Nov 30, 2012

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC), has announced on behalf of the joint committee the selection of the 2013 Inaugural theme. “Faith in America’s Future” commemorates the United States’ perseverance and unity and marks the sesquicentennial year of the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the new Capitol Dome in 1863. When the Civil War threatened to bring construction of the Dome to a halt, workers pressed onward, even without pay, until Congress approved additional funding to complete the Dome that would become a symbol of unity and democracy to the entire world. The official Inaugural Program, Luncheon, and other activities will reflect the theme.

“Our nation has faced countless challenges throughout its history, and each time we have come together as Americans and moved forward with renewed strength,” said Senator Schumer, Chairman of the JCCIC. “During the 57th Presidential Inauguration, Americans from across the country will gather beneath the Capitol Dome to celebrate our history, take measure of how far we have come, and look towards our future with hope and determination.”

On March 4, 1861, when Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office, the half-built dome epitomized a nation being torn in two.  Slowly and steadily, work continued on the massive dome during the tumultuous years of the Civil War. Skilled and unskilled workers, including African Americans who began the project enslaved and continued as free labor following the D.C. Emancipation Act of 1862, performed arduous tasks such as operating machinery at dangerous heights to hoist the heavy cast iron pieces into place.

The year 1863 was one of the most fateful in our nation’s history. It began with the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, and ended with a celebration of the new Capitol Dome crowned by the Statue of Freedom in December. It also was the year of the first homestead claim, the start of the first transcontinental railroad, the opening of the first land grant college, and President Lincoln’s historic and visionary Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln himself saw the importance of pushing ahead with the Dome despite staggering obstacles. “If people see the Capitol going on,” he proclaimed, “it is a sign we intend the Union shall go on.”

The JCCIC is responsible for the oversight and planning of the Inaugural ceremonies on the U.S. Capitol grounds.

The Joint Committee was authorized by S. Con. Res. 35, which passed the Senate on March 1, 2012, and the House on March 5th. Members of JCCIC are appointed by the Vice President and the Speaker of the House. In accordance with tradition, the Senate representatives are Majority Leader Harry Reid, Rules Committee Chairman Charles E. Schumer, and Rules Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander. The House members are Speaker John A. Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

S. Con. Res. 35 established the date of the 2013 Inauguration as Monday, January 21, 2013, since January 20, 2013 falls on a Sunday.  This is the seventh time in U.S. history that the constitutionally mandated Inauguration date has fallen on a Sunday. The last time was President Ronald Reagan’s second Inauguration in 1985. When this occurs, the public ceremonies traditionally are held on Monday.

In addition, January 21, 2013 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It will be the second time that this federal holiday has coincided with a Presidential Inauguration. The first was President William J. Clinton’s second Inauguration in 1997.

(CBS/AP) ATLANTA - The family of Valdosta State University freshman Jasmine Benjamin, who was found dead on campus and whose death was recently declared a homicide, say they found out about her passing on Facebook, CBS affiliate WGCL reports.

Authorities initially did not declare foul play after  Benjamin, a 17-year-old from Lawrenceville, Ga., was found dead around noon on Sunday, Nov. 18  in a study room of her dormitory.

Maj. Brian Childress, an investigator with campus police, told several news outlets that the preliminary results of an autopsy led authorities to declare her death a homicide.

Some women are taking extreme measures to be considered attractive.  From butt injections and breast implants, there are some women who would do anything to be considered thick.  I guess they see it works for Kim Kardashian so why wouldn't it work for them.

Well if you are considering getting butt implants I suggest you watch this short video that a woman posted to Worldstar Hip Hop to show the horrifying risks of having such a surgery.

Listen ladies when you get these types of surgeries you are not fooling anyone.  For one thing, the thigh to butt ratio gives you away every time.

LAS VEGAS — A spokeswoman for Michael Jackson's father says the musical family's patriarch has suffered a mild stroke.

Angel Howansky says Joe Jackson went to a Las Vegas hospital late Wednesday night when he had trouble standing up and walking. She said the 83-year old Jackson was having pains in his head, but reported he is feeling fine Thursday and should be released on Friday.

She says he called a friend who drove him to the hospital.

Jackson's wife, Katherine, is reportedly on her way to Las Vegas to be with him. Jackson has maintained a residence there for many years, while his wife lives in Los Angeles, where she cares for the late pop star's children.

Howansky says Jackson has had small strokes at least twice before this.

(Reuters) - R&B star Mary J. Blige was hit with a lawsuit on Wednesday alleging the Grammy winner and her husband defaulted on a $2.2 million bank loan.

According to court documents filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Signature Bank is seeking to recoup the original loan plus $58,000 in interest.

Blige, 41, who has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, and her husband Kendu Isaacs took out the loan in October 2011 and defaulted in July 2012, the suit alleges.

Blige's publicist declined comment on the lawsuit. The singer's attorney did not immediately return a request to comment.

The lawsuit also names Blige's production company, Mary Jane Productions Inc.

