Sep 30, 2011

I realize I never covered the UC Berkeley Affirmative Action Bake Sale on this site. My reasoning for that was because I didn't want to give those people the attention they obviously craved. But with that being said, I thought the content of this video by Next Media Animation was worth sharing. Although it is very racist in nature, I have to appreciate it for it's honesty. It gives you real insight to how people feel perceive Affirmative Action. More accurately, it gives you insight into how some Whites and some Asians perceive the program.

It always amazes me how people try to give their take on Affirmative Action without actually knowing anything about the program and who it benefits the most, white women. But that is neither here nor there. It's just amazing how as black people we are always perceived as lazy and underachieving. This is the reason why people like me get upset at the depictions of us on television and film. It also served as a reason why I went to an HBCU and damn proud of it. Not that I have anything against my brothers and sisters that do not attend HBCU's, I believe we all have to make the best choice for ourselves. And for me, attending an HBCU was the best option for me. So now,let me get out my checkbook and send them another check because that's what I do. I support my school.

It looks like Uncle Herman is at it again. It's bad enough that the Mainstream Media likes to lump us together and stereotype us as a people, but when you have someone who looks like you doing the same thing that's worse.

GOP Presidential candidate, Herman Cain, was on CNN's 'Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer' when he decided to share with the world his justification of why black folks tend not to support conservatives and conservative ideas. It's not because we are informed voters and just vote for our own self interest. No honey, that wasn't his answer. His reasoning for why blacks are loyal so loyal to Democrats is because we are 'brainwashed'.

Herman Cain suggested that members of the African American community "have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view."

I guess the same can be said for Hispanics and the majority of the people that live in New York and California. I guess we're all just brainwashed. Cause heaven forbid if we actually were thinking for ourselves what that would do to the justification someone like Herman Cain feeds to himself as to why people who look like him are not for him. Maybe making blanket statements about said people could be one of the reasons.

It's not like we needed another reason to love Michelle Obama, but she decided to give us another one when she showed up at the 'Target' in Alexandria, Va to shop. Even in a baseball cap and some shades, the lady continues to make me proud.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attention Target shoppers: You could have been standing in line with Michelle Obama.

The first lady, hard to recognize in a baseball cap and sunglasses, shopped Thursday at a Target store in Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington.

Casually dressed Secret Service agents arrived about a half-hour before Mrs. Obama, who walked in through the main entrance with an assistant. She spent 30 to 40 minutes shopping, pushing her own cart. She apparently was recognized only by the cashier who rang up her purchases.

Since coming to the White House, Mrs. Obama has lamented missing out on what she calls "normal stuff," like Target runs.

She isn't the first first lady to try to go out unrecognized. Hillary Rodham Clinton went for walks wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, too.

As a music fan, I have to admit that I'm not terrible excited about the music industry. There are only two recent CD's that have come out that I've had on constant rotation. The first is Jill Scott's 'Light of the Sun' and the second is Adele's '21'. Both albums are great and you can just put them on and not have to worry about skipping through any songs.

I must admit I am thrilled that Adele decided to release a video for 'Someone Like You' which is absolutely one of my most favorite tracks on the album. The video is not much to speak of, but the song itself provides enough of a visual that the video really isn't necessary. It's just icing on an already delicious cake.

Sep 29, 2011

LONDON, Ontario (AP) -- Ontario police have charged a man for throwing a banana on the ice toward Philadelphia Flyers player Wayne Simmonds during an NHL preseason game.

Police say 26-year-old Chris Moorhouse of London, Ontario, has been served a summons for engaging in a prohibited activity under the provincial trespassing act. If convicted, he faces a fine of up to $2,000.

A banana was thrown from the stands Thursday night as Simmonds skated toward Detroit goalie Jordan Pearce at the John Labatt Center, about 120 miles from Simmonds' birthplace of Scarborough.

Simmonds, who is black, issued a statement the next day, calling the situation "unfortunate."

On Monday, Simmonds allegedly used an anti-gay slur against New York Rangers' agitator Sean Avery during an exhibition in Philadelphia. The NHL didn't punish Simmonds because the league said there wasn't conclusive evidence.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Sep 28, 2011

Heckler calls Obama 'antichrist' at fundraiser

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A heckler shouting about Jesus Christ interrupted President Barack Obama at a fundraiser before security dragged him out.

It happened at the House of Blues in Los Angeles Monday night.

The man positioned himself up in front of the stage and started shouting loudly right after Obama started talking. The heckler proclaimed that Jesus Christ is God and a Christian God.

Obama stopped talking. Then after a moment the crowd started chanting "Four more years! Four more years!" and drowned out the heckler.

As he was taken out by security the man called out that Obama is an antichrist.

Later, another, more-friendly heckler shouted out, "Don't forget medical marijuana!" Obama responded: "Thank you for that."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

For the last few weeks, I've listened intently as the President, the Congressional Black Caucus, and other Black "leaders" have discussed the economy's impact on the Black community. It seems to me like everyone is playing politics. We've all gotten so used to the finger pointing that we accept it and participate. But the truth is, the finger pointing, only makes for lively conversation; it does not solve any of the problems.

Years ago when I was in college, a friend said to me, "Assimilation was the downfall of the Black community." My opposition to his statement was swift and vehement. You have to understand my background. I come from an upwardly mobile, middle-class Black family. Both of my parents had college degrees and worked in careers that offered good salaries and even a little prestige. So we lived in nice houses, drove nice cars, bought new clothes from fancy stores in the small-- in short we were the American dream. From a very young age, I was taught that if you got an education and worked hard, you would be successful. Assimilation, at least the way that my private school teachers taught it, had allowed Black people to obtain education, voting rights and a better life.

Unfortunately, my friend is deceased now so I can't explain to him that I understand now how short-sighted my views were. When you grow up with a life that affords you certain privileges, it's much easier to believe that the world is fair and that anyone can survive by simply lifting themselves up by their bootstraps. It wasn't until my first real job, an eye opening experience, where I was working with people who lived in poverty that I finally understood that the life my parents had been able to provide me was the exception, not the rule.

Reports say that an entire generation of Black people who had pulled themselves up from poverty to middle class have now once again been relegated to poverty during this recession. I was reading article about a Black man with a masters degree who has been out of work since ha was laid off in 2009. He made the statement that in tough economic times, business owners tend to hire their out of work family and friends but because Black people don't own these companies we continue to struggle. That statement has been bothering me for months now.

