Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Syracuse Professor Boyce Watkins Joins AOL Black Voices

Syracuse, NY – Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University has recently joined America Online as a financial writer and expert commentator.  He will be the resident Financial Expert for AOL Black Voices, the premier Black news website in America, with over 100,000 readers per day.  Dr. Watkins has been on the faculty at Syracuse University for 8 years and has worked with many major media outlets, including CNN, BET, ESPN and CBS Sports.  He is also the author of “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging Assets with Your Partner in Ways that Feel Good”.

In his role with AOL Black Voices, Dr. Watkins will provide analysis on the economy, employment issues, celebrity finances, and money management. He will use his unique style of informative, compelling, yet down to earth financial analysis to promote financial literacy within the Black community.  The site will syndicate his popular financial series' "Financial Lovemaking", co-hosted with S. Tia Brown (formerly a Senior Editor with "In Touch Weekly" Magazine) and "Get Your Paper Straight", a radio segment hosted with George Kilpatrick of Power 106.5 and WSYR radio.

Click to read.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dr. Christopher Metzler Analyzes Recent Supreme Court Decision

by Dr. Christopher Metzler, Georgetown University

As we worried about whether Michelle Obama should have touched the Queen, whether Bo (the White House dog) will be as famous as Barney and whether Levi Johnson of Sara Plain fame practiced safe sex all of the time, the Supreme Court of the United States was wading into the racial water with an American public that is now ensconced into "post-racial" cocoon because of the election of Barack Obama.

This week the Roberts court heard the case of Ricci, ET Al. In this case, several white and one Latino firefighter in New Haven Connecticut asked the Court to decide whether the city violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the United States Constitution by throwing out a promotion test in which the plaintiffs but no blacks scored high enough to be promoted. The rather clinical legal questions are:

  • Whether the city's failure to certify the results of promotional exams violated the disparate (or different) treatment provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Whether the city's failure to certify the results of the promotional exams also violated Title VII since Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to "adjust the scores of, use different cutoff scores for, or otherwise alter the results, of employment tests on the basis of race."
  • Whether the city's failure to certify the results of the promotional examinations violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

As clinical as these legal question are, they have significant real life political ramifications. Although the plaintiffs in this case are firefighters, the decision will affect employment law, affirmative action, diversity and they way in which employers and others seek to remedy the lingering effects of discrimination. The reality is that not everyone believes that discrimination still occurs in America since slavery has been outlawed, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been implemented and President Obama occupies the White House. Regardless of the position one takes on these issues, the significance of the Court's decision cannot be underestimated for many reasons, a few of which I have outlined below.

First, the Roberts court has not spoken on race in any significant way and is eager to do so. Of course, it is Justice Kennedy who will ultimately decide this case and both the liberal and conservative blocs of the Court will work to craft a decision which he can sign onto. The difficulty for the liberal wing of the Court is that this case is as much an ideological case as it is a legal one. Good old fashioned liberal ideology will require a decision which reaffirms the need for government to be zealous in forming race-conscious decisions. In order to uphold the city's decision, the liberal wing will have to convince Kennedy that the city's decision to refuse to certify the test results was based on the fact that the test impacted Black fire fighters negatively and worse because it ensured that none of them would be promoted.

Click to read from Dr. Metzler and other Black Scholars by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Black Politics: Obama’s Boycott of the Racism Conference

by Dr. Christopher Metzler, Georgetown University

As President Obama shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, he was willing to take the political heat. He said that he was not concerned about the politics of the hand shake and more concerned about extending an open hand to nations hostile to the U.S. The open hand, it seems, is not so open after all. The President announced that, like the Bush Administration, the United States will boycott the world anti-racism conference (Durban II), which opens in Geneva today. According to the President, "I would love to be involved in a useful conference that addressed continuing issues of racism and discrimination around the globe. We expressed in the run-up to this conference our concerns that if you adopted all of the language from 2001, that's not something we can sign up for. "Hopefully some concrete steps come out of the conference that we can partner with other countries on to actually reduce discrimination around the globe, but this wasn't an opportunity to do it."

obama-rice.jpgHe is not willing to take the political heat in this case because there is language criticizing Israel and the West in the final document. As the world celebrates the election of the first Black President, the United States boycotts the world conference against racism. Symbolism, it seems has met political reality.

On this issue, it is difficult to reconcile the President's rhetoric with his actions. The President has repeatedly said that his policy is to talk with those with whom he disagrees. He is talking to Chavez, to Ahmadinejad, to Medvedev and Kim but cannot talk to human rights defenders about the best way to address the continuing significance of racism world wide? Surely the message cannot be that the United States does not believe that the right to be free from racism is not a basic human right.

Click to read more from our Black Scholar’s Blog.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tia Brown Breaks Down Respect in the Workplace


This week I look at issues of respect from both co-workers and your nearest and dearest.
I am 28-years-old and work in an office full of 45-56 year-old women. My issue is how to talk to them when they say things I do not like without being disrespectful. - Young & Angry In The Office

Dear Young & Angry In The Office,
I’m a firm believer of showing deference to elders, however the office isn’t the place to act out societal roles— you’re there to do your job. I firmly believe that the only way to get respect is to demand it. Some people have that certain thing about them that ensures people, whether they’re older or younger, never test them. Other people have to go get it. So how do you command respect? First, you always make sure that you’re on top of your game, for the work environment that means being efficient, punctual and dependable. Second, you have to speak up for yourself and address every infraction in a stern, tactful, professional way. That may mean giving a soliloquy about respect (such as, “we’re all on equal footing here, I give respect and I expect it,”) or taking people aside an individual when they say something that you deem is inappropriate. Only you can determine which approach will work best. Overall you want to make sure that you leave personal roles at home, these ladies are not your aunties, and they’re your co-workers –who likely take issue with working with someone 20 years their junior – so treat them as such.

