Just over a month ago, I posted the video of “Read a Book” by poet, activist and not-a-rapper Bomani “D’Mite” Armah. The video has been blowing up on YouTube (over 800,000 views) and BET (debuted on July 20 and is one of the few BET airings to make me proud). Tomorrow, Saturday September 1, Bomani will be on CNN at 10:30pm, and the video will hit BET’s 106 & Park again on Tuesday September 4. You can vote for the video to be number 1.

“Read a Book” has been garnering much-deserved praise and mainstream attention for the biting satire that it is, shining light on the sadly misplaced priorities of black popular culture, especially in pop rap music. The song is average length at just under three minutes, but the lyrics basically come down to 10 lines (warning, some explicit language)

Read a book! Read a book! Read a muh’fuckin book!
Not a sports page (what) not a magazine (who)
But a book nigga, a fuckin book nigga (YEAHHH~!)
Raise yo’ kids, raise yo’ kids, raise yo’ God damn kids
Your body needs water – so DRINK THAT SHIT
Buy some land, buy some land (what) FUCK SPINNIN RIMS
Brush yo’ teeth, brush yo’ teeth, brush yo’ God damn teeth
Wear deodorant nigga, wear deodorant nigga
It’s called Speed Stick (bitch) it’s not expensive (bitch)
Read a book! Read a book! Read a muh’fuckin book!

Yes there is explicit language and lotsa booty shakin in the video, but satirists must use the tools and techniques employed by the subject of their satire. Sure we could listen to another angry lecture from Bill Cosby, or we could hear, in these 10 short lines to a catchy beat, Bomani challenge rap artists and the consuming public to use our resources in a more reasonable fashion. Seriously? “Buy some land?” When is the last time you heard a black leader talk about the importance of real wealth accumulation? How many preachers are advising their flock to do more than contribute to his Cadillac fund? (I know I’m generalizing but I’m just sayin).

I get the message in the video, and I know my friends do as well, but poor Reverend Jackson and the folks over at Rainbow PUSH are unsurprisingly out of touch. Rather than praising the video for its effort to challenge the pop cultural images that are literally killing black America by supporting unhealthy eating, unsustainable consumption and a threatening image that tightens the trigger finger on an already gun-happy, black-bashing law enforcement community, Jackson & Co went out of their way to condemn the video.

You’ve got to read it to believe it.

CHICAGO and ATLANTA (August 23, 2007) The following is a statement released on behalf of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, from Attorney Janice Mathis, Vice President and Executive Director of Peachtree Street Project, Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Mathis’s commentary comes after the release of a rap video, “Read a Book” on YouTube and BET. If Benjamin E. Mayes challenged us to reach for the stars, the not-a-rapper video “Read a Book” on YouTube takes us into the abyss. Billed as a satirical look at popular culture, a viewer is left with the distinct impression that nothing matters, that life is futile, knowledge fruitless, manners meaningless.


A common definition of satire is witty language used to convey insults or scorn. The video is plenteously scornful and insulting, but not of crassness. The video insults reading, personal hygiene, family values and frugality. “Read a Book” heaps scorn on positive values and (un)intentionally celebrates ignorance. The narrator is obviously illiterate, unkempt and disrespectful. So who takes his advice seriously?

Apparently, Rainbow PUSH does. How do you go about giving a definition of satire and then interpret art literally, all in the same paragraph? That takes a special kind of incompetence for which the word “incompetence” does not suffice.

The best Hip-hop is clever, with allusions to politics, history, great music and literature. Part of the fun is finding the hidden meaning.

…which you clearly did not do!

I was prepared to forgive the crude language and lack of creativity if there was as message encouraging viewers to read and otherwise conduct themselves responsibly. I was disappointed. The simplistic repetitive rhyme and tune made it clear that the creator had not taken his own advice, i.e. to Read a Book.

Uh, the title of the song is READ. A. BOOK. That was the point. Do we really need to spell it out? Maybe Bomani can drop a track called R – E – A – D A B – O – O – K and deliver it personally to Jackson.

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the RainbowPUSH Coalition, please visit the organization’s website, www.rainbowpush.org or telephone (773) 373-3366. To get additional information, please call the number listed above.

That’s it. No more press releases from Rainbow PUSH. We have songs out there like “A Bay Bay” and you’re gonna focus on the one hip hop song that actually says something??You have just disqualified yourself from speaking on behalf of anyone. I cannot believe that the people who were there during the Civil Rights Movement, when poets and actors and musicians played such a vital role in opening the public’s eyes and challenging the system are so blind to the same role being played by today’s artist/activists.

