Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Women By: Natasha White

Weaker than manIn physical strengthStronger than manIn spiritShe is woman.Made fragile yet delicateBeautifully wise and intuitiveGrace her staffFlair her crownShe is woman.From her womb flows lifeHer bosom nurtures all humanityShe births generationsShe creates nationsShe is woman.A rock even when crackedThe backbone even when brokenAudible voice even with words unspokenShe is woman.The standardThe common factorShe completes the worldShe defines it and gives it meaningShe is woman.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


The craving of Samuel Rouse for clearance to create was surely as hot as the iron that buffeted him. His passion for freedom so strong that it molded the smoldering fashion he laced, for how else could a slave plot or counterplot such incomparable shapes, form or reform, for house after house the intricate Chatilion Patio pattern, the delicate Rose and Lyre, the Debutante Settee the complex but famous Grape; frame the classic vein in an iron bench?How could he turn an iron Venetian urn, wind the Grape Vine chain the trunk of a pine with a Round-the-Tree-settee, mold a Floating Flower tray, a French chair, create all this in such exquisite fairyland taste, that he'd be freed and his skill would still resound a hundred years after? And I wonder if I, with this thick asbestos glove of an attitude, could lace forge, and bend this ton of lead-chained spleen surrounding me?Could I manifest and sustain it into a new free-form screen of, not necessarily love, but (at the very least, for all concerned) grace...Reference:Margaret Danner

Sunday, May 13, 2007


This past Sunday, I participated in the Y-Me National Breast Cancer walk. My family and I lost my older sister to breast cancer in 1999. While at her home with all three sisters one evening, Valarie shared with us that she had discovered a lump on her right breast. My family is not predisposed to breast cancer so this was clearly not expected. In addition to my sister being diagnosed with cancer, her daughter developed it as well. This weekend was dedicated to the loving memory of my sister, Valarie Ward- Cookbey. Please remember to get your annual mammogram screenings.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Meanings of Truth: By Leatha Patton

