A look at Black Politics in America from an expert. He's covered the subject for a variety of news outlets and appears across media to help those understand the complexity of this evolving genre of politics.
Monday, January 21, 2013
(Washington, DC) – The promise of Obama was seen in the eyes
of a young man who was carried on the shoulders of a father, in the eyes of
people who lay like a carpet stretched from the base of the Capitol to the
expanse of the nation’s mall and into the many homes and hamlets not seen nor
I, like hundreds went back to see Barack Hussein Obama again
take the oath of office for President of the United States. There is a pride
and a sense that the American experiment is enduring. The idea of co- equal branches with a
leadership imbued in the President is uniquely American. This is the Obama generation where vision
Unlike the first Inauguration I didn’t have a front row
seat, I was in the crowd which seemed surreal. There were families, there were young and old
people, gay people, foreign born and many yet to be born. “I want to take a
look at this one more time,” said the President as he exited the stage.
The theme of today was “WE.” “We the people declare today that
most evident of the truths - that all of us are created equal is the star that
guides us still,” according to the President. There were a number of references to “WE” in the speech. There was also a sense
that we are all in this together. It’s part of the fabric that binds us together.
The American quilt was expanded in the President’s Inauguration Speech.
To mention Selma, Seneca Falls, and Stonewall (a gay bar where a riot broke out in New York) in the same breath, broke with the past. Gay rights are out
of the third world. From woman’s rights,
to immigration rights, he’s speaking to a rising majority.
Once again this was not about the President, it was about
the people. Why have they responded, and is this the end? The people in
this audience have brought forth a political juggernaut that his critics cannot
beat back with money or media biases. This is the "Age of Obama." He has another four
years that will make him a historical figure that people will point to as
people look at President Ronald Reagan. Enjoy
the moment, because for as much as you will remember this age, it will not come
Taking it All End
There is nothing like finding precious gems on an event like this. I find stories within stories. From the out of towners asking for directions to being able to share the moment with a young journalist. I'm always impressed by the multiple entrepreneurs who find ways to make a buck. From bars having specialty events tied into the Inauguration and of course the street vendors.
Lastly, the person who always listens to my experiences on the road was with me on this trip. My wife, Robbie, has endured my endless stories from my first meeting with Barack Obama, being on the front row for the first Obama Inauguration, and often looks over the things I write. She got the experience firsthand on this trip.
(Baltimore, MD) Welcome once again to my annual Top Ten list of stories. As
a simple disclaimer, these are my personal takes on stories that impacted Black
people and those of the African Diaspora. They cover a wide range from political
to pop culture. Some of the stories may be on your list and others may not. No worries, I’ve always suggested you “take the bull by the horns” and create your
own list. So, here it goes.
10. Mali. Once was considered a bastion of democracy, things
have gone radically wrong. There have been a number of coup de tats and it’s
impossible to keep score. What is known is a group with Al Qaeda backing has
taken over the northern portion of the country. In the south, soldiers
arrested Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra at his home late on Dec. 10,
2012. This comes as a number of countries in northern Africa are still in the throes
of so called “Arab Spring,” and the Central African Republic is falling apart.
Can you say messy?
9. Black women and hair. It became abundantly clear during
the Olympics that “sisters” need to check themselves when it comes to hair
styles on athletes. The last time I checked when you’re a gymnast aka Gabby
Douglas the judges aren’t checking your “do." They're checking your
routine.What made this really cruel was she
won the gold and her hair is all you can talk about? Please.
8. Mental Stress. Shhh!!! Black folks suffer from mental
stress and mental duress. Case in point, the curious case of Rep. Jesse
Jackson, Jr.Jackson was diagnosed with
bipolar disorder and checked himself into a hospital. Despite this admission, he ran for re-election won, and then resigned. Stress is a bitch.
underestimation of minorities – There was a bizarre assumption on the part of
GOP Party that Blacks would be less enthusiastic about the prospects of
President Obama being re-elected. There was also a calculation by the GOP if we
just bring out Hispanic politicians everyone would forget that the GOP
Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney suggested all the undocumented workers in the
United States should “self deport.” Did Romney forget that he wasn't just talking
about Latino’s; there are Asians, Middle Eastern People, etc….Duh!!!
6. Trayvon Martin scenario – When Trayvon Martin was killed
and the alleged murderer suggested he was attacked; and used Florida’s "Stand
Your Ground Law" to justify the killing. People were right to question if it was open season on young
Black men. Now a second case involving a young Black man, Chavis Carter in
Arkansas is raising alarms (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/chavis-carter-shot-jonesboro-police_n_1730997.html).