The lawsuit is the latest financial headache for the New York City native. The "Family Affair" singer's charity, The Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now Inc, was accused earlier in this year of mishandling funds and cheating scholarship students.

Blige acknowledged the problems in a June interview.

"The lives of young women are at stake," the singer told Reuters when asked about the allegations. "I feel what they feel. I don't want them to suffer. I promised them something and I'm gonna deliver. Period."

Nov 29, 2012

While I am not a fan of Chris Matthews, I was flipping through channels and saw one of the closing segments of his show.  I had to stop and watch.  He showed a clip of former mayor Rudy Giuliani and former governor Sarah Palin mocking President Obama's community organizing experience.   I just laughed because oddly enough this supposedly "weak" experience is precisely what enabled the President to be elected not only once but twice.  Now that strength may enable him to accomplish all that it is on his agenda.  While it is not unusual for a president to implore the American people to contact their elected officials, with technology at his advantage, the President can solicit the input of the public more directly and individually and the public can respond in kind.  President Obama has done just that several times during his first term and the American people responded, even crashing websites and tying up phone lines. 

Now with the so-called fiscal cliff looming, the President again is asking for the public to get involved and tell what $2000 would do for them using #My2K when using Twitter.  Tax rates are set to go up and the average family will pay about $2000 more in taxes at the turn of the new year. If you are in favor of extending the current tax rate for the middle class, then please speak up. It is so much easier to make our voices heard nowadays. Even if you oppose the extension, you can make your voice heard as well. Our democratic responsibility does not end at voting on election day.

We constantly talk about the need to remain engaged and involved.  Here is an easy opportunity to do so.  The President is asking for our input. Of course he hopes that we speak up in support of his policy of increasing tax rates on income greater than $250,000 and permanently extending the current rates for income under $250,000.  If you support his position, speak up.  If you do not support his position, speak up.  Personally, I agree with the principle behind the his position.  So as a first step towards fairness, I support what he is trying to do.  However, I think for the system to be fair we need a complete overhaul of our tax code.  I will not go into detail about what I think should be done with our tax code.  The point of this particular post is to encourage everyone to get involved and allow their voices to be heard.  We have two clear examples of what can be achieved when we step up.  Please do not let the enthusiasm fade away.  With this particular issue, we can have a significant impact on the outcome.  Going forward, we can shape this country into what it should be.  Stay engaged and stay involved.

(Huffington Post) -- Country singer Trace Adkins raised eyebrows on Wednesday night when he sported a Confederate-flag earpiece during the nationally televised Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting.

The Stars-and-Bars earpiece, which was clearly visible as Adkins performed "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire," generated a flurry of conversation on Twitter. The fashion statement comes just weeks after the White House's official website was flooded with petitions supporting the secession of dozens of states.

Adkins is no stranger to politics. The country star, a Republican, appeared in Tampa for the GOP convention in August, where he debuted a politically-themed anthem called "Tough People Do."

According to the singer's book, "A Personal Stand" -- where he refers to the Civil War as the "War Against Northern Aggression" -- he is a lifetime member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

If you thought the Republicans were getting over their trouncing during the November 6th election you are sadly mistaken.  Just check out what a Kentucky high school teacher wrote on her classroom's whiteboard after the election: "You Can't Be a Democrat and Go to Heaven."

Now what gets me is the fact that the report says that the teacher knew writing it on the board was wrong but yet she chose to do it anyway.

I don't even know what to say so I'll just let you read the report for yourself and draw your own conclusion.

Via NYDailyNews:

A Kentucky teacher is accused of ridiculing a student whose political views she didn’t agree with, scrawling “You can’t be a democrat and go to heaven” on the whiteboard.

South Laurel High School psychology teacher Kendra Baker railed against same-sex marriage and Obamacare even after one student in the class, 17-year-old Chelsea Gilbert, says she asked her to stop.

“I feel like she was bullied by a teacher,” Chelsea’s mother Mary Gilbert told Lex 18 News.

Chelsea, a senior at the school and an Obama supporter, told the teacher she was offending people, her mom told

Baker reportedly retaliated by telling the teen she would one day have to watch her parents die because of Obama’s healthcare law.

The teacher, who later apologized, was reprimanded for the Nov. 13 incident but not fired.

“She realizes it’s inappropriate,” Laurel County Superintendent Doug Bennett told

Baker’s actions violated school policy but the issue has been addressed, Bennett said.

Unsatisfied with the district’s response, Mary Gilbert filed a complaint against Baker with the state’s Education Professional Standards Board.

Her daughter is currently being home-schooled.

Nov 28, 2012

WASHINGTON -- The White House says President Barack Obama will meet privately Thursday with his vanquished rival Mitt Romney, their first face-to-face encounter since the election.

Obama promised in his victory speech on Nov. 6 to engage with Romney and consider his ideas.

The meeting comes as Obama and congressional Republicans negotiate a way out of automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts that have come to be known as the fiscal cliff.

