It’s Not Your Grandmother’s NAACP

The 104-year-old organization is working to dispel myths that it’s black-only and mired in the past.

By Jenée Desmond-Harris, theRoot.com

In 2005 the NAACP took a look at its membership and, more important, the people who were not members. There was the robust Youth & College Division, but then, as National Board Chairman Roslyn Brock puts it, “After you’re 25, we lose you — you’re graduating from college, starting your family, starting your career. Then folks come back to NAACP around their late 40s, 50s, and they literally stay until God calls them home.”

National Board of Directors Chairman Roslyn M. Brock and NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous

National Board of Directors Chairman Roslyn M. Brock and NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous

She wanted to change that. The Leadership 500 Summit, a conference held for the ninth year this weekend, was designed to get the attention of professionals in that missing generation. Its explicit agenda: Recruit movers and shakers between the ages of 30 and 50, teach them about the NAACP’s work, dispel myths about what the 104-year-old civil rights organization is (black-only, nonprogressive and old, to name a few of those myths) and send attendees home ready to become active members and lead the group into the future….

[Chairman Roslyn Brock told The Root],

The NAACP has been around for 104 years, but everybody in it is not 104 years old. When you come here and you see who our thought leaders are, who our president and CEO has hired and attracted, you’ll see some of the best and brightest professionals that you will see anywhere.

So through this event and through social media, we’re saying, “Come home to the NAACP. Because courage should not skip this generation.”…

[She also spoke about other myths about the NAACP]:

…[S]ome might think we’re not progressive, or that we kind of stayed back in the old days. But our ability to push the envelope is not only marriage equality — it’s environmental justice, for example. Many don’t know that we have a very robust emerging program around climate change and economic justice in communities of color.

Also, we have white Americans who are presidents of our local branches, of our local college chapters, and we’re doing a good job of widening our net of black and brown, yellow and others to come to the NAACP, because we believe that “colored” people come in all colors, and our cause is not a black cause; it is an American cause.

Read the full article and interview here.

Learn about, and if you wish, join the NAACP here.

See more Breaking News here.

 

Obama at Morehouse: Try Another Listen

You might find that attacks on his commencement speech — a hit among graduates — missed the mark.

By Jack White, theRoot.com

It’s been evident since Obama’s first election that America was dividing into two different worlds, broadly defined by demographics. He was swept into office by a relatively youthful, ethnically diverse coalition in which huge majorities of blacks and Hispanics were allied with a minority of whites. His opponents consisted mainly of older whites unsettled by the emergence of a new America. These were people, as I wrote some years ago, who “went to sleep in their America on Election Day 2008 and woke up in another country, as though they had been swept up in a spaceship and transported to an alien world.”

But now, if we can judge by the disagreement between highbrows such as Coates and Capehart, a similar disjunction may be starting to develop in some rarefied

Leland Shelton is congratulated as he is acknowledged by President Obama in Sunday's Morehouse College commencement address. After a difficult childhood, Mr. Shelton graduated Phi Beta Kappa and is headed to Harvard Law School. (Associated Press)

Leland Shelton is congratulated as he is acknowledged by President Obama in Sunday’s Morehouse College commencement address. After a difficult childhood, Mr. Shelton graduated Phi Beta Kappa and is headed to Harvard Law School. (Associated Press)

segments of black America. Obama’s conservative white critics twist his every word and action into further proof that he is a socialist, crypto-Muslim bent on destroying the country. In much the same way, his emerging cadre of black, usually leftish, critics interpret his every move as evidence that he is a pro-establishment cynic using his speeches to black folks to send coded “Sister Souljah” speech messages to white folks. They’re determined to find fault with Obama even when he does something right — and in this case at least, they are as out of touch as the president’s right-wing opponents.

That’s the conclusion I reached after rereading Obama’s Morehouse remarks in light of the strong critiques from Coates and Kai Wright, my esteemed former colleague at The Root. I didn’t hear the “convenient race talk” that Coates detected or the browbeating that troubled Wright. I didn’t even hear the voice of a politician.

I heard the voice of my father.

It could have been my dad lecturing me across the dinner table when Obama declared, “You have to work twice as hard as anyone else if you want to get by.”

And again, when he admonished the graduates to “be a good role model, set a good example for that young brother coming up. If you know somebody who’s not on point, go back and bring that brother along. Those who’ve been left behind, who haven’t had the same opportunities we have — they need to hear from you.”

