February 1st, 2011
From The Atlanta Post
Two similar, and very telling, stories about Black students and how reverse integration would be beneficial to their academic achievement were published this week. Recently, the Oakland school district in California released data on the achievement of its black male students as part of its African-American male achievement initiative. The data showed a population which is missing more than 18 days of school on average and lagging gravely behind white males in English and Math. What was most interesting about this report, published in San Jose Mercury News for one, is the remarks left by a few of the commenters, which included:
Gee Yu: “The difference with the schools then and now is that we had black teachers in our schools. … We hired local teachers from the local colleges who had roots in the community…”
Football Watcher: “Put more African-American men in the classroom as teachers! In my 11 years, I almost never had any problem with African-American boys. I was an example of what they could be if they put their minds to it. We would have conversations at lunch and in between classes where I asked real questions like, “What do you want to do after you graduate (and not the song and dance about UC and A-G requirements)?”
Read the rest at The Atlanta Post.
December 9th, 2010
Charing Ball, contributor, The Atlanta Post
“Excuse me sista, if you ever need someone to do your [dread]locks, here’s my number,” said the woman as she passed me her business card.
It’s not unusual for me – and I imagine most women – to get stopped on the streets by some random, yet ambitious hairstylist hoping to drum up new business. However, I was taken aback because the “sista” soliciting my business was not the brown-skinned, natural-head woman I had expected, but rather a golden-blonde dreadlock-headed white girl.
As an African American woman living in what some are calling post-racial America, I like to think that I am progressive on most issues related to race and gender. However, my visceral reaction, as regressive as it may sound, was to scoff at the idea of letting a non-person of color play around in my hair. Not that I am against white hairstylists, but could a non-person of color know about the complexity of my roots, when many black stylists are still trying to figure it out?
Read more at The Atlanta Post.
December 1st, 2010
By: Charing Ball
Are we African American or just American?
In my idealistic younger years, I held fast to the belief that there was a common blood shared between the American-born blacks and those from across the Diaspora, including Africa, which would ensure an instant kinship under the moniker of the Red, the Black and The Green.
But nowadays, as I have become more attuned to the intra-racial struggles, I’m not so sure that there is or will ever be a unification of our people.
My most recent disenchantment centers on an NPR piece about how many African-Americans no longer feel a connection to the continent and therefore have opted to drop the hyphenated “African” from African-American.
Read the rest at The Atlanta Post.
September 2nd, 2009
A White 15-year-old student at a high school near Miami started a petition to get rid of the classification “Negro” on a racial background form, saying that he found the term “offensive.” Jake Edri, a 10th-grader at Deerfield Beach High School, said he was afraid that students would feel as if using “Negro” was OK after seeing it in the Broward County public school booklet, so he ad a friend began the tedious task of collecting signatures. The 200 names they gathered before Tuesday’s School Board meeting paid off. “I figured, if I bring this up to the School Board, I can do something about it,” he Jake said. “I attend an ethnically diverse school,” said Jake. “I and other students have found page 9 of the code of conduct offensive.” Page 9 of the code of student conduct booklet (titled “Required Data From Parents”) asked two questions: “Is your child Hispanic or Latino?” and “What is your child’s race?” Under the race category is Black or African American. It goes on to say that “A person having origins in any Black racial groups in Africa. Terms such as `Haitian’ or `Negro’ can be used in addition to `Black or African American.’” Parents were required to sign the form and return it to the school. The district collects the information in compliance with federal guidelines to help track changing demographics and determine the best way to distribute school funding. Jake wasn’t the only person irked by the term “Negro.” Broward County Schools Superintendent Jim Notter said he “got a call from a parent and asked his staff to investigate. The county sent a memo to principals last week urging them to nix the language. “I couldn’t pull 250,000 books back to completely redo one page, but we gave clear direction to the principals,” Notter said.
