Tri-State Defender Opinion Stories


HBCUs should not take Trump’s hush money

By Andre Perry, Ph.D., The Root

In a clearly calculated move, Betsy DeVos’ first stop to a postsecondary institution as the newly minted U.S. secretary of education was to an HBCU—Howard University, “the Mecca” of black education in the United States. Students and outside observers wasted no time serving up pointed questions and severe rebuke, but make no mistake: Every single word needed to be said. Undergrads at historically black colleges and universities have a right to be gun-shy over a Department of Education drive-by because the core values these schools hold dear are not bulletproof. Most importantly, DeVos’ visit could foretell a targeted and institutionally violent strategy that deserves our undivided attention. We have only to look at the invitation extended to presidents of HBCUs by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) on behalf of other GOP members of Congress to meet with them later this month. On the surface, this looks like the seat at the Trump administration’s table that some black people feel is necessary, but students must demand that all policies recognize black lives on and off campus. Anything less is inconsequential and potentially dangerous. The past eight years have shown this to be true. Don’t Get Fooled Again The changes made under the Obama administration to the Pell Grant and PLUS loan programs often proved callous to the needs of students at private HBCUs. The negative impacts have been far-reaching, and these institutions are just starting to recover. Nearly three-quarters of black students qualify for federal Pell Grants; put simply, students at HBCUs need less loans and more grants. But under the Obama administration, Pell Grant awards were eliminated for summer semesters, and the Department of Education began denying loans to parents with debts in collections or that were charged off. The Obama administration’s actions punished students who were ostensibly already in financial crisis. Though changes were eventually negotiated and later enforced, the damage was already done. Many universities took significant financial blows during a period when other institutions with lower percentages of low-income students were recovering from the Great Recession. Thousands of black students were denied access to HBCUs. Though the Obama administration did push forward a slew of policies aimed at protecting vulnerable low-income students from predatory colleges and universities—institutions like Trump University—past is still prologue. This means that students at HBCUs should be particularly guarded about DeVos’ visit and wary of her intentions. They must resist and not allow HBCUs to take hush money while Donald Trump’s policies simultaneously threaten black collegians when they step off campus. There may be substance that follows the meeting, but for now, the survey says that Howard University was put in the same position as Steve Harvey and Kanye West. We don’t know what DeVos said to Frederick. But if he didn’t respond by telling her that although the country’s 105 HBCUs make up only 3 percent of colleges and universities, they produce 27 percent of African Americans with bachelor’s degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, then we know he didn’t say enough. If Frederick didn’t remind DeVos that HBCUs conferred one-fourth of the bachelor’s degrees in education awarded to African Americans, despite a teacher-to-school pipeline rusted by systemic racism, then we know he didn’t say enough. HBCUs offer the country a lesson that black students from all income levels deserve the cultural support that historically black institutions provide. These students need fiscal backing, yes, but they also need protection from predatory colleges that see students only as financial aid packages. DeVos has been a strong supporter of for-profit primary and secondary schools, particularly in Michigan. What she has not proved to be is a supporter of strong accountability, which many low-income black students need. Federal involvement through numerous title programs originating from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty came about because states showed an inability to distribute educational resources justly and equitably. Similarly, title programs from the Higher Education Act, like Title IX, protect women and other vulnerable populations from the threat of sexual harassment discrimination. When pressed at her confirmation hearing about whether she agreed to uphold the 2011 Title IX guidance of the Office of Civil Rights, which is located in the Department of Education, in relation to sexual assault on campus, DeVos equivocated: “I would look forward to working with you and your colleagues and understand the range of opinions and understand the issues from the higher-ed institutions that are charged with resolving these and addressing them.” DeVos didn’t say enough, which is a tell-tale sign that she won’t do enough. We must all demand the right answer. Further, undergrads and graduate students at HBCUs are more than collegians. They are immigrants, women and citizens harassed by police. They are people who need affordable health care and protection from police. They are people who need their voting rights safeguarded. President Frederick himself is an immigrant. He also has several international students. Be clear: Resisting DeVos is bigger than college. She must hear that all black lives matter even when the photo ops—and cellphone footage—disappear. It should come as no surprise that Frederick took the meeting, as most college presidents would. But the school’s administration should also stand by its students in protest. Undergrads and graduate students at HBCUs are more than collegians. They are immigrants, women and citizens harassed by police. The Trump administration knows that HBCUs represent black people, and throwing HBCUs a bone won’t make the needs of “the blacks” go away. DeVos and others may come to historically black campuses prowling about for favor, but we have to let her know: Trump-like deal-making isn’t required—justice is.

