Issue Number 14
October 17, 2002
our great relief,
was spared from commenting on the "Barbershop" furor. Only
one reader wrote to us about the movie, and his was a novel contribution
to what has been a very shallow debate.
Harris' letter made us leery, at first. It was addressed to "Honored
influential loving leader," causing heads in our office to swivel,
as in, "Where?" We're still not sure if Harris is a skilled
satirist, or blessed with the rare quality of sincerity. You decide.
has scenes mentioning Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King in a manner
that some feel is negative. Some suggest editing out those scenes.
An alternative synergistic solution exists, and you can influence
a positive solution. "EDITING
IN" scenes is recommended. I recommend that the film stars create
a serious scene emphasizing the importance of registering to vote,
voting, and the roles that Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King played
in facilitating voting rights in this free democratic society. After
this change, leaders like you can urge potential viewers to "reverse
boycott" the movie and seek qualified registrars to "sit
ability to influence many is greatly appreciated. Will you please
use your many resources to insure that the right people get this message
and that action, as you deem appropriate, is taken? Thank you kindly.
provides complete instructions for a "'Barbershop' Reverse Boycott
- Sit In Voter Registration Drive Apology," to be undertaken jointly
by the movie's producers, writers, and actors, and the "honored
influential loving leaders" who are so concerned about the current
version of the film.
that it was implied that Rosa Parks was just tired when refusing to
give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, an action that
lead to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, precipitating many other civil
rights actions. I also believe that Martin Luther King's "alleged"
philandering was made light of.
time is allocated in every showing of "Barbershop" with
the cast seriously informing viewers of the power and importance of
voting in the United States of America, this could make a very big
difference in this democracy, particularly this November. An additional
campaign soliciting qualified registrars to "sit in" at
every showing of the movie having materials available to register
viewers could have a huge impact on the political system in this free
and democratic society.
greater than an apology, I recommend that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Incorporated,
Ice Cube and others participating in the movie "EDIT IN"
a message for all current showings and future digital video
device and video released versions of the movie. This message, asking
all viewers, especially the African-American ones, to register to
vote and actually get out and vote, communicating that voting is "cool",
could reach many. Qualified registrars could "sit in" and
potential viewers can be urged to "reverse boycott" the
newly edited version of the movie by community leaders like you.
thanks the "leaders" for their "valued time." Harris
deserves thanks for his wit, and for providing us with an opening to
briefly discuss the "real" Rosa Parks: the fully conscious,
never-tired-of-struggle, knew-exactly-what-she-was-doing activist who
has been buried in mythology while still alive.
served the civil rights movement's purposes to depict Ms. Parks as a
kind of "face in the crowd" of racial oppression, just another
middle-aged Black woman who one evening decided to sit down and rest
her feet with dignity in the "white" section of a bus. The
character had great appeal - to white liberals, especially - but it
was a fictional character.
the Rosa Parks of December 1, 1955 was a veteran mover-and-shaker who
stepped on that Montgomery, Alabama bus fully intending to light the
fuse of history.
Evelyne Laurent-Perrault (email@example.com),
Coordinator of Multicultural Programs at Haverford College, for forwarding
to us a review of a Penguin Books biography of Rosa Parks, the disciplined
and conscious change-maker:
example, "while the NAACP executives made dinner speeches and
attended national conferences," Parks, as the local NAACP secretary,
"balanced the ledgers, kept the books, and recorded every report
of racial discrimination that crossed her desk. She also did field
research, traveling from towns like Union Springs to cities like Selma
to interview African Americans with legal complaints, including some
who had witnessed the murders of blacks by whites in rural areas."
1945, on a trip to a NAACP leadership-training seminar in Jacksonville,
Florida, she met and became good friends with Ella Baker, the legendary
womanist who in the 1960s encouraged young civil rights activists
to organize the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNICK).
