July 31, 2009

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: Hollywood Guns

(Th)ink is an editorial cartoon written and drawn
by cartoonist Keith Knight (the K Chronicles).

Old School Friday: Reasons (EWF) or Always and Forever (Heatwave)

The theme for this week's Old School Friday meme is 'My First Date or My First Love Song'.

I went to Los Angeles High School for all except a semester of my junior year. I attended Friends School in Detroit for one semester. My memory of the puppy loves in high school have faded into the fog of my mind now that I'm an old-timer. However, I do have very good memories of listening to Earth Wind and Fire when they broke down the Reasons for any of us to be in love:

My memory of being in love during college is much stronger. Oddly, my first serious attraction to a woman occurred during my freshman year of college. In fact, it is only within the past year that I reconnected with the sister who entered into my heart so many years ago. The song that I associate with our relationship was (and is) Always and Forever by Heatwave.

It brings me joy to listen to both of these songs again. I hope you enjoyed either or both of them as well.

July 30, 2009

Fear of a Black President: Lee Landor Loses Job for her 'O-Dumb-a' Facebook Comment

Evidently, the fear of a Black president is now in full effect. It only took six months ... but there are many white folks who have simply lost their mind. For example, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer accepted the resignation of Lee Landor, his deputy press secretary, after she called Gates a racist and referred to President Barack Obama as “O-dumb-a.”

Landor wrote in one post, “O-dumb-a, the situation got ‘out of hand’ because Gates is a racist, not because the officer was DOING HIS JOB!”

In response to one Facebook user who voiced disagreement, Ms. Landor referred to Professor Gates using a vulgarity and added, “And racial profiling does exist, but for good reason. Take a look at this country’s jails: who makes up the majority of inmates? Exactly.”

Landor defended her entries, but added: “It is understandable that a Black man encountering police will be suspicious of racial profiling, based on the long history of racism in this country.”

July 29, 2009

Boston Cop Fired for calling Prof. Gates a 'Jungle Monkey'

Boston police officer Justin Barrett has been fired after sending a mass e-mail referring to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. as a "jungle monkey."

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis found out about the e-mail on Tuesday and immediately stripped Barrett of his gun and badge. The e-mail was sent anonymously to his Barrett's fellow guard members and the Boston Globe.

"We want to rid our department of the cancer, and that is what we did," Boston Mayor Tom Menino said. "An individual preaching hate has no place in our society."
A member of the National Guard, Justin Barrett sent the e-mail to fellow National Guard members.

Villager's View: Kudos to the Boston mayor for taking care of business. I've not heard of Mayor Menino before today ... but, he's now near the top of my 'best mayors' list!

What say u?

Amefika Geuka: Walking 1,000 Miles for African-Centered Education

Often we talk about the importance of education for our young people. For too many of us ... it is just talk. Here is the story of Amefika Geuka, a man who is willing to walk the walk. In fact, he is walking 1,000 miles from his home in Florida to Washington DC to raise awareness about the miseducation that children of African-descent get in our public education system.

We feel the way to change that is to put a focus on education of those children being educated from their own perspective,” explains Geuka.
Which is why he and two others founded the Joseph Littles - Nguzo Saba Charter School in Florida.

“The public education system in America no matter how well intended it may be, it actually demoralizes black children and black people because it dismisses for the most part that people of African descent have ever contributed anything of any significance to the forward flow of civilization.”
Bro. Geuka documented his thoughts on African-centered Education a few years ago when he delivered a black paper at the University of Cincinnati. Geuka says once he arrives in Washington D.C. he plans on holding a rally and also reading a proclamation for African Centered Education Elevation Day.

NOTE: I appreciate the efforts of anyone ... including Amefika Geuka ... when it comes to turning around the abismyl results of our public education system. I encouage villagers to learn more about his travels and his school. I'm going to follow his progress via Twitter as well.

What are your thoughts on African-centered education (in general) or this man's walkathon (in particular)? What say u?

Wordless Wednesday: Otty Sanchez, the Cannibal

July 28, 2009

Republican Pundits Show 'Fear of a Black President'

I have tried to ignore the birthers and the other right-wing wackos as they blabber on against our president. At the end of the day it appears to be simply more of the same fearmongering and race-baiting about the first Black president.

President Obama always seems to take these things in stride. He is one of the coolest and calmest public officials that I've ever seen.

However, the attacks appear to be picking up speed as various conservative pundits use Professor Gates' arrest to claim Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people" (Glenn Beck) while others have promoted fringe conspiracies questioning if Obama was actually born in the US (Lou Dobbs.)

Media Matters created this video. They have other video clips from Glenn Beck ('Obama agenda driven by "reparations" and desire to "settle old racial scores') or Rush Limbaugh: ('I do believe" Obama is an "angry Black guy') or Limbaugh ('Here you have a Black president trying to destroy a white policeman').

I 'spose that when you can't win on the merits of your argument you turn to fear and race-baiting tactics. This is a strategy that worked for the Republican Party for many generations. Will it work in 2009 as well?

Antonio Love: Alabama Police Taser Deaf and Mentally-Disabled Blackman

Apparently the police in Mobile, AL didn't get the memo from the police in Wichita, KS ... Do *NOT* taser deaf men leaving their bathroom. We know this because Mobile police officers used pepper spray and a Taser on a deaf, mentally disabled man who they said wouldn’t leave a store’s bathroom.

