All Articles Tagged "black america"
I feel like I’ve heard this at least once before but it never hurts to repeat it when you’re constantly criticized for not doing enough for your people. In a recent interview with Black Enterprise, President Barack Obama was asked how he feels about criticism that his administration hasn’t done enough to support black businesses, and he said this:
“My general view has been consistent throughout, which is that I want all businesses to succeed. I want all Americans to have opportunity. I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America, but the programs that we have put in place have been directed at those folks who are least able to get financing through conventional means, who have been in the past locked out of opportunities that were available to everybody. So, I’ll put my track record up against anybody in terms of us putting in place broad-based programs that ultimately had a huge benefit for African American businesses.”
The president definitely does have an entire nation to worry about, and theoretically a positive policy for American business should improve Black American business under that umbrella, but that doesn’t mean that certain segments of the population don’t need or even receive more attention than others when it comes to various issues. Not long ago, the president openly supported gay marriage, and though it’s not as though he could create a policy to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, the move was a serious head nod to the gay community—albeit a political one.
A comment on BE’s interview summarizes well the frustration some black people feel with the president. One reader wrote:
“He’s not the president of black america, yet he needs the black vote!! When other groups holler they get his attention, when we do we’re told to stop complaining and put on our marching boots. We defend him the most and get s***ted on by him in the process. Black unemployment is through the roof and we have no right to complain?”
When asked about the 14% black unemployment rate, the president offered this:
“Most economists will tell you that there is no doubt the economy has gotten stronger, but we are digging ourselves out a deep hole. There are a lot more things we could be doing. To get them done, we need cooperation of Congress. We got the payroll tax portion of [my American Jobs Act] done, but what we didn’t get done is the assistance I was proposing to the states to help them hire back teachers, firefighters, and first responders, because one of the weakest parts of this recovery has been state and local government hiring.
“Given the weaknesses of the construction industry, the American Jobs Act proposed that we rebuild schools, roads, bridges, airport, and ports. That would provide small businesses with opportunities as contractors and vendors in this rebuilding process. Again, Congress needs to act.”
And when it comes to housing, he said:
“Something that has disproportionally affected a lot of minority communities around the country, both African American and Hispanic, [is that] they were preyed upon when it came to predatory lending. What we have been able to do is to help those who have mortgages held by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We have been able to help them refinance at historically low rates, which saves somebody as much as $2,500 a year. And that’s money in their pockets that they can either be spending at your local small business or [to] help them rebuild equity in their homes.
“My goal, not just leading up to the election but as long as I’m president of the United States, where we have the capacity to act on our own through the executive branch to widen opportunity or to give small businesses a fair shot, we are going to do it.”
It’s possible we’ll have the next four years to see how that pans out.
Do you agree with the president’s take on helping black businesses during the economic recovery?
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On Saturday, January 7th, 2012, an American princess was born. Blue Ivy Carter, first born, heir to a Throne that has roots firmly cemented in the struggle and diversity of Black America. Her dad, a Hip Hop superstar, former Marcy projects drug dealer and an icon of a generation. Her mom, adored by men, women and children, was bred in upper-middle class environs.
With her parents idealistic career, fame and wealth, it’s not surprising that Blue’s birth has caused such a media frenzy. People go crazy over cute nobody babies on Youtube all the time. Mix that with the over the top emotions typically released by Jay and Bey fans and you have the perfect storm of mass media hype.
But while the public gets swept away with fantasy baby shower gifts and conspiracy theories, you may be so nauseated that you miss the true significance of Blue’s coming. While whispers of Illuminati are over the top, there is certainly more to baby Blue, or the impact her presence has on Black America and mainstream media, than meets the eye.
By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
Socially, black people in America have been called—and called ourselves—everything from the “n” word to Negro, colored, black, black-American, and African-American—with the term du jour pretty much being a catch-all for anyone of African descent. But over the last 25 years, as corporate interests have developed a deeper stake in the African-American market, and cultural shifts have become more sensitive to the nuances in black identity—bi-racial, Latino, Caribbean, African, etc—new terms have cropped up.
“Urban,”“multicultural,” and “of color” have stretched the “black” banner to identify not only the black demographic (those of African descent), but the geography (those who share the inner city experienceof many blacks) and psychographics (those who strongly identify with aspects of black culture). Steve Stoute, CEO of hair and skincare brandCarol’s Daughter, has a newer term—“tanning”—and recently authored a book on the phenomenon called The Tanning of America. None of these monikers fully capture the breadth of diversity of blacks in America, but for Stoute, tanning better reflects recent census reports and population trends.
“If you look at a lot of the census data,” Stoute says, referring to the Pew Research Center’s report that showed 14.6% of new U.S. marriages in 2008 were interracial or interethnic, “you’ve got 1 in 7 marriages now are out of race. That’s 1 in 7. That’s not even talking about kids or dating.” Stoute is encouraged by this trend, and the migration shifts that debunk myths like blacks only live in the big inner cities, or Latinos only live in in California and Florida.
