This week’s Republican National Convention will prominently feature women, African Americans and Hispanic speakers.
In an appeal to the African-American vote, scheduled speakers include former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Artur Davis, former Democratic congressman from Alabama, who has since become a Republican and Mia Love, mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah. Love, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, is running for Congress.
In an effort to attract Hispanics, slated speakers include New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, who will take the stage before keynote speaker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising star in the Republican Party, will introduce presumptive nominee Mitt Romney.
In an appeal to women, Romney’s wife Ann is scheduled to speak as well as Nikki Haley, the first female governor of South Carolina.
The prominent presence of minorities and women at the convention is a concerted effort to change the GOP’s image from a party for rich white men to one that is inclusive.
An inclusive image is important not only for the election in November but for the future.
The United States is undergoing a major democratic shift as minority births this year for first time surpassed those of whites.
The GOP has attracted minorities to run for elective office and has appointed minorities to top positions in government including two African American secretaries of state and a Hispanic attorney general by George W. Bush.
The Republican Party can also claim several female governors.
However this has not been enough to attract minorities and women voters.
President Barack Obama leads Romney in the polls among Hispanics, women and African-American voters by large margins.
The reasons for this are not difficult to understand. Minorities and women see the Democratic Party as speaking more to their interest and sharing their concerns.
The majority of Hispanics are not going to support candidates that they perceive as hostile to immigration. Most African-Americans voters are not going to support candidates that propose budgets that lead to drastic cuts to education or who emphasizes tax cuts for the rich and deficit reduction over job creation policies.
How can Republicans expect to attract African-American voters when they pass voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and in other state that many perceive as voter suppression?
The majority of women voters are not going to support a party with candidates who talk about “legitimate rape” or against all reproductive rights including a woman’s right to choose an abortion in the case of rape and incest.
Despite the prominent roles of minority and women speakers at the convention or the number of Republican minorities in elective or appointed positions the GOP will not be able to attract the majority of minority and women voters if it continues to support extremely conservative policies.
I was among the millions who eagerly looked forward to President Obama’s speech on jobs last week and hoped our president would finally get his arms around the issue that plagues millions of Americans. The official unemployment rates, after all, are nothing more than a pleasant fiction. The 9.1 percent unemployment rate for August is actually a whopping 16.2 percent. For African Americans, the unemployment rate, reported at 16.7 percent, looks more like 29.3 percent. For African-American men, the unemployment rate, reported at 18 percent, is more like 32 percent when discouraged workers, people who have dropped out of the labor force and those who work part time but need full time work are added into the equation. The average unemployed American has been out of work for 10 months! Some have not been working for as many as two years! Debt ceiling notwithstanding, the unemployment situation is our nation’s greatest challenge at this time.
I was pleasantly surprised by President Obama’s speech. He showed an amazing firmness, and reminded Congress that those who are unemployed have no time to wait for our legislators to get their act together. He called for a $457 billion stimulus package that included money to repair at least 35,000 schools, allowing teachers in every state to be put back to work. The president paid special attention to young people, veterans, the long-term unemployed and construction workers. There are provisions for infrastructure repair. And there are tax benefits for those employers who hire the long-term unemployed.
Of course, the last time we did stimulus, money did not trickle down to the African-American community. This time, money will be distributed through mayors, not governors, and targeting cities implicitly targets the African-American community. Money is also targeted to communities with high levels of poverty, high unemployment and high foreclosure rates, which are, again, more likely to be communities with large numbers of African Americans. At the same time, civil rights laws must be enforced so that African-American contractors have the same change as others to benefit from this stimulus. According to some estimates, only 3 percent of the money from the first stimulus trickled down to African Americans. That can’t be repeated with this second stimulus.
While the president’s speech was quite effective, the American Jobs Act has yet to be drafted. Further, the political gamesmanship around the speech — and the disrespectful scorn of some Republicans — do not bode well for this jobs bill. Republicans will have to cooperate in passing some form of a jobs bill, or they will be labeled obstructionist and will have to bear the weight of high unemployment rates moving into the 2012 election. But the president’s proposal, if watered down, may not generate enough jobs to make a difference.