Obama and Romney differed sharply during the campaign on how revive the economy. Obama called for higher taxes on the rich. Romney called for lower taxes on all.

The White House says the two men will meet in the White House's private dining room. There will be no press coverage.

NEW YORK — Lenny Kravitz has signed on for his first leading film role, playing singer Marvin Gaye in a biopic that will be shot next year.

The rocker's publicist Carleen Donovan confirmed the news Tuesday. Kravitz has played supporting roles in the past, including a small part in "The Hunger Games."

Rolling Stone first reported details about the 48-year-old performer's part in the film, directed by Julien Temple.

The magazine says the "Are You Gonna Go My Way" singer will portray Gaye during the 1980s when he was fighting his addictions and attempting to restart his career. Gaye died in 1984 after being shot by his father.

(Sun-Times) -- Federal authorities believe Jesse Jackson Jr. was tipped off to the federal investigation that ultimately contributed to the demise of his once-promising career.

Sources with knowledge of the probe told the Chicago Sun-Times that investigators believe Jackson had learned of the federal scrutiny of his financial activity prior to his June 10 leave from Congress.

The sources said it didn’t necessarily mean the tip was from an investigative source, saying it was possible the congressman received a tip from someone who was notified about the probe, possibly through a subpoena.

While Jackson, a South Shore Democrat, eventually released information concerning his health, he did not publicly disclose he had knowledge of the federal probe until last Wednesday — the day he submitted a resignation letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

Though he took a leave from his post on June 10, Jackson did not reveal his absence from Congress for two weeks. Then, just before a filing deadline for possible opponents in the Nov. 6 election, his office issued a three-sentence release saying he had been absent because he suffered from exhaustion.

Jackson did not disclose his whereabouts until the Sun-Times reported earlier this year that he was admitted to Mayo Clinic.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An American author sued the prolific filmmaker Tyler Perry in a federal court on Tuesday, accusing him of lifting the plot of his 2012 movie, "Good Deeds," from her book.

Terri Donald, who also writes under the pseudonym TLO Red'ness, says Perry based the film on her 2007 book, "Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit."

The lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia, says Donald sent a copy of her book to Perry's company before production on the movie began.

Donald is seeking $225,000 in initial damages as well as an injunction requiring the company to add a credit for her book in the opening and closing credits. The lawsuit also calls for the company to provide an accounting of the movie's revenues.

The drama, which stars Perry as a wealthy businessman who meets a struggling single mother, earned approximately $35 million at the box office after its February release.

Representatives for Perry and Lions Gate Entertainment, which released the film and is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Jordan Davis, 17, was gunned down at a Jacksonville gas station on Friday

(WPTV) -- A Florida man was denied bond Monday on a murder charge stemming from a weekend shooting that started with a complaint about loud music and ended with a teenager dead.

A statement by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office described a Friday-night confrontation in a gas station parking lot that escalated into at least eight shots being fired at a car carrying a group of teenagers.

Seventeen-year-old Jordan Davis, among the teens, was fatally wounded. Forty-five-year-old Michael Dunn of Brevard County, Florida, was arrested on Saturday and charged in the fatal shooting.

According to the statement from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Dunn told authorities that he had asked the teens to turn down loud music from their vehicle adjacent to his, as he waited while his girlfriend, who was returning with him from a wedding, went inside the gas station to make a purchase.

Dunn told police he felt threatened by the response from the teens, the statement said.

Dunn's attorney, Robin Lemonidis, told CNN Monday that Dunn told police that he reacted after having seen a gun barrel in the window of the teens' car and after hearing a profanity-laced string of threats against him and his girlfriend while the teens motioned they were opening the door.

Lemonidis said that was when Dunn reached for his gun and opened fire on the vehicle. She added that, "When all the evidence has been flushed out, I believe that it will be extremely clear that Mr. Dunn acted as any responsible firearm-owner would have under the same circumstances."

Eight or nine shots were fired at the teens' car, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office statement added.
There were no guns found inside the teens' car, the statement said.

Lemonidis said her client and his girlfriend left the scene after the shooting, fearing that they had encountered gang members and that more would follow.

The couple went to a local hotel for the night, and saw the news the next morning that Davis had died. They returned to Dunn's home in Brevard County, where local police arrested him Saturday on an out-of-county warrant.

Dunn was arraigned Monday afternoon, and Lemonidis said she entered a not-guilty plea on her client's behalf.

Ron Davis, the victim's father, told CNN affiliate WAWS that he wants to see justice, "Whether it be through the legal system or to God. God's going to punish him for that, so me, I don't want to do anything to him."

Nov 27, 2012

Daniel Day Lewis deserves the Oscar for best actor for his wonderful portrayal of Lincoln in the new Steven Spielberg movie. But while the acting is great, there’s a problem with the film: it is dedicated to the proposition that Lincoln freed the slaves. Historians say that’s not quite right. The end of slavery did not come because Lincoln and the House of Representatives voted for the Thirteenth Amendment.

