Today At Big Think: To Build An Economy

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

To Build An Economy

In the middle of a vigorous political debate last night, the topic of the economy came up. The man I was having this discussion with, a former corporate executive who had opened his own small business here in the Atlanta area, asked me whether or not I thought the president was doing anything to help the economy. “Have you ever read the story To Build A Fire by Jack London?”

It was obvious from the look on the man's face that he was puzzled by my answer.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

Blogosphere Buzzes After GOP Retreat Q&A With President Obama

The political blogosphere was abuzz yesterday after President Barack Obama addressed the House Republican Caucus meeting in Baltimore. The hour and half session also featured a segment where the president took questions from the audience. It was broadcast live on C-SPAN, but the video is so popular,it has overwhelmed C-SPAN servers. Shorn of the usual pre-speech analysis and running commentary by the news media, the event brought to mind an idea of what the Lincoln-Douglas debates must have been like.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

Racial Discrimination: The Reality Show Version

Watching the cable news pundits on TV make their obligatory references to African Americans, race, and racism these last few days, many of them as casually as if they were checking off a "to do" list at the grocery store, I wondered - what actually goes through the mind of someone who is NOT a descendant of a historically oppressed minority when they think about discrimination?

Even if you have watched Roots and the PBS specials on Jim Crow and the network specials on the civil rights movement, it was and is more of an "outsider looking in" kind of experience if you weren't black. American culture has been very good at de-emphasizing this part of our history, transmogrifying these human horror stories into a type of temporary racial exile, its effects to be sloughed off as easily as a non-slave descendant forgets about a traffic ticket they've paid.

So I figured, since we have reality shows about everything else - why not one that details the way racial discrimination has affected the African American's perspective of the American dream over the years? One that flips the script, the way they do on shows like Wife Swap, except on this show, the show's premise flip flops the entire U.S. population, shrinking the number of whites and multiplying the number of blacks:

    Imagine that you have volunteered to pretend you are a slave for a reality show where black people are the slave owners - you are unable to read and chronically hungry and run down from the substandard food you eat. 

    The blacks are all armed with shotguns to be holstered in a quiver on their backs for instant access, and .22 pistols, which they are required to keep cocked at all times. The black people have been instructed to shoot at the whites randomly, while they were working, or eating, or resting during the day, nicking a toe here, a forearm there, an ear here, laughing all the while.

    The black people have also been instructed to draw their shotguns from their holsters at least three or four times a week, to remind their slaves why they put up with being shot at with the smaller gun all the time. Subliminal tapes play in the slave huts at night, tapes that reconstruct your past, explaining to you that all of your forbears had been treated the same way, that they had passed down secrets on how to turn sideways so that the bullets wouldn’t take off the entire earlobe, that you really didn’t need ten toes anyway...and that in the afterlife, if you were somehow lucky, and the masters fucked up their aim and shot you in the heart or the head, you might finally get to stop hearing the constant pop of those pistols, might finally get to stop worrying about how that shotgun blast would feel in your back if you had ever decided to run.

    The subliminal voices would switch gears about four a.m., shifting into a frenetic sing song cadence as they reminded you vociferously that your future would be no better than your past, that this life as you know it would exist for all time, that for you, unceaseless toil and weariness were the best you could ever hope to achieve, the best that your children, and your children's children could hope to achieve. As the show’s season progressed, you would be emancipated.

    You would be happy for a little while, until you realized that you were working for the same black folks that you were before, only now they paid you a few coppers...a few coppers they would get back when you paid them rent on the same shacks you used to live in for free. Most of you still wouldn't be able to read. Most of you wouldn't even believe you were really free - after all, those black folks would still be allowed to shoot at you with those .22's. 

    Jim Crow would change the rules a little – the shotguns would still be there, but now the blacks would have to account for all the shells they discharged. The .22's would be exchanged for BB guns, and all day long you would feel the pock pock pock of the little copper pellets biting into your skin. Every once in awhile one would hit one of you in the eye, maiming you for life. Your skin, after years of pelting, would actually become thicker, until you felt like you were wearing a second coat of skin. You would learn to keep your head down to protect your eyes. You'd learn to keep your mouth shut to keep from getting your teeth chipped. And even with all those precautions, and all of those adaptations, there would still be the danger of life threatening infections in those tender areas that were not callused against this constant daily onslaught.

    Concentrating on things like learning to read well enough to refuse to sign one sided legal agreements, learning to count well enough to understand how much that twenty five percent interest rate on your second hand car was costing you, or getting your faculties clear enough to compare the cost of your industrial life insurance policy with whole life insurance would have taken more energy than you had to give after battling those BB's all day. 

    In the sixties and seventies, just before the last episode, in a dramatic show of racial reconciliation, all the black oppressors would lay down their weapons on the ground in front of you, just to show you ex-slaves that they could now be trusted. Not because they really wanted to, but because the government made them do it. But with such a huge undertaking, it would be impossible to collect each and every weapon. And there would be quite a few blacks who would secrete BB's in their pockets, intending to continue throwing them at you by hand, because...well, because that's just what they had always done it. 

    The eighties and nineties, the decades that would comprise the big finale, would show the black people inviting you and your newly educated, conservatively dressed brethren into their highrises offices, country club dining rooms, and even their gated communities - not in huge numbers, but enough for you to see they were at least trying to make a difference. The blacks would watch the you like hawks to see if you had retained any of those tendencies your kind were known to succumb to, if no one was watching you. 

    And every once in awhile, just when you had gotten used to this new life, one of those damn BB's would ping you out of nowhere, just when you least expected it. Even now, at the cast reunion show that is set in the new millennium, though you haven't been startled by the ping of a BB or the sound of a .22 or the frenetic sing song cadence of those subliminal voices in awhile - even though you know the black people around you were simply playing their parts, acting according to the script, you are still on the alert against any of the abuse you had to suffer through on the show.

To run this type of gauntlet of perpetual psychological abuse and come out whole, in need of only a Tony Robbins tape or a few faith - based counseling sessions to deprogram yourself from recoiling at the sound of a BB hitting the floor would be unrealistic. To equate this racial ignominy to a traffic violation of sorts, the record of racial discrimination to be wiped clean because the judge simply threw the case out, would insinuate that this was an offense committed against individuals instead of an entire community.

[This was originally posted July 30th, 2009 - you can thank Chris Matthews of MSNBC for its resurrection]

Hill Harper Checkmates Negative State Of The Union Spin

The best moment during the commentary after President Barack Obama's State Of The Union speech last night was during an exchange on the Larry King Show between Hill Harper and two Republican political strategists. Larry King had opened the door for the GOP operatives with a softball question -- what did they think about the president's message? The two practically began talking over each other, they were so intent on getting their standard talking points across, as if they got paid for every negative phrase they said on the air.

Harper, who was live in the studio, reared back in his chair, raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips, as if he were saying "are you finished yet?" with his eyes. When King turned to Harper for a response, Harper looked coolly into the camera and asked the two, "if you don't like what the president is saying, what are your solutions?"

