This is where you will find thought-provoking commentary on some of the hottest topics in our community, in the country and around the world. Thought leaders and writers such as Mike Ramey, Harold Bell, David Miller, Purnell Pinkney, Dr. David Caruth, LaDawn Black, John Kirksey, Gary Johnson and more.
January 21, 2019
My Memory of Dr. King by Gary A. Johnson
On this King Holiday, a federal government day of remembrance honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I remember the power and “reach” of this man. I grew up in an all-black neighborhood in Washington, DC. I remember the evening that Dr. King was assassinated. It was April 4, 1968. It was also my father’s birthday.
I remember watching Harry Reasoner interrupt the prime time viewing of the TV show “Bewitched,” announcing that Dr. King was gunned down on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, TN.
I remember the telephone ringing as the news started to spread that Dr. King was killed.
I remember watching my mother on the telephone call after call talking to friends and family, and occasionally wiping away tears.
I remember going outside and seeing people gather in the streets on the block in our neighborhood.
I remember my mother, who was a groundbreaking DC police officer, appear to be torn emotionally between being a police officer who was placed on-call and a mother trying to explain the growing unrest and rioting in the streets to her young children.
I remember watching my neighbor’s mom crying uncontrollably.
I remember standing in our front yard which sat on a hill and smelling smoke and watching military vehicles drive the streets as a result of neighborhood stores and buildings burned for 4 days due to the rioting and unrest.
I remember, neighbors painting “I’m Black,” on their cars, houses and storefronts, to protect their property from being vandalized.
I remember, roving community leaders like DC radio host Harold Bell and some professional athletes walking the streets trying to keep the city and its residents calm.
I remember black police officers like Tilmon O’Brien and Burtell Jefferson, all family friends, walking the streets trying to calm citizens.
I remember days later, Dr. King’s funeral service being broadcast in commercial movie theaters via closed circuit television.
I remember Dr. King’s “lieutenants” like Rev. Ralph Abernathy, taking the lead in organizing the “Poor People’s Campaign” to address issues of economic justice and the images of “Shantytown” on the National Mall in downtown Washington, DC.
I remember my visit to the Lorraine Hotel, now the National Civil Right Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. Room 306 was restored to the way it was up to the moment Dr. King was assassinated with his meal displayed on the tray and the vehicles parked outside the room.
On this day of remembrance 50 years after Dr. King’s death, it is clear to me that one person can make a difference, even in death. Dr. Martin Luther King, was a man with flaws just like the rest of us. He was also a man with a vision and the ability to lead and inspire others to action. Dr. King made life better for all of us. It is up to us and our children and their children to do better.
Top 20 Most Inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes
- Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
- That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do what is right.
- Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
- We bust build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
- If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t walk run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means keep moving.
- Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
- The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
- In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
- We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.
- We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
- Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
- Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
- Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
- You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
- Only in the darkness can you see the stars.
- We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
- Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- We must use time creatively.
- Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.
- We must substitute courage for caution.
MLK and LBJ courtesy Yoichi Okamoto – Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.
January 14, 2019
The Hypocrisy Surrounding the R. Kelly Debate by Raynard Jackson
I usually don’t write about salacious issues involving sex, scandal, and other issues I consider a waste of time; but because of the volume of calls and emails asking me to give my take on Robert Kelly, a.k.a. R. Kelly, I will make an exception and share my thoughts.
I have worked in and around the entertainment industry for many decades. I don’t know, nor have I ever met Robert. We have many, many mutual friends and Kelly’s penchant for your girls have been known for decades.
While everyone is losing their damn minds over the Kelly situation, I don’t deal in emotion; I deal in facts. So, the fact is that I can’t allow the public and the hypocritical media to pile on a guy with no balance or context brought to the discussion.
Do I think Robert likes to have sex with young girls? Yes. Would I buy any of his music or go to one of his concerts? No. Do I think he should be in jail? ONLY if he is found guilty of a crime by a jury of his peers!
Before I go any further, I am putting the issue of statutory rape to the side for purposes of this column. Statutory rape basically means that a person under a certain age (it varies by state) cannot legally consent to engage in sex even if no coercion is involved.
The most overlooked point about the sexual allegations surrounding Kelly is that not one of the girls making accusations about him have accused him of rape!
Let me repeat, Robert Kelly has never been accused on raping any of his alleged victims. This is indeed very unusual for a person that is considered a sexual predator.
So, what does this mean? It means that despite what you think about Kelly’s proclivity for young girls, they all seem to be engaging with him freely and willingly, again putting aside the issue of statutory rape.
As so often is done in this internet age, people want to look at this situation in simplistic terms versus treating it as a very complicated issue with a lot of moving pieces. On this point only do I think Robert is most assuredly being treated unfairly!
A 14 or 16-year-old girl who goes to Kelly’s house or studio knows full well what they are getting into. His reputation is very well known. Yes, I concede that a 14 or 16 year is easily manipulated; but so is an adult who is star struck and only interested in fame and fortune.
Absent of rape, these women were willing to make a deal with the devil: sex for fame and fortune. That’s the reality of the R. Kelly story; once of you strip the story of its salaciousness.
These women chose to get involved with Kelly no matter how much many of us think the decision was crazy.
The fact that a 14-year-old would decide to sneak around their parents and become involved with Kelly can lead an outside observer to question the home life of that child. The mere fact that a grown woman would get wrapped up with Kelly shows you the deleterious impact of all these hoochie-mama videos that even main stream R&B artists have produced. Yeah, the videos that many of you said, “were just videos.”
When you spend the last 30 years portraying women as sex objects through your movies, TV shows, and music videos, it is very easy to understand how these women can be easily taken advantage of.
Where were all these Black women who now are pouncing on R. Kelly when all these booty-shaking videos were being made. And it is not just the fellas, you should see some of the girls who are making hyper-sexualized videos who portray themselves and other women as bitches and hoes and sex objects.
You have women putting videos on YouTube of their 2 or 3-year-old daughters twerking and dropping it like its hot.
She released the song “Do What U Want (With My Body) in 2013 and asked R. Kelly to sing on the song with her. She was damn well fully aware of Kelly’s reputation with young girls in 2013. Did anyone notice what she didn’t say regarding her song with Kelly?
She removed it from streaming services, but she made NO commitment to give back the millions and millions of dollars she made because of Kelly’s appearance on the song. What about the royalties she receives every time the song is played or someone purchases it? Kelly could very well be participating in the revenue stream from the song depending on what they each put in their contracts.
Because this whole controversy involves sex, lies and videotapes, people have lost sight of the bigger picture. Always follow the money. Everyone, and I mean everyone involved in the R. Kelly issue has made money: the alleged victims (many have or are currently hocking books); many of the artists who are suddenly condemning Kelly, have worked, toured, or appeared with Kelly—for pay; many mainstream media outlets have interviewed Kelly with the negotiated stipulation that the interviewer would not ask any questions about his sex life.
Kelly has never been convicted of any sexual crime, so it is hard for me to sit on the sidelines while he is being savagely criticized by the very same people who were his enablers because he was making them money.
This hypocrisy is going to turn Robert Kelly into a martyr.
Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party. BAFBF focuses on the Black entrepreneur. For more information about BAFBF, visit www.bafbf.org. You can follow Raynard on Twitter @Raynard1223.
January 4, 2019
Surviving R. Kelly by Gary A. Johnson
Wow! This Lifetime TV network’s six hour-long chapters docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” has generated a lot of conversation on social media. All of us have heard rumors and reports of R. Kelly’s “alleged” abuse of underage girls for years. I guess when it’s put in front of your face it’s more shocking. I tried to “stay on the sidelines” and just read the reaction from social media. Some these view points and positions are just NUTS. I cannot withhold my opinion after reading how some people are attempting to explain and justify R. Kelly’s behavior. Defending Robert Kelly’s behavior in any way is an INDEFENSIBLE POSITION!