It’s possible, of course, that Rainbow PUSH’s press release was itself a work of satire, making fun of an increasingly out of touch and irrelevant generation of has-been Civil Rights leaders.

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From Politico.com:

Warner to retire

Virginia Sen. John Warner (R) said Friday that he will not seek reelection.

Warner, 80, long a Capitol Hill power as a result of his post as chairman of the Armed Services committee when Republicans controlled the Senate, said of his five terms: “I have done my best” and closed with a quote from Thomas Jefferson on the historic campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He said he’d made the decision in the “last day or two” and had wanted to first make one final trip to Iraq.

Warner said his age had been a factor in his decision. “You got to face that I”m now 80,” Warner said. “I would be near 88 when I finish (a sixth term) . . . I want to be fair to this wonderful state.”

This is very interesting. Virginia is what could be considered a Purple state. A long time of voting solidly Republican, but over the past five years, has elected Democrats in major offices, including Governor and the election of Jim Webb as Senator in 2006.

With Warner’s retirement, the race will be on – who will run? Not only from the Democrat’s side, but also, from the GOP side. Will recently defeated George Allen run again? Remember, there was the Bob Novak column about the DLC wanting Hillary to choose the former Governor Warner as her running mate, but now with the Senate Seat open will he go for that?

This could become a major political soap opera in 2008.

Hat tip – Prometheus6:

As per the Chicago Tribune:

School bans shirts in racially tinged case
Associated Press
August 30, 2007

JENA, La. – Officials at a central Louisiana high school have banned T-shirts supporting six black students accused in the beating of a white schoolmate, saying the shirts are disruptive.

About nine students at Jena High School wore the “Free the Jena 6″ T-shirts on Tuesday, and the slogan caused too much of a stir on campus, said LaSalle Parish Schools Supt. Roy Breithaupt.

John Jenkins said his three daughters wore the shirts to make a statement, not to cause trouble.

“They weren’t doing anything other than wearing the shirts,” Jenkins said. “The school doesn’t have a dress code. They were covered. They’re trying to tell them what they can and can’t wear.”

Read rest at link above.

Interesting, they ban t-shirts, but have no problem with allowing the circumstances that precipitated the need for the t-shirts.


Related Articles:

Update on the Jena Six

Free the Jena Six

Take Action to Stop the Legal Lynching of the Jena Six

Legal Lynching and the Jena Six

I took a jog around presidential candidate websites to see how they were responding publicly to the public’s dismay/astonishment over what happened 2 years ago and what hasn’t happened (in terms of Gulf Coast relief and recovery) since. (the photo above was taken not long after the levees breached in New Orleans and people were drowning).

The re-building of New Orleans and the Gulf region could have been a boon to the U.S. economy with one of the biggest public works projects in American history. New homes could have been built and bought at a time when the real estate industry needs help. New Orleans could have been a shining example of American industy, ingenuity and science as a sparkling clean, safe and energy-efficient metropolis rose from Katrina’s ashes.

That hasn’t happened. Yet. Instead, President Bush proposes $200 billion for Iraq spending while local police are running low on ammunition to protect folks here at home. Just so we’re clear — at a time when we are threatened by terrorists, police around the country are conserving bullets because the war in Iraq is soaking up all the ammo. We’re killing that many “terrorists” over there. Feel safer?

But I digress. I primarily looked at frontrunners on either party.

John Edwards has the biggest presence on Katrina on his site and he’s got the second best plan, IMHO. He might have gone with an image featuring Edwards and Katrina survivors on the homepage rather than a big image of the hateful storm itself, though. Weird choice.

Barack Obama and Bill Richardson also have prime placement to reflect the importance of the issue on their home pages. Hillary Clinton’s site features the 10 top ten reasons we should vote for her and give her money. Much smaller right below a giant picture of her smiling on a day when some people aren’tthere’s a tiny image and link to what’s actually a pretty good plan. Um, yeah, ok.

All the frontrunners have good-sounding thought-out plans though Richardson’s is perhaps the weakest. Obama has the most detailed and keepin’-it-realest best plan though it’s presented as a PDF with a brief summary that looks like everyone else’s. Doh!

When reviewing the Republican candidate sites, I admit I was shocked.

Rudy Giuliani is running on his dubious record on 9/11 and whom associates himself with security and crisis response. Yet there is only a headline link for a terse Katrina statement. Rudy Giuliani’s press release on his Wisconsin co-chairs is about twice the length of his statement on Katrina. He offers no plan to help those impacted by Katrina nor does Mitt Romney who has a similar shortish statement that didn’t even make it to his homepage. But never fear: “Create Your Own Ad” did! Whee!

