Tuesday, June 28, 2005

We're Missing Too

Tamika Antonette Huston, missing since May 2004.

One month ago an Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway, disappeared on the tropic island of Aruba. The disappearance set off constant and persistent media coverage and an massive search.

Tyesah Patrice Bell, missing since May 2003 and Daphne Philisia Jones, missing since January 1999.

That search, which went international when a team from Texas traveled to the island to assist in the search, unfortunately has yet to turn up the teen or seemingly glean a strong suspect in the disappearance. People are arrested and released apparently yielding no information.

Dymashal Lashon Cullins, missing since August 2003 and Latoya Natasha Thomas, missing since September 2000.

That lack of information hasn't stopped the American media from drowning us in coverage about the case. While we hold out hope for the best for Natalee and keep her and her family in our prayers, we can't help but wonder why African American disappearances are not, no, are never covered by the media. Never.

Shirley Geans, missing since September 2004, Kireasha Pam Linkhorne, missing since October 2003 and Marcie Crane, missing since October 2003.

We understand that 20,000 adults alone are currently missing and it would be unwieldy to cover all 20,000 cases and the tens of thousands of cases surrounding missing kids, but to never give any coverage to missing African Americans is an insult to those who are missing, their families and the overall African American community. It seems as if the value of the African American lives in jeopardy are lower than those of white citizens how turn up missing in the eyes of the media.

For Tamika, Tyesha, Daphne, Dymashal, Latoya, Shirley, Kireasha, Marcie and countless other missing African Americans let's hope that the media will soon better value their lives.

Source: Essence Magazine, page 128-132, July 2005

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Finally Justice in Philadelphia

Today a criminal jury broke a 6-6 deadlock and convicted former Ku Klux Klan member Edgar Ray Killen for killing Civil Rights workers James Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 20 and Michael Schwerner, 24 in Philadelphia, Mississippi 41 years ago during the Freedom Summer.

Finally, Mr. Chaney, Mr. Goodman and Mr. Schwerner can rest in peace and their families can take some solace in the fact that justice delayed was not justice denied.

The justice dispensed today may disappoint some since the jury returned 3 guilty counts of manslaughter instead of murder. But with 20 possible years per count the verdict is all but a death sentence for the unrepentant frail 80 year man who came and left the courtroom everyday in a wheelchair. Today Edgar Ray Killen will leave in that wheelchair and roll into prison probably never to see the light of day as a free man again.

He has unconscionably been a free man for 41 years and escaped conviction in 1967 when an all white jury "surprisingly" deadlocked. But as a minister Mr. Killen should know that the Lord moves in mysterious ways and the movement today is toward a penitentiary in Mississippi where he will justly spend the rest of his life.

Since he spent most of his life espousing hate and hiding from justice, it is ironic that a racial mixed jury of 9 whites and 3 African Americans would make sure that justice was done, finally.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Dichotomy of Reducing Federal Funding in Public Broadcasting

We're extremely confused on the latest efforts by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services and Education to reduce federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is an instance where Republicans, conservative activists primarily, are having trouble connecting what they say with what they do.

Conservatives continue pushing the boundaries of First Amendment protections by lamenting the proliferation of "anti-moral" and "value-less" programming on cable and the major television networks (despite the fact one of the networks - the largest of the reality TV culprits - is owned by a major Republican contributor). Whereas we remain cautious of the potential limits on free speech when such arguments are transformed into policy, we understand the reason for concern when our kids our bombarded by questionable programming. But, why threaten to undermine programming that not only caters to kids, but promotes child learning, family values and the basics of human decency and respect?

We understand that this latest move is merely a partisan response to the growing perception that adult-oriented news programming supported by CPB (such as NPR and McNeil-Lehrer) is heavily "liberal" in coverage. But, ideological arguments aside, even these shows are better than the commercialized versions on CNN, FOX and MSNBC when we're in desperate need of intellectual stimulation without "these words from our sponsors" and the increasingly narrow funnel of mainstream media.

We can't understand why Congress would choose to fight this at the expense of the kids.

So, wouldn't it be natural for conservatives to encourage greater support for family-friendly alternatives such as PBS, where you find Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Dragon Tales? Defund CPB as opposed to funding what? The Christian Broadcast Network? Or what: the lobbyists from Time Warner have managed to convince key House members that Cartoon Network is a better alternative?

Here you have a choice between the cesspool of mind-numbing cartoons, senselessly hyper-sexual music videos and reality shows, and the cleaner, responsibly formatted family-oriented alternative. Come on - Conservatives can't have it both ways.

Behind the Anti-Lynching Resolution

We found it awfully interesting that, as of June 15th, it has taken the following Republican Senators as long as it has taken to co-sponsor the Senate Anti-Lynching Apology:

Alexander (R-TN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thomas (R-WY)

Note Hatch, who has tried to use his support of controversial conservative African Americans such as Janice Rogers Brown and Clarence Thomas as a way to wedge relations between the Black electorate and the Democratic Party. Most of the others on this list don't surprise us - why Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) continues to pander to her colleagues by labeling them as "supporters" when they clearly have not co-sponsored the resolution (either you sponsor it or not) speaks to the elite "buddy system" nature of the Senate.