I have NEVER supported Robert Kelly. I don’t own one 45, album, CD or download. That’s my choice as a consumer. When I started my online magazine we NEVER supported him on BlackMenInAmerica.com. I know we’ve only seen one installment of the series. Two additional hours will premiere tonight at 9pm ET/PT and the final installment of the six-part documentary series will debut on Saturday, at 9pm ET/PT. According to media reports, over 50 people were interviewed for this project. I don’t need to wait for the series to end to come to the following conclusion: There were adults who looked the other way and did not take sufficient action to protect these girls. That is shameful.
The abuse of power and the exploitation of young girls was emotionally gut-wrenching. R. Kelly used his power to systematically breakdown and exploit young girls. As the grandfather of 3 little girls, who is very protective, again I ask the question: “Where were the adults?” The adults protected Robert Kelly and allowed young teenage girls to be emotionally, physically and sexually abused. Some of these adults had the nerve to show their faces in the documentary and they seemed to have no remorse. WTF?
Kelly’s record company and PR folks used to call and email me to get BlackMenInAmerica.com to support his new releases. They would drop off FREE tickets to his shows when he came to DC to entice us to give him some “love.” I never attended one show and I declined to interview him. Again, my choice. I own my media outlet, therefore there was no discussion. I didn’t have to consult with a Board of Directors. I was willing to suffer any negative consequences in terms of loss advertising revenue or a drop in site visitors. My decision was based on COURAGE, which I define as the willingness to act on what you believe to be true. Things that are obvious do not need to be explained.
This series is hard to watch. I am experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions as I am writing this. I was uncomfortable watching this series, but I could not turn away. I’m not sure what that says about me. Lifetime will broadcast two more episodes tonight, “Sex Tape Scandal” and “The People vs. R. Kelly.” The docuseries concludes Saturday, January 5th.
A Collection of Thoughts on President Obama’s Legacy
January 8, 2017
By Gary A. Johnson – Publisher, Black Men in America.com
Barack Obama the person is a hugely popular and likeable person. From everything we can gather he is a solid husband, father and family man. Barack Obama, the President, is a different story. Despite his popularity in the polls, the majority of Americans feel that he has taken the country in the wrong direction. For President Obama, it appears by his actions that he thinks it is vitally important to help Americans understand how his two terms have reshaped American life. He knows that once he leaves office, President Trump may undo much of what he accomplished, including reforming the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
In terms of his legacy, will President Obama be remembered for who he is? Or remembered for what he did?
Ever since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, President Obama and the Democrats at times, have behaved like arrogant sore losers who can’t accept the fact that their party lost what was arguably the easiest and most winnable presidential race in the last 40 years.
President Obama campaigned across the country for Hillary Clinton claiming that a vote for her would continue his policies. He claimed that he would be personally offended if folks did not vote for Clinton. On election day the majority of the people rejected the President’s policies by either casting their vote for Donald Trump or not voting. Those are the facts. The President, the Clinton campaign and a lot of Americans are having a hard time swallowing this defeat. Several college campuses cancelled classes, established “cry-ins” and brought in therapy dogs, Play-Doh and coloring books to help the students cope with the election results. I’m not lying. Click here to read more about this.
It appears that the President can’t bring himself to think that people would reject his policies. Instead, he said that “they” (the Democrats) didn’t do a good job of messaging and getting the word out. The word and the message was received and it was rejected. Why? Everyone has an opinion.
A month before the election, President Obama, the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton got cocky. Most polls reflected that Hillary Clinton had double-digit lead over Donald Trump. Obama and the Democrats talked about running up the score in key swing states. President Obama was seen as Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon. A sitting and popular President campaigning for her was a move toward positioning the Democrats to retake control of the legislative branch. Here we are, 3 weeks after the election and the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and President Obama got their asses kicked. Not only did they loss the presidency, the loss Congressional and Senate seats.
Hillary Clinton ran a terrible campaign. There was NOTHING clever or smart about her strategy. One of her main campaign slogans was: “I’m with her.” What does that mean?
Ms. Clinton could not connect with young people, even after the campaign and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) rigged the primaries and stole the election from Bernie Sanders. She was deemed as dishonest and untrustworthy by many in the American public.
Now soon to be ex-President Barack Obama said he will position himself as the leader to help rebuild the Democratic party. President Obama appears to have a hard time accepting that his agenda was unpopular to many voters. The old saying, “What goes around, comes around,” has bitten Obama. After he won the election to become President, Barack Obama repeatedly reminded his adversaries that he won the election and on a few occasions told them that it was their turn to get in the back of the bus. Now that his team has loss, President Obama is concerned about his legacy.
The President’s legacy is arguably tarnished in the eyes of some for his failure to be honest about the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. The President is on record over 30 times making a series of promises and commitments to the American people, many of which turned out to be false or outright lies. For purposes of this article, let’s call them “broken promises.” For example, President Obama repeatedly assured Americans: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” According to healthcare giant Aetna, in 2016, Obamacare tossed over 2 million Americans out of their health plans.
According to Chris Conover, a contributing writer for Forbes.com, here are the most glaring statements connected to Obamacare:
- Universal coverage
- No new taxes on the middle class
- Annual premium savings of $2,500
- No increase in the deficit
- You can keep your plan if you like it
Here are the facts:
Up to 9.3 million people lost their coverage during the first open enrollment period. As of mid-September 2016, 18 of Obamacare’s 24 CO-OPs had failed, leaving 932,181 members to scramble to find alternative coverage; there’s only 6 CO-OPs remaining. In addition, At least 811,000 additional Obamacare plan members are involuntarily losing coverage in 2016 due to the withdrawal of UnitedHealth, Aetna and Oscar from various Obamacare exchanges.
In many speeches across the country President Obama said: “We will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.” Can you guess what one of the worst parts of all those plan cancellations is? Obamacare often forced patients to switch doctors and hospitals in the middle of their treatment.
At a rally in Florida in September 2016, President Obama claimed “a handful of people” would face hefty health-insurance premium increases for 2017. Last year, eight states had Obamacare plans whose premiums increased by 39% or more. Half the states saw increases of 30% or more.
Premiums are projected to rise even faster in 2017. Across Tennessee’s three exchange-participating insurers, the lowest average increase will be 44%. The highest will be 62%. On average, premiums are going up by 25%, but in some states, the increase will exceed 100%. Given that 15% of exchange plan members do not get subsidized coverage, about 9.1 million will face the full brunt of premium increases for Obamacare-compliant plans in the non-group market.
“I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future.” – President Obama, Sept. 9, 2009.
Less than four years later, the Government Accountability Office announced ObamaCare would increase the federal deficit by $6.2 trillion over the next 75 years.
“You should know that once we have fully implemented, you’re going to be able to buy insurance through a pool so that you can get the same good rates as a group that if you’re an employee at a big company you can get right now — which means your premiums will go down.” —President Obama, July 16, 2012.
Not only did premiums go up, they have continued to rise. The Congressional Budget Office now predicts that, by 2025, employment-based coverage will cost about 60 percent more than this year because of the Affordable Care Act.
With Obamacare being the President’s signature piece of legislation, it was embarrassing that the website didn’t work, the promises were broken and it was a huge public embarrassment that had to be re-worked for millions of dollars at the tax payers expense. Where was the accountability for this?
President Obama’s legacy will likely be tarnished because of the President’s and the administration’s lies and deception connected to the Iran Nuclear Deal and for going against a long-held policy of NOT paying our enemies money in exchange for prisoners. In addition, public and Congressional reports claim that the Obama administration misled the public about the Iran nuclear deal’s contents in order to stymie opponents. The deal was touted as keeping Iran from a nuclear bomb for 15 years, but the new disclosures reveal that Iran could be six months away from a bomb within a decade of the deal.
