Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Southern Baptists push to overcome racist past

The man expected to be in the running to become the first African-American in the No. 2 position of the nation's largest Protestant denomination didn't choose to become a Southern Baptist. By Fred Luter Jr.'s account, it just sort of happened.

In 1986, Luter was hired at the head pastor at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, a Southern Baptist Convention affiliate. Ever since, he has been breaking racial barriers in the predominantly white denomination.

In 1992, he was the first African-American elected to the executive board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. In 2001, he was the first African-American to preach the convention sermon at the SBC annual meeting.

When the Southern Baptist Convention elects new officers at its annual conference in Phoenix beginning Tuesday, the 54-year-old Luter will be in the running for first vice-president. And some prominent Southern Baptist leaders already have said they hope that position will lead to his election as president next year when the 2012 convention is held in Luter's hometown.

Some Southern Baptists leaders have expressed hope his election will mean a rise to president next year when the 2012 convention is held in his hometown.

In recent years, the SBC has seen a decline in overall membership and attendance. At the meeting in Phoenix on Tuesday and Wednesday, delegates are considering a resolution that aims to help diversify the denomination.

Dwight McKissic, a black Texas pastor who has called for the denomination to be more proactive on inclusiveness, said he stayed home this year because he got tired of the dearth of minorities on the platform at the annual meeting.
McKissic, who pastors a predominantly black congregation, recently helped launch a new Southern Baptist church with a multicultural congregation.
McKissic and other Southern Baptist leaders hope the moves toward diversity will include the election of New Orleans pastor Fred Luter, an African-American, as first vice president. But even if Luter is elected president next year, as many are speculating, McKissic said there will still be more to do.
"The SBC (will have) really dealt seriously with their racial issues and past when they put a minority person in charge" of a mission board or seminary, he said.
The Rev. David Lema Jr., a Cuba native and associate director of theological education for Florida Baptists, said the Executive Committee's support for greater inclusiveness means the issue is no longer a matter of a "voice crying in the wilderness" but a more authoritative stance.
"I believe that the Southern Baptist Convention is turning a corner and it's turning a corner not just of awareness but it's a corner now of reality, of action," he said.
Southern Baptist leaders say half the churches started in the last decade were predominantly African-American or ethnic, and the number of churches with mostly minority membership increased from 13% to 18.5% between 1998 and 2008.
Ken Weathersby of the denomination's North American Mission Board said he encourages the more than two dozen ethnic groups affiliated with his agency to evangelize beyond their particular community.
"We are not commanded just to plant among people that look like us," he said. "We are commanded to plant churches and commanded to make disciples among all ethnics.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Pigford settlement applications open:$1.25 Billion

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2011 -- The Court-ordered process of officially notifying African American farmers and their heirs about the $1.25 billion "Pigford II" class action settlement, In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, is underway.

African American farmers around the country who tried to file a claim in the 1999 Pigford Settlement but were unable to receive a decision on the merits because their claims were late are now receiving information about their legal rights and options under the Settlement by postal mail. A comprehensive paid published notice program will complement this direct notice. The program will include a nationwide radio advertising campaign, including heavy focus on areas where large numbers of class members are believed to live. A Summary Notice will also be published in a variety of print publications including African American newspapers, general market daily and community newspapers, and farming and ranching trade publications. Finally, online ads will appear on a variety of websites.

African American farmers who tried to file a claim in the original 1999 Pigford settlement but didn’t receive a decision because their claims were late are now getting information about their rights and options in the mail. A national media campaign through radio and black-oriented newspapers, trade publications and online will also launch.

President Barack Obama signed the bill authorizing payment for the so-called Pigford II settlement in December 2010. If the settlement is approved in federal court, it will resolve discrimination claims against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for farm loans and other benefits. The settlement includes $1.25 billion for cash payments and loan forgiveness for class members who file valid claims. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will consider whether to grant final approval of the Settlement at a hearing in Washington D.C. on Sept. 1, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.

Class members eligible for the settlement are African Americans who:

• farmed (or tried to) between Jan. 1, 1981 and Dec. 31, 1996;

• were barred from applying for or were denied a USDA farm loan during that period or given a loan with unfair terms;

• and filed or attempted to file a late claim between Oct. 13, 1999 and June 18, 2008 in the original Pigford case that was never considered because they tried to submit it after the late claim deadline. Heirs or relatives of individuals who would be eligible but have since died can also be class members.

Anyone who objects to the settlement must do so by Aug. 12. The deadline for filing claims may be as early as Feb. 28, 2012.

Class members can go to www.blackfarmercase.com, or call toll-free 1-877-810-8110 for information on the notice, key dates, and filing claims.


Arular is the 2005 debut album by British musician M.I.A. Originally set for a September 2004 release, the album was delayed due to problems obtaining permission to use samples. Arular was finally released in the US on 22 March 2005 and a month later in the UK with a slightly different track listing. The album's release was preceded in 2004 by two singles and a mixtape.
M.I.A. wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album and created the basic backing tracks using a Roland MC-505 sequencer/drum machine given to her by long-time friend Justine Frischmann. Collaborators included Switch, Diplo, and Richard X. The album's title is the political code name used by her father, Arul Pragasam, during his involvement with Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups, and themes of conflict and revolution feature heavily in the lyrics and artwork. Musically, the album incorporates styles that range from hip hop and electroclash to funk carioca and punk rock.
Arular was hailed by critics for its blending of styles and integration of political lyrics into dance tunes. It was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2005 and was included in the 2005 edition of the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Although it only reached number 98 on the UK Albums Chart and number 190 on the US Billboard 200, several publications named it as one of the best albums of the year. By mid-2007, the album had sold 129,000 copies in the US, Arular spawned the singles "Sunshowers", "Bucky Done Gun" and "Galang", which was released twice.

