Saturday, June 19, 2010

Billy Hawkins: NCAA is Actually a Plantation for Black Male Athletes

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Professor Billy Hawkins of The University of Georgia has released a controversial new book that describes the experiences of NCAA athletes by comparing them to slaves on a plantation. According to the research of professor Hawkins, black athletes are exploited by the NCAA physically, financially and intellectually.

Hawkins cites the massive revenue earned by the NCAA via March Madness, which includes a 14-year, $10.8 billion contract with CBS sports. In spite of seemingly unlimited revenues to encourage athletes to stay focused academically, Hawkins notes that nearly one-fifth of the 64 teams participating in the NCAA tournament had graduation rates of less than 40 percent. Across the 36 sports monitored by the NCAA, men's basketball has the lowest graduation rates, where less than two-thirds of the players earn degrees.

The dismal graduation numbers for the NCAA support Dr. Hawkins' research, in which he argues and shows that black athletes at predominantly white institutions are being exploited while being neglected academically. In his book, "The New Plantation," the well-respected Professor of Sport Management and Policy uses a plantation model to present the black male athletic experience as part of a broader historical context.


Click to read

Dr. Julianne Malveaux Speaks on the BP Crisis

William Butler Yeats did a good job of capturing a harrowing pandemonium in his poem, The Second Coming. He wrote, in 1919

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

I was twice introduced to the poem in college, first in a class that required the study of English poets, then in a class that examined African literature, including the powerful novel of Nigerian colonization by Chinua Achebe, ironically titled, Things Fall Apart. The poem is so emblazoned on my brain that from time to time it comes to mind, most recently when I contemplate the BP oil spill, its damages, its consequences, and its handling.

I am writing from the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Conference, 55 days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 people and started an oil leak that apparently continues. While BP says that the leak was only 5000 barrels of oil a day, scientists estimate that between 20,000 and 40,000 barrels of oil leaked each day between April 22 until June 3. If you use the midpoint of 30,000 barrels and a period of 42 days (assuming all leaking stopped when a dome to catch some of the leak was installed on June 3), we are talking at least 1.2 million barrels of an oil leak.

Click to read

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Slim Thug Attempts to Defend His Comments about Black Women

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, AOL Black Voices

Many of you may already know about the "interesting" comments made by the rapperSlim Thug, and his frustration about the lack of loyalty among black women. His comments were met with resistance by myself and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill from Columbia University, who gave him the stable advice to keep his mouth shut. I say that "Slim Thugga" needs to be quiet, not because he's wrong, but because this is a battle he can't win and still sell records. Getting every black woman in America to hate you is simply not good for business. Even Talib Kweli, a fellow hip hop artist, had something to say about Slim Thug's remarks.

On his twitter page, Slim Thug went out of his way to try to protect his image in the face of all the backlash:

Click to read

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Black Scholars Kept From Getting Jobs at White Universities

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

Dr. M. Cookie Newsom

is the Director for Diversity Education and Assessment at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also a trouble maker and an angry black woman, which is likely going to cause her serious problems with her colleagues (we talked yesterday about how being angry can get a black person into serious trouble). Dr. Newsom, however, has good reason to be angry. In a recent interview with Diverse issues in Higher Education, Dr. Newsom stated in plain language that most major universities are not serious about diversifying their faculty and that this hurts all students, especially students of color.
"The dismal truth is academe doesn’t really want a racially-diverse faculty," Newsom said during a faculty diversity presentation at the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) annual national conference in Washington, D.C. "It’s totally a myth."

Dr. Newson based her conclusions on statistics and data she collected which shows that most major universities are good at documenting plans to increase faculty diversity, but most of it’s nothing but lip service.

Click to read more.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Julianne Malveaux on the Jobless Recovery

by Dr Julianne Malveaux

Our economy generated about 431,000 jobs last month. Good news? Only if you don't count the fact that more than 400,000 of the jobs were temporary jobs connected to collecting data for the Census. Those jobs won't last for long and when the dust clears the current 9.7 percent unemployment rate, down from 9.9 percent a month ago, is likely to rise again.

Still, those who are desperate for good news are clinging to the fact that there are more jobs out there. What they don't understand is that people are looking for something more than a few months of work here and there. Nearly seven million Americans have been out of work for more than half a year. What has this done to their finances?

Of course the situation is worse for African Americans, even though black unemployment dropped from 16.5 to 15.5 percent last month. The 15.5 percent is a modest estimate of what is really happening. The U6 number in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation report includes discouraged workers, those working part time that really want full time work and others peripherally connected to the labor market. That number dropped last month from 17.1 to 16.6 percent for the overall population. While the BLS does not report the number for African Americans, using the same relationships, the African American U6 number is at least 25.6 percent. That means that one in four African Americans is jobless!

