McKinney: A Hero in Need of Money
Rep. Hilliard Rebuked on Ivy League Warning
Forget About Randall Kennedy!

Dear Reader,

We knew it was coming:

"Your racist and anti-Semitic views are repugnant to me."

From the moment we arranged for an interview with Black Alabama Congressman Earl Hilliard, who was defeated in a June Democratic primary by a candidate loudly and generously backed by the pro-Israel lobby, we anticipated letters like the one, above. Actually, The Black Commentator said nothing at all in our July 25 issue that could possibly merit such a characterization. The piece was a Q & A! When we decide to offer a studied analysis of the dramatic rightward shift among U.S. groups backing the current Israeli regime - and our suggestions on what the African American and progressive response should be - all of our readers will know about it.

Happily, we received only one such e-Mail from the delusional side of the tracks; those who go around blotting out reality with manufactured facts seen and heard only by themselves. This is wonderful evidence of the thoughtful nature of our readers, some of whom went straight to the more interesting - even disturbing - aspects of Rep. Hilliard's remarks. Hilliard did not fare well among the writers. T.L. High said:

Nice article regarding Congressman Hilliard. However, the Congressman fails to realize that his district was still 62% African-American, and not 62% Caucasian. Obviously, he needs to realize that in the end his constituents still had to vote and they chose not to vote for him. There's no use in hating on African-Americans who have attended an Ivy League school. He needs to realize that he didn't take care of business with the voters in his district. His opponent just fed off that voter apathy against Mr. Hilliard. The fact of the matter is that if African-American leaders espouse to win statewide elections, U.S. Senate races, or eventually President they must be able to appeal to a multitude of voters and interests. Old Guard leaders need to change with the times or they will be caught with their pants down as Hilliard was.

Hilliard pointedly noted that voters "in the areas of Birmingham where what we call the New Blacks live, those that work for corporate Alabama," his Harvard-educated opponent Arthur Davis "won just like he did in the white areas."

The five-term congressman repeatedly expressed distrust for Blacks educated in mostly white institutions, especially the Ivy League - a view that did not sit well with Leonard Wallace.

I felt that Representative Hilliard did a disservice to himself and all
people of color by raising the Ivy League bug-a-boo, as if people with
education are incapable of representing minority and poor people. Is he
saying that an Ivy Leaguer could not represent the people of Rep.
Traficant's district better than that convicted crook has for the past 16
years? Rep. Hilliard lost and needs to justify his defeat on something other
than the fact that he failed to represent the people in his district and put
their needs ahead of his own. His loss from Congress will go unnoticed since he had become an insignificant player on that stage.

Roger Chapman reacted similarly and, for good measure, threw Cory Booker into the equation. Booker was the 33 year-old first-term Newark city councilman - of Yale Law, Oxford, and Stanford - who parlayed Hard Right millions to challenge four-term incumbent Sharpe James. Booker lost, but he has Chapman's sympathies.

I understand your concern for the Far Right in using young, educated African Americans (i.e. Cory Booker) to push their agenda. I do find it dangerous as well when you have soon-to-be former congressman Hilliard stating his distrust of Black Ivy Leaguers. I am a graduate of Harvard University with a Pan African political and economic world view. I believe the problem is deeper than the far right. The other part to the problem is how the current African American leadership has been sending the message to younger African Americans that if you want "it," you are going to have to take "it." Instead of grooming the young African Americans and providing roles and functions that utilize their extraordinary talents, the older generations act as if they are scared someone will take away their source for money and wealth. Who will take over the Rainbow Coalition, if something were to happen to Jesse Jackson Jr.? My guess is one of his children or it would just fold, because there is no dynamic leadership at the top, besides Jesse….

Mr. Chapman acknowledged that Booker "is playing it real close by aligning with the Far Right," but added: "I believe many young African Americans feel they may have to make some 'unholy' alliances in order to achieve their goals and advance the African American community."

(Harvard professor Dr. Martin Kilson's analysis of the Newark election, part of his contributionto the National Urban League's State of Black America 2002 report, is reproduced in its entirety in this issue of .)

Francis Beal, political columnist for the San Francisco Bayview newspaper and national secretary of the Black Radical Congress, has written extensively on the Hilliard-Davis contest in Alabama, as well as the upcoming challenge to Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, in Georgia. Beal's July 25 Guest Commentary was widely applauded by our readers, among them, G.E. Williams, Sr.