The deaf man needed to use the bathroom. He went into store bathroom. The store management called the police. Why? Is it illegal for a Black man to use a public restroom in Alabama?

The family of 37-year-old Antonio Love has filed a formal complaint over the incident.

Police spokesman Christopher Levy says police didn’t realize Love had a hearing impairment until after he was out of the bathroom. The officers’ conduct is under investigation.

Love was tased three times. He said police didn't realize he was deaf until they got him outside the store. That's when they looked in his wallet and found a card detailing his handicap. Love said an EMT was dispatched, and after he was checked out, he was then put into the back of a police car and taken to Metro jail where he sat until police finally took him home later that afternoon.

The incident happened around 11:00 a.m., and when he was returned home, it was 4:00 in the afternoon. He was never arrested. Love's mom doesn't understand.

"He asked them to stop. He tried to say, 'I'm deaf. I'm deaf,' and they still did it. Looking at my son now it hurts. I just want justice. I want them to pay for what they did to my son," said Phyllis Love.
Villager's View: I'm looking through the use of force continuum and it seems that the police didn't need to use 50,000 volts of taser juice on this deaf man in the bathroom. Why are police officers so taser-happy in America?

What say u?

July 27, 2009

Dr. David McKalip Resigns for Sending Racist Emails

A Florida neurosurgeon has resigned from his post with a county medical association after forwarding an e-mail to about 150 people with an image portraying President Barack Obama as a witch doctor.

Dr. David McKalip submitted his resignation as president-elect of the Pinellas County Medical Association last week, and plans to remove himself as a delegate with the American Medical Association.

The doctor has apologized for his actions, telling a Tampa radio station it was a "very bad mistake." In his apology last week to President Obama, he wrote,

"I genuinely regret the decision I made in passing this e-mail message along. Directly to President Obama, I sincerely apologize for offending him. This was, in no way whatsoever, my intention. The image has nothing to do with my feelings or thoughts on any race or culture. I recognize that this image is offensive and hope that the nation refocuses on assuring all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care with no party interfering in the patient-physician relationship."
Villager's View: I am glad to see that the good doctor lost his coveted position as president-elect of the Florida medical association. There needs to be consequences for racist behavior by public officials. I hope that he experiences a sharp drop in his medical practice revenues as well.

What say u?

Gary Frago Apologizes on Camera for his Racist Emails

It appears that we could have a decision tonight in the ongoing controversy over Atwater city leader Gary Frago. He may lose his job on the city council after emails found at his office containing racial jokes were discovered by the Merced Sun Star.

Check out this video from local reporter John-Thomas Kobos, who met with the city councilman and a NAACP leader who is calling for his resignation.

In my view there is no place for this type of racist behavior in public office. I think that Mr. Frago should resign in disgrace. What do you think?

8th Annual Smooth Jazz in the Park Festival (Cincinnati OH)

I plan on attending this jazz festival later this week. I hope that other villagers can make it as well!

Are you a jazz music lover?

July 26, 2009

President's Weekly Address: 'Health Insurance Reform, Small Business and Your Questions'

The President discusses a key factor that has been considered in the development of the health insurance reform proposals that are being considered: the impact of reform on small business.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers released a major report on the subject in conjunction with this address -- read the report as a web page, in pdf form, or through Slideshare.

During the address, the President asks that small business owners and employees give us their comments and questions on the report. The White House is open to hearing from you here through WhiteHouse.gov, or if you are a member of the social network LinkedIn, go take part in the discussion CEA Chair Christina Romer initiated there. Romer will be answering some of most penetrating responses in a live video discussion on Wednesday at 3:00 PM EDT.

NOTE: Villagers, methinks that President Obama seems to be losing the effort for major health care reform. His August deadline won't be met to get congress to vote on a health care bill before they take a vacation. I'm sad to see Obama with such a visible loss so early in his presidential administration.

Do you think that Obama is going to lose this battle? Is health care reform dead in the water? What say u?

Annie Ruth and Eugene Goss Win 2009 Art and Music Pioneer Award

Annie Ruth and Eugene Goss today were named recipients of the 2009 distinguished Art and Music Pioneer Awards. The awards presented annually at the Smooth Jazz in the Park Festival recognize artists who have unselfishly devoted themselves to sharing, reaching, and teaching others through the use of their talents.

This year’s award recipients have a breadth of talent, extensive credits and an exhaustive list of accomplishments.

Annie Ruth, an award-winning visual artist, poet, author, performing artist, community advocate, and philanthropist, whose work inspires and impacts audiences nationally, will receive the Master Artist Award. An artist since she was a young child, Annie Ruth started her art career when she was a junior in high school and she has worked nearly 30 years sharing her gift with the world. Talented in several arts categories she has demonstrated expertise in each.

Annie Ruth earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from National University in San Diego, California and is a trailblazer receiving critical acclaim for her work. Authoring and illustrating more than 15 books, articles and inspirational commentaries for both children and adults, she still finds time to mentor numerous aspiring artists and authors.

Her commissioned art and posters are exhibited in homes and institutions throughout the country. Several of Annie Ruth’s major art commissions include Fifth Third Bank, Profiles in Courage Award, The Presbyterian Foundation, Central Clinic – University of Cincinnati, Children’s for Children/Procter &Gamble. In 2008 Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory commissioned her to create an original work for the National NAACP Convention in honor of Julian Bond.

Annie Ruth stays active in the community, leading causes that impact women, children, the arts, and literacy. For over two decades her work has directly benefited the Greater Cincinnati community.