Chavis, who was 21 years old, allegedly committed suicide while handcuffed in
the back seat of a police vehicle. This doesn’t sound right. FYI, the Martin case
begins in 2013.
5. Obsession with Reality. Look, I don’t bemoan various TV/Cable
networks from trying to capitalize on various lifestyles on the extremes of American
life. Are we laughing, making fun of, or being voyeuristic? I’m guessing the
latter. From the over-the-top excesses of “Basketball Wives,” to the trailer park
obsessive walk in the park of “Honey Boo Boo.” Okay, I’ve watch TI and his
family, but Shawty Lo (creator of Laffy Taffy)
has a reality show about his 11 children and 10 baby mommas’ – in my ESPN voice
– “C’mon Man.”
4. The Courts and the President – There is a general belief
that President Ronald Regan and Presidents George H. Bush and George W. Bush stacked
the courts with enough conservative judges to thwart liberal attempts to bring
about social change. Well, there was a problem. You can’t use poltical ideas on
faulty law.It started with attempts to
mandate voter I.D. laws, limit early voting, and a challenge to universal
health care. All struck down. Sorry the legal argument didn’t carry the day. Bad news
is more challenges are coming to existing laws.
3. 47 Per Cent. Things have a way of making it into political
campaigns that no matter how you try and spin it, they just don’t work. Mother Jones, a left leaning website,
posted a conversation taped of Mitt Romney talking to high end fundraisers
about the U.S. electorate being a bunch of takers and “47 percent would not
vote for him.” You could have taken a fork to the candidate and just said “he’s
done.” But no, those on the right swore, “he just said it badly,” Give me a
2. Obama Mojo – The cool calm collected POTUS almost had
his butt handed to him in the first presidential debate (“aloof and uncaring”).But during the second and third debates he
came In like Muhammad Ali, “float like a butterfly and sting life a bee.”
Pundits suggested this was going to be a tight race. Millions of dollars were raised to defeat the
President. Karl Rove, the Republican Prognosticator, who was so confident that the
GOP would win. He was baffled when the FOX Network called the race for President
Obama. Now with a fiscal calamity about to hit the US, the right wants to know
why the President won’t compromise, MOJO.
1. Guns and Gun
Culture – the Newtown Massacre was a wake up call, but were people asleep in
Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta and various other cities where the murder rates are
intolerable. Appreciate the President going to the mass shootings in Tucson, Aurora,
and yes Newtown. These tragedies say a lot about society. Sorry the NRA’s answer
is out of touch, more guns. There needs to be a conversation about assault weapons
and mental illness that I hope will occur.
Person of the Year,
Gabe Douglas – Gymnast extraordinaire. Not only did she win gold, but
beat back the bizarre critics who questioned her hair style. Young people her
story is about sacrifice. Also, she left her hometown of Virginia Beach to train
with the best in Iowa. She was all of 13 years old. If anything, Gabby has shown
her “haters” that being physically fit means sweating, and getting in the gym
and off the couch. Consider this, if you spent between $60 - $100 on hair and
your body is out of whack who looks more outrageous? If you want to be
beautiful…you can do so when you’re out of the gym.
(Charlotte, NC) Barack Obama is toast. However Novembers election turns out the POTUS will never address a Democratic National Convention again as his party's nominee for the highest office in the land.
The President took in the crowd as he delivered a speech to an awaiting crowd . He scored points for its simplicity and pointed attacks against his opponent. This was not the upstart politician who I first met in 2004. This was the seasoned veteran who had been tested by two wars, vilified by his opponents (trust me they are coming for him again), and humbled by those who came home from the scars of serving overseas.
He had the same charm and warmth, but time has a way of making you reflective. It was clear in several lines from the speech. "I am tied of hearing the line, 'I approved this message.'"As he waved good-bye to the crowd to begin the arduous journey of campaigning for the last time, I could see exhaustion. His followers however are dedicated and give him the energy of a marathon runner who has less than a mile and can see his opponent within striking distance. Those who joined "the Obama Phenomena" were and have been a big part of a movement.
As he exits who will enter from the wings to become the leading man or woman. Inevitably, they will all be compared to the POTUS. They must find their own voice, governing styles and continue to awake an electorate turned off by partisanship.
So, Who's Next?
I put that question to some season veterans reporters and new comers to find out who they are watching and why. The Huffington Post recently tried this idea but, it is a lame list. About the only person I agree with is Corey Booker (FYI, he was my Person of the Year on this blog). I didn't go looking for the usual suspects and neither did my colleagues. Their selections run the gamet from big city mayors, to state legislators, and community activist. They aren't all Democrats (yes, several talked about Republicans). I was intrigued that some of my friends had been watching them since they were teenagers. Lastly, these Reporters/Writers/Bloggers/Pundits aren't just watching Black Politicians they are also looking at others who are part of this great mosaic of America.
