Toward a Black Democratic primary
More faith-based foolery
A benediction for





Racists always overreach, living as they do in an outsized world of distortions. Thus, it was only a matter of time before Bush pressed his Black appointees to perform beyond all bounds of dignity, as occurred during the week of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. Condoleezza Rice may still be of use to the White House in matters of foreign policy, but her "civil rights" value evaporated when she walked the affirmative action plank for her true "family" - the Bushes, with whom she has consorted for two decades. In that sense, the old girl is used up, done, just another paid operative.

No more NAACP Image Awards for "Condi."

Of course, there is always the Black Republican circuit, a small and over-publicized venue that we reviewed in our February 6 piece, "Send in the Clowns: The GOP's two-ring Black 'outreach' Circus." Pam Nelson enjoyed the commentary.

As usual the Black Commentator is right on time. Your article, "Send in the Clowns" proves that we get it and we won't be fooled.

My question is, how do we get together and fight these Republican tyrants? I know it's a very broad question and there are many answers but I believe we need to start from the ground level in terms of educating African Americans about what their agenda truly is.

Times are very scary and dangerous for us right now. Although we have made great strides, there are forces working against us right now in order to strip us of our basic civil rights. Bush, Condoleezza, and the rest of those buffoons on Capitol Hill would love nothing better than to roll this country back to the 1950's. By abolishing affirmative action, abortion and birth control rights and education, limiting access to higher education, imposing sub-standard basic education for school aged children, bribing black ministers, and countless other atrocities, they are eroding everything we have fought for, all the while instituting a military state.

I certainly do not have all the answers but I do realize that educating our masses is a key component, even if we have to start by taking it back the old school way and holding town meetings in the church basement. This education needs to include our children, especially those who are eligible to vote. They need to turn off the BET rap videos and get serious because everything the Republicans are doing now will directly affect them in the future.

We must stand, fight, be heard, and taken seriously. Ours is not a lazy race. We are survivors. We deserve our chance to better ourselves through education, building assets, gaining market share, and building coalitions with individuals whom we can work together in order to carry our agenda forward from local city and state governments to Capitol Hill.

We need to understand that money means power in this country. Republicans know and understand this; they always have since the inception of their party. The White Man's Party is using this to further divide and segment us from the rest of America.

Overexposure can kill any act. Condoleezza Rice has played The Devil's Handmaiden (January 23) several times too often - her persona now linked forever to the guy with the twisted grin.

Crystal Cassagnol, of Newark, New Jersey, tends to agree with us.

What an excellent website!! I am very pleased to have found you. Thank you for an informative story on Condeleezza Rice " the Devil's Handmaiden". I will pass your web address on to friends and family. Thank-you for informing our people. Thank you for your hard and earnest work. It's important that we stay informed.

Churches for sale

Faith-based bribery tops the Bush Black bamboozlement agenda, on the proven assumption that one can always find a quorum of Right Rev. Dr. Greedyguts lurking around the buffet.

J. Stevens writes that Bush has sold this bill of goods, before.

President GW Bush is trying to dump the responsibility of government to the needy onto churches. Churches failed in the past because they cannot deliver the services needed for the homeless, mentally ill, or those in crisis. It overwhelmed many of them. Yes, many religious organizations do good for their community and their community appreciates it. However, some churches use this "tax dollar windfall" to enlarge their buildings and spread their religious agenda. There is little government oversight of this money. It is a big black pit to throw tax dollars.

Bush's "Faith Based" program in Texas was full of fraud, services to the needy not given as promised, etc. It also stinks of political payback for votes. Bush gave Pat Robertson $0.5 million. He previously gave millions to other favored religious groups. This violates the Constitutional concept of funding religion....

Let's be wise and keep religion out of government. Otherwise, religion will not survive as a choice...but a forced belief by the largest group in power. There was a time when religions ruled the world. It was called, the Dark Ages.

Elvira Williams is on Greedygut patrol. She's putting the word out on the men and women who trade their congregations' votes for contracts.

I'm no writer but I'm so happy to see that someone other than myself is asking this question and feeling the way that I do. I just had to let you know how grateful I am for your publication. The sick and poor are suffering all because of the faith-base BS. And I can assure you that I sent this article to many churches and also to the Black Caucus. Boy you made my day.

A shock to civilized humanity

Bush also laces his foreign policy with religion - for months now, his sermon's been stuck on Apocalypse. As we wrote on January 30, "The Bush men intend to show the world what Armageddon looks like" by staging "The Mother of All War Shows" in Iraq sometime in the next few weeks. "In the aftermath of horror, the world will become malleable, ready for reshaping in the not-yet-defined New Order."

Alicia Balassa comes from a fine family in Vancouver, Washington. She doesn't deserve a President like Bush, and neither do we.

