Tri-State Defender National Stories


Ben Carson calls slaves ‘immigrants’ during speech

By Stephen A. Crockett, The Root

Someone, please go get Uncle Ben; he’s out here making an ass of himself again. One of the most renowned surgeons in the history of America, who is now the head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was giving a speech to staff when he referred to slaves as immigrants. “That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity,” Carson said, USA Today reports. “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.” So far, with this dumb-ass administration, the secretary of education has claimed that historically black colleges and universities were the real pioneers in school choice, and now we have the secretary of HUD referring to slaves as immigrants. What’s next? No, really, what’s next? Oh. Actor Samuel L. Jackson heard about it. He was NOT happy. And Sam being Sam . . . well, there was language and name-calling . . . If you want to see it, click here: Samuel L. Jackson's response on Twitter

Wells Fargo commits to bolstering African-American homeownership

By theGrio

By 2027, Wells Fargo intends to have helped 250,000 African-Americans become homeowners. The banking giant announced a $60 billion lending commitment over the next ten years, bolstering up the program with promised initiatives for financial education and counseling, among other things. “Wells Fargo’s $60 billion lending goal can contribute to economic growth by making responsible homeownership possible for more African Americans in communities across the country,” said Brad Blackwell, EVP and head of housing policy and homeownership growth strategies for Wells Fargo. “We are proud to be the first mortgage lender to make a public commitment to help increase African American homeownership. And, we are grateful for the support of key housing and civil rights organizations, who work alongside us to increase economic prosperity in our communities.” With this move, Wells Fargo will join the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) and the NAACP and the National Urban League in addressing the homeownership gap that was significantly worsened during the housing market collapse of 2009. “NAREB applauds Wells Fargo’s $60 billion loan commitment. The bank is the first financial institution to acknowledge publicly Black Americans’ wealth-building potential which could be greatly improved through homeownership,” said Ron Cooper, president of NAREB. “Let us all work together and grow this initiative which represents a solid and meaningful start for more Black Americans to become homeowners and wealth-builders.” According to U.S. Census data, the African-American homeownership rate in 2016 was at 41.7 percent, which is near a 50-year low. Black homeownership hasn’t been this low since housing discrimination was still legal.

Acknowledging unprecedented support for HBCUs

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, NNPA President

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. routinely would remind those of us who worked for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s about the vital importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As we celebrated Black History Month 2017, Dr. King’s admonition concerning the enduring need for HBCUs should be reaffirmed every month. Dr. King once emphasized, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Dr. King was a graduate scholar of one of the leading HBCUs, Morehouse College, in Atlanta. He was not only an intellectual genius and spiritual leader, but also had an enormous moral character that kept SCLC’s leadership on the front-line of civil rights social transformation. There should be no rational debate about the contemporary necessity to support the sustainability of the nation’s HBCUs. Yet, we do live in times where too many people have been misled to lean on the unfortunate and unstable walls of irrationality, divisiveness and the absence of truth. As we continue to posit and emphasize, there is a glaring need to demand intellectual honesty in all matters pertaining to the pursuit of freedom, justice, equality and empowerment for Black America and all others who struggle to improve the quality of life for all humanity. When it comes to the crucial funding of HBCUs, this is a matter that transcends the partisan divide between the left and the right. Truth is nonpartisan. Truth is therapeutic. Substantial efforts to increase higher education opportunities for Black Americans and others should not get mired down in contradictory and self-defeating political discourse. March 16 will mark the 190th anniversary of the Black Press in America since the first publication of “Freedom’s Journal” on March 16, 1827 in New York City. Honesty, integrity, and publishing the truth without fear of consequence have been the hallmarks of the Black Press in the United States for nearly two centuries. We have neither reluctance nor hesitation, therefore, to acknowledge the strategic and unprecedented support that the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries have given to Historically Black Colleges and Universities via the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). Recently, one of the single largest financial contributions to TMCF, $25.6 million, was made by the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries. These funds are dedicated to establish and develop TMCF’s Center for Advancing Opportunity. “This is a momentous partnership,” said Dr. Johnny C. Taylor, Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s president and chief executive officer. “Historically Black Colleges and Universities are uniquely positioned to lead the field in this type of research. There are thousands of fragile communities across the United States where there are tremendous barriers to opportunity. It’s important to recognize that lasting change to strengthen these communities must begin at the local level. So, we are proud to come together with the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries to help members of these communities identify and study the challenges most significant to them.” The Center for Advancing Opportunity will focus on education, criminal justice, entrepreneurship and other issues that affect the quality of life in African-American communities. The center also will create research think tanks on HBCU campuses, provide academic scholarships, establish graduate fellowships and render grants to selected HBCU faculty members. As a proud graduate of the flagship HBCU Howard University, I have witnessed firsthand the advantages and enormous value of primary research accomplished by Howard and other HBCU centers of research power, ingenuity and innovation. The proposed TMCF Center for Advancing Opportunity is a welcomed development that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) salutes and applauds forthrightly. (Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). Chavis will be the keynote speaker at the Legends and Leaders Gala on March 25, celebrating the 65th Anniversary of The Tri-State Defender. He can be reached at [email protected].)