President Obama appears to have a hard time accepting that his agenda was unpopular to many voters. There are elements of Obama’s agenda that remain unpopular. But a larger concern for aides is that Clinton failed to make the case for her own candidacy, and not be seen solely as an agent of the status quo.
There were times during the President’s two terms in office where he felt comfortable “talking down” to black folks and lecturing us on how to be better fathers and citizens. OK. We need to do better, but some folks were irritated by the format and the way the message was presented to us. One has to be careful when you decide to publicly castigate your most loyal supporters, that you often ignored and neglected on issues important to them.
The President’s preface for the use of drones to fight overseas has gone unnoticed by many. However, the Obama drone program has arguably taken more innocent lives than any other administration with almost no accountability.
This past election reflected another mid-term shellacking on President Obama’s watch. According to most polls, despite his popularity, most Americans believe that President Obama has been moving the country in the wrong direction. Most Democrats did not want to be seen or associated with the President. They did not want him to campaign for them. The massive debt he accumulated was a hard sell for any politician. On January 20, 2009, when he was sworn in, the debt was $10.626 trillion. Today it’s $19.78 trillion.
It’s misleading to hold President Obama (or any other President) accountable for the deficit incurred during his first year of office. That’s because the previous Administration already set the federal budget for that fiscal year.
The average annual deficit by President Nixon was $11 billion dollars, President Ford $40 billion, President Carter $61 billion, President Reagan $165 billion, President H.W. Bush $235 billion, President Clinton $40 billion, President George W. Bush $250 billion and President Obama $1.3 trillion.
In fairness, Obama inherited a mess when he took office and if that wasn’t enough, this man was disrespected often as the sitting President of the United States. Do you remember Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) putting her finger in the President’s face in front of reporters? Brewer had the nerve to say that she felt “a little threatened” by President Obama. WTF? He should have grabbed her hand and firmly told her, “You got 10 seconds to get your fucking finger out of my face.”
Here are some other memorable moments of disrespect against President Obama:
- 9 months into his presidency as he addresses Congress Rep. Wilson yells, “you lie” during the President’s State of the Union speech.
- The whole “birther movement.”
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) publicly announced, “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.”
- Rep. Joe Wilson, yelling “You Lied,” during the President’s address to the nation.
Much of what President Obama accomplished happened with a “hidden hand” via Executive Order and because of that, and his perceived arrogance in doing so, many of those accomplishments can easily be undone by President Trump. President Obama, talking about his Executive Orders once said: “Where I can act without Congress, I’m going to do so.” — that just pissed off his opponents and strengthened their resolve to reverse his achievements–and they will just to teach him a lesson. Had the President been able to advance his agenda by passing laws, his achievements would be difficult to reverse.
Here are a few thoughts and theories on why Hillary Clinton lost the election, President Obama’s legacy and how Donald Trump won the election:
- Chicago, Obama’s hometown, witnessed 762 homicides last year, the most in two decades, and 1,100 more shootings than in 2015. Obama’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, the reason is the Ferguson effect, according to the Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald. What’s more, statistics show that police are three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than white ones.
- According to Peter Roff, a contributing editor to U.S News & World Report.com, under President Obama, the national debt rose to $19.9 trillion dollars according to the U.S. Treasury. Not all of that is his responsibility; just $9.2 trillion of it, which is still a pretty considerable number.
- Politically, President Obama has been the worst thing to happen to his party since Bill Clinton. During the eight years he was president, the Democratic Party has lost 717 seats in state houses across the country, 231 seats in state senates, 63 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 12 governorships and 12 seats in the United States Senate. As he leaves the stage, 70 state legislative chambers are under GOP control – including those in 32 states where the legislature is all Republican, compared to just 13 for the Democrats. And in 24 of the 32 states with Republican-controlled legislatures, voters also elected Republican governors, whereas the Democrats control everything in just seven. (U.S News & World Report.com)
- In November 2016 at the Men’s Day program at Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, DC, Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan said President failed to do what should have been done.” Minister Farrakhan continued with his message to the President by saying, “Your people are suffering and dying in the streets,” of Chicago, so “you failed to do what should have been done.” Farrakhan also said it is time to let Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump do “what he wants to because he is not destroying your legacy.”
- According to a November 22, 2016 article written by Conrad Black in the National Review, Donald Trump won because the United States has had the 15 worst years of misgovernment by all branches and both parties, and the only period of absolute and relative decline, in its history. In addition, for the last six years two-thirds of Americans polled have steadily thought the country was going “in the wrong direction.” Click here to read more.
- Filmmaker Michael Moore believed Trump won because nearly 70% of all voters thought Hillary Clinton was untrustworthy and dishonest. She represents the old way of politics, not really believing in anything other than what can get you elected.
- Hillary Clinton did not fire up the Obama Coalition. She got nearly 5 million fewer votes overall than Barack Obama.
- Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election because President Obama is an arrogant sore loser who refuses to believe that his policies were not in the best interest of all Americans. Many Americans believe President Obama knowingly lied about the benefits of Obamacare and the Iran deal. Add to that, his handling of the sluggish economy, his social agenda, the slow “wussy-like” response to ISIS, the IRS scandal and his Justice Department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server.
This does not include President Obama’s skirting Congress, his pushing amnesty for people who entered the country illegally, favoring Black Lives Matter, unilaterally imposing crushing environmental regulations and the numerous other unpopular policies that absorbed his attention.
I believe the actual substance of the President’s domestic policies and their impact on the country remain poorly understood. I make my living teaching leadership development. I used to work in the West Wing of the White House and I know a little “sumthin’ sumthin'” about the intelligence business. I’ve studied President Obama’s leadership style. I believe this is a President who has clearly conveyed to his staff, “do not bring me bad news or things I don’t want to hear.” As a result, I believe President Obama has surrounded himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear. If you dare bring him bad news, you will find yourself out of favor with him. Some key advisors have not served the President well.
Lt. General Michael Flynn who has accepted the job as Donald Trump’s next National Security Advisor, sounded the alarms about the threat of ISIS, when he was in charge of the Defense Intelligence Agency. I find it incredible that President Obama never met with Flynn.
Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, who are former Secretaries of Defense and Directors of the CIA said President Obama did not respect his armed forces’ chiefs and in fact rarely met with them. Others have said that President Obama thinks he knows more than his generals and is not above telling them so. As Gates wrote in his memoir Duty, “The controlling nature of the Obama White House and the staff took micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level.” Not only did Obama not take the advice of his military chiefs, he never even met with them. At a recent Congressional hearing, four top military figures testifying on national security were asked whether they had voiced concerns to Obama. Each one said no, they had never met the man.
Two months before the election, President Barack Obama spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 46th Annual dinner. He told the audience that he would take it as a “personal insult” if the African-American community fails to turn out for the presidential election and encouraged black voters to support Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Obama said his name may not be on the ballot, but issues of importance to the black community were, including justice, good schools and ending mass incarceration. “I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election,” Obama said with a stern look and booming passion. “You want to give me a good send-off, go vote.”
Black folks, despite their loyalty to President Obama have not done well economically under his stewardship of the U.S. economy. Blacks have been largely shut out from the nation’s economic recovery. Many are intoxicated emotionally with having a black man and his wonderful scandal free family in the White House for eight years. That is something to be proud of, however, not benefiting from the economic recovery is not emotional–that’s a tangible hardship that is easy to measure.
At various times during his career, President Obama faced criticism from some blacks that, because he didn’t grow up in the hood and he attended an Ivy League school that he simply wasn’t down with the cause or (here we go) “black enough.”
History will decide the full measure of the successes and failures of the Obama presidency. Fortunately for the President, time passed tends to be kind to the legacy of ex-occupants of the Oval Office. On the first day of 2017, President Obama reflected upon the successes of his presidency in a series of tweets via Twitter. The President touted “the longest streak of job growth in our history” and said that “after decades of rising health care costs, today nearly every American now has access to the financial security of affordable health care.” The President concluded his tweet series by writing: “It’s been the privilege of my life to serve as your President. I look forward to standing with you as a citizen. Happy New Year everybody.”
Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to the President said,“The president prides himself on the fact that his administration hasn’t had a scandal and he hasn’t done something to embarrass himself,” Jarrett said in an interview broadcast on CNN on New Year’s Day. Critics of the Obama administration said Jarrett was trying to re-write history. These critics and a few government watch dog groups site the IRS abuses, Benghazi (where 4 Americans lost their life), the Clinton scandals, the lies told about Obamacare, the Iran Nuclear Deal, and other Obama administration failures.
The bottom line is we cannot gloss over President Obama’s flaws. We all have them. He has succeeded as President of the United States for two terms. That is a fact and history will record that.
I think the President should transition to civilian life quietly and I think history will judge him kindly. This will NOT be the case. President Obama has made it clear that he will not go away quietly. He will move into a home in the city and he has vowed to be a voice and mentor to others in an effort to resurrect his failed Democratic party. I think this is a mistake. The strategy will only serve to remind people of his failures. He will also make it easy for Republicans to “pile on” and highlight their successes as they collective work to reverse many of President Obama’s policies and Executive Orders.
About the Author:
Gary A. Johnson is the Founder of Gary A. Johnson Company & Associates, LLC, a management training and consulting company. The company manages a variety of Internet and digital media enterprises including Black Men In America.com, one of the most popular web sites on the Internet, Black Men In America.com Dating and the Black Men In America.com Syndicated Blog. In addition, the company manages Homework Help Page.com, an educational resource site for children, college students and parents.
Sources: Multiple media, news and government sources.
Wealthy Preachers and How Mega Churches Spend Their Money
By Gary A. Johnson, Publisher – Black Men In America.com Staff
December 18, 2016
There are “well-to-do” preachers, there are rich preachers and then there are obscenely wealthy preachers. I want to talk about all of them but with a focus on the obscenely wealthy pastors who seem to get the most attention. The question that I want to discuss and explore is whether or not these men and women of God deliberately prey on the poor and the gullible to ensure the wealth, power and dominance in the church and community.
Some of the rich pastors came to God later in life through the sports, politics or the entertainment industry. Case in point, Al Green, George Foreman, Clifton Davis, R&B singer Peebles and former rapper Mase. I can name 50 more who came out of that lane. I grew up hearing the phrase “pimps in the pulpit” to describe predatory preachers who simply were less than forthcoming when it came to behaving in a trustworthy and honest manner.
I know that I am putting the spotlight on high-profile pastors, (some of whom have had trouble with the law, personal tragedies and other falls from grace) because they are high profile. I’ve followed pastors for years. Let me share my fundamental belief about men and women who hold these positions:
- Many pastors honestly believe they are doing the work of God
- Most pastors will never be famous and that’s OK with them
- Many preachers entered the ministry to change the world and touch the masses in a positive way
- Some preachers stumble along the way through no fault of their own and end up in dark place they can’t often escape
- Many churchgoers have been culturally conditioned to believe whatever their preacher tells them and that doing so will get them closer to God
- Many preachers learned early on that they have a “gift” to get people to follow them
- Some preachers are jealous, thin-skinned egomaniacs who care about what is said about them
- Many preachers feel pressure to perform and to outperform their peers
Let’s take a look at some high profile, well-to-do, rich and obscenely wealthy men and women of God and their estimated worth.
Clifton Davis ($3 Million)
Clifton Davis came to fame as a songwriter, singer and actor before becoming a minister. Davis launched his career in the music business after writing hit songs like “Never Can Say Goodbye” and “Lookin’ Through the Windows” for The Jackson 5. Taking his talents to the stage in the 1970s, Davis made his acting debut as the star on the television series “That’s My Mama” and has spent the last 45 years acting on shows like “Amen,” “Living Single” and “Grace Under Fire.”
Long before becoming a celebrity, Davis pursued his passion for theology and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University and was ordained in 1987. He has spent the last 25 years as the co-founder and pastor of the Welcome Christian Center in Huntington Beach, California while making guest appearances on the Trinity Broadcasting Network in addition to hosting Gospel Superfest for the last eight years. When he’s not behind the pulpit, parishioners and fans can find him talking politics as he plays Ephraim Ware on the popular television series, Madam Secretary.
Minister Louis Farrakhan ($3 Million)
Born as Louis Wolcott and trained as a violinist, Bronx native Louis Farrakhan launched his career as a professional musician in the 1950s at the same time he was introduced to the teachings of the Nation of Islam (NOI). Joining the NOI in 1955 and briefly becoming Louis X, Farrakhan gave up his dreams of music and quickly rose through the ranks under the guidance of Malcolm X. With Malcolm’s assassination in 1965, Farrakhan then assumed the role as the national spokesman and representative of the NOI and the minister of the highly influential Harlem Mosque.
A widely polarizing and controversial figure, Farrakhan has spent the last three decades reviving the Nation of Islam while building his following as a minister in the northeast and amassing $3 million in personal wealth. Responsible for the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. in 1995, Farrakhan is now 83 years old but age hasn’t stopped him as he continues to spread his influence through weekly online sermons and speaking at large NOI events. He’s even returned to music with a sound that critics describe as “deep and full of energy that makes the violin gleam.”
Eddie Long ($5 Million)
Eddie Long was a sales representative for Ford Motor Corporation long before he ever went into ministry. Losing his job at Ford and moving to Atlanta, Long studied theology and became a pastor at a small Georgia church before taking over at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 1987. Growing the church from 300 to over 25,000 members in a matter of years, Long managed to build his wealth as well to the tune of $5 million.
According to Eddie Long, Jesus wasn’t broke, and leaders of churches shouldn’t be either. Long has earned millions in salary from his ministry, owns a million-dollar home on a 20-acre lot, has use of a $350,000 Bentley, and pulls in a host of other benefits too.
Bishop Long made headlines a few years ago when he was accused of using his teachings to coerce four young men in to having sexual relationships with him — with a fifth man emerging later. The accusers filed lawsuits against Long, claiming sexual misconduct on his part and stated that Long bought them expensive gifts, treated them to elaborate trips, and quoted scriptures in order to justify his acts. Long has denied all of the sexual allegations against him and the lawsuits have been settled out of court. The details of each settlement have not been publicly disclosed.
Al Sharpton ($5 Million)
Al Sharpton is a civil rights activist, talk show host and Baptist minister. Sharpton was ordained a Pentecostal minister at just nine years old. He then spent much of his early career as James Brown’s tour manager and an activist alongside Jesse Jackson before shifting his focus back to ministry and joining the Baptist church in the late 1980s.
Officially becoming a Baptist minister in 1994, Sharpton’s reputation skyrocketed thanks to hundreds of television and radio appearances that have padded his $5 million net worth. Despite his success, Sharpton encountered financial problems in 2014 when reports revealed that he “regularly sidestepped” his debts and owed millions in back taxes. Though Sharpton took a hit on his personal wealth, he has rebounded nicely as a trusted White House adviser and the host of his radio show, Keepin’ It Real with Al Sharpton.
Peter Popoff ($10 Million)
Born in war-torn Berlin in 1946, Peter Popoff moved to California with his family at a young age and completed his studies at the University of California before finally marrying and settling down in 1970. Before long, Popoff made his way to television ministry where his aggressive and energetic messages were broadcast across the United States and transformed him into an iconic faith healer known for yelling “break free of the devil” at some of his sickest followers.
Healing everything from anxiety and depression to heart conditions and paralysis, many thought Popoff was the real deal. The truth finally came out, however, in the mid-1980s when his methods were questioned and he admitted the miracles were a hoax. Falling out of the public’s favor and disappearing from the spotlight for nearly a decade, Popoff made a comeback in the late 1990s and is, once again, a success. Now 69 years old and worth $10 million, Popoff is often seen buzzing around California in his Porsche as one of televangelism’s biggest con men.