August 28th, 2009
Wholesaler Pulls Controversial Black Doll from Shelves The wholesale giant Costco Corp. has apologized to those offended by an African-American doll who wore a headband that said “Lil’ Monkey” and was cuddling a stuffed monkey. The apology followed a complaint from a North Carolina customer about the Black “Cuddle with Me, Doll with Plush Monkey,” The Associated Press reports. Costco immediately snatched the doll, which also comes in Caucasian and Hispanic versions, from its shelves. “We are sensitive to any complaint that a product we carry would cause discomfort to any segment of our membership,” Costco CEO Jim Sinegal said in a statement. “As soon as it became clear to us that this toy item was offensive to some of our members, we decided to remove it from our warehouses. We don’t believe there is room for argument in matters of this type, even though it was an honest mistake, made while we were attempting to do the right thing.” Costco only carried the Black doll in its Northeast and Southeast regions, according to AP. The version of the doll that cuddles a panda is still carried by the wholesaler.
Atlanta Mayoral Wannabes in a Race About Race Make no mistake about it; Atlanta’s mayoral race is about race. On one side is the city’s top African-American candidate, Lisa Borders, president of the Atlanta City Council. On the other is frontrunner Mary Norwood, another councilwoman, who happens to be White. A few days ago – at least publicly – this race was about, crime, housing and city services, and who’s best suited lead the city after Shirley Franklin. That was before the local Black Leadership Forum sent a memo urging African-American voters to stand behind the Black candidate. “For the last 25 years Atlanta has represented the breakthrough for Black political empowerment in the South,” read the memo. “In order to defeat a Norwood (White) mayoral candidacy we have to get out now and work in a manner to defeat her without a runoff, and the key is a significant Black turnout.” Now, in this crucible of the Civil Rights Movement, where most of the 440,000 residents are African American, this race is all Black and White. Recent polls put Norwood at about 30 percent, 2 percentage points above Borders. Kasim Reed, a state senator, who is also running, has just a sliver of potential voters with 8 percent. Both of the African-American candidates were quick to distance themselves from the racial dynamic, saying that the next leader of Atlanta should not be chosen based on skin color. Said Borders, “We have had two Atlantas for far too long.” Reed echoed those sentiments, calling the memo racially charged and vitriolic,” adding that it “dishonors the legacies” of former mayors, both Black and White. “This campaign should be waged on the merits of each candidate, not the color of their skin,” Reed said.
May 29th, 2009
DNA Frees Black Alleged Rapist After 23 Years A Black Texas man sent to prison 23 years ago for rape, is now a free man, cleared by DNA evidence proving that he never sexually assaulted anybody. Jerry Evans is the 20th Dallas man to be freed, thanks to science not available at the time of his conviction. “I knew it would come one day. I just didn’t know it was gonna be 23 years,” Evans said. Judge Thompson told Evans, who began his sentenced in March 1986, “On behalf of the citizens of the State of Texas, the court would like to apologize for the wrong that’s been done to you in this case.” Public Defender Michelle Moore attributes her client’s conviction to overzealous, perhaps even corrupt, police work. “The more that we know about the case, the more convinced I am that what was in the police report, the timeframe, is not what really happened,” she said. Dallas Co. District Attorney Craig Watkins, who has seen his share of overturned sentences, said this is a chance for the state to reexamine the process for sending people to prison. “This is an opportunity, with the 20th exoneration, for us to really, really, take a close look at what we’ve been doing for years and correct the mistakes of the past,” he said. Meanwhile, DNA evidence also confirmed that Vincent Draper, another man convicted and sentenced in Dallas County, did indeed sexually assault an 8-year-old child 24 years ago. Judge Carter Thompson ruled that he must remain in prison.
May 27th, 2009
First Black New England Mayor Dies Leo Jackson the first Black mayor of a New England city, has died. He was 83. Jackson shocked the nation three decades ago when he his fellow city councilors in New London, Conn., selected him to lead the city. Read more.