“[The Latino population is] growing in North Carolina at a higher rate,” Stoutepoints out. “If you take that, and African-Americans moving from the inner cities out more towards the suburbs, and you put all that together, what you have is a great complexion of shared experiences.”
Stoute credits hip-hop for tanning America, or changing the way Americans, and American businesses, look at race. “Hip-hop—not just the music, but the culture attached to it—has done more for racial relations than anything since Martin Luther King,” Stoute asserts. “It actually communicated a lifestyle and spoke—in a universal language—to a generation… it showed that we do have a lot of similarities.”
Want to know what tips and tricks David Banner has for Black America when it comes to money management?
Find out over at Black Enterprise.
A recent Newsweek story mused about the possibility that Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West’s constant criticism of President Obama might lead to some trouble for the president come 2012:
Never mind the slings and arrows of Tea Partiers. The most politically problematic criticism of Obama these days is coming from his base. And there’s no question that there is a deep reservoir of frustration, confusion, and even rage among many in the African-American community for [leaders like Dr. Cornel] West to tap into. With unemployment hovering near 17 percent for African-Americans (the national average rate is 9 percent) and 11 percent of black homeowners facing imminent foreclosure, African-Americans have ample reason for anxiety about the coming budget cuts that Obama reluctantly signed into law this month. The Congressional Black Caucus chairman called the recent debt deal “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich” that will do little to help communities already struggling.
Dr. Cornel West and his longtime friend, radio host Tavis Smiley, have taken their criticism of Obama to the streets, launching a two-week, 15-city “poverty tour,” aimed at forcing the powers that be to once again focus on the “least among us” and getting the president to “wake up.” Their efforts are increasingly stoking fears among some African-American leaders that West and Smiley could discourage black voters from turning out when the nation’s first African-American president stands for reelection in 2012.
I’m not one of those who thinks that substantive questions about President Obama’s dedication and attention to black America’s problems are out of line. Yes, it’s entirely true that Barack Obama is the President of The United States, not the President of Compton. He can’t solely focus on the issues that ail Black America when we barely comprise 12% of the U.S. population.
(WABE) - Illegal immigration is an issue that divides the African-American community. Many black leaders have opposed the controversial immigration bill that Governor Deal is expected to sign any day. But one major local black organization has not officially opposed the bill. Victory for the World church is a mega-church off of North Hairston Rd. in Stone Mountain.
Working and middle class blacks make up the congregation. Immigration isn’t an issue that’s on top of the minds of the faithful, but it’s still an issue that Pastor Kenneth Samuel brings up in a recent sermon. ”Hispanics, they work under conditions that most black brothers and sisters I know wouldn’t even think about. Now, we’ll work in Kentucky Fried Chicken, but have you ever been to the chicken plants in Georgia?”
Bill Cosby, the comedian, the grouch, the chief celebrity critic of the African-American plight, was recently in the news for alleged comments he made to Russell Simmons. They were rude comments and we wouldn’t expect any less from Mr. Huxtable. Cosby has long expressed his dismay for Black celebrity rappers and actors who promote the hood lifestyle. Recently, he told The Star Press just exactly how he felt about Simmons.
“People like Russell Simmons and that three-named fool telling people that this behavior is all right and neither one of them were brought up that way. They may have transgressed, and they were taught by people who were brought up with pride in themselves. … They were not raised that way and they know it, yet they’re gonna put it out that this is good.”
What Mr. Cosby wants is a world where people are more concerned about the welfare of others rather than their own fame. Unfortunately, those that have achieved a level of stardom and popularity are pre-dispositioned to do what’s cool, to put popularity above all else. So really, even if Simmons does know better, he got to where he is by prioritizing his path to wealth and fame. In other words, he’s the typical American dreamer.
It’s understandable why Cosby is frustrated. We have all these people who can help – not just by doing behind-the-scenes philanthropic projects- but by taking a public stand on things like African-American education, family building and financial re-investment in Black communities – who don’t. As much as we talk about the lack of wealth in the black community, it’s important to recognize that we have enough African-Americans in power who can positively impact the direction of our communities if they so wished. It’s not enough that these celebrities achieve wealth and fame, thereby becoming models of business success. They need to engage real dialogue. Why is no-one talking about Afro-centric education or supporting education models that have proven successful amongst Black youth?
All that said, can Cosby blame these celebrities for not taking a stand, when they were reared in a general culture that supports the pursuit of individual interests? Cosby’s frustration has more to do with the culture of American enterprise rather than the Black vanguard. It just so happens that the shortcomings of our leadership is so much more visible because of the severe shortcomings in our community.
