Thursday, September 17, 2009

Get On the Bus: Rush, Rabble-Rousing and Racism

First and foremost, I want to make it crystal clear that I IN NO WAY CONDONE THIS BEHAVIOR. If, in fact, this incident is just a cut and dry, unprovoked beatdown— then these kids and their parents should be ashamed of themselves. These kids are old enough to know how to keep their hands to themselves and use words to resolve conflicts. Basically, these kids suffer from NHTS—No Home Training Syndrome.

Mmkay... So, angry white Republicans are so desperate and angry that they now have to resort to blaming every crime committed by a black person on President Obama? Okey dokey then! A few things jump out at me here:

  • The video shown on Lou Dobb's show was zoomed in and edited
  • The original video showed many more kids screaming and cheering, several of them were white
  • If in fact this really were a racially motivated crime, wouldn't the assailants have beaten the other white kids, including the one who got between the assailant and the victim?

The entire incident appalls me—the kids who attacked, those who cheered, the driver who did not stop the bus, and the fact that there did not seem to be an aide on the bus to handle situations that arise since the driver's attention is understandably focused elsewhere.

The other thing that sets me off regarding this is Rush Limbaugh making it out to be President Obama's fault. Yeah, sure, every crime committed by every African American is done so on direct order from President Obama or as a direct result of his election. Yep, the secret is out!

While he was campaigning, Obama held secret Negro meetings where he explained that once he was elected, he expected each and every black person so to do their Negro duty and beat down white kids on school buses. He felt that would help make up for the hundreds of years of slavery, Jim Crow and racism. And boy oh boy was he right! Knowing that white kid got a bloody nose makes me feel so much better about the dilapidated conditions of inner-city schools, the unemployment rate in the black community, the educational gap between black and white students and the white woman who clutches her purse whenever my man and I walk past her.

Yes, those last two paragraphs were sarcasm and ridiculousness, but so is Limbaugh's assertion that somehow President Obama condones the aforementioned behavior and will come to the aid of the assailants. Obviously, this is not the first incident of school bus violence in America, or there would not be cameras on the buses. Also, do we know what actually happened there? Did the kids on the bus say that it was a racially motivated incident? Some published reports stated that the victim is not well liked by most of the kids and is a couple of years older than they are and known to have bullied kids himself. Could it be possible that the kids simply do not like one another and it has nothing to do with race? Believe it or not, there are a few people with whom I prefer not to associate and it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with their personalities.

This situation sheds light on one of the oldest forms of institutionalized racism: The One Drop Rule. Basically, it was enacted during the 1800's to deem anyone with any black blood in them black. That meant that any children born of interracial relations were, in the eyes of the law, black and hence, subject to the terms of slavery.

The One Drop Rule applies to this incident regarding the way it is perceived. According to Limbaugh and the rest of the Peanut Gallery, since these two black kids got violent on the bus, all black kids get violent on the bus. If one black man is threatening, all black men are threatening. If one black woman has nine children by eight different men, all black women do. You see the logic?

And it does not apply to white people. In 1999, two white teens shot 33 people and killed 12 at Columbine High School in Colorado. No pundits deemed all white teens dangerous; no media personalities blamed Bill Clinton for their actions. No one blamed George H.W. Bush for the death of Brandon Teena, who was killed by two white men for being a transgendered person, and the media did not tell people that all white men from Lincoln, Nebraska were evil and violent.

What Limbaugh, Dobbs and others like them do is unconscionable rabble-rousing. They take isolated incidents and spin them into lore for the uneducated and misinformed people who truly believe what they are told. They say that all black people are violent, unintelligent, hateful, un-Christian, etc. Sadly, the black characters they see on t.v. and in movies and music videos then reinforce their misdirected beliefs and hence, the stereotype continues and racism abounds.

A parting thought; Hundreds of black men, women and children were beaten and killed for no reason other than the color of their skin, in the times that led up to and included the civil rights movement. No one blamed any of the current or former presidents for those crimes. Ironically, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency saw record low unemployment, the advent of Medicaid and Medicare and increased educational funding, among other great contributions. LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which improved things for African Americans. The American people did blame him for that. Go figure.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hunting Season Extended in Jericho, AR: Now Police Can Shoot Black Men in the Back Before Labor Day!

