March 31, 2008

NAACP Issues Weak Response to Dunbar Village Protest

Drumbeats from What About Our Daughters blog provide us with a statement from the NAACP in response to the email accountability campaign launched following their joint press conference with Rev. Al Sharpton regarding bail for the suspects in the Dunbar Village rape and torture case.

E-mails misrepresent NAACP's position on Dunbar Village case. A series of viral e-mails circulating the Internet the past several days distort and misrepresent the NAACP's stance on the Dunbar Village gang rape case that began last June in south Florida.

The NAACP does not condone violence against anyone. Any suggestion to the contrary is not credible in light of the Association's long history of opposing violence against all persons.

In fact, it was the West Palm Beach Branch NAACP and area churches, among others, that provided assistance in the relocation of the victims in this horrific and inexplicable criminal matter.

"The NAACP cares deeply that justice be applied equally, without regards to race, but cares just as deeply that guilty parties be held accountable for their actions," said Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida State Conference, NAACP.

The NAACP National Office nor the Florida NAACP have taken any formal position on the case and both believe this situation will benefit from well meaning, interested parties allowing the facts to become further known and letting defense lawyers do their work.

"The lives of the victims in this case are irrevocably altered in the worst way," said NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes. "While we respect the judicial process and implore that equal justice be rendered for all involved, we must also focus on ending the continuing plague of violence in our communities.

"The NAACP and its affiliates will continue to closely monitor the proceedings and details of this case," said West Palm Beach Branch NAACP President Maude Ford Lee, who added, "Earlier reports that my remarks support the heinous acts of the guilty parties could not be further from the truth."

Villagers, there was no misrepresentation. It was quite clear that the Ford/Sharpton press conference called for more lenient bail for the Dunbar Village rapists.

Rev. Sharpton backtracked on his poor judgement in advocating for the Dunbar Village rapists earlier this week. I don't see that Maude Ford Lee or other NAACP leaders at state or national level accepted responsibility for their mistake in advocating for the Dunbar Village rapists. Has Ms. Lee backed away from her foolhardy misadventure? If not, I don't see any reason for Black bloggers and others to continue working to discontinue further funding and volunteer hours for the NAACP.

Perhaps we will learn more later this week when Adora Obi Nweze, NAACP Florida State President joins the Black Women's Roundtable to answer questions. The podcast takes place on Thursday, April 3rd @ 9:00 pm EST.

In the meantime, I'm curious as to your take on the situation. What say u?

March 30, 2008

Sentencing in Megan Williams' Case

Drumbeats from Sudy and WOC PhD reminded villagers of the sentencing decisions in the rape and torture case of Megan Williams. Prosecutors dismissed charges against several defendants which would have carried with them mandatory life sentences in exchange for guilty pleas. They claim such pleas helped them obtain as much as evidence as they could in a case that many actually started to question on the basis of a prior relationship between Williams and one of her attackers, as well as ensuring all seven people were charged.

The two oldest defendants in the case received maximum sentencing for the crimes in which they were charged. Three others received less and two await trial.

Karen Burton, 46, and Frankie Brewster, 49, both pleaded guilty to the crime last month. Burton received two consecutive 2-10 year sentences for assault and assault during the commission of a felony. Brewster received 10-25 years for second degree sexual assault.

Others involved in the case pleaded guilty and were sentenced earlier this year. Alisha Burton, 23, and George Messer, 27, received 10 years each for kidnapping and assault. Linnie Burton, 21, did not plead guilty but was charged with misdemeanor battery.

The final two defendants are still awaiting trial for felony sexual assault and kidnapping charges. Bobby Brewster, 24, instigated the week long torture by luring his ex-girlfriend across state lines and locking her in his mother, Frankie Brewster’s trailer. Both he and Danny Combs, 21, are accused of repeatedly raping and torturing her along with the aid and abuse of the other defendants. They have both denied “wrongdoing.”

March 29, 2008

Damn You Barack Obama!

Much love to Jack and Jill Politics for beating the drums about this slam poet originally broadcast over a year ago!

Can Civil Rights Organizations and Black Bloggers Work Together?

Villagers, we've introduced you to Howard Witt earlier this year. He is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Mr. Witt wrote an article this week about our online activism. Many of you know that this blog joined with two dozen others to protest decision by NAACP West Palm Beach branch president Maude Ford Lee and National Action Network president Al Sharpton to support lower bail for the Dunbar Village rapists.

Rev. Sharpton reversed course on his radio show earlier this week. We still await a response from NAACP's Maude Ford Lee.

Mr. Witt's article accurately notes that Web-based activists are not seeing eye-to-eye with old-guard leadership as it relates to the Dunbar Village torture, terrorism and rape. Click here to read the full article.