The tale of FBI informant Ernest Withers is now well known. He spent years busily snapping photos of many major civil rights happenings, actions, and doings of civil rights leaders, most notably Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He got close-up shots of them because either through disinterest, Wither’s flattery, or simply naivety, they trusted him to record their sometimes most intimate moments. While Withers snapped away, he dutifully reported everything he saw and heard to his FBI handlers.
Withers was hardly an isolated case, of a warped, greedy, low life Judas. The woods were full of men and women like Withers then. They were made possible not solely as the standard story line suggests by a corrupt, paranoid lawless, FBI that was intent on duping, snooping, hectoring, harassing, disrupting, and generally making life hell for civil rights leaders, and organizations during the turbulent 1960’s. But because they had the tacit blessing of three Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon who firmly believed that the battle to nail domestic subversives — that is, communists, socialists, black nationalists, Black Panthers and civil rights leaders, most notably Martin Luther King Jr. — justified bending, twisting, and ultimately breaking the law and violating civil liberties.
There is also ample evidence from the correspondence, internal memos, and discussions made public by historians and former White House staffers that Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon knew that moderate civil rights leaders, such as King, the man who was a particular focus of Wither’s camera lens, posed no real threat to the established order, yet they still winked and nodded as Hoover launched the super secret and blatantly illegal counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO, that targeted those leaders as well as thousands of innocent Americans during the 1960s. The mandate of the program, spelled out in the stacks of secret documents released by Senate investigators in 1976, was to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and neutralize” groups and individuals the FBI considered politically objectionable. Those targeted in nearly all cases were not foreign spies, terrorists, or individuals suspected of criminal acts.
The FBI patterned COINTELPRO on the methods used by its counterintelligence division and internal security sections during the 1940s and ’50s. The arsenal of dirty tactics used by the bureau included unauthorized wiretaps, undercover plants, agent provocateurs, poison-pen letters, black-bag jobs, and the compiling of secret dossiers. Driven by a grotesque mix of personal racism and paranoia, Hoover kicked the program into high gear in the 1960s. The FBI assembled thousands of “ghetto informants” like Withers and hundreds of FBI agents in a relentless campaign to harass and intimidate African-American groups. The FBI listed the targeted individuals under categories variously titled Rabble Rouser Index, Agitator Index or Security Index.
The results were immediate and devastating. Thousands lost their jobs, were expelled from schools, evicted from their homes and offices, and publicly slandered. Few of those individuals were indicted, convicted or even accused of any crime. FBI documents released in 1976 revealed that the agency devoted less than 20 percent of its spy activities to infiltrating organized crime or to solving bank robberies, murders, rapes and interstate theft. More than half of its spy targets were political organizations.
Hoover gave local FBI offices wide discretion to pick and choose their targets and the tactics they could use. The new guidelines, like the old FBI spy campaign, give local agents the same wide discretion to determine what groups or individuals it can investigate and what tactics they can use to investigate them.
With the death of Hoover in 1972 and congressional disclosure of the illegal program, the Justice Department assured the public that COINTELPRO was a thing of the past and that it had implemented ironclad control over FBI activities. It didn’t. During the 1980s, the FBI waged a five-year covert spy campaign against dozens of religious and pacifist groups and leaders that opposed American foreign policy in Central America. In the 1990s it mounted covert campaigns against civil rights, environmental, and anti-nuclear disarmament groups, as well as against Native American and Arab-American groups. The FBI tactics used against those groups were an exact repeat of the tactics that the 1970s guidelines had supposedly banned.
Bush gave the green light to the FBI in 2002 to again wage a free-wheeling campaign against those eyed as subversives, this time the new watchword was “terrorist.” The new guidelines again gave the FBI carte blanche to surveil and plant agents in, churches, mosques and, of course, political groups. They also permitted FBI agents to ransack the Internet to hunt for potential subversives. They could do all this without having to show probable cause of criminal wronging. Just as in the days of J. Edgar Hoover, the rules gave the FBI unbridled power to determine who and what groups and individuals it can target.
Withers was a pathetic, and now justly reviled figure who abused the trust of civil right leaders such as King to lie, distort, sow dissent, sully the civil rights cause. He didn’t succeed. But he and the thousands like him with the quiet blessing of the White House made spying, legal and illegal, on its citizens a shameful part of American life.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk shows on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles. This post was republished, with his permission.
(AOL Black Voices) — I sat for three hours with Rev. Al Sharpton during his radio show the other day. Although being on the air with the reverend is always interesting, I believe some of the best conversations happen during the commercial breaks. One such conversation involved Tyler Perry films and his public lashing by ‘Boondock’s creator Aaron McGruder. I am not at liberty to share things that were discussed off the air, but we did hit the issue on his radio show, and I thought it would be worth a second discussion.
A friend of mine once met a Rastafarian black man that claimed the earthquake in Haiti was a man-made conspiracy to ruin the country. Yes, that’s how hard some of us go to blame “the man.”