We have been a part of this country (although some of it was involuntary) for 400 years now, so why don't we own more Fortune 500 or 100 companies? Why haven't we been able to build up enough resources to help each other weather these tough economic times? I really believe the answer is that we have lost our sense of community.

If you live in or around Atlanta, you have seen these little Asian communities popping up. There are restaurants, dry cleaners, grocery stores etc. They all appaear to be owned by Asians, they have only Asian employees and about 90% of the customers are Asian. Seeing these communities reminds me of the story of Black Wall Street. I wrote paper about the rich enclave of Black Americans who lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma when I was in college and I know that the story has been publicized in a book and documentary film by Ron Wallace.

If you don't know the story, it will be my great pleasure to give you a little synopsis. Black Wall Street has been described as a Beverly Hills for Black people back in the early 1900s. The town had 21 restaurants, grocery stores, 2 movie theatres and its very own hospital. The town also contained many Black professionals including doctors, lawyers, and accountants. In fact, more than 15 Black millionaires called the town home and 6 of them had their own private planes. Why is this important? Because it shows that we clearly have the aptitude to succeed.

Just as simple case study, let's look at the city Lithonia, GA. Back in the late 1990s, Lithonia was touted as the new mecca for Black folks. A quick 15 minute drive from Downtown Atlanta, the city contained upscale apartments and houses and the residents were predominantly Black. Several Black owned businesses opened in the area including restaurants, clothing boutiques, and hair salons.

Fast forward to 2011 and the area has been hit hard with home foreclosures and several of the areas that were once prosperous are now blighted. So where did it all go wrong? Years ago, the small Black businesses began to be pushed out by large corporations. Instead of frequenting the small boutiques for clothes, residents flocked to the new Stonecrest Mall and spent their money with large retailers. That I know of, only 2 of the Black owned sit down restaurants still remain, J.R. Crickets which is really more of a sports bar and Gladys Knight Chicken and Waffles which has high name recognition.

I've read that in Black Wall Street the Black dollar circulated 15 times in the community before it left. Now, as soon as we get our paychecks we're spending money with big corporations who aren't owned or even run by people who look like us. You can't be mad with the big corporations, they know that Black women spend 4 billion dollars a year on personal goods and of course they want that money. But don't we deserve something better for our money? Hey, I'm a shopaholic and I am not interested in any 12 step programs to stop my habit. I like stimulatng the economy, I just think that in the future I'll be more aware of where and how I do it.

Just last night, I was assessing my spending habits and realized that for the last 10 years, I have exclusively worn 2 brands of jeans. Now I'm a curvy girl with a 26 inch waist and 39 inch hips so jeans that fit properly are NECESSARY. But, I never even realized that the PZI jean company is both Black owned and local to Atlanta. So I'm saying goodbye to my Calvin Klein stretch and my Citizens for Humanity and buying my first pair of PZI jeans this weekend. Who knows maybe next week, PZI will love at their new fiscal numbers and decide that they can hire a few more employees. Baby steps!! But I will impact the world!!!

Sep 27, 2011

Lee Daniels, most notably known as the director of the award winning movie Precious, has been tapped by NBC to make a television version of Jacqueline Susann's novel, Valley of the Dolls. According to reports, the show will be set in the 1960's like the novel and Lee is set to write and direct the pilot episode and will serve as producer if the show is picked up as a series.

Okay, I admit, I got a little excited when I heard Lee Daniels was bringing a show to television but after reading the details, I'm guessing we won't be seeing that many of US in front of the camera. When I inquired as to why there are no Black main characters on Pan Am, I was informed it was because the show is set in the 1960's. Silly me, I forgot Black people weren't born until the 1970's. My bad.

There may be a glimmer of hope though, NBC airs the Playboy Club which, set in the 1960s, does feature Naturi Naughton in a lead role. So maybe, just maybe

Good morning Savvy Sista readers,

Savvy is still traveling for work today so I'll try and take up some of the slack.

Weeks ago, we stood by shocked as the NY District Attorney's office asked a court to dismiss criminal charges against the former IMF chief. At the time, the prosecutors claimed that they did not believe they could successfully prosecute Strauss-Kahn because the victim, Nafissatou Diallo had lied to them about things unrelated to the sexual assault claim.

After having her image tarnished in the press, Ms. Diallo stepped forward to explain herself and insisted that she had in fact been assaulted by Mr. Kahn. Since it was obvious that she could expect no relief from the American criminal justice system, she took the only legal alternative and filed a civil suit seeking unspecified damages for the alleged sexual assault.

Now Strauss-Kahn and his civil lawyers have filed a motion to have the entire civil case dismissed--not because they claim he didn't do it although he has said in interviews that the victim just generously offered to perform oral sex on him-- but because he had diplomatic immunity at the time of the incident.

Ms. Diallo's lawyer, however, denies that the diplomatic immunity applies because DSK was in NY on personal business at the time of the alleged attack and he resigned his position as head of IMF before this lawsuit was filed.

Quite frankly, no matter how this matter is decided, Ms. Diallo has already been denied justice. The "problems" of credibility were her own and if she was willing to face a jury and explain her past behavior while maintaining that she was indeed sexually assaulted, then the NY District Attorney's office should have done its job and presented the case to a jury. Victims have to be saints to receive their day in court?

I predict that if the judge finds that DSK's immunity does not apply, this case will settle quickly. In a civil case, Ms. Diallo's lawyer will be able to depose and present as evidence the three other women who claim they were also assaulted by DSK in the past.

On a side note, shouldn't we be concerned that our government has more or less given Foreign Dignitaries the right to rape and pillage our daughters as they see fit?

Sep 26, 2011

In his commentary for the Washington Post, columnist Courtland Milloy takes the President to task for his disregard of the black constituency.  Courtland basically says that the President has taken for granted black voters, but now that he is running for re-election he suddenly remembers his key voting-bloc.  It is a very interesting commentary and it echos a lot of what has been said about the President as of recently.  So ask yourself whether or not Milloy is joining the ranks of Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, or does he make some legitmate points in his assessment?
Via WashPost:

For most of his term, Obama has studiously avoided any public mention of race. He's even been hard-pressed to acknowledge the disparate impact that the recession is having on black people. To show his concern for the nation's suffering, Obama will take a helicopter from the White House and swoop right over depressed black neighborhoods in the District. Then he'll catch a jet out of Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County and roar away from the tens of thousands of foreclosed properties that pockmark the predominately black Washington suburb.

A couple of hours later, he'll land in some swing state to comfort a largely white crowd whose votes he dare not take for granted.

But, oh, happy day, it's our turn.