May 22nd, 2009
Houston Leaders Try to Save Historic Site
Black leaders in Houston, walking in the footsteps of three former slaves, are trying to raise enough funds to save the city’s storied Emancipation Park. They are hoping to come up with about $2 million for improvements to the fitness trail, a children’s water park, new tennis courts and a public amphitheatre. The money would also allow for additional staff to keep the park maintained. Roughly 137 years ago, two Black preachers and a local politician, all former slaves, raised $800 – an impressive sum at the time – for 10 acres that ultimately became Texas’ first and only city park for Black people for more than two decades. As crime and neglect have chipped away at the park, city leaders are determined to restore it to a place of historic pride. Dorris Ellis, president of the nonprofit Friends of Emancipation Park Board and publisher of The Houston Sun newspaper, said that the goal is to make it a destination place once more. “We want it to be a masterpiece,” she told The Houston Chronicle. “We have a wonderful vision. … We’re planning for 50 years, 100 years down the road,” she said. A historically protected landmark, the park opened in 1872 when pastors Jack Yates and Elias Dibble and political leader Richard Allen raised $800 to acquire the land at an interest rate 6-percent higher than White citizens were charged, Ellis said. “The park was the site of Houston’s first Juneteenth celebration and was donated to the city in 1916,” the Chronicle reports. “When Houston segregated its parks in 1922, Emancipation Park was the only facility open to Blacks.”
NAACP Chastises the ACC
Defying the NAACP’s boycott against South Carolina – imposed because the state continues to fly the rebel flag on statehouse grounds – the Atlantic Coast Conference awarded its future baseball contracts to the state. ACC leaders agreed last week on Myrtle Beach, S.C., as the tournament site from 2011 to 2013. In a resolution issued Saturday, the century-old civil rights group said that the ACC’s action plan was devoid of dignity, decency and respect.
May 7th, 2009
Gay Marriage Catches On
Following the lead of the District of Colombia this week, lawmakers voted in favor of same-sex marriage in New Hampshire and Maine. Since Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts already have laws on the books approving gay marriage, tiny Rhode Island stands alone as the New England state without legislation in favor of the issue. Read the rest.
Foster Mom Taped Pacifier to Baby’s Mouth
A 30-year-old foster mother in Georgia was arrested Wednesday on charges that she killed a 9-month-old boy by taping a pacifier to his mouth to keep him quiet. Read more.
Norfolk State Gets $3.5 Million Gift The president of historically Black Norfolk State University said she’s not sure where the windfall came from, but she was happy to receive a $3.5 million donation – the largest in school history – during these tough economic times, Black College Wire reports. “We have no idea who gave that money, but we have a lot of people taking credit for it,” university President Carolyn Meyers joked. Jevonya Hughes reports that Meyers announced the gift at last month’s Board of Visitors meeting. A total of $3 million has been designated to provide financial assistance for NSU students, according to Black College Wire. A second gift of $500,000 will assist the institution in meeting its priorities in areas such as faculty support, research and equipment. “I love the fact that someone donated to the university, because NSU can use that money for so much. The donor should be honored that they gave; they should not want to be kept anonymous,” sophomore music education major Anthony Moody told Hughes. Said Meyers, “We want to make the donor proud to invest in us.”
May 6th, 2009
Several key Black members of Congress are pressing the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether at least five Native American tribes are denying basic rights and benefits to Black descendants of the tribes. In recent years, according to such powerful Democrats as civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the Cherokee Nation and other tribes, systematically have been removing the “freedmen” from their membership and cutting off their voting rights and other benefits. They want Attorney General Eric Holder to look into whether their actions violate treaties and otherwise break the law. “Over 40 years after enactment of the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, there is a place in the United States that African Americans cannot vote or receive federal benefits as a matter of law,” the lawmakers state in a letter to the Justice Department. “They are called `freedmen,’ but they are anything but free.” Freedmen, descendants of slaves and other Blacks who were taken in by the tribes mostly during the 19th century – some of them were even owned by Indians at one time but later freed – are now being prevented from accessing millions of dollars in federal tribal funding for housing, health care and other services. But Mike Miller, a spokesman for the Cherokee Nation said the issue is being distorted, which he said is “sad but not surprising. As the Cherokee Nation has explained to more than 100 members of Congress through meetings, this issue has never been about race but only about who is a citizen of an Indian Nation,” Miller said. Jon Velie, the lawyer who has worked painstakingly to keep the Cherokee Nation from revoking freedmen’s tribal citizenship said, “The letter sent from six of the most influential members of Congress is a great sign of hope for the Freedmen, who have endured a second-class status for too long. Congress’ champions of civil rights have taken the issue of the Freedmen to Attorney General Eric Holder — a man who has shown great courage in taking on the issue of race.”