TVA should sign up for Plains and Eastern Clean Line project

By Sandra Upchurch

At one time, our nation built big projects that benefited everyone. The Tennessee Valley’s growth is a product of America’s Greatest Generation building big things. While some wonder if we will ever return to that bold vision, our region has another opportunity to set the stage for the next generation. Now is the time for the Tennessee Valley Authority to sign up for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line wind power transmission project. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line transmission project would connect high-quality Oklahoma wind energy resources to the Tennessee Valley and beyond in what would become the largest clean energy infrastructure project in the country. As wind turbine technology has advanced, wind power prices have plummeted. In the past six years, wind energy prices declined by over 60% and have hit all-time historic lows. Western Oklahoma contains some of the best wind energy resources in the country – some recent wind farms in the area generate electricity for less than two cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s comparable to the price of operating a modern natural gas power plant, making wind not only cost-effective but a guaranteed low-cost electricity source for decades in the future. With high wind speeds, and plenty of farmers and ranchers clamoring to rent out space for wind farms on their private property, the biggest impediment to wind farm development is the limited transmission power line infrastructure necessary to deliver this abundant power to utility purchasers. In order to deliver low cost wind power to the Southeast, a $300 million high voltage direct current converter station will be built in Shelby County and deliver benefits locally, including reduced electric rates, increased local tax revenue and construction and permanent jobs. The national significance of the Clean Line project cannot be overstated. The transmission line would deliver five times more power than the Hoover Dam from clean, renewable wind energy. The project’s aggregated 4,000 megawatts of wind power would be the largest power plant in the country – enough to power more than 1.5 million homes annually. Utilities can buy wind energy and cut back usage on higher cost (and more polluting) power plants, and pass on lower rates to customers. Major companies like Google, Apple and Mars Inc. want low-cost renewable energy and are making decisions on where to site new locations based on renewable energy availability. That's why the Black Business Association of Memphis, Millington Area Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry support the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project. Recently, Clean Line Energy and GE Energy Connections announced a partnership to construct the new converter stations. The wind power transmission line will also bring significant tax revenue to Shelby County. For the first 11 years, the transmission converter station is expected to generate $36 million in local tax revenue. Citing the additional local revenue, the Memphis Gas, Light & Water (MGLW) board, the Memphis City Council, Memphis’ Mayor, and the Shelby County Commission all submitted supportive proclamations to the Tennessee Regulatory Authority in support of the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project. While the Tennessee Valley will benefit from purchasing a large quantity of wind power delivered on the Plains and Eastern Clean Line, other major electric companies throughout the southeast are also interested in low-cost wind power. Duke Energy, Alabama Power, Georgia Power and even Florida utilities could contract for wind power. TVA would gain additional revenue (potentially millions of dollars) by using its existing transmission system to move wind power to other electric companies around the region. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project has received its regulatory approvals. In 2015, the United States Department of Energy conducted an exhaustive environmental impact review for the entire project, and “did not identify widespread significant impacts as a result of construction or operations and maintenance of the Project.” The next step is for electric utilities, like TVA, to announce plans to procure substantial quantities of low-cost wind power. In 1933, a group of dedicated people set out to form TVA and its mission to provide energy, support environmental stewardship and create economic development. Over 80 years later, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line wind power transmission line project fulfills TVA’s promise in a big and bold way. It’s time for TVA to jump on the Clean Line. (Sandra Upchurch, Energy Organizer for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, visit;

An Open Letter: America still needs you, Mr. President

By Lee Eric Smith, [email protected]