Fred Thompson? I could find no mention of Katrina on his homepage despite numerous feature spots to include something. Anything. The newsroom also yielded nada at the time I am writing this.

Mike Huckabee? — the same sad 1 paragraph statement as the rest.

John McCain? Also, just a simple link on his site to a 3 paragraph (at least it’s a little longer than his rivals’ pitiful efforts) statement. And only McCain gets a bit more direct on the subject:

The failure of government’s response to Katrina is one example of why Americans have lost faith in our government.

Or have they just mostly lost faith in Republicans? I mean, no wonder Republicans are less than enthusiastic about this lineup. The candidates all do nothing but mouth empty, shuffling platitudes. You can almost see them mumbling these statements while looking at their shoes. I’d like to save you some time and summarize what all 4 men who have statements say:

“I feel bad about what happened. It’s a messed up situation. we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again and as President, I would handle that kind of situation better in the future. America is Number 1.”

This isn’t about white or black – do they think that their supporters don’t really care that much about Katrina and what it says about our national disaster preparedness in a time of war??? Did some RNC memo get sent out that said, hey fellas, let’s just try and duck-n-cover, do a little soft-shoe maybe, til the anniversary is over and people forget about that whole mess? Most of the Republican candidates as far as I can tell aren’t visiting New Orleans or the Gulf this week in contrast to the Democratic candidates. Even Bush and Rove are doing the walk of shame back to the N’awlins they abandoned two years ago.

These are the men who wish to be president? Please. The GOP is no longer the party of national security and through its treatment of Katrina survivors, can’t claim to be the party of family values either…

I remember well the day the storm hit. Before beginning a staff meeting, I’d read on the internets that Katrina was peeling the roof off the Astrodome. I asked my colleagues to join me in a moment of prayer for those inside. And we bent our heads in silence.

I could not have known how urgently our prayers would be needed. As seemingly every branch of government failed and we witnessed the terrible contrast between video from the aftermath and the Bush administration’s sunny reassurances that everything was fine, it was clear we’d reached a make-or-break moment in the American psyche.

On a day when the astonishing failures of the Bush administration to administer aid to those still struggling after the storm, George Bush has the audacity to ask for $50 billion more to continue waging what most sane people acknowledge is a losing battle in Iraq. What would $50 billion or even half of that do for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Recovery? What would even 10% of that money do for energy efficiency, education and healthcare in our own nation?

Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend, writing on AmericaBlog does, I think, one of the best indictments of the Bush Administration. I mean, honestly y’all, if Bush can’t take care of people here in the U.S. of A. with anything resembling adequacy (forget about compassion), why should we think he can do anything for the long-suffering people of Iraq.

Pam writes:

Billions of money designated to the effort is not getting to those in need — 42% of funds set aside for rebuilding and relief has not even been spent. The federal H2B “guestworker” visa program was set up for employers to hire people for the rebuilding effort. Because of the lack of oversight, abuse or workers, kidnapping and even modern-day slavery is occuring on the Gulf Coast.

To get a true sense of what it is like two years later, go to Voices from the Gulf from ColorofChange.org — unvarnished video perspectives from the region.

The Institute for Southern Studies has published Blueprint for Gulf Renewal: The Katrina Crisis and a Community Agenda for Action.

On September 15, 2005, President Bush pledged that our nation would “do what it takes, and stay as long as it takes,” to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Yet over 60,000 people are still in “temporary” FEMA trailers, and houses, hospitals and schools across the region remain shuttered. For thousands of people, the Katrina recovery has failed.

The study, published in collaboration with Oxfam America and the Jewish Funds for Justice, looks at 80 statistical indicators and draws on interviews with more than 40 Gulf Coast leaders to identify roadblocks to recovery, and ways federal leaders can tackle critical needs in the region like housing, jobs and coastal protection.

The study also features “Where did the Katrina money go?” — an in-depth analysis of federal Katrina spending since 2005. The Institute reveals that, out of the $116 billion in Katrina funds allocated, less than 30% has gone towards long-term rebuilding — and less than half of that 30% has been spent, much less reached those most in need.

This isn’t really a black or white issue, though certainly the nation’s underbelly of racism was exposed for all the world to see. Katrina impacts us all because, if this is the best the Bush administration can do in the aftermath of a disaster, what do you think might happen to us after a wide-scale terrorist attack? Whether it’s Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, Public Schools, Healthcare, you name it — let’s get real. Help is not on the way, no matter what Bush and his corrupt, inept cronies say.