"I need your help," Obama said at the CBC dinner, referring to his proposed American Jobs Act, which everybody knows is not really a jobs bill but one heck of a political manifesto.

With his job approval rating tanking — especially among white independents — Obama needs a bigger black voter turnout in 2012 than he got in the 2008 election. His reelection team recently announced "Operation Vote," a program to woo what it calls "ethnic minorities." (Hint: That's us.)

Plus, Obama will be spending more time schmoozing with black journalists (not all, of course) and has scheduled a one-on-one interview with Black Entertainment Television, giving BET the kind of special treatment that he usually reserves for, say, "60 Minutes."

Still, it's likely that Obama will have to do much more to win the black vote this time. He's been trying to curry favor with white voters for so long — not to mention extreme right-wing tea party Republicans in Congress — that he appears to have forgotten how to sweet-talk black folks.

"Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying," Obama preached during his dinner speech. "We are going to press on. We've got work to do, CBC."

Funny, isn't it, how Obama always gets the nerve to say shut up when he's addressing a friendly audience?

The unemployment rate among blacks stands at 16.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, up from 11.5 percent when Obama took office. By some accounts, black people have lost more wealth since the recession began than at any time since slavery. And Obama gets to lecture us?

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Wangari Maathai, the first African woman recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, died after a long struggle with cancer, the environmental organization she founded said Monday. She was 71.

One of Kenya's most recognizable women, Maathai won the Nobel in 2004 for combining environmentalism and social activism. She was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, where over 30 years she mobilized poor women to plant 30 million trees.

Edward Wageni, that group's deputy executive director, said Maathai died in a Nairobi hospital late Sunday. Maathai had been in and out of the hospital since the beginning of the year, he said.

In recognizing Maathai, the Nobel committee said that she had stood up to a former oppressive regime in Kenya and that her "unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression."

Maathai said during her 2004 acceptance speech that the inspiration for her life's work came from her childhood experiences in rural Kenya, where she witnessed forests being cleared and replaced by commercial plantations, which destroyed biodiversity and the capacity of forests to conserve water.

Although the Green Belt Movement's tree-planting campaign did not initially address the issues of peace and democracy, Maathai said it become clear over time that responsible governance of the environment was not possible without democracy.

"Therefore, the tree became a symbol for the democratic struggle in Kenya. Citizens were mobilized to challenge widespread abuses of power, corruption and environmental mismanagement," Maathai said.

Tributes poured out for Maathai online, including from Kenyans who remember planting trees alongside her as schoolchildren. One popular posting on Twitter noted that Maathai's knees always seemed to be dirty from showing VIPs how to plant trees. Another poster, noting Nairobi's cloudy skies Monday, said: "No wonder the sun is not shining today."

A long time friend and fellow professor at the University of Nairobi, Vertistine Mbaya said that Maathai showed the world how important it is to have and demonstrate courage.

"The values she had for justice and civil liberties and what she believed were the obligations of civil society and government," Mbaya said. "She also demonstrated the importance of recognizing the contributions that women can make and allowing them the open space to do so."

The Nelson Mandela Foundation expressed sadness over Maathai's death. The foundation hosted Maathai in 2005, when she headlined the foundation's annual lecture.

"We need people who love Africa so much that they want to protect her from destructive processes," she said in her address. "There are simple actions we can take. Start by planting 10 trees we each need to absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale."

A former member of Kenya's parliament, Maathai was the first woman to earn a doctorate in East Africa — in 1971 from the University of Nairobi, where she later was an associate professor in the department of veterinary anatomy. She previously earned degrees from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas and the University of Pittsburgh.

Maathai first latched on to the idea of widespread tree planting while serving as the chairwoman of the National Council of Women in Kenya during the 1980s.

The Green Belt Movement, which was founded in 1977, said on its website that Maathai's death was a great loss to those who "admired her determination to make the world a more peaceful, healthier and better place."

Maathai is survived by her three children. Funeral arrangements were to be announced soon, the Green Belt Movement said.

Sep 25, 2011

SOUL SURVIVOR: Sly Stone, now 68 years old, shows he can still get funky -- brandishing a Taser for a photo session in front of his Studebaker.
Well, I guess the rumors are true.  It looks like the people over at the NY Post track down funk legend Sly Stone and he is indeed homeless and living out of a van parked at a retired couple's house in Los Angeles.  Honestly, I can't say after the reading the article whether or not Sly is homeless by choice or if he is just being his normal eccentric self.  I'm sure he has to have some type of royalty checks rolling in; although, I do realize the time in which he came up in was notorious for people ripping people off.  Either way, I'm sure some of his musical friends could chip in to at least help him get an apartment if that was what he wants, but based on the article he really doesn't have any desire to live in a home.
"I like my small camper," he says, his voice raspy with age and years of hard living. "I just do not want to return to a fixed home. I cannot stand being in one place. I must keep moving."
'I like my small camper. I just do not want to return to a fixed hom ... I must keep moving,' Stone says.

President Obama took to the podium at the Annual Awards dinner for the Congressional Black Caucus and gave by all accounts a very fiery speech. During his speech, he invoke the words of Dr. Joseph Lowery as well as Dr. King. He pressed upon the black constituency to stop complaining but rather to continue pressing on.

"Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes." President Obama remarked as he urged on his key voting bloc.

Part 1

Part 2

And I know at times that gets folks discouraged. I know. I listen to some of you all. (Laughter.) I understand that. And nobody feels that burden more than I do. Because I know how much we have invested in making sure that we’re able to move this country forward. But you know, more than a lot of other folks in this country, we know about hard. The people in this room know about hard. (Applause.) And we don’t give in to discouragement.

Throughout our history, change has often come slowly. Progress often takes time. We take a step forward, sometimes we take two steps back. Sometimes we get two steps forward and one step back. But it’s never a straight line. It’s never easy. And I never promised easy. Easy has never been promised to us. But we’ve had faith. We have had faith. We’ve had that good kind of crazy that says, you can’t stop marching. (Applause.)

Even when folks are hitting you over the head, you can’t stop marching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop. (Applause.) Even when somebody fires you for speaking out, you can’t stop. (Applause.) Even when it looks like there’s no way, you find a way -- you can’t stop. (Applause.) Through the mud and the muck and the driving rain, we don’t stop. Because we know the rightness of our cause -- widening the circle of opportunity, standing up for everybody’s opportunities, increasing each other’s prosperity. We know our cause is just. It’s a righteous cause.

