Wattree's picture


    During the sixties we used to say, “I’m Black and I’m proud,” but we never said why. I’d like to correct that.

    I absolutely LOVE being Black - and I'm not just saying that because it's expected of me. While I have the ultimate respect for the unique character of every race and ethnicity, if I'm reincarnated a thousand times, I want to come back Black each and every one of them.

    Being Black in America gives one an education and perspective on life that you can't get anywhere else. That's not widely recognized, because public attention is often focused on the most dysfunctional in the Black community. But contrary to popular belief, that might not be an altogether bad thing, because it allows the excellence within the Black community time to incubate, untainted by the public eye. That's what allowed Barack Obama to explode upon the world stage as a fully developed powerhouse, and there are hordes of others just like him who are currently incubating in Black cocoons in suburbs and inner cities all over America.

    Another thing that's not widely recognized is that the “soul” of Black people extends far beyond music. What's commonly referred to as "soul" is actually creativity, and as any cognitive scientist will attest, creativity is a primary indicator of advanced intelligence. 

    Charles Darwin would call "soul" a unique adaptation to adversity, and the most insightful within the Black community recognize it as being much like a sixth sense that reaches the very depths of human understanding. When fully developed, it provides Black people with a unique grasp, empathy, and insight into the human experience. That's why it is so effective in conveying human emotion - so effective, in fact, that "soul" has been confused with emotion itself.
    So Black people don't just live life, we experience it. We experience life in the exact same way that we experience music. As a result, we actually feel our environment, with the exact same passion that we feel a lonely bass struttin' through the changes of a slow and funky blues. That accounts for our swagger, but our "soul" also accounts for making us far more than swagger alone - a point we must get across to the more frivolous  within our community.
    You see, the very same swagger, or soul, that goes into the making of a Ray Charles, a Miles Davis, or Areatha Franklin, under another guise, is also responsible for the power and solemnity of mind of a Colin Powell, Johnnie Cochran, or Michelle and Barack Obama. Thus, the very same soul that allows Black people to excel in music, can also be directed towards physics, politics, philosophy, or engineering. The only reason it's been reflected primarily in music up until now is because music was one of the few activities that Black people were allowed to freely engage in. But the rise of Barack Obama has signaled a change in that regard.
    So this is an exciting time for Black people, because we recognize that the world is about to discover what we already know - that there is nothing in the human experience more impressive than watching the development of a Black child, who's been dragged through the pits of Hell and the brutal experience of “American Exceptionalism,” emerge on the other side as a well adjusted, uniquely eclectic, resolute, and learned product of his or her environment.
    These are society's unsung heroes, and there are many more to come. They've been tested by fire, and they've prevailed. By the time they've reached thirty, they've faced down more adversity than the average American at eighty. So simply having survived America unscathed, by definition, makes them special.
    So when I come into contact with the "strivers" in the Black community, I may not say it, but my heart whispers, "Thank you for your service." Because, in my heart, I know that these are the people who have been selected by nature, and circumstance, to blaze the trail of a new reality, and move America forward - and considering America's history, these young people represent the very height of irony. But as the old folks used to say, "God works in mysterious ways."
    So just watching the collective journeys of these young people have inspired me to recognize that, I too, can take great pride in being the product of adversity, because the lessons of adversity have served to make Black people  more, rather than less.
    Simply having survived the trauma of being Black in America speaks volumes. It represents an independent source of knowledge, and an unassailable credential - a credential that none of the great institutions of higher learning can possibly provide. And we don't have to rely on sheepskin to attest to those credentials. Due to the tremendous adversity heaped upon us here in America, our beautiful black skin says it all.
    So yes, I'm Black, and I'm very, very proud.  I'm proud of who I am, and I also take great pride in my history - and that includes slavery and all - because that history, is what made me, me.

    A Slave’s Prayer

    I was stole from Eden, an innocent soul,
    crossed seas and centuries, chained and cold;
    My mother was raped and beaten to death,
    my daddy was sold, and my sister is kept.
    So how they praise God and brag dat they free,
    and even sing songs about freedom, 'din look upon me?
    I was chained to 'dis land, 'dis "Land of the free,"
    by people with a God, who sho must can't see.
    But a change is a comin', tho I won't no mo be,
    but when it get here, Dear Lord,

    please let my soul see.


    The United States of America has honored only four men in history by declaring the day of their birth a national day of celebration - Jesus Christ of Nazareth, widely accepted as the father of all mankind; President George Washington, the father of this nation; Christopher Columbus, the man credited with discovering the Americas; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man whose forebears were brought to these shores in chains.
    That says a lot about this humble Black man. In spite of the fact that Dr. King began his life burdened by the inherent disadvantages of being blessed with Black skin in a Jim Crow environment, his words, his intellect, and his deeds so inspired the heart and soul of humanity that America saw fit to set aside a day for this nation - this world - to thank God that he was allowed to walk among us.
    His was a soul with such strength that it served to lift the rest of mankind to a higher level of humanity. That's not only a testament to one Black man's ability to pull himself up from the dust of his humble beginnings, it's also a testament to the capacity of his people to meet the test of greatness.
    When one considers that even today some are engaged in a raging controversy over the intellectual capacity of the African American people, it only further emphasizes Dr. King s stature in this society, which speaks with flawless eloquence to the boundless potential of the African American intellect.
    Admitted to Morehouse College at 15 years of age and a Nobel Peace Prize winner by age 34, Dr. King rose to become one of the most honored men in this country's history. By his untimely death at age 39, it was clear that his was to be one of those rare voices that would speak to all men, for all time. Long after the bones of his detractors have turned to dust, this unassuming young man's name will continue to reverberate throughout the ages.
    That was the legacy of Martin Luther King. Through his moral strength and tenacity he demonstrated to America that the Black man was much more than just a beast of burden, and through his intellect, and his ability to personify all of black America, he inspired the world to embrace his cause. Thus, the legacy of Martin Luther King - like the man himself - stands as a monument to the depth and breadth of the African American culture.
    Too often we focus on the most negative aspects of the African American, while we totally ignore the great strides that are being made by the vast majority of Black people. We pay special attention to the relatively few violent, Black criminals, while we ignore the millions of Black law abiding citizens; we focus on the undereducated in the Black community, while we turn a blind eye to the hordes of African American students and professionals who are flooding our colleges and universities; we've become experts on those African Americans who are a burden on our society, while we remain blissfully ignorant of the multitude of African American doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, laborers, musicians, writers, architects, homemakers - and yes, now a president - who contribute their unique talents to making this a better world.
    These are the people - the people who Martin cherished - who we truly honor in any tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King. Because as we honor Martin and Malcolm, and all of the other nameless Black heroes who have struggled, and in many cases given their lives, to move our people forward, we cannot help but honor ourselves. That is the true meaning of Martin's legacy.
    Thus, in any tribute to Dr. King, we also celebrate the African American culture - a new culture, conceived in pain, delivered into turmoil, and baptized in a sea of deprivation. We celebrate a culture that is only now in the Spring of its development, yet, a culture that has managed to combine the wisdom, strength, and spirituality of its African origins, with the sophistication, knowledge, and creative intellect of its new found home.
    So on this day, let us also gaze upon the mountain top - inspired by the knowledge that our reach no longer exceed our grasp. Let us dedicate our lives to leaving the world a little better than we found it. And while we take a furtive look back - let it not be in anger, but with a resolve, and a sense of pride at what we ve overcome. And during this time, let us take at least one moment to thank God that Martin, this humble and spiritual Black man, was allowed to walk among us.
    And finally, let us take a moment to listen to our hearts, as they quietly murmur, free at last!--every man, woman and child. Free at last!--from the sandy beaches of California to the shores of Maine. Free At Last!--from America’s shores to the tiniest village in Zimbabwe. THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE RE FREE AT LAST!