In 2003, she was the Taft Museum of Art Duncanson Artist-in Residence. Other awards include Girl Scout’s Women of Distinction Award® , YWCA Career Woman of Achievement, an Ohio Senate Commendation for her community service and artistic accomplishments, a Leading Woman Award for Arts & Entertainment, and Enquirer Woman of the Year.

She has been featured in Who’s Who in Black Cincinnati since the publication’s inception. And in 2008 Annie Ruth was one of 3 women selected for Tyra Banks’ Black History vignette, as a woman making history. The vignette was aired nationally on the Fox and Oxygen networks throughout Black History Month of that year.

Annie Ruth served on the Cincinnati Arts Association, Building Diverse Audiences Advisory Committee, as a board member for the Association for the Advancement of Arts Education, and as a consultant for the Ohio Arts Council for at-risk youth.

Because of her commitment to exposing the community to positive art, Annie Ruth founded Eye of the Artists Foundation in 2001 to use the arts to empower and educate the community, with a focus on youth. Through the foundation she reaches children and educators across the country. She collaborates with other artists to create arts education curriculum materials that depict positive African American contributions to society and culture.

The curriculum sets are distributed free throughout urban populations in the Greater Cincinnati area. The foundation has also donated original art collections to schools and non-profit organizations throughout Cincinnati to benefit the public. Annie Ruth said, “I am like a vessel that God pours this tremendous gift into. It’s my job to share this gift with the rest of the world,” and people of the world and especially in Cincinnati have greatly benefited and been inspired by her work.

Eugene Goss, an eclectic jazz vocalist and percussionist, whose natural affinity for showmanship walks close to the boundary line between music and performance, will receive the Master Musician Award. His superb mastery of his art is manifested when he draws deep into the global jazz song book and blends his own mix of deeply felt lyrics, imaginative scat vocal styling’s and a spontaneous sampling of bells, rhythms and chimes. His gifted artistry makes a unique style, a global jazz style, a universal style of performance, where the sum is greater than all of the parts.

Bringing a new transcendence to the jazz idiom, Goss infuses and excites audiences around the globe. His charismatic stage presence comes with a long career of playing and sharing stages with diverse jazz legends such as Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, Othello Molinerun, Ray Charles, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gay, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Jon Hendricks, Phyllis Hyman, and Ira Sullivan.

Mr. Goss is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including, Best of Cincinnati City for entertainment and music, the Cammy Award for best jazz vocalist, best male vocalist and best percussionist in a poll conducted by Cincinnati’s Entertainer Magazine, best jazz performance in the Michelob Jazz Search WNOP competition and the Image Maker award. He performs overseas, in concerts, at festivals and for events that benefit the arts and children issues.

A reception will be held at the Forest Park Community Center prior to the concert on Saturday, August 1, 2009. Guests have been invited to meet the award recipients and to greet the talented artists that will be performing later in the evening.

The awards will be presented during the concert which begins at 6:00 pm. The concert attracts jazz enthusiasts from Chicago, Atlanta, Michigan, Columbus, Kentucky and Indiana. More than 8,000 people are expected to attend this year.

The Smooth Jazz in the Park Festival is a free family oriented community arts project sponsored by the City of Forest Park, The Hamilton County Park District, Duke Energy, Community Action Agency, Best Western Hotel, Cincinnati Art Museum, Time Warner Cable, and the Cincinnati Herald.

For additional information regarding the Art and Music Pioneer Awards, Award Recipients, the concert and other festival activities visit http://www.projectartreach.org/.

July 25, 2009

Autopsy Report: Coroner Won't Admit Taser Involved in Death of Charles Anthony Torrence

The Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office completed autopsy on 36 year-old Charles Anthony Torrence. Torrence is the Simi Valley man who died after struggling with several police officers who were trying to arrest him last week.

Chief Medical Examiner Ronald O'Halloran said his staff is still "unsure" of how he died. O'Halloran said he is waiting for toxicology results, which can take up to four months to be released.

Read more here.

Does anyone know where we can get a copy of either the police report or the autopsy report for this case?

Trial Date Set for Dunbar Village Rapists

America is a great nation because of the rule of law. The idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty is a powerful concept. However, there are times when I wish we could skip the whole judicial process and jump straight to the gas chamber.

I'm wishing we could shortcut the process for 20-year old Tommy Poindexter, 18-year old Nathan Walker, 17-year old Jakaris Taylor and 15-year old Avion Lawson. These are four of the young punks that terrorized a young 'un and raped his mother at the Dunbar Village public housing complex in West Palm Beach.

The judge in Florida decided that there will be two trials and four juries for these four young men. The first trial takes place on August 16 and the second trial takes place on September 15.

Hopefully the trials will be quick. I'd like to see these four cretins deep in the belly of the beast before Thanksgiving.

July 24, 2009

Taser Lawsuit: Jarrell Gray (Frederick County, MD)

Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputy Rudy Torres killed Jarrel Gray in November 2007 with his taser. Deputy Sheriff Torres didn't spend any time in jail.

Hopefully, he will spend some time in the poor house after he deals with a $10 million lawsuit filed by Gray's family.

Torres tried to have the case dismissed. The judge told him that the case would go to trial and that it will be up to a jury to determine whether the use of force was appropriate.

Torres has said he shocked Gray twice because he failed to obey his commands after a fistfight. What Torres doesn't say? Jarrel Gray was hearing-impaired.