The twosome responded by continuing their original line of attack.

The more they talked, the more ridiculous they looked, until even Larry King had to break in and ask them if they were going to answer the question.

I don't know why the PEOPLE ON TV WHO GET PAID BIG BUCKS TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT POLITICS are so concerned with counting the number of times a word like "jobs" or a phrase like "the economy" was used. You would think they are ESPN sports analysts who are about to tell you "he broke the single term record for most pregnant pauses in a speech" or something else just as stupid. The most eloquently delivered, most carefully prepared speech in the world doesn't mean jack shit if there is no one or no way to implement it.

Since we're on sports analogies, I've got one I use whenever I talk to someone about my hometown Falcons and their on-field woes -- "instead of trading the players, what we need to do is trade the owners".

The room was electric last night, with all eyes on the man of the hour. Obama worked the microphone like owned the room. He was conversational.  He was professorial.  He was confessional. He was charming, and roguish, and Father Knows Best, sometimes in the same sentence. 

And all I heard about for the next two hours was the same old bullshit analysis from the same old people, as if the dramatic effect of the president acting large and in charge for a change didn't mean a damn thing.

A really really really big part of our problem in this country is the people who tell the story of what happened, what is happening, and what should happen next. We are back to the narrative I am obsessed with this year, not because I'm a writer, but because it is the perspective of this narrative that determines in large part what we are willing to believe and why we may be willing to take action.

Hill Harper is out there every day, helping in his own way to reshape the narrative that binds us all.

Thank you, Mr. Harper, for bringing a little sanity last night into what was otherwise a total waste of political analysis.

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

The Democratic Party Is Now The Party Of Obama

I watched the State Of The Union address with my Twitter buddies. It was fun! I am getting to like TweetDeck,this latest of time wasting devices. In some ways, it was like I invited a big crowd over for a watch party, but didn't have to clean up afterwards.

I was able to share comments with my own followers while keeping an eye on a larger cross section of the country by typing "#sotu" into a search column. If you think about it, I basically had a focus group of 500 people whose comments were scrolling by me all night. CNN had 25 people in a room twisting a dial. I think I got better information from my group, even with the built in bias it has towards Obama.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

The Brown Man on is on Youtube.


The blog post I wrote yesterday titled "Supreme Court Brings Frankenstein To Life" was supposed to go "straight to video", as they say in the movie business, but it is a lot of work to write and put together one of these in a day. You can find the original post at Brown Man Thinking Hard. It was a great way to bleed off some of the outrage I felt at the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission last week.

After seeing so many other comments these last few days from people who feel helpless, or understand this to now be written in stone, I had to say something. I had to let the vast majority of us who are not lawyers, and those of us who aren't familiar with how the Supreme Court works, that not only is the nation's highest court capable of being fallible, like the rest of us human beings -- it is also capable of being corrected.

Some would call it "setting the record straight".

I call it "taking back the narrative".

This year's theme here at Brown Man Thinking Hard is "taking control of your own narrative". The narrative is not just an academic sounding term that comes to mind whenever you watch a movie or read a book - it is the narrative that underpins every kind of communication we engage in, whether it is in person, via phone or text message. Whether it is a news show, TV commercial, or sales pitch. Even our religious beliefs are guided by the narrative form. Practically every religion in the world is built around stories of trial and triumph, of outer struggle and inner peace, which are the same elements that any writer in any arena strives to use to the best of his ability.

I've also got more commentary on my blog at Big Think about this in a piece titled "How Could A Corporation Be My Constitutional Equal?"

In any case, enjoy the video.

Kris Broughton
Brown Man Thinking Hard

Supreme Court Brings Legal Frankenstein To Life

Why is this Supreme Court decision about the Citizens United VS. Federal Election Commission case bothering me so much?

My brother, who has gone back to school to be a lawyer, once told me that one of his professors described the Supreme Court as “America’s council of wise men”. It really wasn’t a court in the normal sense at all, he said, because it was not bound by precedent or law.

Which is one of the reasons why we struggle so mightily with Supreme Court confirmations these days if we feel that a nominee is overly biased in one direction or another.

Because the reality is, there are times when the Supreme Court, as wise as its members may be, renders legal opinions that are flat out wrong. As august as this body is, it is still prone, even now, to have the occasional lapse in judgment, to take the proverbial wrong turn. Its not like the Supreme Court hasn't done it before.

I didn't even have to hit my trusty internet search engine to know that the Dred Scott case would be at the top of the list of Supreme Court decisions that ignored the reality of the facts before them. And I'd like to say I was just lucky when I guessed that it had to be Plessy V. Ferguson that was one of the other cases on this infamous list of Supreme Court screw-ups.

But it was really that key concept of denying black people full citizenship rights, the one that America's "council of wise men" were so fond of for a hundred years AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation, that immediately came to mind.

If it were merely as simple as the idea that the corporation has now become so ubiquitous, so entrenched in our society that the natural next step would be to legally recognize certain of its human-like characteristics, I might only be merely incensed at the idea.

But if we step back for a moment, and take a look at the reality of modern corporate governance, which has divorced itself, both literally and figuratively, for all practical purposes and most legally binding ones, from having any semblance of responsibility towards its shareholders, then we can fully understand why this horror the Supreme Court has concocted makes Mary Shelley’s story about the creation of a living, breathing Frankenstein sound like a bedtime story for a 5 year old.

Protecting the "free speech" of a corporate entity is a complete misuse of the phrase, a semantic sleight of hand that totally ignores the fact that a corporation has superhuman attributes that already compensate for the idea that its “speech” can be limited.

    A corporation cannot bleed. A corporation cannot breed – in the sexual sense of the word. A corporation does not die of old age.

What’s next, after free speech?

    Should a corporation have the right to vote? Should a corporation have the right to bear arms? Will we start putting corporations in jail when they break the law? Will we sentence the ones who kill people to the electric chair?

The bottom line in my mind?

If it has no DNA, then it shouldn’t have any say.

The irony of this whole thing, at least to me, is the way the Supreme Court's two other most horrific wrongs denied basic human rights to the very people whose uncompensated toil improved the stream revenues for many of our early corporations, the very people whose bodies, within the nonsensical logic of American slavery, often served as collateral for corporate loans.

To grant these inalienable rights of citizenship African Americans have fought for ever since this country was formed so casually to these agglomerations of bylaws and other people’s money that have been sprinkled with legal pixie dust is beyond abominable. It is beyond unconscionable.

I’ve complained enough for today. And although many keen legal minds are hard at work, even as I write this, there is no sure remedy yet at hand to neutralize the new found power of these Frankenstein-like creations that seek to rule flesh and blood humans.

But what I do know is this – the seminal moment in American history that repudiated the Dred Scott decision was Sherman’s march to the sea. The seminal moment in American history that rejected the legal confines of Plessy V. Ferguson for good was the March on Washington.

Whether or not a new march will be in order remains to be seen.

