Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Symptoms or the Disease

It's easy to blame the messenger. When it came to CNN's Black In America this was no exception. Correspondent Soledad O'Brien received her fair share of shame and blame for how the documentary turned out. She was the most visible symbol, the most accessible face and the easiest target. But did she deserve it?

I was recently asked if Soledad O’Brien wasn’t the host of the documentary would I still be upset about the airing of the show? My answer to that is an emphatic “YES”!!! O’Brien is but a pawn in a larger game by the so called “left-leaning” media corps that will defend this documentary. They will claim that Black in America 2 and its previous installment show the diversity of this nation, while I see it as an attempt at getting ratings at the expense of the African Americans.

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THE RETORT It’s time to talk back.

Monday, July 06, 2009


THE RETORT It’s time to talk back.

For those that view my blog regularly (how ever few of you there are) let me say that I appreciate you reading my thoughts and views on the myriad of topics I cover. I would like to announce that I will be joining a host of other black progressive bloggers in the creation of The RETORT.

The Retort is a critical and analytical response to CNN's Black America 2. When the original documentary series aired it drew a lot of attention most of which I found was negative. However, journalist Soledad O'Brien is back for another installment of what promises to be more of the same, maybe not. As such we aim to answer questions and concerns about the series. Was this critique by the station warranted? Was it a true-to-form examination of black life, or was it a primer for the uninitiated? What was CNN's motivation? How could they make it better? Or was it necessary at all?

The Retort, will feature the work of bloggers Jay Anderson of AverageBro, Danielle Belton of The Black Snob, Christopher Chambers of Nat Turner's Revenge, Cheryl Contee of Jack & Jill Politics, Charles D. Ellison of The Ellison Report, Gina McCauley of Michelle Obama Watch and What About Our Daughters, Baratunde Thurston of Jack & Jill Politics, Lamar Tyler of Black and Married With Kids, Elon James White of This Week In Blackness, Poet, writer Bassey Ikpi and more. The Retort will take a critical eye to the representation of blacks in the media. It's also a chance for you to sound off on your opinions.

As Danielle Belton has proclaimed, "It's time to stop being silent and start talking back on The Retort. The time to speak up is now."

I hope you will check out The Retort.

Peace and respect,


Friday, July 03, 2009

Dead Republic Walking? Douglass Reminds Us That We Have a Job to Do

It is always good to read and re-read the patriot and freedom fighter, Frederick Douglass' famous oration, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?", delivered 5 July 1852. You can read it in its entirety by clicking HERE.

I've posted or commented on Douglass' speech for several years, (before I started this blog) and I will continue to do so. After reading it consider how far we have come as a nation and how far we still have to go. The question we are faced with even as we celebrate America's independence this year, and for the sake of enjoying many more, is what are YOU willing to do to make this nation, your community, and your family better?

In the large political spectrum we must take the same excitement, passion, and fight we mustered to elect President Obama to hold him accountable as citizens and also support him as our president. Too many have retreated to the safety of their blankets of criticism to keep warm instead of offering reasonable critique and enduring the harsh weather and bitter cold faced by those who work for genuine change.

Even if President Obama adopted a Black Nationalist agenda (as some would like), he would fall woefully short of expectations. The work of changing this imperialist republic (that sells itself as a democracy) can only the achieved effectively if the citizenry are engaged into the political discourse. Only then can we truly hold our elected officials accountable, as well as ourselves. We are quick to say, "Oh, Oh, look at what he/she is doing! Can you believe it?" There are too many pointing fingers and not enough solutions created to our systemic problems. Again the question is what are YOU doing?

Remember Rome did not fall from outside invasion, it was internal strife that signaled the end their empire. Americans should take notice and act, or prepare to embark on the pilgrimage of destruction. Then again, maybe we are like the death row inmate whose death sentence is soon to be carried out. Maybe we are a "Dead Republic Walking"? I can only pray that we are pardoned by enlightened persons who embody the sense of hope and justice we all yearned for on November 4, 2008.

The Man In the Mirror: The Double Consciousness of Michael Jackson (Guest Post for Black Snob)

I recently did a guest blog posting for "The Black Snob" concerning Michael Jackson and W.E.B. DuBois' notion of "double consciousness". You can read it by clicking HERE.

It received some good feedback overall and I was excited to see the number of responses it generated. Whether folk agreed with me or not (or completely missed the point I was making) it was good to see some healthy conversation about Michael Jackson that nothing to do with how he died, who will control his estate or his children. Let us control the parameters of debate concerning him, not sensationalist media outlets.

In the posting, I referenced the single "They Don't Really Care About Us" from Jackson's 1996's HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book I album. It was masterfully directed by Spike Lee. If you have never seen either version of the powerful video (or need to see them again) I posted both versions below. LISTEN! ENJOY! THINK!

"They Don't Really Care About Us (Brazil version)"

"They Don't Really Care About Us (Prison version)"

Michael Jackson was (and continues to be) a genius! Keep the music and his memory alive!

Special thanks and much respect for Danielle "The Black Snob" Belton for allowing me to write a guest post to her always engaging blog. RESPECT!!!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Knife is Still in Our Backs...But at Least They Admit its There

I didn't want to write about an apology for slavery. I thought a latent action to right historical wrongs didn't warrant my acknowledgment, let alone attention. The knife placed square between the shoulders of Africans in 1619 had not moved an inch. It still rested firmly in the backs of their decedents. However, the more I thought about it the more I felt I had to say something.
On June 18, the Senate passed a resolution apologizing for slavery and I was not moved. The Washington Post said the statement paved the way for a "joint congressional resolution and the latest attempt by the federal government to take responsibility for 2 1/2 centuries of slavery." But paved away to what end to what has so far been a cipher of discontent with little responsibility or recourse paid by the perpetrators or the ones who still benefit from their actions today?

This "latest attempt" is just as meaningless, empty, and worthless as the declining dollar on the global market. The Washington Post article, "Senate Backs Apology for Slavery" is jarring in the verbiage that mentions that that government is attempting to take responsibility for slavery. That is in fact not true at all. For one to take responsibility for transgressions against another party has be more than mere words. Printed script does nothing to speak to a legacy of death, domination, and perpetual bondage. There is blood on this republic's hands and it brings pitiful offerings to the alter of forgiveness.

Moreover, the Senate was sure to write the language of the apology in such a way so that it could never be used against them in any type of litigation dealing with reparations. What kind of apology is that? It's simply a legislative version of OJ Simpson's "If I Did It" -- all the facts, none of the repercussions.

Congress has insulted the righteous intelligence of Americans, particularly those of African descent, with this decree. The admission of guilt does NOTHING to provide for actions to resolve the bitter, ugly, and inhumane history of the transatlantic slave trade (and its domestic cousin).

When Malcolm X explained his misinterpreted "chickens coming home to roost" comments he also spoke about progress. Progress to him was not only taking the proverbial knife out of the back of African Americans, but removing the knife and taking action to make amends. No amends have been made, and there likely will not be. Most whites as well as their negro servants will say "get over it" but I have yet to hear someone tell the nation of Israel or Jews throughout the world to get over the Holocaust, nor have I seen any mention of NOT being accountable for the internment of Japanese American citizens in this nation during World War II. Both groups have had not only apologies, but reparations.

Maybe there is a victory here in this tragic and cowardly legislation, at least they now admit the knife is there.

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Negrointellectual by Vernon C. Mitchell, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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