Sexism and Misogyny

Sexism and Misogyny:
Who Takes the Rap?Misogyny, gangsta rap, and The PianoBy bell hooks
For the past several months white mainstream media has been calling me to hear my views on gangsta rap. Whether major television networks, or small independent radio shows, they seek me out for the black and feminist "take" on the issue. After I have my say, I am never called back, never invited to do the television shows or the radio spots. I suspect they call, confident that when we talk they will hear the hardcore "feminist" trash of gangsta rap. When they encounter instead the hardcore feminist critique of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, they lose interest.
To white dominated mass media, the controversy over gangsta rap makes great spectacle. Besides the exploitation of these issues to attract audiences, a central motivation for highlighting gangsta rap continues to be the sensationalist drama of demonizing black youth culture in general and the contributions of young black men in particular. It is a contemporary remake of "Birth of a Nation" only this time we are encouraged to believe it is not just vulnerable white womanhood that risks destruction by black hands but everyone. When I counter this demonization of black males by insisting that gangsta rap does not appear in a cultural vacuum, but, rather, is expressive of the cultural crossing, mixings, and engagement of black youth culture with the values, attitudes, and concerns of the white majority, some folks stop listening.
The sexist, misogynist, patriarchal ways of thinking and behaving that are glorified in gangsta rap are a reflection of the prevailing values in our society, values created and sustained by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. As the crudest and most brutal expression of sexism, misogynistic attitudes tend to be portrayed by the dominant culture as an expression of male deviance. In reality they are part of a sexist continuum, necessary for the maintenance of patriarchal social order. While patriarchy and sexism continue to be the political and cultural norm in our society, feminist movement has created a climate where crude expressions of male domination are called into question, especially if they are made by men in power. It is useful to think of misogyny as a field that must be labored in and maintained both to sustain patriarchy but also to serve as an ideological anti-feminist backlash. And what better group to labor on this "plantation" than young black men.
To see gangsta rap as a reflection of dominant values in our culture rather than as an aberrant "pathological" standpoint does not mean that a rigorous feminist critique of the sexist and misogyny expressed in this music is not needed. Without a doubt black males, young and old, must be held politically accountable for their sexism. Yet this critique must always be contextualized or we risk making it appear that the behaviors this thinking supports and condones,--rape, male violence against women, etc.-- is a black male thing. And this is what is happening. Young black males are forced to take the "heat" for encouraging, via their music, the hatred of and violence against women that is a central core of patriarchy.
Witness the recent piece by Brent Staples in the "New York Times" titled "The Politics of Gangster Rap: A Music Celebrating Murder and Misogyny." Defining the turf Staples writes: "For those who haven't caught up, gangster rap is that wildly successful music in which all women are `bitches' and `whores' and young men kill each other for sport." No mention of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in this piece, not a word about the cultural context that would need to exist for young males to be socialized to think differently about gender. Staples assumes that black males are writing their lyrics off in the "jungle," away from the impact of mainstream socialization and desire. At no point in his piece does he ask why huge audiences, especially young white male consumers, are so turned on by this music, by the misogyny and sexism, by the brutality? Where is the anger and rage at females expressed in this music coming from, the glorification of all acts of violence? These are the difficult questions that Staples feels no need to answer.
One cannot answer them honestly without placing accountability on larger structures of domination and the individuals (often white, usually male but not always) who are hierarchically placed to maintain and perpetuate the values that uphold these exploitative and oppressive systems. That means taking a critical looking at the politics of hedonistic consumerism, the values of the men and women who produce gangsta rap. It would mean considering the seduction of young black males who find that they can make more money producing lyrics that promote violence, sexism, and misogyny than with any other content. How many disenfranchised black males would not surrender to expressing virulent forms of sexism, if they knew the rewards would be unprecedented material power and fame?
More than anything gangsta rap celebrates the world of the "material, " the dog-eat-dog world where you do what you gotta do to make it. In this world view killing is necessary for survival. Significantly, the logic here is a crude expression of the logic of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. In his new book "Sexy Dressing, Etc." privileged white male law professor Duncan Kennedy gives what he calls "a set of general characterizations of U. S. culture" explaining that, "It is individual (cowboys), material (gangsters) and philistine." Using this general description of mainstream culture would lead us to place "gangsta rap" not on the margins of what this nation is about, but at the center. Rather than being viewed as a subversion or disruption of the norm we would need to see it as an embodiment of the norm.
That viewpoint was graphically highlighted in the film "Menace To Society" which dramatized not only young black males killing for sport, but also mass audiences voyeuristically watching and, in many cases, "enjoying" the kill. Significantly, at one point in the movie we see that the young black males have learned their "gangsta" values from watching television and movies--shows where white male gangsters are center stage. This scene undermines any notion of "essentialist" blackness that would have viewers believe the gangsterism these young black males embraced emerged from some unique black cultural experience.