Dear President Obama: For years now, I have told my friends that you were destined to become the greatest ex-president in U.S. history. The knee-jerk reaction was that I was counting down the days until the end of your term. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like the roaring crowd that greeted you for your farewell address in Chicago on Jan. 10, I would have been right there chanting for the impossible: “Four more years! Four more years!” No, I was in no rush for you to leave the Oval Office. But I am SO looking forward to what you do next. Because while I know you will become the greatest ex-president in U.S. history, I did not know we would NEED you to become that. But we do. Your work is not yet done, Mr. President. Former presidents occupy a unique place. They still carry the gravitas of the office, but without the weight of governing itself. They are celebrities but still citizens. They have a perspective on America and the world that only other members of that highly exclusive group share. Unfettered with the need to win an election or to get something done in Congress, they can speak up and speak out. That’s what we need from you, President Obama. Keep talking. Keep reminding us what America can be. Keep inspiring us to get involved and stay involved. Keep being Barack Obama. It’s funny: You caught a little flak for saying that you would have won a third term if the Constitution allowed it. As our new president likes to do, he griped on Twitter about that. “President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me.” Trump tweeted. “He should say that but I say NO WAY! - jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.” To me, that’s just further evidence of our incoming president’s grasp on reality — or lack thereof. Let’s put this all in perspective. Almost 3 million more Americans voted for Clinton than Trump. He would do well to just remember that — regardless of the Electoral College, more people voted against his presidency than for it. But here’s the thing: Clinton lost because not enough Obama voters turned out to vote for her. This isn’t Trump’s America. This isn’t even Hillary Clinton’s America. It’s still YOUR America, President Obama — as evidenced by your 60 percent approval rating just days before you leave office. Compare that with Trump’s 32 percent approval rating — before he’s even sworn in. Look, I’m all for giving a guy a fair chance, including President Trump. Back in 2000, even as I’d hoped for an Al Gore presidency, I was still hopeful that George W. Bush’s promise of “compassionate conservatism” would pan out. He eventually proved to be as incompetent as many of his opponents feared. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has given us so many reasons to lack faith in his presidency. The too-cozy-for-me relationship with Russia; the late-night unprovoked tweets; the reckless disregard for how those tweets can affect policies, economies and relationships around the world; his cabinet nominees; his (lack of a) plan to replace Obamacare; his obvious conflicts of interests . . . Yikes, I could keep going — which is only slightly less troubling than the fact that so many of his supporters don’t seem to care about any of that. But there you were in Chicago, Mr. Obama. Reminding us of the best of America. Politely but firmly calling out partisanship in politics; telling us to get out of our comfort zones and look for common ground with other Americans. There you were, in front of God and everybody, getting emotional while you talked about your beautiful, brown-skinned wife, and bragging on your daughters. There you were challenging us all, regardless of how we voted, to get engaged and stay engaged with shaping our democracy. There you were, at the end of your presidency, just like you were at the beginning — inspiring hope, rallying America to change. My hope, Mr. President, is that you take a few weeks off, decompress, kiss your wife, hit the links, play a few rounds of golf. Get some rest. But when you come back, I’m praying you return to campaign mode. Unleashed from political office, I’m hoping that you will use your gravitas, your humor, your wisdom, your oratory, your common sense to speak to the soul of our great nation. I’m asking you to lead a movement of the people, like you did in 2008. I’m not calling for you to lead a coup. I’m asking you to speak to the best of America, to remind us that regardless of skin color, religion, party or state, we are all Americans. I’m asking you to help us realize that line you made famous when you burst onto the scene in 2004: “We are not the red states of America, or the Blue States of America. This is the UNITED States of America!” We are at a critical time in our nation’s history. Given the contentious nature of the campaign, the KNOWN tampering by Russia and his pre-presidential behavior, it’s no stretch to say that a Trump presidency could cripple our nation for decades to come — unless We The People step up and say otherwise. We The People need someone to remind us we can do that. President Obama, we need YOU to remind us we can do that, Mr. Obama. Consistently. Frequently. What will your legacy be? I believe it won’t take long for America to appreciate the Obama Administration. I believe you’ll go down as one of the greatest American presidents ever, mentioned in the same breath as FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan. But I dare say that your presidency won’t be the biggest part of your story, Mr. President. Your legacy is still being written. Lee Eric Smith is an associate editor of The New Tri-State Defender. He’s also an author, speaker and the creative force behind the online project “A Message From God.” Visit

