As Black History Month comes and goes, television shows that foster black pride also come and go. I understand that many black men attached their self worth and their manhood to the character Bill Cosby made famous. In retrospect, I do not believe we need to look at television to give us our self worth.
The White House group's agenda was deep--with racial concerns about criminal justice, agriculture, education, health care and economic development when African American leaders met with President Barack Obama last week.
Students (young and older) respond to instruction in the way that is expected of them. If taught as if they are slow, students will conform to that perception. Imagine what would happen if we treated all students, from the earliest years through their post-secondary studies, as if there were geniuses inside, simply waiting for recognition.
The ugly truth is white on white crime does exist. It is a growing pandemic in the white community, and if we don't call attention to this problem soon, there will be no more white people left to run the world.
Fitz is an extremely aggressive individual, and I often get scared watching his interactions with both Mellie and Olivia, but somehow the show still paints him as the victim, the "good guy," and I really don't think it is okay.
Fifty years after the bloody Selma march shocked Johnson and the nation into taking fast track action to right a glaring historic wrong, namely the denial of the right to vote to millions in America, that right is still under intense assault. This is why we still need a Selma today.
More often than I would like, I have used this space to decry our shortcomings because we retain and still use capital punishment. This past Sunday, however, marked the 10th anniversary of a high point in our shared history.
Black inequality--inaugurated under slavery and maintained by protean forms of white supremacy--has been central to American society, through to the present day. But where does AIDS fit into this story?
We cannot stay complacent or silent in the face of restrictive voting laws. The best way for us to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Selma is to recreate the energy that forced Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act in the first place.
The people and police officers of Ferguson can ill afford to allow the difficult but necessary reform process that's now underway to be subsumed by petty politics. To plunge headlong into a dialogue defined by the same narrow, reductive, zero-sum talking points that frame so much of our national debate would be an inexcusable mistake.
Ol Parker is back as the screenwriter, and John Madden returns as the director. Both try to give this sequel the same feel as the first, but they've run out of ideas. Buying a new hotel seems like a giddy capitalistic exploit.
Advocacy alone has limited value. Institutions must be led by competent executives and they must produce graduates with a credential that has value in the market place. HBCUs do not deserve support just because of their existence; they deserve the support of their alumni because of what they have done, are doing and are capable of doing.
The U.S. economy created 257,000 jobs in January. While this is a positive sign, shouldn't the Department of Labor be more nuanced in their job creation calculations? Wouldn't a better indicator be to delineate between jobs and quality jobs? But this raises the question of what constitutes a quality job.
Much like the great Sammy Davis, Jr., the unicycle ensemble from the South Bronx beat the naysayers and racists, as well as the pitfalls of their neighborhood with their talent. They achieved this while breaking down barriers and leaving a smooth trail of unicycle tracks for others, like myself, to follow.
Watching Common and John Legend make history in what was an emotionally moving performance of "Glory," and win the Academy Award for Best Original Song was more than I could have dreamed. Everything else paled in comparison, and it wasn't long before we called it a night.
For those of us from the "multiracial" or mixed race community, photos of our population -- our people, our families, our children -- aren't as shocking as they are an affirmation of what we have already known: Race is a social construct.
Much like the powerful images of Tuskegee airmen in full regalia sidled next to their planes during World War II, the image of Shoshana Johnson being escorted to safety after her captivity in Iraq is indelibly imprinted in the minds of television viewers across the world.
It was especially poignant for African Americans, who saw it as a fleeting moment of vindication for a time when blacks in the military were not acknowledged for their service.
Now, years later, Johnson, a former U.S. Army cook has helped change history again for blacks in the military. She was thrust into the spotlight when, in the early days of the Iraq War, she was shot in both ankles as her convoy of mechanics, cooks and disabled vehicles wandered into the city of Nasiriyah, Johnson writes in her newly released memoir, 'I'm Still Standing: From Captive U. S. Soldier to Free Citizen--My Journey Home.'
The wandering convoy touched off a bloody battle that left 11 U.S. soldiers dead and six abducted and held as prisoners of war, including Johnson and her friend, Jessica Lynch, she writes in the gripping memoir released just in time for Black History Month.
"I was shaking,'' she writes. "I was saying the Lord's Prayer to myself...when someone grabbed my legs and pulled me from my shelter. And like that, I became a prisoner of war.''
She became the first female prisoner of war in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first black female prisoner of war in U.S. history. But the Pentagon peddled Lynch's story, saying she went down fighting. Lynch later wrote a book correcting the story, saying she never fired a shot before being critically injured.
While Johnson's ordeal received less media attention, she was treated like a star on her home base at Fort Bliss, Texas. She was given light duties to allow her wounds to heal and was assigned by ranking officers and supervisors to represent the Army at high-profile events, which drew grumblings and rancor from some of her fellow soldiers.
"Being a POW was horrible, but some of the comments I received from fellow soldiers felt just as bad,'' she said in an interview with BV on Books. "I had a lot of support from the African American community, but it's like someone once said, 'Not every black person is your friend, and not every white person is your enemy. A black male was upset because I went to an Oscar De La Hoya fight. He was like, 'I was in the same Army and I didn't get to go.' I was like, 'did you get shot? We had totally different experiences. That hurt my heart. There was another white officer who accused me of housing fraud and said I wasn't living with my child.''
Johnson was rescued in April 2003, but by late August, she was severely depressed, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and at risk of endangering her relationship with her daughter. She requested a medical discharge.
"I wrote my story to set the record straight,'' she said in the interview. "There is so much out there that happened to me from people who were not there. I just wanted to tell my story and let it be known. I'm not naïve. There are people who will still say that is not what happened, but I know in my heart what is true.''
She is critical of the nation's military efforts in Iraq. "I never understood the politics of what's going into Iraq. I want my fellow soldiers to come home. It's not something I can watch on the news. It's very tender.''
Johnson said she still suffers from the aftereffects of combat. "It's going to be a long, hard road to get better,'' she said. "I take medication. It won't ease up as long as these conflicts are going on in the Middle East. I just have to get over the guilt of living when good people died. It's hard, but each day gets easier.''
'I'm Still Standing' is a riveting piece of black history that should be read for generations. It also is a compelling story of a woman's courage to survive against all odds.
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