If Congress works quickly, legislation can be passed within the month and some provisions can be implemented before the end of the year. If they work more slowly, it is not likely that we’ll see change in the employment situation before spring. Already, there have been both positive and negative signs. Some have pledged to cooperate with President Obama, but others have dug their heels in and opposed any stimulus.
While stimulus is much needed, it may well simply put a band aid on the festering sore that our economy has become. To be sure, President Obama said all of the right things, speaking of education, competitiveness, small business growth and development, and job creation. As he indicated, South Korea is hiring teachers while we are laying them off. China and India are investing in education, while we are divesting. This legislation moves us in the right direction, but it does not deal with some of the structural problems that plague our economy, nor does it deal with the misplaced priorities that our nation has embraced.
I don’t expect a single piece of legislation to address all of these challenges. Indeed, I am heartened to see the legislation that has been proposed. This legislation is an absolute step in the right direction, but much more must be done before our upside down economy is turned right side up. — (NNPA)
Julianne Malveaux is president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.
Amazingly, Black folks in this country still don’t get it. After all we have been through and after everything we have accomplished, before and after integration, our relative collective economic position in America has changed very little. In some cases we have regressed in terms of ownership of land, from some 20 million acres of land (31,000 square miles) in 1910; and in our ownership of banks, of which 128 were founded between 1888 and 1934 and 64 Black-owned banks existed in 1912. As for other necessities such as supermarkets, manufacturing concerns, and distribution networks, we are not even on the economic radar screen.
In light of the latest news reports that predict yet another recession just around the corner, and the financial “cliff” from which we will soon fall, as reported on CNN’s, “Your Money,” one would think Black folks are busy getting our economic act together, our history of business ownership and mutual support notwithstanding.
Sad to say, we are still floundering, enamored by the trappings of the “good life” and living vicariously through reality television shows and the shallow personalities thereon. Instead of working on our own economy we seem to be more interested in the economies of others, like the Kardashians who make about $30 million per year, not counting Lamar Odom’s contribution. We just love to check in on those “wives” of wherever and listen to their vulgarity and watch their extravagance. We can’t seem to get enough of the gossip shows and things that will take us nowhere while making others quite wealthy.
Bob Law once said, “Black folks are just happy because Oprah is rich,” as he pointed out how ridiculous we have gotten when it comes to our own collective economic empowerment. He also chided us for just wanting to see a Black man in the White House — that’s all, just to know he is there.
Most of the people we follow and nearly worship are multi-millionaires and couldn’t care less about us. They wouldn’t give most of us the time of day if we saw them on the street. Yet we idolize and follow them in all that they do, as we slip further and further behind in building (or should I say rebuilding) our collective economic base.
Recent reports cite how important the Hispanic consumer market is and that it comprises more than $1 trillion in buying power. They also point out that Hispanics are the second largest population group in the U.S. and by 2015 they will be 18 percent of the total population at nearly 58 million persons. Those of us who were paying attention to Claud Anderson 15 years ago heard him predict just that. He also warned that if we didn’t get anything from this society when we were in second place, what do we think we will get when we fall to third place? He begged us to get prepared but we were too busy helping everyone else build up their wealth and take care of their children. As the saying goes, “It’s time to pay the piper.”
What can we do now? For starters we can look into a mirror and admit how we have played a role in our own economic demise; and then ask, “What can I do to contribute to our collective economic uplift?” Establish or get involved in a local effort to empower Black people, whether through education, politics, economics, or all three. You have to take action.
Remember when the lady on the school bus was harassed by students, and a couple of days later more than $660,000 was raised for her through Facebook? That’s how easy it is for us to do something collectively to help ourselves, yet we fail to take advantage of models that have been and could be implemented to help ourselves.
There was, and could be again, the Blackonomics Million Dollar Club that sent money to 20 Black institutions; we tried to get just 200,000 people to send $5 each to a designated charitable entity, but at its height there were no more than 1,000 participants involved. We have the Collective Empowerment Group (formerly Collective Banking Group) that should have a chapter in every major city across this country, but some heads of churches are too egotistical and individualistic to get involved. We had the 10-10-50 Movement, the Nationalist Black Leadership Coalition, the Bring Back Black Movement, and even a Black-owned and operated distribution network, The MATAH. Of course there have been many more opportunities that we have squandered for lack of involvement.