When I interviewed rap artist Ice Cube for "Spin" magazine last year, he talked about the importance of respecting black women and communication across gender. He spoke against male violence against women, even as he lapsed into a justification for anti- woman rap lyrics by insisting on the madonna/whore split where some females "carry" themselves in a manner that determines how they will be treated. When this interview was published, it was cut to nothing. It was a mass media set-up. Folks (mostly white and male) had thought if the hardcore feminist talked with the hardened black man, sparks would fly; there would be a knock-down drag out spectacle. When Brother Cube and I talked to each other with respect about the political, spiritual, and emotional self- determination of black people, it did not make good copy. Clearly folks at the magazine did not get the darky show they were looking for.
After this conversation, and talking with rappers and folks who listen to rap, it became clear that while black male sexism is a serious problem in our communities and in black music, some of the more misogynist lyrics were there to stir up controversy and appeal to audiences. Nowhere is this more evident that in Snoop Doggy Dogg's record "Doggystyle". A black male music and cultural critic called me to ask if I had checked this image out; to share that for one of the first times in his music buying life he felt he was seeing an image so offensive in its sexism and misogyny that he did not want to take that image home. That image (complete with doghouse, beware the dog sign, with a naked black female head in a doghouse, naked butt sticking out) was reproduced, "uncritically," in the November 29, 1993 issue of "Time" magazine. The positive music review of this album, written by Christopher John Farley, is titled "Gangsta Rap, Doggystyle" makes no mention of sexism and misogyny, makes no reference to the cover. I wonder if a naked white female body had been inside the doghouse, presumably waiting to be fucked from behind, if "Time" would have reproduced an image of the cover along with their review. When I see the pornographic cartoon that graces the cover of "Doggystyle," I do not think simply about the sexism and misogyny of young black men, I think about the sexist and misogynist politics of the powerful white adult men and women (and folks of color) who helped produce and market this album.
In her book "Misogynies" Joan Smith shares her sense that while most folks are willing to acknowledge unfair treatment of women, discrimination on the basis of gender, they are usually reluctant to admit that hatred of women is encouraged because it helps maintain the structure of male dominance. Smith suggests: "Misogyny wears many guises, reveals itself in different forms which are dictated by class, wealth, education, race, religion and other factors, but its chief characteristic is its pervasiveness." This point reverberated in my mind when I saw Jane Campion's widely acclaimed film "The Piano" which I saw in the midst of mass media focus on sexism and misogyny in "gangsta rap." I had been told by many friends in the art world that this was "an incredible film, a truly compelling love story etc." Their responses were echoed by numerous positive reviews. No one speaking about this film mentions misogyny and sexism or white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
The 19th century world of the white invasion of New Zealand is utterly romanticized in this film (complete with docile happy darkies--Maori natives--who appear to have not a care in the world). And when the film suggests they care about white colonizers digging up the graves of their dead ancestors, it is the sympathetic poor white male who comes to the rescue. Just as the conquest of natives and lands is glamorized in this film, so is the conquest of femininity, personified by white womanhood, by the pale speechless corpse-like Scotswoman, Ada, who journeys into this dark wilderness because her father has arranged for her to marry the white colonizer Stewart. Although mute, Ada expresses her artistic ability, the intensity of her vision and feelings through piano playing. This passion attracts Baines, the illiterate white settler who wears the facial tattoos of the Maori--an act of appropriation that makes him (like the traditional figure of Tarzan) appear both dangerous and romantic. He is Norman Mailer's "white negro," seducing Ada by promising to return the piano that Steward has exchanged with him for land. The film leads us to believe that Ada's passionate piano playing has been a substitution for repressed eroticism. When she learns to let herself go sexually, she ceases to need the piano. We watch the passionate climax of Baines seduction as she willingly seeks him sexually. And we watch her husband Stewart in the role of voyeur, standing with dog outside the cabin where they fuck, voyeuristically consuming their pleasure. Rather than being turned off by her love for Baines, it appears to excite Stewart's passion; he longs to possess her all the more. Unable to win her back from Baines, he expresses his rage, rooted in misogyny and sexism, by physically attacking her and chopping off her finger with an ax. This act of male violence takes place with Ada's daughter, Flora, as a witness. Though traumatized by the violence she witnesses, she is still about to follow the white male patriarch's orders and take the bloody finger to Baines, along with the message that each time he sees Ada she will suffer physical mutilation.
Violence against land, natives, and women in this film, unlike that of gangsta rap, is portrayed uncritically, as though it is "natural," the inevitable climax of conflicting passions. The outcome of this violence is positive. Ultimately, the film suggests Stewart's rage was only an expression of irrational sexual jealousy, that he comes to his senses and is able to see "reason." In keeping with male exchange of women, he gives Ada and Flora to Baines. They leave the wilderness. On the voyage home Ada demands that her piano be thrown overboard because it is "soiled," tainted with horrible memories. Surrendering it she lets go of her longing to display passion through artistic expression. A nuclear family now, Baines, Ada, and Flora resettle and live happily-ever-after. Suddenly, patriarchal order is restored. Ada becomes a modest wife, wearing a veil over her mouth so that no one will see her lips struggling to speak words. Flora has no memory of trauma and is a happy child turning somersaults. Baines is in charge, even making Ada a new finger.