I have marveled at how the political process works and there is no rhyme or reason why someone leaps frog another. There is this interesting trait in all their DNA's. They have lost an election that they thought they should have won. For the President it was losing to the Rep. Bobby Rush. I have no idea if any of these individuals will cut through the clutter and you're likely to have your own personal favorite. If you can keep it simple I'd like to know so I can compile a much larger list for the NABJ Media Institute on Political Reporting which we will convene after the election. Look for the email at the bottom.
Clarence Page - Chicago Tribune
Mayor Corey Booker Addressing DNC
The question caught him off guard, but he is quick to note the emergence of Mayor Corey Booker. Booker who has taken the tested city of Newark off "one the worst places to live in New Jersey." Rumor has it he'll run for Governor of the Garden State to challenge the sitting Governor Chris Cristy. Hell, the man ran into a burning building to save a family. "Doesn't that make him Superman."
Denise Clay - "The Mad Political Science Blog"
Philadelphia Councilman David Oh
Clay who's been around and is a savvy watcher of politics. Being from Philadelphia she pointed to her own Mayor Micheal Nutter who is doing everything in his power to get attention. The Blogger/Journalist is smart enough to know "those are the usual suspects." When pressed she pointed to a Philadelphia Councilman David Oh. He's a Republican and happens to Asian. He is the first Asian to be on the Philadelphia City Council. "He realized early, if you don't work with the other party you're not going to get anything done."
Gromer Jeffers - Dallas Morning News
Mayor Julian Castro
The demographics in Texas are changing at lightening speed. Some usually reliable GOP districts are turning blue. The biggest question mark is the Hispanic/Latino populations in the state. Despite efforts to limit their influence they are flexing their muscle. Jeffers' points to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (FYI, he has a twin brother, Joaquin). Mayor Castro was given a prime time speaking assignment at the DNC. Don't count out Texas legislator Marc Veasey. Veasey has broken through a unique trend. While running for congress he won in a majority Hispanic district. The Dallas area will now be represented by a pair of Black Congressional Representatives. Jeffers' made one of the boldest predictions from our group. Texas will go from a reliably Red to Blue. "The demographics dictate that Texas will turn Blue it's just a matter of when."
Condace Pressley - WSB Radio Atlanta
Pressley points to her own Mayor, Kasim Reed. Mayor Reed follows in the foot steps of legendary mayors from Atlanta. As Mayor he is often called on to defend the POTUS programs on the Sunday Political Talk Shows. This has given him a national profile that others envy.
I met this young man while waiting for a shuttle bus to go to the Charlotte Convention Center. He is a media entrepreneur (he thinks of himself as Blogger). He lives in the Bay area. He comes from the grand tradition of Frederick Douglass, "power concedes nothing without a demand." He's young and dynamic, and I love it (thanks for turning me on to Tout). He suggests Oakland Councilwoman Libby Schaaf. Abraham says he urged her to run for Mayor of Oakland, instead she ran for City Council and won with 73 % of the vote. According to the Blogger, she is the only homegrown member of the Oakland city council. "She eats, sleeps, and drinks Oakland 24 hours a day...but bends toward the conservative side."
Richard Muhammad - The Final Call
I have known Richard for nearly 20 years. We meet during Nelson Mandela's first trip to the United States. It is always a pleasure to see him and talk politics. His choice was LeAllan Jones who is a member of the Green Party. Muhammad says the Chicago native was profiled in the NPR series Ghetto Life 101. He told his story of growing up in the notorious Cabrini Green Projects on Chicago's Northside - he was barely a teenager. He graduated from college. In 2010 he ran for the United States Senate in Illinois. He lost that race. "Has a great amount of political potential. He has a great heart and love for Black people and wants to change.
Micheal Steele - MSNBC
Most people know this contributor as the Former Chair of the RNC. I met him many years ago when I asked a perennial Baltimore GOP Mayoral Candidate, Victor Clarke, who should I be watching? He pointed to Steele. That was 1988. As if on que Steele was ready. Mia Love from Utah "is the flavor of the month." Steele had been trying to build a bench of Black Republicans while he was with the RNC. He has nurtured the next crop of GOP hopefuls.He's putting his money on a pair of individuals, Rufus Montgomery from Atlanta, and Angela Sailor who works on the RNC political side. There has been an uneasiness between the party and communities of color in general. "The party has got to respond to that they've got to reach out to them; they've got to embrace them; they've got to pump up their leadership and opportunity... the country is changing and its demographics are changing. We need to adapt.