So in the face of troopers and teargas, folks stood unafraid. Led somebody like John Lewis to wake up after getting beaten within an inch of his life on Sunday -- he wakes up on Monday: We’re going to go march. (Applause.)

Dr. King once said: “Before we reach the majestic shores of the Promised Land, there is a frustrating and bewildering wilderness ahead. We must still face prodigious hilltops of opposition and gigantic mountains of resistance. But with patient and firm determination we will press on.” (Applause.)

So I don’t know about you, CBC, but the future rewards those who press on. (Applause.) With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs. (Applause.) I'm going to press on for equality. (Applause.) I'm going to press on for the sake of our children. (Applause.) I'm going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on. (Applause.)

I expect all of you to march with me and press on. (Applause.) Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. (Applause.) Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC. (Applause.)

The entire text of the President's speech can be found here.

Sep 24, 2011

Someone asked me a question one day about why black people seem to be so heavily invested in the marriage of Will and Jada. At first, I honestly did not know how to respond. I know right, The Savvy Sista at a lost for words. Who would have ever thought that day would come...LOL! But seriously, for the record I don't think it's only black people that love Will and Jada. Will is a megastar and not just black people love him. Will and Jada are just as big a couple as Brad and Angelina. Will, for sure, makes a whole lot more money.

Now getting back to the question. I honestly cannot speak for all my brothers and sisters when it comes to our affinity for the dynamic couple, but I can share with you why I love them.

Recently, Will threw an intimate 40th birthday party for his wife. During the party, he had an hourlong tribute video chronicling her entire life. He basically treated it like a Hollywood production and even featured some her childhood friends. This was something he did to show his wife how much he love her despite last months rumors of the demise of their 13 year old marriage.

You see, despite all the rumors and innuendos surrounding their marriage, they geniunely appear to be a normal couple that honestly love each other. They represent the possibility of love and how together we are a more formidable force then we could ever be apart.

Will and Jada are a power couple that supports each other, and although they may have their bumps in the road just like any marriage, somehow they've managed to stay together and keep it moving.

Their marriage has also served as an excellent example of how to blend families by the Jada's acceptance of not only Will's son Trey, but also his ex-wife into the family. How many women you know will be so welcoming to their husband's ex-wife?

Will and Jada are the modern day Ozzie and Ruby Dee and that's why I love them. Sometimes, we just want a happy ending in real life for a change. And to me, Will and Jada represent a real life Happy Ending but with some real world hang-ups.

Sep 23, 2011

Wow, I finally get to report some good news :)

Every year the MacArthur Foundation awards fellowships to people that they feel have demonstrated originality and dedication in their creative pursuits. The Foundation awards each recipient a 500,000.00 grant and the fellow may use the grant as they see fit. Historically, leass than 10% of these "genius grant" recipients have been Black (shocking, I know).

This year, however, Dr. Tiya Miles, an associate professor at the University of Michigan and the founder of ECO-girls (an environmental and cultural organization for girls in Southeastern Michigan), has been awarded one of the prestigious MacArthur Grants.

Find out more about how Dr. Miles intends to use the grant money and the MacArthur Foundation here.

Nicknamed "Zeus", Brown was a formidable opponent on the field and a great off the field asset to the Ravens organization since he retired from active play in 2005. As of now officials are reporting that his death does not appear suspicious and foul play is not suspected. Brown, 40 years old, was discovered in his Baltimore apartment today.

In a statement today, Ravens linebacker, Ray Lewis said, ""He was the original Raven. He set the tone for how we were going to play tough and physical, backing down from no opponent."

The Savvy Sista family would like to express their condolences to his family, especially his 3 sons.

Hi Savvy Sista Readers,

As you all know the diva herself, Savvy, is working hard on her day job right now so I told her I would pitch in to help.

Right now these reports are coming from several media outlets but an official cause of death is probably still weeks away so take it all with a grain of salt.

I felt so sad just hearing the news and when I heard about the prescription pill bottles, all I could think about was poor Phyllis Hyman. I'll keep my ear to the ground and let you know as more information develops.

I'm pretty sure a lot of y'all are surprised at the fact that black people even play hockey, but I'm asking you to get over your initial shock and proceed to read about what the NHL calls a “stupid and ignorant” display of racism.

There was at least one fan that threw a banana (yes a banana, because you know some of them still consider us monkeys. How creative...SMH) at black Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds during a shootout attempt. Simmonds still managed to score on his attempt, although the Flyers ended up losing that preseason game to the Detroit Red Wings in front of a neutral-site crowd in London, Ontario.

Here is what Wayne Simmonds had to say about the incident:

"I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact I’m black,” the Toronto native said. “I certainly hope not. When you’re black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it.”

Simmonds acknowledged the banana rattled him, and his only thought was to get off a shot — which went in for the Flyers’ only score in the shootout.

“It shocked me and knew I had to keep going and get a shot off,” he said. “It was certainly unusual.”

I guess it would have shocked me too had someone had the audacity to throw a damn banana at me. This is the first I heard about an NHL player getting a banana thrown at them, but I am very familiar with the practice during European soccer games. The fans in Europe are notorious for throwing bananas at the black players over there.

My girl LovelyLocks summed up this story perfectly in her comment:

Hmmm so I guess the white folks really are mad... give a little black boy a golf club and he'll be the youngest player ever to win the Masters... give 2 little black girls tennis rackets and braid their hair up and they'll win over 20 grand slam titles.... teach a little black boy to ice skate and it's inevitble he'll take over hockey...LOL

Sums up my thoughts exactly!

Is it just me or is there something omnious going on at these GOP debates? Although I was unable to watch last night's debate, I didn't missed what is obviously the biggest headline coming from the debate: Audience Boos Gay Servicemen. Yep, you read that right. A GOP audience booed a man in the military, who happened to be serving in Iraq, because he was gay. Yes the same GOP that's always pro-military this and pro-war that booed a person who is honorably serving in that same military.

This latest incident is highlighting some unsettling trend that seems to be coming from these debates. First there was the wild applause that accompanied the announcement of the number of executions that had taken place while Rick Perry has been governor of Texas at the one debate, then you had the audience members shouting out how a 30 year olf with no health insurance should be allowed to just die at another debate, and now we've come to the point where servicemen are being booed because of their sexual orientation. It would appear that the audience at these debates are at a to the bottom to see who can sink the lowest. The saddest part of this whole thing is whether or not this is just a bunch of individual people with these feelings or whether it's a true snapshot of the American electorate and how they feel about certain issues. It's all just a a sad state of affairs for this country.