Arular takes its title from the political code name employed by M.I.A.'s father, Arul Pragasam, during his involvement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, popularly known as the Tamil Tigers; she contends that her father's "revolutionary ideals" are the album's thematic base. M.I.A also considered that her father might Google his name, find out about the album, and re-establish contact with her; a strategy which worked. The album is influenced by music that M.I.A. listened to as a child in London, including hip hop, dancehall, and punk rock. She cited as particular influences Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy, and London Posse, whom she described as "the best of British hip hop". Her work on the album drew on the punk music of The Clash and music from genres such as Britpop and electroclash, to which she was exposed during her time studying at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Living in West London, she met many musicians who to her defined an era of British music that was "actually credible". In a 2008 interview, she elaborated on the importance of the west London punk scene, citing acts such as The Slits, The Clash, and Don Letts; she claimed that Bow Wow Wow and Malcolm McLaren had a similar cultural impact in England to that of Public Enemy in America.
"I found understanding hip-hop a universal thing. Not just understanding the rhythm, how they danced, their style or their attitude; there was something else, beyond song structure and language. It works on a few basic human principles, in terms of what stimulation buttons to push...It had content and struggle behind it... and because I was able to adapt to it, hip-hop gave me a home, an identity. Hip-hop was the most guerrilla thing happening in England at the time. You had Public Enemy fronting it, and that felt like home, and I could dance while I was feeling shitty. It had a whole aesthetic to it – it was being really crass with pride."
Before the album's release, M.I.A. said that audiences found it hard to dance to political songs. This made her keen to produce music that sounded like pop but addressed important issues. "Sunshowers", with its lyrical references to snipers, murder and the PLO, was written in response to the Tamil Tigers being considered terrorists in some quarters. She said, "you can't separate the world into two parts like that, good and evil. America has successfully tied all these pockets of independence struggles, revolutions and extremists into one big notion of terrorism. The lyrics caused controversy; MTV censored the sounds of gunshots in the song and MTV USA refused to broadcast the video unless a disclaimer that disavowed the lyrics was added. The BBC described the lyrics as "always fluid and never too rhetorical" and sounding like "snatches of overheard conversation". The songs deal with topics ranging from sex to drug dealing.
Musically, the album incorporates elements of baile funk, grime, hip hop, and ragga. Peter Shapiro, writing in The Times, summed up the album's musical influences as "anything as long as it has a beat". Some tracks drew on Tamil film music, which M.I.A. listened to while growing up. Shapiro described her music as a "multi-genre pile-up" and likened it to her graphic art, calling it "vivid, gaudy, lo-fi and deceptively candyfloss". In a 2005 interview, when asked about the difficulty in categorising her sound, M.I.A. explained, "Influences are crossing over into each other's puddles. I just accept where I'm at, I accept where the world is at and I accept how we receive and digest information. I get that somebody in Tokyo is on the internet instant messaging, and someone in the favelas is on the internet. Everybody seems to know a little bit about everything and that's how we process information now. This just reflects that.


The following people are credited on the album:
Maya Arulpragasam – main performer, artwork
A. Brucker (Dave "Switch" Taylor under a different name) – producer on "Pull Up the People", final mix and producer on "Bucky Done Gun" and "U.R.A.Q.T"
Paschal Byrne – producer on "Pull Up the People", final mix and producer on "Bucky Done Gun" and "U.R.A.Q.T"
Diplo – producer on "Bucky Done Gun", "M.I.A." co-producer on "U.R.A.Q.T."
KW Griff – producer on "U.R.A.Q.T"
Pete Hofmann – engineer and mixing on "Amazon" and "10 Dollar"
Steve Loveridge – artwork design
Steve Mackey – producer on "Sunshowers" and "Galang"
Ross Orton – producer on "Sunshowers" and "Galang"
Nesreen Shah – chorus vocals on "Sunshowers"
Anthony Whiting – producer on "Fire Fire" and "Bingo"
Richard X – producer on "Amazon" and "10 Dollar"
Dwain "Willy" Wilson III (Richard X under a different name) – producer on "Hombre"
Wizard – programming, mixing and producer on "Bucky Done Gun"

Satoshi Kanazawa

Satoshi Kanazawa, PhD born November 16, 1962  is a controversial Japanese evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics. His research uses evolutionary psychology to analyze social sciences such as sociology, economics, and anthropology. An open letter signed by sixty-eight evolutionary psychologists states that "He has repeatedly been criticised by other academics in his field of research for using poor quality data, inappropriate statistical methods and consistently failing to consider alternative explanations for his results.

Academic criticism
Kanazawa's theories on race and intelligence are controversial. Kanazawa has argued that Asian cultural traditions and/or character inhibit Asian scientific creativity and that "political correctness" is a bigger threat to American evolutionary psychology than religious fundamentalism. He has been accused of promoting "racist stereotypes". In 2006 Kanazawa published a paper suggesting that the poor health of people in some nations is the result not of poverty, but of lower intelligence. In a letter to the editors regarding Kanazawa's claim that attractive people are more likely to have daughters, Columbia statistician Andrew Gelman points out that a correct interpretation of the regression coefficients in Kanazawa's analysis is that attractive people are 8% more likely to have girls, an error that Kanazawa acknowledges. Gelman argues that Kanazawa's analysis does not convincingly show causality, because of possible endogeneity as well as problematic interpretations of statistical significance in multiple comparisons. While Kanazawa claims that the former error is "merely linguistic" and that he addressed the latter two in his initial article,Gelman maintains that his original criticism remains valid.
In the British Journal of Health Psychology George Ellison wrote that the theory is based on flawed assumptions, questionable data, inappropriate analysis and biased interpretations. Ellison wrote that Kanazawa mistook statistical associations for evidence of causality and falsely concluded that populations in sub-Saharan Africa are less healthy because they are unintelligent and not because they are poor. Kevin Denny wrote similar criticisms regarding the IQ data and stated that African Americans should have similar IQs when compared to the sub-Saharan African population and that Kanazawa should have measured the distance between areas in a topographical fashion. P.Z. Myers, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota, has called Kanazawa "the great idiot of social science.