Click to read.

Dr. Boyce Watkins: No More Arizona News for a While, Please

Arizona isn't the only state with a racist agenda

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

Forgive me for saying this, but part me of is getting sick of hearing about Arizona. Most states only get a few days in the news cycle, but since the politicians in Arizona were crazy enough to pass a law to stifle illegal immigration in their state, our news has been seemingly flooded with one story after another about Arizona: A politician in Arizona has links to the KKK, Arizona changes its textbooks to downplay people of color, brown faces are lightened up on a mural in Arizona. It never seems to stop.

OK, I think I get the point: Arizona is a state with racist policies, at least more racist than most. Can we try to move onto something else now?

This isn't to say that there is not a level of seriousness to the illegal immigration situation in Arizona. We've figured that out. The federal government has long refused to properly enforce immigration laws, and the residents of Arizona came up with their own response, one that threatens to undermine the civil rights of every black and brown person in the state. Got it.

To some extent, the national attack on the state of Arizona smells a bit like political narcissism. The collective outrage that some have expressed over the civil liberties issues in the Arizona immigration law has been hardly present during other more serious racial atrocities that have occurred over the past 20 years.

The sense of urgency that President Obama had about the passage of the state's new immigration law has never been matched when confronting the fact that the United States incarcerates over five times more black men than South Africa did during the height of apartheid. Attorney General Eric Holder's investigation into the legality of Arizona's political decisions was never preceded by a similar investigation into the civil rights abuses of unequal funding for inner city public schools. It seems that when civil liberties of a broad Latino base were attacked, the whole country went up in arms. But when black folks have been getting abused, our needs have been put at the bottom of the to-do list.

Click to read

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ron Daniels Gives Advice to President Obama

by Professor Ron Daniels

Clearly British Petroleum Oil Company (BP) is responsible for the most disastrous oil spill in U.S. history and must be held fully accountable for its negligent behavior. Beyond overseeing the crisis and ensuring that BP is deploying the necessary resources to stop the flow of oil and clean-up the damaged beaches and marshlands, there is precious little President Obama can do to clean up the mess. However, I agree with New York Timescolumnist Thomas Friedman and other commentators that the crisis presents the President with an opportunity to offer bold and visionary leadership in terms of the future direction of the U.S. economy.

Ever the pragmatist and craving “bi-partisan” support for his massive energy bill, prior to the horrific oil spill, Obama caved in to the McCain/Palin “drill baby drill” crowd and ordered more areas opened for off shore drilling. Earlier he threw another plum the Republicans way by placing priority on building new nuclear power plants. I strongly disagree with these decisions but chalk it up to Obama being Obama. It’s his inside the beltway method of trying to drag defiant Republicans to the legislative table at a time when they are out to create a “waterloo” moment by whatever means necessary to defeat him and advance their conservative agenda. However, the oil spill has potentially created a new political calculus.

Click to read

Monday, May 31, 2010

Setting the Record Straight: A Response to Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Statement by the Committee to Advance the Movement for Reparations

We, the undersigned, take strong exception to the Op-Ed, “Ending the Slavery Blame-Game,” published in the New York Times, April 23, 2010 by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. There are gross errors, inaccuracies and misrepresentations in Gates’ presentation of the transatlantic European enslavement system. Moreover, we are duly concerned about his political motivations and find offensive his use of the term “blame game.” It trivializes one of the most heinous crimes against humanity—the European enslavement of African people. Gates contradicts his stated purpose of “ending” what he refers to as a “blame-game,” by erroneously making African rulers and elites equally responsible with European and American enslavers. He shifts the “blame” in a clear attempt to undermine the demand for reparations.

The African Holocaust or Maafa, as it is referred to by many, is a crime against humanity and is recognized as such by the United Nations, scholars, and historians who have documented the primary and overwhelming culpability of European nations for enslavement in Europe, in the Americas and elsewhere. In spite of this overwhelming documentation, Gates inexplicably shifts the burden of culpability to Africans who were and are its victims. The abundance of scholarly work also affirms that Europeans initiated the process, established the global infrastructure for enslavement, and imposed, financed and defended it, and were the primary beneficiaries of it in various ways through human trafficking itself, banking, insurance, manufacturing, farming, shipping and allied enterprises.