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

How Could A Corporation Be My Constitutional Equal?

"Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people."

Oscar Wilde

If I may borrow a word from this Oscar Wilde quote, I believe the Supreme Court has malevolently bludgeoned the distinction between living breathing human beings and the convenient legal fictions we have relied on up until now to allow corporations to assume a state known as "corporate personhood."

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

I know the last big playoff games are tonight, so if the Vikings/Saints game is a blowout, or you don't watch football, I will be on the radio this evening with Sean Yoes, a senior reporter at The Afro American. He is the host of "The WEAA/AFRO First Edition", an hour-long political talk show on Baltimore's WEAA-FM (88.9 FM), which airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m.

You can click this link and push the "Listen Live" button at the top of the page to hear the show. my segment comes on at 8:30pm.

This week, we talked about the earthquake in Haiti and the mainstream media portrayal of its citizens here in the U.S.

Do you think the dominant narrative you see on the nightly news relies too much on traditional stereotypes, or do you think the media has drawn the right picture of Haitian earthquake survivors?

Find out what Sean Yoes and I think tonight on the show.

As always, it was fun. Check it out tonight if you have a chance.

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

Separating The Piggy Bank From The Casino

It looks like Alan Volcker’s pleas are finally being heard in the Obama Administration. Volcker, a past Fed Chairman, has been advocating for a tighter rein on financial institutions since Barack Obama took office. But other voices, including those of Larry Summers, ex-Harvard University president and the current Secretary of the United States Treasury Department, dominated the early discussions about the strategy the White House pursued in an attempt to solve the banking crisis that threatened to cripple the country. Only now have Volcker’s ideas, described by one blogger as "separating the piggy bank from the casino" been taken seriously enough to be advanced as the latest proposal to reform our nation’s banks.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

I just finished taping a radio show with my man Sean Yoes of NPR affiliate WEAA in Baltimore, the first one we've done this year, that focuses on the media narrative and how the Haitian earthquake is being portrayed. You can hear it this Sunday night at 8:00pm by clicking the "Listen Live" button on the WEAA website. My segment will come on at the 8:30 mark.

After re-reading my pieces on this and the latest news from Haiti to get ready for the show, I needed to decompress after having to think about all the victims of this horrific tragedy. I ran into a post at the Daily Kos featuring a FOX News poll about the 2012 election if it were run today that did the trick - your president, it seems, after all that has gone on the last few weeks, still has the inside track to get re-elected.

The bonus of this post was a medley of photos from Obama's first year in the White House.

And if you haven't seen my own video on Haiti, this link will take you to YouTube where you can see for yourself how Haiti got to be in the state it was just before the earthquake hit.


Today At Big Think: Truth Telling And Race

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

Truth Telling And Race

It only took me a few minutes, after I tuned into the tail end of Obama’s America: 2010 And Beyond on television the other night, to see that we Americans were playing the same old game, just on a bigger stage, and with more lights than usual. The usual parade of academics and media personalities had converged on a stage before a sea of dark faces, speaking passionately about their own pet theories on race. As I listened to the guests and a few members of the audience talk and talk and talk, my mind wandered back to an experiment my on-line writing group tried years ago, an informal exercise that was modeled after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa that came about after the end of apartheid.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

Dems Have To Run Real Campaigns To Win This Fall

The first thing I thought of when I saw Martha Coakley's concession speech was Carly Fiorina.

That was a bad sign.

The professional pundits are having a field day, as if this is Democratic loss of a Massachusetts Senate seat is license to pull every hoary political chestnut out of the bag. The only thing I haven't heard very much is how bad Coakley would have lost if the calvary hadn't come to her rescue at the last minute.

The Dems have a healthcare plan that even in a normal economy would be a challenge to pass, because our national culture is one that is very resistant to change. In a recession, it is exponentially harder to convince the middle of the country that anything new is good.

Traditional political wisdom pushes the notion that a president has a magic wand once he gets in the White House, a wand that should be able to grant members of the president's party an extra shiny glow that hypnotizes voters into showing waves of support for their local and statewide races, a wand that the president replenishes at the well of national public opinion.

What the Democrats are finally realizing is something I've been saying ever since Barack Obama won the presidency - that Obama has changed the game for his colleagues in a way many of them are not willing to face. The unintended consequence of the Democrats having a president who pulled out all the stops and ran the best organized, best financed campaign in the history of political campaigns is that the opposition got better, even as they lost. And the public got used to seeing what a real campaign looked like.

Raising the bar so dramatically in 2008 should have pushed Democrats to realize that they couldn't run the same old campaigns they had in the past, because in getting out the vote to oppose Obama, the GOP and the grassroots activists learned a few things themselves. They learned how to use the internet better. They learned how to push the operations decisions down to the field level to be more responsive more quickly to the neighborhood by neighborhood quirks that define all local politics.

The TV pundits, sadly, do not seem to believe that hard work on a day to day basis means anything in politics anymore. To hear them tell it, the American public is as fickle as the wind, when any professional vote counter worth his salt can show you how little people deviate from their historical voting patterns. To the punditocracy, all Scott Brown had to do was show his pearly whites and shake his head "no" whenever the name "Obama" or the phrase "healthcare reform" came up.

FOX News has been telling you that your president is "dangerous" ever since he set foot in the White House a year ago. But a truly dangerous president is a reactionary one who abruptly changes course in mid-stream while flailing away at his opponents. While Obama's style of engagement could be different going forward, I wouldn't expect any wholesale changes in his presidential agenda.

What Scott Brown did was what every GOP candidate in the country is prepared to do this year - engage in hand-to-hand combat for every loose vote out there the way Obama did back in 2008. Democratic candidates in every state are going to have to run high octane, turbo charged efforts to get out the vote FROM THE BEGINNING this year. If Democrats are not prepared to rethink the scope of their campaign efforts, who are not ready to figure out how to pull in every rag tag coalition and single issue faction in their districts into the fold, who are not ready to shake those hands and kiss those babies until their bodies become numb - you can expect to join Martha Coakley's example come Election Night in November.

The Brown Man Is On YouTube

The Brown Man on is on Youtube.

Blowing Smoke with the Brown Man is my first video. The Moviemaker software that came with my computer took a little getting used to, but after an hour or so I think I got the hang of it. The blog post I wrote last week titled "Media Promotes Flawed Haiti Narrative" is showing up in a lot of places around the blogosphere. I'm glad I was able to help in my own way to contribute to a better understanding of the actual circumstances which predate the horrific calamity unfolding in Haiti.

I watched a little bit of the special "Obama's America" on MSNBC last night - it brought me back to this years theme here at Brown man Thinking Hard, which is "taking control of your own narrative", because as much as Chris Matthews and his cohorts tried, they could not seem to shake the underlying belief that the things that underpin their worldview are the real truths, and the narrative they were hearing from African Americans were not as authentic, not as true as their own.

In any case, enjoy the video. It's only five minutes long.

