- Created on 05 June 2013
The aphorism, “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” is especially relevant to the conversations being held among Black people vis-à-vis our president and our lack of economic progress in this country. The “friend in need” is the collective of African Americans who overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama but find ourselves even worse off economically, as Ben Jealous pointed out a few weeks ago, than we were prior to our “friend” being elected to the highest office in the land.
If you listen to the Carl Nelson Radio Show (1450 AM, WOL in Washington, D.C. and woldcnews.com), and you should definitely listen, you have heard conversations regarding whether Black people should critique the president’s actions, or the lack thereof, when it comes to specific Black issues. Nelson’s show is one of the best on radio and the Internet, with very intelligent callers and astute guests who are engaged in action-oriented solutions to the problems we face in this nation. The callers’ comments are riveting, passionate, and intellectually stimulating. They deal with substantive and relevant issues that affect us politically, economically, educationally, and socially, which is probably why so much is being said about our president.
On the question of whether President Obama is doing enough for Black people, there are two opposing sides. But more important is Nelson’s open forum through which both sides can be heard. Recent callers discussed the economic state of Black Americans juxtaposed against the backdrop of having a Black president. One caller noted that we are too sensitive about critiquing Barack Obama, specifically on what he is not doing for Black people and what he says to us as opposed to his statements to other groups. The brother pointed out that we must be willing to engage our “friend,” the president and, in fact, we have an obligation to do so.
The caller ended with a statement related to what I have written about for a while now regarding our involvement in the political game. He said Black people are too emotional about politics, especially now that a Black man is in the White House. Our emotions cause reluctance and even fear of saying anything negative or critical about the words and actions of Barack Obama. And the caller was right on point.
Blacks are the “friend” in the most need, and we are looking for our “friend” in the White House to help fulfill some of our needs. When some Black people ask, “Is he a friend indeed?” others get uneasy and uncomfortable. What sense does it make for Black people to celebrate the rise of a Black man to the presidency yet receive little or nothing from that presidency, especially when Black votes played a significant role in making it happen? The answer is “none.” But, our emotional involvement in politics keeps us from doing what other groups have always done: advocate for ourselves, especially now that we have our “friend” at the top.
Do Black people have a friend indeed in Barack Obama? As far back as 2004, when I first wrote about then Illinois State Senator, Barack Obama, I warned us to be careful how we dealt with what was becoming a movement to draft Obama as a candidate for president of the United States. Here’s an excerpt from that article, just in case you missed it.
“Barack Obama, the new fair-haired child, has recently been crowned as the probable first Black President. But Obama may turn out to be the Tiger Woods of politics. Some say Obama ‘transcends race’ because he is not the ‘stereotypical Black man.’ One commentator said, ‘…he is not black in the usual way.’ What in the world does that mean? Does it mean that he is light-skinned and doesn’t seem too threatening? Obama is certainly an excellent candidate, but let’s not fall for the game, brothers and sisters. If he is deemed ‘safe’ then what label will be put on the rest of our Black politicians? Besides, even Obama will not set us free. That’s our job.”
Having written several other articles on the implications of having our first Black president, I am even more convinced that I was accurate in my assessment of how we Black people would react to it. In all my years of working, studying, teaching, speaking, advocating, and writing this column, I have come to know some very basic truisms, one of which is that Black folks must be our own best friends, especially when we are in need. It is dangerously naïve and just plain stupid to place our “hope” solely in a politician, as Jeremiah Wright observed in 2008.
We must move beyond our discussions of whether Barack Obama is a real friend or a symbolic figurehead from whom we can only derive emotional comfort. We had better change our conversations and start dealing with the realization that we are on our own, and we must act in accordance with that reality.
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 Web site, blackonomics.com.
- Created on 04 June 2013
I read the speech. I read it carefully. Again, an excellent speech; as a result, you have to read it closely to see what it is actually saying and what it is not saying.
The Obama administration is saying that the formal war against terrorism will come to an end…eventually. It is saying that the war was justified. It is also saying that the war against Iraq was misplaced, a point that the administration has been saying for a while.
Yet it is also saying that the U.S.A. went to war with a network. Let’s be clear that Al Qaeda is a very loose international network of terrorists. Are they deadly? Of course, but so is the Mafia. The notion of going to war with a network has always been problematic, particularly when that war justified targeted assassinations, bombings and invasions of various countries. It also became problematic when there was such a loose definition as to what constituted terrorism and, therefore, who actually is a terrorist and who supports terrorism.
This goes to a point that the president did not cover. The “war against terrorism” was never clearly defined as a war against Al Qaeda, though most people thought that that was the essence of it. Under the rubric of “terrorism,” all sorts of organizations were grouped, including groups that are engaged in military insurgencies but not terrorism, such as the Communist Party of the Philippines and their military wing, the New People’s Army. Also included in that list of terrorists has now been former Black Panther, Assata Shakur.