Click to read

Monday, May 24, 2010

Julianne Malveaux Breaks Down Obama's Financial Reform

Financial Reform-The Devil's In The Details

By Julianne Malveaux

Late last week, the United States Senate passed a financial reform bill by a vote of 59-39. Two Democrats crossed party lines, as did four Republicans to come up with the result. Now, the House, which has already passed financial reform legislation, and the Senate, will have to reconcile their versions of the bill. Now is the time for consumer advocates and others to counter the aggressive lobbying that will be done by banks and the auto industry to minimize the effects of legislation. This may also be an opportunity for the Congressional Black Caucus to raise its voice on the side of the many consumers who have been damaged by this financial crisis. While legislation is not meant to look backwards, but instead forward to prevent future crises, the CBC are among those who advocate for the least and the left out. Their perspective on financial regulation is badly needed.

The House would create a consumer protection agency that is freestanding; the Senate would house the agency inside the Federal Reserve Bank. In some ways having the Fed run consumer protection is like having the fox patrol the chicken coop. Isn't this the same Fed that was part and parcel of the 2008 financial meltdown, the same Fed (then led by Alan Greenspan) that turned a blind eye to predatory and sub-prime lending and the market distortions that emerged from the packaging of substandard loan paper? The Federal Reserve theoretically already deals with regulation around credit cards and mortgages and to date they've not done a good job. What will change when they now have a consumer protection agency? Hearings, anyone?

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Dr. Julianne Malveaux: Obama Disappoints Black Women with the Kagan Nomination

I was among the many who were disappointed that President Barack Obama did not nominate an African American woman to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. After all, there are six white men, two women, one Latina and one white, and a nominal African American man on the Court.  Why not an African American woman?
The Black Women's Roundtable, led by Melanie Campbell, was so disappointed that they shared their concerns with the President in a letter that spoke both to the contributions African American women have made and the qualifications of a few good women that President Obama should have considered before nominating Ms. Kagan to the nation's highest court.

I won't even speak on what I perceive as some of the shortcomings of the Kagan nomination.  The Solicitor General has earned the support of some colleagues that I fully respect, such as Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree.  At the same time, we have to pause at the fact that her definition of diversity is ideological diversity, not racial and ethnic diversity, and that she seemed to make Harvard a more welcome place for conservatives, if not for African American faculty.


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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Black Women's Leadership Groups Disappointed in Elena Kagan Appointment

E KaganFrom Politic 365: The announcement of Elena Kagan could not really be called a surprise, since the White House went out of its way to all but announce her as their pick over the last week. The Obama Administration dropped hints by the dozens to their favored reporters, who dutifully shared their information with the rest of us. I had come to accept it as a done deal, even though I had been a little perturbed at the way the D.C. pundits only mentioned three or four names from the president's short list, as if the rest of the names on it, like Georgia's ownLeah Ward Sears, were invisible.

It wasn't until I called a friend of mine, an African American lawyer here in Atlanta who had been a diehard Hillary supporter and then a reluctant Barack Obama supporter after he became the Democratic nominee, that I realized that others felt the same way. "First he puts a Hispanic woman on the court. Fine. He's paying back the Hispanics for their support," she said. "Then he puts a white woman on the court. Okay – he's paying them back for coming over to his side after Hillary lost. I see that.

But why do I have to be last? Why do black women always have to be last? I don't think he cares."
Where are the Sistahs? See Politic365 to find out

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Your Black Scholars Keep Weighing in on Supreme Court Nominee, Elena Kagan

by Dr. Wilmer Leon

On Monday May 10th President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to replace retiring Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. Many see this selection as a prudent political move; as the sitting solicitor general, Ms. Kagan has already been vetted and confirmed by the current Senate. This means that President Obama will not have to expend much political capital in order to get his nominee approved.

There are those who are questioning if not opposing the selection of Ms. Kagan for a number of different reasons. President Obama called her a "trailblazing leader… " and stated "Elena is widely regarded as one of the nation's foremost legal minds … " Some believe that while former President George W. Bush was eroding constitutional protections, Ms. Kagen, this “trailblazing leader” was conspicuously silent.

Others question Ms. Kagan’s record of minority hiring while dean of Harvard University’s Law School. During her tenure Dean Kagan hired 32 tenured and tenure-track academic faculty members. Of these, 25 were white men, 6 white women, and one Asian American woman. During her six years in the position there were no African American or Latinos hired. Just 3% of her hires were non-white. It is important to note that according to Harvard’s 2009 Annual Report the entire Harvard faculty consists of 26% female, 3% African American, and 3% Latino.