My fiancé and I are planning a big, lavish, wedding and we have restricted our families to only inviting a certain number of people, so as not to exceed my parent’s budget. My fiancé’s family is insisting on inviting many more people than they are allotted and it has caused the price of the reception to soar. Do you think that I should demand that his family pay for some of the reception, or at least the head count of the additional people that they are inviting, or does that break some etiquette rules?Breaking the Bank for the Big Day

Dear Breaking the Bank for the Big Day,

Etiquette was out of the door once your future in-laws stepped on your toes and didn’t respect your parents’ budget. Since they —like many others—love to plan with other people’s money I would like to tell you to just make them pay for their extra guests, but that could potentially cause long-term strife with your hubby-to-be. Consequently, you need to speak with him first and make sure you’re on the same page about the finances and the numbers. If both families were given an equal amount of guests then it is up to him to make sure that he stands firm by your side when you speak with his family. During the conversation make sure to reiterate that the day is you and your fiancé’s, but you understand why it is to the family, but your parents – who are paying – have given you a budget and it is disrespectful to expect them to pay any excess. Let them know the precise number of people that they are allowed to invite and that any extra guests must be pre-paid for by specific date if they are to be seated. You can also opt to include your parents in on the meeting. I doubt that your future in-laws will speak recklessly or be callous about spending your parents’ money in their faces. With that said…standing firm is only possible if you are financially independent of your in laws. You don’t want to play hardball with someone who’s helping to pay your rent/mortgage or watching your kids for free. So make sure that you’re in a position where you can’t be penalized for standing up for yourself – and your parents – or you may end up paying a bigger price later.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Black Money: Why Financial Predators Usually Have Black Prey


Why Financial Predators Usually Have Black Prey

By Dr. Boyce Watkins


I talked to my good friend Ryan Mack, CEO of Optimum Capital Management, the other day. Ryan wrote an interesting piece about The Rushcard, a new prepaid debit card offered in a partnership between Russell Simmons and Unifund, a company that typically makes its money from bad debt collection. I read the piece curiously, as I have been learning how the Rushcard works, why it exists and who might benefit from the service. On the flip side, there is the larger concern that someone might be taking advantage of those who have the least access to capital, largely African Americans in poor communities.

The Rushcard is a prepaid banking card with no credit check that allows consumers to deposit their paychecks onto the card, as well as make purchases and withdrawals as if the card were a regular Visa. Russell (a self-proclaimed “philanthropist”, a title likely used to pre-empt any accusations of fraud or exploitation) also argues that the card helps marginalized Americans to seek out the American dream.

I didn’t know that the American dream was to hold a piece of plastic. Credit cards have created an infinite number of American nightmares as they tend to breed excessive consumption. But one can certainly argue that this card deals with one serious problem in the Black community: a lack of access to capital and banking services. Many people in urban America can’t get bank accounts. Many more have bad credit, can’t get rental cars or find themselves leaning toward check cashing services to liquidate their paychecks. Russell, “the philanthropist” has apparently taken it upon himself to solve this problem.

I can say, as a Finance Professor, that the Rushcard would likely not make money if it were not filling a critical need. The problem, however, is that those who “help” individuals in need may end up abusing their power. One can argue that a pimp is “helping” a young homeless girl by giving her a place to live. A loan shark can say that he is “helping” a family get the money they need by lending the funds at exorbitant interest rates. A man who sells water for $10 a sip is “helping” a man in the desert get what he needs to survive. So, there is a thin line between “helping” someone vs. exploiting a given need or weakness.

I became quite concerned when I saw the long list of complaints from those using the Rushcard. Those who wrote the comments I saw on a blog about the Rushcard seemed to have serious problems with the customer care behind the card. In his article, Ryan does an interesting comparison between the fees of the Rushcard vs. those of a typical Bank card:

Rushcard vs. Typical Bank Card
Activation Fee: Rushcard = $19.95 Typical Bank Card = Free
Convenience Fee: Rushcard = $1.00 Typical Bank Card = Free
ATM Cash Withdrawal: Rushcard = $1.95 Typical Bank Card = Free (At Branch)
ATM Balance Inquiry: Rushcard = $.50 Typical Bank Card = Free
Bill Payment: Rushcard = $1.00 Typical Bank Card = Free
Inactivity: Rushcard = $2.95 Typical Bank Card = Free
Refund of Rushcard/Bank Card via Check: Rushcard = $5.00 Typical Bank Card = Free

So, if these numbers are any indication, it appears that the Rushcard is not a very good investment. Most reviews that I’ve seen recommend against using the card, since it appears that users are paying a premium for the Baby Phat design on the front. What’s more disturbing about the Rushcard is that Russell does not seem to be nearly as determined to fulfill his role as a “philanthropist” when it comes to helping African Americans overcome the underlying cause of the very problems he claims to be fixing. As Ryan explained it, “It’s like telling someone with a cavity that they should chew with the other side of their mouth.” The Rushcard offers few options to help people repair their credit, and I have personally found most of Russell’s financial literacy initiatives to be quite limited in impact.