What say u? Are you ready to support efforts to stop NAACP support of the Dunbar Village rapists?

March 28, 2008

Hillary Clinton's Former Pastor Defends Jeremiah Wright

Hillary Clinton simply couldn't leave well enough alone. She didn't get engaged in the flap over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermon snippets for over a week ... until she needed to change the subject from her big lie on her Bosnia sniper experience. "You know, we don't have a choice when it comes to our relatives. We have a choice when it comes to our pastors and the churches we attend," she said.

That was a political mistake. She forever lost respect and future support from a wide range of folks. Field Negro's heart was broken. Keith Boykin, former member of the Clinton White House feels that Hillary owes an apology to Obama.

Perhaps the most compelling repudiation comes from Hillary's former pastor, Dean Snyder. Rev. Snyder chastised Hillary and others for demonizing Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Rev. Snyder shared the following statement on his church website:

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an outstanding church leader whom I have heard speak a number of times. He has served for decades as a profound voice for justice and inclusion in our society. He has been a vocal critic of the racism, sexism and homophobia which still tarnish the American dream. To evaluate his dynamic ministry on the basis of two or three sound bites does a grave injustice to Dr. Wright, the members of his congregation, and the African American church which has been the spiritual refuge of a people that has suffered from discrimination, disadvantage, and violence. Dr. Wright, a member of an integrated denomination, has been an agent of racial reconciliation while proclaiming perceptions and truths uncomfortable for some white people to hear.
Those of us who are white Americans would do well to listen carefully to Dr. Wright rather than to use a few of his quotes to polarize. This is a critical time in America's history as we seek to repent of our racism. No matter which candidates prevail, let us use this time to listen again to one another and not to distort one another's truth.

Dean J. Snyder, Senior Minister
Foundry United Methodist Church
March 19, 2008

I guess we know why Dean Snyder is Hillary's former pastor! Do you agree that Hillary Clinton should concede the nomination now? If not now, when do you think it should happen?

March 27, 2008

Stop NAACP Support of Rapists

In the past week, a rapidly-moving viral email campaign was launched, and thousands of concerned Black citizens spread the word about crimes against nature committed in the Dunbar Village complex against a Black woman and her 12 year old son.

This email, entitled “Stop Al Sharpton and the NAACP from endangering Black Women,” described a stunning betrayal in which the NAACP and Al Sharpton held a press conference and demanded bail consideration for three suspects in custody for the crime.

Concerned Black citizens all around the country were outraged by the actions of the NAACP and Al Sharpton, and many vowed to withdraw volunteering and financial support from these agencies “until they make the safety of Black women and children a priority.”

On March 24, 2008 an NAACP memo that attempted to defend this betrayal was sent to Beverly Neal, who is the Director of the NAACP’s Florida State Conference. The memo claims that the NAACP was brought into this fray by Rev. Al Sharpton. Moreover, the memo was written by Maude Ford Lee, who is President of the West Palm Beach Branch of the NAACP.

On March 27, 2008, activist Al Sharpton went on the air to clarify his position on the treatment of the Dunbar Village Suspects. He invited writer Tonyaa Weathersbee and blogger Arlene Fenton to his show, to discuss the matter. Rev. Sharpton claimed that he never said that the Dunbar Village suspects were being treated unfairly, and that he did not want bail for the suspects in question.

Ms Weathersbee and Ms Fenton said that their research indicated otherwise, as indicated by video footage, eyewitness accounts, and the reporting from the Florida Sun Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post.

At the end of the radio show, Al Sharpton strongly condemned any activity that would promote bail consideration for the suspects in question. Rev. Sharpton admitted that “if the suspects were white, he would have been there sooner.” He stated that this is a problem with many Black civil rights organizations. He apologized and vowed to uphold his prior promise to advocate for the residents of Dunbar Village. He also challenged all activists, bloggers, and writers to be accountable to each other.

To date, the NAACP has not made an official statement denouncing the Dunbar Village Atrocity, nor have they officially expressed regret to the victim. The NAACP also has not officially retracted their statement requesting bail consideration for the alleged rapists/torturers. To our understanding, neither agency has contributed to the Victim’s Assistance Fund or created a reward program geared toward the apprehension of the remaining rapists/torturers.

Villagers, WE ARE SATISFIED with Al Sharpton’s qualifying statements that he made on his March 27th radio show. We will watch to see if he fulfills his promise to advocate for the residents of Dunbar Village, and we are willing to assist any effort that promotes safer Black neighborhoods in West Palm Beach, FL.

WE ARE NOT SATISFIED with the reckless, irresponsible actions of the NAACP (West Palm Beach chapter). We continue to urge all Black people, women especially, to refrain from volunteering or giving financially to this organization until they take our safety seriously.