I would like to thank you for bringing the Cynthia McKinney story to the masses. She has heart and courage. I know what she is going through. If more of our black leaders stood for what is right like she does, we as a people would be better off. "Zig Zag Zell's" [Georgia Senator Zell Miller, who endorses McKinney's opponent] true colors are coming out. He and some others in the party desire "good colored" representatives like J.C Watts. We need to do whatever it takes to show the "good 'ol boys" that we will not stand idle while they attack Ms. McKinney. She is a real hero and an example for us all. I don't always agree with Ms. McKinney, but I will always support her in all that she does. Black women like Ms. McKinney, have been carrying us black men for far too long, without any help. We need to rise up and do more than our part to help her now! If the black men in the political arena had half as much backbone as she does, we would not be struggling as we do.

Columnist Francis Beal, apprised of Mr. Williams' letter, offered that Rep. McKinney's father, a crusading minister-activist, provided plenty of male role-modeling. Which brings us to our very concerned reader, Douglas S. Thomsen, who writes under the heading, What is wrong?

I'm so embarrassed being white. What is wrong with this country? It seems we are going backwards. The powerful whites in power want it all. Today I sent money to Ms. McKinney for her fight. I don't have much but let me know how I can help. I'm a Vietnam Vet that lost faith in this country years ago.

Mr. Thomsen is certainly right about the money. A recent poll shows McKinney trailing African American opponent Denise Majette, 39 to 41 percent. Majette, heavily financed by pro-Israel groups, plans to spend $500,000 in the weeks before the August 20 primary. According to the Arab News service, "at least three-quarters of the $234,299 that McKinney has raised from individuals this year is from donors with Muslim or Arab-American surnames, many who live outside her district." For those who would like to help McKinney's campaign:

Enslaved by Choice, Oblivious to Chains

We publish the following letter without comment, but with great pleasure.

As a member of the Senate of Virginia and the Legislative Black Caucus,
please know that I am truly inspired and very much enjoy reading The Black Commentator.

For the second year in a row (2001 and 2002) I am a candidate for Congress for the 4th Congressional District in Virginia and have been burdened with several black republicans who were in the 80s and early 90s members of the Democratic Party of Virginia. And, one of these men, unfortunately, served as Executive Secretary of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP. As a former President of my local branch (Portsmouth Branch NAACP), I am very hurt, saddened and disappointed by his betrayal. Neither of these men were ever successful as democratic candidates for public office and one of them tried several times before switching to the Republican Party.

While attending an NAACP forum on Race Relations in Chesapeake last night, I served as a member of the panel while this black man, former head of the NAACP took notes for the white man (Republican, Randy Forbes) who defeated me by only 4% points last year.

Now, I feel better! Just needed to give vent to the frustration and
disappointment in these black men who, in my opinion fail to see how enslaved they have chosen to become.

Thanks a million times to The Black Commentator for renewing my hope. I have been an elected official since 1984 when I was elected to Portsmouth City Council where I served until I took my oath of office in the Senate of
Virginia in 1992. From time to time, I have become discouraged, but have
continued to fight. Now, when I am in despair, I know The Black Commentator is there.

L. Louise Lucas
State Senator, 18th Senatorial District
Candidate, 4th Congressional District

We thank you, Senator Lucas. Another reader, Ruth Simpson, also gives us more credit than we deserve - which we nonetheless welcome.

Thank you for your stand-up ways. You have my gratitude for your
attitude. You folks, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, et al, represent our nation's best (perhaps only) hope for ridding our citizens of the "R" Word scourge -- this is a reduction of "Republican" similar to the "L" Word that reduced Liberals to a single letter. The "R"s and their Far Reich toady to corporate America with massive tax breaks and corporate welfare, to the disadvantage of the people and then lie about it, they destroy the environment, push us into immoral and unwanted war and use that as an excuse to take away our hard earned civil liberties -- it's for our "own safety," they tell us. They've alienated our allies around the world with arrogant, unilateral decisions.

They are unconscionable people led by a spoiled millionaire who failed in
every business pursuit, was pulled out of the tank by Bush Daddy and his
Texas billionaire buddies. And now His Emptiness wants to instruct us on how welfare for the poor should be conducted.

They have soiled hands and hearts, and are not above any unethical political ploy. Thank you for riding herd!