"The Piano "seduces and excites audiences with its uncritical portrayal of sexism and misogyny. Reviewers and audiences alike seem to assume that Campion's gender, as well as her breaking of traditional boundaries that inhibit the advancement of women in film, indicate that her work expresses a feminist standpoint. And, indeed, she does employ feminist "tropes," even as her work betrays feminist visions of female actualization, celebrates and eroticizes male domination. In Smith's discussion of misogyny she emphasizes that woman-hating is not solely the province of men: "We are all exposed to the prevailing ideology of our culture, and some women learn early on that they can prosper by aping the misogyny of men; these are the women who win provisional favor by denigrating other women, by playing on male prejudices, and by acting the `man's woman'." Since this is not a documentary film that needs to remain faithful to the ethos of its historical setting, why is it that Campion does not resolve Ada's conflicts by providing us with an imaginary landscape where a woman can express passionate artistic commitment and find fulfillment in a passionate relationship? This would be no more far-fetched than her cinematic portrayal of Ada's miraculous transformation from muteness into speech. Ultimately, Campion's "The Piano" advances the sexist assumption that heterosexual women will give up artistic practice to find "true love." That "positive" surrender is encouraged by the "romantic" portrayal of sexism and misogyny.
While I do not think that young black male rappers have been rushing in droves to see "The Piano", there is a bond between those folks involved with high culture who celebrate and condone the sexist ideas and values upheld in this film and those who celebrate and condone "gangsta rap." Certainly Kennedy's description of the United States as a "cowboy, gangster, philistine" culture would also accurately describe the culture evoked in "The Piano". Popular movies that are seen by young black males, for example "Indecent Proposal, MadDog and Glory, True Romance", and "One False Move", all eroticize male domination expressed via the exchange of women, as well as the subjugation of other men, through brutal violence.
Contrary to a racist white imagination which assumes that most young black males, especially those who are poor, live in a self- created cultural vacuum, uninfluenced by mainstream, cultural values, it is the application of those values, largely learned through passive uncritical consumption of mass media, that is revealed in "gangsta rap." Brent Staples is willing to challenge the notion that "urban primitivism is romantic" when it suggests that black males become "real men" by displaying the will to do violence, yet he remains resolutely silent about that world of privileged white culture that has historically romanticized primitivism, and eroticized male violence. Contemporary films like "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Bad Lieutenant" celebrate urban primitivism and many less well done films ("Trespass, Rising Sun") create and/or exploit the cultural demand for depictions of hardcore blacks who are willing to kill for sport.
To take "gangsta rap" to task for its sexism and misogyny while critically accepting and perpetuating those expressions of that ideology which reflect bourgeois standards (no rawness, no vulgarity) is not to call for a transformation of the culture of patriarchy. Ironically, many black male ministers, themselves sexist and misogynist, are leading the attacks against gangsta rap. Like the mainstream world that supports white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, they are most concerned with calling attention to the vulgar obscene portrayals of women to advance the cause of censorship. For them, rethinking and challenging sexism, both in the dominant culture and in black life, is not the issue.
Mainstream white culture is not concerned about black male sexism and misogyny, particularly when it is unleashed against black women and children. It is concerned when young white consumers utilize black popular culture to disrupt bourgeois values. Whether it be the young white boy who expresses his rage at his mother by aping black male vernacular speech (a true story) or the masses of young white males (and middle class men of color) seeking to throw off the constraints of bourgeois bondage who actively assert in their domestic households via acts of aggression their rejection of the call to be "civilized. " These are the audiences who feel such a desperate need for gangsta rap. It is much easier to attack gangsta rap than to confront the culture that produces that need.
Gangsta rap is part of the anti-feminist backlash that is the rage right now. When young black males labor in the plantations of misogyny and sexism to produce gangsta rap, their right to speak this violence and be materially rewarded is extended to them by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Far from being an expression of their "manhood," it is an expression of their own subjugation and humiliation by more powerful, less visible forces of patriarchal gangsterism. They give voice to the brutal raw anger and rage against women that it is taboo for "civilized" adult men to speak. No wonder then that they have the task of tutoring the young, teaching them to eroticize and enjoy the brutal expressions of that rage (teaching them language and acts) before they learn to cloak it in middle-class decorum or Robert Bly style reclaimings of lost manhood. The tragedy for young black males is that they are so easily dunned by a vision of manhood that can only lead to their destruction.
Feminist critiques of the sexism and misogyny in gangsta rap, and in all aspects of popular culture, must continue to be bold and fierce. Black females must not be duped into supporting sh*t that hurts us under the guise of standing beside our men. If black men are betraying us through acts of male violence, we save ourselves and the race by resisting. Yet, our feminist critiques of black male sexism fail as meaningful political intervention if they seek to demonize black males, and do not recognize that our revolutionary work is to transform white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in the multiple areas of our lives where it is made manifest, whether in gangsta rap, the black church, or the Clinton administration