I anticipate that some of the 24 people killed by tasers in 2009 will eventually be filing lawsuits as well.

July 23, 2009

NAACP Says Blacks Targeted Most by Tasers

NAACP Pittsburgh Branch is openly talking about taser torture in America. Most of the folks at a recent NAACP community meeting said tasers are being used disproportionately against African Americans. [NOTE: Our blog is documenting taser-related deaths in America this year].

In the African-American community we know it’s different and it can’t be different,NAACP President M. Gayle Moss said. “I find that these young new police officers are afraid and some of our young men are tired of being assaulted so they just say come on with it.

The overwhelming conclusion at the July 9 meeting addressing the use of tasers by police was that the police should devise a coherent system for gathering data on taser use and that these records should be made readily available. Currently, although data is recorded regarding when tasers are used and the race of any individual involved in an incident, these two pieces of information aren’t necessarily in the same place.
In fact, we don’t know who it’s being used on more or less, but that’s because there’s no data,” said panelist David Harris of the University of Pittsburgh Law School. “There’s something about this area. In Pennsylvania, everything is a secret.
I wonder if other NAACP branches have begun discussions about taser torture in Black America? More to the point, I wonder if they will join in our call for congressional hearings on this issue?

What say u?

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: NAACP Relevance

(Th)ink is an editorial cartoon written and drawn
by cartoonist Keith Knight (the K Chronicles).

July 22, 2009

LeBron James Dunked on by Xavier's Jordan Crawford (Video)

Nike and LeBron James confiscated one person's video of this dunk. However, another video is now out and we're sharing it with our villagers.

NOTE: It doesn't seem all that embarrassing from LeBron's point of view. Personally, I think LeBron should worry more his inability to speak out against Darfur genocide rather than his inability to block this kid's dunk.

What say u?

Wordless Wednesday: Fireman's Revenge

July 21, 2009

Tune In Tuesday: The Dramatics, 'Shake It Well' (1977)

Womanist Musings created a weekly meme today called Tune In Tuesday. She noted that our blogs often deal with serious issues and it might be nice to lighten the atmosphere every once in awhile. Music has the ability to trigger happy memories and much of our lives are marked by song.

To that end each Tuesday this blog intends to offer a song and tell you about what it triggers for me and in return you are welcome to share any memories that you have associated with it.

Do any of y'all have a tune or a stanza of music that rattles in your head and you don't have any idea where it comes from? I did ... until today. I have been singing, "My name is Squirrel ... best shaker in the world ... shake it on down ... shake it down to the ground." I had no idea where the tune or the words came from ... until today!

I'm amazed that a song I heard back in freshman year of college has been running around my mind for over 30 years! This meme caused me to google the few lyrics that I knew ... and Google led me to The Dramatics' Shake It Well (1977). I've been walking around with a goofy smile on my face ever since!

I hope other bloggers will consider participation in this weekly meme. In the meantime, I invite other villagers to share their thoughts on this song, group or my odd musical journey.

What say u?

Another Taser Death in America - Charles Anthony Torrence (California)

Simi Valley police decided that they were tired of running after a suspect in a domestic dispute call over the past weekend. Charles Anthony Torrence, 35, was pronounced dead at Simi Valley Hospital on July 18, after a confrontation with Simi Valley officers near his home on Parker Court. [SOURCE]

Police say that they responded to a reported domestic dispute between Torrence and his girlfriend. During the incident the police fired a Taser stun gun and physically restrained him after he pulled a neighbor from her house, ran from officers and then fought with them. Relatives and Theresa Wheeler, the neighbor, said he was stunned at least six times.

Officer James Wismar, Senior Officer Charles Shorts and Officer Kathy Vigil are the three police officers involved in this taser-related killing. [SOURCE]

The police say that they don't know if the taser gun actually hit and shocked Torrence. The County Medical Examiner Dr. Ronald O’Halloran said an autopsy found “no clear evidence” that a Taser shot made contact with Torrence’s skin.

Relatives said Torrence complained about pain and breathing during the altercation, and that he was covered with cuts and bruises afterward. His mother, Charlotte Beard, and his girlfriend, Fatima Hammou, said officers had him on his stomach with their knees in his back.

No one at the home was arrested or cited in connection with the drugs.

Police said Torrence began experiencing “medical distress” after he was handcuffed.

A computer network engineer, Torrence had two children from a former marriage, an 8-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy, said his older brother, Chris Torrence. He sometimes worked as a disc jockey in the Los Angeles area, his brother said.

I’ve been getting a lot of texts from mutual friends with their shock and disbelief about what happened,” the brother said.
Villager Thoughts: There are two disturbing aspects of this story from my perspective. First, it is strange that the police can't tell if they hit Torrence with 50,000 volts of electricity from their taser guns. My gut tells me that if they knew he was *not* hit ... they would have said so. Second, I can see the writing on the wall with the references by the police to "medical distress" and "drugs on the premises". The fix is in for that "execited delirium" defense.

What say u?

Did You Notice Barack Obama's Jeans at the All-Star Game?

Soul clap to Booker Rising for pointing me to this funny video clip from recent late night television show. Frankly, I'm not much on current fashion ... so the jeans didn't bother me.

Check it out tell me what you think:

I figure that President Obama was focused on getting his first pitch to the plate. He didn't want to be included in the debate about who threw the worst first pitch in the history of baseball.