    I Now stand firm. My dedication to the power of knowledge is the platform upon which my podium rests. I stand firm, strong, and now free--free of anger, free of self-delusion, free of the folly of empty vanity, and free of the pernicious bane of meaningless pride without substance.
    I now stand free to look upon the eyes of other men, reflecting dignity over sorrow, and accomplishment over pain; I stand with a burning passion, fueled by the very flame that forged ancestral shackles, with a deep sense of pride, and a pride that flows deep.
    I now stand erect! The steel that once degraded my father, that chained him in bondage to this bitter Earth, now reinforce my character, making me more, rather than less; and the blood and sweat that once drenched his brow, and oozed from the yoke around his neck, now rage with resolve and a sense of purpose, and tremble with passion, within my burning breast.
    I now stand as a new being–-neither simply African, nor simply American, but a hybrid forced to transcend the sum of my parts; no longer simply African, since being torn away from the African motherland to suffer and toil in the fields of America, and more than simply American, after being forced to be more than simply American, Just to survive within the bowels of this prosperous land.
    Thus, I stand now armed—-armed with the wisdom of deprivation, the courage of my conviction, and a deep conviction of my courage; and fortified–with the confidence of a survivor, the empowerment of knowledge, and a ravishing hunger for greatness.
    I now stand the product of love, struggle, and sacrifice; a witness to man's inhumanity to man, and a monument to the hopes and dreams of a million slaves. I stand embraced by my creator, as God now smiles upon my people.
    Yes, I Now Stand Firm--Firm, Black, and Free.


    "Thank you, Lord. I knew a change was a comin'. That boy talk wit enough schoolin' to live in town someday - if they ever let 'em.
    "What?!!! . . . President!!! . . . of the United States?!!! . . . Georgia too?!!! . . .
    "Oh, my God! How long I been dead?"


    Eric L. Wattree

    Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.


    This is a lot to drink up in one reading.

    I do know this as a white guy.

    When we re-elected Barack Hussein Obama, it meant that the election of a Black Man to the White House was not a fluke!

    Can you imagine that this guy achieved everything one can achieve in politics at such a young age?

    And the presentation of the First Family every couple weeks in one forum or another effects our MSM like nothing ever seen before?

    Your other point I think has to do with the perspective of the Western World.

    I mean Germany went nuts over Barry. Just nuts even before he was elected.

    It is like the world cheered on the Reverend King whilst Southern Folks rued the day he had been born.

    It is not just Americans who like to root for the underdog!

    This is a great piece Eric and I shall come back for a review.

    I think that many aspects of American Life are getting better. 

    At least from the perspective of a white man who can still recall the 1950's and the 1960's and the 1970's; watching our propaganda network change so drastically.

    The first African American I ever viewed on the B&W was Rochester for chrissakes and Amos & Andy.

    We still have the Arpaios and the rush's and the beckerheads and a host of other naysayers.

    But I really believe I have witnessed great historical change over the last 60 years.

    And the music as you have emphasized has a gone a long way in making that change.

    Louis Armstrong as well as hundreds of other African American musicians have been worshipped in Western Europe (and Eastern Europe) for a hundred years.

    The Beatles and the Stones and so many other European bands all have spent much time explaining where their 'beat' came from.

    the end

    for now

    You're absolutely right, Richard.

    I've dedicated this piece to what it means to be a Black in America, and what I consider an heroic struggle. But it is not lost on me that there is another group of heroes in this struggle whose story needs to be told - those White Americans who were, and are, so dedicated to the letter of the American ideal that they were, and are, willing to walk away from privilege, and their families,  to give their lives in the cause of justice.

    I think about these people every time I here an African American use the phrase, "the White man" - which, admittedly, I've use myself from time to time as a sort of shorthand for "establishment. But I've mad a mental note to myself to discontinue the use of that phrase, because neither evil, nor virtue, has a racial identity.

    If America is ever to become the nation that we profess it to be, it is essential that every American come to terms with one irrefutable fact, and that is, there are only two kinds of people in this world - good ones, and bad ones.  And all of the former are going to have to come together together as brothers to defeat the latter.

    This is bizarre. It took Obama to let blacks be credited for something besides music?

    I read Alex Haley, Richard Wright and James Baldwin as a kid, along with Eldridge Cleaver's "Soul on Ice" and Dick Gregory's "Nigger", later Alice Walker.

    Gordon Parks, Ossie Davis & Melvin van Peebles were hit directors in the early 70's ("Cotton Comes to Harlem" being my favorite), and Hudlin's "Block Party" was a breakout hit in 1990, and then there was Spike Lee.

    As for actors themselves, there were steady breakthroughs in TV series (Mission Impossible, Flip Wilson, Sanford & Son, Living Colour) and actors like Sidney Poitier and Whoopi Goldberg. For talk TV, Arsenio Hall was a breakthrough along with Oprah Winfrey, now known as a black businesswoman, no longer just "entertainer".

    Thurgood Marshall was sitting on the Supreme Court after his brilliant career as a civil rights lawyer, while cities like New York, Atlanta and LA had impressive black mayors, with Edward Brooke being a breakthrough in the 1960's, and  Jesse Jackson and the impressive Barbara Jordan making a national impression throughout the 1980's - Jackson even being our diplomatic negotiator in several instances).

    Colin Powell of course was the best known of black military leaders years before Obama...

    Naomi Campbell is arguably one of the top 3 recognized supermodels.

    And on and on.

    While I appreciate a re-elected black president is momentous, this attitude that blacks crawled out from under a rock 4 years ago, or were confined to just music until recently, is just too strange.