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Reports are surfacing that R&B diva Vesta Williams was found dead in her Hollywood hotel. Vesta was 53 years old and currently no cause of death is being reported. If you are an eighties baby like myself then you know that Vesta's 'Congratulations' was one of the biggest heartbreak songs in the eighties.

I'm really saddened by her death and mostly because she never fully received the recognition I think she deserved. She was an unbelievable talent and now she's gone. Rest in Peace songbird.

(Praise Cleveland) Vesta Williams (born 1958, Coshocton, Ohio) is an American R&B singer. She is sometimes credited by her full name and sometimes simply as Vesta. She is known for her full four-octave voice range.

The daughter of a disc jockey, Williams began performing at an early age as a stand up comic and singer in high school. Her family moved from Ohio to Los Angeles in the 1960s. Williams and her sisters once appeared on the television show Jack and Jill as The Williams Sisters. She returned to Ohio in 1977 and sang in her cousin’s band in Dayton, but soon went back to Los Angeles to launch a solo career.

Former Fifth Dimension member Ron Townsend put Williams in his band Wild Honey. She eventually became a highly sought after studio singer with stints with Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Stephanie Mills. Williams sang on the original version of Joe Sample’s “The Survivor”, and met producer David Crawford while working with his group Klique. She scored her first record deal in 1986 with A&M records which released her first self entitled album Vesta. The album featured her first Top 10 R&B hit “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”.

Her 1988 album, Vesta 4U, produced the quiet storm singles “Congratulations” and “Sweet Sweet Love”. The up-tempo dance track “4 U” also hit the R&B Top 10. In 1991, Williams released the album Special and the title track as a single. Both became her biggest charters. Her next album, Everything-N-More, was not as successful and she soon left A&M. She continued to be a popular session singer, landing regular spots on albums by such artists as Phil Perry, Howard Hewett and George Duke.

In 2007 she released an album of R&B classics on the Shanachie label titled Distant Lover. Produced by Chris “Big Dog” Davis, it features songs originally recorded by Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Sade and Deniece Williams.

Boy, I swear Daddy...I mean Bishop Long just can't catch a break. I know he so much wants to put those sexual misconduct allegations behind him, but here comes WSB-TV in Atlanta digging the stuff back up. WSB-TV recently got their hands on the surveillance tape of the alleged robbery that led to the allegations about Bishop Long being brought to the forefront.

Watch the video of the news broadcast below.

On a side note:

Did Jovita Moore ever find someone to properly do her hair? I was so sick and tired of looking at that sista with her head looking the wat it was. Oh and let me not forget to give a shout out to Monica Kaufman. Bump that Monica Pearson stuff. She's always going to be Monica Kaufman to me...LOL!!!

I know I'm a little late on this one, but you all have to remember that I'm a little out of commission because of work...LOL!

Well, this is definitely one of those things that caught my eye. Tyler Perry, Forbe's Magazine Highest Paid Man in Entertainment, just can't seem to catch a break from all the bashing. First Spike Lee, then scholarly black women, and now Toure is going in.

Toure was not holding back. He even compared Tyler Perry to a drug dealer when it came to his creation of jobs. Damn now even I have to admit that's a little harsh and I'm one of the most vocal critics of Tyler Perry's films.

Oh yeah...Dr. Boyce Watkins was on as well.

The popular televison judge, Judge Mathis, took to his show to discuss the 'grave miscarriage of justice' surrounding the execution of Troy Davis. Mathis went on to say that Davis' execution serves as a representation of just how flawed America's legal system has become. He even goes on to say that Troy was failed at every legal step of the judicial process.

Judge Mathis then goes through a list of things that America can do to begin to correct our flawed legal system. He even calls for a national moratorium on the death penalty (something that I am totally for). I applaud Judge Mathis for standing up and talking about this case. Watch the video below to hear his entire statement. Hat tip to LovelyLocks for bringing this to my attention.

Sep 22, 2011

I'm asking that you please forgive me for my sparse posting this week, but as some of you may know The Savvy Sista has a day job and my day job calls for me to travel at times. Well, currently I am traveling for work and I am pulling 14-15 hour days. I realize this is no excuse (LOL), but your girl be tired when I get back to the hotel room. I'm going to try and post whenever I can, but I promise I'll be back in full effect by the beginning of next month. Until then, I'll post whenever I can. Again, I'm sorry!!!!

I actually think this is quite a clever ad by progressive group So answer the question, "Are you Warren Buffett's secretary?"

Sep 21, 2011

Yeah you read the title correctly. Another black woman has been accused of having explosives in her natural hair. This time the incident happened at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Isis Brantley, a 53 year old Dallas, Tx haristylist who hasn't cut her hair since she was 12, says that she was unfairly singled out by TSA for having big hair.

Here is how she describe the incident to Atlanta's WSB-TV:

Isis Brantley was flying home to Texas when she said two TSA representatives dug down to her scalp checking for weapons and explosives.

“I just heard this weird voice saying ‘stop. Lady, don't go! The lady with the big hair, stop,' ” Brantley told Channel 2’s Diana Davis.

Brantley told Davis she's used to TSA screenings and pat-downs, but she said what happened Monday went too far.

After she cleared security, Brantley said two TSA agents followed her down the escalator to the concourse trains telling her to stop.

“Basically they said, ‘We have to check your hair for explosives’ and I thought they were kidding me. I just thought it was a joke. I was shocked. Everyone was shocked,” Brantley said.

Brantley said that’s when the two agents searched her head on the train platform, with no offer of privacy.

“It was so humiliating. The spectators were looking. I let her touch my hair and she just kept digging, digging at my hair, digging at my scalp,” Brantley said.

The TSA said additional screening may be required for clothing, headwear or hair.

It claims Brantley left the checkpoint before the screening was complete and refused private screening.

Brantley said there was no such offer

Brantley was reluctant to blame the issue on race:

“This is what I’m hoping, that this is not a race card and that you are not targeting people who’s hair grows totally differently than anybody else’s hair. My hair is my crown. This is my glory, my spiritual journey to connectedness to my African-American culture. Don’t touch my hair,” Brantley said.

Brantley may be reluctant to blame it on race but I'm not. How many black women you know are going to put some damn explosives in their hair? I know sistas who won't go swimming because of their hair, but yet you think they're going to put some explosives in it. Child Please!!!! Until I hear about some white women from Texas or New Jersey having their big hair searched, I'm going to say this mess is racist. As TheEducator said, "I guess you can't go natural and fly on a plane." I guess not!

So sistas if you are reading this I guess you better slap some of that creamy crack in your head if you hope not to be embarrassed by the TSA the next time you fly.