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Free Golf Lesson in your town for the Month of May

(Franklin, TN) Last May, nearly 7,500 PGA Professionals nationwide gave more than 147,000 FREE 10-MINUTE LESSONS! From all indications, 2007 PGA Free Lesson Month will be even better!
Perfect for New Golfers – Easy, casual program to get a quick introduction into golf!
Perfect for Casual Golfers – Get a few tips to improve your swing.
Perfect for Avid Golfers – Work with a PGA Professional to see how you might fine-tune your game.
Simply put, PGA Free Lesson Month is the perfect tool to improve your game, get you started, or discover all the ways to get more golf into your life!

Participating PGA Professionals are also authorized PGA Trade-In Network members who can accept your used golf club trade-ins based on fair market values from the Value Guide; The National Standard for Golf Club Values TM. Trading-in allows you to purchase new, custom-fit equipment more affordably.
Contact your local PGA professional or find out who is participating in your area by visiting

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Race In Antiquity: Truly Out of Africa

Truly Out of Africa Africa's influence on ancient Greece, the oldest European civilization, was profound and significant in art, architecture, astronomy, medicine, geometry, mathematics, law, politics, and religion. Yet there has been a furious campaign to discredit African influence and to claim a miraculous birth for Western civilization. A number of books and articles by white and some black conservatives seek to disprove the Egyptian influence on Greece.
One of the most recent works in this genre is a book by Wellesley professor Mary Lefkowitz, Not Out of Africa. It continues what Martin Bernal calls in Black Athena the Aryanist tradition of attacking African agency in regard to Greece by raising strawpeople arguments and then knocking them over. This is unfortunate but to be expected by an intellectual tradition that supports the dominant mythologies of race in the history of the West by diverting attention to marginal issues in the public domain.
Afrocentricity seeks to discover African agency in every situation. Who are we? What did we do? Where did we travel? What is our role in geometry? How do we as a people function in this or that contemporary situation? But the Afrocentrist does not advance African particularity as universal. This is its essential difference from Eurocentricity which is advanced in the United States and other places as if the particular experiences of Europeans is universal. This imposition is ethnocentric and often racist. Afrocentricity advances the view that it is possible for a pluralism of cultures to exist without hierarchy but this demands cultural equality and respect.
Mary Lefkowitz' book has sought to re-assert the idea that Greece did not receive substantial contributions from Kemet, the original name of Egypt, which is the Greek name for the ancient land. Professor Lefkowitz has offered the public a pablum history which ignores or distorts the substantial evidence of African influence on Greece in the ancient writings of Aetius, Strabo, Plato, Homer, Herodotus, Diogenes, Plutarch, and Diodorus Siculus. A reader of Lefkowitz' book must decide if she or he is going to believe those who wrote during the period or someone who writes today. History teaches us that a person is more likely to distort an event the farther away from it she happens to be. If you have a choice, go with the people who saw the ancient Egyptians and wrote about what they saw.
Conservative white columnists have felt a tremendous need to respond in the most vigorous fashion with their applause to shore up their racial mythologies. And now George Will (Newsweek, February 12, 1996) and Roger Kimball (Wall Street Journal, February 14, 1996) have seen fit to bless Professor Mary Lefkowitz' Not Out of Africa as a sort of definitive moment in intellectual history. It is no such moment. It is a racial argument clearly fast back-stepping. As is too often the case these days, however, Lefkowitz received the go-ahead to attack Afrocentricity by writing this book of blacks such as Anthony Appiah and Henry Gates. They have, of course, had a real problem with the Afrocentric idea.
What this indicates is that we have gone full circle from the Hegelian "Let us forget Africa" to a late 20th century attack on African scholarship by declaring, in the face of the evidence, that major influences on Greece were not out of Africa. And as such it will simply confirm the inability of some scholars to get beyond the imposition of their particularism of Europe. No one can remove the gifts of Europe nor should that ever be the aim of scholarship but Greece cannot impose itself as some universal culture that developed full-blown out of nothing, without the foundations it received from Africa.
The aim of Professor Lefkowitz is to support the unsupportable idea of a miraculous Greece and thus to enhance a white supremacist myth of the ancient world. Perhaps George Will and Roger Kimball believe that that they have found a savior of the pure white thesis. They are wrong. The thesis cannot be supported with facts although Professor Lefkowitz goes to great length to confuse the picture by concentrating on irrelevancies.
Professor Mary Lefkowitz' work pales besides the research done by Cornell professor Martin Bernal, Black Athena, the late Cheikh Anta Diop, author of Civilization or Barbarism, and Temple professor Theophile Obenga, author of the important La Philosophie Africaine de la période Pharonique, (African Philosophy in the Age of the Pharoahs) or the forthcoming work by Professor Maulana Karenga on ancient Egyptian ethics.
The press fanfare granted Not out of Africa, however, does demonstrate how noise can be confused with music. But what is more worrisome is that it demonstrates a glee, although misinformed, of those who feel some sense of relief that a white scholar has taken on the Afrocentrists, a kind of white hope idea. This stems, as I believe George Will has shown in his essay on the subject, from what is viewed as white salvation from the irrationality of Afrocentrists. It originates in an historical anti-African bias and Roger Kimball nearly gloated that readers would "savor" Lefkowitz' "definitive dissection of Afrocentrism." Contrary to any definitive dissection of Afrocentrism what Professor Lefkowitz offered was a definitive exposure of the principal assumptions of a racial structure of classical knowledge.