In other words, the war against terrorism has been used as a means of targeting a wide spectrum of individuals and organizations that have crossed paths with the U.S., irrespective of whether they have ever engaged in the targeted killings of civilians in order to advance a political agenda.
The president never renounced this.
The Obama administration felt compelled to speak out on its approach towards combating terrorism in part because of the growing storm around drone attacks. As I have said previously, drones are a weapon but the attacks could just as easily be happening as a result of piloted aircraft or snipers. The issues that this—and the former Bush administration—keep side-stepping have included the sovereignty of other countries; the failure to actually apprehend alleged terrorists and instead rely on targeted assassinations during which civilians have frequently been killed; and the question of whether targeted assassinations can be used within the borders of the U.S.
Like many people, I would like to believe that a new day is upon us. I would not hold my breath. This administration has been very hawkish on certain key international matters, including targeted assassinations. The long-term consequences of such hawkishness will probably be additional “blow back,” that is, actions taken against people in the U.S. as retribution.
We in the U.S.A. must speak up and demand clear and alternative policy rather than eloquent speeches. It will also necessitate that we stop cowering every time we hear the “T” word—terrorism.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Follow him on Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com.
- Created on 03 June 2013
(CNN) -- All day long, Lucia looked forward to her favorite weekday ritual: putting the kids to bed, changing her clothes, and pouring herself a generous glass of Pinot Noir. "My friends and I joke that motherhood 'drives us to drink,' but sometimes it really does for me," she said.
"I feel like I need it to unwind," she said. Most nights she had three or four glasses, though never, she insisted, more than that. "And on nights that I don't have it," she said, "I really wish that I did."
For a long time, Lucia saw nothing wrong with her drinking. It didn't interfere with her parenting, or her relationships. She got done what she needed to get done. But lately, Lucia had been starting to wonder about her daily habit -- looking as forward to it as she did, and the anxiety that consumed her when she could not have it left her feeling unsettled.
Part of her concern related to a history of alcoholism in her family. "My father was an alcoholic, and I always have in the back of my head this idea that I could become one, too; it's in my genes," she said.
Although men have historically been heavier drinkers than women, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the gender gap is shrinking, and fast.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more American women are drinking more heavily than ever before: one in eight women binge drink -- defined as six drinks or more in one sitting -- about three times a month.
A forthcoming study in the October 2013 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that college-aged women are drinking more often than their male counterparts, confirming a January 2013 study of college students in Spain found female students were more likely to binge drink than male students.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that arrests for women driving while drunk are on the rise, by about 30% from 1998 to 2007. And according to the CDC, white, college-educated woman ages 18 to 24 with $75,000 or more annual household income were more likely to binge drink than women of other races, ages, and socioeconomic categories.
Part of this rise in alcohol consumption may have something to do with young people staying single longer; presumably women are out socializing more often than women their age were likely to do 20 years ago.
They're also working more, and drinking is often part of the job in male-dominated industries, like banking and tech. A study that appeared in the December 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, which tracked alcohol consumption in those born after World War II, suggested that the move toward gender equality may correlate with higher drinking rates. This suggests that more women have the opportunity, and the pressure, to socialize for work and "drink like men."
After all, although the three-martini lunch is a "Mad Men"-era relic, alcohol undoubtedly still plays a key role in many work functions. Entertaining clients is one way colleagues compete, while after-work socializing is an ever-important part of the professional culture. Many who don't participate in the interoffice networking often feel left out of the group, or even suffer professionally.
And yet women with careers aren't the only ones getting a bigger buzz than ever before. A University of Cincinnati study found that, surprisingly, married women actually drink slightly more than their single counterparts.
Sarah, a stay-at-home mother, began to drink more frequently after having her third child. She was often drinking alone, because her husband traveled a lot for work. "My social life is just so restricted; I'm home every night," she said. "I used to have an active social life. Now, most of my evenings are about feeding kids, cleaning kids, putting them to bed -- and then collapsing in front of the TV." Sometimes, she said, having a drink was a way to remember some of the excitement of her old life. Other times, it was just something to do.
Sarah certainly isn't unique and, in fact, there's been a movement toward a certain acceptance -- in some cases even glorification -- of mothers who drink. Popular Facebook groups like "Moms Who Need Wine" and "OMG I So Need a Glass of Wine or I'm Going to Sell My Kids" have tens of thousands of fans, inspiring one winemaker to create a label of wine especially for stressed-out moms. "Put your kids to bed," the label for MommyJuice Wines reads, "and have a glass of Mommy Juice."
Though meant, as a concept, to relieve mothers of the pressure to be perfect, the promotion, even half-seriously, of alcohol as an escape, something deserved as a reward for a long day of parenting, has helped make evident the biggest issue of all: That many women don't realize what problem drinking looks, or feels, like.