I'd been looking for something new to add to the repertoire this year - I think the "Blowing Smoke with the Brown Man" format suits me personally, and is perfect for those times when the written word is just not enough.

See you after the polls close tonight in Massachusetts.

...the smell of burnt gunpowder and wet cotton, the taste of cold fried chicken and cheap lipstick, the sounds of grown men weeping, of heavy wood hitting dark flesh, of rifles cocking and dogs snarling, tired bodies jumbled together in church buses and auto caravans, always dressed in their best clothes...

For a man who had no idea of the path his life would take, Martin Luther King Jr. was awfully well-prepared for the journey.

I sat and listened to a radio show last night. It was one of those productions by bloggers that are broadcast through an internet connection instead of the airwaves. I believe all the on-air guests as well as the folks who called in were black. And for almost an hour and a half, I listened and typed in comments in the chatroom attached to the site while the most of the callers and guests proceeded to trash the Obama presidency.

I was surprised, at least for awhile, until later, while putting the finishing touches on an article for Big Think about Martin Luther King, it hit me -- nothing has really changed at all.

...the sharp, acrid stench of fear had been omnipresent then, a musk that could not be cleaned from the crotches and armpits of the men’s suits, nor their hatbands and shirt collars; neither from the women’s blouses and skirts, or their bra straps and girdles...

If this was the 1960's these would be the same black people telling Martin Luther King Jr. he was "too soft", that he needed to "man up" and "show some leadership" instead of wasting time negotiating with the enemy. It was this section of the black middle class, then as now, who were not pleased with the way things seemed to be going, even when progress was slowly being made, as if any of the available alternatives would have gotten them somewhere faster.

I wondered, as I listened to this group of black professionals who were so worked up over Barack Obama's short tenure as president, what it was that we were referring to when we talked about the black community. One of my favorite catch phrases I use on radio interviews -- "hate has no expiration date" -- came to mind in a way I'd never figured I'd be imagining it. I thought about my own book I was supposed to be writing, titled Recarving Our Cultural Totem Pole, and wondered if I was really wasting my time with the few chapters I'd accumulated so far if these people were going to be my audience.

I spoke to S. about this. "I remember when King came out against the Vietnam War. People thought he was crazy back then. I had cousins over there. I wanted them to win - to kill whoever they had to kill and come back home alive." I thought about the competing interests she had to deal with back then, and wondered if the people I listened to last night had the same kind of personal, intimate reasons for denouncing the very president they had helped to elect.

...pungent odor had been birthed in slave ships, a raw stench that had been marinated in slave pens -- it was the same foul, fetid scent that had permeated the Jim Crow South, an earthy, glandular excretion that soap and water could never fully rinse away...

It is easy now for us to revere Martin Luther King Jr. long after his death, when the clouds upon his character and judgment are swept away by the passage of time. Easy for us to cheer and shout and march safely down the main thoroughfares of our nation's southernmost cities with impunity, some of the same streets that Dr. King himself walked down as if every step might be his last.

I would hope, on a day when we pay tribute to an African American man who accomplished so much by using the means and methods of a nonviolent doctrine, a set of principles which ran counter to our gut instinct to meet violence with violence, that those of us who doubt today the intentions of our African American president may marshal the wisdom and the insight necessary to understand how his objectives will ultimately benefit us all instead of following their gut instincts.

"You must not become morbidly absorbed in a past mistake but you must seek to outlive it by creative living in the future."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis: The Mind Of Martin Luther King, Jr.

When you live in Atlanta, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration is not just a one day affair. Here we have King Week activities, galas and marches for days. Morehouse College, Dr. King's alma mater, puts on several commemorative programs honoring the famed civil rights leader. On Auburn Avenue, the King Center, a local non-profit organization that houses the internationally renowned Center for Nonviolent Social Change, is thronged by crowds visiting the gravesite of Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King. The King Museum, an interactive exhibit run by the National Park Service, sits across the street. A block west is Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both King Jr. and King Sr. preached. But the most profound moments I have experienced in the presence of King memorabilia has been at a display of the King papers, when I realized just how important Martin Luther King Jr.’s academic training and intellectual development were to the success of the civil rights movement.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

Could Haiti Become An Unincorporated Territory Of The U.S.?

If character is the thing you have when you lose everything else, then the people of Haiti must be full to bursting with it. The photos and video of the carnage in Haiti are beginning to run together now, a kaleidoscope of dust, rubble, and bloodied bodies that have been streaming into all of our households all week long. In our household, though, pragmatism rules -- the question we’ve been asking each other over and over for the last few days at our house, while watching network TV announcers on the ground in Port-Au-Prince talk into satellite phones, has been "when does the United States make Haiti an American protectorate?"

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

Media Promotes Flawed Haiti Narrative


Part. 1.
The people inhabiting the island formerly called St. Domingo, hereby agree to form themselves into a free state sovereign and independent of any other power in the universe, under the name of empire of Hayti.

Part 2.
Slavery is forever abolished.

Haiti was the original payday loan customer.

Back in 1804 after Haiti's slave populace resisted Napoleon's efforts to subdue them, France put down its guns and checkmated Haiti. Before the ink on the Haitian declaration of independence was dry, France called on all the advanced nations of the world to freeze Haiti out of the international finance game.

By 1806 these countries, including the U.S., who had all coveted Haiti's powerhouse economy, the largest in the Caribbean, all agreed to put a financial embargo on the new West Indian nation of blacks. It was only after Haiti agreed to pay reparations to France for the loss of the economic productivity of its former slaves that the rest of the world accepted Haiti into the finance arena.

They have been paying interest ever since.

That 150 million francs was more than twice Haiti's net worth in 1825. If you think about it, it might have been the first subprime loan in the world. To add insult to injury, Haiti was forced to borrow a third of the money to pay these reparations back to France from France itself, at 6 percent interest.

Could you imagine the British rounding up the rest of the world after the Revolutionary War and demanding that America pay them a sum equal to twice the country's net worth at the time,or else be subject to a financial embargo and the possibility of being attacked by its allies?

As I said at the beginning of the year, the narrative is the thing. We are not in charge of our own narrative, nor are enough of us versed in our history to counter the revisionist version our government and our presidents have used to advance programs and policies that twist the sword of U.S. domination ever so slowly in the gut of countries like Haiti.

Which is why you are going to get the "helpless Haitians" theme and the "corruption plagues the country" meme in all the background stories the major outlets release, as if there is no evidence that shows that our own government, among others, has for decades upon decades worked to keep Haiti in a state of chaos and financial upheaval, beginning with the very first $750,000 the United States sent France over two hundred years ago to help put down the original Haitian slave revolt.

The paradoxes of Haiti are not all historical:

We can send money to Haiti, but Haitians can't seek refuge here.

We can support Haiti's efforts at democracy, but only if Haiti supports unfettered access by foreign capitalists to their workforce and their resources.