The best work I know about the end of slavery is Eric Foner’s unforgettable book The Fiery Trial: Lincoln and American Slavery, published in 2010, which won the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize and the Lincoln Prize. Foner and many other historians over the last couple of decades have emphasized the central role played by the slaves themselves, who are virtually invisible in this movie. During the three weeks that the movie deals with, Sherman’s army was marching through South Carolina, where slaves were seizing plantations. They were dividing up land among themselves. They were seizing their freedom. Slavery was dying on the ground, not just in the House of Representatives. You get no sense of that in the movie.

In the film Lincoln is dedicated to the great task of getting the House to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment. But the film fails to note that Lincoln did not support the Thirteenth Amendment when it was proposed in 1864—by the Women’s National Loyal League, led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Lincoln’s view at that point, as Foner shows, was that slavery should be abolished on a state-by-state basis, since slavery had been created by state law. He changed his mind in response to political pressure from Radical Republicans.

Click here to read the entire article.

(AJC) --- Detectives were canvassing the dorms at Valdosta State University and interviewing students Monday, trying to find out all they can about how a 17-year-old freshman from Lawrenceville spent her last hours of life.

The pace of the investigation into the death of Jasmine Benjamin is picking up now that students have returned from Thanksgiving break, police said.

Commander Brian Childress of the Valdosta Police Department said he spoke Sunday to a student who provided a critical piece of information about the case, but he declined to go into detail about that information.

Benjamin’s body was found at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 18 on a couch in a study room at Georgia Hall. Police are awaiting toxicology test results, expected some time in the next two weeks, before they make an official determination on the cause of death. In the meantime they are treating the case like a homicide, Childress said.

Childress said detectives do not believe that Benjamin was the victim of a random crime.

“The university has taken some action to tighten up security, but we do not believe at this point that there is some killer running loose at Valdosta [State] University,” Childress said. “We have a couple of theories about what happened, and we’re trying to tighten it down and talk to additional folks.”

The Lowndes County Coroner has said that Benjamin may have been deceased for 12 to 15 hours by the time her body was discovered. There were no obvious signs of trauma, and investigators initially thought she died of natural causes, said Childress.

Click here to read the entire story.

Photos showcasing Gabriel Aubry, Halle Berry child's father, injuries has begun to make their rounds on the internet.  Let's just say it ain't pretty.  Gabriel looks like he endured a serious beat down.

I'm trying to reserve judgment in this case, but something just isn't adding up as far as the timing of this alleged brawl.  I'm definitely leaning more towards what Aubry said happened as opposed to Halle and her fiance Olivier Martinez.

TMZ reported details of the incident according to Aubry's lawyer, Shawn Holley.  Here is what was written:

Gabriel Aubry has obtained a restraining order against Halle Berry's fiance Olivier Martinez, who busted Gabriel's face during a brutal brawl on Thanksgiving ... and Gabriel's declaration (which includes graphic photos of his injuries) paints a radically different picture of what went down at Halle's on Thursday.

According to Gabriel's declaration, filed by his lawyer Shawn Holley, the day before Thanksgiving, Gabriel took Nahla to her school play.  Halle and Olivier showed up and Olivier walked up to Gabriel and whispered in his ear in French, "I wish I could beat the s**t out of you right now. You're lucky we're in a school right now. We're going to take Nahla right now and you're not going to follow us."

The next day, Gabriel says he took Nahla to Halle's at around 10 AM.  He says in a completely unusual move, Olivier came out of the front door -- usually the nanny was the go-between.  Gabriel claims Olivier said, "We need to talk." Gabriel says he walked toward his car to close his door when Olivier jumped off the stairs and knocked Gabriel to the ground and started brutally beating him, screaming that Gabriel cost them $3 million to fight the custody war (Halle's failed move to take Nahla to Paris).

Gabriel says Olivier took his head in his hand and slammed it on the concrete driveway.

According to the declaration, as Olivier assaulted Gabriel he screamed that they were going to move to Paris and Gabriel had better move there too or Olivier would kill him.

Gabriel claims Olivier then said, "We called the cops," and that when they show up, "you're going to tell them that you're the one who attacked me, or I'm going to kill you."

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... Gabriel made no mention of the alleged threats when he spoke to police immediately after the fight.

Gabriel alleges in his declaration that Halle lost her bid to get primary custody with the judge consistently siding with Gabriel for a 50/50 arrangement.

One of the reasons I feel that way is because what is going on between Halle and Gabriel, as far as their child is concerned, is none of Martinez's business.  He's not even Halle's husband, and even if he was, Nahla is still Gabriel's daughter and he has a right to his child.

The fact that there was a ruling that recently came out that prevented Halle and Nahla from moving to Paris is why this whole thing seems a little fishy to me.  Olivier delivering that beat down appears to be a form of retaliation in my opinion.

