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This is the first of our No Fools Allowed columns. Here you will find e-Mail from readers and a number of other items that we did not want to ignore but did not have time to write about in depth.

You will also find news about future issues and projects.

No Fools Allowed will be a weekly feature beginning with the issue we publish on September 2, 2004.

Only one issue will be published in August in order for us to catch up on a number of projects and take some time off. The August 2004 issue will present some of the best of . If you have already read everything we have published in 100 issues you will be forced to go back and re-visit some of your favorites or give a complete read to an article where you previously read only the pull-quotes!

Put a Spike in it

While in Dallas to collect a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fourth Annual Lyrical Underground for his contributions to the film industry, Spike Lee had the following observation:

"We have young black children growing up thinking that if you get straight A's, act intelligent and try to get good grades, that somehow they're acting white or that they're a sellout."

The badmouthing by Spike and Cos plus last week's cover story, “Acting White? - African-American Students and Education" by Edward Rhymes Ph.D. inspired this week's cartoon by the artist known as 29.


Click for complete image of cartoon

Bring back the e-Mailbox

KGW Turner asks a simple question and makes a request:

Why has your e-mailbox disappeared? I looked forward to reader comments and the editorial responses. Please bring the mailbox back. Thank you.

The e-Mailbox did not disappear, but it began appearing so infrequently it looked that way. It happened because we got caught in the "can't help myself" corner. We are sure all regular readers are familiar with the CHM syndrome. An extreme example is running into a conservative Black person who wants to know why you aren't eager to get in line for a job at the big house where you can tell the boss man how imperfect those field Negroes are. You say, "I can't help myself, but that Cosbyite must be given a piece of my mind."

Oops! Did we just imply that Bill Cosby is a house Negro? Damn straight. And now you see that KGW Turner has encouraged us to really get into something and make the job of creating a breezy, quick and much easier to write response to a simple question so difficult.

The whole Cosby thing did play a role in the demise of the old e-Mailbox. We received so many letters from readers who supported Cos it made us want to vomit. We will never find attacking poor Black folks acceptable. Period. If you think there is an argument you can make to convince us otherwise please go read the name of this column again - No Fools Allowed! However,this does not mean you will never find e-Mail messages here from people who disagree with us. If you see an argument presented by another reader and you "can't help yourself" please foam on and send us your take on it.

That long diatribe violated the whole point of this column - to be brief, snappy, breezy - but it was necessary to establish what will to be going on here. We will try to publish a lot more e-Mail letters and encourage our readers to duke it out with each other. We will serve as a heavy handed referee.

Let's make something else official. If you send us an e-Mail message it may end up in this column unless you tell us it is not for publication or tell us to use it but to either withhold your name or use a pen name. We spent too much time engaging people on a one to one level via e-Mail.

Moving right along, a CG from Georgia delivers this shot at Jello man:


Not that many black folks put much stock in Bill when he was hawking Jello, so we probably don't really care about his opinion on the ills of the 'ghetto kids.'

Ever since this whole matter broke, something about it stuck in my throat but I couldn't put my finger on it. Finally, the thoughts have surfaced...

To have Bill Cosby, who gained most of his riches and notoriety from serving as the equivalent of a high paid black shoe shine boy to the manufacturers of Jello on top of a lifetime of roles in which he was hired to play the buffoon by super wealthy white folks who could afford to pay him to serve as their black jockey lawn have him criticize black kids and dysfunctional black families for 'acting ignorant' is like the skillet calling the kettle black.

At one time, we had a rule in the black community ... if you didn't do nothing to help them, you can't sit back and criticize them.

Bill Cosby spending a lifetime playing the fool and having this image projected out into society, especially into black society, probably did more to encourage the dumbing down of black America, than all the crack in the universe.

Bill, they know that white folks hate them ... for no reason. They just don't understand what the hell they've ever done to deserve a kick in the teeth from you. For you to beat up on the least of our society, is your denial kicking in ... trying desperately to say, I'm not like them.

