Will Obama Stand By His Church?

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[National News Reports]

It is often difficult to see it in his speeches and his surprising level of support among liberal whites but Democratic Party presidential contender Barack Obama belongs to a Chicago church which preaches a militant “Black Liberation Theology” which is increasingly drawing media attention.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright frequently peppers his sermons withreferences to the “United States of White America” and the dangers of “white arrogance.” Indeed, the motto of Trinity United Church of Christ is “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian.” As Obama maintains a strong second place in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, increasing attention is being paid to the church with some white editorial writers suggesting he should disassociate himself from the church.

Last week, for example, a columnist for the Salt Lake City Tribune declared that with Black advancements in American society, “there is no longer a need” for what Rev. Wright preaches and suggested Obama’s association with Wright could hurt his campaign by scaring away white supporters. However, Obama has attributed his pastor’s beliefs to him being “a child of the 1960s” but he has given no indication of breaking with Wright or the church.

US Income Declines

Despite a lot of talk from federal officials and Wall Street experts about an ongoing economic expansion, the latest government data shows the average American was living on less income in 2005 than in 2000. It appears that the bulk of the money from the nation’s economic growth has been going to the top one percent of the population while financial conditions for the middle classes and the poor are actually worsening over time.

The average income in 2005 (the most recent year for which full data are available) was $55,238 – one percent less than the average income of $55,714 in 2000. This marks the fifth consecutive year of lower average incomes in a nation which had seen the average incomes of its citizens increase every year from 1945 to 2001. Critics are blaming Bush administration economic policies driven by tax cuts for the rich and the exporting of high paying manufacturing jobs from the U.S. to countries like China and India.

Meanwhile, the White House dismissed the critics by attributing the lower average incomes to the Internet’s “dot.com bust” of the 1990s. Nevertheless, the data released by the Internal Revenue Service last week revealed that the growth in total incomes went largely to persons making $1 million or more a year. In fact, less than one percent of all taxpayers raked in 47 percent of all the income growth between 2000 and 2005. There were approximately 304,000 such tax payers in 2005. There are 134 million taxpayers in America (2005 figures). The trend is likely to continue, especially if the Bush administration is successful in making its tax cuts for the upper income permanent.

Study--White Youth “Happier” Than Blacks:

According to a recently released study, young whites (ages 13 to 24) are generally happier with their lives than young Blacks and Hispanics in the same age group. Overall, 72 percent of young whites said they were happy with life in general but only 56 percent of Blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics voiced a similar view.

The survey conducted by the Associated Press and the cable music channel MTV found that in areas ranging from relationships with their parents to money to jobs, young whites were generally happier than minority group youth. For example, 51 percent of minorities said they were happy with their jobs compared to 64 percent of whites and 66 percent of minorities are happy with their relationships compared with 79 percent of whites.

Overall, Black youth were slightly happier with their lives than Hispanic youth were with theirs.

Conviction In Civil Rights Era Murder:

During the civil rights era of the 1960s, there were hundreds of cases in which Ku Klux Klan members and other racist groups committed crimes against Blacks, including murder, but were either found not guilty by all white juries or never charged at all. But in recent years, victims’ families, activist groups and a few dedicated prosecutors have been working diligently to solve some of these cold cases and bring the dwindling number of living perpetrators to justice.

The latest victory in this effort took place in Jackson, Mississippi this past Friday when 72-year-old former Klan member James Seale was sentenced to life in prison for the 1964 kidnapping and murder of two Black teenagers. Seale was a member of a group of Klansmen who apparently picked Henry Dee and Charles Moore at random, kidnapped, beat and drowned the two 19-year-olds by attaching heavy weights to their bodies and throwing them into the Mississippi river.

After the sentencing, Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim said there were at least 100 similar cold cases from the civil rights era (30 of them in Mississippi) awaiting investigation and possible prosecution.

Study-Discrimination Factor In Drug Abuse:

A study published last week in the American Journal of Epidemiology reports that African Americans experiencing the negative impact of racial discrimination are more likely to use tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Study leader Dr. Luisa Borrell of the Mailman School of Public Health concluded that it appears “possible that the use of a recreational drug helps to cope with life stress resulting from perceived unfair treatment.”

In addition the study found that whites who believed they were victims of racial or ethnic discrimination were also more likely to report the use of drugs and alcohol. Interestingly, however; whites who perceived they were victims of discrimination and reported tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine use tended to have lower incomes and less education than average. But Blacks reporting the same tended to have higher educations and incomes than average.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health along with colleagues at the universities of Minnesota, Alabama at Birmingham, California at San Francisco and Harvard. Among those surveyed, 38 percent of whites reported being victims of racial or ethnic discrimination compared to 89 percent of Blacks.