My mother, Dorothy Lavalle, forwarded this piece to me yesterday. I want you to know I forwarded your piece on to the head of the NAACP chapter in our region,and the fellow board member/president of our new Peace and Social Justice Center, SW Washington. Thank you for the wonderful pieces you guys have been publishing. You may check our Vancouver for Peace coalition website at:

Primarily Black

Rev. Al Sharpton, who says George Bush is "Hell bent on war, no matter what," may become the odds on favorite to win the first primary in the presidential race of 2004. A united local Democratic Party in Washington, DC is pushing to hold the political season's first primary in the nation's capital. The District of Columbia's legally ambiguous status could allow it to leapfrog New Hampshire for the prized slot. As Sean Tenner explained in his guest commentary, last week ("And the last shall be first..."), although New Hampshire's constitution demands its primary take place before any other state, DC is not a state.

Tenner is executive director of the DC Democracy Fund. Should Washington wind up first on the primary schedule, he wrote, presidential candidates would be forced to make firm commitments on full voting rights for the majority Black District.

The nearly 600,000 residents of the District of Columbia are American citizens who fight in wars (DC lost more casualties in the Vietnam War than each of 10 states), pay Federal taxes and perform all the other duties of American citizenship. Yet we are denied the right to elect members of Congress to decide the laws under which we must live and the ways in which our tax dollars are spent....

The commentary sparked an email dialogue between Mr. Tenner and an interested reader. Tenner was kind enough to share with us his exchange with Marv Dampeer, who wrote:

I just read your article on Black Commentator and thought it was rather informative. However, I do have a question regarding the following paragraph in your article:

"Though the Constitution initially gave jurisdiction over District affairs to Congress, there is no constitutional stipulation that District residents shall be denied the right to voting representation in that body. But the root of today's problem is this: for the better part of the last two centuries there was an unspoken agreement in Congress that "authority" over the District would be the purview of the violently racist Southern segregationists who would chair its oversight committees. And we all know that old habits die hard."

You mention "Southern segregationists" having authority over the District. Is this just rhetoric or is there anything documented to support this statement? I am not very abreast on voting issues of this sort, but I would like to know how can southern officials have jurisdiction over the District. Please, understand that I am not trying to be critical or critique your writing. I'm just trying to get the facts. I look forward to your response.

Marv Dampeer

Tenner displayed his prowess as an historian, thusly:

Glad to see you saw the article. Unfortunately, its not just rhetoric. I guess the point I was trying to make was that even though the constitution doesn't say "white southern racists will control the District's oversight committees in Congress" - that is what happened and became tradition. DC was long considered a 'southern' city/District, and as blacks came in and began to creep close to a majority, white Congressmen began to feel threatened and use their constitutional oversight power to enact repressive laws over the city and deprive Washington of both funds for social services and voting rights. For a longer analysis of this you can see NBC reporter Tom Sherwood's great book "dream city". A passage states, "In 1890, Alabama Senator John Tyler Morgan explained that Congress was stripping the city of the right to vote 'in order to get rid of this load of negro suffrage that was flooded in upon it.' Morgan was the first in a line of southern segregationists who controlled the city to the great detriment of the African American population (p160)." Segregationists then controlled the committees until the Nixon era - something at the root of today's problems. Anyway, thanks for writing and hope this answers your question.

Full voting rights would entitle DC to one congressperson and two Senators. The jurisdiction is 60 percent Black.

"Make it a loud 2003"

The Internet's ability to instantly offer archived articles has empowered the average reader, making researchers of us all. There is also great satisfaction in knowing that one's digitized words have a shelf life far longer than that of newsprint.

On a more mundane level, it's a pleasure to wish Hiram T. Howe a Happy New Year, in February.

The Commentary "Lott, Thurmond and Duke: Three Kings Bearing Gifts" (December 26) was enlightening to say the least; it was refreshing, and articulated what I felt but could not put words to. The GOP has moved the clock back on us, and we black folks are standing around, frozen like a deer in the head lights of an oncoming truck.

The last paragraph in the essay so perfectly stated what needed to be said. We must do as the last paragraph says, "Resolve to behave as full citizens in the New Year. Bush fears that kind of African American. Make it a loud 2003. It is our civic responsibility, our duty as human beings, and our only protection. 40 million is a big number, and we have always proven to be stronger than our numbers. Never forget that." We have to be bold, and tell it like it is, and we must have unity. I wanted all of you at to be encouraged that this work, this informative web site, is positively affecting someone, and especially me.

The December 26 issue also featured co-publisher Glen Ford's commentary, "Hip Hop and the Hard Right - Media-made illusions of power," first published in ColorLines magazine. The piece caught up with Roger and Mary Slattery-Quintanilla two weeks ago, when they heard Ford read a portion of it on National Public Radio's Tavis Smiley Show.

This is the first chance I have had to applaud the commentary, heard on the Tavis Smiley Show over KERA-FM, Dallas, TX. As an educator, a person of color (Latino), student of society and soon a fifty-something, I appreciated the perspective given by Glen Ford about the grip of the media on the mind of our youth. I viewed earlier the PBS Front Line production, "Merchants of Cool", which covered much of the same material. But Mr. Ford's passion and analysis squared with many of my sentiments and sensibilities about this sensationalist assault on the future of yours, mine, and our communities.