At 11:08Pm EST Troy Davis was executed by lethal injection at a Georgia prison. I really don't even know what to say right now.

(CNN) Jon Lewis of WSB radio, one of the execution witnesses, gave this account of the minutes before Davis' death:

After the warden read the execution order and asked whether Davis had anything to say, Davis – strapped to a gurney – lifted his head up and looked at the witness area's first row, which was where MacPhail's relatives and friends sat.

“(Davis) made a statement in which he said ... 'Despite the situation you're in, (I) was not the one who did it.' He said he was not personally responsible for what happened that night, that he did not have a gun. He said to the family that he was sorry for their loss, but also said that he did not take their son, father, brother.

"He said to them to dig deeper into this case, to find out the truth. He asked his family and friends to keep praying, to keep working, to keep the faith. And then he said to the prison staff, the ones he said 'are going to take my life,' ... ‘May God have mercy on your souls,’ and his last words to them (were), 'May God bless your souls.'"

Another witness, reporter Rhonda Cook of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, also gave quotes from Davis. According to her, Davis said: "The incident that night was not my fault. I did not have gun."

"And that’s when he told his friends to continue the fight and 'look deeper into this case so you can really find the truth,'" Cook said.

Davis also said, according to Cook: "For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls."

Davis said to the MacPhail family, according to Cook: "I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent."

Hours earlier, Davis declined what the prison offered him as a final meal, Cook said.

Sep 20, 2011

This is just another thing in a long list of things that makes you go hmmmmm...when it comes to the scandal surrounding Bishop Eddie Long. So it looks like the alleged theft of Bishop Eddie Longs belongings will go unpunish since the county district attorney has decided to drop the charges at the request of Long. Now maybe it's just me, but how many people you know would allow someone to steal from them and let it to go unpunish? Maybe Bishop Long is trying to follow the tenets of Christ and turn the other cheek, or maybe it was something a little more sinister. Either way, the whole thing is just crazy and I don't think we'll ever fully know the truth.

Via AJC:

DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said Monday he will honor a request from Bishop Eddie Long to dismiss burglary charges against a former security guard charged in a 2010 theft at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

"We decided to cut our losses," said James, adding prosecution would be complicated by Long's reluctance to testify against Anthony Boyd. Also, "the defendant is not accused of using a weapon and doesn't have a bad criminal history."

Boyd, 20, on Monday told the AJC that he spoke to Long last week and was told, "You don't have anything to worry about."

Long tried last August to convince then-District Attorney Gwen Keyes-Fleming to drop the burglary charges against Boyd.

Long moved to have the charges dismissed after learning he would be called to testify, David Fife, attorney of Anthony Boyd, said.

Sep 19, 2011

It looks like President Obama has gotten enough of being the Republicans pinata and has decided to give his base something they can sank their teeth into. Finally realizing that the compromising route wasn't working for him, the President laid out a plan that would reduce the deficit by $3.6 trillion while increasing taxes on the wealthy. Predicting that the Republicans would frame his plan as class warfare, he quickly addressed the issue. 'This is not class warfare,' he said. 'It's math.' Adopting what is now being called the 'Buffett Rule', the President is looking to increase revenue by raising taxes on the super wealthy as well as making sure corporations pay up.

The President vowed to veto any plan that relies solely on spending cuts to reduce deficits. "I will not support any plan that puts all the burden of closing our deficit on ordinary Americans," Obama said. "We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable."

It looks like the Prez has put his Populist clothes on. Let's see if this strategy works out for him.

I swear you only see this type of stuff on the liberal side.  I don't care what people say about conservatives, in the end, they know how to come together.  Liberals are some of the most fickle people on earth.  I'm all for holding the President accountable, but do we have to cut off our nose to spite our face?  If you really want to make a difference, Ralph Nader and Dr. West, how about going after Congress who only has a 12% approval rating.  And seriously, what is up with Cornel and his crusade against President Obama?  First he teams up with Tavis Smiley, and now he's latched on to Ralph Nader.  I'm seriously beginning to think the brother is obsessed with the man.
Well enough of my rant, read the article for yourself while I go and take me an Aspirin.  This campaign season is going to make me wish I drank...LOL!

Liberal activists and academics displeased with the Obama administration's handling of several issues popular with progressives say they are seeking candidates willing to mount a primary challenge against President Obama next year.

The group, led by consumer advocate Ralph Nader and scholar Cornel West, said it faults Obama for the escalation of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for extending tax cuts first enacted by George W. Bush and for his actions during the recent debt ceiling negotiations.


Sep 16, 2011

While I have to admit I love the direction Ebony is going with their covers, I have to say that something about Mary's face on this cover is not sitting well with me.  I think they photoshopped her face all wrong.  It may just be me, but something in the eye area is just weird.  Regardless of all that, Mary still looks fabulous and I'm really digging how Ebony has stepped their game up.  I even renewed my subcription.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The first African-American to lead an Ivy League university is stepping down.

Ruth J. Simmons announced Thursday she'll leave her position as Brown University's president at the end of the current academic year. She plans to continue teaching as a professor of comparative literature and Africana studies.

Simmons says in a statement her time leading the Providence, R.I., school was "deeply satisfying" but the time is right for new leadership.

Simmons became president in 2001. She joined the university after serving as president of Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

Sep 15, 2011

There are a lot of people who like to proselytize about what they would do if they were in a situation like James Craig Anderson's family found themselves in.  James was a victim of an alleged hate crime when a mob of white teens, who had never met or seen him before, beat him to death in a Mississippi parking lot.  Instead of his family seeking vengeance for his death, they chose to follow a different path and asked the prosecutor in a letter not to seek the death penalty in the case.
Here is some of what the letter said:
"We ask that you not seek the death penalty for anyone involved in James' murder," the letter states; the letter is signed by Barbara Anderson Young, James Craig Anderson's sister who is in charge of, and speaks for, his estate.

The letter states that the family is opposed to the death penalty partly for religious convictions.

"Our opposition to the death penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James' life as well," the letter states. But the family goes on to explain that there is another reason for their opposition, one that is tied to Mississippi's racial past.

"We also oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites," the letter states. "Executing James' killers will not help to balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment."

The family has been mostly private in its grief, but the letter sent to the DA's office alludes to what the family is going through.

"Those responsible for James' death not only ended the life of a talented and wonderful man. They also caused our family unspeakable pain and grief. But our loss will not be lessened by the state taking the life of another," it says.