Popular protests
In May 2011, popular protests against Kanazawa were provoked by a Psychology Today blog post written by him asserting that black women are less attractive and intelligent than women from other racial groups. This article was based on the opinions reported by survey takers in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health ("Add Health"), which Kanazawa claimed could be used as "objective" measures of attractiveness. The article was subsequently removed from the Psychology Today site without explanation, though Kaja Perina, Psychology Today Editor in Chief, stated that "[Psychology Today reserves] the right to remove posts for any number of reasons.  The article was condemned by various figures including fellow Psychology Today blogger Mikhail Lyubansky, London School of Economics professor Paul Gilroy, and UMM professor Paul Myers as being pseudoscientific and harmful to marginalized groups. 
On May 16, 2011, a Change.org petition was launched demanding that Psychology Today remove Kanazawa as a contributor to their website and magazine. The petition cites Kanazawa's "discredited research" and "racially biased articles."
On May 18, 2011, the University of London Union Senate, the Union's legislative body representing over 120,000 students, voted unanimously in favor of calling for a campaign for Kanazawa's dismissal. The reasons stated for this call for dismissal include flawed research and unscientific bigotry.
On May 27, 2011, Kaja Perina, Editor-in-Chief of Psychology Today, issued this statement:
“Last week, a blog post about race and appearance by Satoshi Kanazawa was published–and promptly removed–from this site. We deeply apologize for the pain and offense that this post caused. Psychology Today’s mission is to inform the public, not to provide a platform for inflammatory and offensive material. Psychology Today does not tolerate racism or prejudice of any sort. The post was not approved by Psychology Today, but we take full responsibility for its publication on our site. We have taken measures to ensure that such an incident does not occur again. Again, we are deeply sorry for the hurt that this post caused.

In 2003, in an article in the Journal of Research in Personality, he claimed to show that scientists generally made their biggest discoveries before their mid-30s, and compared this productivity curve to that of criminals.
In 2006 he published an article in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, claiming that attractive people are 26% less likely to have male offspring.
Kanazawa has co-written three books with Alan Miller: "Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire—Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do", Why Men Gamble and Women Buy Shoes: How Evolution Shaped the Way We Behave and Order by Accident: The Origins and Consequences of Conformity in Contemporary Japan. He also writes a blog entitled The Scientific Fundamentalist for Psychology Today.
Kanazawa uses the term Savanna principle: the theory that societal difficulties exist because the human brain evolved in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago, a drastically different environment from today's urban, industrial society.
Commenting on the criticism directed against some evolutionary psychology theories, Kanazawa has stated that "The only responsibility that scientists have is to the truth, nothing else. Scientists are not responsible for the potential or actual consequences of the knowledge they create.
Commenting on the War on Terror, Kanazawa claimed that "there is one resource that our enemies have in abundance but we don’t: hate... We may be losing this war because our enemies have a full range of human emotions while we don’t." He offers the following thought experiment: "Imagine that, on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers came down, the President of the United States was not George W. Bush, but Ann Coulter. What would have happened then? On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children. On September 13, the war would have been over and won, without a single American life lost." Kanazawa has also argued that "conservative policies are more likely to succeed than liberal policies" and that a flat tax represents an ideal taxation system.
In March 2011, Kanazawa wrote an article titled, 'Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?' The article reads, "high-class prostitutes like Allie and Maggie have more in common with college professors, corporate executives, or poets than with the more affordable and visible members of their profession. prostitution is evolutionarily familiar, because mating is evolutionarily familiar and prostitutes (at least the classy ones) are no different from other women, whom men also have to pay – not in cash payments but in dinners and movies, gifts, flowers, chocolates, and motor oil.

Black women less attractive than other women?

And now Satoshi Kanazawa’s lost his blog and his profile page has been deleted from Psychology Today’s website. His article and unqualified research on unattractive black women sent off a fury of protests online. 75,000 people blew up Psychology Today via email, Twitter and Facebook. Some even rang Psychology Today’s telephones off the hook.
When all was said and done, Psychology Today sent an email to ColorofChange.org and informed the largest online African American political organization that Kanazawa’s work won’t appear on their site any longer. Psychology Today even said they’ve instituted new rules to prevent inflammatory content in the future.
People who hadn’t heard of Kanazawa were sharing the text in question, their hurt, their ire and disbelief that Psychology Today endorsed the piece. They demanded Kanazawa be fired. Students at Kanazawa’s other day job, London School of Economics, have also called for Kanazawa’s resignation.