In the spring of 1955 she refused to go along with a petition drawn
up by her closest associates for a partial desegregation of Montgomery
buses because she thought it "demeaning" to demand less
than outright desegregation.
thereafter, over the objections of Raymond Parks, her beloved barber
husband, she decided to take two weeks off from her job at the Montgomery
Fair Department Store to learn new techniques for activism at the
Highlander Folk School. At Highlander she met Septima Clark who had
studied with W.E.B. DuBois at Atlanta University. "Some of her
great courage and dignity and wisdom may have rubbed off on me,"
Parks would say later.
Lee Boggs reviewed "Rosa Parks: A Penguin Life," by Douglas
Brinkley. The book details how "black men and especially black
preachers were not used to sharing the spotlight with women. So, out
of envy, male colleagues like E.D. Nixon and Rev. Ralph Abernathy began
making Rosa's life miserable by belittling her and her husband...."
long past time to shout it loudly and proudly: Rosa Parks was a radical
soldier in the struggle long before she sat down on the bus. Perhaps
Carl Harris, the originator of the reverse-apology-sit and edit-in,
can convince our "honored influential loving leaders" and
movie moguls to produce "The Real Rosa Parks" - with voter
registrars manning the theater snack bars.
price of silence
it seems we can almost hear the roar of approaching war - but little
outcry is heard from the national office of the NAACP. Sadu Nanjundiah,
a physics teacher at Central Connecticut State University, is more than
disappointed with the nation's oldest civil rights organization.
a subscriber to Black Commentator and appreciate the views and news
of the African-American community. I am sorry that the NAACP has not
taken a strong stand against the impending Bush war against Iraq.
It is illegitimate and immoral, given the terrible innocent casualties
that will result from bombing. When the U.S. Army is sent in, African-American
soldiers will be on the front line in great numbers bearing the brunt
of any battle.
National Security Adviser, Dr. Rice, is wholly unrepresentative of
the feelings in the community. I was aghast when she received the
NAACP Image Award recently. Even worse is the silence of the NAACP
in face of the targeted attacks against African-American Congressional
Representatives like Ms. Cynthia McKinney and Mr. Earl Hilliard.
officials we have talked to stress that the organization is a non-partisan,
democratic, deliberative body that has not had the opportunity to discuss
the imminent hostilities at a full meeting of the board. On the syndicated
TV program America's Black Forum, NAACPChairman Julian Bond voiced his
personal opposition to a unilateral U.S. first strike against Iraq.
"I don't think that a majority of the American people are for that,"
said Bond, adding, "I speak only for myself."
Executive Director Kweisi Mfume, of course, has a long way to go to
make up for giving the Image Award to Condoleezza Rice, who is now the
African American female image of aggression.
cannot avoid its responsibilities much longer. "The NAACP can no
longer afford to be hypocritically silent as African-Americans are used/recruited
to conspicuously perpetrate injustices abroad, as we cry for relief
from similar injustices at home," wrote Rev. Curtis Gatewood, president
of the Durham branch of the NAACP, in a letter to Mfume.
was reprimanded by the NAACP national office last year for calling upon
Blacks to refuse to serve in Afghanistan. At that time, Mfume issued
a statement: "This is a time for all Americans to stand united
and defend the ideals of a free and open society where terrorism has
activist has all but dared Mfume to strip him of his chapter presidency,
declaring that the national office's silence is "keeping us side-tracked
and artificially united around the flag of patriotism that is deceitfully
waved in the clouds of racism.
I'm saying the NAACP should pick up the banner and be on the front line
for world justice, not just American justice."
to The New American Century
reader Phil Goldvarg is a poet. In response to our commentary, "Black
America and Bush's New World Order," Goldvarg dropped us a line,
and wrote a few to George Bush.
you for your strong voice. With respect, I wanted to share this poem
Ford's October 3 Letter to the Readers,
he drew attention to a report of the Project for a New American Century,
entitled "Rebuilding America¹s Defenses," the apparent
blueprint for Bush's war-without-end. Jim Thompson, editor of the Jefferson
Post, in Jefferson, North Carolina, forwarded his own editorial response
to the global war plan.
the rush to war against Iraq really about Saddam Hussein - or is that
just an excuse to seize control of the second largest oil reserves
in the world? Does the Bush Administration plan to turn space into
a battleground? Do they really believe the United States should seek
to dominate the world by military power? Other nations have tried,
and all have failed disastrously. There is no reason to think we would
American people have a right to know the answers to these and other
questions. It is the average people who will be asked - or forced
- to make the sacrifices to fulfill this nightmare of attempted world
domination. The Bush Administration needs to distance itself from
The Project¹s imperialism before the rest of world decides we
are a rogue nation - and acts accordingly. They might remember the
words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "We must learn to live together
as brothers, or we will perish together as fools."
