Insight News

Feb 08th


Let's Reclaim the Dream on August 28th

(NNPA) - Forty-seven years ago, our nation was in the midst of uncertainty, trepidation, fear, frustration, anger and unrest.  Forty-seven years ago, we were simultaneously hopeful, dedicated, ambitious, determined and resilient.

Forty-seven years ago, people of all races gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to urge their federal government to live up to the standards and ethos embodied in our Constitution.  Forty-seven years ago, we demanded equal access to education, voting rights, desegregation across the board, just employment opportunities and equanimity in society.

And forty-seven years ago, men and women from all walks of life, and from all ethnic persuasions rallied and marched for a larger federal government to intervene because states were failing to ensure our basic human civil rights.  It was on August 28th, 1963, that the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. unequivocally summarized the sentiments of the over 250,000 attendees and millions across the country at home when he delivered his ‘I Have a Dream Speech’.  Now forty-seven years later, it is time to Reclaim that Dream.

Five years after the levees broke

(NNPA) - On August 29, we will commemorate five years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans drowning the city in feet of water.  Five years ago our nation exhibited some of the most profound indifference to human beings as thousands of New Orleaneans were stuck without food, water, or sanitation in the Super Dome.

In the aftermath of those five years, those divisions of race and class have determined which individuals have recovered from Katrina and those whohave not.  Five years after the levees broke, the City of New Orleans is still bruised from the tragedy of a natural disaster, a man-made disaster, and an indifferent government.

Kia Soul goes too far

Kia Soul goes too farFirst you see the hoodies, a few gold chains, then you hear the sounds of hip hop grooves and beats. Then you see the faces of giant hamsters speaking in hip hop’s rhythmic vernacular about “This or That.” There is no question that the voices behind the animals are intended to represent African American brothers kicking it in the hood. While Kia’s website ( says that the animals are hamsters, if you don’t know the difference, they look like Rats. Dressed in styles and doing movements associated with America’s Black urban youth, Kia Soul represents a new low in television advertising.

That Kia selected the word “soul” to represent their product is not accidental. The term is all too frequently used as a proxy for talking about Blackness-- as in ‘soul brothers,’ ‘you got soul,’ etc. And the images of giant hamsters “kickin’ it” in front of buildings that look an all-American urban core neighborhood is not accidental. These animals are not the hamsters in your science class but anthropomorphized (animals or non-living things made to appear human) symbols of Blackness and more specifically urban black males. There’s nothing cute about the association.

Listening to Shirley Sherrod

By now much of the nation has followed the story of former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) official Shirley Sherrod, who was forced to resign from her post earlier this month after dishonestly being accused of racism in a March speech, only to be vindicated as soon as someone took the time to get a copy of what she actually said and allow the truth to come to light. But for those people who know Shirley and her husband, civil rights leader Charles Sherrod, the fact that the smears on her character were outrageous and false was never in doubt. It also was not a surprise to learn that the real message of Shirley Sherrod’s speech was actually something quite different and critically important: not just her own ability to overcome racially motivated attitudes, but her insistence on our need to work together to address the real division in our country—the one between the haves and have-nots in our wealthy nation that has devastating effects on poor people of every color.

If it sounds like racism and acts like racism, then it probably is racism

(NNPA) - This is America, but you wouldn't think so in light of recent events wherein two high-profile, long serving African American congress people have come under attack. They are being dragged through the mud in a rush to judgment regarding alleged ethics violations. US Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) and US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) are the accused.
Rangel has been found guilty by a House ethics subcommittee of violating ethics rules and will face trial within the next couple of months. He has been under investigation since 2008 due to allegedly using his House position for financial benefit.  Waters is also under the microscope of the House ethics subcommittee for allegedly using her congressional authority in a meeting with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on behalf of  OneUnited bank, in which her husband owns $250,000 in stock.
It is important that our elected officials, those to whom we give our public trust, be ethically sound, but in this current spate of accusations, there is something fishy in the proverbial Denmark! As of 2010, there are presently 42 African American members in the 111th U.S. Congress - 41 in the House of Representatives (39 representatives and 2 non-voting delegates) and one in the Senate. The fact is that African Americans represent only 10 percent of Congress, and 19 percent (8) are under investigation! This raises the question as to whether or not Black lawmakers face more scrutiny over allegations of wrongdoing than their White counterparts. We conclude that if it sounds like racism and acts like racism, then it probably is racism! In America, we need to presume innocence until proven guilty, and we need not be led to judgment.

Should America have a dialogue based on race?

The past 40 years were the best times ever to be Black in America.  But, is it still?  While the size of Black underclass has tripled since the 1980s, a Black middle-class that was thought to be flourishing may have fallen on hard times.  Studies show: “the wealth gap between White and Black American families has more than quadrupled over the last generation”.

What better man to have on such an issue than the richest Black man in America?  Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of the RJL Companies says “a wealth gap Tsunami threatens African American families” and is calling for a national dialogue to get on the problem.  In a presentation he made to members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Johnson advocated legislative activity on the issue.  Johnson said, “We must admit the harsh reality of a history of institutionalized racism and economic discrimination against African Americans is the primary cause of wealth disparity between Black and White Americans and now we must be willing to talk about race recognition remedies”.  He said: “I recognize that public policy based on race is extremely provocative and controversial but controversy should not prevent a reasonable dialogue about a societal dilemma that is real and economically devastating in its potential to millions of African Americans."

Congressional racism?

Recently, two top ranking Congressional Democrats have been charged with ethics violations by the Office of Congressional Ethics, where members can anonymously accuse their peers of wrong doing. Whether or not there is any merit to the charges remains to be seen but it is interesting that, of the last 10 ethics investigations the Office has conducted, eight of those under scrutiny were black.

New York Congressman Charles Rangel is charged with 13 congressional ethics violations and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters is charged with three. Among the charges Rangel faces are improperly using his office to secure donations for a school of public in New York that is named after him, failing to pay taxes on rental income from a home he owns in the Dominican Republic and for using a rent-controlled apartment in Harlem for his campaign office. Waters has been accused with using her influence to arrange a meeting between the Treasury Department and a bank her husband owned shares in. Both plan to fully fight the charges against them.
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