While we cannot blame Russell Simmons and others for profiting from the lack of financial literacy and access to capital in the Black community, there are things we can do to encourage Russell to do the right thing. First, the Obama administration can and should implement programs to help those with poor credit obtain bank accounts. Every American should have access to a bank account, and services such as direct deposit should not be a luxury. Secondly, the Banking industry should stop passing over profitable investment opportunities in the Black community. Perhaps if Russell had more competition, his fees might go down. Third, there is no greater cure for money problems than good old fashioned financial literacy. Most victims of financial exploitation are not even aware that the exploitation is taking place. Financial literacy should be taught in every public high school in America, since it might actually be the one class that students actually use.

Russell Simmons is not necessarily a philanthropist, but he is not the devil. He is merely a symbol of a larger problem. The problem requires long-term solutions, and a high cost piece of plastic is certainly not one of them.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University. He makes regular appearances in national media, including CNN, BET, ESPN, and CBS. For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ranking: The top 10 Black Public Intellectuals in America


by Dr. Boyce Watkins


I wake up with strange thoughts on my brain. This morning, I woke up thinking about which Black scholars I feel have given the most to the Black community. My respect and appreciation for all Black scholars (even those who do not have PhDs) is without limit. But there are some that I feel have gone out of their way to be progressive enough to think outside the box and to have a true and real impact on the Black community.

I do not believe that scholarly contributions to the Black community are defined by writing a bunch of research papers that no one ever reads (although I’ve done plenty of that in my own career as part of my job description). I don’t think your contribution is captured by whether or not you have a chair at Harvard University (interacting with 4 or 5 privileged Black students a year) – although it’s okay to have a chaired position at Harvard. Much of the elitism of academia has always been a turnoff to me, since I believe the proof is in the potato salad. If your work is affecting real Black people and changing real Black lives, then you have my respect. If you are sitting in the ivory tower, claiming the masters house and hiding behind artificially constructed, racially-biased historical privilege which allows you to presume that you are better than everyone else, then you will have to be on someone else’s list. My belief is that a scholar should have SCHOLARLY IMPACT – which can be measured by the breadth and depth of impact your work has had on your target audience, as well as the size and scope of that audience. A journal with 50 readers per year does not possess sufficient breadth, depth or quality of impact to merit a meaningful career, in my opinion. Sure, it’s fun to publish in those journals, but after that, you may want to get out here and make a difference in that scary place called “the real world”.

Of course my opinion is not the only one out there. But I must confess that I was shocked at how many of our intellectual leaders aren’t leading anyone: many of us are quick to follow and promote the questionable norms created by our academic predecessors. We in academia are not much different from politicians who forget to serve their constituents, or pastors who, in their own quest for personal power, neglect to serve their Lord. Such small thinking is incredibly dangerous in Black America, since we really need our scholars to solve vital problems in our communities. We must accompany our capacity with sufficient courage to speak openly and honestly about the issues that affect those we love. In physics, force equals mass times acceleration, which means that we must connect our scholarly mass with social acceleration to create the necessary force to solve real and meaningful problems.

My dissertation chair (Rene Stulz at Ohio State University), is one of the leading 3 non-Black Financial scholars in the world (as measured by the number of publications in our so-called premier academic journals). He thought I was insane for choosing the career path that I picked, especially since he seemed to believe that he'd laid out the golden path for me as a Financial scholar (you know, all that Ivy League professor, top journal stuff that makes a small group of people think you’re special). But what I had to explain to Rene was that God has given me a different path: one in which I had to disengage from the pettiness of academia and pursue a more powerful purpose. The challenges of Black America call for active, interdisciplinary thought that is not afraid to challenge ideas created on an undeniably skewed racial foundation….we can’t afford be like everybody else – the waste is just too great. Rene still looks at me like I’m crazy when we see one another, but I respect his choices and I think he respects mine.

Now, onto the list of my favorite Black scholars – the list is in no particular order and if a certain scholar is not in the top 10, that doesn’t mean I don’t respect that individual. But there are some prominent names missing from the list, and I’ll let you guess why they aren’t there:

1) Dr. Marc Lamont Hill (Columbia University) – Marc impresses me as the brightest young mind of the 21st century. Marc is not just as sharp as a butcher knife, he is also a true brother who really understands the problems of the Black community. I cannot tell you how much Marc struggled to build his career, it was tough to watch. But Marc is not just brilliant, he represents the essence of that concept called “Survival of the fittest”. The best is yet to come.

2) Peniel Joseph (Harvard University/Brandeis University) – Peniel, who wrote a book on Barack Obama recently, is not just a brilliant scholar, but a great person. His work is second to none and his analysis on PBS is right on point.

3) Cornel West (Princeton) – Who can forget Cornel? Our great academic father deserves respect for opening the door to the possibility of pursuing true Black scholarship that is relevant to the world around us. Cornel’s battles at Harvard prepared me for the challenges I would encounter here at Syracuse. This man will be in the history books and he deserves to be there.