Dr. John R. Hofer seems to still hear the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who spoke of the civil rights movement's mission to "redeem the soul of America." Dr. Hofer writes, from Salem, Oregon:

It is not only African-Americans who should worry about their civil rights and about "stealth" candidates. Each citizen of this country should worry about his and her civil rights in an era of growing fascism, racism, militarism and a lawless urge amongst our leaders toward a new round of ruthless globalism.

African-American intellectuals, politicians, business leaders, and community activists currently stand in a historically unique position to provide the necessary moral leadership to the entire country and all other ethnic and economic groups to articulate the political issues which currently threaten the basic supports of our democratic ways of being.

The African-American community seems to have the only still-breathing national organizations capable of expressing the moral alarm which must be sounded at the beginning of what appears to be a new McCarthyite Era which threatens to give birth to a whole new species of political furies spawned from a new fascist political soul emerging from an extreme rightwing, corporate-financed elite intent on turning our entire nation into a police state populated by citizens who are nothing more than tax-mules to support further wars of American imperialistic expansionism.

One year ago, I would have looked at my letter and judged it extreme in its description of the current political tendencies of this nation. Now I believe it only skims the surface.

Keep up the Good Fight.

Our publication, directed as it is to "influencers" in Black and progressive politics, reaches an older demographic than that coveted by pop media. It has, therefore, been revelatory to discover that younger people, such as 23 year-old Justin Avery, make up a substantial portion of our readership.

I strongly align my views with a lot of the facts and findings you all have illustrated in your article, primarily the latest Voucher commentary. I thought it really highlighted the necessity of activity and the sheer nakedness of our communities' disinterest in the whole issue. It simply doesn't make sense; the amount of disinterest we (as in Black people) show in matters that involve our very well being and future, past and present. These issues of excessive penalties and false imprisonment, criminology, self-respect and self-worth are all relative to the issue of Vouchers. I plan to become a junior high teacher and with hope and love for my people, I plan on incorporating everything I read, of course with much skepticism, and know about in my own experience with life, into the classroom.

Simply, thanks for being an honest literary source of the Black perspective. It's very much needed.

Mr. Ron B registered a complaint with us, in tones both measured and thoughtful. We'd like to share his letter:

I am a Black conservative, independent. While I appreciate the details that you provide in your articles I can't help but notice some of the clear exceptions that you fail to point out as you attempt to villianize "Black Conservatives" directly or by association.

For example in your "unions going south" article, the state of Georgia has not had a Republican governor since the early 1900's. The legislature has also had a Democratic majority since Jim Crow. Yet Georgia is also a "right to work state". This confounds your view that the Republican Party is responsible for "anti-union" legislation.

Your Cory Booker piece makes it seem that Black people who disagree with the liberal mainstream of Black political thought are spineless and mental lightweights, not possible that they can weigh both sides of an issue and through their own mental facilities choose a course that is different than what the traditional liberal "so called" civil rights leadership has bequeathed that all Black people follow.

As with many other web based news outlets that put forth a "Black" perspective I acknowledge that you have a specific agenda and my little message is not going to change that course. I will, however continue to review your articles and challenge you to produce a more balanced set of articles that showcase the good and bad points of both sides of a particular issue. We need to move beyond the simple politics of good vs evil.

Well, some things are evil, and are understood as such by all persons worth talking to; things like wanton massacres of children, chattel slavery, institutional torture, etc. Other "evils," such as The Bell Curve, the Bradley Foundation executive who paid for the book, and the Black "conservatives" who line up to take more Bradley money, require documentation and analysis before the label is applied - which we try to do.

Regarding the two parties in the South, we trust that you do not interpret our characterization of the GOP as the "White Man's Party," as a blanket endorsement of the Democrats of the region.

We are pleased that you challenge us, and happy that you are engaged in the conversation. We at The Black Commentator respect the honest opinions of serious thinkers, however they label themselves.

However, we do not respect those who disparage the sensibilities and worth of Black people as a group. There are lines that cannot be crossed. It appears that N-word book author Randall Kennedy stepped over that line, in the estimation of Ardra L. Coleman, who writes:

Great piece. I am a 2L law student at the University of Alabama School of law, and this address was e-Mailed to me by a 1L student at Vanderbilt School of Law. I agree with your guest commentator [Dr. Martin Kilson], and if Mr. Kennedy wants to see the devastating effects of use of the N-word come on down to Bama! In my law school class of 184 there were only 11 Blacks! Why does he think that is....