I don't know a lot of people who could display this same type of grace and mercy in air of the circumstances surrounding the death of their love one.  James Craig Anderson's family should definitely serve as an example both.
Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. won the sixth season of "America's Got Talent." CREDIT: NBC
NEW YORK (AP) — Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., won't be washing cars again — unless they're his own.

The soulful vocalist who once supported himself by washing cars at an auto dealership sang his way to victory on Wednesday on "America's Got Talent."

"Thank you so much for just believing in me," he said upon hearing his name announced at the end of the NBC talent competition.

"It's been a long, hard journey," he went on, barely holding back his tears as the audience roared, "ever since I was a kid. And it's finally paying off."

Murphy, a native of Logan, W.Va., wins $1 million and a Las Vegas headlining contract.

With his rich voice and mild-mannered persona, Murphy had been a favorite of the judges and the audience all season. He beat three other finalists on the season-ending telecast. They included The Silhouettes, a troupe of youngsters from Arvada, Colo., who use shadow dancing to illustrate music. This enormous group, more than three dozen strong ranging in age from three to 19 years old, had charmed the audience with its visual effects.

Moments earlier, the other two acts had been cut. They were teenage rock band PopLyfe from Oakland, Calif., as well as Team iLuminate, whose dancing performers equip themselves with wearable wireless lighting systems.

Viewers had cast their votes after Tuesday's performance show, when Murphy sang Frank Sinatra's "My Way."

On Wednesday's broadcast, Murphy performed "You're All I Need to Get By" in a duet with Patti LaBelle.

He will headline in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace next month, with the other three finalists also on the bill.

Sep 14, 2011

The collection of of song lyrics, poems, track lists and videos left by the late great rapper, Tupac Shakur, recently opened at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library in partnership with the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation. The collection is going to be used for scholarly research and study.

Loretta Parham, CEO and Library Director, tells the PR Newswire, "We're honored to have partnered with the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation to preserve the artistic legacy of Tupac Shakur through this collection. He transformed the landscape of hip hop culture and was one of the most compelling voices and talents of his generation. As an academic library, we feel privileged to be the stewards of the Shakur Collection and to promote scholarly research of Shakur's work."

Click here for more information.


The Cherokee Nation has decided that is will not be dictated to be the United States Government when it comes to their removal of over 2800 African Americans from its citizenship roll.

"The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA," Joe Crittenden, the tribe's acting principal chief, said in a statement responding to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Crittenden, who leads the tribe until a new principal chief is elected, went on to complain about unnamed congressmen meddling in the tribe's self-governance.

The reaction follows a letter the tribe received on Monday from BIA Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk, who warned that the results of the September 24 Cherokee election for principal chief will not be recognized by the U.S. government if the ousted members, known to some as "Cherokee Freedmen," are not allowed to vote.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A federal order for one of the nation's largest American Indian tribes to restore voting rights and benefits to about 2,800 descendants of members' former slaves threw plans for a special election for a new chief into turmoil Tuesday.

The federal government sent the sternly-worded letter to the Cherokee Nation after it sent letters last week kicking the descendants out of the tribe and stripping them of benefits including medical care, food stipends and assistance for low-income homeowners.

The tribe also barred the descendants from voting in a Sept. 24 special election for principal chief. The Cherokee Supreme Court ordered the special election after it said it could not determine with certainty the outcome of a close and hotly contested June election between incumbent Chad Smith and longtime tribal councilman Bill John Baker. The results had flip-flopped between the two during weeks of counts and recounts. Baker had twice been declared winner, but so had Smith.

The federal government said that unless the descendants, known as freedmen, were allowed to vote, the upcoming election wouldn't be valid.

"I urge you to consider carefully the nation's next steps in proceeding with an election that does not comply with federal law," Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk wrote in letter Friday to acting Chief S. Joe Crittenden. "The department will not recognize any action taken by the nation that is inconsistent with these principles and does not accord its freedmen members full rights of citizenship."

Crittenden said the special election would take place as scheduled.

"The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the (Bureau of Indian Affairs)," he said. "We will hold our election and continue our long legacy of responsible self-governance."

The election has drawn national interest because while the tribe is based in Tahlequah, many of its 300,000 members live outside Oklahoma.

The freedmen have asked a federal judge to restore their voting rights before the special election, and a hearing is planned next week in federal court in Washington.

The tribe never owned black slaves, but some individual members did. They were freed after the Civil War, in which the tribe allied with the Confederacy. An 1866 treaty between the tribe and the federal government gave the freedmen and their descendants "all the rights of native Cherokees."

More than 76 percent of Cherokee voters approved a 2007 amendment removing the freedmen and other non-Indians from the tribal rolls, but no action was taken until the tribe's Supreme Court upheld the results of that special election last month. Cherokee leaders who backed the amendment, including Smith, said the vote was about the fundamental right of every government to determine its citizens, not about racial exclusion.

But the Department of the Interior said Tuesday that it still believes the expulsion is unconstitutional because it violates the 1866 treaty.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, said she hopes the federal order will result in the election being delayed.

"The freedmen people still have rights in the tribe such as voting," Vann said Tuesday. "We'll have our day in court."

So if you live and area like I live then you missed Tavis Smiley's report about education for black boys called, 'Too Important to Fail.' Well, we have it here in it's entirety. Please watch the video and share with me your thoughts on the special. Did Tavis nail it or does he miss the point? Please let me know.

Watch the full episode. See more Tavis Smiley.

Sep 13, 2011

I meant to post this earlier. Just charge it to my mind and not my heart. While watching various football games on Sunday, I noticed a lot of commercials that were paying tribute to New York and the tragedy that befell this country on September 11th. Watching the Budweiser horses kneel in unison as they look at Manhattan was very moving, but there was one commercial that simultaneously brought a smile to my lips and tears to my eyes. It was the commercial that was directed by acclaimed director Spike Lee for State Farm. The commercial shows a group of school kids serenading an New York Fire Department with Alicia Keys and Jay-Z's 'Empire State of Mind (Part II)'. It was so simple yet still magical and beautiful. Watch the commercial and the behind the scenes videos below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is moving at a historic pace to try to diversify the nation's federal judiciary: Nearly three of every four people he has gotten confirmed to the federal bench are women or minorities. He is the first president who hasn't selected a majority of white males for lifetime judgeships.

More than 70 percent of Obama's confirmed judicial nominees during his first two years were "non-traditional," or nominees who were not white males. That far exceeds the percentages in the two-term administrations of Bill Clinton (48.1 percent) and George W. Bush (32.9 percent), according to Sheldon Goldman, author of the authoritative book "Picking Federal Judges."