Well brother, as we used to say: "It takes one to know one."

On the other side of the coin is retired teacher, Thelma S. Williams:

As a retired teacher, and still concerned, Bill Cosby is right. Not all, but far too many with the lazy tongue, non - readers, in fact everything he said is true.

This is not the time to fight among ourselves, NAACP, or any other group. But last semester, I spoke to a small group at a Career Day. I always involve writing and speaking along with my lectures. Believe me the outcome will make you cry.

Two years ago in Houston, TX the NAACP had a section called ACTO The Arts, young people from all over the country. Truly they were super in every way. Upon returning home I talked about this program and many had not heard about it. Maybe the NAACP had an area with writing, but I did not run across any.

In all there were I think maybe, 50 young people. My point here is there are so many more who are cheated in the classroom with the basics.

My observation, we teach during the early years, I am not sure what happens by the time the young reach the 7th grade, this is where I see loss of interest, drop in grades, lack of self confidence, so many plus parents seem to drop off in attendance of meetings and involvement.

Not to mention all of the laws. Of what you can't do. Even teachers refuse to stand up to all of the don'ts. Listen to the grammar of those on TV, personally I hold my breath until they go off the air. Today, the Sports have the spotlight. How many blacks were there in the national spelling bee?

So, THANKS for the honesty of BILL COSBY. Think about it, at least he puts his money along with his mouth, and speaking the truth.

I am not into TEST as much as I am into TEACHING, TEACHING, TEACHING then TEST Just be sure the young people are aware of why it is important to speak right and with confidence.

Thanks for your time.

The biggest problem with Sister William's argument is the idea that Black folks should not "fight among ourselves". She is wrong. Black people should have an aggressive dialogue to expose charlatans and identify allies.

Brother John Francis Lee sends congrats on reaching 100 and states his belief that we should use the "B" word to describe Cosby:

Congratulations on your 100th issue.

I enjoy reading your magazine very much.

I have noticed the attention that Bill Cosby has attracted with his "shoot from the lip outbursts".

Billionaires, black, white or brown seem inevitably to become obsessed with their own 'worthiness' and the 'unworthiness' of others around them.

I don't know exactly why this is so. It's a combination of 'I deserve every penny I made and stop asking me for a hand-out', 'luck had nothing to do with it, I'm a self-made [wo]man', and 'I am not a crook'.

White, brown, or black the billionaires all seem to agree : 'If the rest of the world were only more like me.... '

He ought to be referred to as 'Billionaire Bill Cosby', so we could all remember to take whatever he has to say with a very large grain of salt.

Of course all the wannabe billionaires will marvel at the sagacity and wisdom of those they wannabe.

We received a number of congratulation messages on the publication of our 100th issue. To all of you who wrote, please accept a sincere thank you for appreciating our hard work and the work of everyone who has contributed writings.

Derbig Mooser gives proof there are progressive Jews out there although the corporate media would have us think otherwise. Brother Mooser was embarrassed by Cosby:

Man, I'm white (well, Jewish, which is nearly white most of the time) and Cosby's remarks embarrassed the hell out of me.

When I read them, the first thought that occurred to me was, "Bill, you don't spend much time around white people, do you?" His remarks imply a contrast with white people, and cast the behavior of whites as a standard to which Blacks must aspire, a standard which they are failing to match. That attitude so perfectly mimics white racism that I could only be embarrassed.

Look, I grew up in a white suburb, and when 17 years old, was promptly ejected into the wide world. One of the first things I learned was that generalizations by race were completely meaningless, and a real dumb way to judge people.

It was also brought home to me, pretty quickly, that people generally reflected their upbringing and experience, and conversely any human being could rise above, or sink below for that matter, his upbringing and experience.

For every example of Blacks who fail to rise above the challenges and obstacles placed in front of them by the reality of a tremendously race-judgmental society, I could show him ten of whites who, with every advantage and resource available to them, managed to lower themselves to the depths of marital failure, financial failure, addiction, crime, and personal degradation. But for some reason, these whites are never the ones contrasted with Blacks.