Kanazawa concluded, based on a study in which several persons were interviewed, that black women were objectively less attractive than white, Asian and North American women, though they "subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others".
"Black women are significantly less physically attractive than women of other races," said Kanazawa, who works at the London School of Economics.
"The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races," he explained.
The claim that blacks are unattractive, while offensive and backward, has not come as a surprise to at least two local academics who said that years of independence from slavery has not changed people's perception of blacks.
Neither does it surprise counsellor Carla Brookes, who said the way some black women behave, dress and act fuels a perception of "the fat, loud video model type with loose morals".
"You can't blame people sometimes for judging us the way they do," Brookes said. "We cuss, we fight, we're loud and we act like we're proud of it!"
Noted Sociologist Dr Orville Taylor said the "seasoning" blacks underwent during slavery has caused many to look at blacks in a negative light, despite our achievements since independence.
"I am not surprised by any type of survey or psychological research that points to negative self-imagery (especially) when you juxtapose that against the bleaching phenomenon which is not about people trying to become white, but about people establishing a pattern of beauty that they aspire towards," he said.
He explained that like a curry stain, the effects of slavery which saw many blacks humiliated and exploited under European rule cannot be reversed overnight.
Kanazawa has been offensive before. He's blogged that criminals look different from non criminals (OJ Simpson, according to Kanazawa looks like a criminal.”) He had an epiphany when he blogged that all women are essentially prostitutes. In the past, offended readers emailed Kanazawa rather than his editors.

Kanazawa’s blogs, for as long as Psychology Today has published them (a little over five years now) have always been controversial, racist, sexist, and unfounded. Most of his blogs are hypotheses on human nature (or why men and women do the the things that they do). Readers are drawn into Kanazawa's ideologies because his notions offer one explanation for human behavior in our contemporary culture and its current setting.

As it stands, contemporary culture is obsessed with beauty and cosmetic surgery has proven itself recession proof. Celebrity lifestyles generally support many of Kanazawa's theses and much of Kanazawa's audience are celebrity and people watchers.

Kanazawa wrote about beauty, women, motherhood, men, and dating. All of which were big hits with contemporary online readers.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Elmer G. Pratt

Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, September 13, 1947 – June 2, 2011, also known as Geronimo ji-Jaga, was a high ranking member of the Black Panther Party. The Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted him in a COINTELPRO operation, which aimed to "neutralize Pratt as an effective BPP functionary. Pratt was tried and convicted of the kidnap and murder of Caroline Olsen in 1972, and spent 27 years in prison, eight of which were in solitary confinement. Pratt was freed in 1997 when his conviction was vacated. He was working as a human rights activist up until the time of his death. Pratt was also the godfather of the late rapper Tupac Shakur . He died of a heart attack in his adopted country, Tanzania, on June 2, 2011.

Murder charges
In 1968, Caroline Olsen, a 27-year-old elementary school teacher, was murdered by gunshot during a robbery on a Santa Monica tennis court. Olsen's husband, Kenneth, who was also shot but survived, initially identified another man as the killer. Julius Butler, a Black Panther and police informant, fingered Geronimo Pratt as the killer. In 1970 Pratt was arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping.
His attorney, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., assured his client that the charges would be dropped, given that Pratt had been 350 miles away on the night of the murder and could prove it. But, according to and alleged by author Jack Olsen, they were met with setbacks, from lying prosecution witnesses trooped to exculpatory evidence disappearing at police stations and the L.A. District Attorney’s office. Later it was revealed, according to Olsen, that FBI "moles" had infiltrated defense sessions and monitored Cochran’s phone calls.

Pratt always maintained his innocence. During his incarceration he studied law and steadfastly built a defense. Pratt was represented by attorneys Stuart Hanlon and Johnnie Cochran in his original trial. Together with William Paparian, Hanlon contributed much to the appeals that later led to Pratt's conviction being vacated.

Murder conviction vacated
Pratt's conviction was vacated on June 10, 1997, on the grounds that the prosecution had concealed evidence that might have exonerated the defendant. In particular, the government had not disclosed that a key witness against Pratt, Julius Butler, was an informant for both the FBI and the LAPD. An appeals court ruled this fact to be "'favorable' to the defendant, 'suppressed' by a law enforcement agency, and 'material' to the jury's decision to convict.
Pratt eventually received $4.5 million as settlement for false imprisonment. A federal judge approved the settlement of the civil suit: The city of L.A. paid $2.75 million of the settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice paying the $1.75 million remainder.

Later years
Pratt continued to work on behalf of men and women believed to be wrongfully incarcerated until his death, including participation in rallies in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal, whom he had met when both were active as Black Panthers. Geronimo was living in Tanzania at the time of his death.

Early years
Pratt was raised in Morgan City, Louisiana. He served two combat tours in the Vietnam War and came to Los Angeles,
After he served his two tours, Pratt used the GI Bill to go to UCLA. When Pratt joined the Black Panthers, his years in the army proved useful. He rose to be Minister of Defense of the local organization, after two of its officers were killed. Pratt's wife Saundra was killed in 1971 while 8 months pregnant and left in a ditch. The murder was blamed on a Party schism between supporters of Huey Newton and supporters of Eldridge Cleaver with Pratt and his wife belonging to the Cleaver faction.
By January 1970, the Los Angeles FBI office had sought permission from headquarters for a counterintelligence effort "designed to challenge the legitimacy of the authority exercised" by Pratt in the local Panthers. Another FBI memo dated five months later noted that the Bureau was constantly considering counterintelligence measures designed to neutralize Pratt "as an effective (Panther) functionary.