4) Michael Eric Dyson (Georgetown University) – Michael (we call him “Mike”) was the reason I became a publicly engaged scholar in the first place. I remember watching him on BET in the 90s with my jaws dropped, saying, “Damn, I wanna be like that guy!” While I eventually developed my own style (Mike and I differ in many ways), I can say that Michael’s commitment to hip hop culture and his amazing swagger simply cannot be stolen or emulated.

5) Dr. Fritz Polite (U. Tennessee) – Fritz is one of the leading advocates for Black male athletes in America. He also carries the kind of strong and assertive style that should embody all progressive Black male intellectuals. Many of us have the ability to be strong, but we choose to walk in fear and silence. Fritz does no such thing.

6) Dr. Billy Hawkins (U. Georgia) – Billy’s recent commentary about Black male athletes was one of the most powerful and poignant statements I’ve seen in a while. I love it when Black men attack an issue head-on, instead of skirting around it for fear of losing our jobs. In order for there to be progress, men must be willing to take the lead. The fight is not with our muscles, it is with our minds. Intellectual athletes like Billy Hawkins are far more impactful than Black male professional athletes, who have unfortunately relegated themselves to psychological and financial slavery.

7) Dr. Juan Gilbert (U. Auburn/Clemson University) – President of the Brothers of the Academy (the largest group of Black male PhDs in America), Juan is an amazing visionary and a powerful guide to young Black students. He is also one of the premier computer scientists in the world and a highly impactful scholar.

8) Dr. Julianne Malveaux (President – Bennett College) – The only thing you can say about Julianne is “deeyamm”. She, along with Michael Eric Dyson, were the two greatest reasons for my becoming a publicly engaged scholar. Also, as the only other publicly engaged scholar who deals with Financial issues, I have learned a lot from Julianne as a mentor, colleague and friend.

9) Dr. Wilmer Leon (Howard University) – Wilmer is the host of “On with Leon”, an XM satellite radio show. As an expert in Black Political History, Wilmer has been highly impactful when it comes to educating the Black community on critical socio-political issues. His meticulous, educational style of information sharing should be given a larger platform.

10) Dr. Christopher Metzler (Georgetown University) – Chris wrote an article about Academic Imperialism that simply knocked my socks off. I called Chris on the phone to talk with him, and found him to be the kind of Black scholar we need in America today. Educated at Oxford, Chris has exactly the type of global perspective that we need from African American intellectuals.

Ok, that’s “Boyce’s Top Ten”. I put together this list based on the scholarly impact of my colleagues, rather than how many publications they have in specific journals or the university with which they are affiliated. This is the kind of list that is built on courage. In my opinion, if you’re not out there doing YOUR thing, then you’re not out there doing ANY thing. We’ve spent all of our time doing THEIR thing, and now it’s time to start doing OUR thing.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Genma Holmes Speaks on the Urgency of NOW

by Genma Holmes, YourBlackWorld.com

Last month, $2.7 million in federal stimulus money was awarded to the Nashville Career Advancement Center. Partnering with Meharry Medical College and the Oasis Center, 600 jobs created for teens needed to be filled through the grant. A sign up sheet was passed around at the Oasis Center board meeting asking for volunteers. This sounded like such a unique event that I could not help but put my name down.

I imagined all the possibilities and the huge difference this venture would make in the lives of so many teens. An idle mind is the playground for the devil; I can hear my grandfather muttering. Daddy kept folks busy by wearing us out down with work. This was his quick fix for the long hot days of summer and it kept us out of trouble.

With Daddy's words in my head, I volunteered not knowing what to expect. Information about the job fair was sent to schools and the media, but we had no way of knowing how many teens would attend. We are going to be ready for the unexpected I was told by our fierce leader, Hal Cato. I sensed from his tone, he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. The forecast was uncertain for the weekend and a first time job fair for teens had no room for the unknown.
Upon my arrival at Youth Opportunity Center @ 8:15am, I found the command center tent packed with teens. They came early and I sent up a prayer for the volunteers to get here soon. The job fair was scheduled from 10:00-3:00. By 9:00am, young people were everywhere. They were hungry for jobs. I looked outside and my heart skipped a beat and swelled with joy. As far as the eyes could see, folks were in line to snap up the ultimate teen prize, a summer job. It looked like an American Idol audition with kids from ages 14-19 wrapped around the building. How many jobs do we have, I questioned myself and everyone around me? After taking a second and third look outside, I wondered if we were "Jack" and the fast growing lines were going to become gigantic beanstalks.
Some of the vendors that participated at the unprecedented event were: Publix's, the Frist Center, BCN, Goodwill, Youth United, Metro Health Department, Hands on Nashville. Applications from Foot Locker, the Gap, Hobby Lobby, Aeropostle, Subway, Hibbet Sports, Sports Authority, Arby's, Shoe Carnival and a host of others were available for the teens to fill out and turn in. We even had a room filled with computers for writing resumes and several volunteers to assist. No details to finding a summer job were overlooked.


Click to read.

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill Asks: Is Obama Advisor Summers on the Take?


Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Columbia University

Matt Tabibi wrote an interesting piece on Larry Summers, President Obama’s chief economic adviser. One of the main critiques is that he accepted major payoffs speaking fees from corporations that would soon demand billions of taxpayer dollars. He writes:

So I guess that $45,000 speaking fee from Merrill Lynch wasn’t technically a bribe because Summers wasn’t named to Obama’s economic transition team until Nov. 24 — a full 12 days later. I’m sure Larry Summers had absolutely no inkling whatsoever that he was going to be one of the key advisers to the new administration on Nov. 12.