Click to read more

News: Marc Lamont Hill Analyzes Elena Kagan

by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

Yesterday, President Obama nominated United States Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Few were surprised by the choice, as Kagan has long been viewed a frontrunner for the high court. While many observers have applauded Obama’s decision, others like myself were left with a lingering question.
Is this really the best we could do?
Let’s be clear, I am not questioning Kagan’s basic qualifications as a nominee. Unlike those who have questioned her “temperament” and “intellectual curiosity”—loaded queries that only seem to get raised in relation to women and minority candidates—I have little doubt about Kagan’s fitness for the job. Rather, I am concerned about Kagan’s ability to fill John Paul Stevens’ shoes as the progressive anchor of the Supreme Court.
Although she undoubtedly shares the same political persuasion as Justice Stevens, Kagan is considerably less progressive on major issues of the day. While Stevens has filed numerous dissents in an effort to challenge the Bush (and now Obama) doctrine of endless executive power, Kagan has dutifully argued in favor of policies that undermine the spirit and letter of the Constitution. For example, during her confirmation hearing for Solicitor General, Kagan offered unequivocal support for the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists as well as the bizarre belief that the entire world is a battleground. On other issues, from gay marriage to civil rights, Kagan has done nothing to inspire confidence that she would continue Stevens’ tradition of principled and rigorous resistance.
The choice of Kagan is even more disappointing when examining the other viable option. Diane Wood, a highly respected judge who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, has a long and successful record of defending the Constitution from the onslaught of right-wing jurists. Also, like Justice Stevens, Wood has also demonstrated the ability to persuade conservative judges to change their opinion on controversial cases. In addition, Wood’s Protestant faith and non-Ivy League education would have added another layer of diversity to the court. While Wood was certainly a more contentious choice, there is little doubt that she would have been confirmed by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
True to form, political pragmatists have claimed that Kagan was the best choice available. By choosing a relatively moderate nominee, they argue, Obama effectively prevents the Right from turning the confirmation hearings into a political spectacle designed to make both Kagan and Obama look like ideological extremists. While this argument is theoretically sound, it rests upon the native expectation that the Republican Party operates in good faith.
They do not.


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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Obama Family Portrayed as Sanford and Son in Newspaper

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

Phillip Sciarello, a publisher and part owner of the Smithtown Messenger in Long Island, is defending his newspaper after a picture appeared that some believe to be a racist stereotype of the first family. The picture depicts Barack and Michelle Obama as characters from "Sanford and Son." The public backlash has led the paper to announce that it will issue a retraction in its next edition.
The picture is part of a "before and after" sequence of the last six presidents, showing how much they age once they get into the White House. The "after" photo of the Obamas show Barack Obama as Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) and Michelle Obama as Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page). The characters are standing ready to fight, as was typical on the 1970s television show.The pictures led the Brookhaven town board to remove one of the company's sister publications, the Brookhaven Review, as an official newspaper. This means that the paper will no longer publish town government notices.
"The reference to racial stereotypes is where the line was crossed," Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko said to Newsday.
Hazel N. Dukes, president of the state NAACP conference, stated that the county should pull advertising from any publication that runs the photo.


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Monday, May 3, 2010

Athletes Get Nothing from NCAA's New $11 Billion Dollar Contract

The NCAA men's basketball tournament is expanding, starting next season, but not on the large scale once expected.

The sport's signature event will grow to 68 teams from 65 in conjunction with a new 14-year, nearly $11 billion television agreement with CBS and Turner Sports announced Thursday. That gives the NCAA a 41% hike in annual media and marketing rights connected to the tournament — and "financial stability through the first quarter of this century," interim President Jim Isch said — without the controversy of a more dramatic move to a 96-team bracket.

Negotiations with CBS/Turner, ESPN and Fox Sports initially had targeted a 96-team field, drawing concern and criticism from traditionalists and others over the impact on the tournament's aesthetics, effect on college basketball's regular season and conference tournaments and potential for further intrusion on players' time and studies.


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Friday, April 30, 2010

Dr. Boyce Watkins: NAACP Lending Principles for Banks


From Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

In light of the article I wrote challenging the partnership between the NAACP and Wells Fargo, the company accused of predatory lending in the Black community (click here to read the article), I thought I'd publicly share the NAACP lending principles that were sent to me by one of the NAACP spokes people.   In spite of the fact that I am not accusing the NAACP of illegal or unethical behavior, I still hold to the fact that the following must be true in order for me to become comfortable with this partnership:

1) There should be public accountability and transparency regarding the nature of the deal between the NAACP and Wells Fargo.  That includes the amount of the sponsorship and all WRITTEN contractual commitments between the NAACP and Wells Fargo.  Only specific terms in writing are relevant and can be properly enforced.