    Wattree is writing about the triumph over the trauma of the Black experience in the United States.  He talks of the inspiration that comes from a variety of sources from MLK Jr. to current day Black youth.  He does not suggest that there are no enlightened White people who read a variety of Black literature and listen to and view entertainment created by Blacks.  He is focusing on the Black experience.

    Wattree reflects on the triumph of young “strivers” like the young lady in the “Lemonhead” t-shirt holding a Bill Clinton Student of the Year Award. He has a very special relationship to the young woman and this is part of his pride in the young African-American generation.

    Some who have not lived the Black experience may misinterpret the gist of Wattree’s message. Wattree knows that the “Nat King Cole Show” and Diahann Carroll’s “Julia” were breakthroughs.  Bill Cosby made “I,Spy” a success and broke ground again with the family depicted in “The Cosby Show”. But this post is about the future.

    He is talking about a struggle that goes on and finds the beauty in the fight. This is January 2013. The month began with the Sesquicentennial of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. On January 21, we will have the celebration of the birth of MLK Jr. The Inauguration of Barack Obama will take place on the same day.  It is mind boggling. It is a great time to be Black.

    Wattree has made it very easy to find out why the picture of the young lady is included in this blog. You might try a mouse click to find out the source of Wattree’s pride and one reason he is hopeful for the future.

    I was talking about enlightened White people - I was talking about the many black outlets for creativity and success long before Obama. I worked in an organization where 90% of the finance department was black, 1 Vietnamese, 1 white. 2 black engineers. I worked alongside a very impressive black doctor 20 years ago - a guy who was so together as a professional and warm personality and active philanthropy & community work. So I find the following statement just bizarre and insulting. (not to whites - to blacks)

    "The only reason it's been reflected primarily in music up until now is because music was one of the few activities that Black people were allowed to freely engage in. But the rise of Barack Obama has signaled a change in that regard."

    Violent rebellion is part of the beautiful struggle. There was a fear of slave revolts. The Underground Railroad existed as a (extremely limited escape route).  The Harlem riots of the Depression was preceded by the Harlem Renaissance. The shock of the Depression led to the Harlem riots. The struggle continued. The artists and writers of the Renaissance and the rioters of the Depression were all focused on the idea of freedom. The methods were adapted to the current circumstances. Ta-Neshisi Coates raises the interesting question of why there wasn’t more violent rebellion and revenge seeking by Blacks.

    Much of the focus on Black experiences in history has focused on Whites. This is even reflected in movies like “The Help”. Many critics noted that the White female writer succeeded at the end of the film while the lack maid was left forgotten and unemployed. It may be difficult for those who have only read Black literature and worked in a majority Black workplace, but not lived the Black experience to appreciate the beautiful sense of the pride in the current time expressed in the blog. Experiences differ. This explains why Cornel West and Ralph Nader can  get big time love by some and less love by many in the Black community. The Black POV is sometimes considered an afterthought. If someone is offended by a comment in a blog, Blacks in general should be offended. Similarly, if I love Cornel, people who don’t are flawed.

    The beautiful literature of the Renaissance led to a people proud enough to rebel against the ignoring of their plight during the Depression. The anger of the Depression survivors led to a mother willing to have pictures of her murdered son, Emmett Till, shown in an open casket as a protest.  The struggle goes on.

    On one ignores the suffering during slavery, the post-Civil War period, the lynching period, he Jim Crow era, and the voter suppression and race-baiting of politicians today.  These things are taken as a given. The struggles are a part of your DNA. If you have lived the Black experience, you see the ongoing struggle as a thing of beauty rather than depressing. The struggle continues. The blog thanks the ancestors for their sacrifices.

    The riots during the Depression we just call Tuesday, another series of events in the beautiful struggle for freedom.

    Prior to Obama, few really believed that a Black person could be elected or re-elected President. The convergence of the Emancipation Proclamation anniversary, MLK Jr.’s birthday celebration and the Inauguration is a good time for reflection. Our experiences differ. Our opinions differ. I call that Saturday. Enjoy the day.

    Prior to Obama, the 1988 Jesse Jackson campaign showed Jackson winning 11 of 50 states in the primaries, and 6.9 million votes in a very enthusiastic Rainbow campaign. At that point it was obviously *when*, not *if*, a black person would be president. (Jackson ran an extremely liberal campaign by today's standards, and would have been more popular had he not made some unnecessarily offensive gaffes towards the Jewish community).

    There were 2 large "draft Colin Powell" movements to run in 1996 - from whites & blacks, debated in Time magazine & elsewhere. As this article notes, Powell was a bit of a Rorschach for both sides thinking he was like them - liberal & conservative at the same time - which foreshadowed Obama's run.

    So it is just nonsense that "prior to Obama, few really believed blah blah blah" - more Obama hagiography that I thought we had exhausted in 2008.

    As for the Harlem Renaissance, it took place on top of the huge wave of immigrants from the South and abroad, and while there were certainly people who prospered and had fun, there was a huge core of deadly poverty and suffering to the time, that could no longer be masked once the Depression kicked in. That doesn't mean the Renaissance wasn't important on a number of levels, but it was also mass hallucination as well.

    "We generally consider the Harlem Renaissance to have ended with the Depression of the 1930s. Sureley much changed. The end of Prohibition  transformed Harlem night-life. That, together with the despair and poverty of the time, the dismal and dreary aspects of ghetto life, seemed more to define the district. There had always been poverty, unemployment and futility in Harlem. But the gaiety and optimism of the 1920s brightened the picture of such realities. For instance, black and white writers of the 1920s viewed with amusement the fact that Harlemites, unable to pay their rent, popularized the custom of "rent parties,", where guests were charged for admission and food and drink. In the 1930s, however, such desperation was no longer quaint. The Depression made the Harlem Renaiisance, with its spirit of play and optimism, seem strange an naïve. So even those who had been a part of it looked back on it as if it were an innocent period and a failure in the rejuvenation of the black American. Then, with the riots in Harlem in 1935, it was impossible even for Alain Locke - the foremost champion of the Harlem Renaissance - to be indifferent to the fact that, with few exceptions, the artists of the 1920s had been unconscious of the realities of black life around them. The romanticized "natural"man, furthest down, had turned bitter when starvation became his lot." - 

    Elsewhere "This period of Harlem’s history has been highly romanticized since the 1920s. It was also the time when the neighborhood began to deteriorate to a slum, and some of the storied traditions of the Harlem Renaissance were driven by poverty, crime, or other social ills. For example, in this period, Harlem became known for “rent parties”, informal gatherings in which bootleg alcohol was served and music played. Neighbors paid to attend, and thus enabled the host to make his or her monthly rent. Though picturesque, these parties were thrown out of necessity. Further, over a quarter of black households in Harlem made their monthly rent by taking in lodgers, who sometimes brought bad habits or even crime that disrupted the lives of respectable families. Urban reformers campaigned to eliminate the “lodger evil” but the problem got worse before it got better; in 1940, still affected by the Depression, 40% of black families in Harlem were taking in lodgers."