This Week in Blackness: 2009 is the New 1952

Elon James White pulls no punches in this week's episode. He uses humor, sarcasm and insightful analysis in his discussion about the Valley Swim Club, Sonia Sotomayor hearings and Pat Buchanan.

Kick back and enjoy 'This Week in Blackness':

A'ight villagers ... what was your favorite part of this week's episode?

July 20, 2009

Jesse Jackson: 'Unfinished Business' with Barack Obama

CNN and Rev. Jesse Jackson must figure that his role as a spokesperson for the Michael Jackson family placed him in position to become a spokesperson for the entire Black community again. Personally, I think that Jackson has some gumption (aka 'balls'!) for stepping back into the national spotlight as he's done with this interview:

I don't have a problem with people in the Black community seeking greater access and greater government action to impact the poor and unemployed.

I do have a problem with Rev. Jackson thinking that he is the proper person to make this call. It was only a year ago that Rev. Jackson was calling for the castration of Barack Obama.

As such, I find it difficult to give any credibility to Rev. Jackson when he says that he “wants to engage more fully with [Obama] because there is a lot of unfinished business.”

While Jackson noted that the president has met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and with some African American mayors, Jackson said he has yet to sit down with Obama.

Note to Rev Jackson -- I wouldn't doubt that you have been blacklisted from the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama. No woman wants her man in the same room with someone that fantasizes about "cutting his balls off".

Villagers ... what say u about the re-emergence of Rev. Jesse Jackson in the public arena?

Tracy McGrady Seeks Peace, Protection and Punishment in Darfur

Professional athletes rarely show their political leanings. They think that it might have a negative impact on their earning potential. It began with Michael Jordan back in 1990 when Republican incumbent Jesse Helms, a segregationist, was running a racially tinged senatorial campaign against the up-and-coming Black mayor of Charlotte, Democrat Harvey Gantt. It was clear for weeks leading up to the election that the race would turn on a narrow margin, and it occurred to Gantt's backers that a certain beloved native of the state could make a huge impact on the race with a single quote or a brief photo op. So they approached Michael Jordan. Declining to get involved, Jordan offered this explanation: "Republicans buy sneakers too."

Tiger Woods followed the lead of Jordan when he declined to endorse Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election. Jim Brown called out Tiger on his lack of social activism.

A couple of years ago LeBron James turned down opportunity to take a stand against the genocide in Darfur.

So, it brought a smile to my face when I learned that Houston Rockets guard Tracy McGrady will switch jersey numbers next season to help raise awareness for his Darfur humanitarian project. He'll give up his "1" jersey in favor of a "3" jersey in effort to raise attention for the “3 Points” documentary.

The “3 Points” refer to the goals of peace, protection and punishment in Darfur, with McGrady seeking peace and protection for those forced into camps and punishment for those involved in the Darfur violence.

July 18, 2009

President's Weekly Address: 'Health Care Reform Cannot Wait'

The President calls on Congress to seize this opportunity – one that may not come again for decades – and finally pass health care reform:
"It’s about every family unable to keep up with soaring out of pocket costs and premiums rising three times faster than wages. Every worker afraid of losing health insurance if they lose their job, or change jobs. Everyone who’s worried that they may not be able to get insurance or change insurance if someone in their family has a pre-existing condition..."

My view on health care reform: I'm self-employed. I don't currently have health insurance. As such, I watch this legislative process closely. I figure that health care insurance should be like automobile insurance ... it should be mandated. I worked for the federal government for 23 years. I remember clearly how nice the health care options were as a government employee. I figure that all citizens should have the same options given to government employees. I'm in favor of the so-called 'public option'.

What say u?

Racist Gary Frago Apology: 'Now I'm Sorry For It'

Atwater mayor pro tem Gary Frago is feeling the heat from the lights that are being shined on him. Frago admits to sending several emails containing racist jokes aimed at President Obama and his wife Michelle to city staff and other prominent community members.

One email compares Obama to O.J. Simpson. Another talks about Obama taxing aspirin because "it's white and it works." Another reads "Breaking News: Playboy just offered Sarah Palin $1 million to pose nude in the January issue. Michelle Obama got the same offer from National Geographic."

"They weren't threatening. I'm not a racist person, I don't know what to tell you," said Frago, "It was a bad mistake. I didn't realize it at the time. I didn't know the sensitivity of it. Now I'm sorry for it."[SOURCE]
Villagers, the pattern never seems to change. Initially, there is no contrition from these arrogant racists. Then when the pressure begins to mount we hear the first apologies. It takes a little longer for them to realize that the pressure will never stop until they step down from elected office.

You can help ... reach out to the City of Atwater and share your thoughts on Gary Frago:

City Administration
750 Bellevue Road
Atwater, CA 95301
(209)357-6302 fx

We have the apology from Gary Frago now. Can the resignation be far behind?

CNN's Black in America 2: Educational Excellence

Most villagers recognize that education of our young people is critical part of any solution to the negative statistics that plague the Black community. A failed education system is not an option. The upcoming CNN Black in America 2 series shares information about Capital Prepatory School in Hartford CT. I think all of us wish that our kids had option of attending a school like this one ... with a principal like this one.

Link: Capital Prep on CNN Black In America 2

CNN’s Black in America series airs July 22nd & 23rd. This program focuses on issues facing the leaders, programs, and businesses that are most persistent in the African American community, hosted by Soledad O'Brien.

Do you plan to watch the series?