Trump’s Presidential Address: The Wypipo Speech

By Michael Harriot, The Root

Apparently, black people are racist. I didn’t know I was a racist until recently, but luckily, the great people of white America took their long history of racial awareness and benevolence toward people of color to show us the light. Lately, the jiujitsu of reverse racism has manifested itself in the ugliest, most virulent form imaginable: The word “wypipo.” If you look in the comment section any time the phrase is used on the internet, you will find accusations of racism—even when it is based on actual fact. Apparently, it is OK to make political policy based on an infinitesimally small number of immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries whose citizens have never committed an act of terror on American soil, but pointing out the statistically accurate fact that white people still support Trump is an act of prejudice. If you dare speak of the available data and facts to show the disposition of white America, you too can witness the privileged pushback that can be summed up in one statement: “Not me. I’m white, and I’m not like that, therefore you’re just a racist.” Apparently, Donald Trump is a racist. On Tuesday night, Mr. Sweet Potato Head addressed a joint session of Congress to lay out his agenda for the country. Embedded among his stiff-arming his responsibility as commander in chief, his spectacular plan to create a magical health care system and his continued contorting to pat himself on the back for winning the election, was an off-putting, “alt-right” dog whistle addressed to one group of Americans: Wypipo. Donald Trump did not talk to all of the country Tuesday night. He spoke to the conservative base, middle America Caucasians with which his support lies. He didn’t even talk to them. He whispered to them. He talked in hushed tones, hoping the minorities and underclass didn’t hear them. He gave the most-racist speech ever. He gave a speech for white people. Maybe he knows that the people he excluded or vilified don’t have the privilege, means or numbers to raise their voices in America’s comment section like wypipo. The people who can’t wait until the end of the year for a health care tax credit can’t send him an angrily worded tweet. The vast majority of “illegals” who work, pay taxes and take care of their families are too preoccupied with survival to act like the pussy-hat-wearers who voted for Hillary and print T-shirts that say “Not This White Woman.” The millions of American Muslims who practice their religion peacefully don’t have the option of showing outrage and pointing out that they aren’t terrorists. The educated black people raising families can’t put their fingers in the president’s face and say, “How dare he” paint them as uneducated criminals. Only wypipo can do that. That’s why black people don’t clog up the internet when Trump, Republicans and white America equate poverty, crime and ghettos with being black. It’s why Mexican Americans don’t make a stink when conservatives give a 10-minute applause break for a border wall. It’s why he can denigrate Muslims, Hispanics, black people, the poor and every nonwhite group in front of the people elected to represent this country with no repercussions. If any of those groups lived with the privilege of wypipo, someone would have screamed at Trump when he spoke of the hordes of marauding Mexicans or the lawless Chicago streets. But only a white guy could get away with yelling, “You lie” during a presidential address. Even though he was speaking to wypipo, I know that every single white person doesn’t support the orange agenda, just as I do not claim to speak for every black person who uses “the w-word.” I don’t even speak for every writer at The Root, but for me, the word “wypipo” is a mirror. It is a tool of sarcasm. I like how upset white people get when they are painted with such a broad brush. It is beautiful in its revelatory powers. But I also understand why you think it is unfair to lump you in with the “alt-right” racists, Trump supporters and xenophobes. I would guess it is pretty disheartening to read or hear when you are genuinely trying to make an effort to reach out with understanding. Seeing some idiotic, anonymous person repeatedly use it day after day can be disheartening. Now imagine the leader of the free world, standing in front of your country, talking about you like that.