  1. We want law enforcement to make a concerted, sustained effort to apprehend the remaining suspects. We want to see a genuine reward system in place to encourage members of the community to come forward with the knowledge of the whereabouts of the remaining suspects.

  2. We want the NAACP (West Palm Beach chapter) to reverse their position that the alleged rapists/torturers of this case should be considered for bail.
  3. We want both the NAACP and the National Action Network to cease downgrading the gang rape/torture/atrocity of the Dunbar Village by comparing it to an unrelated gang rape, in which guns, maiming, and forced incest were not involved.

  4. We want to see genuine victim advocacy in the form of financial support for the relocation, medical expenses, and mental therapy for the true victims in this case.
The Dunbar Village Victim Assistance Fund

Individuals who would like to donate money to the victims can go to any Wachovia Bank and donate to the St. Ann’s Victim’s Assistance Fund. Donations will go directly to the mother and her son.

St. Ann’s Catholic Church will also accept donations. Checks can be made payable to the "Dunbar Village Victim Assistance Fund - St. Ann’s". Mail your donation to: St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 310 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL 33401

For more information about this Dunbar Village Campaign, you can visit any of the following 24 blogs:

  1. Dunbar Village Blog
  2. A Different Story
  3. Anonymiss Blog
  4. A Political Season
  5. Aunt Jemima's Revenge
  6. Black Fire, White Fire
  7. Black Sapience
  8. Black Women Vote
  9. Character Corner
  10. Electronic Village
  11. Episcopalienne
  12. Essential Presence
  13. Focused Purpose
  14. H-Essays
  15. Never Say Never to Your Traveling Self
  16. Privy Concepts
  17. Ravenelven Lady
  18. Roslyn Holcomb's Blog
  19. The Sowing Circle
  20. Tribute to Black Women
  21. What About Our Daughters
  22. What Tami Said
  23. Yanmommasaid
  24. Something Within

Next step is yours! Do you support this growing effort to Stop NAACP West Palm Beach Chapter's Support of the Dunbar Village rapists? What say u?

March 26, 2008

NAACP's Maude Lee Responds to Online Allegations About Her Support of Dunbar Village Rapists

Maude Lee is the president of the NAACP West Palm Beach Branch. Her NAACP branch is under tremendous pressure for joining with National Action Network to ask for reduced bail on the four Dunbar Village rapists. This decision to support release of these four gang rapists is wrong on so many levels ... not the least of which is the lack of support given by Ms. Lee's NAACP branch for the Black woman and her child victimized by these gang rapists. It should be noted that there is a formal campaign ongoing to discontinue financial contributions and volunteer support to NAACP or NAN as a result of the decision to support these Dunbar Village rapists.

Ms. Lee wrote a letter to explain her actions. Click here to read the letter. Ms. Lee claims that her NAACP branch participation was "... simply to call for fair and just treatment in all phases of the criminal justice system for the Dunbar Village defendants..."

The odd thing is that Ms. Lee claims that the NAACP responded to call from Rev. Sharpton and the folks from the NAN Florida chapter. NAN tells a different story. NAN indicates that they were at the press conference at the request of Ms. Lee and the NAACP WPB branch. It appears that the two organizations are turning on one another as the pressure continues to mount. Personally, I think that Ms. Lee saw the opportunity to get her face and her branch into the limelight by introducing Rev. Al Sharpton to the media and she didn't really care about the content of the press conference.

This is not a 'due process' issue. The four rapists had due process. They each have lawyers. They simply didn't get bail because of the heinous nature of their crime. The fact pattern for these four rapists who terrorized, raped and tortured a Black woman and her child wasn't the same as the five white rapists in Boca Raton. This is not a 'due process' issue. This is a 'poor judgement' issue. Maude Lee (NAACP WPB Branch) and Al Sharpton (NAN) showed incredibly poor judgement. It is costing them goodwill, volunteer hours and donations from the Black community.

You can reach out to Ms. Lee by phone (561) 655-9798 or e-mail if you are so inclined. My suggestion is that Ms. Lee reach out to those of us in the Black community who question her judgement. Sending a letter to her state NAACP leader ain't gonna get it done. What say u?

March 25, 2008

Video: Hillary Clinton Should Concede Now!

Villagers, do you realize that Hillary Clinton has absolutely no chance to win the Democratic nomination? If so, do you accept that the best chance for us to end the 8-years of George Bush policies on the economy and Iraq War is to unify the Democratic Party behind a single candidate as soon as possible?

If you answered yes to either question, then you should sign our online petition requesting that Hillary Clinton concede the nomination in the best interests of her party and our country.