And yet again, when he urged them to “recognize the burdens you carry with you, but to resist the temptation to use them as excuses. To transform the way we think about manhood, and set higher standards for ourselves and for others. To be successful, but also to understand that each of us has responsibilities not just to ourselves, but to one another and to future generations. Men who refuse to be afraid. Men who refuse to be afraid.”

Those are the messages that my father, a medical-school professor at Howard University who died 25 years ago, pounded into my head as I was growing up, and that I’ve tried to convey to my own children.

Read the full article and the description of the debate about the speech here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Job Post: The African American Museum of Iowa (AAMI) seeks experienced Curator

African American Museum of Iowa (AAMI), IA

The African American Museum of Iowa

The African American Museum of Iowa

55 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

www.blackiowa.org, 319-862-2101

Curator Position: The African American Museum of Iowa (AAMI) seeks a dynamic and experienced museum professional to serve as full time Curator.

Supervisory Responsibilities: The curator will be expected to supervise a variety of interns, and temporary staff as available.

Key Responsibilities:

(Exhibition Related)

(Collections Related)

Requirements:

Application Process:
Qualified applicants please send your cover letter, resume, and three professional references to Michael Kates at mkates@blackiowa.org. Application deadline is May 31, 2013.

 

Why there’s no ‘excuse’ for simplifying Obama’s message to Morehouse men

by James Braxton Peterson, theGrio.com

Interestingly enough, both the president’s detractors and his supporters will seize on the same soundbite from his address to the 2013 graduating class at Morehouse College.

In the speech, he basically makes two requests of the Morehouse graduating seniors – 1) In the Morehouse tradition, continue to expect more of yourself and 2) “inspire those who look up to you to expect more of themselves.”

President Obama’s Full Address

Fair enough.  The soundbite that supporters and detractors of Obama have and will zero in on is: “We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. Growing up, I made a few myself. And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down.”

I am fairly convinced now that President Obama can not speak to an all or mostly black audience without generating some variation of diametrically opposed reactions.

Excuses, excuses…

Some have said that this is Obama appeasing his (not present) white audience by once again chastising black men for not being boot-strappy enough; others will say that he is too willing to excuse structural and institutional racism and inequality even as he claims that “we’ve got no time for excuses.”

Supporters will claim that this is one of the most personal speeches that the president has ever given and they will laud his truth-telling and willingness to state the tough-love realities for black men.

I suspect the 2013 graduates of Morehouse College were mostly happy to have the POTUS as their commencement speaker – even if some of them align themselves with his critics.

The president’s recitation of “excuses” seems to resonate beyond this particular speech and may be more aptly

President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and the Cabinet in July 2012.

President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and the Cabinet in July 2012. Some African Americans are angry or disappointed that the President has brought so few black people into leadership in his administration – fewer than brought by his two predecessors Clinton and Bush.

indicative of how some of Obama’s critics (on the left) now see his presidency – emptied of its promise and too often excused by black folks and many in the media for under-performing on politics and policy issues dear to progressives. As a part of his rhetorical strategy to situate himself as an insider (with respect to the Morehouse community), President Obama recited the following:

“Excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness….

But more and more black folk are growing weary of the excuses made by and for this administration in the face of diminished resources, high unemployment, and limited access to economic opportunity in the black community.

Read the full opinion piece here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Cleveland’s WEWS-TV Issues Apology For Report On Charles Ramsey’s Criminal Record

From Huffingtonpost.com

Cleveland’s WEWS-TV issued an apology on Thursday after the local news station reported on Charles Ramsey’s criminal record.

Ramsey was one of two neighbors who helped Amanda Berry, who had been kidnapped for 10 years, and two other women escape from captivity earlier this week. While he was hailed a hero for his role, his presence on TV was mocked and even auto-tuned. Al Sharpton defended Ramsey. “He kicks in a door to rescue those women and some are criticizing his diction?” Sharpton said of Ramsey.

Soon after his TV debut, reports surfaced about Ramsey’s record, one that reportedly included convictions for domestic violence. Multiple outlets, including WEWS, reported on Ramsey’s criminal past.

After facing backlash from viewers, WEWS apologized in a post on the station’s Facebook page.

TO OUR READERS & FOLLOWERS: We heard you. Wednesday night, we made a poor judgment call in posting a story about Charles Ramsey’s criminal record and how he’s since reformed. While the story was factually sound, the timing of it and publication of such information was not in good taste, and we regret it. Your comments prompted us to quickly remove the story from our website and Facebook page, but we know we can’t erase what we’ve already done. Ramsey is a hero for his actions, and we recognize that. Thank you so much for your feedback.