There is a political agenda in the presentation of this resolution. For one, the Senate figures this will make amends for the recent filibuster flap. Two: Sen. George Allen (R-VA) also introduced this bill with Sen. Landrieu; the whisper is that he is currently mulling a Presidential bid in 2008 - hence, the outreach of symbolism is supposed to hold greater value for this conservative movement mouthpiece than those substantive items African Americans really care about. Three: Landrieu has to find some way to energize the Black vote in Louisiana following the Republican coup in last year's Senate race, where newly installed Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) replaced long-time Democratic icon and retired Louisiana political legend Sen. John Breaux. Somebody dropped the Democrat's ball in Louisiana ...

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Third Way ...

Marshall Whitmann in TPMCafe.com says current conditions might help a third party grow in time for the 2008 presidential election.
"As the new Washington Post survey shows, independents are particularly estranged from the Bushies. The overall electorate is annoyed by both parties and the Washington politicians. The deficit is growing and the economy is anemic. The popularity of the Iraq war is plummeting and no end is in sight."These are combustible conditions that could very well produce a third force in American politics. It is striking how similar the current situation is to that in 1992 when Perot emerged."

But, there may be more evidence of an alternative popular "third way" of political advocacy rather than a "third party." In addition, there are already third parties - there are a plethora of political parties in the U.S. Questions remain as to whether or not they can raise funds and financially compete with the two party powerhouses. Is there will in the American gut to truly fund, support and vote for a "third party"? Or, really, isn't it about "independent candidates" and "independent voices"? There is a distinction between the independence of thought in politics and the formation of another set of talking points. We think the American electorate is more interested in the former.

Is it the party that defines the independence or is it the people? We thought parties are simply brick-and-mortar constructs to catapult political careers - we didn't know parties are the sole source of political discource and thought. Talk about group think; if we're not careful, we're going to Orwell ourselves into body politic oblivion.

Africa Debt Relief ...

Some thoughts on debt relief in Africa. The fact that G8 Countries (primarily the US and Britain) are considering a debt relief package for nations in Africa speaks more to the geo-political realities of the day that a sudden stroke of conscience on the part of Anglo-Saxon "Western" powers seeking a clean slate from the legacy of slavery. Both of the leading "Coalition" powers are assessing the risk of ignoring terrorist activities and money-making opportunities in resource-wealthy sub Saharan Africa. Some questions being asked include: how does global hyperpoverty contribute to "Third World" accusations of Western arrogance, ignorance and racism? Or: how will global poverty contribute to destabilizing Western control?

Enter the need for a quick fix.

Because this is really what it is. Not discussed is the double-standard in Western liberation of dictatorships in oil-rich Middle Eastern countries, but absence of a plan on stopping the proliferation of civil wars and strife in self-destructing African countries. In addition, will simply wiping debt from the treasury rolls of African countries be the cure all for what truly ails the continent? No: it won't even touch the surface. There is a bigger question of the billions in aid squandered and misused annually. Where is the accountability mechanism?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Failed Filibusters, Republicans & The Race Card ...

We had to comment on the shenanigans unfolding on the Senate floor yesterday. Here's the AP version, which is as balanced as it gets:

"The simmering Senate fight over judicial nominations took a twist Tuesday as a Republican lawmaker accused Sen. Charles Schumer of comparing a black judge to the racist Ku Klux Klan. The dust-up began when Schumer, D-N.Y., a leader in the Democrats' fight against certain Bush picks for the federal bench, said on the Senate floor that nominee Janice Rogers Brown might want to claim extraordinary power as a federal appeals judge in the D.C. circuit. 'What does Janice Rogers Brown want to be nominated for? Dictator? Or grand exalted ruler?' Schumer said."

This brings an interesting twist to an otherwise dull moment in the procedural conundrum called the U.S. Senate, where many will question the merits of the recent filibuster compromise for years to come. How odd and truly absurd does it look when a White Republican Southern Alabama Senator like Jeff Sessions is accusing a Northeastern liberal Jewish Senator of unfairly characterizing a Black female judicial nominee as having an affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan? Sessions of all people shouldn't speak - he didn't get to where he is without the support of the deeply entrenched Alabama "Ole' Boy" network that has its foundation in Southern White supremacy, Dixiecrat and Jim Crow legacies. And as AP puts it:

"According to histories of the Ku Klux Klan, the group has had Grand Dragons, Grand Titans, Grand Klaliffs, a Grand Cyclops, and a Grand Wizard, but no "grand exalted ruler."

So, who on the Senate floor had their mind stuck in the racial gutter yesterday? Certainly wasn't Schumer.

Conservatives have mustered much gall in recent years by playing a race card they viciously ostracize Democrats, Black politicos and the "liberal elite" of playing on the regular. It's not acceptable for Congressional Black Caucus Members to rightfully question the sometimes racially-inclined motives of conservative policy and tyrannical Republican majority rules in Congress and the White House. But, the double standard appears when it's o.k. to play it only if you're defending conservative Black minions of the right who actively seek to deconstruct years of blood, sweat and tears. Suddenly, conservatives become victims - all that talk of personal responsibility and diminished entitlements is conveniently forgotten in the name of political expediency. Plus, the bonus is Republicans get to look pro-Black for a day - a small spot of wax on an otherwise tarnished cultural relations image.