Other steps you can take include:

  1. Did you sign the petition, yet? (smile)

  2. Call the Democratic National Committee on (202) 863-8000 to express your opinion.

  3. Contact the Democratic National Committee with a link to the petition to let them know your position on this matter.

  4. Contact superdelegates that have not committed
  5. Contact Hillary Clinton directly with a request for her to concede the nomination in the interests of party unity and our nation's future.

The next step is yours! What say u?

Witness Says Taser-Cop Lied About Darryl Turner

Villagers, a witness from the Food Lion store gives a very different account than police. The attorney for the family claims that he has a witness who says 17-year old Darryl Turner did not threaten the officer before being killed by 50,000 volts from the officer's taser gun. A statement from the witness reads, "The officer told Darryl to ‘step back!’" The witness said Turner simply obeyed the officer's command to step back and was then hit with the Taser. He later died. [SOURCE]

The police are working overtime to find justification for this taser killing ... going so far as to say that the young man suffered from 'Excited Delirium Syndrome'. Personally, I never heard of this syndrome before this week, although I see others were hip to it earlier. Imagine my surprise to learn that there is a blog devoted to this syndrome!

What do you think about these recent taser deaths?

This Week in BDPA (Mar 25-31)

I provide executive leadership services to one of my clients, BDPA Education & Technology Foundation. This foundation seeks to support programs and services that advance the careers of African Americans in the information technology industry from the 'classroom to the boardroom'. Here is a weekly preview of upcoming events gathered from the BDPA CollectiveX Calendar and elsewhere:
I encourage villagers to take advantage of these upcoming events if they are in your area! I'm looking forward to meeting with any villagers that will be in New Jersey while I'm there later this week. If you like what you are seeing ... please consider making an online donation to the BDPA Foundation so that we can continue to fund these events in the future.

March 24, 2008

Taser Death: James Garland (Florida)

Another Black man died as the result of being attacked by a policeman welding a taser gun. This time it occurred in South Florida when 41-year old was spotted naked wandering through traffic waving his shirt. Cops are supposed to apply the 'use of force continuum' when they want to subdue someone. The taser should only be used if earlier levels of force are not successful.

Anyhow, these officers pulled out their taser and zapped Mr. Garland so that they could take him into custody. It blows my mind that the police are afraid to deal with a naked man waving a shirt. No weapon. No knife. No gun. It was a SHIRT for goodness sake.

They took him in a marked patrol car to a local hospital where he died. Another death by taser. Since when does strolling through the street buck-naked equal the death penalty in America?

The other common occurance is that the media, at the urging of law enforcement officials, always want to ensure we know about the criminal record of the person that they taser to death. In this case, we learn that Mr. Garland was a registered sex offender with 10 arrests over the past six years, mostly for cocaine-related charges.

Villagers, let's stipulate that James Garland was an irresponsible person with some serious problems. Even if that is the case ... did he deserve to die last week at the hands of a taser-happy policeman?

Taser Death: Darryl Turner (North Carolina)

UPDATE: Cops say his death might be 'Excited Delirium'. WTF?

Drumbeats from Pam's House Blend gave us the sad news about a 17-year old tasered-to-death by Charlotte police for shoplifting his lunch from local grocery store. Turner had worked as a cashier and bagged groceries at the Food Lion at 3024 Prosperity Church Road, where the incident happened.

His mother, Tammy Fontenot, indicates that Turner graduated from Crossroads Charter High School last year. He had wanted to go to Central Piedmont Community College and be a personal trainer. He didn't have any health problems and had never been in trouble, she said.

Around lunchtime on Mar 20, Turner had come home to eat and told his mom that he had stolen a couple of Hot Pockets from the store. A supervisor planned to get a district manager involved and he feared disciplinary action, she said.

She said she told him to go back to the store and face up to what happened. A few hours later she was informed that her son was dead.

Villagers, since when do our young people get the death penalty for shoplifting? What were the police thinking? It is hard for me to understand how the force continuum calls for using a taser on a young man without a weapon (...believe me, if he had a weapon, we would know about it!).

Tasers may have a place in law enforcement, however, it is becoming evident that law enforcement officers in Charlotte and elsewhere need better training on how to use the dayum things. What say u?

Kwame Kilpatrick Indicted; He Should Resign

I was very pleased to bring a national convention to Detroit in 2005. We tried unsuccessfully to get Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to drop by and participate in the event. We thought he would be a great role model for the young people and IT professionals at the event. I guess it was a good thing that he didn't get featured at the conference. Today, I watched Kilpatrick, a one-time rising star and Detroit's youngest elected leader, get charged with perjury and other counts after sexually explicit text messages surfaced that appear to contradict his sworn denials of an affair with a top aide.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy also charged the popular yet polarizing 37-year-old mayor with obstruction of justice and misconduct in office. Former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, 37, who also denied under oath that she and Kilpatrick shared a romantic relationship in 2002 and 2003, was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

"This case was about as far from being a private matter as one can get. Honesty and integrity in the justice system is everything. That is what this case is about," Worthy said at a news conference. "Just when did honesty and integrity, truth and honor become traits to be mocked, downplayed, ignored, laughed at or excuses made for them? When did telling the truth become a supporting player to everything else?"