I remember in the aftermath after days of inaction hearing Pat Buchanan of all people exclaiming — truly baffled — Why don’t they scramble the 82nd Airborne? The whole point of the 82nd Airborne is that they can be anywhere in the world in 48 hours!

I also remember talking to a friend who’d been all over the world working on humanitarian missions and hearing her say: “Even the poorest of African countries I’ve worked in never treated their people this way. I’ve never seen anything like this from a sitting government.”

And let’s be clear, even the same Commander-In-Chief did better during the Asian Tsunami:

Navy Adm. Thomas Fargo, head of U.S. Pacific Command, said PACOM began planning its relief efforts within 24 hours of the catastrophe. By Dec. 27, he said, command officials were communicating with ambassadors and senior military leaders in the countries most affected. The goal, the admiral told reporters, was to understand how U.S. military resources could be best used to assist the countries.

“We see our job as one of assistance,” Fargo said. “We are in support to the host nation who is responsible for its citizens.”

From experience in disaster relief, Fargo said, the command knew the immediate needs would be drinking water, shelter, food and medical support. That experience, he added, also taught officials the value of helicopters in the aftermath of natural disasters that obliterate roads and scatter debris.

About 45 helicopters are deployed to the region now, with about that many more on the way, Fargo said. These will join the mix of those from the USS Lincoln and the USS Bonhomme Richard as well as foreign aircraft supporting the disaster relief mission.

I’m told that the first American aid took less than 48 hours to reach Indonesia. On the other side of the world. Where were these helicopters for Katrina? Where was the clean water, food and medical support for U.S. citizens? Well here’s a clue. Instead of someone competent being in charge:

“Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort.”

Makes John Edwards’ proposal for a “Brownie’s Law” sound like a pretty good idea to me.

Am I the only appalled that President Bush would actually drive past a man protecting his life who had just been involved in a fatal accident? Maybe there is a really good explanation for why the motorcade didn’t stop to recognize a fallen man.

Maybe George Bush just doesn’t care about…people. Not the people right in front of him. Certainly not our men and women in uniform in Iraq.

A Rio Rancho police officer who crashed his motorcycle Monday afternoon while riding in a motorcade for President Bush has died.

Forty-year-old Officer Germaine Casey was rushed after the crash to an Albuquerque hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The motorcycle was near the front of the motorcade, and the president saw the wreck as he drove past on the way to the airport.

Rio Rancho police spokesman John Francis says Bush called to give his condolences to the officer’s family and to the department.

Francis says the president also had planned to call Casey’s wife to give his condolences.

Casey’s motorcycle hit a curb and then a tree, but investigators still are reconstructing the accident to determine exactly what happened.

Planned to call Casey’s wife and just — hadn’t gotten around to it when this story was filed? Man, he is stone cold.

Via Daily Kos:

ID-Sen: Sen. Craig (R) arrested for lewd behavior in bathroom
by kos
Mon Aug 27, 2007 at 02:15:03 PM PDT

So a rumored story outing Idaho Sen. Larry Craig as gay was apparently spiked by the Idaho Statesman. So, um, was Craig feeling particularly frisky in celebration? From the subscription-only Roll Call:

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding,” and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.

After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states.

I just find these so amusing from the party of ‘ Family Values’.

Where are his Holy Roller Buddies’ comments on this?

Uh huh.

As I was thinking about the NON-controversy with Michelle Obama, I thought about her role in this campaign, and how integral she has been for the Obama campaign.

First and foremost, Michelle Obama humanizes her husband. Her teasing and chiding in the beginning was a signal that Barack Obama is a very gifted man, but he’s not the Second Coming, so don’t see him that way, because he can’t do anything but disappoint you. But, if you see him as a man with gifts, talent, service and inspiration, then he’s your man, and stick with him.

While much has been written about Barack Obama’s ‘appeal’ to the White community, because of his non-traditional background (growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia), you can’t run a campaign across racial, ethnic and religious lines, if you don’t have a narrative that those White audiences can relate to.

And, that’s where Michelle Obama comes in, and that has been her major task:

To show the common universality of the ‘ American Experience’, and point out that we’re not all so different. Using herself as an example, not only within the context of how SHE, was skeptical about Barack Obama in the beginning, not knowing what to make of this ‘Skinny Black Guy with a funny name who grew up in Hawaii’, thus relating herself to the general audience – both BLACK and WHITE – but, also by bringing up her OWN background.

Another important part of the challenge of the Obama campaign, in its quest to reach out to the General American populace, is that they have had to try and reshape the very IMAGE of the BLACK FAMILY.