Howell has a more theatrical take on the players who strut the world
noticed a few things concerning the "staged" scenarios that
are occurring since last year's events and after the administration
had a meeting with the movie industry. Follow me as I connect The
Republic and the Star Wars series. It is not so far fetched considering
what is happening. In Plato's Republic, the plan for domination is
spelled out and following the present path. As for the connection
to the Star Wars Saga, the Emperor (George W.) has taken advantage
of a situation of danger and exploited it to his advantage (Episode
I). Next the Senate (U.S. House of Reps and the UN) are arm-twisted
to solve a crisis and give up their better judgment in a battle, real
or imagined (Episode II). And as soon as the world gets a little wiser
to the global domination and loss of rights, the Emperor plays his
card to dissolve the Senate (the U.N. - "You are either with
Us, or Against US!").
that sound familiar? If the UN does not capitulate to what the US
wants, what do you think will happen?
Mandela has spoken about it. What are we doing over here?
Shaffer-Gottschalk took note of our comments on the public opinion polls,
which show that the War Party is made up of "youngish, white, affluent,
well educated, churchgoers."
you for that insightful analysis. I happen to be one of those white
church-going people, but one who does not support the God of
War. You have boldly said in your letter about the Bush administration
what I have been trying to say (in vain, I might add) to those around
me, and you have said it more eloquently than I have been able to.
Sekou also writes eloquently, yet concisely:
You for your insight, foresight and endarkenment. As a Vietnam
Vet, I have learn't my lesson about war, and who is the real terrorist.
from Jerry A. Stanley:
did a great job of presenting the issues in this article. Keep it
Billionaire Trojan Horse
may speak for half of the Black billionaires in the U.S., but most
readers don't appear to think highly of him or BET. In our last issue,
we called Johnson "the most powerful Black Trojan Horse in the
nation, by virtue of his wealth," and described his ongoing collaboration
with the Bush White House on social security and tax issues. Adrienne
D. Dixson registered her contempt for the man-called-mogul:
appalled and thoroughly disappointed that this man will sell us
out for his personal gain. He should be ashamed of himself. As much
as I enjoy watching videos on BET (yes, I'll admit to that), I refuse
to watch the network anymore. It makes me wonder how much further
he will sink? I am saddened that we cannot trust that those who have
benefited so much from our loyalty will truly look after the entire
community and not just his own.
you also for providing the links so that reader's can do their own
research on Mr. Johnson and his cronies.
Bowie is spreading the word around on Johnson.
you for such an illuminating article on such a deceitful individual.
I'll be passing this type of information along to my colleagues.
continues to be one of the most informative documents ever.
gathered almost 50 rich African Americans, including a number of Black
media manipulators, to endorse elimination of the Estate Tax on the
wealthy. Attorney Leroy Wilson, Jr. handles rich people's money, all
the time. Wilson knows greed when he sees it.
Bob Johnson is one of the wealthiest African-Americans, I wonder how
much of his wealth is passed on to charity as a percentage of his
net worth, when compared to Bill Gates and Ted Turner? I select these
latter two because I know that they have made substantial contributions
to worthy charitable causes. Of course, Walter Annenberg's $50 million
contribution to UNCF is still unparalleled, I think.
New York Times (910/6/02 at page 33) reports that Mr. Annenberg left
half of his fortune to his family, an art collection to the Metropolitan
Museum of Art and the rest to charity.
Perhaps if Mr. Johnson and others knew of the estate
and income tax advantages that they could get by using charitable
giving in their estate planning, they would give some of their wealth
away to benefit those who are not members of their immediate families.