Now we have the Unity Movement (myunitymovement.com), which is calling for 2 million people to simply sign up on its website in an effort to capture a critical mass of folks to begin a collective effort to inform and educate, and to start, support and grow Black businesses. Will you at least do that?
Please, let’s reverse our economic dysfunction and help create a meaningful, pragmatic, and sustained economic movement. Don’t you think our children deserve that as a legacy from us? — (NNPA)
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his website, blackonomics.com.
In last week’s column, I described an article by National Review contributor John Derbyshire in which he said, “There is a talk that non-Black Americans have with their kids, too.” In an article for Taki’s Magazine, Derbyshire listed a litany of racist things he had told his children, including that in random interactions with Blacks, “the Black stranger will be less intelligent than the white” and “do not settle in a district or municipality run by Black politicians.”
Derbyshire has since been fired by the National Review.
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), the media watchdog group, noted that conservative Forbes columnist Josh Barro had stated, “I’m pleased that the National Review has fired John Derbyshire as a result of his racist screed in Taki’s Magazine last week. Derbyshire’s remarks were beyond the pale, and this severing of ties is important for the credibility of one of the pillar institutions in conservative publishing.”
FAIR noted, “Apparently Barro believes purging Derbyshire will remove a racist taint from the ‘pillar’ of conservative publishing. That’s funny, because NR’s 57-year history has been defined in good part by racism. And while Derbyshire may have been the magazine’s latest house bigot … he is just one in a continuous line of racists writing in the pages of NR.”
That lineup of racists began with William F. Buckley, the magazine’s founder. In an editorial in the magazine, dated Aug. 24, 1957, titled, “Why the South Must Prevail,” Buckley wrote:
“The central question that emerges — and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal — is whether the white community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes — the white community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of white over Negro: but it is fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. The question, as far as the white community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage.”
In case anyone missed the point, Buckley added:
“National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.”
Appearing on NPR’s “Fresh Air” on Feb. 28, 2008, Buckley was given an opportunity to repudiate his earlier comments. When his words were read to him, Buckley said, “Well, I think that’s absolutely correct.”
It’s not surprising that Buckley applied that same stand of logic — or illogic — when supporting minority-ruled South Africa.
That racist DNA has continued to appear on the pages of the National Review throughout its history.
As Steve Rendall stated in his FAIR posting: “In 1993, NR published a gushing review (1/18) of “Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America” by Jared Taylor, which argued that Black Americans are more violent and criminal than others. Taylor has since become a leading voice of white nationalism as the publisher of American Renaissance magazine. (In the 1990s, Taylor described himself to me as a ‘white separatist.’) The NR review was written by fellow white nationalist Peter Brimelow, who launched the openly racist and nativist VDare website in 1999.”
Rendall also pointed out,” In a positive review (NR, 9/12/94) of “Race, Evolution, and Behavior,” a 1994 book by Philippe Rushton, reviewer Mark Snyderman eagerly recounted the book’s “ambitious” and “fearless” thesis:’ “Orientals are more intelligent, have larger brains for their body size, have smaller genitalia, have less sex drive, are less fecund, work harder and are more readily socialized than Caucasians; and Caucasians on average bear the same relationship to Blacks.’”
John Derbyshire’s racist bile was par for the course at the National Review.
As the FAIR posting by Steve Rendell aptly put it, “It is blatant racism, but it’s hard to see a great deal of difference between what he was fired over — assertions that Black people are less civilized, less intelligent and more prone to violence and criminality than others — and the racist views NR has promoted since its birth 57 years ago. And it’s hard to see why anyone would take NR seriously ‘when they write about racial issues.’” — (NNPA)
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. Curry can be reached through his website, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.
If we had another terrorist attack like Sept. 11, would Congress sing "God Bless America" on the Capitol steps as they did 10 years ago? Or would too many lawmakers be too busy drawing up articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama?
That question came to mind as Congress announced plans to reunite on the Capitol steps for an encore homage on Monday, Sept. 12. It's all part of a weekend of observances in New York City, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pa.
It is widely believed that the jetliner was headed for the U.S. Capitol after being hijacked by terrorists, House Speaker John Boehner noted in a statement, were it not for "the heroes on board United 93, who challenged the hijackers and forced them to abandon their plan."