Nov 26, 2012

One of my favorite websites on the internet is Mother Jones.  When it comes to political writings and investigative reports, there are few that are better than David Corn and the other writers a Mother Jones.

This article that David Corn wrote about what really happened concerning those Bush-era Tax Cuts during late 2010 was very enlightening and something I felt I had to share.

Here's what he writes:

At President Barack Obama's first press conference after winning reelection, CNN's Jessica Yellin posed a saucy question: "Mr. President, on the fiscal cliff, two years ago, sir, you said that you wouldn't extend the Bush-era tax cuts, but at the end of the day, you did. So, respectfully, sir, why should the American people and the Republicans believe that you won't cave again this time?"

With this pointed query, Yellin was reviving a notion that took root within the mainstream media and progressive circles: Obama surrendered in the lame duck session of late 2010, when he and the Republicans tussled over continuing George W. Bush's tax breaks for the well-heeled. In this view, weeks after the president's party was trounced in the midterm congressional elections and weeks before the tea party-ized GOPers were to take control of the House, Obama, who had vowed during the 2008 campaign to kill those tax cuts, acceded to Republican demands for continuing tax relief for those pocketing over $250,000 a year. The establishment media reported that Obama had lost the showdown; liberal House Democrats and progressives off Capitol Hill complained Obama had turned his back on his promise and blinked. There was grousing that Obama either had no taste for a political battle or no spine (or both) and that he had sold out a fundamental principle.

The ghost of that narrative haunts the current moment, for as Obama heads into a similar dust-up—those Bush tax cuts are again set to expire at the end of the year, just as automatic across-the-board budget cuts are scheduled to kick in, and another debt-ceiling fight looms—members of the politirati (such as Yellin) are suggesting that Obama might once more turn tail and betray his promise to say no to another extension of these tax breaks for the rich.

But that narrative was wrong when it emerged—and it is not the key to predicting what Obama will do in the present predicament. Obama didn't wave the white flag in 2010. He turned a face-off over the Bush tax cuts into an opportunity to enact a second stimulus that he otherwise could not get past Senate Republicans. His failure at that time was not that he mustered insufficient mettle; he failed to convey to the world that he had ju-jitsued the GOPers.

Click here to read the entire article.

Well if you're like me then you didn't pay attention to much news during the Thanksgiving holiday.  I spent the week in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area with my family and that was the only thing I wanted to concentrate on.

But just because we take a sabbatical from the news doesn't mean the news stop getting made. 

Here are a few headlines that I would have written about have I not been on vacation:

- Jesse Jackson Jr. resigns from Congress (Not to sound too cliche', but even Stevie Wonder could see this one coming.)

- Brawl breaks out at the home of Halle Berry between her baby daddy and new fiance (This whole thing smells a little fishy to me.  Halle had just lost her relocation to France case and now all of a sudden she's filing a restraining order against Aubry because of a fight that she and her fiance alleges was started by the child's father.  Hmmm...I ain't buying it Ms. Berry.  The timing is just too suspect for me.)

- R. Kelly debuts his "Trapped In The Closet" Chapters 23-33

- Djimon and Kimora were never married and have apparently split

- Boxer 'Macho' Camacho Dies in Puerto Rico

- What the hell is going on with Katt Williams?


Nov 25, 2012

I am currently reading Black Woman Redefined by Sophia Nelson.  I am in the middle of Chapter 5 about relationships and I have been thinking about our men, our brothas, the fellas.  I love Ms. Nelson's open letter to Michelle Obama and how many black women see themselves in the First Lady. It is affirming to us to finally have a more accurate representation of us out there for the world to see.  I started to wonder if our men feel similarly about her husband and our President, Barack Obama. I wonder if the fellas breathe a sigh of relief because now they finally have an example for the world to see of who they really are, their capabilities and their aspirations.  I am sure they feel similarly but do not express it verbally as Ms. Nelson does so eloquently in her letter to the First Lady.

What I appreciate about Ms. Nelson's letter is how she points out that Mrs. Obama did not redefine or reinvent herself as the media would have us to believe.  She was herself and the world finally got to see that and fell in love with her as the President said in his 2012 election victory speech.  She did not change. The First Lady we see is the lady she has always been.  Transfer that over to the men.  I have not heard much conversation about male affection or appreciation of the President and what his ascension does for the image of black men in this country.  We talk about how there is no glass ceiling now for our young black boys.  I do not know how old the young man in the above photo is.  Judging by how he is wearing his jeans, I would say he is a teenager.  Him wearing a jacket with the presidential seal says that perhaps he has a better outlook on his future now.  But for adult black men, has the President been what the First Lady has been for us?  Does his image balance out the conversation about who our men really are?  Does the image of Obama family balance out the conversation about who our families really are?