Why MLK means more now than ever

By David A. Love, theGrio

Another Martin Luther King Day is upon us. And this year, the slain civil rights leader’s birthday comes at a time when America finds itself at a crossroads, and in a very frightening way. We need King’s spirit and message more than ever, and a new generation of leadership to fight an epic twenty-first century battle in the movement for civil rights. And yet, the King legacy over the years has been watered down — diluted, neutralized and compromised — precisely at a this critical time in America. What did Dr. King stand for? The revisionists focus on King having a dream, as if he were some passive daydreamer who was abundant on ideas but who fell short on action. Meanwhile, the national holiday bearing his name has evolved into a Day of Service as “a way to transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into community service that helps empower and strengthen local communities.” The concept of serving society is a noble one, provided that it is a first step and not the be all and end all. After all, there is a risk that people will lull themselves into thinking that a single day of service will get the job done and absolve them of further responsibility. Service, however, is just the beginning of the story. King was revolutionary and radical, and his message to the people indicated such. “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values,” he said. “We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.” Dr. King believed in disobeying unjust laws and that we, as American citizens, have a moral obligation to do so. He expressed his disappointment with the white moderate who tells black people to wait for freedom, that this is not a convenient time, and “who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.” In addition, he called America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” and railed against the triple evils of capitalism, militarism and racism. King spoke out against the Vietnam War because “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal,” he said. And he tied the injustice of war young black men were fighting abroad to the injustices facing those black men in Chicago, Atlanta, Watts or Harlem. This is the un-sanitized King that they don’t talk about. That is not the Martin Luther King we know. This is not the King that white conservative politicians will invoke when they desecrate his name and twist his words in order to support their perverse dismantling of civil rights in the name of white nationalism. The real King did not play it safe, nor did he promote the status quo. The government does not consider you a threat and seek your assassination if you just want to hold hands and sing. And dream. But when you seek to change the fundamentals of society as King did, well, that’s another thing altogether. Today, America is plagued with an onset of backsliding on so many levels. The departure of the nation’s first black president has led to the rise of Donald Trump and his minions, the angry white mob that views its progress as dependent on the suppression of black power and the aspirations of people of color. With no shame, a reactionary white power structure on the national and state levels is taking away civil rights, voting rights and the social safety net, and planning for heightened police violence against the black community. Such times require a new generation of leaders to engage in mass protest and civil disobedience. But there are many ways to do it, and new techniques, tactics and strategies are necessary to take on this century’s incarnation of Jim Crow. Boycotts and Buy Black campaigns are necessary to bring the economic power of the black community to bear. The Black Lives Matter movement against police violence is one example of what is needed, as is the student activity on college campuses to combat institutional racism and the hostile environment towards African-American students. Rev. Barber is on the right track with his Moral Mondays movement to stop the assault on our rights in North Carolina, as is Cornell Brooks and the recent NAACP sit-in to protest the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. And we must not forget the Women’s March on Washington set for Jan. 21, in which women of all backgrounds will respond to a most divisive election and proclaim that women’s rights are human rights. Moreover, King understood how the various forms of oppression are interrelated. And this is a point in time where the assaults on citizenry are so broad and the threats so sweeping — from reproductive rights, LGBT rights and Muslim registries to mass deportations and legalized racial profiling — that his philosophy is made to order. The man resonates more than ever, perhaps even more than when he left this world and some even in the black community did not support him. We are not free, and we are not safe. And we did not overcome. Things are as bad as ever, and more severe than we realize. We must make Dr. King’s words real and keep it real, and that means fighting for change. Real change.

Why some people will always believe ‘fake news’

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire

I have been thinking about the controversy surrounding so-called fake news, much of which has been discussed in connection with the November 2016 elections. It is important to understand that “fake news” is a form of propaganda called “black propaganda.” Black propaganda refers to information that is manufactured to appear as if it is coming from one source when it is, in reality, coming from somewhere else. In the early 1970s, during the height of the Black Panther Party, a children’s coloring book surfaced that was inspired by the Black Panther Party. It was targeted at children and was available in offices of the Black Panther Party. I remember looking at it once and noticing that one of the “stories” in it had children shooting police. I thought that was a bit intense, but it was only years later that I discovered that the coloring book had not been created by the Panthers at all. It was a creature of the COINTELPRO operation of the FBI, which utilized such techniques in order to discredit and destroy the Panthers. This was an example of “black propaganda.” In 2016, it became clear that there have been Internet sites that have circulated an immense amount of false information. These are not from official news agencies. A dramatic example of this was the false allegation that the Clinton campaign had a pedophile ring in Washington, D.C. Someone who believed this story went so far as to show up with a rifle to “investigate” the allegation. Fake news is not new. What we should have learned over the years is that the best defense against so-called fake news is to question what you read. The fact that something appears on the Internet, even from what appear to be reliable sources, does not mean that it is true or accurate. Further, even very sincere people can fall prey to a hoax, as I am sure most of us will admit. I was doing a training recently and the matter of accurate information came up. The basic question facing the class was how can one know what is true? That is not a new question but the answer remains the same. In the face of any information you must identify and validate the source; one should check to see whether there is independent corroboration; and then determine whether you believe that it is consistent with other information that you know to be accurate. In all cases, there will be debates around how to interpret any information or data. But interpretation is completely different from agreeing on the facts themselves. The suggestion, for example, that there were masses of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the 9/11 terrorist attacks was backed up by NO facts. Nevertheless, it was spread around the Internet, because of the person who claimed to have seen it. Fake news, indeed.

