AFAM News bits – June 2017

A Wall Street Journal editorial (May 13-14, 2017) praising Bethune-Cookman University President Edison Jackson for inviting Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to be this year’s commencement speaker and for threatening to “mail” protesting students their degrees is just another example of a point of view. In my view, DeVos deserved the reception she received at the historically Black university and the students were merely exercising their freedom of speech right to protest. They didn’t shoot guns; they didn’t throw tomatoes; they didn’t scream obscenities or racial epithets. They did the minimum of what any red blooded American with half an ounce of courage and knowledge of the Constitution would do and simply booed and turned their backs on her. Good for them! Many of us were beginning to believe that the 1960s, a time when we ran sycophantic Black college presidents out of office, were for naught. It’s good to know that Black students have not forgotten that defending dignity is more important than begging for money from an anti-Black and anti-immigrant administration. (See Op Ed on page 25)

It’s putting it mildly to describe as humiliating the picture of all those Black college presidents gathering at the White House for a photo op with President Donald Trump who had nothing to say of substance about his commitment to funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) while at the same time signing an executive order moving the initiative to support them from the Department of Education to the White House to make it appear he was elevating the initiative. But, as Boston Globe’s Renee Graham pointed out, when Trump recently signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill, it included “…a statement that made HBCU officials very nervous. Trump inferred that “provisions that allocated benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender” might be unconstitutional and, on that basis, he could challenge the decades-old HBCU Capital Financing Program that helps these schools finance their construction projects.” (May 10, 2017) So you see, the students at Bethune-Cookman University had a reason to protest against Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration, and the Black college administrators should be ashamed for allowing Trump to use them as Black History Month props.

Newly appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s reputation has probably set a record for its speed of decline from the time he was approved by the Senate to the time his purloined memo was sent to President Trump and used as an excuse for the firing of FBI Director James Comey. It was less than a week after he had assured both Republican and Democratic Senators that he would be an objective reviewer of allegations involving the Trump relationship to Russia that he plunged a dagger into Comey’s back and lost public confidence in his objectivity. The only thing he can do to restore his tarnished reputation is appoint a special prosecutor, which he did.

Amanda Foreman wrote in the “Review” section of The Wall Street Journal, “Today we are still no closer to understanding genius. In the 20th century, people thought that IQ tests would identify the gift. But a long-term study of more than 1,500 children with “genius” IQs started in 1921 by the educational psychologist Lewis M. Terman, revealed something surprising: While most participants ended up successful, none of them were hailed as geniuses in their fields. . . . What can be agreed, after so many rival notions of genius across the ages, is that it always falls outside the norm. As the philosopher Arthur Schopenman (1788-1860) said: “Talent is like the marksman who hits a target which others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target…others cannot even see.” (May 6-7, 2017)

“When ex-presidents cash in, time to cut pensions.” That was the title of a column in the Boston Herald (May 6, 2017) written by syndicated conservative columnist Cal Thomas regarding former president Barack Obama’s $400,000 speech fee he is being paid by the Wall Street firm of Cantor Fitzgerald. Even while revealing in his article that Nixon took $1 million to interview with David Frost, Ronald Reagan took $2 million for two speeches in Japan, George W. Bush has made 200 speeches at $100,000 to $175,000 a pop, and the Clintons have almost broken the bank, he only now suggests that it is “…time to cut pensions” over our first Black president’s speech fee of $400,000! Well, hello! We’ve been there before. Too often, historically, when we Black folks arrive, the rules are changed. And now Cal Thomas wants another such rule change to take Obama’s pension. Is there no end to this racial nonsense?

Your moral declaration that you are “troubled” by Barack Obama’s receipt of $400,000 to deliver a speech at Cantor Fitzgerald reeks of liberal duplicity. You’ve made plenty of money in your time and we know if you ever get that presidency you are angling for as America’s first woman to do so, when you leave it, you’ll be racking in the bucks as much and as fast as they come your way. Hypocrisy is a bad thing.

None other than the editors of The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Poor Barack Obama. The fellow governs for eight long years as the most progressive President since LBJ, and now his former left-wing fans are upset that he wants to enjoy the fruits of capitalism as a private citizen. . . But why begrudge the man his right to make a living? Mr. Obama is a relatively young man with two daughters to put through college, and speech-making is something he knows how to do.”

Yes, I am proud of the Boston Red Sox for their response to reports that at least one Boston fan taunted Baltimore Orioles’ Black player Adam Jones while calling him a “nigger.” I could have more politely said “by calling him the “n” word but after hearing the mainstream media reports suggesting that Jones offered “no proof” of his claim, I thought a dose of ugly reality was in order. There is nothing unusual about a respected Black sports figure being called “nigger” on the field of play by a soused White sports fan – especially in Boston’s Fenway Park where, to their credit, the present owners have worked to reverse the once rampant racial environment that had been both tolerated and encouraged in days past under deceased former owner Tom Yawkey. The burden of proof should properly be on the taunter and not the taunted. For so many in the mainstream media to play it any other way is outrageous, especially when the one doing the taunting is without the courage to come forward. There is another burden of proof waiting to be met. As well-meaning as current Red Sox ownership is, until the Yawkey Way street name is changed, the sincerity of current ownership and management will always remain suspect since the very name of the street serves as an invitation to racist fans to express themselves.

The “Ideas” writer of The Boston Globe (May 14, 2017), under “Seeing again is believing,” wrote of recent studies: “People who thought they’d seen a news headline before – even if the item was false – also tended to think it was more likely to be true. In fact, familiar fake news was thought to be truer than unfamiliar real news.”

“…researchers found that, after the hiring of a female or minority CEO, white male executives identified less with the company and felt less valued by it, than when a white male CEO was hired – even controlling for how these white male executives felt before the CEO hire, whether they were contenders for the CEO job and other factors. The more negative a white male executive’s sentiment, the less likely he was to mentor subordinates and help fellow executives, especially if they were women or members of a minority race.” (“Uncommon Knowledge,” The Boston Globe, April 30, 2013)

“Black and Latino students are 50 percent more likely than their white peers to be taught by inexperienced teachers and are three times more likely to have teachers who are not highly qualified in their subjects, a new state education report found. . . .The report states that high-poverty and high-minority schools employ first-year teachers at more than twice the rate of wealthier, white schools. The rate is 11.4 percent and 11.1 percent compared with 5.3 percent and 5.0 percent.” (Boston Herald, May 15, 2017)

If you are looking for a good analysis of Easthampton School District’s controversial decision to ban the wearing of clothes containing the confederate flag, read the editorial in The Republican (May 12, 2017) that turns the argument of one school committee member, who was against the ban, upside down. “Easthampton schools do not need to rely on garments and apparel to objectively teach the complexity of the Civil War and America’s history of race relations. Expecting reasonable respect of a dress code is not the same as silencing a student who has a right of free speech – with or without the sweatshirt – and it shouldn’t be,” wrote the editorial writer, who I have good reason to know was Ron Chimelis, a journalist whom I hold in the highest regard. He is the type of writer who can write an article that you agree with on one day and another that you don’t agree with on another day and you still come away feeling he has dealt with both topics fairly. The subject editorial is a must read especially Ron’s three “lessons” on how to teach history without the need for students to wear the provocative confederate flag on their clothes. As a teaser, Ron’s first lesson is “Each of the 11 Southern states that seceded declared their right for white people to own black people as slaves, a practice that involved beating, sexual abuse and the selling of family members.” I couldn’t have written it better. ■

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