Wed04162014

Opinion

From Mammy to Michelle Obama:

mammytomichelle 600Mammy and first lady Michelle Obama may seem like an odd pairing – two figures that couldn't be more different, some might say. One being a Princeton University and Harvard Law School alumna; the other a symbol of joyful servility, a stereotype used to justify slavery.

At first blush, just the consideration of the two might seem to indicate that perceptions of African-American women have come a long way and evolved for the better. But how much progress has actually been made relative to perceptions about African-American women?

March annually is observed as Women's History Month. And with scholars such as syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux noting that, "It pains me to watch Black Women's History so swallowed that we are almost invisible," The New Tri-State Defender decided to probe the stereotypes and perceptions.

 

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Husband’s waywardness tests wife’s moral compass

stuffhappens 600The Dilemma: I've been married for 35 years to what I thought was a wonderful man. Last week I went on a trip with my girlfriends. I missed my husband so much that I decided to return home early to surprise him. Well, low and behold, I was the one surprised.

I walked into our bedroom and he was in bed with another woman and a man. I was furious! I'm 56 yoa and look really good for my age. My husband claims he is not on the DL or bi-sexual. But what am I to think? I don't know what to do. I love this man and afraid if I divorce him, I will be alone for the rest of my life.

We talked and he wants to start swinging! I believe in monogamy! I thought he was faithful, but now he wants me to join in or look the other way. This may be the only way to save my marriage by allowing this to happen with or without me. I'm a homemaker and too old to start working now. He is a good provider.

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New assessment test will tell whether our kids are learning

tate 600Remember back when you were in school. At some point, you probably wanted to play for the basketball team or be a majorette.

Now, you knew they wouldn't take just anybody. You had to show the coach you could play, so you would go in and show that you could shoot or handle a baton. You tried out.

The academic subjects – your reading, writing and math – are no different. You have to show your teachers that you'll have the skills you need to graduate and get a job.

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Even our greatest fears shouldn’t deny Tennessee children school vouchers

Jennifer-Littlejohn 600The Tennessee state legislature is currently debating two versions of a bill that would bring school vouchers into existence in our state. The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) welcomes and encourages the delivery of means-tested school vouchers to Tennessee, but our reasons for supporting vouchers aren't for any of the politically charged ideas that are often cited when school vouchers are discussed.

No, we support vouchers simply because they can help low-income and working class families access quality educational options for their children that would otherwise be out of reach for them.

The side that typically opposes school vouchers is interested in making sure the financial stability of public school systems remain in tact. The opposition is also well known for its willingness to fight to prevent parents from utilizing vouchers as a way for their children to leave failing schools. And while some may find their arguments valid, BAEO rests with our message that all families need access to high-quality options despite their income-level and geographic location. Access can come in form of a voucher, tax credit, charter school, or even in a traditional public school.

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(Black) Women’s History Month

preddy 600Do you know about Elizabeth Keckley? Maggie Lena Walker, Sarann Knight Preddy, Gertrude Pocte Geddes-Willis, Trish Millines Dziko, Addie L Wyatt or Marie-Therese Metoyer?

What about Ernesta Procope, Dr. Sadie Alexander, Or Dr. Phyllis Wallace? What about Bettiann Gardner, Lillian Lambert, or Emma Chappell? What about Ellen Holly, Mary Alice, or Edmonia Lewis?

If we knew anything about these women, it might cause all of us, African-American men and women, to walk a bit more lightly, hold our heads a bit higher.

 

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Defining HerStory for Women’s History Month

herstory 600This past week I had the opportunity to spend time with just over 100 women leaders who were part of BET's Leading Women Defined. These leaders are changing the perceptions about the potential of women to preside over companies, households and break barriers.

Part of the experience was being in the room while Robin Roberts interviewed First Lady Michelle Obama. Robin Roberts, one of the first women sportscasters on ESPN, is herself the epitome of strength that is so often seen in women. She broke barriers in sportscasting that ultimately opened doors for other women who are now commonly fixtures in sports reporting. But, more recently, her fight against breast cancer led people to see the true warrior that she was as she exposed her fight to the world.

It's that story of strength that is interwoven anytime you hear about women who are at the helm of a corporation, household, church, or plainly, at the top of their game. As Beyoncé said, women are able to bear the children then write a check for millions. We are leaning in, working, mothering, serving and often doing it at the same time. It would be easy to think that women, as strong as we are have reached the pinnacle of our success. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to do. Simply put, this is a man's world and to this day, women are blocked from achieving true equality with their male counterparts.

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Is Ben Carson the new Herman Cain?

bencarson 600By all accounts, Ben Carson wowed them at the CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, this past weekend in Washington.

The retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon rallied the troops with a fiery speech and he came in third place in the CPAC straw poll behind Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Ted Cruz (R- Texas), a strong showing.

Might Dr. Carson be the conservative movement's political reincarnation of Herman Cain? It certainly looks that way.