The Progress of Liberty


Though slavery's dead, yet there remains A work for those from whom the chainsToday are falling one by one;Nor should they deem their labor done,Nor shrink the task, however hard,While it insures a great reward,And bids them on its might dependFor perfect freedom in the end.Commend yourselves through self-respect;Let self-respect become your guide:Then will consistency reflectYour rightful claims to manhood's pride.But while you cringe and basely cower,And while your ostracise your class,Heaven will ne'er assume the powerTo elevate you as a mass.In this yourselves must take the lead;You must yourselves first elevate;Till then the world will ne'er concedeYour claims to manhood's high estate.Respect yourself; this forms the baseOf manhood's claim to man's regard.Next to yourself, respect your race,Whose care should be your constant ward;Remember that you are a classDistinct and separate in this land,And all the wealth you may amass,Or skill, or learning, won't commandThat high respect you vainly seek,Until you practice what you claim--Until the acts and words you speakShall, in the concrete, be the same.Screen not behind a pallid brow;Paint lends no virtue to the face;Until the Black's respected, thou,With all the branches of his race,Must bow beneath the cruel banAnd often feel the wrinkled browBent on you by a fellow-manNot half so worthy, oft, as thou.Away with caste, and let us fightAs men, the battles of the free,And heaven will arm you with the mightAnd power of man's divinity.THere may be causes for distrust,And many an act that seems unjust;But who, when taking all in all,And summing up our present state,Would find no objects to extol,No worthy deeds to emulate???????

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Jeremiah A Wright Jr.

March 11, 2007 Jodi Kantor The New York Times 9 West 43rd Street New York, New York 10036-3959
Dear Jodi:
Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years.You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a "Spiritual Biography" of Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met.For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other whether or not she was going to run. I told yo u what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn't I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family?I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout Christian, but who did not prejudge others because they believed something other than what he believed.I talked about how rare it was to meet a man whose C hristianity was not just "in word only."I talked about Barack being a person who lived his faith and did not argue his faith. I talked
about Barack as a person who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to hell if they did not believe what he believed.Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack's spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that. When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to how God asked Moses, "What is that in your hand?," that Barack was like that when I met him. Barack had it "in his hand." Barack had in his grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that.As I was just st ar ting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on......
Barack's taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print?You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed "sound byte" and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation's first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Ova l O ffice.Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me doubt your credibility, and I am
lookingforward to see how you are going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama's "Spiritual Biography."Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that Hannity of "Hannity and Colmes" is trying to trash, set the record straight for you in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which Barack has belonged for over twenty years.The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator; and yet The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants to be the truth.I do not remember readi ng i n your article that Barack had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did I
miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way, you do not have to worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or "spin" because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party's national "blog." The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior. Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana. Maybe it was my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no
integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!Sincerely and respectfully yours, Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. , Senior Pastor Trinity United Church of Christ

Friday, May 4, 2007

African Pygmie Kept in Bronx Zoo

Ota Benga commits suicide!