Kellyanne Conway apologizes to black America for her lack of home training

By Stephen A. Crockett, The Root

A photo showing White House adviser Kellyanne Conway with her damn feet up on the couch in the Oval Office during a meeting Donald Trump had with HBCU leaders went viral Monday, and now Conway is offering an apology to those she may have offended. “I was very busy today and didn’t follow a lot of it, but I know there are a couple of reports at least showing what happened. And what happened is we had the largest gathering of men and women to date in the Oval Office for a picture,” Conway said Tuesday on Fox News’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, the New York Daily News reports. “I was being asked to take a picture in a crowded room with the press behind us. I was asked to take a certain angle and was doing exactly that. I certainly meant no disrespect; I didn’t mean to have my feet on the couch,” she said. Because Conway was on Fox News and Dobbs is a deplorable, the host made it a point to say that all of the outrage was just “venom of the left,” since no one was upset when photos emerged showing former President Barack “Damn We Wish You Could’ve Gone Month-to-Month” Obama chilling in the Oval Office with his feet on the desk. Cue the Conway-as-perpetual-victim music here. “It is venomous, it is vicious, it bothers my children, to be frank with you. I have 24-7 Secret Service protection because people do wish us harm, and people should take that very seriously. I’m not a victim at all, but people should take very seriously the import of their words when I meant no disrespect,” Conway said. “But hey, Lou, if we started the trend here, where people are outwardly talking about greater respect for the office of the President and its current occupant, then perhaps that’s something positive that came out. But I, of course, meant no disrespect.” And because the Trump administration has declared a full-on war against the media, who do you think Conway blames for the whole “couch-gate” scandal? That’s right, an unnamed media person. “This came from a journalist that is not happy that Donald Trump is the president,” Conway told Dobbs. “But I just want people to focus on the great work of the HBCU presidents and how honored we were to have them here.”

Supreme Court revives challenge by black voters in Virginia

By Mark Sherman, Associated Press

The Supreme Court gave new life Wednesday to a challenge by African-Americans in Virginia who say lawmakers packed some legislative districts with black voters to make other districts whiter and more Republican. The justices tossed out the part of a lower court ruling that upheld 11 districts in which African-Americans made up at least 55 percent of eligible voters. Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the three-judge federal court used the wrong legal standard when it determined that race did not play too large a role in creating the 11 districts. The high court upheld one challenged district in which the lower court found that race was an important factor and that lawmakers were justified in considering race. For all the districts at issue, the state argued that the 55 percent threshold was necessary so that minority voters could elect a candidate of their choice, an important consideration under the federal Voting Rights Act. The black voters who sued over the state's 2011 districting plan argued that it diluted the voting power of African-Americans. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who took office after the redistricting and backed the lawsuit, said the decision is a "victory for democracy in Virginia," according to McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy. "The governor has long believed that Virginia's legislative lines are unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered," Coy said. Marc Elias, the lawyer for the Virginia voters, said the ruling was a big win because it established that states could employ traditional principles of redistricting that include geographically compact districts and still be open to a challenge that they engaged in racial gerrymandering. But the justices did not take up Elias' request that the Supreme Court strike down the districts. It is now up to the lower court to figure out whether the districts were improperly drawn. Because the court left it to the lower court to sort out, election law expert Richard Hasen at the University of California at Irvine law school termed the outcome "more of a punt than a major decision." Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor joined Kennedy's opinion. Roberts' decision to join the majority was notable because he often is on the other side in cases involving race and electoral district. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who also are skeptical of the use of race in drawing political districts, agreed with most of the outcome of the case, but differed with their colleagues on the details. The Virginia case was one of two redistricting disputes the court heard in December. The other, involving North Carolina congressional districts, remains undecided. Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this report from Richmond, Virginia.