Kym Worthy has been in the national spotlight before from a police beat-down given to citizen named Malice Green shortly after the Rodney King riots.

A perjury conviction could bring up to 15 years' imprisonment and force Kilpatrick to relinquish the mayor's office. It appears he won't be giving up the office without a conviction. No Spitzer-like resignation from Kilpatrick ... which is too bad for the city of Detroit. I lived in Detroit for 8 years and my eldest daughter still lives there. As such, I think that Kilpatrick should resign in the best interests of the city and its citizens.

Sheesh, didn't any politician learn from Bill Clinton? His issues didn't come from putting stains on Monica's dress ... they came when he lied about it afterwards. Mayor Kwame, was it worth it?

Manic Monday: Egg

Morgan selected egg as the Manic Monday meme word this week. Of course, I imagine most folks are going with the traditional tie-in of Easter eggs. I imagine someone will tell us the origin of Easter egg hunts and that big bunny rabbit. Seems out of step with the whole crucifixion and resurrection storyline from the Bible. Anyhow, I'm going in a different direction. Did you know that there are a shortage of African American egg donors?

Not the Easter egg variety ... more like the fertility vs. infertility variety. At many donor egg agencies, infertile couples looking for African American egg donors are often encouraged to place themselves on waiting lists and to sign up at more than one egg donor program. The emotional challenge of dealing with infertility must be rough from the start ... so the dearth of African American egg donors must truly try the patience of aspiring African American parents in need of this service.

Turns out that there is a company called F. Williams Donor Egg Services that specializes in African American egg donors. I'm told that they have over 30 smart, attractive donors in their database. This company helps Black couples find racially diverse egg donors so that they might end up with a baby in their arms. And, after all ... as those of us that are parents can attest ... the joy of having children is worth any investment of time or money.

Finally, since I know how some villagers are curious --> click here to learn how you can become an egg donor!

March 23, 2008

NAACP Supports Dunbar Village Rapists

Kudos to What About Our Daughters for creating this video. The next step is ours. Have you contacted your local branch of the NAACP to ask them about the support being given to these Dunbar Village rapists? If we cannot protect the Black women and children in our own community ... what good are we?

Jamiel Shaw's Killer Might Be Illegal Alien

I was very disappointed to learn that the suspected street gang member charged in the shooting death of a high school football star, may have been in the country illegally [SOURCE]. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials will detain and investigate Pedro Espinoza, 19, for possible deportation once his current murder charge has run its course. It turns out that Espinoza was released from jail in an assault case the day before the March 2 killing of 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr., a standout running back at Los Angeles High School.

Espinoza, a suspected member of a street gang called 18th Street, was charged last week with a single murder count with a special-circumstance allegation that could make him eligible for the death penalty. Police are looking for a second suspect.

The way that leaders of the African American and Latino communities deal with this issue of gangs, murder and illegal immigration could set the tone for Black-Brown political relationships for many years to come. Is there anywhere in our country where our two communities are operating in harmony? Is there any hope to find a solution for illegal immigration that we can support nationwide? What say u?

March 22, 2008

Is It Time for 'Clinton Myth' to End?

The Afrosphere Action Coalition announced that Tuesday, March 25, 2008 would be a Day of Blogging for Voter Justice. agrees with us as evidenced by their recent post on 'The Clinton Myth' where they wrote,

One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.

Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party's most reliable constituency.

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote -- which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle -- and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

Click here to see the rest of 'The Clinton Myth'

Do you agree that it is time to unify the Democratic Party? If so, we ask that you sign our online petition. If you are a blogger, we ask you to identify yourself with the AAC so we can provide link to your blog on Tuesday.

It appears that Daily Kos sees the writing on the wall as well. What say u?

Pat Buchanan Asks Black America: 'Where is the Gratitude?'

UPDATE: Eddie Griffin provides a great response to Pat Buchanan. Check it out!

A villager recently wondered what the conversation about race looks like when only white people are talking about it. Pat Buchanan decided to let us peek behind the curtain in his column entitled, 'A Brief for Whitey'. Buchanan's response to Barack Obama's historic speech on race: "We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?"

Discussing Sen. Barack Obama's speech addressing race and controversial comments by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, Pat Buchanan wrote in his syndicated column: "Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American." Buchanan then asserted that "no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans,"

Buchanan asserts, "America has been the best country on earth for Black folks. It was here that 600,000 Black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity Blacks have ever known." Buchanan continued, "Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American." Buchanan then asserted that "no people anywhere has done more to lift up Blacks than white Americans."