It likewise makes perfect sense that Merrill Lynch, a company just months removed from having to be rescued from bankruptcy by an 11th-hour, pseudo-state-subsidized buyout by Bank of America, would decide to spend $45,000 on a speaking appearance by Summers because, well, they really valued his economic expertise and his proven ability to rally the troops with his stirring rhetoric.

It certainly had nothing to do with the fact that a) it was eight days after a Democrat was elected to the presidency; b) Summers had a long history of being one of the key policymakers in Democratic Party politics; and c) Merrill was absolutely not going to survive more than a few more months unless taxpayers forked over another 20 billion or so to cover the giant hole in Merrill’s balance sheet that was, at that time, still being hidden from Bank of America and its shareholders.

And how about that $135,000 appearance for Goldman Sachs in April, when Summers was already involved with Democratic Party politics again? That wasn’t a surreptitious campaign contribution at all!

For the rest of the story, click here.

Are Black Athletes Driving Ms. Daisy Again?

Dr. Billy Hawkins, University of Georgia

Excerpts from the forthcoming book – The New Plantation: The Internal Colonization of Black Male Athletes

It should not take a long stretch of the imagination to see how Black male athletes contribute significantly to the athletic labor class at predominantly White National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Institutions (PWI’s); thus, to the overall bottom-line of the revenue generated. Their presence as starters and their representation on the top football and basketball programs in the country speak volumes to PWI’s need for Black male athletes. Tables 1 &2 illustrate the contribution Black male athletes make for some of the top athletic programs in the nation.

Within this current economic configuration, another area to consider is the contribution Black male athletes are making towards “Title IX sports”[1]: those sports that are added to meet gender equity requirements, which undoubtedly are played mostly by White women (e.g. rifle, golf, equestrian, rowing, bowling, and lacrosse). According to Welch Suggs:

…Only 2.7 percent of women receiving scholarships to play all other sports at predominantly white colleges in Division I are black. Yet those are precisely the sports – golf, lacrosse, and soccer, as well as rowing – that colleges have been adding to comply with Title IX.[2]

Therefore, since Title IX has provided very limited opportunity for Black females but additional opportunities for White women to compete and Black male athletes make-up the greater percentage of the revenue generating sports that contribute to athletic departments’ revenue, and thus their ability to support these additional sports, a reoccurring historical relationship between the White female and Black male has been resurrected. I refer to this contribution and connection as the “Driving Miss Daisy” syndrome.


Click to read.

Tia Brown: Should You Give Your Ex Another Chance?


This week I take on the challenging decision on whether to give an ex another chance and how to make friends when you’re the new kid on the block.

Should you give an ex a second chance? Or third chance or etc…?One More Chance in NYC

Dear One More Chance,
Only you can decide whether an ex is worthy of another shot at love, but there are a few things you should ask yourself. First, are you revisiting this relationship because you genuinely believe this is the love of your life or due to loneliness? The single scenes can be fun, but really taxing and dating an ex is a quick fix because of the instant gratification-but as time passes you’ll start to remember why things tanked. Secondly, has this person improved on the issues that caused the split? If they’re still lazy, unfaithful or just plain ugly— in their ways— why will it work this time around? Lastly, what’s different about you? Hopefully you’ve worked on any issues that you had that contributed to the demise of the relationship. After pondering these questions you’ll be able to conclude whether rekindling this romance or keeping the flames doused is best.

How do you make ‘girlfriends’ in a new city? Male friends are easy to make or come-by. As I have moved a couple of times since college, I have found it challenging to create sincere girlfriend relationships. I have met women that I like and have clicked with, but what do you say…can I get your number? In Search of Sisterhood

Dear In Search of Sisterhood,
Instead of focusing on making new friendships try putting more energy into strengthening the ones you have. Whether it’s bi-weekly calls or weekly emails, communicating with someone who “gets you” will help take the sting off of being galpal-less in a new place. Sadly, as people get older they can become more cliquish and settled in their routines, so many tend to be less welcoming - but that doesn’t mean you’ll be downing Cosmos solo forever. Try joining organizations, classes or activities that pique your interest. Your new membership will be personally fulfilling and allow you to meet other ladies who share similar hobbies. If you meet someone you hit it off with don’t be afraid to make the first move – get those digits! Set up a time to meet her for coffee, dinner or exercise class to get to know each other better. If the person brushes you aside more than twice let it go, she’s just not that into you. Move on to the next galpal of your dreams. True friendship isn’t something that can be forced; it’s either there or isn’t.

Roland Martin Gets His Own CNN Gig

by Dr. Boyce Watkins


People have asked me what I think about Roland Martin getting his new gig on CNN.  I can only say that IT’S ABOUT TIME!  I’ve been waiting and hoping that CNN would choose a Black personality to brand that matches all the other personalities they’ve chosen to back financially.  Their original choice of DL Hughley as the first African American personality to grace their airwaves was incredibly disrespectful, as he turned the historic election of President Obama into a modern day minstrel show.