Uproar: “Don’t Snitch” Cartoon:

The background to this story is relatively simple: In low-income inner city neighborhoods, many residents have adopted the “No Snitching” rule. Driven by suspicion of law enforcement, angered by intimidating police investigating tactics and fearful of possible retribution, many inner city Black Americans simply refuse to help authorities solve crimes even when they have knowledge of what occurred.

In response—and lacking first hand knowledge of inner city life—many commentators have suggested that these “no snitching” Blacks are either stupid or just plain cowards. This attitude was demonstrated last week in a cartoon appearing in the Florida Times Union. It displays a Black gunman with exaggerated features standing over a person who has just been shot and a little Black girl telling the gunman “I didn’t see nuttin!” The gunman responds “That’s a good little ho!”

The cartoon has drawn howls of protests charging the newspaper with oversimplifying a complex issue and racism. Leading the way has been the Jacksonville, Florida Leadership Coalition which labeled the cartoon “racist, culturally insensitive and degrading to African American women.” The cartoon also has a billboard in the background suggesting that rappers are responsible for the “no snitching” rule instead of the historic distrust which has been built up between inner city Blacks and most big city police departments.

Who Eats Post-Apartheid Fruits?

Most of the world marveled 13 years ago when iconic figure Nelson Mandela engineered an amazingly peaceful transition from white minority to Black majority rule in South Africa. Whites had controlled the country with an iron grip for decades under a system of Black suppression known as Apartheid. With the end of Apartheid, most South African Blacks thought their often destitute lives would rapidly become better.

Only a small Black middle class, like this couple, has benefited economically from Black majority rule in South Africa. But that has not happened. One result of the smashed hopes has been a crime wave which has made South Africa one of the most violent countries on the planet. Its 20,000-person a year homicide rate places it on par with the much larger United States which has long held the title as the world most violent country. Homes and offices in large cities like Johannesburg often lie protected behind high walls topped with razor or electric wires to avoid skyrocketing robberies, home invasions and carjackings.

Under Black political rule, South Africa has adopted its version of what Americans call affirmative action – laws requiring large firms to do more business with small Black-owned businesses and to hire more Blacks. But only a small class of educated and well connected Blacks have benefited from these programs. Economic power in the country still remains largely in white hands and the country’s Black leadership has not yet determined a way to convert the benefits of political freedom into Black economic empowerment.


GM: First Black Female Plant Manager:

On October 1st, the General Motors Corporation will get its first Black female manager of a vehicle assembly plant. Alicia Boler-Davis, 38, will take over leadership of 2,400 workers at the plant in Arlington, Texas which assembles the Chevrolet Tahoe and other large SUVs. The 13-year GM veteran says her primary goal is to “lead the plant to become the industry leader in safety.”


Televangelist Juanita Bynum Beaten:

One of the nation’s most prominent Black female televangelists Juanita Bynum was allegedly beaten by her estranged husband Rev. Thomas Weeks, III last Wednesday morning in a hotel parking lot near Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. She reportedly emerged from the incident “bruised and battered” but with no permanent or life threatening injuries.

The separated couple is said to have met around 4 a.m. to discuss possible reconciliation but the discussion deteriorated into an argument and then violence. A hotel employee broke up the fight by pulling Weeks from atop Bynum. Aided by well established minister Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bynum in recent years has emerged from what she describes as a promiscuous life to be a major evangelical force delivering fiery and powerful sermons on how women must empower themselves. She preaches to millions through televised sermons. Meanwhile, Weeks is being charged with aggravated assault and terrorist threat.


Music Godfather Was Real Father:

Since his death in December of last year, DNA tests have been performed on at least a dozen people claiming they were fathered by Soul Brother # 1 – James Brown. Several of those claims have been ruled out but last week it was announced that a third person has successfully proven that Brown was her father.

The woman joins two other women who have used DNA to prove they were fathered by Brown. And there are more tests to come. Among those not yet tested is six-year-old James Brown II – the son of Tomi Rae Hynie one the musical giant’s former backup singers. Hynie (who is white) married Brown but the validity of the marriage is being contested. Brown names six children in his will but the latest DNA results are laying the foundation for a major legal battle over the will and the Brown estate.

Naomi Blasts Fashion Industry:

Supermodel Naomi Campbell last week to blast the fashion industry and fashion magazines. The 37-year-old Campbell said, “Black models are being sidelined by the major modeling agencies.” She accused the image makers of only putting white models, some less prominent than Black models, on the covers of major fashion magazines.

Campbell was speaking during a news conference in Malindi, Kenya. She is said to be considering the establishment of a modeling agency in the East African nation. Regarding her own career, the British-born Campbell said, “I don’t want to quit modeling until I find that Black models get equal prominence and recognition by the world media and information instruments.”



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