Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top Ten Black News Stories 2011

Once again I bring you my top Black stories. I know the list should be longer but it should give you pause. Additionally, we lost of number of people. Some them were friends, acquaintances, and people you should know about. I'm thinking of putting them in separate posting. Feel free to add to my list.

10. Hazing at FAMU. As a member of Historical Black Fraternity I can tell you this nonsense has got to stop. The “Divine Nine” (Black Fraternities and Sororities) recognized many years ago these brutal hazing incidents (some which ended in lawsuits) would diminish our good works. Our process for membership has changed and those still practicing these crude and deadly rituals will be sued and taken to court for damages. I’m sadden this happen in a marching band, but this madness must end.

9. The ladies rock. I’m not talking about Diva’s these are three women who garnered the Nobel Peace Prize. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman are this year’s winner. These three ladies have faced mounting challenges and prove female interest worldwide are to be dealt with.

8. The passing of Gil Scott Heron. Heron’s body of work transcends time. From his early work as an author, to his clarion call “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” and reminding all of us we could be, “Living in a Graveyard Three Miles Down.” His politics became poetic H20-Gate Blues, Pardon Our Analysis, and B-Movie.

7. Bizarre statements about Black folks. I thought we had run out of dumb things people say. There appears to be a war on poor/Black folks. Forbes Magazine article, “If I Was a Poor Black Kid” is insulting. Ann Coulter suggesting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYDGMt68K6o) “our blacks beat your black.” Come on Man. Herman Cain acknowledging he is friends with the Koch Brothers (conservative financiers who have vowed to unseat the President). “I’m their Brother from another mother.”

6. Books on Blackness. I want to point out a pair of books which I’ve had a chance to read. Toure’s book, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? , and Dr. Lester Spence’s Stare in the Darkness, The Limits of Hip Hop and Black Politics.

5. The unveiling of the MLK Monument. I met the pair of gentlemen who happen to come up with the idea (they are members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.). I was there when the designed was unveiled with the Coretta Scott King and Bernice King in attendance. I have given every year to see this monument built. So you can imagine my joy when it was unveiled.

4. Revolution. There is a growing sense repressive regimes days are numbered. It may have started in Tunisia but it has spread from Egypt, and Libya. On the verge are Syria, and Yemen. Waiting in the wings, North Korea, will they be next.

3. No Credit for Accomplishments. The President’s critics are numerous but “can a Brother get a break.” Let's run down the list. Healthcare Law, getting Osama Bin Laden, assisting with removal of Mumar Kaddafi, and pulling troops out of Iraq would normally get you some love. Critics have been relentless.

2. Herman Cain. From out of nowhere Cain dominated the airwaves and was considered a front runner. He championed his experience as an Executive; he honed his skills in talk radio; and became a favorite speaker at “Tea Party Rallies.” As they say, "be careful what you wish for." It didn’t take long for media to review his record. That record included charges of sexual improprieties with several woman that were settled outside of court. The bombshell however he had a 13 year liaison with a woman in Atlanta, and his wife didn’t know?

1. OWS- Occupy Wall Street. Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street proclaimed “greed is good.” For a number of people on Wall Street they’ve done well despite a sluggish economy. It didn’t sit well with the number of people who lost jobs this year. This protest morphed without a consistent message. What did they want; who do they represent; and what is their issue? They never answered their questioners, but got noticed. Especially, when a former vet in Oakland is nearly beaten to death, and passive protesters at a California University are peppered sprayed.

Person of the Year: Harry Johnson, President of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Project.

I met Harry Johnson in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We had a simple but candid conversation. I’ve worked for him when he was the President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. When he assumed control of MLK Memorial Project, I knew he was the right man for the job. He shepherded the fundraising for the memorial with insurmountable challenges. He was to begin fundraising on 9/11 but he had to postponed it. Still he pushed ahead. He lived through the various challenges to the memorial design. He weathered critics who asked why a Chinese sculpture? On the week of the unveiling he had to decide whether to proceed with an impending hurricane on Sunday. Oh, did I mention he had to deal with the first ever serious earthquake on the east coast in nearly 100 years. He reluctantly, postponed the unveiling. Yet he delivered again with the President addressing the assembled. What a year, and what an individual who stayed true to his convictions.