2) Simply agreeing to stop predatory lending is not enough, since there must be compensation given to the African-American community for tens of billions of dollars in lost wealth due to the racially discriminatory practices of Wells Fargo.  If a senior citizen on the South Side of Chicago who lost her home is not given relief from her situation, then this partnership does very little for our community.  A person cannot simply apologize for a crime and refuse to commit the crime again; there must be an effort to make right on the crimes that have been committed in the past.

The NAACP Banking Principles on Fairness in Lending are Below:


Mortgage foreclosures, excessive subprime mortgage interest rates, and hindered access to prime mortgage loans have had an inordinate impact on people of color and other historically disadvantaged borrowers. These practices have resulted in adverse effects even beyond the actual borrowers themselves. Home values have been depressed as a result of these practices, and in general people of color and their families have become increasingly vulnerable to loss of shelter, home security, equity, and wealth—even if they do not have subprime loans. To encourage transparency and fairness in the processes associated with obtaining quality loans and improved relationships between financial institutions and people of color and other historically disadvantaged borrowers, the NAACP has developed the following principles.

1. Loan terms will not be determined by a borrower’s race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, language preference, disability, religion/creed, or age, except as otherwise permitted or required by law. Additionally, loan terms will not be determined by factors designed to serve as proxies (e.g., zip codes) for the above categories. Loan terms will not be determined by subjective underwriting without controls to prevent inappropriate bias or discrimination. Similarly situated borrowers (i.e., borrowers with similar underwriting characteristics, including credit scores, debt ratios, loan-to-value ratios, etc.) will receive comparable loan terms on identical or comparable loan products.

2. Every borrower will have the option of selecting a loan product that is appropriate for his or her circumstances. Borrowers will first be presented with loan product choices that are consistent with their financial circumstances. Lenders will determine whether borrowers are eligible for prime loan products and, if so, the borrowers will be presented with prime product options. Additionally, information will be provided to the borrowers about available conventional and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan products in order for the borrowers to fully understand their options. Borrowers with good payment histories and demonstrated improvement in credit performance and other risk factors will be considered by their existing lenders for loan refinancing that result in improved loan terms.

3. Institutions will seek to eliminate policies or practices that encourage biased and exploitive behaviors toward borrowers. Lending institutions will disclose in good faith the loan fees associated with each loan and will conduct periodic audits of files, policies, and practices to ensure an environment—in lending, credit, and payment options—that is free of bias toward borrowers. Additionally, lenders who sell loans on the secondary market to third parties will also observe these fairness principles and will refrain from charging usurious interest rates.

4. Borrowers will be approved only for loans they have a current ability to repay. Borrowers will receive loans that they demonstrate the ability to repay, even in the event of a rate increase. Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) and other loans will not be underwritten at the “teaser rate,” but rather at the fully indexed interest rate. Standard adjustable rate loan products will be clearly identified as such to borrowers, so they are fully aware of the terms of the ARM loan products and the possibility of interest rate and payment increases.

5. Each policy may be maintained and monitored for its racial impact. Fairness is measured not only in terms of intent, but also impact. Policies will reflect a demonstrated effort to ameliorate negative outcomes based on race or ethnicity. Each institution will have internal controls to determine overall, and within the subprime community of loans issued by the institution, that its neutral practices do not have an unlawful adverse impact based on grounds of race, sex, color, or ethnicity.

6. All borrowers will have access to free information, online and in print, that will help them understand and improve the quality of their loans. The terms of each loan will be provided to the borrower and explained in plain and simple language. The terms of the loan will be in a large font and easily legible to those who are not severely vision-impaired. If the borrower is fluent in Spanish but not English, the loan disclosures and documents will be translated. In the case of other languages, borrowers without access to loan translation expertise will be referred to phone-based or other translation services that are familiar with loan terms and conditions. All borrowers should be able to clearly understand the terms of their loan products.

7. Lenders will work with borrowers to prevent foreclosures. Loan servicers will consider foreclosure to be the “last resort” and will explore all appropriate alternatives before completing a foreclosure sale. Because these matters impact borrowers, their neighbors, and the institution, we believe it wise for the institution to engage in extended good-faith efforts to do all that it can to prevent foreclosures. Lenders and their affiliates will not operate using a business model intentionally designed to profit from a foreclosure.

8. Lending institutions will support and implement the inclusion of diverse suppliers in their contracting and partnership decisions. Financial institutions will establish aspirational and measurable goals and develop supplier programs that ensure the inclusion of businesses owned by women- and people of color wherever contracting and partnership opportunities present themselves. Goals will be, at the very least, to reflect the various racial, ethnic, and gender compositions of the general population.