Black Panther Party

Black Panther Party (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was an African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982. The Black Panther Party achieved national and international notoriety through its involvement in the Black Power movement and in U.S. politics of the 1960s and 70s. The anti-racism of that time is today considered one of the most significant social, political and cultural currents in U.S. history. The group's "provocative rhetoric, militant posture, and cultural and political flourishes permanently altered the contours of American Identity.
Founded in Oakland, California, by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton on October 15, 1966, the organization initially set forth a doctrine calling primarily for the protection of African American neighborhoods from police brutality. The organization's leaders espoused socialist and communist (largely Maoist) doctrines, however the Party's early black nationalist reputation attracted a racially diverse membership. Black Panther Party objectives and philosophy expanded and evolved rapidly during the party's existence, so ideological consensus within the party was difficult to achieve, and some prominent members openly disagreed with the views of the leaders.
The organization's official newspaper, The Black Panther, was first circulated in 1967. Also that year, the Black Panther Party marched on the California State Capitol in Sacramento in protest of a selective ban on weapons. By 1968, the party had expanded into many cities throughout the United States, including New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, San Diego, Denver, Newark, New York City, Kansas City, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, San Francisco and Omaha. Peak membership neared 10,000 by 1969, and their newspaper, under the editorial leadership of Eldridge Cleaver, had a circulation of 250,000. The group created a Ten-Point Program, a document that called for "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice and Peace", as well as exemption from conscription for African-American men, among other demands. With the Ten-Point program, “What We Want, What We Believe”, the Black Panther Party expressed its economic and political grievances.
Gaining national prominence, the Black Panther Party became an icon of the counterculture of the 1960s. Ultimately, the Panthers condemned black nationalism as "black racism" and became more focused on socialism without racial exclusivity. They instituted a variety of community social programs designed to alleviate poverty and improve health among inner city black communities as well as soften its public image. The Black Panther Party's most widely known programs were its armed citizens' patrols to evaluate behavior of police officers and its Free Breakfast for Children program. However, the group's political goals were often overshadowed by their confrontational, militant, and violent tactics against police.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country, and he supervised an extensive program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, infiltration, perjury, police harassment, assassination, and many other tactics designed to undermine Panther leadership, incriminate party members and drain the organization of resources and manpower. Through these tactics, Hoover hoped to diminish the Party's threat to the general power structure of the U.S., or even maintain its influence as a strong undercurrent. Angela Davis, Ward Churchill, and others have alleged that federal, state and local law enforcement officials went to great lengths to discredit and destroy the organization, including assassination. Black Panther Party membership reached a peak of 10,000 by early 1969, then suffered a series of contractions due to legal troubles, incarcerations, internal splits, expulsions and defections. Popular support for the Party declined further after reports appeared detailing the group's involvement in activities such as drug dealing and extortion schemes directed against Oakland merchants By 1972 most Panther activity centered around the national headquarters and a school in Oakland, CA, where the Party continued to influence local politics. Party contractions continued throughout the 1970s; by 1980 the Black Panther Party comprised just 27 members.

The Ten Point Program
The Ten Point Program was as follows:
WE WANT FREEDOM. WE WANT POWER TO DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES. We believe that Black and oppressed people will not be free until we are able to determine our destinies in our own communities ourselves, by fully controlling all the institutions which exist in our communities.
WE WANT FULL EMPLOYMENT FOR OUR PEOPLE. We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every person employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the American businessmen will not give full employment, then the technology and means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
WE WANT AN END TO THE ROBBERY BY THE CAPITALISTS OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES. We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of our fifty million Black people. Therefore, we feel this is a modest demand that we make.
WE WANT DECENT HOUSING, FIT FOR THE SHELTER OF HUMAN BEINGS. We believe that if the landlords will not give decent housing to our Black and oppressed communities, then housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that the people in our communities, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for the people.
WE WANT DECENT EDUCATION FOR OUR PEOPLE THAT EXPOSES THE TRUE NATURE OF THIS DECADENT AMERICAN SOCIETY. WE WANT EDUCATION THAT TEACHES US OUR TRUE HISTORY AND OUR ROLE IN THE PRESENT-DAY SOCIETY. We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of the self. If you do not have knowledge of yourself and your position in the society and in the world, then you will have little chance to know anything else.
WE WANT COMPLETELY FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE. We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give all Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide our selves with proper medical attention and care.
WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER OF BLACK PEOPLE, OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR, ALL OPPRESSED PEOPLE INSIDE THE UNITED STATES. We believe that the racist and fascist government of the United States uses its domestic enforcement agencies to carry out its program of oppression against black people, other people of color and poor people inside the United States. We believe it is our right, therefore, to defend ourselves against such armed forces and that all Black and oppressed people should be armed for self defense of our homes and communities against these fascist police forces.
WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL WARS OF AGGRESSION. We believe that the various conflicts which exist around the world stem directly from the aggressive desire of the United States ruling circle and government to force its domination upon the oppressed people of the world. We believe that if the United States government or its lackeys do not cease these aggressive wars it is the right of the people to defend themselves by any means necessary against their aggressors.
WE WANT FREEDOM FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE NOW HELD IN U. S. FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY, CITY, AND MILITARY PRISONS AND JAILS. WE WANT TRIALS BY A JURY OF PEERS FOR ALL PERSONS CHARGED WITH SO-CALLED CRIMES UNDER THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY. We believe that the many Black and poor oppressed people now held in United States prisons and jails have not received fair and impartial trials under a racist and fascist judicial system and should be free from incarceration. We believe in the ultimate elimination of all wretched, inhuman penal institutions, because the masses of men and women imprisoned inside the United States or by the United States military are the victims of oppressive conditions which are the real cause of their imprisonment. We believe that when persons are brought to trial they must be guaranteed, by the United States, juries of their peers, attorneys of their choice and freedom from imprisonment while awaiting trial.
WE WANT LAND, BREAD, HOUSING, EDUCATION, CLOTHING, JUSTICE, PEACE AND PEOPLE'S COMMUNITY CONTROL OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY. When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are most disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpation, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