Jesse Jackson ($10 Million)
Perhaps first known as a politician and then as a religious leader and civil rights activist, Jesse Jackson has achieved great success in all of his endeavors. Spending much of his career focused on civil rights, Jackson was ordained a Baptist minister in 1968 but continued to focus on politics with presidential runs in 1984 and 1988. Serving as a shadow U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C. from 1991 to 1997, Jackson continued to gain widespread fame and was given his own show on CNN called Both Sides of Jesse Jackson. Now worth $10 million thanks to his incredible influence and success, Jackson was finally awarded his Master of Divinity in 2000 as a result of his career accomplishments and life experience.
Juanita Bynum ($10 Million)
Born in the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois, Juanita Bynum established herself as a charismatic personality early in her life when she took the stage as a child theatrical star. After graduating from high school, Bynum turned her attention to ministry when she began giving sermons throughout the city until a video called No More Sheets was released in the 1990s and made her a household name. Riding the heels of her early success, she then became a regular on the Trinity Broadcasting Network with speaking engagements around the world.
Expanding her ministry into music, literature, radio and television, Bynum established herself as an international voice in ministry whose reputation long preceded her in 2004 when she held the largest Christian event in Kenya when over 750,000 people attended the National Conference. Bynum is 58 years old and worth $10 million. She continues to build her wealth as the CEO of Juanita Bynum Enterprises in addition to the thousands of dollars brought in from her books, gospel albums and speaking engagements.
Cindy Trimm ($15 Million)
Hailing from Bermuda and identifying herself as an empowerment specialist, Cindy Trimm launched her career in politics when she took the title of Senator at only 30 years old. Realizing she could do even more in ministry, Trimm exchanged her political podium for the pulpit as she began leading sermons and writing books about spiritual growth and healing. Using her political prowess and reputation, Trimm’s popularity blossomed as she traveled the globe preaching and promoting her foundation to help rebuild and revitalize communities in need.
Honored as the Outstanding Christian Woman of the Year in addition to being named as one of the “top 100 doers and influencers in the world today” by Ebony magazine, Trimm has built her incredible $15 million net worth through her publications and guest appearances. Describing herself as a “catalyst for change” and a “voice of hope,” Trimm is currently serving as pastor for Florida’s Embassy Worship Center while expanding her ministry and enjoying the success of her book, The Prayer Warrior’s Way.
T.D. Jakes ($18 Million)
West Virginia native Thomas Dexter “T.D.” Jakes was called to ministry as a teenager when he spent the majority of his time caring for his invalid father. Enrolling at West Virginia State University and preaching part-time, Jakes was named pastor of a local Pentecostal church with only 10 members. As the church flourished under his leadership, Jakes established himself as a gifted speaker and spiritual mentor as he transitioned into radio ministry and continued to expand his congregation. The church’s growth finally came to a head in 1996 when Jakes and 50 other families moved to Dallas, Texas where he established The Potter’s House, which has over 30,000 members.
Kirk Cameron ($20 Million)
Making his acting debut at only 13 years old, Kirk Cameron became a household name in 1985 as the mischievous and charming Mike Seaver on the hit ABC sitcom Growing Pains. Cameron wrapped up the series in 1992 and continued to appear in television shows and films like Listen To Me, Fireproof and the Left Behind series before literally leaving it all behind to focus solely on his faith. Partnering with New Zealand evangelist Ray Comfort in the 1990s, Cameron co-founded The Way of the Master ministry.
Teaching Christians about evangelism through the ministry, Cameron and Comfort host an award-winning television and radio program in addition to running Camp Firefly, a free summer camp for terminally ill children and their families. Cameron, who married his Growing Pains costar Chelsea Noble in 1991, has also teamed up with his wife to launch The Firefly Foundation as a way to give back even more. Between his acting career spanning nearly four decades to his work as an evangelist, it’s no surprise that this former sitcom star is worth $20 million and counting.
Rick Warren ($25 Million)
Born to a Baptist minister and librarian in San Jose, California, Rick Warren followed his father’s footsteps into ministry after attending California Baptist University and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Spending his early years in ministry co-writing two books, Warren established the Saddleback Church in 1980 when he preached his first sermon in front of 200 people gathered in a local high school theater. Using nearly 80 different locations for the next two decades, Warren guided the church to success with over 10,000 people in attendance establishing him as one of the most renowned pastors in the United States.
Expanding his ministry into writing, Warren is a New York Times best-selling author known for his insight into church ministry and evangelism thanks to publications like The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, which sold over 30 million copies. Now at 63 years old and worth $25 million, Warren relies on the income from his books as he has given 90 percent of his wealth back to the church in what he and his wife refer to as “reverse tithing.”
Creflo Dollar ($27 Million)
Creflo Augustus Dollar Jr.: As the leader of his mega-church, the World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga., and with a congregation of about 30,000 members, Dollar is best known for his prosperity-infused theological teachings — and rightly so. The married Father of five reportedly owns two Rolls-Royce vehicles, a private jet, a million-dollar home, and a $2.5 million apartment in New York City, which he sold for $3.7 million last year.
Launching his ministry with only eight members gathered in a school cafeteria in 1986, Dollar grew his congregation to an enormous 30,000 devoted followers while bringing in $69 million in revenue in 2006 alone. Still growing in 2012, Dollar added a second location in The Bronx, New York to increase his reach.
Extending his ministry as an author and reputable speaker with engagements around the globe, the 55-year-old is often criticized for his lavish lifestyle. Owning multi-million-dollar estates in Atlanta, New Jersey and Manhattan, Dollar raised eyebrows in 2014 when his private jet was destroyed after veering off the runway. In only a matter of months, Dollar’s fundraising efforts had already generated another $60 million dollars to purchase a private Gulfstream G650 jet that he claimed was a necessity to bring his teachings to people around the world.
About 7 years ago Dollar and a bunch of other televangelist ignored the U.S. Senate’s request for their financial records. Dollar claimed he was concerned about the privacy of his donors, and he said that if the IRS requested it, he would send it over. However, since it was Congress asking for the information, he wouldn’t do so without a subpoena.
His church made $69 million back in 2006, and the church also provided him with a Rolls Royce. In Dollar’s words “Just because it (my life) is excessive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.”
Unfortunately, the man, who has consistently refused to disclose his financial worth, was arrested in June of this year for physically attacking his 15-year-old daughter after they argued about her going to a party at 1 a.m. The child told police that her pastoral dad strangled her, threw her to the ground, and hit her with a shoe, with her 19-year-old sister corroborating the accusations. Dollar was charged with simple battery and cruelty to children, then released on $5,000 bail.
Joel Osteen ($40 Million)
Easily one of the most popular pastors in the United States today, Joel Osteen has earned the nickname as “The Smiling Preacher” thanks to his Texas-sized charisma. Born to a Southern Baptist pastor who founded the Lakewood Church, Osteen studied radio and television communications at Oral Roberts University but left Oklahoma and returned to Houston without a diploma in hand. Taking the reins and producing his father’s televised sermons for 17 years until his father’s unexpected death in 1999, Osteen found himself behind the pulpit of the largest Protestant Church in the entire country.
Now serving as Lakewood Church’s Senior Pastor, Osteen took a lesson from his father and continued to televise his sermons, which fostered the church’s growth from 5,000 to 43,000 in addition to over 7 million weekly viewers in more than 100 countries. Now recognized as both a preacher and a brand, Osteen is also a New York Times best-selling author because of the outstanding success of Your Best Life Now. And, to put his $40 million net worth into perspective, Osteen lives in a $10 million estate and doesn’t take a penny out of the church’s $70 million annual income.