March 20
Ota Benga*On this date in 1916, Ota Benga, an African pygmie kept in the Bronx Zoo, killed himself. Benga was brought to America from the Belgian Congo in 1904 by noted African explorer Samuel Verner along with other pygmies and displayed in an exhibit in the 1904 St. Louis world’s Fair. In 1906, the crowds thronged the monkey house exhibit at the Bronx Zoo (New York Zoological Park) to view Benga. In time he began to hate being the object of curiosity. Several institutions tried to help him and he was placed in the Virginia Theological Seminary and College but quit school to work in a tobacco factory. Growing homesick, hostile, and despondent Ota Benga borrowed a revolver, and shot himself in the heart.

Reference:The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition. Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. ISBN 0-85229-633-0

We Wear The Mask.............

June 27

WE WEAR THE MASK by Paul Laurence Dunbar.We wear the mask that grins and lies,It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,-This debt we pay to human guile;With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,And mouth with myriad subtleties.Why should the world be over-wise,In counting all our tears and sighs?Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask.We smile, but, O great Christ, our criesTo thee from tortured souls arise.We sing, but oh the clay is vile Beneath our feet, and long the mile;But let the world dream otherwise, We wear the mask...Reference:Paul Dunbar

Thursday, May 3, 2007

History of Mexican-Black Solidarity Source

History of Mexican-Black solidaritySource: are excerpts from a talk given by Debbie Johnson at a meeting in Detroit during Black History Month this year.There is a long history of Mexicans welcoming and assisting Blacks fleeing American slavery. The fact of the matter is that when white “slave-hunting” militias would come into Mexico demanding that their “property”—the enslaved workers—be returned, many Mexicans rejected these pleas and were angered at the fact that these slave hunters would have the audacity to enter Mexico and attempt to impose their laws in a nation that had already banned slavery for moral and religious reasons.As early as 1811, the Rev. Jose Morelos—a Mexican of African descent—led an all-Black army brigade to help fight for Mexican independence. In 1855 more than 4,000 runaway slaves were helped by Mexicans in Texas to escape and find freedom in Mexico. The Underground Railroad was not just into Canada. It went south as well.Indeed, throughout three centuries, African slaves were joined by Mexicans in opposition to the exploitation of Africans by European “immigrants—settlers—on the North American continent. Just a few examples of this long and rich history of solidarity are: • In 1546, Mexico recorded the first conspiracy against slavery, which occurred in Mexico City among a coalition of enslaved Africans and indigenous insurgents.• In 1609 in Vera Cruz, Mexico, Yanga established the first free pueblo of formerly enslaved Africans in the Western Hemisphere.• In 1693 within the area of the “United States,” which was in fact Mexican territory, an alliance between African runaways and rebellious indigenous tribes developed and resulted in considerable cooperation and intermarriages between them. It was much like that which developed between African people and the American Indian communities.• In 1820, in Mexico, the pro-independence army commanded by Black Gen. Vicente Ramon Guerrero was joined and saved by the courageous Mexican/Indigenuous leader Pedro Ascensio. This army won many battles in resisting French and American colonial wars of occupation.• In 1836, during the battle of the Alamo, Mexican troops fought not only to keep the U.S. from annexing Texas, but also to abolish the dreaded practice of slavery carried out by pro-slavery white settlers. While the Mexican people did not have to join in this fight, they believed slavery was wrong, and they helped fight to stop it. Mexicans consistently took in and helped Black slaves who would run away from the U.S. Another “underground railroad”—this one south of the border—saved the lives and allowed the freedom of thousands of African people fleeing enslavement by European settlers.• During the period before the Civil War, Mexican authorities refused to return enslaved runaways to the U.S. slaveholders. Aided by Mexicans in Texas, thousands of runaways escaped to freedom in Mexico. The U.S. government had to send 20 percent of its whole army to the Mexican border to try to stop this and intimidate the Mexican people, but the people continued to aid escaping slaves.• In 1862, during the Civil War, at the same time French colonialists had invaded Mexico seeking to take over. However, at the battle of Puebla on May 5, the Mexican defenders, with the help of freed African slaves—this army was considered the complete underdog—defeated and turned back the French invasion. It was a great victory, now celebrated as Cinco de Mayo. This victory was also a blow to the slaveholders of the United States.