July 17, 2009

Racist Emails from Mayor Gary Frago (R-Atwater, CA) about Barack and Michelle Obama

Atwater is a small city of 26,000 people in central California. The mayor pro-tem is Gary Frago. Frago, a 63-year old Republican politician serving on the Atwater City Council since 2000, shows himself as another racist wingnut masquerading as a leader.

The local Atwater newspaper obtained seven emails that Frago sent to city staff and prominent citizens from October 2008 to February 2009 [NOTE: It's probably not a coincidence that Frago stopped sending the emails after seeing what happened to his crony, Dean Grose].

Frago focused his racist emails on President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Black folks in general. Some compared Obama to O.J. Simpson while others suggested that "nigger rigs" should now be called "presidential solutions." Can any villager explain to me what a 'nigger rig' is? I've never heard the term until today.

Another Frago email was sent right before the inauguration in January. It read:
"Breaking News Playboy just offered Sarah Palin $1 million to pose nude in the January issue. Michelle Obama got the same offer from National

I'm tired of white folks feeling entilted to compare the Obama family to animals.

Frago admitted sending the e-mails, but showed no regret.
"If they're from me, then I sent them," he said. "I have no disrespect for the president or anybody, they weren't meant in any bad way or harm."
The list of people who either sent or received the e-mails reads like a who's who of Atwater community and political leadership, including a county supervisor, a former police chief, a city manager, a former city council member, a former president of a veterans group, a former grand knight of the Knights of Columbus, among others.

Some of these folks joined Frago in their ignorance of the racist nature of these email jokes. Personally, I think that Frago should lose his seat on the city council.

What say u?

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): "We're Gonna Do That Crack Cocaine Thing"

Was this a freudian slip on the part of Sen. Sessions?

I must admit that I like how Sessions handled his goof. He laughed along with the folks at the hearing. Then he clarified to the witness, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, that "we're going to reduce the burden of penalties in some of the crack cocaine cases and make them fair."

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) Racist Rant: Mothers of Barack Obama and Clarence Thomas Wanted to Abort Them (video)

Republicans can't seem to go more than a week without some outrageous racist rant. This time it occurred on the floor of the House of Representatives. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) suggested that comprehensive health care reform is a bad idea. After all, if Barack Obama's mother had a chance for a free abortion ... then she would have terminated the birth of her son. Tiahrt didn't stop there. He went on to say that the mother of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas would have jumped at the chance for an abortion if it had been government-subsidized.

To audible boos from his House colleagues, Tiahrt stated:

If you think of it in human terms, there is a financial incentive that would be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that would encourage…single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion. If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we have today, who would we have been deprived of? Our President grew up in those similar circumstances. If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother might have taken advantage of it? Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we’d have been denied his great mind?

Do white folks truly think that it is a good idea to speculate about the abortion of the highest ranking Black people in the executive and judicial branches of our federal government? I don't even think Pat Buchanan would stoop this low!

I'm looking for Michael Steele, Sarah Palin, Milt Romney, John McCain and other Republicans to call on Tiahrt to publically apologize to President Obama and Justice Thomas for his racist rants.

Villagers ... you watched the video. What say u?

Pat Buchanan Justifies 108 of 110 Supreme Court Justices Being White ... Gets Slapped Down by Rachel Maddow

Villagers will recall that Pat Buchanan was upset with African Americans because of lack of gratitude to white folks.

Buchanan is consistent in his bigotry.

He calmly justifies the fact that 108 of the 110 people appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States were white. Buchanan feels that this 99% whites-only SCOTUS record is justified because 'This has been a country built, basically, by white folks'.

I am proud that Rachel Maddow didn't accept his racist diatribe. She gave it back to him as any proud American should. Much props to Rachel!

Am I the only one who thinks that Pat Buchanan is unfit for consumption on national television? The scary thing is that he must represent people out in America that believe the same way that he does. Am I the only one scared of Pat Buchanan?

Blog Safari #34

I encourage all villagers to join us on our current blog safari? Our rhino-guide (she still needs a name!) wants to take you through the cyber-jungle to see some talented bloggers and creative blog posts. Enjoy the flow!!
Let us know if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

President Obama Speech to NAACP Convention (video/text)

- It is an honor to be here, in the city where the NAACP was formed, to mark its centennial. What we celebrate tonight is not simply the journey the NAACP has traveled, but the journey that we, as Americans, have traveled over the past one hundred years.

It is a journey that takes us back to a time before most of us were born, long before the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and Brown v. Board of Education; back to an America just a generation past slavery. It was a time when Jim Crow was a way of life; when lynchings were all too common; and when race riots were shaking cities across a segregated land.

It was in this America where an Atlanta scholar named W.E.B. Du Bois, a man of towering intellect and a fierce passion for justice, sparked what became known as the Niagara movement; where reformers united, not by color but cause; and where an association was born that would, as its charter says, promote equality and eradicate prejudice among citizens of the United States.

From the beginning, Du Bois understood how change would come - just as King and all the civil rights giants did later. They understood that unjust laws needed to be overturned; that legislation needed to be passed; and that Presidents needed to be pressured into action. They knew that the stain of slavery and the sin of segregation had to be lifted in the courtroom and in the legislature.

But they also knew that here, in America, change would have to come from the people. It would come from people protesting lynching, rallying against violence, and walking instead of taking the bus. It would come from men and women - of every age and faith, race and region - taking Greyhounds on Freedom Rides; taking seats at Greensboro lunch counters; and registering voters in rural Mississippi, knowing they would be harassed, knowing they would be beaten, knowing that they might never return.