While part of the organization was already participating in local government and social services, another group was in constant conflict with the police. For some of the Party's supporters, the separation between political action, criminal activity, social services, access to power, and grass-roots identity became confusing and contradictory as the Panthers' political momentum was bogged down in the criminal justice system. Disagreements among the Party's leaders over how to confront these challenges led to a significant split in the Party. Some Panther leaders, such as Huey Newton and David Hilliard, favored a focus on community service coupled with self-defense; others, such as Eldridge Cleaver, embraced a more confrontational strategy. Eldridge Cleaver deepened the schism in the party when he publicly criticized the Party for adopting a "reformist" rather than "revolutionary" agenda and called for Hilliard's removal. Cleaver was expelled from the Central Committee but went on to lead a splinter group, the Black Liberation Army, which had previously existed as an underground paramilitary wing of the Party.
The Party eventually fell apart due to rising legal costs and internal disputes. In 1974, Huey Newton appointed Elaine Brown as the first Chairwoman of the Party. Under Brown's leadership, the Party became involved in organizing for more radical electoral campaigns, including Brown's 1975 unsuccessful run for Oakland City Council and Lionel Wilson's successful election as the first Black mayor of Oakland.
In addition to changing the Party's direction towards more involvement in the electoral arena, Brown also increased the influence of women Panthers by placing them in more visible roles within the male-dominated organization. Brown's attempt to battle this previously pervasive sexism within the Party was very stressful for her and led to her dependence on Thorazine as a way to escape the pressures of leading the Party.

Evolving ideology, widening support

Black Panther convention, Lincoln Memorial, June 19, 1970
Awareness of the group continued to grow, especially after the May 2, 1967 protest at the California State Assembly.
In May 1967, the Panthers invaded the State Assembly Chamber in Sacramento, guns in hand, in what appears to have been a publicity stunt. Still, they scared a lot of important people that day. At the time, the Panthers had almost no following. Now, a year later however, their leaders speak on invitation almost anywhere radicals gather, and many whites wear "Honkeys for Huey" buttons, supporting the fight to free Newton, who has been in jail since last Oct. 28, 1967 on the charge that he killed a policeman.
In October 1967, Huey Newton had been arrested for the murder of Oakland Police Officer John Frey, a murder he later admitted and pointed to with pride.
Newton claimed that he had been falsely accused, leading to the "Free Huey" campaign. On February 17, 1968, at the "Free Huey" birthday rally in the Oakland Auditorium, several Black Panther Party leaders spoke. H. Rap Brown, Black Panther Party Minister of Justice, declared:
Huey Newton is our only living revolutionary in this country today...He has paid his dues. He has paid his dues. How many white folks did you kill today? 
The mostly black crowd erupted in applause. James Forman, Black Panther Party Minister of Foreign Affairs, followed with an even more incendiary speech:
We must serve notice on our oppressors that we as a people are not going to be frightened by the attempted assassination of our leaders. For my assassination--and I'm the low man on the totem pole--I want 30 police stations blown up, one southern governor, two mayors, and 500 cops, dead. If they assassinate Brother Carmichael, Brother Brown...Brother Seale, this price is tripled. And if Huey is not set free and dies, the sky is the limit! 
Referring to the 1967-68 period, black historian Curtis Austin states: "During this period of development, black nationalism became part of the party's philosophy.  During the months following the "Free Huey" birthday rallies, one in Oakland and another in Los Angeles, the Party's violent, anti-white rhetoric attracted a huge following and Black Panther Party membership exploded.
Two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., on April 6, 1968, seventeen-year-old Bobby Hutton joined Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party Minister of Information, in what Cleaver later admitted was "an ambush" of the Oakland police. Two officers were wounded, and Bobby Hutton became another martyr when officers opened fire, killing Hutton and wounding Cleaver. Almost all black people, and many white liberals, believed Cleaver's claim that the police were at fault.
After Hutton's death, Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale and Kathleen Cleaver (Eldridge's wife) held a rally in New York City at the Fillmore East in support of Hutton and Cleaver. Playwright LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka) joined them on stage before a mixed crowd of 2,000:
We want to become masters of our own destiny...we want to build a black nation to benefit black people...The white people who killed Bobby Hutton are the same white people sitting here.
The crowd, including many whites, gave LeRoi Jones a standing ovation.
In 1968, the group shortened its name to the Black Panther Party and sought to focus directly on political action. Members were encouraged to carry guns and to defend themselves against violence. An influx of college students joined the group, which had consisted chiefly of "brothers off the block." This created some tension in the group. Some members were more interested in supporting the Panthers social programs, while others wanted to maintain their "street mentality". For many Panthers, the group was little more than a type of gang.
Curtis Austin states that by late 1968, Black Panther Party ideology had evolved to the point where they began to reject black nationalism and became more a "revolutionary internationalist movement":
(The Party) dropped its wholesale attacks against whites and began to emphasize more of a class analysis of society. Its emphasis on Marxist-Leninist doctrine and its repeated espousal of Maoist statements signaled the group's transition from a revolutionary nationalist to a revolutionary internationalist movement. Every Party member has to study Mao Tse-tung's "Little Red Book" to advance his or her knowledge of peoples' struggle and the revolutionary process. 
Panther slogans and iconography spread. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two American medalists, gave the black power salute during the playing of the American national anthem. The International Olympic Committee banned them from the Olympic Games for life. Some Hollywood celebrities, such as Jane Fonda, became involved in their leftist program. She publicly supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers in the early 1970s. The Black Panthers attracted a wide variety of left-wing revolutionaries and political activists, including writer Jean Genet, former Ramparts Magazine editor David Horowitz and left-wing lawyer Charles R. Garry, who often acted as their counsel. Survival Committees and coalitions were organized with several groups across the United States. Chief among these in Chicago was the first Rainbow Coalition formed by Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers which included Young Patriots and a Latino youth gang turned political:the Young Lords.