But I won't continue - I dislike making racial generalizations in any case.

I also found Mr. Cosby's willingness to dump on Black youth flabbergasting because entertainers don't usually castigate the very people who make up their audience, and in doing so make them rich. Or was his tirade a tacit admission that his show is oriented to a white audience, serving the purpose of providing a - well, better we don't go there.

But one thing for sure - we all, no matter the race or religion, we get old, shortsighted, and if we are high in the income department, used to saying whatever the hell we want without contradiction. I guess it might be sort of gratifying that a non-white entertainer can reach that exalted state, but that's what equal opportunity is all about, I guess.

Oh yeah - I just wanted to say I read BC on-line, and enjoy it very much. It is a good publication, and presents views aired nowhere else. Thanks.

A reader who calls himself LastXGaspe has a wish about "The Myths of Bill Cosby" by Earl Ofari Hutchinson in last week's issue:

Just a comment on how valuable I found this article. Wish it were as widely seen as Mr. Cosby's rant.

Like many of my 50's-60's generation, entertainment and sports figures of that era were a positive role model, especially for white kids, like me, that had little or no contact with Black Americans. Folks like Cosby, Richard Pryor, Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell have had a lasting influence on me and on my ability to take other folks at face value uncluttered with preconceived assumptions.

I felt pretty disappointed upon hearing of Mr. Cosby's tirade. I suspect Mr. Cosby got himself wrapped up in one of the biggest myths of all: the Bully-Pulpit ain't Mount Olympus, it's just a glorified soapbox and it don't make your viewpoint any better than anyone else's. It just makes it easier to hear.

Dan Welch of Massachusetts thinks the democrats are cynical:

I read with interest Greg Palast's column on Kerry's response to his long-ago findings about disenfranchisement in Florida.

However, while I understand that his "dream" is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I do think he underestimates the power of the party to co-opt issues for their own purposes. I do not doubt for a minute that Kerry will mention it on the convention floor.

However, far from being the fulfillment of a dream, it will be another phase in the never-ending nightmare. The consummate politician who once told Florida's "whiners" to "get over it" will not hesitate to use the bathos of lost Black votes.

It's just one more act in a cynical ploy to get traditional democrats, both black and white, to fall in line and vote for the party who mouths platitudes about their suffering while crafting policies to screw us behind the scenes.

Just like the shallow quoting of safer lines from Langston Hughes' poetry. Hollow rhetoric does not a dream make.

Building Bridges with Cubans

This column will be a place to find some shorter items that could be the basis for something much more in-depth if we had time.

The following interview about infant mortality is a prime example.

This interview first appeared in the July-August issue of Because People Matter.

Kathryn Hall is the director of Birthing Project USA, the only national African American, grassroots community-based maternal and child health program in the U.S. She is based in Sacramento and was interviewed by Seth Sandronsky.

Seth Sandronsky: You are a long-time health care professional. How did your work lead you to become a Cuba activist?

Kathryn Hall: In every U.S. city, including Sacramento, the infant death rate for black babies is at least twice that of other babies. When I realized that Cuba has better healthy birth outcomes than the U.S., plus that island nation has a 66 percent African-based population, I was amazed. I had to go see Cuba for myself.

SS: The U.S. is a rich nation. How does the infant mortality rate in the U.S. compare with Cuba’s?

KH: According to the latest official data, the U.S. ranks 28th (7.1 infant deaths per 1,000 births), and Cuba ranks 26th (6.4 infant deaths per 1,000 births) worldwide. In California, the infant mortality rate for non-black babies is 5.0 versus 12.8 for African American babies per 1,000 births.

Locally, the overall rate of infant mortality is around 14 for African American babies versus 6.2 for all others (U.S. Centers for Disease Control). Now, you can see why I am so excited about what is happening in Cuba!