Thanks for the memories. In response to its horrors, Sept. 11 brought a reassuring surge in national pride and self-sacrifice. Young people signed up for the military, knowing they most likely would be going to war. Putting faith in their leaders, a new generation of American fighters was ready to stand tall -- and together.
Nothing concentrates the mind, I reflected at the time, like the knowledge that somebody's out to kill you simply for being American.
A "new normal" settled in. Civilian vigilance and courage back home paid off in the foiled efforts of the "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and the would-be "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Such heroic stories should humble all of us, especially our president and other lawmakers as they grapple with the various crises that face our country today.
I'd like to think that, for all their Obama vs. Tea Party bickering, our lawmakers and the rest of the nation can put aside partisan differences as quickly as we did when al-Qaida struck us a decade ago.
Unfortunately, our national unity faded for a number of well-known reasons. The goals and strategies of Bush's "global war on terror" became less clear and more questionable. Voices on the right and left increasingly questioned the government's new intrusions on privacy allowed by the hastily passed Patriot Act. The Afghanistan war, launched to overthrow the Taliban and break up al-Qaida, became a murky exercise in nation-building.
The last of the administration's post-9/11 political capital was spent on a shift of our forces to a new war against Iraq's Saddam Hussein, despite a lack of evidence linking him to Sept. 11.
Today, political cooperation in Washington is in a shambles, as politicians and activists squabble over the most divisive issues left over from the Bush years: jobs, taxes and the economy. The recession that helped elect Obama has since become his biggest burden. A sluggish recovery and the looming threat of a second dip into recession are made worse by a collapse of consumer and employer confidence.
Polls reveal a public taking out its rage on the usual suspects: whoever is now holding office, including President Obama. More than 60 percent of those asked in a new ABC-Washington Post poll disapprove of his handling of the economy, job creation and the federal budget deficit.
His high marks? More than 60 percent approve of his success against the threat of terrorism. The killing of Osama bin Laden by Seal Team Six under his command undoubtedly helped. Unfortunately, a good terrorism-fighting reputation doesn't carry the weight it did a decade ago. Just ask failed Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.
Obama's meager consolation: He doesn't look much worse than his opponents. He still polled a couple of points better in the survey than the job performance of Republicans in Congress. He fell below a "generic Republican" opponent in the new poll, but still runs about even against real ones like Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Even so, Obama had better watch out for that "generic" candidate, whoever it is.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell set the tone for these times when he said after the mid-terms: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." The "single most important thing?" What, one wonders, comes in second? Our country's future, maybe?
Democrats and Republicans chant in unison “jobs, jobs, jobs.” President Obama offers an American Jobs plan, but Republicans use the filibuster in the Senate to kill it and a Republican majority will not consider it in the House. House Democrats offered a heftier jobs bill, but it is ignored by the majority in control. Republicans offer more of the same — tax cuts for the rich whom they call “job creators” — but they have put no actual jobs plan on the table.
As a result, 15 million Americans still languish, officially unemployed, with another 10 million underemployed or so discouraged they have stopped looking for work.
One of the leading Republican candidates for president, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is an advocate of Tenth Amendment (states’ rights) solutions and we are suspicious of anyone advocating Tenth Amendment solutions because that amendment protected the peculiar institution. Further, the Tenth Amendment solutions guy was also found to have taken friends, colleagues and contributors hunting on a ranch widely known by the name on a rock at its entrance called Niggerhead.
While in the past, unacceptable language used by Minister Louis Farrakhan was overwhelmingly condemned by a House resolution, Republicans voted down a similar resolution that would have condemned Governor Perry for taking his friends to hunt at a place with a racially offensive name.
Republicans protect their own from charges of racism and the press doesn’t vigorously pursue the issue because Herman Cain says, “it’s time to move on,” and if he, as an African American, isn’t upset, why should others be perturbed? And Democrats don’t want to discuss it because it’s a distraction from their jobs message.
But what if not condemning racism when it raises its ugly head is actually diverting and delaying the jobs discussion? What if Herman Cain’s presence in the race is actually camouflaging the fact that President Obama’s jobs plan (and virtually anything else he proposes) is actually being blocked, not just by conservatives, but by white conservative Republicans determined to use any means necessary, including race — as both Republicans and Democrats have done in the past — to defeat America’s first African-American president? If Herman Cain were not in the race, could the press really ignore Gov. Perry’s hunting site with no apology for its name or use?