Political activities
The Party briefly merged with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, headed by Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture). In 1967, the party organized a march on the California state capitol to protest the state's attempt to outlaw carrying loaded weapons in public after the Panthers had begun exercising that right. Participants in the march carried rifles. In 1968, BPP Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver ran for Presidential office on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. They were a big influence on the White Panther Party, that was tied to the Detroit/Ann Arbor band MC5 and their manager John Sinclair, author of the book Guitar Army that also promulgated a ten-point program.

New Black Panther Party
In 1989, a group calling itself the "New Black Panther Party" was formed in Dallas, Texas. Ten years later, the NBPP became home to many former Nation of Islam members when the chairmanship was taken by Khalid Abdul Muhammad.
The Anti-Defamation League and The Southern Poverty Law Center consider the New Black Panthers as a hate group. Members of the original Black Panther Party have insisted that this New Black Panther Party is illegitimate and have strongly objected that there "is no new Black Panther Party.

The National Alliance of Black Panthers
The National Alliance of Black Panthers was formed on July 31, 2004. It was inspired by the grassroots activism of the original organization but not otherwise related. Its chairwoman is Shazza Nzingha.

Obama Praises Auto Bailout:Is Road to Recovery

Government data released on Friday showed employers in May hired the fewest number of workers in eight months and U.S. unemployment rose to 9.1 percent, up from 9.0 percent in April.

That bump is a political challenge for the president, whose re-election in 2012 may depend on his ability to convince voters that his economic policies have been successful.

Part of his pitch will include steering attention to outside forces as causes for economic woes at home.

The president did just that in his weekly radio and Internet address, broadcast on Saturday, by highlighting "head winds" that are affecting the United States.

"Even though our economy has created more than two million private sector jobs over the past 15 months and continues to grow, we're facing some tough head winds," he said.

"Lately, it's high gas prices, the earthquake in Japan, and unease about the European fiscal situation. That will happen from time to time. There will be bumps on the road to recovery.

Like Friday's comments to Chrysler workers, Obama's address Saturday did not mention the bleak unemployment numbers announced Friday for the month of May. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the economy last month created only a net 54,000 jobs and unemployment inched up to 9.1 percent.
"We're facing some tough headwinds," Obama said. "Lately, it's high gas prices, the earthquake in Japan and unease about the European fiscal situation. That will happen from time to time."
The Bush and Obama administrations pumped $80 billion in taxpayer money into Chrysler and GM, with Obama guiding the companies into bankruptcy. The companies are now reporting profits, Chrysler has paid back all but $1.3 billion of its federal infusion, and the White House declared this week that the overall loss to taxpayers will be $14 billion, far less than initially expected.
Delivering the Republican address, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee cast the Obama administration as too friendly to labor unions and said industries are more likely to flourish in environments where unions don't hold as much sway. He noted that foreign auto companies like Nissan and Volkswagen have chosen to set up plants in his home state, a state with right-to-work laws that don't require employees to join unions or pay union dues.
He cited the case of Boeing, which was accused last month by the National Labor Relations Board of retaliating against union workers in Washington state who went on strike in 2008 by locating a new assembly line for its 787 aircraft in South Carolina, a state with right-to-work laws. The NLRB is seeking a court order that would force Boeing to return all 787 assembly work to Washington.
"Our goal should be to make it easier and cheaper to create private-sector jobs in this country," Alexander said. "Giving workers the right to join or not to join a union helps to create a competitive environment in which more manufacturers like Nissan and Boeing can make here what they sell here.

Economic news is bad for Obama’s reelection bid

Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will play golf together on June 18th in what will be an opportunity for the two men to hammer out their differences on the debt ceiling and other issues.

Both the White House and Boehner's office confirmed the planned round of golf to CBS News. The White House said Mr. Obama extended the invitation -- and the House speaker accepted.

The location of the round - as well as who will fill out the expected foursome - has not yet been decided.

CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reported on May 30 that Mr. Obama had played 70 rounds of golf as president. Boehner also regularly hits the links.

Boehner gas called on Mr. Obama to get personally involved in working out a deal on raising the debt ceiling, which the government says will be crossed on August 2 without action. Republicans, led by Boehner, want spending cuts larger than the increase in the debt limit in exchange for yes votes; Democrats say not raising the debt ceiling would have catastrophic consequences.

Behind the economic distress is a series of unexpected events, including the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the European debt crisis and rising gasoline prices. As a result of the unemployment rate turning back up and the housing market reaching new lows since the slump began in 2006, numerous economists have reduced their expectations for economic growth this year.

Even more challenging for Obama is that some of the hardest-hit states, such as Florida, Nevada and Michigan, are critically important for his reelection strategy.

Democrats believe the auto bailout can be a big political winner in the industrial Midwest. But the administration has struggled to show progress in helping struggling homeowners.

And White House allies concede that the economy may present greater challenges than they had thought.

“The president is going to be running for reelection in an economy that’s still too weak,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last month was chief economic adviser to Vice President Biden. “It is improving and is in a far better place than it was when he got there but still is not adequately lifting the living standards of the broad middle class.

Friday, 3 June 2011

African-American Story Tales Go

"Yes" this month is National Black Music Month or as some call it African-American Music Appreciation Month in which all music by black Americans is celebrated.

In June of 1979, it was designated by President Jimmy Carter as National Black Music Month. On May 31, 2011 President Barack Obama declared it as African-American Music Appreciation Month and asked that all of the United States observe this month by being a part of "appropriate" activities and programs that will raise awareness and foster appreciation of music which is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans.

As we all ready know, this is the month that you will be hearing about concert and television series featuring legendary as well as aspiring music artists and musicians. For instance, TV One will be airing movies, music and television episodes all June celebrating Black Music Month starting Saturday, June 4.