Roger and Mary Slattery-Quintanilla want to make it plain that they are from San Luis Valley, USA, although currently living in Dallas.

Hispanics and the Black-White Paradigm

University of California at San Diego associate professor Jorge Mariscal's January 16 guest commentary started a conversation that just won't quit. In his piece "A Chicano Looks at the Trent Lott Affair," Mariscal pointed out that Hispanic numbers have tripled and quadrupled in some southern states during the past decade. "Despite the hoary black/white paradigm that still determines all discussions about race in the United States," he wrote, "demographic changes tell us that Latinos will have much at stake in the on-going economic and racial realignment of American society.... The discussion of race in the U.S. is still firmly grounded in a narrow and antiquated black/white reality."

As some of us who are from the South might put it: What did he have to go and say that for? A number of readers got the impression that Mr. Mariscal was consigning the Black experience of racism in the U.S. to the dustbin of history. Last week, Mariscal clarified his meaning:

Eric Bogan misunderstands my use of "antiquated" to describe the Black/White paradigm. "Antiquated" doesn't mean things aren't still real bad for most black folks. It does mean that in the last Census Latinos surpassed blacks as the largest "minority group" in the U.S. It also means that racists like Trent Lott have to deal with lots of Mexicans in their home state. This is precisely the point of remembering the Brown/Black coalitions of the Viet Nam war period.

Mr. Bogan, of Portland, Oregon, will have the last word on this matter.

As Mr. Mariscal has indicated in his response to myself and Ms. Uwangue, Latinos have surpassed blacks as the largest minority in the U.S., as presented in the last Census. Also, Mr. Mariscal has highlighted the Brown/Black coalitions of the Vietnam War period, giving as an example "Los Siete de la Raza" and the fact of the Panthers coming to their aid. I dispute none of these facts: Even though I was young during this period, I did reside in the Bay Area during that time period and do remember many expressions of solidarity of both Black/Brown bruthas and sistah activists that extended beyond mere words. As I mentioned in my communication: While I do agree with Mr. Mariscal that the discourse needs to be broader in regards to racial issues, and the history of the black/latino/a coalitions should be better understood amongst both peoples, by no means have we achieved anywhere near a point in time where anyone can state with the certitude of Mr. Mariscal that the issues that continue to stay with us are in any way "antiquated'' simply due to the "facts on the ground" of latino/a immigration numbers that are presented.

And this is where Mr. Mariscal and I disagree: He indicated that I misunderstand his use of the word "antiquated" to describe the persistence of the black/white paradigm that exists in the body politic of America. Not to devolve what I consider a necessary and overdue dialogue into one of mere semantics, yet when I read the word antiquated in the Merriam-Webster College Dictionary, I see these descriptions: 1. Obsolete 2. outmoded or discredited by reason of age: being out of style or fashion.

While we both agree that the new reality of los hermanas y hermanos is one that people of all colors have to come to terms with, and, as the publishers of this website have stated with clarity, "There is no conversation more critical to Black America. Immense ramifications come from swiftly changing demographics", perhaps Mr. Mariscal could have used a different term than 'antiquated'.

Nonetheless, I do value Mr. Mariscal's contribution as well as his analysis.

Associate professor Mariscal wrote an excellent commentary in the February 7 issue of Counterpunch, one of our favorite addresses on the web, titled "Bush and the Return of Manifest Destiny: What Latinos Saw at the State of the Union."

Paul Trachy has taken upon himself to deliver the benediction to this column. He performs this duty with equanimity and grace:

Thank you for the fine website. Let us not lose site of the fact that we are all one people, all brothers and sisters. It is not the superficial differences that separate us. It is the closed heart and the closed mind. As we gain wealth and stature, no matter how little, it is always a challenge not to be abusive to those who have less power than we do. Cultivate an open heart.

Keep writing.

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Issue Number 29
February 13, 2003

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Other commentaries in this issue:

Osama is Calling…

The Issues
Blacks favor peace, whites opt for war... Affirmative action's heavy-hitter allies... Shoving vouchers down DC's throat

Behind from the Start: Black kids begin school disadvantaged

Commentaries in Issue 28 February 6, 2003:

Send in the Clowns: The GOP’s two-ring Black "outreach" circus

Condoleezza: Appointee-in-Chief... Shock, awe and revulsion... Plain language on Blacks and Hispanics

The Issues
Desegregating U.S. African policy... Haitian poor ignore capital "strike"... A more colorful anti-war movement

Guest Commentary 1
"Shrub" Bush's Pathological Focus On Saddam Hussein by Alvin Wyman Walker, PhD, PD, PC

Guest Commentary 2
...AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST: Shunned DC Demands Full Voting Rights, First Primary By Sean Tenner

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.