So let's make sure we understand this....
  • Police are accused of writing bogus tickets in Jericho, AR
  • Citizens question where the revenue from the aforementioned tickets is
  • Black Fire Chief, Don Payne disputed his tickets in court and after leaving the court, was issued another ticket
  • Payne returned to the court to contest the latest ticket and the judge agreed to dismiss it and several others
  • Some sort of altercation transpired with one of the police officers saying, "Shoot the @$%^*&!" (reports only say "Shoot the 'expletive'")
  • Fire Chief Payne was shot in the back
  • The shooting victim's name and race have been reported, but not the identities or races of the officers involved
  • The county prosecutor has said that there will be no charges filed against the officers
Something doesn't seem right here, but I guess until we get more details, we are left to speculate. It just doesn't seem logical to me. If there were several armed police officers and one unarmed black man, why was it necessary to use a firearm? Were any warning shots fired prior to Payne being shot in the back?

If they won't prosecute the officer for actually shooting Payne, can we at least check to make sure that Negro Season was actually upon us when he shot Payne? Oh wait! It is America—the South at that—and a badge is just as good as a year-round hunting permit.

"Ghetto Loans" for the Suburbs Too

So we already know that African Americans in low-income neighborhoods were givern subprime loans and charged far more interest on those loans that whites with identical finances and credit. That was bad enough. But new data shows that middle-class and wealthy African American borrowers were also given higher-rate loans than their white, Hispanic or Asian counterparts.

Wells Fargo—In 2006, Wells Fargo was the second largest subprime loan originator. African-American borrowers were particularly likely to pay higher prices—47.3 percent compared to 16.7 percent of white borrowers.

And mortgage pricing disparities are very distinct among blacks making very good money. “Twenty-six percent of high-income African-American borrowers received higher-priced mortgages from Wells Fargo, a rate more than four times that of high-income whites."

JP Morgan Chase—In 2006, JP Morgan Chase was also more frequently charging higher prices to African-American and Hispanic borrowers than whites and Asians. Moreover, in 2008, it acquired federally seized Washington Mutual, whose lending practices in 2006 showed the largest racial/ethnic gap. "Fully 56.9 percent of African Americans and 42.3 percent of Hispanics paid higher prices, compared to 16.9 percent of whites. The gap was even wider among high-income borrowers, with African Americans paying high prices 55.2 percent of the time and Hispanics 46.1 percent of time, compared to 13.2 percent of white borrowers," according to the report.

Citigroup—"Among high-income Citigroup borrowers, 7.1 percent of whites paid higher prices for loans in 2006, compared to 32.9 percent of African Americans and 16.2 percent of Hispanics.
(click here for the full article)

This is a shameful and blatant example of institutionalized racism, plain and simple. Why should people with identical credit ratings, incomes, savings, etc. pay different mortgage rates? For what purpose? Maybe it corresponds to the fact that people with more "ethnic sounding" names like "Taneisha Washington" and "Rasheed Jenkins" are less likely to get an interview or a job than someone with an identical resume, whose names is "William Smith" or "Lisa Thomas." Perhaps it correlates to the allegation that certain employers check applicants' zip codes to determine in which part of town they live—which can give them a better idea of a person's race. Auto insurance providers have a similar practice of determining insurance rates by zip code and education level. As you might suspect, people who live in areas more highly populated by black people tend to pay more for auto insurance than non-blacks. Some will tell you that businesses, schools and government agencies can determine your race by your social security number—that all black people have an even number as the fifth digit in their social security number—others will tell you that is an urban legend. Do your own research, ask people around you. It is most objective if you compare that fifth digit with other people born in the same area and year that you were.

Add it all up, and what I see is the continuation of methods prescribed to keep blacks from accumulating and passing on any real wealth. As we all know, knowledge + wealth = power. It would seem that the only power that the powers-that-be want African Americans to have, is spending power. If that is the case, then we have two action items we need to address directly:

  • We need to demand equal treatment and protection from predatory lending and discrimination
  • We need to make informed and educated decisions about with whom we choose to spend our money.
There are several black-owned banks in America, perhaps we'd do better to do business with them? Yes, there may be some cons, there might not be a branch or ATM on every corner, as there is with the mainstream mega-banks. However, if enough of us patronize them, there might be. You can find a list of black-owned banks here.

In America, now and more than ever throughout the world, Method Man's words ring true:
"Cash, Rules, Everything, Around, Me/ C.R.E.A.M./ Get the money/ Dollar, dollar bill y'all."
It's not enough to get it, we need to hold on to it, grow it and use it to improve our communities and our lives.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Proof That "You Lie!" Was A Lie | Media Matters Action Network

Proof That "You Lie!" Was A Lie | Media Matters Action Network

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Wilson's Closet Has at Least One Skeleton Inside

Oh-ho! Looks like Rep. Joe Wilson previously had another "emotional outburst" (click here) and oddly enough, it had racial overtones too. Who'd have thunk it?