These are just some of the reasons why we need to quit crying our eyes out and start asking some hard questions about what has really gone on in places like Haiti. Lyndon Johnson exploited JKF's death to get his legislative agenda passed. We need to do the same thing - forcefully, factually, and relentlessly, while those who have helped to perpetuate the inequities of Haiti are weak and vulnerable on this issue, and while the press are all so hungry for Pulitzer Prizes that they forget who they are really working for temporarily.

And in the meantime, while we are pushing for the real story, we can begin to practice pushing our own narratives instead of repeating the carefully manufactured storylines from the nightly news.

I may sound over the top, or insensitive to some of you, but just in case you forgot, it wasn't that long ago that black people in America were getting beat over the head, kicked, stabbed, shot or hung from trees on a regular basis for trying to gain our civil rights. It wasn't until the ugliness and the blood were photographed and filmed and shown all over the world that some semblance of moral suasion kicked in right there in America enough for us to get from there to here.

And just in case you are a “bootstrapper”, who feels the “real Americans” in the heartland did it on their own, I will connect some dots for you.  The 565 million acres gained in the Louisiana Purchase for $15 million dollars, the acres the government handed out like water in free homesteads to anybody who immigrated from Europe with a strong back, were a direct result of the slave revolt in Haiti.  The revolt made the French abandon their hope of expanding their empire in America. By comparison, the 150 million francs France extorted from the freed slaves was twice as much, when converted to dollars, as the price Jefferson paid to the French to dramatically expand America.

If you are not willing to press for a political advantage while you have the stage, this same tragedy will very likely happen again.  If we are saving people today so they can die in sweatshops for our corporations later, THAT is a travesty

So press on, people. Press on

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

Smiling All The Way Back To The Bank

When I began listening to the recorded testimony of Wall Street banking executives to Congress Wednesday on C-Span, I started to feel like I was sitting in a circle at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, listening to my fellow attendees as they told the rest of us the terrible things they had done to get to the point where they could finally be honest with themselves. After listening a little longer, though, I began to wonder if the bankers really thought anyone was buying what they were selling. Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd Blankfein basically explained, after his obligatory mea culpa, that there should have been more regulation, and appeared to insinuate that a part of the blame for the financial crisis should be shared by the government agencies charged with making sure companies like his operated inside the regulatory guidelines.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

To Haiti, With Love

I know a lot of you have tears in your eyes today, but I saw something fly by on Twitter this morning that made me smile. The White House political director, Patrick Gaspard, is from Haiti.

It seems that we can go from arguing about "Negro dialect" to worrying about Haitian patois literally overnight.

I have no idea what the White House response to this catastrophe would be if Patrick Gaspard weren’t in this position, or whether or not the White House’s official statement was materially different from the kind of statement the Bush administration would have made. Something tells me, though, that behind the scenes, this kind of personal connection in our nation’s leadership to the tragedy following yesterday’s massive earthquake that is unfolding in the Caribbean will heighten awareness of this event in areas of the government it may not have touched before.

Radio stations are dedicating their shows to raising awareness and raising relief funds for earthquake victims. Newspapers have devastating photos alongside reports of the carnage that follows in the wake of the 7.0 level tremor. And the news stations will be playing footage, some taped, some live, from the epicenter of the damage for days to come.

Makes the last few days debate over “Negro dialect” and whether or not the skin tone of African American political candidates can make them more palatable to voters seem at first glance to be so trite, so ridiculous.

Until you stop to think about all the dark skinned political refugees with a Haitian patois who have risked life and limb sailing across the ocean on makeshift rafts and small, unseaworthy boats, only to be turned away when their craft hits our shores.

The irony of Hurricane Katrina is that a week before the storm it, nobody really gave a damn about the plight of poor black people in New Orleans or the other lower parts of Louisiana. Kind of the same way nobody gave a damn about the plight of poor black people in Haiti until a earthquake kills tens of thousands overnight.

I have to wonder – do we only become equal when we are bleeding to death?

Maybe I’ve been in the mercenary end of life too long, where taking advantage of a situation is as natural as breathing, but it seems to me that my favorite Negro president could really make a big difference during this tragedy in a way that will go beyond the rescue activities of the next few weeks by signing a Temporary Protected Status order.

I can’t cry today when I know we will turn Haitian refugees and seekers of political asylum away tomorrow at gunpoint.

Personally, I’d have microphone in the face of every Republican and weak kneed Democrat out there, tossing them a couple of powder puff softball questions before backing them into a corner with a loaded question or three or five, all centering around why they won’t try to take it out of the president's behind if he supports TPS. So if you are one of those millions of Obama supporters who has been bored since the election, you now have something to do - call those wastrels who represent you in the House and the Senate all day every day to let them and their staffs know why they've got to give it up this time on Haiti, or turn in their Bibles.

It might seem like an underhanded and/or highly inappropriate thing for Obama to do at a time like this, but our nation was built on and continues to be managed by dirty political tricks, often pulled at highly inappropriate moments, so I would feel no remorse whatsoever. NONE WHATSOEVER. It's not like Obama hasn't been trying - Haitian deportation has slowed to a trickle under the Obama administration, so I can see where the sympathies of this White House lie. This is the kind of thing that can happen when no one is looking in so many areas, which is why we HAVE GOT TO HAVE OUR PRESIDENT'S BACK every damn day.

If I were the progressive ground troops, I would question the very tenets of Christian faith in attacking the nation's Congressman and Senators who will support granting Temporary Protected Status to anybody who waves a white flag for ten minutes in Eastern Europe.

The TPS document is a template, Mr. President. All you have to do is allow Eric Holder to fill in the blank for “country of origin” with the word Haiti and you will do more for this island nation than the next billion dollars we send them.

To Haiti, with love from the Brown Man

To Michael Dyson, Cornel West, Shelby Steele, and all the other highly educated African Americans who want to be in charge of the conversation in the black community -- Barack Obama is not Captain Save-A-Negro -- he is the president of the entire United States.

“The president runs from race like a black man runs from the police” might as well have been written by one of the Obama haters who want to equate him with Hitler. If Harry Reid’s choice was awkward, then this ghastly analogy by "Open Mike" Dyson was just plain ugly.

The Right Reverend Michael Dyson needs to stay in the pulpit. His ability to analyze political events MIGHT improve if he could divorce himself from his love of hip hop culture and figure out how to have some relevance to the majority of African Americans who are hard working, law abiding citizens with no illusions about their identity or purpose in life.

Cornel West hasn't weighed in on this yet, but when he does, you can bet it will be a polysyllabic rant, delivered in his trademark sing-song cadence, as if he is one of the Last Poets instead of a college professor, that informs his listeners just how much he thinks Barack Obama is not doing for African Americans, as if the president is supposed to wink his eye at the TV camera and whisper, "I'll get that hook up for y'all when I get done with this announcement."

Of these three, only Shelby Steele has sense enough not to put on an exaggerated version of "Negro dialect" when he's talking - his version of nonsense, delivered in standard English, begins and ends with "Obama is a failure."