"It is an absolutely remarkable diversity achievement," said Goldman, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who is only counting judges once, even if they fit more than one category.

The White House recently has been touting its efforts to diversify the federal bench during Obama's tenure, now approaching three years in office.

The president won Senate confirmation of the first Latina to the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. With the confirmation of Justice Elena Kagan, he has put three women on the high court for the first time. The Obama administration also nominated and won confirmation of the first openly gay man to a federal judgeship: former Clinton administration official J. Paul Oetken, to an opening in New York City.

"All of us can be proud of President Obama for taking this critical step to break down another barrier and increase diversity in the federal judiciary," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said upon Oetken's confirmation.

The first openly homosexual federal judge was Deborah A. Batts in New York City, a lesbian nominated by Clinton in 1994.

Of the 98 Obama nominees confirmed to date, the administration says 21 percent are African-American, 11 percent are Hispanic, 7 percent are Asian-American and almost half — 47 percent — are women. By comparison, of the 322 judges confirmed during George W. Bush's presidency, 18 percent were minorities and 22 percent were female. Of the 372 judges confirmed during Clinton's terms, 25 percent were minorities and 29 percent were women. In these figures, some judges fit into more than one category.

Last week, the Senate confirmed the first African-American woman to sit on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Bernice Donald. Earlier, she was the first African-American woman elected as a judge in Tennessee, the first appointed as federal bankruptcy judge in the nation and first confirmed as a U.S. district judge in Tennessee.

Obama also has doubled the number of Asian-Americans sitting on the federal bench, including adding Denny Chin to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York as the only active Asian federal appeals court judge. There currently are 14 Asian-American federal judges on the 810-judge roster.

"It's really amazing," said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who wrote about the increasing diversity on the federal bench during Obama's administration in an article in the Washington University Law Review. "Obama has nominated as many as were sitting on the bench when he was inaugurated."

For more than 140 years, there were no females or minorities among the nation's federal judges.

The first female federal appellate judge was Florence Allen, who gained her seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1934. The first female U.S. District Court judge was Burnita Shelton Matthews, who took the bench in Washington, D.C., in 1950. William Henry Hastie Jr. was the first African-American U.S. District Court judge, sitting in the Virgin Islands in 1937 before being elevatedto the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1949.

Reynaldo G. Garza became the first Hispanic federal judge when he was appointed to the U.S. District Court in Texas in 1961, and Herbert Choy became the first Asian-American federal judge when he was appointed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1971.

Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court in 1967, and Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman to be elevated to the nation's highest court in 1981.

"I think it's always good to have diverse perspectives, whether it's gender, sexuality or ideology," Tobias said.

Those who track diversity on the federal bench are pleased with Obama's progress so far but want more voices from all of America's communities in the federal courts. Obama has nominated three other openly gay judicial nominees, as well as what would be the only active Native American on the federal bench, if Arvo Mikkanen is confirmed to a federal judgeship in Oklahoma.

"The more diverse the courts, the more confidence people have in our judicial system," said Nan Aron of the liberal Alliance for Justice. "Having a diverse judiciary also enriches the decision-making process."

The makeup of the federal bench could be a major issue during the Senate, House and presidential elections in 2012.

Obama basically has until the end of this year to get as many of his judicial nominees confirmed as possible, because it is unlikely that a highly partisan Senate will confirm many judges with a presidential election looming in November 2012.

According to the Federal Judicial Center, there are 94 vacancies in the federal courts, with 55 nominees awaiting Senate action.

"Once we get into an election year ... things always slow down, both because people's attention is in other places and also because the party out of power thinks, 'If I can just keep this vacancy open for another year, maybe my president will fill it,'" said Curt Levey, head of the conservative Committee for Justice, in an interview on "PBS NewsHour."

With cases on Obama's health care plan, the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and gay marriage expected to reach the Supreme Court in the future, judicial selection will be front and center for Obama and the eventual Republican nominee, Aron said.

"The court will be a central issue," Aron said. "It will be in people's minds when they go into the ballot box."

TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS “TOO IMPORTANT TO FAIL” Premieres this Tuesday, September 13 at 8pm on PBS

Los Angeles - As the school year gets underway, broadcaster Tavis Smiley tackles the subject of education with a new PBS primetime special, an interactive website, and a companion e-book that will examine an undeclared crisis in America—the staggering dropout rate among young black males. Smiley’s yearlong initiative kicks off with the premiere of the fifth episode of TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS, titled“Too Important to Fail,” on Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. (EDT) on PBS (check local listings). This report investigates the root cause of this calamity and what can be done to reverse it.

Smiley’s candid conversations in TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Oakland. These critical conversations with frontline experts and educators, detention center administrators and, most importantly, the boys themselves urge viewers to ponder the societal and economic cost of losing another generation of uneducated young black males to lifetimes of prison, drugs, and poverty.

The experts featured in the special include:

Dr. Alfred Tatum, who heads a literacy program in Chicago and is one of many educators grappling with how to reverse the alarming dropout rate.

Noted author and educational expert Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, who believes the country’s response would be more immediate if this were a crisis involving white boys.

Dr. Arlene Ackerman, former superintendent of Philadelphia public schools, who says “we can’t leave our young black males behind.”

The yearlong education initiative also will include: parent summits; a companion e-book, Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys, available on and on September 13, that lists 130 organizations committed to solving this monumental challenge; a reading mobile truck tour; and an online public forum where thousands of Americans can share ideas that reflect the critical role of teachers, parents, community, and government. The online site,, that will also launch September 13, was developed in partnership with Microsoft and Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement.

Recognizing the extraordinary impact parents can have on the development of their children with regard to learning, the Tavis Smiley Foundation will spearhead a series of parent educational summits aimed at informing parents how to be partners and advocates for education. The first seminar is slated for Oct. 29 in Los Angeles. Details, dates, and cities for future summits will be announced later this year.

TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS “Too Important to Fail”is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America find solutions to address the dropout crisis.

“CPB, through the ‘American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen’ initiative, is proud to support ‘Too Important to Fail’,” said Patricia Harrison, CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “This is programming unique to public media, and it has the potential to inspire us to help keep youth on the path to a high school diploma. Through the American Graduate initiative, public media stations, locally owned and operated, will be convening partnerships of parents, teachers, business leaders, students, and nonprofit organizations to address the dropout challenge in their specific communities and help identify and share solutions that will keep students on track to earn a diploma.”

Watch the full episode. See more Tavis Smiley.