Most African Americans feel taken for granted by Democratic Party

By theGrio

According to a new study conducted by Cornell Belcher and presented to the Congressional Black Caucus, 63 percent of African-Americans feel that they are taken for granted by the Democratic Party. The results found that a wide majority, at 63 percent, of African-American voters felt that the party for which they make up such a crucial part of the voting bloc had left them behind and forgotten. There is significant belief that this feeling of neglect helped to contribute to the results of the 2016 presidential election. “African Americans are the Democratic Party’s most loyal voters and they should be treated as such,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the chairman of the CBC. “The results of this survey are clear marching orders for the Congressional Black Caucus — African Americans want Democrats to stop using the same old playbook and to make substantive progress on the issues that affect their communities.” The poll also took a look at the priorities that African-American voters feel are most important: “protecting Social Security (88 percent, very important), keeping us safe from terrorists (78 percent), criminal justice reform (74 percent), reforming the election process so the candidate with the majority wins (72 percent), investigating Russian interference with the 2016 election (72 percent), protecting Obama’s legacy (71 percent), banning assault weapons (61 percent), and blocking Sessions (60 percent).”

Trump meets with HBCU presidents, and people aren’t too happy

By theGrio

Dozens of Historically Black College and University leaders met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Monday, just before he is expected to sign an executive order that will provide aide to HBCUs under his “New Deal for Black America.” Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, who told the visiting HBCU presidents how much he and President Trump “admire the contributions of historically black colleges and universities.” “You’ve transformed lives through education and helped to lead our country to a more perfect union,” Pence said. He also assured them that the administration was “committed” to ensuring HBCUs get “the credit and attention they deserve.” Trump is set to sign an executive order on HBCUs, which has been a tradition among U.S. presidents since Jimmy Carter. While on the presidential campaign trail, Trump, who African-American voters overwhelmingly opposed, promised to “ensure funding” for historically black institutions. His White House aide, Omarosa Manigault, reportedly helped spearhead the drafting of the executive order, which is expected to be signed Tuesday. But while some see President Trump’s outreach to HBCU leaders as an olive branch and legitimate attempt to address the concerns of the African-American community, others are skeptical, and some, downright outraged. Johnny Taylor, president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which supports HBCUs, said such coaxing from a sitting Republican president is “unprecedented.” “It’s really, really bizarre, is the only thing I can say. It’s so counterintuitive you can’t make it up,” Taylor told the Washington Post. “People said, ‘What’s this about? Is it just a photo op? … Is this some sort of a planned effort to convert our campuses to support the Republican Party?’ He added, “People were really, really suspicious about it.” Some have even expressed shock and dismay at some HBCU presidents to meet with President Trump, and subsequently take a group photo in the Oval Office. “You went home and kissed your kids with the same mouth you fixed to smile for Donald Trump? Sad!” tweeted Jamilah Lemieux, VP of News and Men’s Programming at Interactive One. “If we didn’t rely on public funding, we could say ‘We will meet with you, but here are our terms. No smiles, no photo…'” Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough, who was among the dozens of HBCU leaders who met with Trump, released a statement following the White House visit. In it, he revealed that the meeting was supposed to be a meeting with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and other federal agency officials. The day’s schedule, however, was cut short by an impromptu meeting with the president inside the Oval Office. “I’m still processing that entire experience. But needless to say that threw the day off and there was very little listening to HBCU presidents today- we were only given about 2 minutes each, and that was cut to one minute, so only about 7 of maybe 15 or so speakers were given an opportunity today,” Kimbrough wrote. While many slammed HBCU leaders over the optics of meeting with President Trump, some were more curious as to why counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, was photographed squatting on the Oval couch during the encounter. See comments here