Some of the programming that will be aired on TV One will include The Fighting Temptations movie, BeyoncĂ© I Am Yours. . . Live From Las Vegas, TV One Night Only: Live From the Essence Music Festival, Unsung marathon, In the Mix, Chaka Khan: Live in Malibu, Lady Sings the Blues, The Jacksons: An American Dream, Alexander O’Neal and Cherrelle, Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration Concert and more.

Labels such as Capitol/EMI will be releasing a new digital compilation, "The Soul Of Capitol Records: Rare & Well-Done (Vol. 1)" to celebrate Black Month Music Month.

Dr. Tiffany S. Russell was written, illustrated, narrated and scored by an all African-American team. It was also developed by Black-owned Diverse Mobile. With Atlanta radio personality Jamal Ahmad narrating and hip hop artist and producer c’beyohn on the tracks, don’t expect a traditional story. The book takes children on a colorful and interactive musical journey and includes the soulful lyrics of Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind, and Fire and Marvin Gaye. The reason? To creatively teach children the meaning of determination, kindness and love.

"Music has a way of uniting people and can teach important lessons," says Dr. Russell. "I have a 3-year-old son who will come of age at a time that is digitally oriented and musically creative. It is important to me that I meaningfully contribute to the media that he and other children consume and A Song for Miles is the beginning of this contribution."

A Song for Miles went on sale at the Apple AppStore on June 1, the beginning of Black Music Month. It can be downloaded on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch for $4.99.

New Deal

As the many Americans suffered economically during the Great Depression, African Americans also had to deal with social ills, such as racism, discrimination, and segregation.
Many leading New Dealers, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes, Aubrey Williams, and John Flores Sr. worked to ensure blacks received at least 10% of welfare assistance payments. There was no attempt whatsoever to end segregation, or to increase black rights in the South. Roosevelt appointed an unprecedented number of blacks to second-level positions in his administration; these appointees were collectively called the Black Cabinet. Roosevelt and Hopkins worked with several big city mayors to encourage the transition of black political organizations from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party from 1934 to 1936, most notably in Chicago. The black community responded favorably, so that by 1936 the majority who voted (usually in the North) were voting Democratic. This was a sharp realignment from 1932, when most African Americans voted the Republican ticket. New Deal policies helped establish a political alliance between blacks and the Democratic Party that survives into the 21st century.
The WPA, NYA, and CCC relief programs allocated 10% of their budgets to blacks (who comprised about 10% of the total population, and 20% of the poor). They operated separate all-black units with the same pay and conditions as white units.
However, these benefits were small in comparison to the economic and political advantages that whites received. Social Security was denied to blacks, and most unions excluded blacks from joining. Enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in the South was virtually impossible, especially since most blacks worked in hospitality and agricultural sectors.

Why Is Black Unemployment So Stubbornly High

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its unemployment data for the month of May. The unemployment rate for the African American community went up from 16.1 percent to 16.2 percent. Black males, who already had the highest unemployment rate of any ethnic/gender category, saw their joblessness rise from an astounding 17 percent last month to 17.5 percent this month.
While white unemployment has declined since May of last year (8.5 percent to 8.0 percent), black unemployment has risen (15.3 percent to 16.2 percent). Black teenagers also saw their unemployment rate rise over the last year (38.4 percent to 40.7 percent). White teens, on the other hand, had a sharp decline in their unemployment rate (25.1 percent to 20.7 percent).
These astonishing numbers take us back to the statement made two years ago by President Barack Obama with regard to black unemployment. When journalist April Ryan did a wonderful job of pushing the black unemployment issue to the president, the baffling talking point of the Obama Administration was that “the rising tide will lift all boats,” implying that engaging in policy for the entire country would magically heal the effects of racial inequality in the job market. The translation was: “Sure black people gave us 18 percent of our votes, but you don’t deserve more than two percent of our time.”
The problem for the Obama Administration is that the “rising tide” logic might make sense on water, but it doesn’t add up in the real world. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like Trickle Down Economics, endorsed by the Reagan Administration nearly 30 years go. Economic trickles don’t work between the rich and the poor and they certainly don’t work on matters of race. This truth has been established repeatedly with the worsening unemployment numbers we keep seeing every single month.

First, there’s the bitter debate taking place on Capitol Hill over raising the nation’s debt ceiling and reducing its deficit. In addition to having a damaging effect on the country’s credit rating, Cleaver warned, the partisan fight is weakening the overall desire of employers to fill vacant positions or create new jobs.

“There also are some sociological reasons. When you graduate from Prairie View, where I attended college, and you’re competing for a job with somebody who graduated from Harvard, they’re going to give the job to the Harvard guy, even though the guy from Prairie View may be more competent,” Cleaver said.

In addition, he noted, discrimination continues to play a role in persistent Black unemployment, despite the fact that many people would choose to deny it.

“One of the worst things that’s happening in America right now is that sane people with IQs above 100 are denying that discrimination is still a factor in American life,” he said. “Even when you compare African-American college graduates with non-African-American college graduates, the African-Americans still have a higher unemployment rate. I don’t know how you camouflage that.“

Still, Cleaver noted, Blacks also need to be mindful of how important education is in improving one’s job prospects, and lamented the high high-school dropout rate among African-Americans. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis also cited lack of education as one of the primary factors driving up Black unemployment rates and said that her department will release a report next week that supports the premise.

“What’s so important is that if people have better skills, more education and training, the likelihood of them getting employed is at a much higher rate,” she said. “So achievement in terms of access to higher education and being able to get certificates in different job categories is still the bottom line for the African-American community.