When I first met Roland, he rubbed me the wrong way, in large part because I secretly wondered if he would ever stop talking to me (I tend to go to a quiet space when making media appearances, to help me focus on seeking truth in my commentary).  But I eventually learned that Roland is a righteous Black man who believes in what he is saying, and like my other homeboy Marc Lamont Hill, Roland has made tremendous sacrifices in order to get to where he is today (you have no idea how much sacrifice is made behind the scenes).  I’ve appeared on shows with Roland and I find him to be the most intriguing media personality to hit the national airwaves in quite a while. Roland sent me supportive text messages during my feud with Bill O’Reilly and he has always shown me love when I’ve stopped through WVON, his home radio station.

I respect Roland Martin and I am damn glad to see him finally get his shot.  It is my greatest hope that this temporary filler will turn into a show of his own.  He is a helluva lot better than Glenn Beck!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Black Love: George Kilpatrick Interviews Iyanla Vanzant

Click the image below to hear Your Black World's George Kilpatrick interview the amazing Iyanla Vanzant. Iyanla Vanzant is a well-known spiritual leader and life coach. You've seen her appear with Oprah Winfrey, Essence Magazine and in many other venues across America. Iyanla Vanzant is considered by many to be one of the great speakers and motivators in America.

In the interview, you get a chance to hear George Kilpatrick, one of the great radio show hosts in America, get direct inspiration from Vanzant, who has become a black woman that inspires the world. Iyanla is changing the world, Your Black World.



Your Black News: Cynthia McKinney Speaks


First of all, I'd like to announce that I'll be on www.wpfw.org radio in the morning at 7:00 on Hodari's show. I'll be on live from Haiti. I hope those of you who can will tune in.

Of late, I'm been approached by four types of voters: one voter type knew about our Power to the People campaign and enthusiastically supported it. They find themselves in the position of not wanting to say, "I told you so" too loudly, but certainly say it among themselves and to each other.

Increasingly, though, there's another type of voter that is contacting me, expressing "Buyer's Remorse" for having supported candidate Barack Obama. These voters can be futher subdivided into three categories: those who voted for Obama, not knowing very much about our Power to the People campaign; those who voted for Obama, knowing a lot about Rosa, me, and the Power to the People campaign, but who chose instead to vote for Obama out of fear of a McCain/Palin White House; and finally, those who knew about our Power to the People campaign and were hostile to it because they were suspicious that our campaign was designed to deny the White House to candidate Obama--the spoiler campaign. Fortunately and hopefully, because of the integrity with which we ran our campaign, those in this latter category are few in terms of their numbers in communication with me.

Click to read.


Black Male Athletes and the NCAA

Dr Boyce Watkins, Finance Professor at Syracuse University, tells BBC World News that the NCAA has done a terrible job of seeing to it that African American players graduate.  He also explains the massive multi-billion dollar wealth extraction taking place via college sports.  Finally, Watkins mentions that the NCAA does a poor job of allowing Black coaches the chance to coach the sport to which Black males give so much.  Click the image to listen!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Black Lawyers: Police Brutality and When It’s Over the Top

By Leland C. Abraham, Esq.

By now, I am sure most of the readers of this article have heard about the incident in King County, Washington in which a police officer beat a 15 year old girl. For those who are not familiar with the specifics, I will explain them to best of my ability. A young black girl had a friend who decided to take her mother’s car without permission. The friend picked up the young black girl and they went “joyriding.” The mother of the girl’s friend reported the car as stolen. The police eventually caught up with the young girls and took them into custody. Apparently after the arrest, the young girl and the arresting officer, officer Schene, entered into a verbal exchange. This verbal exchange continued until they arrived at the police station. Once at the police station, the girl was escorted to a holding cell. Once in the holding cell, the girl was asked to remove her shoes. She removed one shoe and kicked it in the direction of one of the officers. With the door to the cell still ajar, Officer Schene and his partner rush into the cell and Schene brutally attacks the young girl while the other officer holds her down. All of these actions were caught on a surveillance tape mounted inside the holding cell. The attack included punches and pulling of hair. After the attack, the young girl complained of breathing problems. She was escorted to the lobby of the jail and paramedics were called to come and attend to her.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Dr. Christopher Metzler Speaks on Changing Tenure

Dr. Christopher J. Metzler, Georgetown University

metzlerThere has been a cacophony of voices calling for the elimination of tenure in higher education. Many of those voices are ultra conservative ideologues who are using the tenure debate to excoriate what they see as a liberal-leaning academy. There is a more vexing question that is conveniently absent from the tenure reform debate. That question is the role that race plays in the decision of tenure committees in denying tenure to Black scholars. I am not suggesting that all decisions to deny tenure to Blacks is racist. I am suggesting that the committees making the decision to deny, the departments that support the decisions, the deans, provosts and presidents who uphold denial must ask themselves whether they have homogenized the tenure process, already structured around amorphous standards of scholarship and service, such that it is more likely than not that Black scholars and our scholarship will forever be relegated to the intellectual margins.