    "For example, in this period, Harlem became known for “rent parties”, informal gatherings in which bootleg alcohol was served and music played. Neighbors paid to attend, and thus enabled the host to make his or her monthly rent. Though picturesque, these parties were thrown out of necessity. Further, over a quarter of black households in Harlem made their monthly rent by taking in lodgers, who sometimes brought bad habits or even crime that disrupted the lives of respectable families. "

    Yes, rent parties were thrown out of necessity.  But they were a good solution to a bad problem.  That "bootleg alcohol" was served shouldn't be read as pejorative.  It's a sign of bad laws at the time.  Throwing an alcohol fueled jazz party to make rent sounds like an ingenious idea to me.  It was later repeated in the pre-gentrification Lower East Side, as "Green Door Parties."

    As for taking in lodgers... this was hardly confined to Harlem or even the Depression.  This seems, again, a very prude reading of a very old tradition of taking in boarders to make ends meet.

    The Harlem Renaissance, as recorded in music and literature, was very real.  It didn't defeat the Great Depression but it wasn't defeated by it, either.

    Look, I'm responding to Wattree's glitzy portrayal of the past:


    It's funny you would mention the Harlem Renaissance, because that make my point perfectly. The Harlem Renaissance was going on during the Great Depression. While rich White folks were jumping out of windows under the pressure of adversity, Black people were partying like there was no tomorrow.

    The Great Depression was just business as usual to Black people. When White people couldn't pay their rent they were thrown out on the street, but when Black people couldn't pay their rent, they just threw a rent party, because when it came to being broke, nobody had more experience in dealing with it than Black people - and all experience is a form of knowledge.

    "they just threw a rent party" - well no, lots didn't succeed at throwing a party and just got tossed out on the street, many died. Poverty was rampant, Harlem was turning into a slum before the Depression hit full on, and while some people had a blast during the boom years, there was an ugly side for migrants during this period, and some of the books referenced noted that the bravado and self-applause about the Renaissance cover up & ignore the suffering. The population in Harlem was still fairly small, some of the venues like Cotton Club catered only to whites. And Harlem was an elite apostrophe to the black situation nationwide - the majority of migrants were seeking out factory jobs in Chicago/the Midwest & the Northeast, not crooning & writing & bar hoopping in Harlem.

    90% of African-Americans lived in the South in 1900, 3/4 of which in rural locations. 1/10th of the black population moved to the north between 1915 and 1930 - a messy transition, though helped by high employment in the roaring 20's when European immigration stopped, and the use of blacks as strike breakers in northern manufacturing. Nevertheless, black education at the time was minimal (I've seen figures showing a big drop in literacy & education between 1900 and 1930). No, the poverty didn't negate the cultural boom, but yes, the Great Depression killed off the Harlem Renaissance, as pretty much any historical account notes.

    You forgot Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress and the first Black woman to run for President. Chisholm was not elected President Jesse Jackson was not elected President. Colin Powell was not elected President. Obama won election and re-election. The difference is the potential versus the kinetic  Obama proved that a Black male could be elected President. Fiction became fact.

    If we are supposed to remain in constant despair because of  the “failure” of the Renaissance and the agony suffered during the Depression, why would Blacks be overjoyed by the “possibility” of a future Black President?

    There is a tremendous history unfolding in front of us. Should we ignore it and relish Presidencies that were nonexistent?

    I didn't say the Renaissance was a failure - it was a success - only that there was huge poverty and suffering underneath, not universal party time, and it collapsed due to the Great Depression.

    Your statement was that "Prior to Obama, few really believed that a Black person could be elected or re-elected President." That statement is nonsense, no matter how many misleading details you provide to stoke it. Jackson showed a black candidate could be a serious contender with a diverse constituency, carrying 29% of the vote out of 5 candidates - and many expected him to be the VP on the ticket, while many considered Colin Powell to be a very electable candidate with cross-over appeal in 1996.

    Once again you seem unable to extrapolate from near misses, only accepting actual election to prove that election could happen. Some of us are a trifle more imaginative and predictive.

    Feel free to enjoy the tremendous "history unfolding in front of us", but don't try to rewrite the past to fit the messianic script - Obama leveraged Jackson & Powell's work & popularity & breakthroughs in public acceptance. Obama's script is the antithesis of Jackson, and very close to Powell's - the non-threatening accomplished immigrant/half-white black who's seen as clear-spoken, non-partisan and manages to reflect his fans' image of him.

    The “I’m Black and I’m Proud” message in Wattree’s blog is being missed. You focus on the negative Blacks survived by remaining positive.  One can read books about how bad the Depression was on Blacks, while others have family members who gave them first hand stories about how rough the Depression, World War II, Jim Crow era, etc. were. There is very little education that someone who is quoting books can give to people who have family members who lived the experience or personally fought in the ongoing battle. This is not a slight.

    If I went into a meeting of Jewish people and told them that I had seen films and read books about the Holocaust and began telling them how I thought they should respond to certain events, I might garner some stares.  A similar thing would happen If I told a gather of Feminists how they should or should not be offended by a particular statement because I had spent time in the Woman Studies or section of the library or local bookstore.  I might be laughed out of the room.

    The blog openly praises past generations.  The blog is pumped about the future. Jesse Jackson didn’t get elected and somehow that is a “celebratory” thing. Colin Powell was a viable Presidential candidate but chose not to run. Obama won but he is too much like Powell. I’m supposed to stay depressed. Nothing good has ever happened. Powell “coulda” been a contender. Next we learn that Powell was too much like Obama and would have been worse than George II. Woe is us.

     I am not joining a pity party. Our ancestors deserve better. This year I will attend a family reunion where once again family elders will be recorded telling us about the lives of our forebears. We will learn more about the lives of our elders. We will hear about the triumphs and pitfalls of the current generations. We will remember the past and prepare for the future. We will not be having a pity party.

    There will be numerous other posts about past and current Black trauma. This post is about Black triumph. Go with the flow.

    RMRD you have so much content in what you say in so many comments.

    It all is so beautifully said!

    The blog is pumped about the future.

    I hereby render unto RMRD the Dayly Comment(s) of the Day Award as well as the line of the Day in this here Dagblog; given to all of you from all of me!

    This is really good stuff!

    I am serious.

    This is well done.

    And Eric is my idle, but damn, your responses are remarkable if some folks would just take the time.

    WELL DONE: from an idiot!

    You are no idiot, Richard. Thanks for getting my point.