David Oyedepo ($150 Million)
It should come as no surprise that the richest pastor in the world today is the Nigerian author, preacher and founder of Winner’s Chapel – David Oyedepo. Studying architecture early in his career before concentrating on missionary work, Oyedepo claimed to have an 18-hour vision in 1981 where God called him to preach. Inspired to establish the Living Faith Church World Wide, Oyedepo was ordained a pastor two years later by Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Within five years, the newly ordained Bishop was ready to expand.
Hailed as one of the most powerful preachers in Nigeria, Oyedepo’s expansion led him to his most prized creation, the Faith Tabernacle, which holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s largest church auditorium with 50,000 seats. In addition to numerous Winners’ Chapel locations scattered in over 300 cities around the globe, Oyedepo has built an incredible $150 million net worth all because of his vision and divine ability to preach not to mention cornering every field of the gospel market including publishing over 60 unique titles. Add in four private jets at his disposal and Oyedepo really does seem to have it all!
George Foreman ($250 Million)
Two-time World Heavyweight Champion and Olympic gold medalist, George Foreman is one of the greatest boxers to ever live. Launching his career in the ring in 1969, Foreman continued throwing punches until the 1990s with an impressive record of 76 wins and five losses including 68 knockouts that earned him a membership in the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Officially retiring in 1997 at 48 years old, Foreman is an ordained minister but that isn’t where he’s built his incredible $250 million wealth.
Truth be told, we’ve all helped Foreman earn his millionaire status by purchasing one of his famed George Foreman fat-reducing grills. Marketed on convenience and healthy eating, the grills have earned Foreman over $130 million. In terms of his ministry, Foreman claims that after a near-death experience in 1977, he announced his faith as a born-again Christian and took a break from the ring to become an ordained minister. Spending the next few years preaching on street corners and at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston, Foreman opened a youth center and made special appearances on The 700 Club where he told the world that the devil finally got “knocked out” of him.
Pat Robertson ($500 Million)
When it comes to pastors, one of the biggest names in the industry and often the first that comes to mind is Pat Robertson. Born into a prominent political family in Virginia, Robertson was drafted into the Marine Corp in 1948 and returned home to complete his law degree from Yale in 1955. Failing the New York bar exam, Robertson experienced a life-changing religious conversion that inspired him to enroll at the New York Theological Seminary. Shortly after his graduation, Robertson was well on his way to success when he established the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960.
Officially ordained a Southern Baptist minister in 1961, Robertson has proven that he can be both spiritual and business savvy. Spending the last 50 years as the host of one of the most popular Christian programs on television (The 700 Club), the 87-year-old is also known as a media mogul and founder of organizations such as the ABC Family Channel and Regent University as well as the subject of many pop culture jokes on shows like South Park and The Simpsons. And, although his actual net worth is unknown, an estimate between $200 million and $1 billion makes this Southern Baptist minister the richest pastor in the world.
How 727 Megachurches Spend Their Money
Leadership Network and Vanderbloemen find what determines pastor salaries (and who might be most underpaid).
2014 Courtesy of Leadership Network
Two organizations that know megachurches well have released a new study they describe as “by far the biggest-scale, cross-denominational response anyone has ever collected about church finances.”
Leadership Network and Vanderbloemen Search Group surveyed 727 of America’s largest churches regarding their finances earlier this year. Though the researchers acknowledge their examination of church financial trends is not “randomly based nor is it statistically accurate for all larger churches,” they explain the findings “do indicate many general trends, and is likely the most comprehensive financial perspective available on large churches.”
Of the 56 million Protestants who worship weekly in the United States, 13 million attend a church of 1,000 or more participants. In North America, 1,650 churches have 2,000 or more participants.
According to the 2014 edition of the Large Church Salary Report, the typical large American church (1,000 to 7,000 members) was founded in 1977, seats 800 worshipers, and offers five weekly services at two campuses. The church’s 52-year-old senior pastor was hired in 2005, it employs 25 staff members, and attendance has been recently growing 7 percent per year.
Nearly 50 percent of large churches spend between 39 percent and 52 percent of their annual budget on staffing costs, translating to 1 full-time paid staff for every 51 to 90 attendees. The salary of the senior pastor comprises, on average, 3.4 percent of a church’s budget and at least 30 percent higher than the next highest-paid employee.
Pastor salaries are influenced mostly by church size (70 percent), with region the only other influential variable (20 percent). Race, age of the pastor, age of the church, and theology do not impact salaries. Southern pastors are among the highest paid, followed by the Northeast and then West and Midwest. Canadian pastors make less than all their American counterparts.
The top three metrics measured by the majority of large churches were total attendance and giving compared to budget. Less than half track adult baptisms/conversions, adults in small groups, or new members.
For the largest churches, those boasting attendance of 10,000 or more, nearly 50 percent report “not passing the plate.” In contrast, only 20 percent of other large churches indicate that they do not directly solicit tithes during services. Eighty-one percent of churches report offering the opportunity to donate online, which the study concluded led to higher giving rates than churches relying only on traditional means.
The study also revealed that one-third of churches with 1,000 to 2,000 attendees have adopted the multi-site model, as have half of churches with 2,000 to 3,000 attendees.
First Photo Credit: (Richard Perry/The New York Times)
This Land Is Our Land Too
By William Reed (June 11, 2016)
This land is your land and this land is my land, but Whites’ lands and White lands haven’t been treated the same. America is a capitalistic country founded on free slave labor.. Over the centuries, Blacks have been the ones toiling and tilling the land only occasionally owning it. America is built on the premise and practice: only White male property owners had the right to vote. Throughout our time here Blacks have been exploited, and marginalized.
Contemporary Black Americans should take special economic note and record of Black slaves role in the building of the nation’s commercial infrastructure. Ownership of land and cultivation of it is capitalist enterprise. Throughout America’s existence agriculture has been a major industry. Improving and expanding uses for agriculture and mechanization of farming was major turn-of-the-century business that included John Deere’s steel plow, Cyrus McCormick’s mechanical reaper, Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, Fordson’s tractor, and combine harvesters.
The legacy of slavery still has a cultural impact across America. And, make no mistake about it; “Race” has always been a constant determinant in American economics. American cultivation of tobacco was extremely labor-intensive and slave labor was integral to tobacco farming and cultivating. Tobacco cultivation and exports formed an essential component of colonial America’s economy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Beyond being in the fields, African Americans made substantial contributions to the nation’s agriculture and commerce. Henry Blair (1807-1860) was a free farmer and inventor of a seed and cotton planter. George Washington Carver (1864-1943) was a botanist and inventor. Carver gained wide acclaim as publisher of a research bulletin that included interesting ways to use peanuts. Carver advised Mahatma Gandhi on matters of agriculture and nutrition. Lloyd Augustus Hall (1894-1971) was a chemist who contributed to the science of food preservation. His research led to improved curing salts and improved meat preservation. Percy Lavon Julian (1899-1975) was a research pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. Julian helped trigger an explosive growth industry for soybeans. Joseph Lee (1849-1905), invented a device that could mechanize tearing, crumbling and grinding bread into crumbs. Norbert Rillieux (1806-1894) is most noted for inventions toward the development and growth of the sugar industry.
The idea of owning land is an old notion and American mantra forged by the sword through the years. Americans touting that “The land is the only thing worth working for, fighting for and worth dying for” has become legendary folklore. For the most part, Blacks have left the land. In the “Great Migration,” large numbers of rural African Americans moved from the South to cities north and east. In these Black enclaves, Blacks’ urbanization and assimilation have led to “mainstream values” of European standards of beauty and masculinity. Black culture should reflect that an educated and entrepreneurial Black middle class existed in America before emancipation. Things only began to change for Blacks with the Civil Rights movement. A Black middle class has grown in South DeKalb (Atlanta), Prince George’s County (DC/MD), and Baldwin Hills (Los Angeles).