The thing about the Obama presidency that has become apparent to me over the last year is the way it has shown how much we as African Americans have to widen our bandwidth, which is often so narrowly constricted by the boundaries of days gone by that we end up excluding ourselves from participating fully in society.

We have beat the drum of racial reconciliation for so long that most Americans have actually learned to follow the rhythm – last week when the Obama administration appointed a transgendered person to a government post, conservative protesters interviewed by a news organization stated that being transgendered wasn’t "like appointing an African American."

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, a "national organization devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda," is wondering if there is some sort of "transgender quota" in the Barack Obama administration. "This isn't like appointing an African-American in order to try to provide diversity and right some kind of discriminatory wrong," LaBarbera said.

The inequities that persist between our community and mainstream America are as real today as they were last year, and the year before that. But continuing to promote an adversarial relationship between us and the government, or the rest of America, is like insisting that a dial-up internet connection is better than broadband.

For these black academic rockstars, I imagine it’s hard to change, and for Dyson and West, hard to not automatically blame "the man" for what ails us. But if Dyson, West and Steele insist on using the same old tired rhetoric, if they insist on throwing punches before they are even sure if they are in fight, they are about to find that the rest of Afro America will be leaving them and their well educated, well articulated Negro madness behind.

I usually have a healthy respect for the people who make the decisions at GOP Central, but bringing up the Trent Lott situation to discredit Harry Reid has got to be about the dumbest damn move I've seen them make in a while. Why would you bring up the fact that a recent leader of your party dreamed about the victory of a segregationist presidential candidate? Worse than that, why would you give people like me a reason to even write the words "segregationist" and "GOP leader" in the same sentence? Do you really want to revive the fact that your party was okay with segregation long after it was outlawed?

Micheal Steele is thanking his lucky stars today that he didn't come out any lighter himself - he will probably hit the tanning bed a few times to visibly darken his skin, in an effort to show a more distinct contrast between himself and Obama.

It kind of reminds me of a guy I did a loan for once, a former college quarterback for Ole Miss. He'd had problems getting a loan elsewhere, so I dropped by his house one afternoon to size up the problems. After getting the paperwork end of it straight, we went outside to see how the appraiser could possibly take a picture of the front of his house with all the big trees in the front yard.

While we were outside, he walked me around to the far side of the house to show me an improvement he'd made. Laying behind his A/C unit was one of those antebellum black jockeys, fresh earth clinging to the spike underneath its feet. I raised my eyebrows. He looked at me and said, "hey - I knew you were coming."

I made some good money on that loan. And refinanced the same house again in less than six months.

Is it realistic to expect ignorance and insensitivity to disappear because the laws changed? Are we secretly hoping for life to imitate the movies, where the people who rise above the circumstances of their birth only have to deal with three or four road blocks in a two hour span to get what they want?

I have written over and over - until America can get to the point where big lips, broad noses and deep brown skin are no longer seen as negative characteristics, our efforts at racial parity will continue to come up short. The Obama presidency was always going to be a test for white Americans, forcing many of them to wrestle with racial issues many of them have been able to simply ignore up until now.

In order to pass this test, they are going to have to study.  Mistakes will be made. Which is pretty much where we are going to be for awhile as the re-education of America gets underway.

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

Senator Reid Stumbles Into The Elephant In The Room

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada has had all of political America talking about an issue that used to be confined mostly to the African American community -- whether or not a black person with a lighter skin tone who spoke in a standard English vernacular without any noticeable twang or drawl enjoyed an advantage over their darker hued, more idiomatic counterparts. It is a subject that has been revisited over and over again since Reconstruction, when the first men of color were elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate after the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution were ratified. And yet, to ignore this latest incarnation of that age-old debate is to ignore the elephant in the room that race has become in America.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

Do The Right Thing In 2010

I'm not a New Year's resolution person, but I do understand the need to make positive changes in our lives on a regular basis. So when I looked back at the posts I had this week, I didn't like what I saw. It was more of the same old stuff from the end of last year, when I seemed to be either complaining or reacting to something I saw in the news. This thought had me up for several hours laast night, until I finally just went ahead and got up to put down a few new ideas.

I call myself an Independent politically, because that's what my voter registration says, but I am a Barack Obama Independent, which gives me a hall pass to hang out with the Democrats. I've always been a little wary of the Democratic Party, probably because after growing up in a Republican household, and seeing some of their organizational activities on a local level, it seemed to me that the Democrats were just playing at being politics. That they were inefficient in organizing their efforts. That they squandered their natural advantages and resources too easily for too little in return.

Since then, the progressive end of the party has tried to make a way out of no way. They've made great strides, but haven't really been able to marshal their resources in a way that multiplies their influence beyond their base day in and day out. They are fantastic at one-two punch combinations, but not so good at raining the kind of body blows on their opponents, round after round, all day, every day and twice as much on Sundays, that it takes to weaken their positions.

What is the Democratic narrative in 2010?

In 2008, you simplified the positive. "Yes We Can" was the narrative - simple, direct, memorable, a positive affirmation that was all inclusive, a call to action that was the drumbeat of the movement that won the presidency, a catch phrase that at its core reflected the organizing principles of the Obama campaign - let its followers plug into the part of the narrative that meant something to them. It was such a good strategy that it took the pressure off the defense, and assembled the biggest group of activists in Democratic history.

What is the narrative in 2010?

This is a little trickier because although all political campaigns depend a lot on hype and hope, you now have an actual president with a real track record, one that has been largely defined in a negative manner by the media, who are fixated on the one or two things that went wrong this week rather than the 98 things that went right. I can't waste the power of this blog this year solely reacting to those one or two things that went wrong.

The phrase "Do The Right Thing" is swirling around in my head as I write this.

It has its cons - to some, it may seem edgy, may seem too "urban", too identifiable with African American culture because of the Spike Lee movie of the same name, but I'm free associating here, which is where all good ideas begin - hopefully, if you're reading this, you're doing the same. The pro is it is simple, memorable, can be positive, is a call to action, and possesses the ability to be used in a variety of situations to accentuate individual issues: "healthcare reform - do the right thing"; "Immigration reform - do the right thing"; "Our goal is to raise one million dollars for Senator X this weekend - do the right thing"

Whatever the phrase ultimately is will help hold together the varied factions of the party by reminding them what they are working towards, not what they are working against. Obviously, a phrase is meaningless if there is no grand plan, no overarching scheme that exploits the strength of its members while targeting its opponents weaknesses.

I don't run any organization. I will be checking them out in the next few weeks to see what they've already got planned, and how this blog and other like it can plug into these efforts. Because I like seeing this president on my TV. I like hearing him talk to me as if I am a citizen worthy of his time. So if the first step to seeing him keep the same mailing address for another seven years are Democratic victories in the House and the Senate, then I'm ready to roll up my sleeves.

For the first time since the presidential election, the people who come to my site by accident, looking for Obama hate material, who find instead my expose on Obama hate groups that I did in 2008, have slowed to a trickle. I still believe that "hate has no expiration date", but it takes a lot of energy to hate someone as rabidly as these people have this last year. Maybe some of the less committed are giving up. Then again, they could be back after a break.  But for now, it looks like a positive development.