From the Black Point of View, when Michelle Obama tells the story of her family and talks about her father, as I have written before, I see the Black men that I grew up with in my life. The Black men who never get stories written about them in the papers, and certainly never make the news. And, she seems to have been talking about the Black community in which I was raised. As a community, we’ve not had someone talk about the Black Family in the way that Michelle Obama is doing. We’ve not had those hard working, Black men and women, especially of that generation, acknowledged in what they did, and what they demanded of their ‘ striving’ children. For those in the middle class, we all know Michelle Robinson’s family, because they were our neighbors. A generation ago, this was the family of the working class.

As Mrs. Obama has said herself, she finds nothing extraordinary in how she grew up; people like her and her family have ALWAYS been there – they’ve just been ignored by the MSM. And, because the Obamas are running, they can’t ignore that story anymore, because in order to tell the story of the Obamas, you have to tell Michelle Robinson Obama’s story, and thus the story of an entirely ignored swath of the Black community.

To the White community hearing this rarely told story, they can relate to it from their end; how many of them had fathers who weren’t professionals, but worked to put food on the table through adversity, and had mothers who stayed at home, keeping the house together and the children in line, stressing education and hard work as the keys to achievement in society. To be able to relate to Michelle Obama’s upbringing is a way to reach over that divide and show that we have fundamental values in common in this country, and if we can work through those, we can make this country a better place.

It’s a daunting task for the Obamas – to try and counter the massive denigration of the Black Family that the MSM has done, but they have to do it, in order to be competitive. And, it’s just another example of what Barack Obama has to do as the BLACK Candidate in this race that just doesn’t apply to the other candidates.

Related Articles:

Michelle Obama – the latest Racial Rorschach Test

Michelle Obama Making A Case For First Lady

My Women for Obama Experience

Michelle Obama Sees Election as Test for America

Interesting Obama Site

26 Aug 2007

Hat Tip: The HNIC Report.

I love the internet, because you can see how people use their creativity to support the candidate of their choice. The website Go Tell Mama – I’m for Obama is part of that creativity. Just go and take a look for the artwork by the siteowner. I’m going to get a few of his posters because they look fabulous.

NPR Redux & Followup

24 Aug 2007

In case you missed it, here is the audio from the Blogger Roundtable section of NPR’s News & Notes, hosted by Farai Chideya. The show aired Wednesday August 22, 2007 at 1pm Eastern Time.

Bloggers at the table this week were:

Liza and I were in the NYC studio (thanks to John Guardo and Studio Engineer Manya for hookin us up), and Avery was in DC. We had originally planned to discuss four topics but had to drop Jose Padilla due to time constraints. The three we did get to were:

  • Black Hollywood doing major fundraisers for Clinton (Magic Johnson) and Obama (Oprah)
  • What Kind of Black Are We? (a WaPo story about the evolution of American black identity in light of voluntary immigration from the diaspora)
  • The death of Pfc. LaVena Johnson in Iraq

If the embedded player is not working, you can access the mp3 directly here or click on over to NPR and stream it here.

More on the topics.

Black Hollywood Fundraising
The jump off was an LA Times story I had suggested for discussion. (Big Up / Hat Tip to Negrophile’s Twitter posts for putting me on to the story. Gotsta love the Interweb.) We discussed several angles including: the generational gap between Obama and Clinton supporters and how that mirrors the black political generational gap; the effectiveness of fundraising; the ability of events like these to translate into black votes

What Kind of Black Are We?
This was based on a recent-ish Washington Post article by Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs. We covered: the importance of the labels “black” vs. “African” vs. “African American”; the distrust and misinformation between descendants of American slaves and those from the diaspora who have come here later; and what is “black” anyway? who gets to define it?

LaVena Johnson
Pfc. LaVena Johnson died in Iraq two years ago. The military says it was a self-inflicted wound, but evidence points to sexual assault, beating, shooting and an attempt to burn her. For a heart-wrenching and frustrating version of events, check the video below of LaVena’s father, Dr. Jack Johnson, at a Veterans for Peace Rally

The roundtable discussed the logical connection to the Pat Tillman case and if the blogosphere is an appropriate place to get this sort of issue out. Of course it is, and I hope we can collaborate as in the Jena 6 case to shed light and action on this tragedy

(cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK)

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“Victory is Mine!” by Rentahamster via Flickr

Our long national nightmare is over. Finally, FINALLY, the plug has been pulled on the abomination that was to be the CBC-Fox “News” Democratic presidential debate. From CBS/AP in full. Note the bolded text of Mr. Bernie Sanders:

Fox-Backed Democrat Debate Called Off
DETROIT, Aug. 23, 2007 (AP) Fox News and a black political group say they will not hold a Sept. 23 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, which the leading candidates already were planning to skip.