For most of their time in America, Blacks have been short changed. While Blacks are engaged in “mainstream politics,” equitable treatment of Black farmers should be ratcheted up. Blacks should stop losing land. According to the Census of Agriculture, the number of Black farmers increased 12 percent since 2007, but now makes up less than 2 percent of farmers as a whole. In 1920, Black farmers represented about 14 percent of the country’s farmers but now operate just 0.4 percent of American farmland and account for 0.2 percent of total agricultural sales. A culprit in the plight of Black farmers is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In the Pigford v. Glickman lawsuit, 400 Black farmers alleged that the USDA denied them loans based on racial discrimination. In a case of “too little too late” US courts have awarded thousand of payments due claimants in Pigford I and in 2010, President Obama announced an additional $1.25 billion settlement, known as Pigford II. But, the number of Blacks Pais” has been nil. Why not investigate why these claims have not been paid?
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com
Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, President Barack Obama with tags Black Male Killings, Ferguson Missouri, Peter Kirsanow, White House Summit on Ferguson on December 3, 2014 by Gary Johnson
By Black Men In America.com Staff
The recent White House summit regarding the events in Ferguson is one of many incidents and experiences resulting from the Ferguson Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown.
Everybody seems to have an opinion on this topic and some of the opinions have nothing to do with facts and other related data. Here is a fact or two to consider:
- According to a study by USA Today, an average of 96 blacks are killed by white cops per year.
- Last year, 6,000 blacks were murdered by other blacks — more than 60 times the number of blacks killed by white cops.
- In 2013, 409 whites were murdered by blacks.
- Black participation in the labor market has been steadily going downward during the Obama presidency. All other racial groups have moved up. Blacks are the only group that has taken a definitive step backwards.
The National Review Online posted an article by Peter Kirsanow with statistics on other issues of concern to black America including black unemployment, educational achievement, single motherhood, household income, poverty rates, and school discipline.
Black columnist black Americans are worse off economically under President Obama.an article in May of this year contending that
NBA Analyst and former NBA great Charles Barkley conducted a “no-holds’ barred interview on CNN where he called the looters in Ferguson scumbags. Barkley also said: “Every time something happens in the black community, we have the same cast of sad characters. We don’t have to have Al Sharpton go there, we don’t have to have — and I’m not disparaging [Brown family lawyer] Mr. [Benjamin] Crunk. I know he represented what happened in Florida with Trayvon’s family, and God bless them, but we have the same sad sack of black characters, we need strong black men in St. Louis to stand up, and say, hey, let’s handle this situation?”
Writer Jason L. Riley wrote: “Today blacks are about 13 percent of the population and continue to be responsible for an inordinate amount of crime. Between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the United States. The black arrest rate for most offenses — including robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes — is still typically two to three times their representation in the population. Blacks as a group are also overrepresented among persons arrested for so-called white-collar crimes such as counterfeiting, fraud and embezzlement. And blaming this decades-long, well-documented trend on racist cops, prosecutors, judges, sentencing guidelines and drug laws doesn’t cut it as a plausible explanation.”
Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson wrote a column where he opined the following: “There are few things that can compare to the emotional devastation that accompanies such an event. This makes the varied emotional responses of Michael Brown’s family more understandable as the tragic events unfolded in Missouri. What is difficult to understand, though, is the benefit that the Ferguson, Missouri, community derives from burning and looting business establishments in their own neighborhoods, especially when unemployment is already a problem. In the meantime, the outside agitators in many cases are sitting in their hotel rooms sipping wine and watching the carnage on television.
Hopefully, people in communities such as Ferguson, like people all over America, are beginning to awaken and realize that they should be more than pawns in the hands of manipulators who, in reality, could not care less about them.”
President Obama held a summit on Ferguson but did not invite any representatives of the Ferguson Police Department. “The president was interested in gathering stakeholders from across the country, not just one community,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who said the meetings focused on “building bridges and restoring some trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities that they’re sworn to serve and protect.”
Was the summit more of a political move? Is the White House and Department of Justice serious about bridging the gap between the police and the black community?
President Obama photo courtesy (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
By H. Lewis Smith
In light of the recent Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, a common denominator associated with all other injustices African Americans face—including others also being unnecessarily killed at the hands of police officers—all across the American landscape was once again proven to undoubtedly exist. In the end, the African American’s life is disregarded and discarded because the Black man in America continues to be viewed as an expendable sub-human by the still-strongly thriving and clearly alive systemic.
This evident truth remains intact and lives on through the American political and judicial systems: basically, law enforcement officers are beholden to politicians, and politicians are beholden to their white constituents. Because the “law” has been written in such a way that allows for heinous acts of racial terrorism to be carried out against African Americans in the name of self-defense, police may be tried in the court of law, but their behaviors will be found permissible. Police are simply carrying out orders to continue to exterminate African Americans, knowing that they will not be convicted. Thus when it comes to law enforcement and the black community, police conduct themselves in a manner acceptable by those to whom they are obligated or swear allegiance. This allegiance is not to protect and serve African Americans. And it isn’t just law enforcement officers, the justice system across the board is suspect.
Young men of color have a disproportionate number of encounters with law enforcement, indicating that racial profiling continues to be a problem. A report by the Department of Justice found that Blacks and Hispanics were approximately three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white motorists. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.
Bureau of Justice Statistics further dictate that one in every 15 Black/African-American men are currently incarcerated, and that, at a minimum, one in every three black men can expect to go to prison at some point in their lifetime. As for other races, only one in every 106 white males are incarcerated, and one in every 36 for Hispanic males are locked up.
In accepting this reality, one must realize that it is the black man’s responsibility to awaken, protect, uplift and serve its collective self in a manner honoring their race. Since the absolution of slavery, Black America has constantly begged, moaned and groaned, and sought its salvation through governmental subsidies and either the Democratic or Republican political parties. Rather than electing to stand as a united force, self-correct, and self-uplift, Black America refuses to take control of its OWN fate and destiny and looks to someone else to take the reins in boosting the community’s much-needed and more-than-possible rejuvenation.
If Black America is to overthrow the systemic and gain its rightful equality and just treatment, the race must realize that waiting on either political party and/or a certain representative to cure the community’s ailments is not the key, or clearly apparent as of late, the right ingredient at all. In fact, African Americans are being recruited by oppressors to help continue to push the 400-year-old plight in terms of being puppets, turning blacks against one another, and serving as the white man’s cash cows. Sadly, African Americans are too blind to see it. These recruitment efforts dwindle the African-American community’s manpower in this war for real progress and leave the community more distracted, separated, broken, and confused than before. So, if Black America thought Black elected or appointed officials were the cure, please think again.
The Meritorious Manumission Act of 1710, enacted in Virginia, was a law that served to control the mentality of enslaved Africans. The indoctrination established in ancestors a mindset that made them view the world through the white man’s eyes, to make them white in every way except skin color. Those who became skilled at it were rewarded. As such, if any black person saved a white person’s life or protected their property, invented something from which a white person could generate money, or squealed on someone involved in a black slavery revolt, he would secure his own freedom. Such American traditions are still in vogue today albeit in a more sophisticated modus operandi.
The Republican Party’s latest election of two black Senators and one congressman should not be construed as progress or a new level of entitlement or America’s appreciation for the African-American community as a whole. This past election, the Republican Party cleaned house, and many African Americans were excited just to see another “sister” or “brother” elected to office, even if they are republicans. But should the community actually be excited about that, or is this strategy one of the previously-mentioned recruitment tactics?
The definition of the word “Conservative” is “a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes”; that includes “Law and Order”, which means maintaining the status quo and giving pretense that what is seen is normal. In other words, being a conservative means, according to this definition, that all the suffering African Americans endured is supposed to be normal. When a Black person declares him or herself a conservative, that individual, knowingly or unknowingly, is saying that he/she is politically predisposed to “conserving”, or PRESERVING, the American traditions of the past—including those same traditions of hypocrisy, brutality, and racism toward his or her own people. So the question remains: just what is it that so-called black conservatives are trying to conserve? Conservatism is about white values, white superiority.