Rep. Wilson, Meet Aretha Franklin... She gon' SANG for you— "R-E-S-P-E-C-T!"

In case you've been under a rock or perhaps locked in the trunk of a car by a fictional black man (that means you were at Disneyworld with your daughter), here is Rep. Joe Wilson in his finest hour.

Now, let's analyze this a bit, shall we? So, you have no political track record to speak of and you decide to make a name for yourself on the international stage (you know other countries watch our political proceedings) by calling the president of the United States a liar... Mmm'kay? Perhaps if he had said something like "Orange juice comes from cows and cows come from outer space" — then I might be able to understand your feeling that the president is being less than honest. However, I was raised with "home training" and thus taught that there are certain things you just don't do. You don't put your elbows on the table, you don't chew with your mouth open and you certainly don't call someone a liar in the midst of a crowded room unless you really want to come to blows.

First off, it was just bad form. I'm not saying that one cannot disagree with the president or even question him, but Wilson picked the wrong time and venue. Period. It was almost funny when it happened because I saw that split second of Chicago swagger à la "ya'll don't know me up in here" that flashed in President Obama's eyes. He caught and composed himself quickly, but it definitely appeared to me that had that happened in private, Wilson would've been en route to a proctologist to remove one of the president's wingtips from his behind (and then he'd have made a fortune selling that shoe on eBay).

Now, in my humble opinion, President Obama would have been well within his rights to light-up Wilson at that moment, but he didn't. And that is one of the reasons that Barack Obama is our president—THE President of the United States of America. President Obama maintained a level of dignity and decorum and kept his legendary cool.

I also felt that Wilson's outburst proved President Obama's point perfectly. He said there were people making false claims and spreading misinformation about his health care plan and that those people were being irrational. Wilson stepped up to the plate —almost on cue— and shined the light on the aforementioned ignorance.

Ironically, the president had warned the misinformers, "We'll call you out." Well now it would seem that Joe Wilson is being called out because folks are calling and emailing his office en masse to express their displeasure with his behavior.

Going back to that thing about home training, I knew by age five that it was disrespectful to call someone—anyone a liar. Shortly thereafter, I knew that if I was going to call a person wrong, I had better be right. I also learned that if someone did misspeak or stretch the truth, or even if I simply disagreed with their view or opinion, it was best addressed in a private setting, if at all.

So, Barack needs to call Re-Re & have her wear that hat she wore on Inauguration Day. He needs to have a private concert in the Capital Building so that everyone understands the idea of respect and how to be respectful. Something else my mother taught me, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Yeah, Wilson should have kept his pie hole shut.

Point blank and keeping it real, we all know that Bush and Cheney lied plenty of times. Bill Clinton may have even stretched the truth regarding his dalliances with women. But nobody yelled out in the middle of one of their speeches, "You lie!" Nobody.

One of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans is, in fact, free speech. But just like wearing spandex shorts when you weigh 917 pounds, just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should. Discretion is the better part of valor.

A doctor was on the Today Show this morning talking about medical myths and she said, "Education trumps race; education trumps everything." Obviously, in this case it doesn't. Wilson graduated from law school, he is accustomed to deferring to judges and does so purportedly out of respect. One might say that the president's Harvard Law degree trumps Wilson's from the University of South Carolina. And we know for sure that the highest office in the free world trumps the congressman's office. Sadly, to all too many people—Wilson included, his white skin trumps everything.

Mud People and Ghetto Loans

Yes, really. No, I did not make up the title, it was actually taken from affidavits in a Maryland lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank. A former employee, Mr. Paschal blew the whistle in the affidavit, which states:

“They referred to sub-prime loans made in minority communities as ghetto loans and minority customers as ‘mud people.’” He also said a Wells Fargo Bank office in Silver Spring, Maryland had an “affinity group marketing” department, whose purpose was to hire African Americans to call on African-American churches.”