Because of what they did, we are a more perfect union. Because Jim Crow laws were overturned, black CEOs today run Fortune 500 companies. Because civil rights laws were passed, Black mayors, governors, and Members of Congress serve in places where they might once have been unable to vote. And because ordinary people made the civil rights movement their own, I made a trip to Springfield a couple years ago - where Lincoln once lived, and race riots once raged - and began the journey that has led me here tonight as the 44th President of the United States of America.

And yet, even as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of the past one hundred years; even as we inherit extraordinary progress that cannot be denied; even as we marvel at the courage and determination of so many plain folks - we know that too many barriers still remain.

We know that even as our economic crisis batters Americans of all races, African Americans are out of work more than just about anyone else - a gap that’s widening here in New York City, as detailed in a report this week by Comptroller Bill Thompson.

We know that even as spiraling health care costs crush families of all races, African Americans are more likely to suffer from a host of diseases but less likely to own health insurance than just about anyone else.

We know that even as we imprison more people of all races than any nation in the world, an African American child is roughly five times as likely as a white child to see the inside of a jail.

And we know that even as the scourge of HIV/AIDS devastates nations abroad, particularly in Africa, it is devastating the African American community here at home with disproportionate force.

These are some of the barriers of our time. They’re very different from the barriers faced by earlier generations. They’re very different from the ones faced when fire hoses and dogs were being turned on young marchers; when Charles Hamilton Houston and a group of young Howard lawyers were dismantling segregation.

But what is required to overcome today’s barriers is the same as was needed then. The same commitment. The same sense of urgency. The same sense of sacrifice. The same willingness to do our part for ourselves and one another that has always defined America at its best.

The question, then, is where do we direct our efforts? What steps do we take to overcome these barriers? How do we move forward in the next one hundred years?

The first thing we need to do is make real the words of your charter and eradicate prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination among citizens of the United States. I understand there may be a temptation among some to think that discrimination is no longer a problem in 2009. And I believe that overall, there’s probably never been less discrimination in America than there is today.

But make no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.

On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination must not stand. Not on account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America.

But we also know that prejudice and discrimination are not even the steepest barriers to opportunity today. The most difficult barriers include structural inequalities that our nation’s legacy of discrimination has left behind; inequalities still plaguing too many communities and too often the object of national neglect.

These are barriers we are beginning to tear down by rewarding work with an expanded tax credit; making housing more affordable; and giving ex-offenders a second chance. These are barriers that we are targeting through our White House Office on Urban Affairs, and through Promise Neighborhoods that build on Geoffrey Canada’s success with the Harlem Children’s Zone; and that foster a comprehensive approach to ending poverty by putting all children on a pathway to college, and giving them the schooling and support to get there.

But our task of reducing these structural inequalities has been made more difficult by the state, and structure, of the broader economy; an economy fueled by a cycle of boom and bust; an economy built not on a rock, but sand. That is why my administration is working so hard not only to create and save jobs in the short-term, not only to extend unemployment insurance and help for people who have lost their health care, not only to stem this immediate economic crisis, but to lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity that will put opportunity within reach not just for African Americans, but for all Americans.

One pillar of this new foundation is health insurance reform that cuts costs, makes quality health coverage affordable for all, and closes health care disparities in the process. Another pillar is energy reform that makes clean energy profitable, freeing America from the grip of foreign oil, putting people to work upgrading low-income homes, and creating jobs that cannot be outsourced. And another pillar is financial reform with consumer protections to crack down on mortgage fraud and stop predatory lenders from targeting our poor communities.

All these things will make America stronger and more competitive. They will drive innovation, create jobs, and provide families more security. Still, even if we do it all, the African American community will fall behind in the United States and the United States will fall behind in the world unless we do a far better job than we have been doing of educating our sons and daughters. In the 21st century - when so many jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or more, when countries that out-educate us today will outcompete us tomorrow - a world-class education is a prerequisite for success.

You know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason the story of the civil rights movement was written in our schools. There’s a reason Thurgood Marshall took up the cause of Linda Brown. There’s a reason the Little Rock Nine defied a governor and a mob. It’s because there is no stronger weapon against inequality and no better path to opportunity than an education that can unlock a child’s God-given potential.

Yet, more than a half century after Brown v. Board of Education, the dream of a world-class education is still being deferred all across this country. African American students are lagging behind white classmates in reading and math - an achievement gap that is growing in states that once led the way on civil rights. Over half of all African American students are dropping out of school in some places. There are overcrowded classrooms, crumbling schools, and corridors of shame in America filled with poor children - black, brown, and white alike.

The state of our schools is not an African American problem; it’s an American problem. And if Al Sharpton, Mike Bloomberg, and Newt Gingrich can agree that we need to solve it, then all of us can agree on that. All of us can agree that we need to offer every child in this country the best education the world has to offer from the cradle through a career.

That is our responsibility as the United States of America. And we, all of us in government, are working to do our part by not only offering more resources, but demanding more reform.

When it comes to higher education, we are making college and advanced training more affordable, and strengthening community colleges that are a gateway to so many with an initiative that will prepare students not only to earn a degree but find a job when they graduate; an initiative that will help us meet the goal I have set of leading the world in college degrees by 2020.