Black/African Americans’ monumental mistake is placing their fate and destiny into the hands of political parties (Democrats and Republicans) as opposed to circling the wagons and taking control of their own fate and destiny. Anything less, both political parties are going to continue to use African Americans to their own benefit. Some would argue that African Americans need to demand economic reciprocity for their support, and that it should be verbalized consistently and resolutely communicated as absolute expectation. Such rationale is paramount to trying to mix water and oil together—it just doesn’t work.
African Americans, tired of being taken for granted, are looking for alternatives to the failed policies of the left. Now, the Republican message is resonating with them. However, behind closed doors insofar as African Americans are concerned, the two party system becomes a single party system with its ideology towards Black America being one and the same. This was never more apparent than in the 2004 presidential election when Florida’s black votes were discounted, which unfairly gave the election to Bush. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) protested but to no avail. They needed one Senator from either party to side with them to overturn the hi-jacking. Instead of gaining the support they certainly should have received, the two parties joined in unison against the CBC, and in so many words, each member of the CBC was told to shut up, take their seats and be quiet.
Black America has been brainwashed into believing that drug abuse, unemployment, unwed teen-age parents, welfare, poverty, and black on black crime, to name a few, are the pathologies of their community. However, reality is such that the Black community has been locked into a NO WIN situation. All the wealth and power in this country has been dispensed over 400 years systemically into the hands of the majority white society. Black people don’t own a significant amount of anything to be able to control their lives to the extent that would promote and allow collective progress. Whites in America today control almost 100% of the income, wealth, power, resources, privileges and all levels of government, making it impossible to compete.
To add insult to injury, during the 80s under the Reagan Administration, the black community was flooded with cocaine by the CIA as noted in the following article: http://www.mega.nu/ampp/webb.html. Millions of lives were adversely affected and the lingering effects are prevalent to this very day; yet, Republican conservatives have the unmitigated gall to look at the Black community in utter contempt asking why the black community is the way it is. Really?
Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Black America’s salvation can only be won for its self, by its self. Looking to others to complete this feat for them is NOT going to work. Depending on political parties and the government to win this battle for them is not the answer. Instead, enlightenment, commitment to the collective community’s progress, and establishing economic independence must be at the forefront of each member’s mind and present in every single action taken and association made. Ultimately, this mindset will lead to self-reliance and self-respect, which are the proper ingredients of advancement. Anything less, they can expect to always be treated in an exploitative, subordinated and exclusive manner; to assume otherwise will prove to be an exercise in futility.
H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., http://www.theunitedvoices.com author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word, and the recently released book Undressing the N-word: Revealing the Naked Truth, Lies, Deceit and Mind Games https://www.createspace.com/4655015
Last week, civil rights leader and political icon Marion Barry died and barely after he had taken his last breath, the media was besmirching his reputation.
Barry was a “true” civil rights icon, not one “appointed” by the media. A “true” icon or leader should be like a candle; the more light he gives the less he becomes. The more light a candle gives out to lighten the darkness, the less it becomes; that is the essence of true leadership and Barry had plenty of that.
Barry was born in Itta Bena, Miss. but was reared in Memphis, Tenn. As a high school teen, Barry had a paper route and was promised a free trip to New Orleans if he obtained 15 new customers. Barry and several other Black teens achieved the 15 new customers goal, but was denied the trip to New Orleans because the city was segregated.
So Barry organized all the other Blacks with paper routes and they refused to work their routes until the newspaper delivered on their promised trip to New Orleans. They ended up receiving a free trip to St. Louis, my hometown because it was not a segregated city. This was the beginning of his fight against discrimination.
Barry graduated from LeMoyne College, now Lemoyne-Owen College, a historically Black college, in 1958 with a degree in chemistry. He went on to receive his M.S. in organic chemistry from Fisk University, another historically Black college. He was only a few credits away from receiving his Ph.D in chemistry from the University of Tennessee before dropping out to devote his attention full time to fight for civil rights for Blacks.
He eventually moved to Washington, D.C. where he served on the school board, four terms as mayor and three terms on the city council. His two signature accomplishments, by far, are his summer youth jobs program and mandating strict minority participation in all DC procurement opportunities.
His youth job program began in the summer of 1979 and was eventually expanded to be a year-round program. Under Barry, government contracting went from 3 percent to 47 percent of all procurement. He also hired professional Blacks to run various government agencies under his control. These actions were unprecedented in D.C. and have never been duplicated since, though every D.C. mayor has been Black.
So, by the time Barry was set up in a sting operation by the FBI smoking crack cocaine in 1990, he had established himself as a political powerhouse in D.C.; he had 20 years of being an advocate for good before he had his first negative blip as an elected official.
This is why I found the media’s behavior so offensive when, upon Barry’s death, they immediately began mentioning his arrest for smoking crack. Is it a legitimate part of Barry’s life’s narrative? Of course, but not in the immediate aftermath of his death. Could the media not allow his body to grow cold before they talked about his personal flaws?
Whenever the media interviewed or discussed Barry, they somehow seemed to always find a way to interject his crack arrest into the story. But somehow this same media never mentions former president Bill Clinton’s many dalliances with women when they interview him or discuss his legacy; they hardly mention his admitted sexual affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinski.
How many of you are aware of 60 Minutes correspondent and CBS News chief foreign affairs reporter Lara Logan admitted to having sexual affairs with two American men simultaneously in Iraq that led to the two men getting into a fist fight over her (I guess she took her CBS News title literally). U.S. State Department contractor Joe Burkett and CNN correspondent Michael Ware fought a battle royale over Logan in a Baghdad safe house which put innocent people’s lives in jeopardy.
How many of you are aware that NBA broadcaster and TNT announcer Marv Albert was accused of raping at least two women and agreed to plead to lesser charges. He was suspended for two years, but his personal issues are rarely, if ever, mentioned.
I would just simply say, pull up a picture of each of these people and make your own conclusions.
Barry, without question, has created more Black millionaires in this area than all other people combined. Without Barry, there would be no Bob and Sheila Johnson, co-founders of BET, America’s first Black billionaires.
Without Barry, there would be no R. Donahue Peebles, head of Peebles Corporation, the largest Black-owned real-estate development company in America. At the age of 23, Barry appointed him to the Board of Equalization and Review, the real estate tax appeals board; at the age of 24, he was made chairman of the board, one of the most powerful boards in D.C.
To my dismay, even Black-oriented –but not Black owned – media outlets, including The Root (owned by the Washington Post) and The Grio (owned by NBC) have been no better than the White media’s portrayal of Barry.
To White folks who seemed to be confused by the love affair average Blacks had with Marion Barry and are always asking me why Blacks seem to almost worship him; to those with that question, I say for the same reason average Whites seem to almost worship Ronald Reagan.
For all of Barry’s personal demons, like a candle, he used himself up to lighten the path for others. That is why people called him “Mayor for Life.“
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @raynard1223.
By Gary A. Johnson
I tend to cringe whenever I hear about a professional athlete discussing current events. In my experience, the athlete “doesn’t know, what he doesn’t know,” and usually has no idea how ignorant sounds. New Orleans Saints, Tight End Benjamin Watson is the exception and a GREAT one I might add.
Watson came home last Monday night and turned on the television and saw the looting and rioting that was going on in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the grand jury decision not to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed civilian. He stared at the TV trying to deal with his emotions.
The next day while sitting in a Target parking lot while his wife was shopping, Watson reportedly compiled an essay based on notes that he had been jotting down via his iPhone throughout the day.
If you have not heard about or read this eloquent essay, I think it is well worth your time to read.
At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:
I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.
I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.
I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.
I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.
I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.
I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.
I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.
I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.
I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.
I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.
I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.
I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.
Thank you Benjamin Watson.