Most of our conversations have been adversarial depicting a love/hate relationship with our men and largely portrays them as absentee fathers.  Those conversations have always bothered me.  Personally, I grew up with my father in the home.  My parents have been married now for 44 years. My father was and continues to be an active parent.  Strong marriages persist throughout my extended family both paternally and maternally.  I related quite well to the Cosby show as our family consisted of both parents and five children.  My brother, like Theo, was sandwiched between two older sisters and two younger sisters.  I would have been Vanessa.  I do not share my experience to minimize or discredit the experience of those without examples of healthy relationships and strong black men. What I seek to do is balance out the conversation.  For so long the conversation among ourselves have been that happy marriages and active fathers in our community are a myth. Our conversations have been classic cognitive dissonance because most of us aspire to have the traditional family but should our situations turn out differently we dismiss the traditional family as "not real."  Can we at least now say they are real and that they exist?

Yes there is much dysfunction in our community.  Sure the experts and data support this notion but are different facts emerging?  Has a shift occurred?  My observations say yes.  I have the fortunate experience of working in higher education where I get a steady dose of watching my black male colleagues and our black male students strive for better.  A number of us work with the intention of providing the support our brothas need to succeed.  The will and desire for more is undeniable.  I see it in their eyes.  They may not know exactly what to do or how to get what they want but they are set on figuring it out.  Recently I read The Pact and it touched me to read George talk about how one of his dental school instructors required that they wear a tie to class.  In that particular chapter, Dr. George Jenkins talked about growing up without his father in the home and how he didn't know how to tie a tie.  It warmed my heart to read about him dropping his guard and releasing whatever shame he felt to ask one of his dental school classmates to show him how to tie a tie.

Please do not think that my higher ed work environment and my Cosby Show-like family skews my observations.  As I have shared in previous posts, I was born and raised in Gary, Indiana.  My hometown is not known for the "good life." However, my experience still is that there are strong black families there.  When I went to my 15th class reunion a couple of years ago, I was surprised to see how many of my classmates remained in the city and they are doing quite alright.  I have reconnected with many of my high school and college classmates on facebook and the fellas are constantly doting on their wives and children.  Those that are single fathers are proud fathers.  Those that have yet to become husbands and fathers are diligently trying to figure out this thing called life just as we are.

I will never say all is well in our community.  There is enough evidence to the contrary.  I will never say that black women or black men are perfect.  Likewise, I will never say that strong black families and that remarkable/accomplished black men/women are a myth.  The President, First Lady and their family clearly debunk the myths out there about black people.  The Obamas are not an anomaly or a phenomenon.  They are indeed products of all that is right in our community.  Their rise to prominence and power puts a spotlight on what has always been.  The world now sees it. Perhaps now we will see it and what is right with us will now dominate our conversations.

Side note:  I am now on Twitter.  You can follow me @AVGJOhanna


Nov 19, 2012

While many of us were celebrating the re-election of President Obama it may have gone unnoticed that the law that has received much of the blame for the death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin also won a victory in Florida.

Here is how Mother Jones is reporting the story:

The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in February turned a national spotlight on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Following widespread outcry about the killing—in which George Zimmerman shot the unarmed 17-year-old Martin allegedly in self defense—Florida Gov. Rick Scott convened a task force to evaluate the 2005 law. This week, the group came back with their report. Their conclusion? The controversial law is just fine as it is. But there's just one problem: That verdict flies in the face of much troubling evidence to the contrary.

Stand Your Ground essentially makes it legal to shoot one's way out of any situation that feels threatening: Unless law enforcement authorities can prove that's an invalid explanation from a shooter, a resulting homicide can be deemed justifiable under the law, and the shooter is immune from criminal and civil prosecution. As Mother Jones reported in June, Florida's Stand Your Ground law kicked off a wave of such legislation across the country, with 24 of them passed elsewhere since, thanks to much backing by the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
The evidence to date indicates it is terrible public policy. Since the spreading of the law, multiple studies have found that Stand Your Ground laws:
  • don't deter crime
  • are associated with significant increases in homicides
  • are racially discriminatory—homicides involving white shooters and black victims are 11 times more likely to be deemed "justifiable" than those where the scenario is reversed.

Click here to read the entire article.

Nov 15, 2012

Before the election, Mitt Romney dismissed 47% of the electorate as victims.  After the election, Mitt Romney says he lost because the President gave "special gifts" to minority and younger voters.  Before the election, Paul Ryan said that 30% of Americans are "takers."  After the election, Paul Ryan says they lost because of the turnout of the urban vote.  Both men are full of sour grapes (actually I do not think it is just being sour.  Will explain more about that later) because they lost an election where, in most cases, you only need a majority of 51% to win.  Like the President said in his first post-reelection press conference, this is arithmetic not calculus. Did they really think they could thread a 4% needle?  Remember I am Avg Jo, not a political analyst.  Even I can see that that was a stupid risk.  Without all of the dismissive talk, it was a close election.  Common sense says you try to get as many votes as you can.  But you know what?  Common sense is not so common; clearly everyone does not have it. 