A new date had not yet been set, Fox News spokesman Michael Murphy said Thursday.

The campaigns of U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards had said they would not participate in the debate. Opponents have criticized Fox as biased against Democrats.

The debate, co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute, was to have been held at the Fox Theatre.

Institute chairman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement on the group’s Web site that the “overwhelming number of party presidential debates has created a scheduling challenge.”

“Revisiting the CBC Institute’s debate schedule will allow the time necessary to complete all debate logistics in an effective manner,” he said. The group had said it planned to sponsor two Democratic and two Republican presidential debates.

Big Up/Hat Tip to all in the netroots that helped kill this thing including Robert Greenwald at Fox Attacks, Color of Change, and many, many, many more.

Oh, and can we please contact CBS and tell them to stop adopting the childish and annoying GOP tactic of referring to the adjective “democratic” as the irritating “democrat?” It’s the democratic debate, you imbeciles.

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One of my favorite blogs is the Black Agenda Report. I’ve heard from publisher Bruce Dixon over there that BAR (which also publishes the excellent CBC Monitor scorecard of black legislators) is planning something extra-special for the CBC’s annual celebration of itself in Sept. It’s called the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference. It’s also a pretty good time if you believe Afro-Netizen’s inside account from a couple years back — though Chris Rabb came away notably conflicted. Oh and corporate sponsors, please take note of the branding opportunities available this year.

Were you wondering if Hurricane Katrina will come up at all during the CBC Weekend?

Or Iraq, given that 25% of the U.S. Armed Forces is African-American?

Well, wonder no longer. I searched the agenda for the keywords “Iraq”, “Katrina”, “Middle East” and “Gulf”. I found nothing. Perhaps they plan to address the subject indirectly in sessions like: Making Money in South Africa (Rep. Diane E. Watson), Contracting with Homeland Security (Rep. Bennie G. Thompson), Franchise & Finance – How to Choose and Fund Your Franchise (Rep. Gregory Meeks) or perhaps Black Love IV (Rep. Bobby Rush, who will also lead the Telecom Braintrust session).

That’s not to say that there aren’t some sessions of importance being discussed. Big ups to Barack Obama on choosing Climate Change for what is likely to be a well-attended session. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr appears to be rallying Clinton supporters in his session “In It to Win It”. There are also sessions on violence, veteran’s affairs, innovation, equal pay for equal work, HIV, prosperity for working families, environmental justice, the judiciary and more with the usual progressive heroes of the CBC selecting more substantive themes.

This split among our black power elites between greed and civic responsibility is becoming more and more stark. That’s why the 1st Annual Lawn Jockey Awards are a great way to call attention to those who may have forgotten the public interest in favor of their own. Like Rep. Artur Davis, recently profiled on Open Left who interestingly enough has chosen “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Future of Black Politics” as he attempts to gain more power in Alabama.

Bruce’s email said:

No less a personage than George Curry, former publisher of Emerge
magazine, has agreed to hand out the first annual Lawn Jockey Awards,
which will go to the four lowest performing African American members
of congress. It’s time to reclaim the black political conversation,
and ridicule some of our worst renegades.

The affair will be Wednesday Septermber 26 at Dukes’ restaurant in DC
(full details, address and all in this week’s Black Agenda Report on

Only four?

Oh and btw, if you are looking for a lawn jockey to style up your lawn, you can get one from LawnJockey.com. Be forewarned: they ain’t cheap. The white one (painted and pictured above) costs $190. “Jocko” costs only $145. The irony is killing me, especially since the history of the black jockey is connected to the successful subterfuge of the Underground Railroad. Perhaps the redemptive power of the Lawn Jockey might help some CBC members who’ve lost their way to keep it real for the people they represent once more.

I spent last weekend at Camp Obama – a two- day orientation for the hardcore possible volunteers.

Arriving at the new Volunteer Headquarters, it’s a peppy, Obama-positive space. There were 85 people there from the following states and countries:
Virginia, Ohio, California, North Carolina, Texas, Singapore, Massachusetts, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Iowa, Colorado, Rhode Island, Michigan, Connecticut, Washington, Mississippi, Arizona, The Balkans and, of course, Illinois.

There were at least 3 High School Students there, not old enough yet to vote, and the youngest participant was a young lady, 13, who was there because she wanted to go into politics, and wanted to find a way to convince her parents to vote for Obama.