Why black women must be involved in the women’s march on Washington

By Julianne Malveaux, NNPA Newswire

“Ain’t I A Woman,” railed Sojourner Truth, “I have ploughed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman! I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well. And ain’t I a woman? I’ve bourne thirteen children and seen most all sold off and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman.” The similarities and differences between Black and White women are captured in Sojourner Truth’s famous December 1851 speech. She movingly talks about the men who say women should be “helped into carriages, and moved over ditches, and have the best place everywhere,” while “nobody ever helps me into carriages or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place.” Both Black and White women cry a mother’s grief for the loss of a child, and both endure labor pains. Black women’s lives, while similar, are different and often disadvantaged, because they lack the privilege that White women so easily take for granted and often fail to notice or remedy. Thus, it did not surprise me that a White woman in Hawaii called for a “Million Women’s March” on Washington, D.C. on the day after the Presidential inauguration. And it did not surprise me, when White women took up the call. Too bad these same White women did not advocate more forcefully against the man who won the Electoral College vote for the Presidency. My first inclination was to ignore this women’s march. The organizers have repeatedly struck me as tone-deaf and indifferent to the diverse needs of women. But when I talked to Tamika Mallory, the dynamic young woman activist who was once Executive Director of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, I shifted my perspective. Tamika shared that, just a few days after the initial call to march was issued, organizers reached out to her asking for help. She said they said they “needed to ensure that women of color were involved.” Now, there are four co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington, including African American leader Tamika Mallory, Latina activist and part of Harry Belafonte’s Gathering for Justice, Carmen Perez, a White woman entrepreneur whose t-shirts have been galvanizing, Bob Bland, and Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour. I applaud the diversity in leadership, but wonder how many women of color will turn out on January 21. Tens of thousands of women from all over the country are expected, with more than 100,000 saying they plan to be there. But many African American women have looked askance, perhaps with distaste from the cultural appropriation of the initial organizing descriptive, “Million Women’s March”, perhaps because we recoil from the strong support White women gave the President-elect, choosing race loyalty over gender, class, or personal interest. I applaud Tamika Mallory. She told me “I was not willing to let this convening come together without having Black women involved.” In other words, White women cannot speak for all women. If White women had their way, the march and rally would probably focus only on equal pay and reproductive rights. Thanks to Tamika and her colleagues, a statement of principles, to be issued next week, will also address racial justice, police brutality, criminal justice reform and mass incarceration. Absent the involvement of young Black women like Tamika, it would be extremely easy for me to ignore this march. But because some women have drawn a line in the sand and insisted on space for Black women in this march, they deserve support. They remind me of the women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., who in 1913 elbowed their way into the Women’s Suffrage March when their involvement was unwelcome. They reminded the Women’s Suffrage Association that Black women were also women, and we would not be excluded. Now, White Women are at it again, but strong, brave, Black women, the descendants of Ida B. Wells, aren’t willing to sit on the sidelines. The march is to remind all watching that “women’s rights are human rights.” Black women’s rights will be considered in this gathering because some Black women dared place themselves in an uncomfortable space (working with privileged, White women is never easy) in order to make a difference. Information on the women’s march is available at