Like Lucia, many problem drinkers will never find themselves hitting "rock bottom" or facing any sort of trouble. Instead, they may experience far more prosaic effects, which prevent them, and their family and friends, from recognizing their over-consumption. A recent UK study of more than 22,000 people published in the European Journal of Public Health found that the average woman underreports her weekly drinking by 60%, and that up to 80% of women exceed the recommended daily intake.
Are they alcoholics? It's hard to say. But if you believe that alcoholism is defined by a preoccupation with drinking, a steady increase in the amount you need to drink in order to get the same effect, and an inability to give it up -- and most in the medical profession do -- then more and more women fit the profile quite nicely, though often come to the realization on their own.
"My husband only ever commented on the number of bottles in the recycling," said Lucia, who eventually quit drinking altogether. "He'd be like, 'You drank all that? But you weren't drunk at all!' Except, looking back, I sort of was."Editor's note: Peggy Drexler is the author of "Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family" and "Raising Boys Without Men." She is an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. Join her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @drpeggydrexler.
The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Peggy Drexler.
- Created on 04 June 2013
We have these programs from the blood, sweat and tears of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other giants of the Civil Rights Movement.
They saw the vision of having a new and improved civil rights act. They envisioned one that would be more comprehensive than the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and 1957. They demanded and bargained until President Lyndon Baines Johnson capitulated. President Johnson had to convince many Democratic senators to go along with this. He would refer to it as “The Nigger Bill” when encouraging the southern Democrats. Thus, was the birth of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Finally, Blacks (on paper) became full-fledged American citizens.
There was even a business component to it. Title VI of this act says that the federal government and anyone receiving federal funding or benefitting from the federal government or being regulated by the federal government must not discriminate in their business practices. By the late 1970s, the implementation of this law began. All levels of government (federal, state, county and local) had to show formal programs in their procurement activity. Most major corporations do some kind of business with the federal government and they, too, must comply. This gave birth to the Minority Supplier Development Council, which shows the federal government that its members have a program. It also gave birth to the Minority Business Development Agency. Nonprofits benefit from the IRS code and have to have a program if they have a procurement program.
By the mid-1980s, every state, large city, all agencies of the federal government and most major corporations had a formal program. At first, these programs would count the amount of business they were doing with Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. These groups received the collective name of “Minorities.” The early years would show the federal government doing about 4 percent with Black business and less with each of the other groups. Resistance from White business groups started to emerge. The adversaries came up with a strategy: Put as many groups into these programs to dilute the potential for Black-owned firms. By 1987, White women-owned businesses entered into the federal programs. Then came veterans, disabled veterans, people with disabilities and Alaska Native Corporations. Of late, HUB Zone firms (based in historically under -utilized businesses). This had a very harmful effect on the development of Black business. Today, Blacks do no more than 1.5 percent with the federal government and 2 percent with major corporations. Some cities do less than that with a rare exception such as Atlanta, Houston and a few others.
Even though our numbers were low, White business representatives started suing cities and state for “reverse discrimination.” Finally, the US Supreme Court stepped in via the Croson decision which applied to municipalities and the Adarand decision which covered states. Many thought this would be the end of development programs. Quite the contrary, these decisions explained how to do the programs properly.
Per the Supreme Court, it must be shown the level of discrimination for each group. These disparity studies tract the disparate impact, if any, for each group. Based on the study, goals are established for the discriminated group. Often these studies will show no disparity with women, Native Americans and sometimes with Hispanics and Asians. I have yet to find a bona-fide disparity study that shows no discrimination for Blacks. These studies are to be updated every five years. Disparity studies are good things and court proof. If your city, county, state has no study done, they are not in compliance with the law – Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Don’t tolerate this!
Many state-run universities think they are exempt from this. They are nonprofit and under the supervision of the applicable state government. They must comply and either do their own disparity study or follow the state’s study. They should be challenged.
San Diego did a solid study but were still sued by the Associated General Contractors of California. The suit had no standing as San Diego’s process was correct and White contractors could prove no real damage. There are numerous lawsuits from time to time but if the entity has its program justified by a disparity study it will win – every time.
The problem we have is that there is no real enforcement of Title VI. Many will put the program in place but will not aggressively end the discrimination. Elected officials won’t hold the procurement offices accountable. They must hold their feet to the fire. Finally, the only way these programs are going to work is if we, the people, get involved. Stop settling on mediocrity and end any proven discrimination. The person responsible for Title VI enforcement is the U.S. Attorney General. Don’t hold your breath, get involved! Dr. King did not die for us to ignore this opportunity.
- Created on 02 June 2013
Cheerios released an ad earlier this week of an interracial family. While many viewed the ad as a progressive step forward in the advertising world, racists took to Reddit lambasting the move.
The ad caused such a stir on YouTube that comments had to be disabled. As of this Sunday morning, the video had been viewed over 1,283,977 times with 1...