Since it always comes up, I’ll break down the numbers. Out of the 85 people there, Approximately 30 were from Illinois, and at least 20 were African-American. A good third of the people there were from Students for Barack Obama, and they were very motivated.

We went around, introduced ourselves and answered why we were there. Very interesting comments from the audience.

There were some technical difficulties, so we didn’t get the usual first day training. There was a good third of the participants that had been involved in political campaigns previously, and those of us who had not had to go to them and ask what they did. A number of them had done phone banks, and canvassing, as well as the usual office work. I met a woman from Oak Park, Illinois, who had already been to Iowa twice to canvass…very enthusiastic.

There was a lot of discussion about campaigns, and what their purpose was. That we were not to consider ourselves volunteers, but ‘ organizers’, and to that point, we had three Obama-centered articles which we had to read for the next day’s activities.

We had a long presentation with one of the Deputy Directors of Students for Barack Obama – it was his responsibility to explain the website to us, and how to use it. I swear, I’m getting old, because he looked 12 (just kidding). But, he was very knowledgable, and he was very patient with us, as he took us through MyBarackObama.com, as well as facebook.com/BarackObama. I was quite impressed with how the website enables a group to organize and keep in contact with one another. I can definitely see how and why Obama’s been able to use the web to break new ground fundraising.

We separated into groups according to region of the country, with the Illinois group being a separate group unto themselves. The MISSION of Obamans from Illinois is one:



Nothing else counts, and every effort you make in Illinois needs to be put towards that effort.

We had a session with two guys from the Policy Department, but more on that later.

We also had a session with someone from the Communications Staff, and my one complaint about him, though he was thorough, was that I didn’t find his answer about reaching out to the blogging community satisfactory, but then again, I’m not the first person who has had issues with Obama and the blogging community.

Day #2

Day #2 had a specific focus. The main lecturer for morning was man named Mike Krugler. Krugler worked with Obama when he was a Community Organizer.

I have to admit, he began slow, and I was like ‘ oh no, you gotta be kidding..I woke up on Sunday for THIS?’

But, then, Mr. Krugler hit his groove about 20 minutes in and didn’t stop until he had been there THREE HOURS.

He was, in a word, AMAZING.

He spoke about the tools of community organizing. The disciplines that needed to be involved. The principles of power and politics, and how they could be brought to ordinary people. That relationships have to be built upon self-interest. That to be an organizer you have to be tough and agitate.

Power comes from organizes people and organized money – I have to admit, as he goes through his presentation, I am bringing it back to Obama and his campaign.

He challenged the group on words like power, powerlessness, ruthless, selfishness vs. selflessness.

What is a leader?
Connecting with people so that they’ll follow with what you want to do.

Interesting concept, no?

Blunt, brutal and hilarious at times, he was damn good.

I definitely understand what I have been seeing come out of the Obama campaign after listening to this guy. The concepts of a campaign that I thought were happening, and what Obama is trying to do here.

We spent the rest of the time after lunch learning about the Iowa Caucus, by participating in a faux caucus. Then after the caucus, we were able to meet with the man who heads Obama Illinois and the Chicago Area Field Director. Their focus was getting us to see how important Iowa was, and that they need the bodies on the ground in Iowa, and the Chicago Area Field Director wanted us to know that she would work with any group for any time length to get people on the ground in Iowa.

After we signed up for volunteer time, we could go.

All in all, it was well worth going because of some of the people that I met, and definitely for the Krugler lecture because he was terrific.

Now, that was the positive for Camp Obama. What did I see as the negative?

It came up during the session with the gentlemen from the Policy Section. It was early into the session when the landmine came up:


Immigration is The Willie Horton Issue of 2008.


I sat in a room full of the hardcore Obama supporters, because nobody who pays money to come across the country to train is anything less than hardcore. And, this was THE most passionate, heated issue.

They wanted to know Obama’s policies on it, and when the guys told them, the women from North Carolina were like – ‘ Amnesty?’

They rattled off all the problems with illegal immigration; those who had canvassed in Iowa before said that they had been asked questions about immigration. Some even brought up the Newark executions.

That’s when the nightmare commercial came into my mind. Newark, The execution of that young girl in Los Angeles; the killing of the Black policeman in Texas…

There it is. There is the GOP commercial next time out – marrying illegal immigration with unfettered crime, and laying it on the feet of Democrats unwilling to ‘secure our borders’ or ‘ protect us’ from illegal alien criminals.