    Family reunions are joyous occasions despite the fact that a part of the time is remembering the struggles of the past. I think one reason why Black people aren't constantly depressed is because they can reflect on what past generations went through and realize that the current struggle though difficult, is an easier task.

    If one's chronic critique to every problem is to continually point how bad things are and how limited future options are, then you are left with the impression that such a critic has no solutions. Only more quotes of problems (To which there are no solutions) will follow. Give high praise to a Presidential candidate who didn't make it to a Presidential election. Point that a "puppet" for GW was a "viable" Presidential candidate. Next condemn the puppet as being too much like a person who one an actual election.. Continually argue that the victor is an awful choice. You are left with a vaporware election win. You are left hopeless. Despair, Despair. Despair.

    Your best option is inertia. Why do anything? Nothing good can possibly happen.Why vote? Only jerk-wads run for office. Don't take action to oppose those willing to suppress votes. Don't raise off of your gluteus maximus to protest anything. Citizens have no responsibility for their government. (Which takes us back to why vote?). We can become superior to the riff-raff by merely blogging about stuff.

    Just making observations.

    Eric Wattree is in a class by himself. I stand in awe of his observations and writings.



    @Richard, @RM, @Ramona:

    I want to sincerely thank you all. I’d never be able to live up to your praise, but it really feels good to be appreciated. I’m far from getting rich at what I do, but people like yourselves make it well worthwhile.

    In addition, between my son and daughter, I have six very studious grandbabies who are reading this stuff - they’re still trying to figure out whether "Poppi" is a visionary or just another saxophone-playing bohemian relic of the sixties. The jury’s still out, because I’m one of the most unconventional grandfathers they know, but your comments are definitely a vote for my side, and I take that much more seriously than you might think. So, again, thank you so much:

    Deep down inside, who do you write for?

    "I'm going to combine this question with the one above, "Who is my favorite writer?," because in my case, the two questions are very closely related:

    "Again, I must refer to Ralph Waldo Emerson as my favorite writer. He’s responsible for much of the philosophy reflected above. I stumbled upon him when I was about 13 years old. I read a passage by him that immediately appealed to my youthful yearning for independence, and since that yearning has remained a guiding force in my life, his words do as well. In his essay, "Self-Reliance" he said the following:

    ‘"It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."

    "I can’t read those words without feeling a damp-eyed connection with this man, who died over a century before I was born. That’s what made me want to become a writer–the dream of someday possibly making a connection across time. I knew the odds against me were astronomical, because I clearly recognized that in order for my dream to come to past, I’d have to develop the skill of expression to stand head-and-shoulders above other writers of my time.

    "But now, due to the election of Barack Obama, I suddenly find myself poised at a seminal moment in human history. Future historians will be literally crawling over every syllable being uttered during this period, and thanks to the flawless memory of the internet, we are all now capable of leaving behind graffiti on the annals of time.

    "So I’m taking this opportunity quite seriously. I see it as an opportunity for my children, grandchildren, and their grandchildren not to have to ask who was "Poppi", and what was he like. I now have the opportunity to speak to them directly. I can now afford them the opportunity to see my time, through my eyes.

    "Therefore, for some time now, every time I pickup my pen, I seek to speak to an audience that is yet unborn. As a direct result, I now shun the need to appeal to contemporary audiences. I am now determined that the record that I leave behind be clear and untainted by the tendency to bend, modify, and distort my views into a shape conducive to contemporary popular appeal. I think I owe that concession to my readers, who at this point, cannot speak for themselves."

    I'll let you guys have your bromance and BO-mance. No historical detail or nuance allowed here.

    I remember being struck dumb when I first heard "black is beautiful."  It was a phrase, a call, a cry so pure it transcended any frustration and rage so common at the time.  It said it all; it gave the young a burst of confidence and pride they may never have really felt before.  (I'm white so I can't know this.  I can only imagine.)

    While I do believe blacks are still under-represented in many areas, including government, I also believe we're finally getting to the point where qualifications and worth transcend color of skin (or gender or lifestyle choices). 

    There will always be pockets of racism--that's not likely to go away.  As a woman, I understand the same about sexism.  Every gay man or woman understands the same about homophobia.  We have the power to fight against those inequities, knowing we'll never be held down in the same ways again.

    That's reason to celebrate, but in our progressive communities we know our enemies and what we must do.  We work together, not separately, and whether we're black or female or gay, we're committed to fighting bigotry wherever it rears its ugly head.

    Thanks for this, Eric.  Beautifully written.

    Thank you, Ramona.

    "Being Black in America gives one an education and perspective on life that you can't get anywhere else. That's not widely recognized, because public attention is often focused on the most dysfunctional in the Black community."

    I wish that people were taught more about the Harlem Renaissance.  That wouldn't solve the problem, but it would help.  I love your discussion of "soul," where it comes from and its many applications.  I love that you're talking about a culture distinct from the "Empire" America of Manifest Destiny and the like.  For so many, it's a very different story.  The black experience is entirely unique, given slavery, but other immigrant communities might well tell stories that, if they differ in melody, still share a few chords.

    Thanks, Eric.  This was a nice way to wake up the ol brain this morning.

    That is so true, Michael.

    That's why I used the word "unique" so liberally. Every racial and ethnic group brings something special and unique to the table.  That's what makes the concept of a melting pot so powerful. This nation would know no bounds if we'd just stop trying to serve the best chicken soup in the world and start serving up more gumbo.

    This is my open borders arguments.  Ultimately, we get better music, better art and new drinks and much better food.  But, hey, I like a good gumbo.


    It's funny you would mention the Harlem Renaissance, because that make my point perfectly. The Harlem Renaissance was going on during the Great Depression. While rich White folks were jumping out of windows under the pressure of adversity, Black people were partying like there was no tomorrow.

    The Great Depression was just business as usual to Black people. When White people couldn't pay their rent they were thrown out on the street, but when Black people couldn't pay their rent, they just threw a rent party, because when it came to being broke, nobody had more experience in dealing with it than Black people - and all experience is a form of knowledge.

    My grandparents came to California from Louisiana in 1931, and I don't remember them ever talking about struggling during the Great Depression. All they ever talked about was the fact that they lived around the corner from the Dunbar Hotel, and how they used to go party to Duke Ellington - at least, my grandmother.

    She discussed it while telling me what it meant to be a man - she loved my late wife, Val, and she overheard me trying to flex my manhood, and she thought I was being a little too controlling. She was a woman ahead of her time. 

    Both she and my grandfather were both devout Christians. But assumed that my grandfather became a Christian in order to accommodate my her, because he was one of those no-nonsense kind of fellas who was quick to go upside your head. But she told me that he was a "stronger Christian" than she was. She said, when they were younger, she was a Christian, but she still liked to dance and have a good time, but my grandfather wasn't into all of that.