Why is the word so offensive? Historically, the use of the “N-word” by whites often preceded an act of violence by the perpetrator(s) (e.g., hanging) or by the victim responding. Viola Liuzzo and Rev. James Reeb were called N-word lovers before they were murdered. Most recently, James Anderson was murdered in Mississippi ,and the young white perpetrator reportedly said, “I ran that n****r over.”
If the American people were to conclude that white Republicans — not just conservative Republicans — were actively working to defeat Barack Obama because of his race, they would overwhelmingly reject the Republican Party, its candidates and proposals, and understand more clearly a Republican strategy of blockage and obstinacy.
The heart and soul of “conservatism” is the South. When racism was rampant, it was the solid Democratic South. In today’s “post-racial” society it’s the solid Republican South — minus the African- and Hispanic-American congressional districts. But why would the poorest, least educated, most ill-housed and most unhealthy region of the country be solidly conservative? Conserving such poverty seems unnatural. So what are the people of the South conserving?
Clearly, historically, the rich — be they slave-owners or possessors’ of other wealth or power — were conserving their privilege. They used the fear of Blacks to manipulate whites and Blacks politically to keep them separated, and from rebelling and joining forces to fight their mutual state of unemployment, poverty, lack of health care, housing and education.
Poor whites were not told the truth about the Civil War — that they were fighting to protect the slave-owners’ economic self-interest. Instead they were told they were fighting for states’ rights. Rather than join the Civil Rights Movement for social, economic and political equality for all in the ’60s, poor whites were told to stay away because African Americans were being manipulated by “communists” and “socialists” like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and now Obama.
So when the first 15 presidents avoided resolving the race issue the result was an explosion, the American Civil War. And when white politicians know the American weakness on race, and exploit it politically, we can never really get to the jobs discussion.
Dealing with and getting beyond “Niggerhead” may actually be the key to addressing the needs of the American people and unlocking a real discussion on jobs.
Jesse L. Jackson Jr., (D), is the representative for Illinois’ 2nd congressional district.
“A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.” Ecclesiastes 10:19.
King Solomon never lied and the Bible is the answer to life. What he said thousands of years ago still applies today. We know how to party and make liquor and wine companies successful through our drinking.
Yet, we lack money, i.e. economic empowerment. Money, good clean money, is a blessing. It buys your basic needs and guarantees a safe and prosperous future. You make that money through jobs and jobs are created by entrepreneurs.
Successful entrepreneurs eventually become wealthy even though they may struggle and fall a few times along the way. Thus, business growth is the key to prosperity for Black communities. It is that business growth that was stymied through Jim Crow and constant discrimination from our government and rival communities.
When the Civil Rights Struggle ended in victory, the damage of past discrimination was addressed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 addresses that. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act addresses discrimination in contracting.
This is the basis for all minority business programs administered by federal agencies. The key is to get it fully enforced, which has yet to happen.
Corruption and discrimination are first cousins in business. Both are engrained into the federal procurement system and are the challenges of minorities, including Black businesses. These programs started rolling out in 1982 and, still, have yet to be fully effective.
That money King Solomon was talking about has yet to find its way into our communities on a level that is fair and impartial.
These programs are clumsy at best. Because of that many mean thinking groups have challenged them saying that they are reverse discrimination.
That is laughable as these programs may provide no more than seven percent of the total procurement and that is divided among every ethnic group other that white male contractors including white females who naturally get most of that seven percent. Many times they are just representing their male counterparts and are used to thwart any real minorities from getting their just amount.
This is probably the biggest problem of these programs. They are in need of being corrected and providing business growth and jobs into our communities in a way that would make a noticeable difference.
Despite their anemic effectiveness, these programs have been challenged via lawsuits from white organizations such as the Associated General Contractors and ultra conservative think tanks. The United States Supreme Court has made two major decisions regarding minority contracting programs.
One for local governments and it is known as The Croson Decision. The other is for federal contracting programs and it is known as The Adarand Decision. Many minority business activists cringed at these decisions.