My concern is that those denying tenure are more concerned about whether their decisions are legally defensible than whether the decisions are just. That is, how many of the people who make the decisions to deny, acknowledge and act upon the structural and racial biases built into the promotion and tenure systems of most universities? Some would argue that there is no need to do so as the issue of denial is about quality and not about race. But, if this is the case are these committees suggesting that Blacks on tenure track were hired as quality scholars and then after years of teaching, researching and providing service magically become mediocre? Perhaps if they were being honest, they would say that in far too many cases, faculties hire Blacks on tenure track because of pressures — real or perceived — stemming from the underrepresentation of Blacks on the faculties of predominantly White universities, including some of the most liberal ones. In some cases, so-called diversity programs, which grant additional funding to departments to hire (not promote) more Blacks, result in an erosion of the faculty sourcing strategy therefore resulting in denial of tenure and thus termination. Do universities that employ this parochial and patronizing approach to diversifying faculties really believe that this is just? To be sure, the deliberately vague terms of “scholarship” and “quality” affects Whites who are denied tenure as well, it simply affects Blacks differently and worse.

The nature of teaching and learning in colleges and universities continues to change as the student body, and indeed the society, becomes more multicultural and multiracial. The promotion and tenure process at most colleges and universities is a bastion of pettiness, cultural antagonism and ethnocentric backslapping. The ideology and the discourse of tenure approval must become one that praises public intellectuals in all media (including new media), not one that promotes cultural disrespect for the scholarship of Black scholars thus justifying and rewarding the continuation of a community of scholars so stepped in intellectual snobbery and caste warfare that even the mention of new media and scholarship invites public disdain and mocking. To be sure the denial of tenure to any faculty member is as much a failure of the faculty as it is of the individual faculty member. But it is the faculty member denied tenure that must exit the university unceremoniously, while the members of the search committee who selected them selects another group of new faculty often with the same results. Search committees must take a more active and honest role in hiring faculty members who will ultimately succeed, not fail. This requires that the people on these committees understand and can articulate what scholarship is in a way that is specific, measurable, inclusive and achievable.

Black scholars also bear responsibility for our failure. Some of us see racism where there is none, and others fail to see it until we are denied tenure. Black scholars like all scholars have an obligation to provide quality scholarship. However, given that so much of Black America simply do not participate in the system of education, governance and the academy, we have to use public engagement scholarship to critically analyze and respond to the “Negro problem of 2009 and beyond.” This is not to suggest that all Black scholars become critical race theorists or produce Black scholarship. It is to suggest that whatever our discipline, we apply the framework of that discipline to the engagement of our communities — on campus and off. Further, those of us who accept the diversity scholarships to hire (but not promote) us must ask ourselves whether we are willing participants in our demise and thus intellectual sharecroppers.

Have we become so content with being window dressing in the halls of academe that we will never own our intellectual mindshare but simply rent it out to the academic overseers? Why do we continue to play the game when we know that the deck is stacked against us? Is it because we see no alternative? Why is it that some of us who are on tenure committees judge the scholarship of our Black colleagues in a much harsher light? Why is it that despite having tenure some of us on these committees refuse to challenge the decisions in the context of cultural standardization? It is doubtful that there is critical mass on tenure and promotion committees at colleges and universities who will adopt my thesis because the tenure process is mostly about cultural standardization, and that standardization does not benefit Black scholars. Mark Bauerlein has it correct when he writes, “The very system that academics invoke to fend off critics has become part of the problem. Ideological bias has seeped into the standards of professionalism. Peer review isn’t just the application of scholarly and scientific norms. It’s a system of incentives and rewards, and success depends entirely on what peers say about you. They examine your teaching and scholarship and deliver an inside opinion, and the process is easily corrupted.”

Black scholars and all scholars who are truly committed to justice need to insist that the rules for tenure and promotion resists cultural standardization, become specific, particular and transparent or that tenure be abolished in favor of a system that rewards quality, inclusive scholarship and service. Many institutions including so-called liberal institutions are simply not taking the opportunity to expand the definition of scholarship and quality in a way that is substantively equal. Making the case for tenure in 1940, the American Association of University Professors opined, “College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations.” In 2009, the peer review system at so many of our educational institutions has become infected with rank censorship and a fiefdom controlled by ostensibly liberal “royalty” who use a warped allegiance to the ever-illusive quality as a proxy for race-based decisions.

The oppressed have become the oppressors.

Dr. Christopher J. Metzler is Associate Dean at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies and the author of the book, The Construction and Rearticulation of Race in a “post-racial” America.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dr Boyce Watkins Has some Harsh words for HBCUs

By Dr. Boyce Watkins


I recently saw a study stating that our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are not graduating Black students at the same rate as non-Black institutions. This study was particularly disturbing, since many consider HBCUs to be a place of protection and support for students of color. We shouldn’t jump to immediate conclusions based on the results of the study, since piling all HBCUs into one category would be silly. Some universities have more rigorous admissions standards than others, and many top HBCUs do an excellent job of graduating students.

I was not able to attend an HBCU for college, since I had both bad grades and an empty wallet. I later hoped to teach at an HBCU, but getting a position with one is not as simple as you might think. During recent visits to a couple of prominent HBCUs on the East Coast, and speaking to many of my colleagues in the profession, I figured out what might be going on. I expected that my visits would be overrun by African American professors, all in support of strong, progressive Black scholarship. I assumed that those nurturing young African American students would be, for the most part, African American as well.

I was wrong.