New Year’s resolutions y’all can actually keep

By Michael Arceneaux, The Root

For far too many well-intentioned souls, New Year’s Resolutions are the life affirmation equivalent of a deadbeat dad telling their kid they’ll be right back before hightailing it to a place only an expensive private investigator can find. Some of you will indeed join a gym, but only a few of you will make it beyond Valentine’s Day. A couple of you will try your hardest to avoid the news at all cost, but ultimately, you’re going to inquire about why we are back in a recession and may have to move to a bunker to avoid being incinerated by way of nuclear blast. And we all know that there is no point in ignoring the Twitter account of President-elect Tropicana Jong-il. To that end, I’m here to offer some suggestions on resolutions your black self can actually keep. Yes, I’m so selfless. You’re welcome. I will not say “New Year, New Me.” ‘Cause you will be the same ol’ G. Also, this phrase is just annoying. I will stop trying to see the good in everyone. As novel a concept as “everyone has some good in them” is, if you are black and live in America, you should place your faith in something stronger and more certain like Rihanna. Some people are irredeemable trash boxes, or as the people’s champ once described them, a basket of deplorables. I will call white people out defending Trump supporters. The New York Times’ opinion pages have become a notable hotbed of “THEY AIN’T ALL RACIST!” folklore about supporters of our dimwitted president-elect. However, a vote for Tropicana Jong-il is either a support of various forms of bigotry or a pointed decision to recognize prejudice and proceed to vote for it anyway. In sum, those people are vile and deserve whatever horror comes their way. What they don’t deserve is nuance, sympathy and people infantilizing them. I will stop annoying my friends about the dude they all said is a Keyshia Cole album. I’m a firm believer in letting things happen at the anointed time, not the appointed time. In heathen terms, I am saying stop giving your friends false hope about finally getting over somebody your friends have long instructed you to get over. All you’re doing is draining them. Don’t say another word about you-know-who until your final answer is “I’m done.” I will stop posting inspirational quotes under my thirst traps. Let the sexual overtones of your Instagram post speak for itself, beloveds. I’m tired of people using Buddhist quotes as captions for shots of their breasts and butt cheeks. I will stop reading the comments section. I don’t get anyone who managed to do this after 2006 let alone 2016, but do yourself a favor and learn to place limitations on how low you’re willing to scroll. This includes my mother, who will beat you to the white meat if you try her son under one of his articles. She legit will knock your ass out in the name of Jesus. I don’t want to bail my beloved mother out of jail, so if you’re reading this, just don’t look down there, ma’am. I will avoid straight people’s relationship debates on social media. Two hundred dollar date debates are boring and most of the sex talk is a smooth decade behind us non-straights. Look away. I will be less trifling towards my punctual friends. This is more of a cry for help on my end, but seriously, can’t y’all at least try to be no more than 10 to 15 minutes late? I know so many folks who feel punished for being on time. It’s not right, it’s not okay and though we’re gonna make it anyway, late people still need to try a lil’ harder to be less tardy to the party. I will read the dates of articles before sharing them on Facebook. You know, you wouldn’t be shocked about people who died around the same time Martin was cancelled if you managed to click the link of the article and read it before sharing. I will not lie about cursing people out. Some people deserve it, so you needn’t feel bad about being the dealer. I will stop giving Kanye West chances. Hip-Hop David Koresh is who he is. Accept that the man you met a decade ago is long gone. He is the Rap Ben Carson. That’s it. I will stop asking Michelle Obama to run for office. Exhale, shoop shoop and let that dream go. I will not take Internet memes so seriously. For the love of God, some of you swear the gospel is found in an image muddied up with text by someone still fighting the battle of how to properly use “your” versus “you’re.” I will stop with the hashtag abuse.

As President Obama departs, we owe him out thanks

By Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., President and Founder/Rainbow PUSH Coalition

The final days of the Obama presidency are upon us. His popularity is rising with the economy, and with the increasingly stark contrasts to his successor. It is worth being clear about the legacy that he leaves behind. Obama came to office facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The global financial system teetered on collapse; the auto industry faced bankruptcy; the economy was shedding 400,000 jobs a day. He also inherited the catastrophe George Bush had created with the debacle in Iraq and government misrule dramatized by the shame of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, La. Now, eight years later, the economy nears full employment, with more than 15 million jobs created and private sector job growth at a record 81 consecutive months and counting. Wages are beginning to rise, after long years of stagnation or worse. The auto industry has enjoyed some of its most prosperous years. This isn’t an accident. Obama helped rescue the economy by passing the largest stimulus in history, the most ambitious financial reform since the 1930s, and daring and direct intervention to save the auto industry. Economic growth helped lower the annual budget deficit to less than half the level he inherited. Obama also passed the largest health care reforms in six decades, providing health insurance for 20 million Americans. His reforms saved those with pre-existing conditions, provided the young with protection under their parents’ programs and, although most Americans don’t realize it, slowed the rise of health care costs dramatically. Running for re-election in 2012, Obama recognized that income inequality had become “the defining issue of our time.” With his progressive tax reforms both in his health care plan and in the partial repeal of the top-end Bush tax cuts, and with expanded tax credits for low-income workers and families with children, Obama made a significant beginning in addressing that inequality. Abroad, Obama struggled against great opposition to reduce America’s exposure in the wars without end in the Middle East. His nuclear agreement with Iran, not only dismantled its nuclear weapons capable facilities, it also provided the most comprehensive and aggressive verification mechanisms in the history of arms control. In opening relations with Cuba, he helped reduce America’s isolation in our own hemisphere and made the historic turn from a policy of embargo that had failed for five decades. His most historic contribution was to understand the clear and present danger of catastrophic climate change. The agreement with China and subsequent Paris Accord cemented a global consensus on the need for bolder action on global warming. On his watch, America began to reduce its reliance on coal and its greenhouse gas emissions. Obama won a majority of the votes in both his election and re-election, something neither his predecessor nor successor achieved. He governed with grace and dignity, despite grotesque and too often racist provocations. His family provided a model for all Americans, with Michelle winning hearts across the country. He and his administration were remarkably free of scandal. His administration demonstrated once more that competence could be valued in Washington. He did all of this while facing unprecedented, unrelenting partisan obstruction, with the Republican leader of the Senate opposing him at every turn, intent on making him a one-term president. In part because of that opposition, much remained undone. The stimulus would have been larger and the recovery stronger except for Republican opposition. The national minimum wage would have been raised. A national infrastructure project to rebuild America would have been launched. Progress on making America the leader of the green revolution, the next global industrial revolution, would have been greater. Guantanamo, the shameful prison in Cuba, would have been closed. The Voting Rights Act would have been revived, and much more. For most Americans, the recovery was slow; for many it was invisible. Donald Trump won election promising working people a better deal. He appealed to our weariness with war, suggesting a less interventionist policy. He played upon divisions, rousing fears about immigrants and Muslims. He pledged to “Make America Great Again,” in part by undoing everything Obama. So it is worth marking what Trump will inherit, as we head into what is already a rocky and tempestuous presidency. Unemployment under 5 percent. Eighty-one months of jobs growth and counting. Average wages rising at 2.4 percent over the last year. Growth at 3.5 percent over the last full quarter. Inflation at 2 percent. 20 million more Americans with health insurance. America, one of the global leaders in the green industrial revolution. A president respected at home and abroad, known for his thoughtfulness and his great eloquence. Let us hope that Trump can build on that legacy, and not lead us into a far deeper hole. Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at