The mainstream media is dead wrong - there is no political horse race this year. The GOP is in disarray, with a party chairman on the loose, a rouge ex-governor who has enthralled millions, and a tea bagger movement that is intent on defying the GOP powers that be, putting the conservative moderates in the middle of an all out shooting war. A full court, man to man offensive by the Democrats that muscles up against these weak points ceaselessy, day in and day out, for the next 300 odd days until the 2010 elections have a chance to do permanent and lasting damage to the Republican Party.

I'm not interested in laughing at tea baggers this year. I don't care about whether or not I am smarter than a Limbaugh Dittohead. I want to find out what I need to do right now, and tomorrow, and the day after that, so that when I turn my TV on in late January 2013, I will get to see that same smiling face I saw last year taking the Oath of Office in D.C.

I want to win.

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

You Zoom With Your Feet

It's been a year since I last redesigned my personal blog. This time around, I've been thinking of making more substantial changes -- possibly even getting a new blog host. Lately, I've been envious of my fellow bloggers who use Wordpress. It seems they have more features, more flexibility, and more choices of blog themes, including the theme I use now, one that was originally designed for WordPress blogs. So imagine my surprise when I found out while browsing the web that WordPress bloggers, designers and consultants will be gathering in Atlanta this weekend at SCAD for the first WordCamp of 2010.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

GOP Needs To Pick Up Gauntlet Steele Threw Down

My man Michael Steele is acting like someone does when they know they are about to get whacked these days. The Republican National Committee Chairman's demeanor, usually jocular, has become extremely defensive over the last few days, flailing out at critics from his own party in print and on radio while GOP congressional flacks corner every reporter with a deadline to let them know off the record how upset their bosses are with Steele.

A lot of this turmoil stems from recent statements by Steele that acknowledge frankly what anyone who regularly follows politics already knows - the GOP has little to no chance of gaining a majority in either the House or the Senate. And that's before factoring in the turmoil within the GOP or the effect the Tea Bagger movement, with its emphasis on running all Republican moderates out of office, will cost the party in terms of money and momentum.

It doesn't take much imagination to guess what is being said behind closed doors about Steele. The sixty four thousand dollar question the party faces is, how does they get rid of him without looking like they had it in for the black guy? The irony is, the racial angle really isn't relevant to African Americans, most of whom know as much about Steele as they do about Alan Keyes. The black Republicans who matter probably want him gone worse than the GOP establishment, but they know how the game is played - I doubt any of them, including my own father, would come out publicly against Steele.

The biggest problem the party has isn't with the public, who don't really care all that much about the chairman of the RNC or the DNC, but with the press and political pundits, who will have a field day cooking up the kind of simple, black-versus-white, conflict-rich narratives that they will keep insisting, week after week, are still as true today as they were twenty years ago.

For a party that has run its vast campaign and messaging machinery like clockwork for the last thirty years, Steele is an aberration, a man with a constituency of one, who threatens to wreak havoc on the 2010 campaign season by taking some of the hot air out of the Big Tent. As a stockbroker long ago, I learned that people never want to buy a stock that's going down. But they'll chase it all day long when it is going up. Which is what the Republicans in Congress know - no "we're winning this thing" hype means no leverage with the heavy hitters when it comes to begging for bigger donations.  

Okay, Steele did raise some money. He did bring their website into the present. And he's on TV almost every week talking about the party's aims and goals.

But when a fellow tells you to fire him, you need to do it. Because once he realizes you won't, you've got nothing but trouble. However bad they think Steele has been this week, it can only get worse.

Since I'm pulling for the Democrats this week, and the president every day all day, I'll have to admit - it would be fun to see Steele hang around long enough to thoroughly gum up the works. And as hard as times are, I hate to see a brother lose his job.

But I'd be damned if I would pay Steele $223,000 a year to act a fool on my dime.

See ya, buddy.

The Land Of The Terrorized And The Home Of The Scared

I was in the kitchen, listening to some TV announcer drone on in the background about new airport security screening guidelines, when it hit me.

MY first name is Arabic.

I've used a shortened version of my middle name for so long I didn't even think about my first name until I'd heard the latest Homeland Security directive for the umpteenth time that decreed special handling of passengers with Muslim names.

All Arabic names are not Muslim names, but all Muslim names, at least according to our security guidelines, are Arabic.

It's a good thing I don't fly that much. Even if I do, I don't think I will feel much different than I already do when I get on a plane. I'm terrified as it is at the idea of a steel tube hurtling through the air with me in it. Changing a light bulb is a challenge - flying several thousand feet in the air is almost incomprehensible.

Since I always think I am about to die when I get on an airplane, the idea of a terrorist possibly being on board wouldn't change things a bit. In fact, knowing how safely the authorities would want the plane to land so they could take the terrorist alive might take my airplane anxiety down a notch or two.

The announcer kept going on about heightened security, and what the Obama administration was doing about it. I walked down the hall, her voice shrinking to nothingness, and wondered to myself just when the land of the free and the home of the brave had turned into the land of the terrorized and the home of the scared.

Bill O'Reilly has never spoken truer words than his statement last year - "we can't kill all the Muslims" - and yet the public is willing to totally ignore what the root causes of this intense hatred might be, relying instead on our government's ability to find every needle in every haystack, an impossible task if there ever was one for ANY president, not just President Obama.

The picture above is the original Arabic version of the English translation that graces my South Carolina birth certificate. Unless I change it, which is highly unlikely, since I've had it so long, I guess I need to start getting ready for a lifetime of strip searches from here on in.

Thank god my parents had the foresight to switch up and make my middle name a Hindu one - otherwise, I'd probably have to get to the airport a day in advance.

Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on

Why Are Some African American Professionals Disappointed With Obama?

I wanted to start the year off on a positive note, but a spin around the blogosphere today has already got my blood pressure up. In particular, I am extremely disturbed by a phenomenon that appears to be spreading among a certain segment of upwardly mobile African Americans, a group who has traditionally been a part of President Obama’s strongest base of support. I think the big problem for me is not that some of these folks, who are among the highest paid and best educated people in the country, are dissatisfied with the president’s performance, but because these are the people who are the best equipped to know better.

Read More... is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

Time To Play Our Position, Not Be The Opposition

I was tooling around the internet yesterday, when I happened onto a site I visit several times a week whose latest blog post was titled "How Obama Lost My Support, And How He Can Regain It". It stung me so hard I went on a profane rant, which you can read here in the archives, since its not the kind of language I normally post or stuff that my syndicators would appreciate - but it felt damn good to write.

I guess you could say that I have styled myself here as of late as an amateur political critic. In doing so, I have written numerous diatribes that describe why I disagree with the Obama administration on certain issues, or feel that the president has gotten bad advice, or has made bad decisions. Since the White House has to weigh in on every major as well as most minor issues in the country, there are a lot of opportunities for me to not see eye-to-eye with the president or his designees on positions they take.