Another writer took a different approach to Randall Kennedy and his N-Word book. Gregory Wilson raises issues that we, too, have wrestled with.

I know this is going to be ignored because of the emotional content but here goes. Why do we, a people who have outstanding accomplishments as our legacy as African Americans, continue to give excessive time and press to people like Randall Kennedy? We have met his kind before, we even work with them on the job in all their bizarre forms (light skin/dark skin complexes/phobias, Negro Racial Realists, etc). We know they will come out of the woodwork with a new approach again and again. Acknowledge and comment on Kennedy but do not dwell on him and his supporters; we know where we live and how most whites view us. Our approach is and should be to live a high quality life. Our African American thinkers and public intellectuals, from the barbershop to the university, such as Dr. Kilson, should not feel a need to occupy large amounts of time with the Randall Kennedys. Let us have confidence in our Afro-centric cultural devices to filter out such backward thinking so that we can concentrate on OUR important economic and social issues.

Randall Kennedy will be allowed to respond to BC's critique of his work in our next issue, August 22. Mr. Wilson will not need a filter to understand our reasons.

Keep writing.

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Other commentaries in this issue:

The State of Black American Politics: Dr. Martin Kilson's Report to the National Urban League

Dignity - Plus a Living Wage and Benefits: Home health care workers win victories - for themselves and civilization

A letter to our readers: Burger King digested... Ashcroft stalks librarians... Cory Booker roams wilderness

Commentaries in Issue Number 8 - July 25, 2002

Hilliard Calls for New Institutions to Protect Black Interests: Defeated Congressman expresses deep distrust of Ivy League -
A Black Commentator interview

Peace and Justice Forces Rally to McKinney: By Frances M. Beal, Guest Commentator

A letter to our readers: Reparations: The Value of White Privilege... Highly Suspicious Christian Soldiers... Neighborhood Watch in Havana... Binges and Wars Over Wall Street

e-Mailbox: Troublesome author wants space... J.C. Watts claims his face helps Black people... Vouchers cure "uncivilized" behavior, enhance brain... Moderate Republicans blame for woes


Commentaries in Issue Number 7 - July 11, 2002

Voucher Tricksters:The Hard Right Enters Through the Schoolhouse Door

Randall Kennedy: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Fool... How the NAACP Handled the N-word...J.C. Watts, Gone in a Flash

Race and National Security:
"Tar Baby Outrage" Update

Commentaries in Issue Number 6 - June 27, 2002

The N-word as Therapy for Racists: Randall Kennedy's Idiotic Assault on Black People's Honor

A Monument to George Washington's Slaves: Picking favorites among Black heroes and What a real man said on the 4th of July

Goin' South:
To save itself, organized labor must capture Dixie

CIA Trumps FBI: Forget about a War on Drugs

National Security News Alert: President is Warned Race Bias “Threatens National Security”- Special Edition - Issue Number 5 - June 13, 2002

Commentaries in issue 4 - June 7, 2002:

Tar Baby Outrage!: Racism and Corruption at the Redstone Arsenal

Condoleezza's Complaint & Paratroopers in the Basement: Connie's image and the Venezuelan coup

Did the Green Party Betray Black America: by Dr. Jonathan David Farley, Guest Commentator

A Law That Gives Racists Something to Fear:by Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew Fogg, Guest Commentator

Commentaries in previous issues :

Condoleezza & Geraldo, a Fine Pair: The Role Models' Burden

Hard Right Cash Defeated in Black City - This Time
Ultra-Conservative Favorite Cory Booker Loses in Newark, New Jersey

Newark: The First Domino? - The Hard Right Tests its National Black Strategy

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right's Plan to Capture Newark NJ

A Letter from Harvard: "How to spot a "Black Trojan Horse." Dr. Martin Kilson, Guest Commentator

Reparations Part One: The True Value of Some Land and an Animal

The Living Wage Movement: A New Beginning - Bread, Power and Civil Rights in 19 Languages

Rep. Cynthia McKinney's Statement on the Events of September 11: The need for an investigation of the events surrounding September11 is as obvious as is the need for an investigation of the Enron debacle.

Make The Amendment: How to Get the U.S. Government Out of the International Drug Trade

Psychologically Unfit: The U.S. Can't Handle the Death Penalty

Linquistic Profiling: By Patrice D. Johnson, guest commentator