Blackonomics: The Real Reason We Should Celebrate Kwanzaa This Year

By James Clingman, NNPA Columnist

For 50 years, Black people in the United States have celebrated the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Established by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community. Kwanzaa brings a cultural message, which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Our obvious support and celebration of this occasion suggests our commitment, not only to the principles of the Nguzo Saba, but also to their fruition. Thus, we ask you: What Kwanzaa success will you celebrate this year? What have you done during the year that qualifies as a celebratory event during Kwanzaa? Have you achieved Umoja (Unity) among Black folks in your locale? Are you unified to the point that you love one another more and support one another more? Do you have proof that you have unified around some pertinent issue or cause? If so, then let the celebration begin. If not, let the lamentation begin. How about Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)? What have you done in your city to demonstrate your commitment to determining the future of your children? Are others still controlling your destiny? Or have you taken it upon yourself to build and support your own institutions, open and grow new business, and create your own jobs? Can you celebrate an accomplishment during 2016 vis-à-vis collective work and responsibility toward one another? Are you celebrating Ujima this year, or are you lamenting about what we have not done? If you have worked collectively on community projects such as neighborhood clean-up, elderly assistance, or tutoring, then your Kwanzaa celebration is in order. Now, here’s my favorite: Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics). Have you done anything cooperatively this year to increase the economic viability and stability of your community? Have you pooled any of your money to finance a project or to form an investment group to assist micro businesses? Have you purchased Black manufactured products on a consistent basis? What have you done to build and develop your community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness? In other words, what is your Nia (Purpose) and have you actualized that purpose? If you have, then you definitely have something to celebrate. Have you created anything lately? What has been the level of your Kuumba (Creativity) this past year? Is there anything, not necessarily something material, that you created to benefit your community? Maybe, it was a new financial institution, a volunteer food service program for those in need, or maybe it was a new resolve and commitment to do better than you did the previous year. Creativity covers a multitude of endeavors. Finally, how much Imani (Faith), do you have in the things you are celebrating? How much faith do you have in yourself? How much faith do you have in your brothers and sisters? How much faith do you have in the Creator’s ability to carry you through in times of struggle? Are you one of “little faith,” or is your faith sufficient to support you in your quest to fulfill the other six principles of Kwanzaa? Aren’t you tired of mere spoken words? Aren’t you just a little weary of empty rhetoric, events based on words followed by little or no subsequent action? Wouldn’t you like to see us, after fifty years of celebrating Kwanzaa, be able to point to something we built and sustained because of our celebration of values we hold so dear? On December 26th of every year, after fifty years of celebrating, we should be able to look back and revel in the things we have accomplished through our celebration of Kwanzaa. What will you see when you look back this year? If nothing is there except a mere celebration of principles rather than progress, then you have some work to do. Use this year’s Kwanzaa to act upon the seven principles so that this time next year you will have some tangible accomplishment to celebrate. Again, my favorite principle is Ujamaa, so I’d like to offer something you can do to celebrate it. Go to and purchase a few bags of Sweet Unity Coffee for yourself and for Kwanzaa gifts for a few friends. Then celebrate by toasting “sweet unity” among our people. The founder of Kwanzaa, Maulana Karenga, did more than just come up with some nice words and principles for us to recognize and follow during this season. He has shared many words with us on how we must conduct ourselves at all times—not just during Kwanzaa. One thing he warned against was Black folks getting stuck in a place where most of what we do is lament “litanies of lost battles.” Kwanzaa must be a true celebration of production and progress, not just another lamentation of having lost. James Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. His latest book, Black Dollars Matter! Teach your dollars how to make more sense, is available on his website,