    But she said he would never try to judge her or pressure her in anyway. He would drop her off at the Dunbar Hotel and let her dance and have a good time, then he'd come and pick her up at the end of the night.

    She said, now that's a man. He didn't worry about a thing, because he was a man, he didn't have to worry about a thing - and my grandmother was a real head-turner, right up into her late seventies.  I remember when I was a kid she used to say, "Listen, you're gonna have to stop calling me grandmomma.  You call me, momma. You gonna have people thinkin' I'm a old woman. She began to age in her eighties, and died at 96 years old, but she never did get over that vanity: "That old man down the street always come sniffin' around here - I don't know what he got." 


    This is cold. Most black people in Harlem weren't partying like there was no tomorrow - here Cheryl Lynn Greenberg answers questions about Harlem in the Depression

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    You can peruse the intro pages to her book here - interesting for the Harlem riot of 1935 (and later one in the 40's), the distinction between northern, southern & foreign blacks as mass migration pointed to Harlem, how the city and changes with the New Deal dealt with black poverty for better and worse.... 

    You can read a bit about black poverty in LA during the Great Depression here. Unlike industrial areas where the New Deal improved opportunities in factories and such, LA was all service industry, with blacks competing with Mexicans for scarce work, and it's suggested more blacks went to the Urban League to find work than to official Californian & US jobs programs.

    (did like the comments about your grandmother - reminds me of the old woman in Zorba the Greek, who never let down her vanity and sensuality)

    If you ever get to NYC or I get back to Oakland, we have to let each other know.  We have stories to share.  My late grandfather played with Ellington and Billie Holiday.  He was a member of Glenn Miller's original orchestra and then had a successful career as a sideman for rock acts during the 60s.

    We share a lot of music and culture in common.  And if my grandfather had ever met your grandmother, we might have been related!

    Lol! That sounds like a plan, Michael. If you're on Facebook, please send me a friend request.


    In addition to being a writer, I've been a musician all of my life.  Even as I write, my horn is lying here next to me. http://wattree.blogspot.com/2009/04/play-me-essay-son.html

    My father thought the only reason the Sun came up was to keep Charlie Parker's saxophone warm, so he put a saxophone in my hands as soon as I was tall enough to hold it, and moved an old dope fiend in the back house to teach me to play it (My teacher ended up regaining his life and making a mark on music while teaching me to play it) - "Son, you hang on to this thing like your momma's tiddy, and you'll never be lonely or broke" - and he was right. In addition, the lady singing at the end of my article, the closest person in my life, next to my son, daughter, and grandbabies, is undoubtedly one of the greatest jazz singers in the world today. Remember Serpico, the former New York detective played by Al Pacino? He told me that he was sitting in his car listening to her sing one night and broke out crying. He's so hardcore that I couldn't believe it, but I understood, because the beautiful little rascal has done the same thing to me - and I'm a reformed hood rat.

    So you're right. If you're into music, we have a lot in common.  So get in touch, because TRUE jazz lovers have dwindled down to a family. We're a race of our own, so I know you're lonely out there.


    Damn, Michael!

    I just read your bio.  You're a renaissance man. I think I'm intimidated now.  I have a fragile ego. I recently did an article on Stanley Crouch, one of your colleagues at the Daily News. http://wattree.blogspot.com/2012/07/relections-on-stanley-crouch-mtume.html. I'm also stay in close contact with Playthell Benjamin, another brilliant, but incorrigible, rascal.  I'm in Los Angeles, by the way.

    Well, hey!  I knew Stanley, too!  Not well, of course, but we were writers-in-retreat at the same time at Ragdale (north of Chicago) for two or three springs in a row back in the late 80s or early 90s.  He was/is quite a character.  We got along fine until we got into an argument about Toni Morrison (I liked her work at the time and he hated it), and I made him apologize to a young black female writer who idolized him until he blew off her work because she was attempting (but failing in his eyes) to write in jazz riffs.  (He did it graciously and she did not die over it.)

    He came to Ragdale because it was close to Chicago and he could take the commuter on the weekends to go into the city for the jazz scene.  As I recall, he's a cousin to Andre Crouch and the Marsalis men and he wrote the liner notes for some of their albums. And he was an absolute jazz purist--not that I would even know what that means. 

    Which is why I can't comment on what appears to be a really fine post on jazz by one Wattree.


    Wattree - I teared up while reading your post.  Thanks for bringing it on home to me.

    Thank you, Hal.

    The sentiments expressed here have a lot to do with my aggressive criticism of Tavis Smiley and Cornel West. They and their critics insist that anyone who objects to their behavior is merely upset because they’re criticizing Barack Obama, but when my son and daughter were teenagers they had a phrase that sums up the allegations of these people - they’re stuck on stupid.

    Smiley,West, and their supporters are suffering from a serious case of projection. They’re so fixated on the politics of Obama hating that they completely overlook the gross stupidity of their behavior, and assume that anyone who’s critical of them is merely an Obama cheerleader or defender, but that’s simply not the case. A growing number of us are critical of Tavis and West because we consider their behavior self-serving, counterproductive, and detrimental to the Black community.

    Young Black people have heard enough whining. They need to be educated regarding who they are, and then inspired to develop their potential. But Smiley and Cornel West are so fixated on their own self-interest that they’re completely ignoring that fact.. I suspect there are several reason for that. First, they’re seeking the fame and fortune of being seen as the primary spokesmen for the Black community. secondly, they have an intense hatred for Obama fueled by jealousy, envy, and the feeling that they’ve been snubbed. And finally, since Barack Obama has completely overshadowed them as president, they want to ride into history on his coattail as the people who "forced" Obama to do right by the people. So it’s all about self-interest and ego.

    Clear evidence of that is, as deluded as these two characters are, they should both have sense enough to recognize that the most important aspect of a person’s character and ability to cope, is their self-image. One of the big differences between Black kids and others is, Jewish kids are taught that they're "God's chosen people," and White American kids are taught that they're the greatest thing to ever walk the Earth. But due primarily to people like Tavis and West, Black kids are being sent the message that they're helpless victims whose well-being is in the hands of others - and since, we are what we think, that's what they're becoming. So it's time to stamp out that message, and correct that image.

    But, of course, Tavis and West would say that they're fighting for the people, but I don't accept that for a minute. Again, what they're actually fighting for is the very lucrative job of spokesmen for the Black community. Tavis has proven that a thousand times over with his involvement in Wells Fargo’s "Ghetto Loans" scam, and his association with a number of corporations that were members of ALEC, including Walmart.

    Black unemployment back up to 14%. I'm waiting for someone to give a shit.