Buchanan lets us know how right-wing white folks feel about race relations. There doesn't appear any room for an open discussion. Rather, Buchanan informs us that " people anywhere has done more to lift up Blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the '60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African American community into the mainstream. Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks - with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas -- to advance black applicants over white applicants. Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks".

You think that I'm lying about Pat Buchanan's representation of the white response to Barack Obama's speech? Click here to see the full Buchanan column.

We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?

I guess this is where African Americans are supposed to bow our heads, get down on both knees and say 'Thank you Mr. Charlie ... Thank you sir for all the good things you done did for our peoples'. Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that Patrick Buchanan and his supporters would just assume see Black folks back in chains?

As for presidential politics, I wonder if this is what John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton think about race relations as well? Maybe that is why Team Clinton continues on in the race. Hillary and Bill must not feel the gratitude from Barack Obama for just being allowed to live in America in the first place.

Pat Buchanan appears to be pulling out every racist stereotype about African Americans that were ever uttered as part of the thesis in his column. But, perhaps I'm over-reacting. What is your take on Pat Buchanan's race relations column?

Do You Still Believe in Iraq War?

Sometime in the next few days the 4,000th American casualty in the Iraq War will take place. The official name of the conflict is 'Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.'.

Is there anyone who still believes that the United States should be engaged in this war? Is there anyone who wants to follow Bush/Cheney/McCain into another 100 years in this war?

We have not talked very much in our village about the Iraq War, however, I am very interested in what you think about it as we enter into the 6th year of the battle. What say u?

Did US Government Plant AIDS Virus in Black Community?

Have you heard commentators on television acting as if it was outrageous for Rev. Jeremiah Wright to insinuate that the U.S. Government planted AIDS in the Black community?

Perhaps Joe Scarbourgh, Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan can take a moment to remember that the U.S. Government conducted an experiment on 399 Black men in the late stages of syphilis from 1932 thru 1972. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for “bad blood,” their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all.

The data for the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis—which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death.

Perhaps we can bridge the chasm that is race relations in our country if we are willing to look deeper than the Fox News sound bite? Some 'urban legends' are based in fact.

Chris Wallace Points Out Bigotry at Fox News

Drumbeats from Pam's House Blend directed us to this video clip of Chris Wallace calling out the biased reporting on Barack Obama by the folks at Fox and Friends. Props to Chris Wallace for being an honest journalist.

March 21, 2008

Bill Richardson Endorses Barack Obama

One of the highest-ranked Hispanic politicians in the nation just endorsed Barack Obama. Bill Richardson, former presidential candidate and current governor of New Mexico had tremendous foriegn policy chops. He also was appointed twice by Bill Clinton to cabinet-level posts. Much of Richardson's political success is due to Team Clinton. Bill watched the Super Bowl earlier this year at Richardson's house. With all of that inside knowledge about Team Clinton ... Richardson chose to endorse Barack Obama.

Check out the enthusiastic endorsement he gave Obama earlier today:

It is good to see positive news coming from the Obama campaign again after such a negative few weeks. Obama needs to send Richardson directly after the 40 Hispanic super-delegates that are undeclared at this moment. I suspect that Richardson hopes to be considered for either Secretary of State or Vice President in Obama administration.

Heck, look again at that picture of Bill Clinton watching the Super Bowl. You can almost tell from Clinton's body language that he knew that he wasn't going to win Richardson's endorsement!

What is your take on this Richardson endorsement? Can endorsements from Al Gore, Joe Biden or John Edwards be far behind?

What Kind of Prophet? * United Church of Christ Response to Jeremiah Wright Issue

Rev. Jeremiah Wright recently retired from Trinity United Church of Christ after 36 years of pastoral service. However, in the past few weeks he has been demonized by a few snippets from his past sermons.

Rev. John Thomas is the general minister and president for the United Church of Christ. Rev. Thomas shared his reflections on the rhetoric of preaching in light of recent news coverage.

Click here to see the sermon entitled, 'What Kind of Prophet?'

I'm interested in your thoughts on Rev. Thomas' sermon. I'm also curious as to whether you think that the negative impact of Rev. Wright on Obama's presidential campaign bottomed out this week ... or if Rev. Wright will be an albatross around Obama's neck throughout the campaign?

Shawn Williams is an AfroSpear blogger who noted that Black pastors often speak truth to power. What say u?

Old School Friday: Tonight's The Night

I wonder how many villagers remember their first time? Betty Wright lays out the nervous energy that many had that first time. She tells the story from a sister's point of view, however, I think that the emotions flow on both sides of the gender aisle. Anyhow, enjoy the flow of this powerful soul music...