Charles Robinson -Maryland Public Television
Now I'll put on my Maryland political hat. The center of Maryland's Black politics has been Baltimore, but it is shifting to Prince Georges County. The first person I want to talk about is Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. Brown says he is exploring a run for Governor. There's a problem. No Lt. Governor has ever been elected to be Governor. The other is Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince Georges County State's Attorney. She brought down the counties crime rate through tough prosecutions, but has done it in an that is understated way.
Lastly, if you've got some ideas you can post them in the comments section or try me at email@example.com
(Baltimore) I watched, tweeted, commented and followed the
2012 Republican Convention in Tampa. Now I’m ready to pack up my car and head to
Charlotte, North Carolina to continue my annual four year sojourn to a national
political convention. This ritual has allowed me to find that thing in
journalism that makes me get up each morning. I love the possibilities when I
arrive in the cities with so many opportunities to cover the latest and
greatest thing in Black politics.
Former Congressman Artur Davis
While I was unable to be on the ground in Tampa, I am keeping
a keen eye on the potential new trend setters. I was very interested in Mia Love from Utah, who is
running for the House of Representatives (who happens to be a Black Mormon); the potential implosion of Rep. Allen West from Florida; and the GOP conversion
of Arthur Davis (formerly of Alabama, now residing in Virginia).
Rep. Allan West
Yes, it has been fun to watch from the sidelines, but now I’m
ready to get my hands dirty. Now for full disclosure, as if I didn’t need another
Political Reporter gig, I have signed on to produce Washington Watch with Roland
Martin. This now puts me in that unique vanguard, having worked as a Black
Political Reporter/Producer for BET, MBC-The Black Family Channel, and TV
One.I am humbled and honored, yet excited to be challenged in covering my favorite subjects.
If social media was the new thing in 2008, it is
language which is holding sway in 2012. My business is language, so when new
entrepreneurs invade my landscape, I take notice. Frank Luntz, the portly pugnacious
GOP spin guru, has made a living of finding ways of taking offending terms and
reinventing them, (FYI, I recently learned of the Apple Blue Book and they have
confirmed my worst fears about marketing executives).
Mr. Luntz gets credit for creating the ubiquitous term, Job
Creators, instead of "rich people" (“pardon me can you pass me the Grey Poupon?”).
On the other side the term, Romneyhood (the reverse of Robin Hood, give to the
rich and take from the poor),.
Black politicians are not "Johnny come lately to this area;" think
the Man, Mr. Charley, Mr. Bobo etc… (a way to describe anyone who is
oppressing you). Or the term Brother, used reference to those of a darker
hue, but it can now bee applied to anyone.
My good friend, Dr. Lester Spence, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University, once told me the most important word in
the English language is the N-word. I was kind of shocked, but listened to his argument,
“you can use the term to describe your worst enemy...or you can use the word to
describe your dearest friend.” That was deep. Let me just say for the record, I
wouldn’t suggest Mitt Romney or President Obama use the term.
If there is a place where language lives a life all its own,
it would be in the twitter universe. A simple idea or an utterance can
transform a subject or create a new subject. It is fascinating to watch a
hastags take on a world.
Is Blackness a Liability?
Several weeks ago Senior Editor at the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi
Coates, penned an article entitled, Fear of a Black President. Coates makes an eloquent
case for the President to de-emphasize his Blackness to reach a much larger
audience. The President stepped out of that comfort zone when he said, “If I had a son, he
would probably look like Trayvon Martin." However, can local
politicians afford to follow the President’s lead in this area? I am guessing you
won’t be leaving your “black card at home.” I’ll try and take a pulse of what a
number of Black politicians have up their sleeves in Charlotte and what words of
wisdom they passing on to next generation.
Is the Party over or are we just getting Started ?
Where do you go mining for the next generation of Black politicos?
The grassroots, of course. They toil in the shadows from doing mailroom stuffings, to
making phone calls to the party faithful, and hoping for their shot. I’ll try and
get the low down dirt for a wanna be politician. (Are there still people who
want to become the next thing?)
I’ll also poll some of my colleagues to let you in on their
favorite sport, “who are they watching?”
I’m excited! Get ready for a fun week, where I’ll be using
this area and several other social media apps and bring you what the
Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico, and Huffington Post aren’t
talking about. As always, tell me what you want to see and I’ll try and bring it you.
To follow me on twitter, C3newsman.
Hitting the road for Charles Black Politics Blog…tell your