9. Workforce diversity is important to fair decision making and expanded opportunity for economic development. From the boardroom to the cubicle, the workforce continuum will reflect the diversity of the nation. As financial institutions establish inclusive business policies, so too will there be a measurable effort to employ a workforce that is reflective of the growing diversity of the nation—at all decision-making levels within the institution.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Latest from Dr. Boyce on MSNBC's - 4/27/10

Friday, April 23, 2010

Henry Louis Gates Gives Weak Slavery Argument in the New York Times

Henry Louis Gates gets slavery's history all wrong

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. recently wrote an interesting piece for the New York Times called, "Ending the Slavery Blame Game." In the piece, Gates effectively argues that the fight for reparations is convoluted and somewhat mitigated by the fact that African elites participated in the slave trade. While describing complex business deals made between some African leadership and the Europeans who brought Africans to the New World, it almost appears as though Gates is saying that this disturbing relationship somehow undermines the right of African-Americans to hold our government accountable for its involvement in crimes committed against our people.

At very least, I am under the assumption that by "ending the slavery blame game," Gates is arguing that we should stop blaming the United States government and white America for the rape, murder, castration, lynching and beating of our ancestors.

Sorry Dr. Gates, but I must respectfully (or perhaps not so respectfully) disagree. If a young girl is sold into prostitution by her own parents, the pimp must still pay for the suffering he caused the young woman. He can't simply say, "Her parents made a deal with me, so you should stop the blame game."

In other words, the United States, as a broad and powerful industrial entity, benefited from slavery to the tune of several trillion dollars. Much of this wealth was passed down from one white man to another, and was always out of the grasp of the black men, women and children who gave their lives on American soil in order to earn it. As a result, the median net worth of the African-American family is roughly one-tenth that of white American families and we have consistently higher unemployment due to our inability to create jobs, since white Americans own most businesses. These facts hold true without regard to how the African-American holocaust started in the first place. They also hold true because wealth and power are commodities that are passed down inter-generationally, and we missed out on all of this because we were slaves. What occurred after we left Africa can and must be considered independently from what happened while our forefathers were in the mother land.



Click to read

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What is the Black Agenda? Lola Adesioye and Dr. Boyce Watkins Talk it Out

by Lola Adesioye, Huffington Post -

Should there be a "black agenda" in America? And if the answer to that question is 'yes,' what is the black agenda?

These are the questions that black leaders and black people have been discussing more and more since President Obama took office. Last week, Reverend Al Sharpton hosted a leadership summit addressing this very issue. Today a group of black leaders got together on an MSNBC special to talk about this issue in more detail. And many will remember the on-air argument that Tavis Smiley and Rev Sharpton had a few weeks ago about this topic.

Tavis believes that Obama isn't doing enough. Sharpton believes that Obama need not 'ballyhoo' a black agenda. I think most agree, though, that something needs to be done.

With a 16.5% unemployment rate (compared to 9.7% for white Americans), an education system that is under serving black children, higher than average rates of death from diseases like breast cancer, and continued social issues, it is hard to disagree that there is need for some kind of targeted and focused approach to dealing with the issues that affect African-American. But many are divided on whether or not the president is doing enough for black people, whether or not it's incumbent on him to do anything at all, and what should or shouldn't be done.


Click to read

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Should This Man Be Released After Spreading HIV Deliberately?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

You may not know the name Nushawn Williams, but it's probably a name you need to know. You would especially want your daughter to know his name, as well as anyone else in the community who has reason to fear a more disturbing style of sexual predator for the new millenium.

Williams is in prison right now for knowingly infecting women with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. His victims were as young as 13 years old, and authorities believe he may have infected as many as 50 women prior to going to state prison in 1998. Police are working to keep Williams behind bars because they fear what might happen if he is released to the American public.
"He is prone to further sexual contact with underage individuals because of deficits in his emotional capacity to understand why this is wrong and attitudes that support these types of exploitive encounters. His emotional callousness, lack of remorse and impulsivity undermine important internal mechanisms for managing his sexual behavior," said examiner Jacob E. Hadden from the New York State Office of Mental Health. Authorities have determined that Williams suffers from a mental health abnormality that makes him incapable of understanding why his actions are wrong or harmful.

The possible release of Williams reminds us of the urgency of managing the public health alarm called HIV infection. African Americans are taking the lead in HIV infection rates, and what is also true is that the experience in our community is nothing less than a precursor to what is eventually going to happen all throughout America. What is most frightening about the case of Nushawn Williams is that he is probably not the only person deliberately spreading the disease: there are likely women and other men doing the same thing. To make matters worse, there are many in our community (and others) who are being incredibly irresponsible with their sexual behavior and infecting scores of people in the process.