However, when you study them they simply explain what must be done to do it right. Both say the same thing. The agency or government entity running the contracting program must do a study to understand the full impact that discrimination, if it exists, has had on specifically which groups.
These are called Disparity Studies.
Most states and large cities are doing them on a regular basis. You do your first and then update it approximately every five years.
If you do this right, the study will show the level of discrimination for Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, etc. The report should also address white women as they lobby to get into these programs. The fact is that white women are not discriminated in a fashion that would be identical to those ethnic groups. Studies will show this but the problem comes when you try to implement a program to offset and correct the discrimination of the past. What white women lobbyists will try to do is “lump” all the groups into one goal as opposed to separate goals for each group. When this happens white women will exploit whatever the goal is at the expense of Blacks, Hispanics and others.
This ignores what the Supreme Court has said. The programs must be narrowly tailored to address the specific discrimination as noted in the study. The federal government has yet to do these studies.
President Clinton pledged to do them for each of the ten federal regions. He stalled and never did it. President Bush did not do them and now President Obama is trying to ignore this responsibility.
In 2012, we must make this a campaign issue. We want every candidate to pledge to perform Disparity Studies and address discrimination at the federal level within the first two years of the next administration. If we do this right, contracts will start flowing to our businesses like never before.
Jobs will be created exponentially, and the money will “answereth things.” After all, it says it in the Bible.
Black Friday was just one more example of how America has lost her way, her moral compass bent — badly.
For months we have watched police, dressed more for Iraq or Afghanistan instead of Main Street USA, gas, beat, pepper spray, harangue and manhandle unarmed, mostly peaceful citizens of the Occupy Movement.
In order to justify what certainly looks like a denial of the Constitutional right to free speech and to assemble to redress grievances, mayors nationwide have said it’s the tent cities these protesters are using that make their gatherings unlawful.
So, just as we saw in the early Wednesday morning hours when Occupy Philly was set upon by police and dislodged from Dilworth Plaza, riot-gear clad gendarmes have forcibly removed these protesters time after time across the nation.
On Black Friday, however, there was no such behavior by law enforcement even though tents sprang up outside store after store nationwide so shoppers could get the edge on fellow shoppers when the doors opened anywhere from midnight to 5 a.m.
Apparently, tents are just fine when people feed the capitalist monster but if you protest it all bets are off.
There were Black Friday arrests. There always are because of the juvenile behavior of shoppers. There was pepper spray but a woman in fear that someone would snatch her Xboxes wielded the canister and used it on other shoppers. There was even the sad case of a man being trampled after falling to the pavement due to a heart attack.
When you’re a consumer, it’s apparently okay to camp out or even behave badly as long as you don’t take it too far.
Money, in the land of the so-called free and the home of the questionably brave, is far more important than human beings.
That’s why we pay twice as much for health insurance than over industrialized, Western democracies.
That’s why banks can rob their customers at will and Wall Street executives can sell worthless financial instruments and destroy the economies of several nations and not be prosecuted.
That’s why we have the top one percent of U.S. earners with a 285 percent increase in their wealth since the 1970s while the bottom 20 percent got a mere 18 percent over the same span.
Maybe every day should be Black Friday.
Everywhere we turn, it seems, there’s growing evidence that what used to be called “major media” is in deep, paradigm-shifting trouble.
At the end of the day, however, the current crisis for mainstream media may very well be seen as a great opportunity for the nation’s Black-owned media outlets. But, to get to that awareness, we, and they, will have to start “connecting the dots.”
To give you some idea of just how different and “new” things have gotten for newspapers, the percentage of their circulations represented by digital readers now constitutes 14.2 percent of their overall circulation. That’s an increase from 8.7 percent, in just one year.
It’s clear that the newspapers that have figured out how to incorporate and make money out of digital editions are the ones having the greatest success in this new environment.
Among the top five, highest-circulation, newspapers, the Wall Street Journal (2.1 million circulation), the New York Times (1.6 million circulation), the New York Daily News (579,636 circulation), report that digital readership represents 26.1 percent, 50.8 percent, and 26.9 percent of their overall circulations, respectively.
Add the need for newspapers to compete in a rapidly changing, high-tech environment to the overall shrinkage in their advertising revenues, in a recessionary environment, and you have a recipe for their disaster.