In 2008, Barack Obama was a virtual unknown.  His campaign and subsequent victory was nothing short of brilliant.  For better or for worse, campaigning will never be the same.  There were clear campaign lessons taught by the Obama for America team.  Did the opposition think his election was a fluke?  People trying to give the GOP the benefit of the doubt may answer yes to that question.  Unequivocally, my answer to that question is no.  They clearly saw the successful 50-state strategy and the diverse voter turnout in 2008.  They were not blind.  They saw the power behind it.  They did not seek to adapt or replicate it; they sought to circumvent it.  They got their billionaire supporters to fund their dirty work.  They sought to enact unjust voting laws.  They thought they could separate our hallmark issues from our economic concerns even though they are inextricably linked.  They thought they could pull all of this off without us noticing.  Yes we did not show up in 2010 as we did in 2008.  There is less turnout across the board in the midterm elections.  But apparently another key lesson the GOP did not learn was that anytime integration or a "first" has taken place more people pay attention. Particularly in this country when there is a first for a black man and the first for a white woman.  After the 2008 election of our first black president, undoubtedly, I knew that more people, both the supporter and the nonsupporter, were going to pay attention. Even the casual political observer will watch more closely.  With our history of race relations in this country, who wouldn't want to see how this was pan out?  And we all know that opposition did not disappoint.  They did not disappoint their fellow opposers that is.  What they sadly did not realize was what those underrepresented (women and ethnic minorities) in politics clearly realized early on into President Obama's first term.  We could not help but see if they treated the leader of the free world with such disdain and disrespect, they clearly would not embrace us and advocate for what we need.  If they sought to disqualify an undeniably qualified man, how much more will they seek to disqualify us and our concerns?  Sure enough they clearly did both during this election cycle by disrespecting our vote and speaking with disdain and condescension about our concerns. And now after the election, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have further sought to disqualify our vote.  Never mind the fact that neither of them won their home states nor their hometowns!  Surely they would never speak of their homies in the same manner.

All of this is evidence that this just isn't merely sour grapes, but them showing their true colors and airing their true thoughts and feelings towards underrepresented groups.  Some GOP leaders have had the sense enough to acknowledge the disconnect between the party and the changing demographics.  After the election, many have been able to speak quite adamantly about the need to evolve and be more inclusive.  The conviction with which many of the speak lets me know that they are not just now waking up to this reality.  Quite frankly, I am convinced that many of them show solidarity with their rhetoric but used the advantage of the "secret ballot" to indeed vote for the President because they know their party is way off and having them in power now would not bode well for the country and the people they represent.  No one is surprised by this.  My response is duh, duh, and more duh.

All this time I thought GOP stood for 'Grand Old Party', but it turns out I was wrong.

Ohio state senator, and one of my personal she-roes, Nina Turner, gave us the proper defiinition of GOP when she proudly wore a t-shirt exclaiming the meaning.

According to Turner, GOP stands for 'Get Out of my Panties'.

Yeah you read that correctly.

To protest Ohio Republicans' renewed efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, Turner (D-Cleveland) wore the provocative t-shirt at a press conference on Tuesday.

 Turner is also famous for making headlines when she introduced a protest bill earlier this year that would restrict men's ability to get a Viagra prescription.

I just love this woman.  She's a woman after my own heart.

The re-election of President Obama last week was just too much for some conservatives to handle. Although the doomsday pronouncements of the past four years have yet to materialize, some Americans couldn’t help themselves from freaking out over the news that the president will be here for one more term.
TPM has compiled the six most bizarre reactions to Obama’s victory.

1. Obama’s Hired, But You’re Fired
Some of the nation’s CEOs took their frustration out on their employees. Robert Murray, CEO of the coal company Murray Energy, responded to the election by reading a prayer to his employees and then laying off 50 of them. Papa John’s pizza CEO John Schnatter, a donor to Republican loser Mitt Romney, announced that franchise owners will likely have to cut hours for employees in order to pay for the president’s health care law. And Zane Tankel, a New York-based Applebee’s franchisee, said he would halt plans to expand his 40-restaurant empire because the health care law would cost him too much.

2. Burying Gold On The Ranch
Over the weekend, Reuters reported on an emerging job description for a number of financial advisers throughout the country: talking their wealthiest clients off the ledge in the wake of Obama’s win. John Burke, a New Jersey-based financial strategist, described some of the small business owners he works with as “inconsolable.” Houston-based adviser Scott Tiras said a client wanted to turn his assets into gold before the election and bury it in multiple places on his ranch. Tiras managed to talk him out of it, but after the election the client was evidently “too upset to talk about it.”

3. Riots And Racial Slurs
Election Day turned ugly by nightfall at a pair of southern universities. Hundreds of students gathered at the University of Mississippi to riot after the race was called for Obama. Some students hurled racial slurs and burned Obama campaign signs. Eventually local police got involved. There was a similar scene at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia where threats of violence and epithets from about 40 students followed Obama’s win. The chancellor at Ole Miss promised a full investigation, and the next day the more dovish segment of its student body staged a candlelight vigil in response to the election night protestors.