• One historical event, organized through the solidarity of Mexican, Blacks, Indigenous and Asian people, was the “Plan de San Diego.” This was intended as a general uprising by these peoples joined in the Southwest, initiated in an effort to regain the lands stolen in the U.S.’s aggression in the 1840s, which include California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and other states of what is now the U.S. Southwest. The plan actually addressed and recognized the contributions of Blacks, Asians and Indigenous people by granting them freedom and autonomy. Although the plan was not successful, it revealed the long history of solidarity of peoples of color in struggle against those who would enslave them.• In 1866, Mexican President Benito Juarez confirmed an 1851 land grant giving Black people in Mexico a sizeable place of refuge at Nascimiento.• More recently, in 1960, the Latin American communities were excited by the hosting of the Cuban delegation, led by Fidel Castro in their historic visit to Harlem and the United Nations. This pride and joy was shared and celebrated equally by the African American community.• In 1964 that joint celebration and welcome was laid out by the African American and Latino community to the heroic revolutionary leader Che Guevara. The pride and joy of each of these communities with the presence of Che would be remembered and celebrated for years.• In that year, Che Guevara also met with the revered Malcolm X, as Malcolm offered his solidarity and appreciation for the work Che had done with freedom fighters in the Congo as they fought against the neocolonial “immigrants” [settlers] there.• In 1968, solidarity was developed in Southern California and the Southwest among the Brown Berets, Black Panthers, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and other progressive youth organizations.• In 1992, during the April 29 rebellion in Los Angeles, Latino and African American neighbors recognized their common plight, and demonstrated their collective rage against continuing acts of injustice, oppression and exploitation.• Then came the magnificent immigrant-rights demonstrations of last spring. What glorious events they were, across the country, in wave after wave of white and brown—the white clothing of the millions of demonstrators and the brown faces of the Latino/ Mexican peoples who were joined by Central America and South American workers, which were also joined by Caribbean, Asian, African, and African American allies. Make no mistake about it, this class solidarity shook the ruling class to its very toes. It frightened and deeply worried them. It gave a glimpse, even in the midst of periods of reaction, of the crucial struggles that are on the agenda.The current attacks against immigrants must be seen as attacks on all workers. This current assault on Latinos/Mexicans is just another tactic—like racism, homophobia and sexism, that the ruling class uses to pit workers against each other. The only winners when this happens are always the bosses. Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011Email: ww@workers.orgSubscribe wwnews-subscribe@workersworld.netShare the Culture during the Celebration: Thanks to*** Taste the Food:
Beyond the Burrito
Chuck the Meximelt and give Cinco de Mayo its proper due with our guide to Mexican bests.
****Sample the Spirits:
Giving Tequila a Fair Shot
From agave to anejo, Sauza to shooters, these locales will renew your faith in tequila.
****FREE EntertainmentCinco de Mayo (Mexican entertainment), Navy Pier Family Pavilion Stage, Grand Avenue at the lake, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. May 5. Admission is free. Call (800) 595-PIER or visit

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Christian Group Criticizes 50 Cent For Wearing Cross

Christians need to be very careful about judging others,only God sees a person's heart. Our Heavenly Father warns us about judging; he clearly states that he will judge us by that very standard. Instead of condemning folk, allow those who are not where you think you are -to see God's spirit in you....... How quickly we forget that we are all sinners in God's eyes-- only his grace and mercy differentiates us...........

Christian Group Criticizes 50 Cent For Wearing Cross
Rap superstar 50 Cent has been blasted by a religious group for wearing a cross around his neck. 50 Cent - real Curtis Jackson - has been branded a "Satanist" by American Christian group The Resistance and ordered to remove the religious symbols, reports
Group founder Mark Dice says, "50 Cent is not Christian and if you listen to his lyrics it becomes clear that he is more of a Satanist than anything.
"He is defaming the cross and committing blasphemy by wearing it while he raps about killing people for no reason... I think a large diamond studded platinum satanic pentagram would be a little more fitting."
50 Cent's manager Chris Lighty add, "We aren't aware of this absurd request. They should look up our charitable deeds before casting a stone."
- 50 Cent Pictures

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