1,000th Blog Joins Villager's Black Blog Rankings

We have a new tradition of highlighting every 100th blog added to the Villager's Black Blog Rankings (BBR). The tradition began with the 800th and 900th blogs added to the BBR. Today, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Renita Weems' Something Within is the 1,000th blog to be added to the BBR. Something Within (BBR #358) is a blog that "thinking women of faith" use to engage in conversations about faith, love, values, and inner wisdom, and other topics of interest.

Dr. Weems is a nationally-renowned theologian and an ordained elder in the African Methodist Church whose scholarly insights into modern faith, biblical texts, and the role of spirituality in everyday lives have made her a much sought after author and speaker. She is founder of Something Within, a consulting service providing guidance for women of faith interested in connecting with their inner wisdom as well as interested in balancing faith and work, and their values with their vocation.

I found her blog as a result of the weekly blog campaign started by SheCodes in opposition to Al Sharpton and the NAACP West Palm Beach Branch for their support of Dunbar Village rapists. I imagine that some villagers know Dr. Weems from her books on women's spirituality and wholeness such as Just A Sister Away, I Asked for Intimacy, Showing Mary: How Women Can Share Prayers, Wisdom, and the Blessings of God and What Matters Most: Ten Passionate Lessons from the Song of Solomon.

Dr. Weems lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and daughter. I wonder if the good Reverend Doctor has ever visited the Electronic Village? Perhaps this post will bring her village voice to our blog!

Al Sharpton and NAACP Are Wrong in Dunbar Village Gang-Rape Case

Important nubian women in my life, such as my former wife, my mom and my sisters often tell me that I have a 'hard head'. Usually, this is a result of me being slow on the uptake for an issue that they see clearly from the start. The impact of the Dunbar Village gang-rape may be yet another example of me ... and perhaps other brothers ... having a 'hard head'.

You see, the issues surrounding the Dunbar Village gang-rape that occurred last year continue to burn hot in our community ... especially with Black women. Many Black women look at the way that the Dunbar Village situation has been handled as an example of the way Black women are treated in too many situations from Corporate America to our neighborhoods.

Villagers remember the horrific story of ten youths that forced their way into a Black woman's home in Dunbar Village housing complex down in Florida. For several hours,they not only gang-raped her repeatedly and viciously beat her young son, but they forced her to have sex with her own child. The teenage boys then placed the two of them in a bathtub and poured nail polish remover in her son's eyes, blinding him for a period of time. They attempted to set them on fire, but couldn't find a match. So instead, they violated them with ammonia and threatened to kill her family if she told anyone.

Only four of the suspects have been apprehended, there are six others on the loose. There is conclusive DNA evidence on at least one of the boys. There is no manhunt for the rest of the criminals, they are running around loose as you read this.

In November 2007, Al Sharpton showed that he had a 'hard head' about this case as well. He was called on the carpet by a number of people concerned that he was not supporting the young woman and her son who had been victimized in this case. In fact, I went so far as to call Al Sharpton a 'punk' last month on this blog.

Fast forward to today. It seems that the NAACP and Al Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) both refused to help this woman because it was 'outside the scope of their mission' ... however, both groups found time to send lawyers down to Florida IN SUPPORT OF THE RAPISTS. The lawyers are claiming that it is 'unfair' to not offer bail to these four rapists.

Barack Obama spoke on the rage that exists in Black America when it comes to race relations. That rage burns especially strong when sexual crimes are committed against Black women and children ... even if the criminals involved are Black!

I encourage all like-minded villagers to join in collective action against the NAACP and Al Sharpton's NAN as a result of their misguided criminal advocacy in the Dunbar Village case. Perhaps it is time for right-thinking villagers to stop fueling the NAACP and NAN with our money and our volunteer activism until they stop trying to hinder the successful prosecution of this heinous crime down in Dunbar Village.

Perhaps it is time to ensure that the safety of Black women and children are non-negotiable. Here are some specific steps you can take:

  1. Share this post with others so they might have their conscience and concern raised as yours as been today.
  2. Demand an explanation from your local NAACP and NAN chapter about the Dunbar Village case.
  3. Cancel your membership to these organizations
  4. Write a letter explaining that you will return when they prioritize the public safety needs of Black women and children.
  5. Stop donating your time or money to these organizations; instead invest in other organizations that take the lives of Black women and children seriously.

Even if you do not belong to these organizations, call or write them to express your displeasure:

NAACP National Headquarters
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore MD 21215
(410) 580-5777

National Action Network
Rev. Al Sharpton
106 W. 145th Street
Harlem, New York 10039
(212) 690-3070

You can obtain more information about the direct action against NAACP and NAN from the Dunbar Village blog (BBR #494).