As I felt empathy for celebrities like Magic Johnson and Eazy-E for their battles with HIV/AIDS, I wondered how many of us thought about the long list of partners they infected before finally getting their own positive test results. Did you ever think about the fact that many of those people are out in the community right now, quite a few of whom may have taken years to become aware of their HIV positive status? This is scary indeed, so the truth is that to protect yourself from the silent community killer, a general strategy of protection must be put into play.


Click to read

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Your Black Social Commentary - 4/10/10

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dr. Boyce Watkins: Why Black Men Aren't Graduating from College



by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

Last week, the American Council on Education issued a report on the state of black males in the higher education system.  The report reveals some interesting and disturbing trends.  It turns out that black men are graduating from college at a rate which lags significantly behind other ethnic groups. When determining graduation probabilities over a six-year period, black males were found to have a graduation rate of 35 percent.   This compares with rates of 59 percent, 46 percent and 45 percent for white males, hispanic males and black women, respectively.  In other words, black men are a little more than half as likely to finish college when compared to their white male counterparts.

I have been a black man for my entire life now, and I’ve taught at the college level for the past 17 years.  So, perhaps I can shed some light on the nature of these problems and how we might work to solve them.  Some of the factors are institutional and some are cultural, so prepare to be offended by at least one of the things I have to say:

RELATED: Why Aren’t Minorities Graduating From College?

1) Most American universities refuse to hire or retain African American professors, including many HBCUs: If your professors look like you, you are more likely to relate to that individual and enjoy the class.  When I went to The University of Kentucky, Indiana University and The Ohio State University (where I earned my PhD), I didn’t see one single professor who looked like me (and I took A LOT of classes).  This made for an incredibly awkward and damn near traumatic educational experience.  When I first noticed institutions like Morehouse College presenting images of black males in the front of the classroom, I was envious after realizing what I’d been missing.  Rather than finding excuses for firing or not hiring black professors, most universities would be well-advised to stop lying to themselves and become serious about diversity.  Yes, black professors are out there to hire if you are looking for them, but many academic departments find a reason to believe that they are not qualified.  Just look at the experiences of myself, Cornell West and Michael Eric Dyson as cases in point.  Each of us has received significant resistance in our careers because our work is connected to the black community. Our stories are just the tip of the iceberg, since there are thousands of black professors who’ve gone through the exact same experience when dealing with the entrenched racism of academia.  Many HBCUs are not immune to this trend, as most of them don’t have very many African American professors (Don’t believe me?  Go to the Computer Science Department or Business School at any random HBCU and count the number of African American professors).


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Monday, April 5, 2010

Al Sharpton, Boyce Watkins, Tom Joyner Meet with Obama Administration in NYC on 4/17


New York, New York – Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN) will host its annual national conference from April 14th - 17th at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in New York City. This four-day event will convene hundreds of delegates and prominent leaders in civil rights, business, politics, labor, entertainment and the religious community from around the country to address key issues impacting people of color. Among some of the confirmed notable participants are United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Housing Shawn Donovan, Michael Steele, Chairman of The Republican National Party, Dr. Bill Cosby, Mariah Carey, Wyclef Jean, Ben Jealous, President of the NAACP, Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League, Tom Joyner, Roland Martin, Michael Eric Dyson, and many other high profile attendees.

Among the highlights will include the annual Keepers of the Dream Awards on Wednesday, April 15th honoring those who are committed to furthering the ideals and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event will be hosted by Tamron Hall, MSNBC and honorees include Wyclef Jean, humanitarian and world-renown musical artist, Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal, Mariah Carey, Award-Winning Actress and internationally acclaimed Singer, Dr. Robert M. Franklin, President of Morehouse College, Kimberly Davis, President of JPMorgan Chase Foundation and more. There will be a special keynote address by Dr. Bill Cosby.

The National Action Network convention will include discussions about health care policy in the wake of the historic passage of the President’s Health Care Reform Bill, Media and whether the press is covering issues fairly that involve people of color, education as a civil rights issue and combating the racial achievement gap, labor and employment, the state of the Black Church and assessment of the public response to African-American achievement, issues crucial to young professionals, and much more.