Read the original article Here

Read more Breaking News Here

Which Slave Wrote His Way Out of Slavery?

By Henry Louis Gates, Jr., theRoot.com

This African penned a letter powerful enough to lead to freedom.

From the time when they first landed in Florida in the early 1500s, African Americans did their best to run away from the inhumane conditions of slavery. Over the course of slavery in the United States between 1513 and 1865, tens of thousands of people

Job ben Solomon, 1733, by William Hoare. Oil on canvas. Qatar Museums Authority/Orientalist Museum, Doha, Qatar

Job ben Solomon, 1733, by William Hoare.                          Oil on canvas.
Qatar Museums Authority/Orientalist Museum,              Doha, Qata

managed to escape, first south from the Carolinas and Georgia to the haven afforded by Spanish Florida before 1763, and later,north from the Southern colonies and states across the Mason-Dixon Line. More than a hundred of these “fugitive slaves,” as they were called, even wrote or dictated books about their deliverance from bondage, detailing how they were able to escape. While each escape was something of a miracle, some of the methods that they used are astonishing.

Everyone has their favorite slave narratives, as the genre of books is called. My own short list includes the stories of Henry Brown, William and Ellen Craft and Frederick Douglass. In 1838 Frederick Douglass donned a sailor’s uniform, sewn by his soon-to-be wife, who was free, and rode a train from Baltimore to Philadelphia disguised as a free man using papers he had obtained from a free black seaman. In 1848 Ellen Craft, who had a very light complexion, did a double cross-dress as white man and, accompanied by her dark-complexioned husband, rode to freedom on a train ride from Macon, Ga., to Philadelphia, masked as master and slave. A year later Henry “Box” Brown actually had himself nailed into a wooden, claustrophobic, coffin-like box, and then shipped from slavery in Richmond to freedom in Philadelphia.

But the oddest way that a slave escaped from slavery, to me, without a doubt, is the story of Ayuba.

Ayuba wrote his way out of slavery. As incredible as this may seem, this is literally true. The man who came to be known in England as “Job ben Solomon” was born Ayuba Suleiman Jallo (or, in French, “Diallo”) into a prominent family in Bundu, an independent, precolonial country located in current-day Senegal….

Find out how Ayuba did it – and how he was involved in the slave trade – here.

Read Breaking News here.

Black Journalist Asks Why TV Shows Stereotyping Whites Aren’t Protested Like Black Shows

By Tambay A. Obenson, Shadow and Act

The fact that this was written by black journalist is even more perplexing to me.

Eric Deggans, TV and media critic, penned an op-ed for NPR titled On ‘Hicksploitation’ And Other White Stereotypes Seen On TV, in which he essentially laments what he sees as a double standard when it comes to TV shows that emphasize and exploit stereotypes of white people versus those that do the same of black people.

Honey Boo Boo and Mom. "What many forget is that it can be just as easy to stereotype white, working-class folks, and just as hard to scrub those stereotypes off your TV screen," says Eric Deegans.

Honey Boo Boo and Mom. “What many forget is that it can be just as easy to stereotype white, working-class folks, and just as hard to scrub those stereotypes off your TV screen,” says Eric Deegans.

In the piece, to argue his point, he cites shows like Here Comes Honey Boo BooJersey ShoreMob Wives and others, as examples of TV programming that exploit stereotypes of white people, and compares them to All My Babies’ Mamas – the Oxygen network reality TV series that drew protest and was eventually buried….

I certainly wouldn’t disagree with him on how problematic exploiting stereotypes in mass media can be. Although, as author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said, the problem with stereotypes isn’t that they are wrong, but that they are INCOMPLETE!

LOVE that quote!

And that’s where Mr Deggans and I part ways. The reason he gives for why he thinks shows stereotyping white people haven’t seen similar protests as those stereotyping black people, MJS dudek08p.jpgignores one very important fact. And that is, referencing Adichie’s quote above, in mass media, there is, and has always been, a far more COMPLETErepresentation of white people. Black people simply haven’t had that luxury. Since the invention of the medium that is television (and let’s throw in cinema as well), America (and really the world) has been inundated with a wealth of VARIED representations of white people on screen. For every Honey Boo Boo, there are scores of other kinds of depictions of white people of all classes, on TV and in film. And these images dominate our screens, and have done so for a century, and continue to do so….

