

The Birth of Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson Mural, Washington, DC

It never fails. Every year during February, I hear some uninformed Black person complain about Black History Month. “Why did they give us February? It’s the shortest month of the year.” It never fails.

Here are some of the facts. Black History Month began as a weeklong commemoration 85 years ago, in 1926 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History” education in this country, and the second Black man to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University, proposed to members of his Greek letter fraternity–Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.–that a week be set aside each year to study and reflect on Black contributions to this society. Just a week, mind you.

That observance was first called “Negro History and Achievement Week,” by Dr. Woodson, who founded both the Journal of Negro History (now the Journal of African American History) and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). It was held from Feb. 11-17, because two seminal figures in Civil War history were born during that week. Pres. Abraham Lincoln was born on Feb. 12, 1809 and abolitionist and runaway slave Frederick Douglass was born on Feb. 14, 1818.

Black people put Dr. Woodson’s advice into practice. Continue reading

The Washington NFL Team Needs a New Owner!

This year will mark the 518th anniversary of the “discovery” of the “New World” by Christopher Columbus. For the last 17 years plus, Native American groups have officially and publicly protested the name of the Washington NFL franchise because they say it is a racial epithet. I agree.

For the last 17 years I have refused to repeat the name of the team, and I try to gently correct people (even in the Barbershop) when they toss that disgusting name around.

I point out to anyone who will listen to me that they would not cheer for a team called the “Washington Picaninnies,” or the “Washington Kikes,” or the “Washington Chinks…” I think you get the idea. A slur is a slur, is a slur.

My Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary defines the name “redskin” as a “noun, usually offensive: American Indian.”

Wikipedia says: “The term is controversial and considered by some to be offensive.”So, what part of insult do people who cling to that descriptor not get? Most especially, the “stupid, incompetent, or foolish person” who is the owner of the Washington NFL franchise: what is it about offensive that he does not understand?The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office actually rejected the team’s exclusive license to use the logo and name because it is offensive, but the decision was reversed in court because a statute of limitations expired before the claimants involved complained. Another case is proceeding through the courts with younger Native American plaintiffs.

Doofus Dan Snyder is the stupid, incompetent, foolish owner of the Washington NFL team. His stupid antics are the stuff of legend. He recently sued a 72-year-old woman who could no longer afford season tickets because she had financial trouble. Now, he has sued the Washington City Paper for libel over an unflattering article about him. Continue reading

To the Streets of Cairo by way of Watts

Sunset: The Great Pyramid at Giza

As I watched the mayhem of the “Jasmine Revolution” televised from the Streets of Cairo last week, I couldn’t help but think back on the similar revolution in which I was a participant, on the streets of Watts, California.

We did not have Facebook, or Twitter to help us organize mass participation in our uprising. There was no Internet at all, and we certainly did not have cell phones. In fact the only computers in existence at that time were the size of a rail car, and we didn’t even have fax machines.

We did have the “Magnificent Montague,” a Soul Radio deejay, who gave us our anthem–”Burn Baby Burn”–but he did not cause our discontent. No. Weeks before the uprising, Montague invited his listeners to call in every morning, identify themselves and their neighborhood, and then tell the world how they just wanted to “Burn Baby Burn,” as in “burn” meaning to offer the most soulful expression ever heard on the radio.

No, our discontent had been seared into our souls by the brutality of the Los Angeles Police Department under the command of Police Chief William Parker. We were leaderless, but united in the cause in opposition to police brutality. Continue reading