But does that mean that I should throw the metaphorical baby out with the bath water? Does that require me to draw a line in the sand when the president doesn't send me my own little love note with smiley hearts over the "i's" when it comes to the choices he and his staff make about areas of interest that are near and dear to my heart?

I wouldn't even put you in political novice category if you told me you were abandoning the president you voted for after eleven months in office. You would occupy the "political nincompoop" slot in my book, and be chalked up as "one for our side" by the GOP, whose operatives understand political math very, very well. There is no neutral zone, no zero equivalent in partisan head counts - you are either a "plus one" or a "minus one" when it comes to your view of presidential candidates.

I think the thing that probably boils my blood the most is the sentiment that I have encountered with increasing frequency over this holiday season. Circulating socially among old classmates and friends who for the most part consider themselves upwardly mobile African Americans, I was surprised at the amount of abject disgust and outright disdain some of them have for a president they wrote big checks for and campaigned for just eighteen months ago.

For many of these folks, only a generation or two separates them from the black trailblazers who opened the doors and made it possible for them and their cohorts to be judged on their merits instead of their connections, who made it possible for them to be seen more as a naturally occurring member of their workforce rather than an unwelcome anomaly.

But there seem to be, among this still exclusive group of upwardly mobile blacks, a sizable minority who will proclaim to anybody who will listen that they are through with Obama. That he has lost their support. That he hasn't been man enough, or shown enough backbone, or stimulated their hundred thousand dollar or two hundred thousand dollar incomes enough for them to go another step down the road with him or his kind.


These are the same people who still think the world of Bill Clinton, after his "all over the map" presidency, whose claim to fame largely rests on the performance of the economy, whose booming growth was not orchestrated from the White House. These are the same people who still think the world of the Bill Clinton who lied to the country when he proclaimed loudly that he "did not have sex with that woman", a personal failing over a private matter that nevertheless did irreparable harm to the entire Democratic party and Al Gore's 2000 presidential bid.

Did these Grey Poupon negroes desert Clinton when his healthcare reform efforts prematurely bit the dust? Or when the youthful and inexperienced Clinton staffers made their share of painfully public mistakes? Nope, they hung right in there the way they would have if it was a sibling of theirs on trial for murder.

But our own African American president isn't in office for ten minutes before his own people are ready throw him to the wolves. I guess I could break it down statistically, and show how small this group of well heeled, well educated blacks who no longer support Obama really is, but that would be a bit disingenuous. Even though 8/10ths of Obama's black voters support him unequivocally, this dissatisfied silver spoon sliver of African Americans has a disproportionate amount of influence on political sentiment, with a high degree of access to traditional media or their own outlets.

The enormity of an Obama presidency could not be overstated if this blog post was published on the billboards the entire country passes on the way to work, one sentence to a sign. The number of political appointees an administration selects is staggering. Black people are being appointed to areas of the government we never even knew existed, and heading up entire agencies for the first time in history.

I came across the names of Jarris Taylor and Dennis Hightower, two men I'd never heard of until last night while researching information for a companion piece to this post that will be published later today on my blog "Resurgence" at, where I will look more formally at why the Obama administration will set the new gold standard for minority participation in the executive branch.

This is how it works - reporters are lazy enough to quote the same statistics you've been hearing all year, while the appointment process is ceaseless - these two were made in the last six months. Many more have occurred under the radar.

Which means you will have an entire cadre of African Americans who get to see the inner workings of the arcane and often nonsensical processes that help keep our nation running. Processes that can often be tweaked, without any Congressional approval, or any reporters looking over their shoulders, in ways large and small that can directly benefit our community without bumping up against any of the established guidelines.

With a presidential campaign that has shown how to raise the most money ever by a presidential candidate behind them, and the assembly of an army of volunteers that dwarfs anything seen in modern politics, the Obama administration is uniquely poised to graduate thousands of Black America 5.0 political activists, whose understanding of the realities of nationwide electoral politics will broaden and reshape black american political leadership.

In case some of you weren't connecting the dots when you watched those civil rights documentaries on TV back when you were growing up, it took more than the men and women getting arrested to get to the next step of racial equality in the sixties - it took a whole lot of people behind the scenes, raising bail money, donating food and cars and gas money, and scouring the local statutes for legal inconsistencies, all of them working together to get something of significance accomplished.

Make no mistake, Afro America - this IS our moment, nigh the clock ticks while we dawdle.

It's time for us to play our position, and not be the opposition. Seeds this administration is planting will bloom in twenty years in ways we cannot imagine today. The experiences gleaned by the ever-growing number of African Americans in positions of influence at the federal level will open the doors to our community that we didn't even know existed.

The Brown Man believes in irony.

So it is doubly ironic that the first post of 2010 is for an internet acquaintance of mine, Mr. Coby Dillard, a conservative who used to blog at The Dillard Doctrine, but now collaborates at a new spot, Virginia Black Conservatives, that should be up and running by the time you read this on Monday, January 4th -- doubly ironic because I have been doing everything I can for the last few days to run Jim DeMint's ridiculous ass into the ground.

But Coby is the kind of guy who you can agree to disagree with. And he has the patience of Job. A true Brown Man Thinking Hard himself, he is the kind of person who can make old left leaning, libertarian flavored independents like me see beyond the boundaries of political affiliation when he proposes workable, make sense ideas.

I've done enough cheerleading here - I'll let him speak for himself and his new site below.

Good luck, Coby and company!

Virginia Black Conservatives

An excerpt from VBC's first commentary,
The Conservatism of Rights Restoration, appearing on the blog tomorrow:

"...[T]he RPV creed states that Virginia Republicans believe:

"That all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society."

Looking at this, it should be easy to apply this conservative belief to Virginia's ex-prisoner population. The right to vote being one of the cornerstones of civic responsibility, you would think that Republicans would jump at the chance to allow more people a chance to exercise their freedoms as citizens.

Yet too often, it's our party that leads the fight to keep ex-prisoners disenfranchised. During the 2008 presidential election, Republicans cried foul when Gov. Kaine restored the rights of many felons so that they could vote. Did Kaine make this move for partisan purposes, or just because it was the right thing to do? Arguments can be made either way. It would, however, speak very highly of the incoming Republican administration to make a quick and decisive move on making the restoration process easier-especially when little political capital would be gained or lost in doing so."

"As a political party that prides itself on individual freedom, Virginia's Republicans have a unique opportunity to act on an issue that will enable more of our fellow citizens to carry out the responsibilities of citizenship that we are all asked to fulfill. For those ex-prisoners who wish to contribute to our Commonwealth and have paid their societal debt for their crimes, we should make the rights restoration process as simple as possible."

Look for the rest of this post tomorrow at VBC...and if you haven't subscribed to our feed, please do so!

Check Coby and his collaborators out. And tell him I sent you. Political diversity is as essential as social diversity to sustaining a healthy perspective about the world we live in.