See, this is the kind of stuff I like to point out to all of the people who say that racism no longer exists and that black folk just like to "play the race card." What is just as bad, if not worse—is that we helped them do it, by marketing these loans to our very own community. Now granted, I have to assume that the African American employees were not working with the knowledge that they were being referred to as "mud people"— the affidavit didn't mention any beat downs, to my knowledge. But what happened to reading things before signing them and "it takes a village?" I may not be an expert on mortgages, but you can bet your Jet subscription that I know someone who is or would find one fast if I were contemplating a real estate purchase.

“The company put ‘bounties’ on minority borrowers,” Mr. Paschal said. “By this I mean that loan officers received cash incentives to aggressively market sub-prime loans in minority communities.”

This is par for the course. African Americans are the largest consumer group in the country by far, and sadly, we ask for little to nothing in terms of return on our investments. So if a person or company wants to make a fast dollar, all they need to do is sell it in the black community. We see this regularly with low-end items like bootlegged CDs and DVDs, fake handbags and and clothing—even rent-to-own stores & check cashing places... But mortgages? C'mon!

And that they sought out our churches to do this too! I spoke to one gentleman who was telling me that his pastor was praying that everyone in the congregation who needed transportation would be blessed with a new car, and within a month they were. Praise Jesus! They later found out that the pastor had entered into a deal with the dealership to get them all approved for financing, but most of them were paying ridiculously high interest rates. The Devil is a liar!

The NAACP filed suits against Wells Fargo and HSBC for forcing black customers into subprime loans, while giving white customers with identical finances and credit scores lower rates.
I see this as just another part of the systemic racism that keeps poor black people poor. If you only give folks high-interest loans, then more than likely they will end up with bad credit from struggling to pay that loan. So then what happens? They cannot qualify for refinancing due to the poor credit rating, and they lose their investment. The bank/financing company then gets to repossess the car or foreclose on the property and has effectively made money on the deal and humbled the black person (who forgot his/herself and thought they were worthy of the American dream) all in one fell swoop.

However, we need to take some proactive steps to educate our community on how to handle finances. If you never saw your parents pay bills on time or put money in a savings account, then more than likely, you won't do it either. We need to start early, with simple things like giving our children an allowance and then coaching them to save a portion and then make smart choices on how they spend the rest. We need to instill in them the importance of a good credit rating, rather than having them tell creditors we're not home or they've reached a wrong number when they call. We need to lead by example and stop this cycle of financial abuse in which too many black people find themselves.

We also need to patronize black-owned businesses and utilize black-owned banks—but we'll talk about that one at length in the near future.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Everyone Else Has Done It, So Why Can't He?

Obama's Attempt at Brainwashing Our Children - read his speech here
Why did people get themselves all whipped-up into a frenzy & foaming at the mouth because the President of the United States sought to address American schoolchildren on what was for many of them, the first day of a new school year? Oh yeah, the president's name is Barack Obama and his skin is the color of mocha.

What were they afraid that he'd say? Did they think he'd address the little white girls and tell them "Your job in the future will be to have babies with any and every black man you meet, to the great displeasure of your father..." or tell young black boys "Pull out your 9MM now and waste the whiteys!!"

No, no... They feared the socialist message he would deliver to our youth—the one about being your best and focusing on your education and becoming a productive member of American society and the global economy. Ooooh, that would take this country on a turn for the worse!

The irony, I was watching an episode of "Supernanny" last night where she was helping a couple of Chinese descent where the wife was American born and the husband had immigrated from China. When disciplining his son and telling him about his bad behavior he told him, "You have to study and listen to me & your mom and grow up to do good in society." Communism at it's best, right?

George Bush (senior, NOT "Dubya") and Reagan both addressed schoolchildren (Dubya was supposed to but got engrossed in the fingerpainting) and society did not crumble. So why should this have been any different? Well, sadly, we know the answer to that. But hopefully, this will be like CDs with "explicit lyrics" stickers or the cookies mothers place just out of their children's reach—it'll make the kids seek out the president's message since it has been kept from them.

Sometimes It's Alright to Judge a Can by it's Cover Art

I'm not upset by the fact that Target is selling watermelon soda, I enjoy the beverage myself on occasion. And yes, it is obvious that this is a foreign product, as the label is clearly written in another language. The issue for me is that Target must have some black person in their purchasing department or at least somebody who knows a black person or two and realizes that the artwork on this can is offensive to many African Americans (and others, according to the video). Know your audience folks— Don't try to advertise your semi-annual white sale and sell me 800 count Egyptian cotton sheets by having a klansman on the package. That would surely miss the target, as Target has missed with this one. Repackaging is a must if they intend to continue selling this product in the states, IMHO.