On the other hand, they may also use the tax laws to make gifts to
their families. Bill Gates' father and Warren Buffett spoke out very
forcefully on this subject. In fact, they argued that a repeal of
the estate tax would cause a lot of charitable giving to dry up. Bob
Johnson makes a mistake however, when he characterizes (as I remember)
his wealth as being generated by him. He seems to forget that he accumulated
his wealth on the backs of the Fannie Lou Hamers, and others, including
those who provide the talent for his shows.
R. Watson rates Johnson as a plague on Black people. Watson also caused
pain to the billionaire's pocket.
you don't understand is that Bob Johnson will eagerly sell out Black
folk for a dime.
it was his glorifying gangsta' rap that launched his BET career. I
had his local cable channel 50, here in Denver, yanked off the air
a decade or so ago. He flew all the way out here from DC to chastise
me about the 1st Amendment.
it stayed off the air. As an African American I think Bob Johnson
is as dangerous to our interests as the KKK.
R. Hubbard wrote far too long, so we told him to shorten it up or accept
our edit. This is what was left.
feel that we should not penalize people because they have obtained
wealth, whether if they are black or white, or some other race. If
people took the opportunity to invest their money wisely, then why
should they have to support people through their taxes who do not
go out to work? It is not right, regardless if we were all the wealthy
people and whites were the poor ones, it would be wrong for them to
expect handouts either.
of not understanding economics.
Spencer knows all about Bob Johnson's rightwing ways, and seems irritated
that we did not detail them all.
act as though we should expect something better from Bob
Johnson. Isn't he the one who assisted in the elevation of "booty-shake"
with BET all of those years? Isn't he the one who couldn't be bothered
with any serious African-American cinema during that ownership? Why
should we expect anything else?
have mentioned Johnson's firing of superb commentator Tavis Smiley,
his union busting at BET - the list is long. Billionaires can do a lot
of damage. We can't afford this one.
Guest Commentary response
issue's e-MailBox column featured a
headline: "Anglo-Saxons Beware." This did not sit well with
Charles B. (Ben) Cranston, a professor at the University of Maryland.
a white Anglo Saxon of British descent I wonder why I was put onto
this mailing list. Up until now I have refrained from complaining
because the material was interesting and awareness-raising. However,
this quote, which was under the head "Anglo-Saxons beware",
is somewhat alarming.
reader Clifford E. Bell, who wrote.]
Metzler and Derman are knowingly or unknowingly supporting the psychological
warfare, which is anti any/all African programs for SELF Sufficiency.
The two 'scholars' are of a western, institutionalized orientation.
They are promoting the idea that Anglo Saxons have the right to be
on the land [as well as own land] in Africa. The two 'scholars', knowingly
or unknowingly, are pro-western, criminal propagandists.
the history of colonialism in Africa I can certainly understand that
historical land ownership situations might be considered suspect,
however, I draw the line at the assertion that Anglo Saxons might
not have the right to own land (assuming it is fairly acquired). To
argue otherwise is just reverse racism. I do believe in some form
of affirmative action (i.e., just declaring the playing field level
and walking away is an insufficient response to historical racism),
but to declare differential land ownership rights based on race seems
to me to be the wrong remedy.
"Anglo-Saxons Beware" headline was, like many of our headings
in the mail section, tongue-in-cheek. One would think that a person
of your [British] background would get the wry humor - and we believe
you did. You certainly don't write as if you are unduly alarmed.
the subject of "reverse racism" - Mr. Bell has no power,
and can't enforce any of his pronouncements regarding conditions in
Africa. "Racism" has no effect in the absence of power;
there is no "reverse" of it in the U.S. as measured against
the actual thing, which has killed so many millions.
comes in many forms. The white "farmers" of the former Rhodesia
did gain the land by privilege, in relationship to the indigenous
population. That must be addressed. Mugabe's cronies shouldn't be
privileged, either - although the real soldiers who fought in the
bush should be rewarded. They died in many thousands.
October 31 issue, activist and scholar Dr. Chris Lowe will take yet
another look at land tenure in Zimbabwe.
Parks Book List from the website of the hometown paper of the city she
helped make famous.
of Project for The New American Century report.
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