We are creating a Race to the Top Fund that will reward states and public school districts that adopt 21st century standards and assessments. And we are creating incentives for states to promote excellent teachers and replace bad ones - because the job of a teacher is too important for us to accept anything but the best.

We should also explore innovative approaches being pursued here in New York City; innovations like Bard High School Early College and Medgar Evers College Preparatory School that are challenging students to complete high school and earn a free associate’s degree or college credit in just four years.

And we should raise the bar when it comes to early learning programs. Today, some early learning programs are excellent. Some are mediocre. And some are wasting what studies show are - by far - a child’s most formative years.

That’s why I have issued a challenge to America’s governors: if you match the success of states like Pennsylvania and develop an effective model for early learning; if you focus reform on standards and results in early learning programs; if you demonstrate how you will prepare the lowest income children to meet the highest standards of success - you can compete for an Early Learning Challenge Grant that will help prepare all our children to enter kindergarten ready to learn.

So, these are some of the laws we are passing. These are some of the policies we are enacting. These are some of the ways we are doing our part in government to overcome the inequities, injustices, and barriers that exist in our country.

But all these innovative programs and expanded opportunities will not, in and of themselves, make a difference if each of us, as parents and as community leaders, fail to do our part by encouraging excellence in our children. Government programs alone won’t get our children to the Promised Land. We need a new mindset, a new set of attitudes - because one of the most durable and destructive legacies of discrimination is the way that we have internalized a sense of limitation; how so many in our community have come to expect so little of ourselves.

We have to say to our children, Yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that someone in a wealthy suburb does not. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades, that’s not a reason to cut class, that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands - and don’t you forget that.

To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and fail to support them when they get home. For our kids to excel, we must accept our own responsibilities. That means putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. It means attending those parent-teacher conferences, reading to our kids, and helping them with their homework.

And it means we need to be there for our neighbor’s son or daughter, and return to the day when we parents let each other know if we saw a child acting up. That’s the meaning of community. That’s how we can reclaim the strength, the determination, the hopefulness that helped us come as far as we already have.

It also means pushing our kids to set their sights higher. They might think they’ve got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can’t all aspire to be the next LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers. I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court Justice. I want them aspiring to be President of the United States.

So, yes, government must be a force for opportunity. Yes, government must be a force for equality. But ultimately, if we are to be true to our past, then we also have to seize our own destiny, each and every day.

That is what the NAACP is all about. The NAACP was not founded in search of a handout. The NAACP was not founded in search of favors. The NAACP was founded on a firm notion of justice; to cash the promissory note of America that says all our children, all God’s children, deserve a fair chance in the race of life.

It is a simple dream, and yet one that has been denied - one still being denied - to so many Americans. It’s a painful thing, seeing that dream denied. I remember visiting a Chicago school in a rough neighborhood as a community organizer, and thinking how remarkable it was that all of these children seemed so full of hope, despite being born into poverty, despite being delivered into addiction, despite all the obstacles they were already facing.

And I remember the principal of the school telling me that soon all of that would begin to change; that soon, the laughter in their eyes would begin to fade; that soon, something would shut off inside, as it sunk in that their hopes would not come to pass - not because they weren’t smart enough, not because they weren’t talented enough, but because, by accident of birth, they didn’t have a fair chance in life.

So, I know what can happen to a child who doesn’t have that chance. But I also know what can happen to a child who does. I was raised by a single mother. I don’t come from a lot of wealth. I got into my share of trouble as a kid. My life could easily have taken a turn for the worse. But that mother of mine gave me love; she pushed me, and cared about my education; she took no lip and taught me right from wrong. Because of her, I had a chance to make the most of my abilities. I had the chance to make the most of my opportunities. I had the chance to make the most of life.

The same story holds for Michelle. The same story holds for so many of you. And I want all the other Barack Obamas out there, and all the other Michelle Obamas out there, to have that same chance - the chance that my mother gave me; that my education gave me; that the United States of America gave me. That is how our union will be perfected and our economy rebuilt. That is how America will move forward in the next one hundred years.

And we will move forward. This I know - for I know how far we have come. Last week, in Ghana, Michelle and I took Malia and Sasha to Cape Coast Castle, where captives were once imprisoned before being auctioned; where, across an ocean, so much of the African American experience began. There, reflecting on the dungeon beneath the castle church, I was reminded of all the pain and all the hardships, all the injustices and all the indignities on the voyage from slavery to freedom.

But I was also reminded of something else. I was reminded that no matter how bitter the rod or how stony the road, we have persevered. We have not faltered, nor have we grown weary. As Americans, we have demanded, strived for, and shaped a better destiny.

That is what we are called to do once more. It will not be easy. It will take time. Doubts may rise and hopes recede.

But if John Lewis could brave Billy clubs to cross a bridge, then I know young people today can do their part to lift up our communities.

If Emmet Till’s uncle Mose Wright could summon the courage to testify against the men who killed his nephew, I know we can be better fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters in our own families.

If three civil rights workers in Mississippi - black and white, Christian and Jew, city-born and country-bred - could lay down their lives in freedom’s cause, I know we can come together to face down the challenges of our own time. We can fix our schools, heal our sick, and rescue our youth from violence and despair.

One hundred years from now, on the 200th anniversary of the NAACP, let it be said that this generation did its part; that we too ran the race; that full of the faith that our dark past has taught us, full of the hope that the present has brought us, we faced, in our own lives and all across this nation, the rising sun of a new day begun. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.