Indeed, experts have recently labeled the newspaper business as the county’s “fastest shrinking industry.” In 2009, according to Crosscut.com, 300 newspapers in the United States were driven out of business and, in 2010 another 150 closed shop.
In its 2011 census, the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) reported that “minority journalists” now represent only 13 percent of newspaper workforces, leaving 87 percent of those workforces white, in a country wherein about 66 percent of the population is Caucasian.
Oh, and by the way, when the newspaper industry talks about “minority journalists,” they really mean that about half of them, or about 6.5 percent, are Black.
The problem with all of this is that, as mainstream media continue to lay off minority journalists, there are fewer and fewer people assigned to do, or volunteer to cover, stories in which Black people are featured. There are also, of course, less and less people in the planning meetings who might even recommend having balanced, constructive, non-stereotypical stories about Black folks.
It’s already starting to happen.
According to the Pew Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) Report for 2011, the “big stories” for that year were: The economy (20 percent of the available space for stories, or “news hole,” Middle East unrest (12 percent), 2012 Presidential election (9 percent), the Japan earthquake (3 percent), Osama Bin Laden’s death (2 percent), Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting (2 percent), Afghanistan (2 percent), the European economy (2 percent), the Obama administration (2 percent, and healthcare (2 percent).
Indeed, five of the “ten biggest stories” in 2011 (those that were given the most “space” and news coverage) were international.
Here’s the worst part: Only one percent of the total space available for news was dedicated to stories about “race/gender/gays.”
And, not even all of that was dedicated to Black people.
For all intents and purposes, Black Americans and their issues have all but disappeared from the national media agenda. Was this supposed to happen with a person of color in the White House?
Let’s take all of this a step further: If you were African American, but not a candidate for president of the United States you simply didn’t count, for news purposes, last year, at least as far as mainstream media were concerned.
According to the PEJ, of the top 20 individuals receiving the most news coverage, in 2011,only two of them were African Americans — Barack Obama, in first place, with 3,802 stories devoted to him, and Herman Cain, in third place, with 577 stories, the vast majority of which, as we recall, were not very flattering.
That was it.
News coverage and visibility of Black folks didn’t get much better, at all, in network TV coverage, cable news or on public broadcasting stations. Black America, it seems has been downgraded to “journalistic afterthought.”
When the 2012 news coverage data are finally calculated, I’ll go way out on a limb and predict that the name Trayvon Martin will be highly ranked. I don’t know, though. It doesn’t seem to be worth having to be shot and killed by an irrational town watch official, just to get your name in the paper.
The reality is that newsrooms across America that used to be committed to diversity, that used to brag about grooming young Black interns and promoting accomplished, seasoned African-American journalists to senior positions, now seem to be headed, full-steam, in the opposite direction.
As is the case in far too many other U.S. industry sectors, lately, it’s no longer a high-ranking priority to attract and promote African-American talent in U.S. newsrooms.
Even ASNE, which was a pioneer in the effort to bring racial and ethnic diversity to newsrooms back in 1978, has reported that, in 2011, the newspaper industry reduced the number of “minority professionals” in its newsrooms by 5.7 percent, or a decline of about 500 minority journalists, over the past two years. That compares to overall newsroom employee reductions of just 2.4 percent, over the same period, in 2011. This also follows on the heels of the industry having eliminated approximately 800 minority journalists in 2008 and, again, in 2009.
ASNE went on to disclose that in every market size — from very small to very large — minority newsroom employment is well below the percentage of minorities in those cities and towns.
What does this all mean? Well … several things.
If Black folks have been sitting around waiting for mainstream media outlets to be more fair, more inclusive and less likely to do “stereotypical Black stories about crime, drugs and sagging pants, they’re probably wasting their time.
Over the past 35 years or so, following the establishment and advocacy of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), groups such as ASNE began to think seriously about diversifying their editorial staffs, and began saying all the right things about bringing much-needed, but previously excluded Black, Hispanic and Asian journalists into their news operations.
The integration of the nation’s print and broadcast news outlets that resulted brought not only a new generation of appropriately compensated Black professionals “into the mix,” it also vastly improved the quality and quantity of coverage of Black elected officials, Black neighborhoods and Black businesses.