A major convention highlight will be leadership forum entitled: Measuring the Movement: Black Leadership’s 12-Month Action Plan featuring Black leaders of constituencies across the country who will assess where we are and what they and their respective organizations will pledge to do over a 12-month time-frame to further critical issues impacting people of color including, but not limited to, education reform, unemployment, health care and more. The event will air on TV One, MSNBC, C-Span and other forums, and the collective will discuss the real problems and how we will not only hold the President and Administration of the United States accountable, but how we will hold ourselves accountable and tangibly measure our movement over a 12-month period to enact change. The event will be hosted by Tom Joyner and Roland Martin and will be co- hosted by Boyce Watkins, Assistant Professor of Finance, Syracuse University and Warren Ballentine from "The Warren Ballentine Show." Among the featured panelists will be Reverend Al Sharpton, President, National Action Network, Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League, Congressman James Clyburn, Dr. Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School professor, Dr. Elsie Scott, President and CEO, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), Jeff Johnson, BET Personality, Ben Jealous, President & CEO, NAACP, Michael Eric Dyson, recording artist Chuck D, Angela Sailor, Coalitions Director for the Republican National Committee, and others.

A complete schedule of NAN’s annual national convention is below and updates will be posted regularly on NAN’s website For press credentials please contact Rachel Noerdlinger, President of Noerdlinger Media (646) 981-5903 or

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Blacks Far More likely to be Incarcerated than Whites

This data was gathered from the prison initiative and shows that there is more racism in the US prison system than there was in South Africa During Apartheid:


Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment

by Peter Wagner
Updated June 28, 2005

On June 30, 2004, there were 2,131,180 people in U.S. prisons and jails. That's a rise of 2.3% during the 12 previous months. Federal prisons are growing almost 5 times faster than state prison populations.

As of June 30, 2004, the U.S. incarceration rate was 726 per 100,000 residents. But when you break down the statistics you see that incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment.

U.S. incarceration rates by race, June 30, 2004

incarceration rates by race graph

Gender is an important "filter" on the who goes to prison or jail:

incarceration rates by gender graph

Look at just the males by race, and the incarceration rates become even more frightening

incarceraton rates for males by race

If you look at males aged 25-29 and by race, you can see what is going on even clearer

incarceration rates for young males

Or you can make some international comparisons

International rates of incarceration graph

South Africa under Apartheid was internationally condemned as a racist society. What does it mean that the leader of the "free world" locks up its Black men at a rate 5.8 times higher than the most openly racist country in the world?

Statistics as of June 30, 2004 from Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2004, Tables 14; except for the race rate statistics which are calculated from Table 13 and Census Bureau population estimates. South Africa figures from Marc Mauer, Americans Behind Bars: The International Use of Incarceration. All references to Blacks and Whites are for what the Bureau of Justice Statistics and U.S. Census refer to as "non-Hispanic Blacks" and "non-Hispanic Whites".)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dr. Boyce Watkins on MSNBC's TheGrio - 4/1/10

Supporting the right for Felons to Vote

Here is a form letter you can use to write your Congressman about the Democracy Restoration Act, an act sponsored by Russ Feingold and John Conyers.  The act would restore voting rights to ex-convicts in federal elections.  In case you are unaware, slavery in the United States was never fully abolished.  Actually, it was only abolished for those who were not convicted of a crime.  Therefore, many hundreds of thousands of African Americans are still victims of slavery and involuntary servitude.  This has got to stop now.  To read more on this issue, please click here.


Here is the sample letter you can cut and paste to send to your representative.


To whom it may concern,

I am a member of the Your Black World Coalition, as well as a concerned American.  I would like to write to express my support for HR3335 - The Democracy Restoration Act, sponsored by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).

I strongly believe that when felons have paid their debt to society, they deserve an opportunity and incentive to become a part of that society again.  Voting and participating in federal elections is an important part of being an American, and would serve to reduce recidivism, which hurts us all.  Additionally, it would ensure that these men and women receive the representation they deserve from elected officials, since most of us would agree that taxation without representation is fundamentally unfair and unAmerican.

We will continue to campaign on this matter, and hold our officials accountable.  Please do the right thing and vote "yes" on the Democracy Restoration Act.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Is Michael Steele Going to Ever Confront the Racist Tea Baggers?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

The Tea Party Protesters might need a little bit of brand management to overcome the growing perception that they represent a racist, homophobic, extremist fringe of disgruntled voters. The most recent incident of very bad PR came this week, as a small group of Tea Party protesters gathered on Capitol Hill and yelled "n*gger" and "f*ggot" at members of Congress as they walked past the crowd. The group has taken heat for the actions of those who don't know how to be cordial in their discourse, and it's not good for the Republican Party.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was put in yet another awkward position, trying to defend that which is not defensible. A man who appears to be disrespected at every turn by his own party, Steel dismissed those using the n-word within the Tea Party group as "idiots out there saying stupid things." Of course, Steele was not in a position to dismiss the Tea Partiers themselves, likely because they would have put him in a pile with the other black people they hate the most.

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