Read the complete article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Lil Wayne Puts Mountain Dew in Crisis Mode

By ga, New York Times

How much street cred is too much?

For executives at Mountain Dew, that may have been the question of the day on Monday, as the brand looked to move beyond a public relations embarrassment that had led it to end a multi-million-dollar endorsement deal with the rapper Lil Wayne. The brand severed its ties because of pressure brought by the family of Emmett Till, the African-American teenager whose 1955 torture and murder in Mississippi for supposedly whistling at a white woman helped foment the civil rights movement.

The body of Emmett Till at his funeral shows the mutilation and torture he underwent at the hands of his lynchers in Mississippi in 1955. Photo credit: Chicago Defender

The body of Emmett Till at his funeral shows the mutilation and torture he underwent at the hands of his lynchers in Mississippi in 1955. Photo credit: Chicago Defender

The family took issue with vulgar lyrics referring to Till that were performed by Lil Wayne on a remix of “Karate Chop,” by the rapper Future. In an interview with the Web site AllHipHop.com in April, the family said it would put pressure on the brand, which is part of the PepsiCo Americas Beverages division of PepsiCo, to drop the artist; Mountain Dew did so on Friday….

Last week Lil Wayne, whose given name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., issued a letter to the Till family in which he acknowledged how his “contribution to a fellow artist’s song has deeply offended your family.”

 Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images Lil Wayne lost an endorsement deal with Mountain Dew after Emmett Till's family complained about a lyric he wrote.


Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images
Lil Wayne lost an endorsement deal with Mountain Dew after Emmett Till’s family complained about a lyric he wrote.

He continued, “As a father myself, I cannot imagine the pain that your family has had to endure.”

The family was not satisfied with that response and instead called for a meeting with executives at PepsiCo. At the same time, a publicist for the family said, they found an additional way to pressure Mountain Dew: to bring to public attention an offensive Mountain Dew video ad created by the hip-hop producer and rap artist known as Tyler, the Creator, that featured a battered white waitress, bandaged and on crutches, trying to identify her assailant from a lineup that included African-American men and a goat.

That ad prompted a flurry of media attention, and Mountain Dew pulled the ad on Wednesday. Two days later it severed its relationship with Lil Wayne….

In a telephone interview [the Reverend Al] Sharpton said he had also been in contact with Lil Wayne’s management. He described the issue as a “teaching moment” for both the brand and the artist.

“The fact is that a lot of these young artists do not understand these civil rights issues, do not understand history and what it is that people are offended by,” he said. “The corporations become insensitive because they are profit-driven and have no regard for what’s going on in our communities.”

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Would a White Girl Be Prosecuted for a Botched Science Experiment?

By Jesse Lava, Huffington Post

Kiera Wilmot, 16 years old, has been an exemplary student, so why was she expelled from high school after a science experiment exploded, fortunately hurting no one?

Kiera Wilmot, 16 years old, has been an exemplary student, so why was she expelled from high school after a science experiment exploded, fortunately hurting no one?

By now you’ve probably heard about Kiera Wilmot, the 16-year-old Florida girl who botched a science experiment with a plastic bottle and toilet cleaner. The bottle ended up exploding, and though no one was hurt and no property damaged, Kiera was expelled from high school and is now being prosecuted as an adult for discharging a weapon on school grounds. She had an exemplary behavioral record up until that point.

Kiera is, as one might expect, black. The notion of a white girl getting hauled off to jail for a harmless expression of intellectual curiosity is dubious, to say the least. And though the rise of “zero tolerance” policies in American schools should theoretically be race-neutral, that’s not the reality. According to the Dignity in Schools campaign, “students of color… are more likely to be suspended and expelled than their peers for the same behavior” and “African American students [are] 3.5 times as likely to be expelled” as whites. What happened to Kiera Wilmot is part of a broader story about racial disparities in our criminal justice system….

Am I accusing Glotfelty of conscious racial bias? Nope. Self-awareness isn’t the issue here. And maybe she has good reasons for treating these two cases differently. Hey, Taylor was 13 instead of 16; perhaps that makes all the difference in her eyes. But I can’t shake the feeling that these two stories would have unfolded quite differently if the races of the children had been reversed. Somehow the white Kiera Wilmot would have had her story end with an adult touching her shoulder saying “I’m just glad you’re alright.” And the black Taylor Richardson would have heard platitudes about “taking responsibility” while being led away in handcuffs….

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.