Not only was I wrong, I was DEAD wrong. In fact, for many HBCUs, African American professors are as rare as popsicles in a forest fire. This is especially true in Schools of Business. To say that I was shocked and confused would be an understatement. I was devastated and curious to find out why African American professors have disappeared from HBCUs. How could HBCUs be given so much credit for nurturing young African American minds when there are few African American minds available on campus in the first place? Were Black professors choosing not to apply for positions with these schools? Were our most brilliant Black scholars forgetting about HBCUs and abandoning them?

It turns out that, in many cases, it is actually the other way around.

You see, in academia, there are cliques. Many of these cliques are formed around the ethnic background of the scholar. Some scholars protect those in their cliques and ensure that academic cronyism works in their favor. When African American scholars apply to many HBCUs, they are rejected for hire by someone who is not African American. The applicant is arguably at a disadvantage because they are not in the gatekeeper’s clique.

In other words, many of the primary decision-makers at American HBCUs are not African American, and they are refusing to hire African American faculty. So, rather than sending your African American child to learn from other strong African American professors, your child may go through his/her entire 4 years without having a single Black American professor in class. The nurturing support you expect your child to receive from people who look like him/her may instead be coming from BET or Maya Angelou books. HBCUs have, in some cases, become America’s next great plantation, where, like NCAA sports or our public school system, the product is Black, but African American managerial influence is kept outside the gate.

Does this mean that HBCUs are not a good investment for your child? Absolutely not, it depends on the institution. I am a huge fan of HBCUs and I feel that some HBCUs, such as Spelman and Morehouse, are better than any university on the earth when it comes to creating intelligent and empowered students of color. Am I saying that only African American faculty should teach at HBCUs? Of course not. Some of the greatest minds in the world are non-Black. What I am clearly saying is that if you are sending your child to an HBCU because you assume they will be taught by African American professors, then you may want to do a double take…..the African American professors may not be there.

So, when I see that HBCUs are not graduating African American students, I am not surprised. It may be the case that they are unable to graduate Black students for the same reasons that the public schools don’t graduate our kids either. The mentors left in charge of our children are, in many cases, not from our own community. So if you want your child to learn from other African Americans, be sure to check the stats – don’t judge the book by its color.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

University of Kentucky Drags Black Scholar’s Tenure Lawsuit out 31 Years


Joseph M. Hayse's three-decade quest for tenure is littered with bodies. It has outlived the careers of most of the people involved — and several of the people themselves.

In 1979, Mr. Hayse filed a lawsuit against the University of Kentucky that has turned into a legal Ping-Pong match anecdotally described as the longest-running court battle in the Bluegrass State, and perhaps the lengthiest tenure dispute in the country.

On paper, at least, Mr. Hayse, 71, has won favorable court rulings from the state's circuit, appeals, and supreme courts. But he has not won tenure, and his suit lingers on. So does his anger at the university.

"I just hate to let them off the hook," says Mr. Hayse, who retired in 1999 after nearly 21 years in a state-government job.

His wife is angry, too. "It ruined his career," she says. "It's not that we can't survive, but I always thought ... he couldn't fulfill his whole potential."

"I think they're going to keep going at it and going at it until he dies," she continues. "I know the university is a big body. It's like fighting a monster; a big dragon."

Mr. Hayse, so far, is winning the war of attrition. The dean who was found to have improperly denied Mr. Hayse's tenure applications died more than a dozen years ago, two of the university's general counsels have succumbed during the long-running dispute, and the university's president at the time of the original suit is now deceased. Two other presidents have also come and gone: Both are retired.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dr Boyce Watkins: John McCain Wants to Pardon Jack Johnson, why?

Jack Johnson

Dr Boyce Watkins


I just saw an article in which Senator John McCain recently wanted to pardon Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champ in American history.  His actions confuse me, as McCain was one of the last holdouts on the Martin Luther King holiday a few years ago.  Also, McCain would not like Jack Johnson if he were alive today, for his spirit of defiance of America’s 400 year commitment to racism is similar to the one that scholars such as myself carry today.  In other words, we are his ideological grandchildren, and John McCain doesn’t like people like me.

I find men like McCain to be even more perplexing because they are the first to get in line to support symbolic gestures, such as pardoning a man who was convicted nearly 100 years ago, but are happy to endorse tougher sentencing laws and more prisons which incarcerate hundreds of thousands of Black men today.  It has been statistically proven that, beyond any doubt, Black males are more likely to be incarcerated for the same crimes, less likely to have adequate counsel and more likely to receive longer sentences for these crimes.  Now, we are in an era in which American corporations own stock in prisons and have a profit motive for excess incarceration, which is incredibly dangerous.  What’s worse, millions of families are destroyed by the justice system endorsed by John McCain, with these men finding insurmountable institutional hurdles to their re-entry into society.

I grow weary of those who chastise Black men for speaking out against racism, yet show up to sit in the front row of every Martin Luther King Day function.  There are even those in my own university who once hated Jim Brown and love him 30 years later.  All the while, they hate Boyce Watkins without realizing that he and Jim Brown come from the same tradition.   Such reactions show that history only repeats itself and that some Americans are quick to follow the lead created by their forefathers.

Perhaps dead Black men are the ones McCain is willing to pardon first, since they cause him the least trouble.  But the truth is that rather than hating us while we’re alive and honoring us in death, you’d be better off showing enough vision and open-mindedness to respect our point of view in the first place.   That is supposed to be what America is all about.

Rest in peace Jack Johnson.  I gave you a pardon long ago.