Today, by comparison, African-American journalists are not only being laid off, they are usually among the first to be shown the door.
And, what has been the response when groups such as the NABJ have spoken out on the topic? Well — not much.
Major media ownership and senior management, now, simply hide behind the “things are tough all over” story, shrug their collective shoulders, issue the obligatory platitudes and return to their ever-more-racially exclusive offices.
But, hey, all is not lost.
The removal of good, Black journalists from mainstream newsrooms should mean that there just have to be rapidly growing numbers of seasoned African-American professionals who are available to move into Black-owned newsrooms — or, indeed, to establish their own traditional or digital outlets.
In addition, in a perfect world, when Black folks realize that their old, reliable mainstream news outlets no longer seem to produce any stories about their communities that they’re actually interested in reading, watching, listening to or downloading, maybe they’ll begin to turn, in increasing numbers, to the Black press, to Radio One, to TV One, and to stations such as WURD, the Black-owned talk format radio station, in Philadelphia.
Hey, you never know.
Stranger things have happened.
A. Bruce Crawley is president and principal owner of Millennium 3 Management Inc.
WASHINGTON — Perhaps Troy Davis is the violent thug who senselessly gunned down an off-duty police officer in a dimly lit Savannah, Ga., parking lot on Aug. 19, 1989. He was convicted of the crime two years later, after several witnesses confidently pointed their fingers at him as the triggerman who robbed Mark Allen MacPhail of his life.
But there are equally compelling arguments that point to Davis’ innocence — that suggest, instead, he was set up by the actual triggerman and witnesses who lied to protect themselves. That’s the problem with this case: There is now reasonable doubt.
The American criminal justice system, fraught with human frailty, isn’t well equipped to handle such doubts after a man has already been convicted by the proverbial jury of his peers. So Davis is set to die by lethal injection on Sept. 21 unless the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, his last hope, grants him clemency.
How did Davis end up on death row with no physical evidence — no gun, no fingerprints, no DNA — to tie him to the crime? How could he be condemned by an investigation that started with the word of a petty hoodlum?
If you’re a fan of TV and paperback police procedurals, you may believe that police work is thorough, that criminal labs are well-funded, that police officers are wise to the manipulations of career cons. They untangle masterful plots and get to the bottom of endless deceits.
Real life is a lot more, well, REAL. The day after MacPhail was shot, a dodgy character named Sylvester Nathaniel “Redd” Coles walked into the Savannah police department, with his lawyer in tow, and reported that Davis had killed the officer. Never mind that Coles was less than reliable; he had a record for, among other things, weapons offenses. When he offered up Davis, Savannah police — desperate to catch the criminal who had gunned down a fellow officer — had their man.
They rounded up Davis’ known associates; they knocked on doors in the neighborhood; they leaned on possible witnesses. They got what they were looking for — fingers pointing at Davis.
But years later, seven of nine key prosecution witnesses recanted their testimony. Several said they had been pressured by police and feared retaliation if they didn’t give them the story they wanted. Other individuals offered new information that implicated Coles — who had originally fingered Davis.
As troubling as that is, it has not bought Davis a ticket off death row. The criminal justice system simply isn’t good at acknowledging doubts about prior decisions.
In the 1990s, the public became so impatient with what were deemed “frivolous appeals” by death row inmates that Congress passed a law “streamlining” the process, leaving condemned prisoners less time to argue their innocence. That may have helped us quickly extract revenge against our most notorious killers, but it also meant, inescapably, that some innocent parties would be fast-tracked to their graves. That law, indeed, has hindered Davis’ efforts to get off death row.
In 2008, the Georgia Supreme Court, giving short shrift to the new testimony, refused to grant Davis a new trial. In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a review of the new evidence, but it set up an impossible standard: Davis had to prove his innocence. Needless to say, he couldn’t.
Members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles are under tremendous pressure, but they should worry most about sending the wrong man to his death.
Given the difficulty of discerning the truth, they could commute Davis’ sentence to life in prison. Even if he killed MacPhail, he is no threat to public safety in a prison cell.
Who knows? Maybe another man will one day give a death-bed confession and Davis could go free. More likely, we’ll never know for sure who killed a young police officer attempting to break up a brawl in a dark parking lot 22 years ago.
And that’s the problem with sending Davis to his death.