    Seems to me, many of those are helpless victims whose well-being is in the hands of others. Meanwhile, Washington is fixated on its austerity complex and manufactured fiscal cliffs. Guess poverty reform isn't in the cards this year.

    "But due primarily to people like Tavis and West, Black kids are being sent the message that they're helpless victims whose well-being is in the hands of others"

    No one who cares about Black unemployment. We are waiting to be blogged to freedom.

    Seriously, If you follow monthly reports over the course of years, there is a downward trend in Black unemployment. For most of the months the ratio of Black to White unemployment was below the oft-quoted 2:1 rate.

    The idea that only one person cares about Black unemployment is ridiculous.

    Can't you read your own data? Your link says black unemployment last January was 13.6% - now it's 14% a year later - what "downward trend"? It's called "flatlining".

    The previous 2 years it stayed steady at about 15.5-16%.

    And why do you accept a 2:1 black:white unemployment rate as a given - couldn't a black (or white) president work on fixing that inequality, or we just consider it a permanent structural inequality?

    I didn't say I'm the only one to care about black unemployment - your friends Smiley & West seem to, as does Black Agenda Report and others. But you seem well able to paper over any problem, everything's okay, it only sucks 2x as bad as for whites so we're cool.... 


    Reading is fundamental. The trend is lower. From 15-16 to 13-14. After reading the numbers, the outrageous comment is made the the levels are "acceptable" There are people who are actually employing Black people, putting pressure on businesses to hire Blacks and training Blacks for jobs. These facts are ignored and a statement that no one else cares about Black unemployment.
    Give some well deserved praise to those who actually work on the problem. Again no one believes that one person is the only one who cares about unemployment. Blogging is cheap. 
    BTW,using your argument Tavis Smiley and Cornel West have done nothing to decrease Black unemployment.


    Seriously, If you follow monthly reports over the course of years, there is a downward trend in Black unemployment

    There is not a "downward trend" - there was a downwars step, and black unemployment has been flat for a year now. I know you like to redefine things, but reality isn't just wished away. And if I ever even listened to Smiley & West, much less voted for them, I might expect more of a solution. Obama's president, not Oprah, Smiley or Al Sharpton. Not that Obama's all alone in this matter. However, if you can't tell the difference between a flat stat and a downward trend, it's useless to discuss anyway.

    I thought that you didn't vote in the Presidential election. In that election, there was an active attempt to suppress the Black vote. Blacks mounted public protests and court cases to counter the suppression. A non-voter might be viewed as uncaring rather than a holier-than-thou champion of Black rights.

    We disagree about the downward flow of the curve. It's Tuesday. You must be very upset that masses of Blacks look at the unemployment situation and place blame not with Obama, but with the "job creators". It must anger you tremendously.

    Wattree has tried to explain the Black experience, but some are incapable of understanding. The resultant blather comes across as poutrage.

    Business profits have increased and there is much cash on hand. Attempts to tie business tax breaks to employment in the US get thwarted by the GOP.

    Blacks have identified the source of the problem. As in the case of voter suppression and "Stop and Frisk" laws in NYC, Blacks are taking matters into there own hands to obtain solutions. Similar things are happening in unemployment.

    Those who abandoned Black voters who were being suppressed and only write about. Black unemployment have no clue as to efforts happening on the ground.






    It's not a curve - it's a step - a minor one, to a new state that lasted a year.

    Regarding who I am or what I did, you know next to nothing and I'm not about to explain it to you because all you care about is picking it apart to find something stupid to quibble about, you who can call a straight line a "curve". Here you have me being the one to abandon black voters, the Judas/Brutus I am. Up yours.

    Re: Wattree's explanation, I'm amazed that poverty in Harlem got dismissed so badly - oh, blacks just know how to survive. Hardly - a lot of people led miserable lives. That doesn't take down the Harlem Renaissance - who needs misery stacked on misery? Better to have some good times to look back on fondly.

    Tell me about those wonderful things happening on the ground and whether they'll have any results before 2017. I know my prediction.

    I don't know the detailed statistics for the trend in question, but I do know the danger of drawing a conclusion from trends over too short of a time interval:

    Down the up escalator

    Oh I'm so happy you showed up to add this, what would I do without...?

    As Keynes noted, "in the long run, we're all dead".

    In the short run, some of us are all dead.

    So if you're poor, scraping by, you can have your gratification that in 15 years it might be a little bit better. If poverty follows global warming.

    Please expound on the positiveness of unemployment staying at a sucky 14% for a year. Or you expect a sudden improvement any time now?

    Any unemployment is bad. Blacks are not blaming Obama as much as they do business leaders and the GOP

    Blacks stood inline for hours to cast their votes.Again your irritation has never been about jobless in the Black community. Your gripe is that Obama is not the source of the anger about unemployment.

    Instead of asking why Obama is not getting the blame and why the GOP is the target, you dismiss those feelings as unimportant because they are not in lockstep with your worldview.

    One can read books and work with a certain ethnic group but that does not make them a spokesperson. Everyone knows how you feel about Obama and the economy.

    You are locked into a viewpoint and can't see why people disagree with your identification of the source of the problem.

    No, any unemployment is not bad. There's a baseline unemployment around 3% that can't really be done away with, and if there are unemployment supports and decent retraining and new opportunities, unemployment hire than that is not a big deal. The US economy has traditionally shed millions of jobs each year and created millions of new ones, and as long as the 2 numbers are close, there's not much problem, even though the "churn" as it's called can mean complicated unsecure lives for those who live through it.

    And no, I don't give a fuck if someone blames Obama or not or anyone else - I just think 14% unemployment for one group is too high and someone should do something about it rather than focusing on budget cuts and austerity. You're complacent about it, and always go back to personalities and whose tribes - don't know why, but I've said enough. Oh, and screw you with your "one can read books" bullshit, you arrogant asshole. The moderators will scold me for my language, but you never fail to throw in a personal dig even when I try to discuss policy and not your precious Obama personality cult or black superiority/don't step on my turf, or whatever your issue is. Fuck off.

    Enjoy your poutrage.  The Black unemployment rate has been over 10% for the last 50 years. NOW you’re upset that it’s 14% in the greatest economic downturn since the Depression?  Government layoffs are a large part of the problem.

    There was great beauty in what Wattree wrote, but you just could not let it pass. Everything has to be negative. That constant critique grows tiresome. Then there is the ridiculous idea that everyone else is ignoring a problem.  No one else is doing anything.  Arrogance, much?

    I’m complacent because of my blogging comments? You have no clue what goes on outside of the internet blogs. So you are certain that I do not employ or train anyone. Only you are the great crusader? People are spending their time working on issues, not crafting criticism from a keyboard.  That is why Wattree can write about the beautiful struggle. You simply cannot understand.