SS: About every third American under the age of 65 lack health insurance for a month or more during the past two years. How is Cuba able to provide health care for all of its citizens?

KH: The social contract between Cuba and her people is such that each person has access to health care, education and housing. There is no profit incentive, only a commitment to utilize their human resources as effectively as possible within the realities of the U.S. blockade.

Cuba has a very sophisticated health care system for its 11 million citizens, with one physician for every 168 people. The country produces 2000 new physicians every year. America has one physician for every 455 people.

SS: The Pastors for Peace caravan visited Sacramento in late June. What is this group doing to improve U.S. Cuba relations?

KH: For the last 14 years, Pastors for Peace has been raising awareness of the U.S. trade blockade and its impact on us and the Cuban people. Pastors for Peace has been giving ordinary people an opportunity to caravan across the country to Mexico, and collect medicine and equipment to be taken to Cuba.

Also, Pastors for Peace gives speeches and media interviews to educate communities about the impact of the Cuba blockade. This year the caravan began at the Canadian border and is going through 134 cities.

This year is a critical because of the new U.S. policies that include a transition team to replace the president of Cuba, and increased agitation and aggression aimed at the Cuban people. I don’t believe most American realize that this is happening. The summer of 2004 is shaping up to be the historic moment of civil challenge to this morally bankrupt atrocity which is being done in our name.

SS: Young Americans have received full scholarships from the Cuban government to attend the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana. How did this opportunity come about?

KH: There was a Congressional Black Caucus delegation to Cuba in June 2000. A congressman from a large district in the Mississippi Delta noted the lack of doctors there. President Fidel Castro responded with an offer to send Cuban doctors to Mississippi that was declined. Castro’s second offer was
500 full scholarships for U.S. students to study medicine in Cuba with the requirement that the new doctors return to poor areas in America to work.

There are now 81 of these medical students in Cuba, 13 from California and one from Sacramento. For more information about attending medical school in Cuba, contact the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organizing.

SS: How can people become involved in Cuba activism?

KH: Californians can let their state representative know they endorse the state resolution to remove trade, financial and travel restrictions to Cuba. We really need to educate ourselves. Excellent websites include:

Sharminie Peries: The Bush Plan For Cuba

Julie Webb-Pullman: Cuba in the Sights

[More recently, the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control approved the Cancer-Vax Corp.’s deal with Cuba for exclusive rights to complete the clinical development of three experimental medications for cancer treatment created there. The biotech firm is based in Carlsbad, CA. It will in time be able to sell the cancer drugs in Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.S. and Western Europe. Cancer-Vax will pay Cuba in food and medicines/medical supplies for its public health care.]

Seth Sandronsky is a member of Sacrament Area Peace Action and co-editor with Because People Matter, Sacramento’s progressive paper. He can be reached via e-Mail at: [email protected].

Question of the week

A Texan who uses the handle "Grumpster" inspired our question of the week.

Dear Sir:

Mr. Hutchinson's article was right to the point. I hope Jesse and Kweisi read it and come off of their high horse for a change.

I have been a strong proponent of the civil rights movement since Hubert Humphrey split the Democratic party over the issue in 1948.

Fifty six years later there is still systemic racism in this country.

It is intolerable that Cosby and the so-called Black leaders continue to blame the victims.

They are out of touch and that is a pity!

So our question of the week is:

How would you rate the current Black Leadership?

A - They are wonderful and love Bill Cosby like I do.

B - Not very angry, militant or impatient.

C - Need to be "called out" Malcolm X style.

If you would like to suggest a question for the next No Fools Allowed column to be published on September 2nd please do. Remember, a multiple choice format is probably more fun for this rhetorical exercise.

We also think creating a question of the week for us would be a very entertaining exercise to do around the dinner table, the lunchroom table at work or school or an after work gathering.

Send your e-Mail to [email protected].

Thank you very much for your readership and keep writing.



July 29 2004
Issue 101

is published every Thursday.

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