The White House, ‘The Gray Lady’ and The Black Press

More than 28 years ago, when–thanks to Ted Clark–I started doing commentaries for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” I was in a constant race with the staid old “Gray Lady”–The New York Times, so named because of its stodgy, hidebound, gray appearance and style–and with The Washington Post to pitch story ideas to my editors before they appeared in those two important, national “newspapers of record.”

After a story appears in one of those publications, no reporter can claim it’s still “news.” So for me, as often as not when editors rejected my story suggestions, if and when the story later appeared in print, I would always call and remind them that I pitched the story to them, before it was seen in The Times or The Post. I wanted them to know they could trust my “nose for news.”

But once in a while, there is still some “news” after a story appears in The Gray Lady. In this instance, it’s an old saga made new, by a report by Times writer Rachel L. Swarns, published March 27, 2009. “Obama Brings Flush Times for Black News Media,” reads the headline

“For the nation’s black magazines, newspapers, and television and radio stations, the arrival of the Obama administration has ushered in an era of unprecedented access to the White House,” she begins. That may well be true, and it’s about time!

“At his news conference Tuesday (March 24), he skipped over several prominent newspapers and newsmagazines to call on Kevin Chappell, a senior editor at Ebony magazine,” she continued. “It was the first time an Ebony reporter had been invited to question a president at a prime-time news conference.” Stop right there.

What we see today may or may not be “The Greatest” days The Black Press has ever seen at the White House, but understand: these are just “The Latest.” And, by a long shot, they certainly are not The First! Continue reading

‘Black Power’ and shallow scholarship at the Smithsonian

If I may be so bold, I would like to put all the shucking and jiving so-called “Public Intellectuals” who pimp their snake-oil brand of Black history around the country, which excludes the heroic role of the Nation of Islam in their accounts, I would like to put them on notice that at least one writer–yours truly–will not countenance their shallow scholarship and faux intellectualism. Not without a complaint. Not without a scream!

To put it mildly, I am sick and tired of the cheap prevailing Black intellectual view of the Nation of Islam. It’s not just the Neo-Cons and the White Evangelicals of the World who have problems with Muslims, our own Black intelligentsia have issues with the Islamic influence—particularly the Nation of Islam—on Black literature and culture in the United States and they refuse to admit it.

To be fair, there are a few young, curious scholars who (as one told me) “make a living by reading and telling people what I’ve read,” who decry the pernicious exclusion of all positive references to the Nation of Islam’s contribution to the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s and who exclude NOI scholars from their discussions of it. These scholars describe the omission as “anti-historical.” They’re correct. And the Muslim haters are fake, bogus, scholars in my opinion!

Three years ago, I was the skunk at a garden party organized by English professor and English department “legend,” Eleanor Traylor at Howard University. I was rudely escorted from the room when I respectfully demanded to know during the public comment session of a panel, why the Nation’s contribution had been omitted.
Now, here comes the vaunted Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture with a two day colloquium March 30-31 it calls: “1968 and Beyond: A Symposium on the Impact of the Black Power Movement in America.” Ha! Continue reading

Shameless money grubbing (hoarding) criminals

I attended John C. Fremont Sr. High School in Los Angeles, California in the early 1960s–real Old School…the Original O.Gs (Original Gangsters) as a matter of fact. I now realize it was then, maybe the rowdiest school in the entire United States.

We invented the filthy dance called “The Hully Gully” (use your imagination). We invented the dance called “The Slauson Shuffle.” We were home to the notorious South Central street gang called “Slauson Village”–the gang which when it mellowed, became “The Bloods” of crack-cocaine-dealing fame.

During my junior year we were suspended from eligibility for all athletic championships because at one home football game after our previously undefeated team lost, our students and alumni in attendance rioted, sending 22 students from visiting Los Angeles High School to the hospital. Our unofficial sports motto was: “If we don’t win by the fourth quarter, we always win the fifth quarter.”

Our unofficial school motto was: “Can’t be shamed!”

Our school certainly had “moxie.”

But I have never seen anything as bold, as audacious, as shameless as the unapologetic, money-grubbing executives at insurance giant AIG, who came to the American taxpayers, Stetson, beaver-hat in hand to get a hand-out to save the firm from their own insolvent business practices which have taken the entire Capitalist world economy to the brink of destruction. They took the money ($170 billion worth), then proceeded to reward their lying and conniving top executives with more than $165 million in BONUS PAY. Thanks guys for a job really, really poorly done! Continue reading

Where the war criminals roam

Oh give me a home,

Where war criminals roam,

And international bankers get paid.

Where seldom is heard,

A soul-searching word,

And the headlines say it’s all okay…

Be careful what you wish for, because it just might come true.

Shortly after the 9-11 attacks, Pres. George W. (for “Worst in history”) Bush wished for payback for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein because, “he tried to kill my father.”

Ever since then, better than one million Iraqis and tens of thousands of Americans have been footing that bill. That’s just the cost in terms of the dead and injured in the immoral and illegal adventure in Iraq. The sixth anniversary of that debacle is this week.

I say immoral because, since the dawn of civilization, human beings have only considered war “justified” when it is in self defense, in retaliation for an attack, never for pre-emptive reasons, such as those given for the “shock and awe” terror which was unleashed on Iraq, a country which was no threat to the U.S. or even its neighbors because of more than a decade of crippling sanctions dictated by this country.

That is immoral. That is un-Christian. That is uncivilized. Continue reading

The Nation of Islam at 28-plus

Minister Louis Farrakhan, Saviours' Day 2009

Minister Louis Farrakhan, March 1, 2009 

ROSEMONT, IL–It was 28 years ago in late February 1981 when, at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, Minister Louis Farrakhan announced the “Rebirth of the Nation of Islam.”

That of course was something of a contradiction because members of the Nation are taught by patron the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that the teaching of Islam “has no birth record–no beginning, no end.” So how then could an entity with no birth record have a rebirth? Especially how, since the movement founded by Mr. Muhammad had continued and not “died”–albeit under a new name and in a new direction, the American Muslim Mission–under the leadership of his son, Imam Warithudeen Mohamed, when Mr. Muhammad left the scene in 1975.

What happened in 1981 was the culmination of a three year rebuilding effort by Min. Farrakhan of the “Black Muslim” Nation of Islam, according to the strict teaching of Mr. Muhammad, and there was nothing which emphasized the Nation’s difference with orthodox Islamic theology or with the message of Imam Mohamed’s community more than the late February observance of “Saviour’s Day,” the birth date of the founder of the Nation “in the Wilderness of North America.” Continue reading