I am interested to hear your take on the Dunbar Village case. Is there any excuse for what Al Sharpton and the NAACP West Palm Beach Branch president are doing in this case as they defend the young rapists? Are you willing to take direct action yourself to protect our Black woman and children? Will you share this information with others in your personal network?

March 20, 2008

Tell Bush to Sign the Second Chance Act

Last week, following an overwhelming vote in the House, the Senate unanimously passed the Second Chance Act, designed to allow states and local communities to help former offenders re-enter society and become productive members of their communities.

In the next few weeks, the Second Chance Act will land on President Bush's desk. I encourage all Villagers to urge the President to sign this much-needed legislation into law. The NAACP makes it easy to tell President Bush to sign the Second Chance Act.

Every day more than 1,700 men and women leave prison and re-enter their communities, many of them are untrained, face serious substance abuse or mental health issues, and are homeless. It is because of these circumstances that more that 2/3 are arrested for a felony or a serious misdemeanor again within 3 years.

Recidivism is costly to everyone, from crime victims and communities, to taxpayers. In the last twenty years, the cost of corrections has increased by almost 700%. Providing new opportunities is a good investment in our communities, as well as the men and women who served their time in prison.

The Second Chance Act, sponsored by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), provides federal assistance for states and communities to establish re-entry programs that focus on job training, housing, substance abuse and mental health issues.

Do you agree that this is good legislation that should be signed into law by President Bush?

March 19, 2008

Found: Georgia Man and Three Toddlers

Drumbeats from Deidra saddened us today. She informed us that a Georgia father who kidnapped his three children earlier this month killed himself and the toddlers.
The bodies were found in a rural industrial park area outside Columbus, Ga., where the family lived. [SOURCE]

I hope that there is a special place in hell for that cowardly excuse for a man.

The Power of Blogs Beyond 2008

One of the benefits of the Villager's Black Blog Rankings is that we have a chance to identify role models in the afrosphere that can educate and inspire us to do better on our own blogs. One such role model is Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blends. As such, it interested me to hear her speak on the impact of bloggers in today's politics. Take 90 seconds to listen to her response to an interview question in the video below:

The interview was one of many completed during the Taking Back America conference focused on the question of what happens to bloggers after the 2008 election cycle is over ... how will we fare in next year (2009)? Personally, I continue to look for ways to improve this blog. I have not done enough to monetize my blog ... but, that is because I have not done enough to create a compelling reason for readers to visit the Electronic Village in larger and larger numbers. That is my challenge in the coming days and weeks.

Anyhow, I'm interested in what you think of Pam's comments on the future of the blogosphere?

March 18, 2008

What Did You Think About Obama's Speech

Villagers, did you listen to the speech? If not, did you read the transcripts of the speech given today by Barack Obama?

I listened to it and was struck by three things.

  1. Pastor Wright - He addressed in a honest and candid manner this situation. He denounced the outlandish snippets of sermons that have offended many Americans of all colors. At the same time Obama clearly shared the reasons that he won't disown Pastor Wright. I thought he effectively shared the complex world we live where many of us say things privately or in a barbershop that we wouldn't say in polite company. However, even when our parents, grandparents or pastor say things that make us cringe ... we can't disown them.

  2. Race Relations in America - He gave a point-by-point history of race relations in our country. He challenged us to work towards solving big problems together ... in unity ... rather than continue to be played against each other based on our fears, our anger, our frustrations or our resentments. He talked to us from the perspective of Blacks in America, whites in America and immigrants in America. He gave us the opportunity to rise above our fears and our divisions to create 'a more perfect union'.

  3. Obama Campaign - He laid it on the line for us in both the Democratic nomination process (vs. Hillary Clinton) and the general campaign (vs. John McCain). He gave us a choice of reacting to this moment in time with the same ol'-same ol' ... letting race-baiting and fears cause us to go back in our corners and react in the same, predictable manner * OR * consider the hope and promise of an Obama presidency and what it could mean for creating a new paradigm for race relations and for solving the big problems of health care, economy, jobs and the war. Do we want more of the same? Or do we have the audacity of hope for a new country and a new politics in the 21st century?

This is my initial take on the speech. You can find other analysis here, here, here and here. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share your village voice. Respond to comments that you see and give voice to your thoughts. What say u?

Transcript: Obama's Speech on Race Relations

The following is a transcript of the prepared remarks of Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, delivered on Tuesday, March 18, 2008, in Philadelphia at the Constitution Center. The speech is titled "A More Perfect Union." In it, Obama addresses the role race has played in the presidential campaign. He also responds to criticism of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an unpaid campaign adviser and pastor at Obama's Chicago church. Wright has made inflammatory remarks about the United States and has accused the country of bringing on the Sept. 11 attacks by spreading terrorism.

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild."

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.