By James Clingman, NNPA Newswire

One of the post-election highlights for me was the meeting between Donald Trump and Bob Johnson. Billionaire to billionaire, Democrat to Republican, black to white, businessman-to- businessman, capitalist-to-capitalist, meeting on a relatively even playing field to discuss some of the “what now” issues was intriguing to say the least. After the meeting, Mr. Johnson wrote a press release and did several interviews to disclose the particulars of that meeting. While the press summed up Mr. Johnson’s comments in one sentence (“Let’s give Trump a shot.”), there was much more to the meeting than that. How do I know that? Because I interviewed Johnson after his meeting with Trump. During our nearly one-hour conversation, he spoke openly about his political position vis-à- vis the election of Donald Trump, and his thoughts, recommendations, and reflections on a black strategy moving forward. One of the main things Johnson discussed is our penchant to vote as a bloc for one party, in this case the Democrats, without reciprocity. His words brought to mind similar words by Carter G. Woodson and Malcolm X on that same point. Mr. Johnson recommended that black folks should be independent and bloc-vote only for candidates who support our interests, locally and nationally, regardless of their party affiliation. Let the church say, “Amen!” Bob Johnson, based upon what he called a “seismic shift” in our politics, said we must follow what former U.S. Rep. William “Bill” Clay Sr. told us: “Your political philosophy must be selfish and pragmatic. You must start with the premise that you have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.” My follow-up question was, “Then would you recommend that black voters register as ‘Non Party Affiliated’ at their local Boards of Elections?” His answer: “Absolutely, yes.” Bingo! Remember when Donald Trump was asking Black folks, “What do you have to lose?” My immediate answer to his question was another question: “What do we have to gain?” Without my leading Mr. Johnson in any way, during their conversation Johnson shared his message to Trump on that question by saying, “You should be telling black people what they have to gain by voting for you.” Mr. Johnson cited some very basic business principles, which he has put into play via his conglomerate of ventures. For instance, an equity fund to assist mid-level businesses. I asked if he thought blacks should form a similar collective fund for start-ups and micro businesses, and why we don’t have such a fund now. He agreed that we should have a fund, but on why we don’t have one, he simply said, “That’s a head, problem, Jim.” In other words, the only thing stopping us from doing that is our lack of consciousness and willingness to sacrifice for and support one another. Again, that’s much of what I have written and spoken about for 20 years: psychological enslavement. By that time in our interview, I was on cloud nine because Robert L. Johnson, owner of numerous businesses and donor of millions of dollars to political campaigns, was confirming the work and philosophy of The One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters (OMCCBCV). I never mentioned our movement to him during our conversation, but his answers to my inquiries definitely substantiated the direction The One Million is taking to move black people from our current status to our highest potential. There was so much we discussed, and Mr. Johnson’s responses, insights, and directions are just what we need to do NOW. We cannot afford to wait, to analyze, to meet, to hold a convention, or continue to theorize the future and lament the past. We can shape our future; we can determine our destiny simply by doing what not only Bob Johnson said, but what many of our elders have said over the years. We simply need to act. My entire Q&A with Mr. Johnson will be published soon, but I wanted to let my readers know about it now, so that we can start moving immediately to leverage our dollars and our votes against the two systems that run this nation and the world: economics and politics. The OMCCBCV has already planned to kick off one part of that strategy in February 2017. Stay tuned. Please watch for my entire interview with Mr. Johnson and start planning for major changes in the way we play politics and the way we use our economic clout to build a strong foundation for our children and grandchildren. What Mr. Johnson shared with me is not esoteric or proprietary, and it’s certainly not new. However, sometimes with our people, the same message can come from different sources and, depending on the messenger, our people will follow it. I am grateful that Mr. Johnson chose to speak out on these issues. More to come. For more from James Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. His latest book, “Black Dollars Matter! Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense,” is available on his website,