Can you imagine the power a commercial using ALL BLACK VICTIMS with ALL HISPANIC ILLEGAL ALIEN CRIMINALS in its ability to undermine an Obama candidacy?

I understand it. And, it just upsets me. The commercial would hurt ANY Democrat, but Obama most of all.

And, this sort of tactic also has the possibility of derailing any substantive discussion on the Prison Industrial Complex, and possible reform.

The Democrats better wake up, and take away the immigration issue from the GOP. They better put forth GENUINE proposals to secure our border and ports, or they will lose again in 2008.

White Youth Happier

21 Aug 2007

Sometimes you just come upon interesting articles that make you go ‘hmmmmm’.

White youth happier
U.S. More content with parents, jobs than minorities

August 21, 2007

NEW YORK — From their relationships to their jobs to their money, young white Americans are happier with life than their minority counterparts.
According to a survey of 1,280 people ages 13-24 by the Associated Press and MTV, 72 percent of whites say they are happy with life in general, compared with 51 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of blacks.

”It doesn’t surprise me,” said Martin Carpenter, 21, a black New Jersey resident. ”You can still go to certain places and feel uncomfortable, like you don’t belong there.”

Among whites, 67 percent usually wake up happy in the morning; for minorities, the figure is 61 percent.

Those numbers extend into all aspects of life:

• • Parents: 66 percent of minorities are happy with their relationships, compared with 79 percent of whites.

• • Jobs: 51 percent of minorities are happy, compared with 64 percent of whites.

• • Money: 44 percent of minorities are unhappy, compared with 35 percent of whites.

Carpenter, one of the survey participants, spoke for the majority of minority youths who feel their race will not cause problems later in life.

”I don’t think so,” he said. ”I’m thinking on a smaller scale. In my community, it’s not that big a deal.”


Are the minority youth right or wrong? Is it youthful naivete, wishful thinking or do they actually see something different?

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Obama says he can turn out Black voters

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
Mon Aug 20, 9:16 PM ET

CONCORD, N.H. – Barack Obama predicted that black voter turnout would swell by at least 30 percent if he wins the presidential nomination, giving Democrats victory in Southern states that have been voting Republican for decades.

“I’m probably the only candidate who having won the nomination can actually redraw the political map,” Obama told a Democratic voter skeptical that he could defeat a Republican candidate.

“I guarantee you African-American turnout, if I’m the nominee, goes up 30 percent around the country, minimum,” Obama said. “Young people’s percentage of the vote goes up 25-30 percent. So we’re in a position to put states in play that haven’t been in play since LBJ.”

Lyndon Baines Johnson ran for president in 1964 and won in a landslide. But since then the South has turned into a Republican stronghold.

Obama’s comment came in response to former New Hampshire state Rep. Carol Moore, who told him the candidate to get her vote will be the one she feels has the best chance of winning in the general election because she’s so scared another Republican will replace President Bush. She asked Obama what made him think he could win. Another voter later told Obama because of his lack of experience, “by any stretch of the imagination, it would be a leap of faith to vote for you.”

Obama often rejects the politics of “who’s up, who’s down,” but he showed he was following the polls. He said he fares best among independent voters, that he has lower negative ratings than his Democratic rivals and is leading Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson in head-to-head matchups.

“I would include McCain, but John’s having trouble right now, so that’s not that big of a feat,” Obama said of the Republican senator from Arizona, drawing laughter at the packed house party in the state capital attended by about 70 people.

Obama noted that in Mississippi, blacks make up more than a third of the state’s population, but make up a smaller share of the electorate.

“If we just got African-Americans in Mississippi to vote their percentage of the population, Mississippi is suddenly a Democratic state,” Obama said. He said Georgia would also turn Democratic and South Carolina would be in play.

Let me say that I believe this is a response by Obama to the latest column by Robert Novak entitled: Clinton backers see Warner — not Obama — as best V.P. choice
I see this as nothing but a DLC ploy.

I also say, good for him. I’m glad he’s speaking up positively for himself, and I happen to agree with him. I believe, if he actually runs the table and gets the nomination that Black folk would turn out in unprecedented numbers. So, I’m glad he’s out there showing a little ‘ audacity’….LOL

Not that I think he can win those states, but then again, I’ve said all along, Hillary will never win them either, so it’s a wash. And, if the Democrats had any ‘ audacity’, they would match the nerve of the California Republicans, who are trying to break away some of the electoral vote, by trying to change to proportional apportionment. Instead of whining about the GOP, they should have their own strategy of fighting for this throughout the South. If they just passed it in a few Southern states, with heavy Black populations, it would help the Democrats.

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Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell

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