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I forgive but I can’t forget. Now what?

LucyShaw-160Dear Lucy: I have been ill for some time. I read your articles and you have said that the most important part of healing is forgiveness. I have tried to forgive those who have hurt me so much but I cannot forget what they did to me. My pastor says that when we forgive it is not complete until we forget. How do you forget?
– Still Sick

Dear Still Sick: Most of us have been told that forgetting and forgiving go hand in hand. I don't agree. Memories always live in us at some level, conscious or unconscious. There are many things I thought I had forgotten only to have them pop up one day under unexpected provocation.

It is not that we forgive and miraculously forget the slight or the hurt. What we must do is forgive and also let go of the sting, resentment, vengefulness and anger over the memory of the hurtful event.

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In the battle to end ‘the seduction of inadequacy,’ I’m with Lupita

lucyandlupita-600For me, nothing could eclipse my happiness for Lupita Nyong'o when she won her Oscar as Best Supporting Actress a few nights ago. I was not only thrilled for her but for the profound, timely and necessary message brought to the world by the movie, "12 Years a Slave." This young woman has taken Hollywood and the movie-viewing world with her extraordinary poise and humility wrapped around her awesome talent.

What may not be widely known is that just a few days before her Oscar win, Lupita received an award at the seventh annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon hosted by Essence Magazine. Her award was for Best Breakthrough Performance. On this occasion she delivered the speech below.

I concur with most who heard it that it is (sadly in 2014) a speech about beauty and self-image that every young brown, black, red or yellow girl should get to hear. It was first posted online by Time Magazine. I found a video and transcript at upworthy.com.

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Redefining truth has consequences

raynard jacksonIn all organized sports, there are clearly defined rules that must be adhered to. In all universities, there are clearly stated guidelines for admittance. In all religions, there are shared beliefs that all members must adhere to. Without these clearly defined rules of engagement (ROEs), there can be no order within groups; and without order there is nothing left but chaos.

Groups and organizations, by definition are all predicated upon certain agreed upon principles and values. These agreed upon principles and values are the raison d'etre of these entities.

You join the Boy Scouts, for example, because you are a boy and you join the Girl Scouts because you are a girl. You are a male because you are born with a penis and you are a girl because you are born with a vagina. These things used to be unquestioned statements of fact.

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What’s behind Rand Paul’s blunt talk on race?

RanOnRace 600Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul speaks about racial issues both more often and in blunter terms than almost any prominent white Republican politician in the country, building a unique brand for himself that could help in his likely 2016 presidential run but also taking stands that are more controversial than his fellow conservatives.

Other Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc,) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), speak regularly about income inequality and tout familiar conservative policies to appeal to black Americans, such as school vouchers. And Paul is not alone in urging the GOP to expand its base beyond conservative, white voters: the Republican National Committee released an entire report on this issue last year.

But Paul's approach is unique. He avoids euphemisms often used by GOP politicians like "inner city" or "low-income" to speak in direct terms about blacks, both as a group Paul says his policies will help and a segment of the population he wants to get to vote for Republicans. He has joined in traditionally-Democratic causes, like urging the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons, while at the same time annoying African-Americans with such a self-confidence on racial issues that last year he detailed the history of the Republican Party and race to a group of students at Howard University who then angrily told the senator they knew those facts as well as he does.

 

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Is Ted Nugent Teflon or are the GOP’s chicken’s coming home to roost?

teflon 600Ted Nugent must be made of Teflon.

There is nothing too controversial the rocker and NRA board member can say about President Obama or people of color that would make him off limits to elected Republicans.

Nugent whose racialized language about the nation's first black president should alienate him from Republicans who are not on the fringe, but with the news of his joint appearance with Republican gubernatorial candidate Gregg Abbott, it seems Teflon Ted is still beloved by many in the Republican ranks.

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Is Don Lemon the new Clarence Thomas?

don 600Don Lemon's unsolicited social commentary this year on the things holding back the black community and the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy earned him a level of contempt typically directed at the Supreme Court's lone black justice.

Lemon's critics, much like Thomas', question his understanding of the issues facing African-Americans. The CNN anchor's focus on sagging pants and littering was as disturbing to them as Justice Thomas comparing affirmative action to Jim Crow or siding with the majority in striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. Lemon could have focused on mass incarceration, urban school closures, or one of the other important issues facing communities of color. His decision not to do so earned him a stern rebuke from Russell Simmons, theGrio's Goldie Taylor and others who questioned his motives and found his analysis to be woefully inadequate.

Despite the criticism he received, Don Lemon isn't alone in his analysis of the things holding African-Americans back. A 2010 Pew report found that 52 percent of African-Americans believe blacks who cannot get ahead are mainly responsible for their situation, while only 34 percent cited racial discrimination as the main reason. The study found that this view was markedly different fifteen years prior, when almost 60 percent of blacks saw discrimination as the main factor holding African-Americans back.

 

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