    Wattree sees things that make him pumped about the future. I see similar things. We’ll wait for you to catch up at the Crossroads.

    Since it has gotten personal once again we should avoid communication until a period of cooling off. Wattree's post deserve better than our argument.


    You should develop some of your comments into articles. You have great insight, and you express them eloquently.

    But far too many see their point of view as THE point of view, and consider anyone who views life from a different perspective as having a tainted view of reality. As you may have noticed, I've recently made it a policy not to waste my time with such people. It's not that I don't respect the fact that they're simply speaking from their own perspective, but trying to communicate with a person who becomes so fixated on a point of view that they assume that it's the ONLY point of view, is counterproductive, a distraction, and a gross waste of time.

    Trying to deal with such people is like trying to teach a goldfish to ride a skateboard. They lack the resources to even be educated. Efficient thought requires that we recognize the importance of following truth wherever it leads, and regardless to whose ox it gores. That allows us to give truth priority over ideology. But some people are so vested in promoting their point of view, that they give ideology priority over both truth and common sense. When I run into such people, I don’t waste my time. Thinking that you can have a reasonable discussion with such people makes about as much sense as fishing for trout in a cesspool.

    Thus, anyone who tries to argue that the first Black president of the United States is anything less than a singularity significant figure in not only U.S. history, but world history, is not worth even trying to have a reasonable discussion with, because they’ve come to the table betraying the fact that they lack reason.

    Thanks for commenting. I think what I found offensive was the arrogance of "I'm the only one here who cares about Black unemployment". When you couple that with "let me educate you about Harlem during the Depression" and I work with "a lot" of Blacks, it becomes really condescending. The inability to recognize the dedication and struggle that has been ongoing since Blacks arrived in the US as presented in the post was totally ignored. Congrats to your granddaughter.

    I don't believe one can be around "a lot" of Black people and not recognize a predominate opinion about the sources of unemployment and the barriers to getting things done. Either one is not having real conversation on important issues or someone is in a self-constructed bubble that prevents oppposing viewpoints from penetrating.

    I also admit that the idea that someone considered voting a waste of time yet feels compelled to give advice to the "riff-raff" an insult.

    I think the profanity gets used as an attempt to anger me because, in truth, I find no need to use profanity in normal discourse. The need to use profanity indicates that you feel that you have lost the argument. Just as I don't believe that their is a "deep" concern about Black unemployment, I don't believe that someone who questions the intelligence of people with a different viewpoint is that hurt when pushback occurs.

    I tried my best to be as civil as possible. As we both know, the Black unemployment rate has been averaging over 10% for more than 50 years. As someone who trains, educates and employs Black workers and professionals, I am offended when told that I am complacent about Black employment. I know of your work with postal workers. Having a "well-read" blogger give me advice is a farce.I should have broken off the conversation sooner. Thanks for your kind words.

    Blacks have fought voter suppression. That battle goes on. Blacks have fought "Stop and Frisk" and are fighting Stand Your Ground". We will win those battles. As you noted in your blog, the beautiful struggle goes on. It has forged Blacks in steel. Along with Whites, women, Latinos, Asians, etc Blacks will continue to fight. We will not abide a grandiloquent blogger telling us that two charlatans are to be counted among our leaders.

    Thanks again for this great blog.

    I gave personal experiences only to support points I'd made & described.

    Wattree said blacks only had opportunities in music before Obama - I noted even black literature reached a dumb white kid whose parents weren't very progressive.

    I noted a black president wasn't unimaginable, based on Chisholm (your call), Jordan, Jackson's presidential runs, Colin Powell.

    I noted black unemployment fell & stayed below 10% in *recent* years. Including a period where I worked with a bunch of up and coming black financial & engineering professionals. There was opportunity outside music before Obama.

    I didn't vote because I don't live there, and anyplace I could vote had a margin of 30% or more - my vote would change nothing, only land me on jury roles. Draw your grand conclusion from that. Do you think you're being "civil" to use that to say I let down black voters fighting voter suppression? Your mirror is quite distorted.


     far too many see their point of view as THE point of view and consider anyone who views life from a different perspective as having a tainted view of reality


    anyone who tries to argue that the first Black president of the United States is anything less than a singularity significant figure in not only U.S. history, but world history, is not worth even trying to have a reasonable discussion with


    they’ve come to the table betraying the fact that they lack reason

    Thanks. Couldn't have said it better myself.

    An interesting article relevant to this discussion just came out in the Washington Monthly

    A Great President for Blacks?

    If you think Obama hasn’t delivered for African Americans, take a closer look at his record.


    it's not very relevant as it's an anecdote about 1 person working for Delphi.

    And ignores 25,000 Delphi jobs shipped overseas as Romney's group took it over. And non-union pensions stolen/shut down. All at a cost of $6+ billion to taxpayers.

    From the Nation: "Of the twenty-nine Delphi plants operating in the United States when the hedge funders began buying up control, only four remain, with not a single union production worker."

    The Washington Monthly's article is brutally dishonest.

    It's only personal when you make it personal.

    Again you link to an article that contradicts you - look at the graph and it shows black unemployment falling under Clinton well below 10%, and after an uptick in 2001 fell again well below 10% before the 2008 collapse. Why our new acceptable standard is 14%, I haven't a clue.

    (note the article states that for most of the last 50 years, black unemployment was over 10%. However for about half the last 15 years, black unemployment was lower than 10%. Of course if you go back to Jim Crow times you'll find negative trends - why not include the Depression. But since 1993, there has been a lot more opportunity and black acceptance - this should ideally and practically appear in job figures and real chances at the headhunter/employment line)

    (also note, my interest in unemployment & jobs programs was there in Jan 2009 when I was concerned that "shovel ready jobs" really wouldn't help the more service economy, and there was too little money to make a big difference)

    Continue the discussion with yourself. You are irrelevant. People beyond your limited keyboard world actually vote and work to solve problems. They are aware of the problems and work to make change and don't continually concentrate on how change might be. Typing words is cheap. Making change in lives is a glorious thing. You simply have no other mode than to remain negative. Lead, follow or get out of the way. This remains a beautiful post.

    Cornel and Tavis may like to have you on their radio show, if you can find it.

    If not fudging facts is "negative", well, I'm happy with negativeland.

    Absentee voting where Obama won or lost by >10% doesn't solve any problems - it's irrelevant.

    If you don't see flat 14% unemployment as a problem, I'm not sure what positive changes you're making, but unlike you, I'm not willing to judge based on ultra-limited info.

    As for the post, it seems to want to make Obama a kind of Moses who raised the lost black souls out of the desert, rather than just achieved being first black president. I simply seem to remember black culture & opportunity existing before Obama, strangely enough. But I can agree on praise for MLK.

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