Click here to read the entire article.

This theme of Obama only winning because he gave people stuff seems to be the narrative the Republicans are sticking to in order to explain their humiliating loss last week.

First it was Paul Ryan's remark about 'urban areas' being the reason for the President’s win that got the ball rolling.  During an interview with a local Wisconsin news station, the congressman gave his explanation as to why his ticket loss and of course he blamed it on the ‘minorities.’

Then Mitt Romney came alone and took it a step further during a conference call with donors.  Doing his best Bill O’Reilly impersonation, Romney basically blamed his losing on the fact that the President gave ‘gifts’ to minorities and young voters.

Here’s what he meant by gifts:

"With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift," Mr. Romney said. "Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."
The president's health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.
"You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you're now going to get free health care, particularly if you don't have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity - I mean, this is huge," Mr. Romney said. "Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group."

Do you see a theme?

Instead of turning the mirror on themselves to see what went wrong, they want to place the blame of their loss on someone else and who’s the group that is easiest to scapegoat --- Minorities.

It’s a reoccurring pattern with Republicans.  They don’t want to engage with minorities because they see minorities as the problem with this country.  Well, they see Blacks and Hispanics as the problem with this country.  And rest assured that when I say Hispanic I’m only referring to Mexicans.  They have no problem with Cubans.  And the last time I check Republicans only identify Mexicans and Cubans as Hispanics so sorry to all you Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Brazilians, and anybody else who comes from Latin America.  The GOP doesn’t recognize nor see you.

So if this is the story the GOP is going to continue to tell themselves in order to make themselves feel better than more power to them, but at the end of the day it’s not going to help them with the changing demographics of this country.  And it is that change in which they have the biggest problem of all.

Nov 14, 2012

The Biopic on jazz singer Nina Simone has hit a sour note for India.Arie. The R&B singer recently came out against the film’s producers for casting Zoe Saldana to play the role of Simone, whose dark skin and wide nose stands in contrast to Saldana’s features.

India.Arie posted her thoughts to after seeing a picture of Saldana in costume for her role in the film, Nina.

“SO TODAY I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone…” she wrote (caps hers). “AND I THINK THEY ARE RIDICULOUS!”

The image that sent India to the internet to express her feelings showed Saldana in what appears to be a prosthetic nose as well as makeup to make her skin darker. [See image here]
“Yes there should be a movie made, and YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was.
THAT ASIDE for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!!”
While Arie called herself “Nina Simone’s physical heir apparent,” she said that she didn’t feel like she was the best person to play Simone either.
“If I ever FELT I was truly CALLED to play her, I would,” she wrote. “And maybe Zoe Saldana REALLY is BEING CALLED SPIRITUALLY TO PLAY THIS ROLE …
Although Arie made a point to say that she trusts that Saldana could pull of Simone “energetically,” she still nominated another.


“I will END this by saying I think VIOLA DAVIS should be playing Nina Simone,” she said. Viola Davis was nominated for an Academy award for her roles in Doubt and her role as Aibileen Clark in The Help.

(The Raw Story) -- If Republicans thought they were shocked when Mitt Romney lost to President Barack Obama last week, just imagine how this guy felt.

When Eric Hartsburg, of Michigan City, tried to auction off a part of his face on eBay for $15,000 last September, he probably wasn’t expecting that someone would win with a bid of less than $800, then ask him to tattoo a penis on there for life.

But as he explained Tuesday night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” that’s exactly how his strange tale began.

Thinking a male member forever stamped on his face was probably not optimal, Hartsburg got creative. “I thought to myself, ‘What would be the most pertinent thing in the news right now?’ Then, the most important thing in the news — the election! Let’s take it to some Republicans, and I got a winning bidder.”

“So, you said, ‘I will do this if you pay me’?” Kimmel asked.

“Absolutely,” Hartsburg replied.

“And they paid you $15,000 to do this?” Kimmel asked.

“They did,” Hartsburg said. “It was two guys that I know, local Republicans, I’ve worked for the Republican Party. I’ve worked the election polls since I was about 22-years-old. I knew a guy and, hey, here we are now.”

“Did you ever consider just putting a sign on your lawn like a normal person?” Kimmel wondered.

(Huffington Post) -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday that he would block the nomination of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to serve as Secretary of State, citing comments she made on the recent attacks in Libya.

"Susan Rice should have known better, and if she didn't know better, she's not qualified," the Arizona senator said on Fox News. "I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States Secretary of State. She has proven that she either doesn't understand or she is not willing to accept evidence on its face. There is no doubt five days later what this attack was and for."

McCain and Senate Republicans have criticized Rice for her comments on the Sept. 16 Sunday shows that the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya were the result of an anti-Muslim video, not a terrorist attack. However, CIA assessments at the time of her comments back up her description of the attacks.

The Washington Post reported that the nomination will "almost certainly" go to Rice and that President Barack Obama is willing to "dig in his heels" to get her confirmed.

When asked if he would block Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Secretary of State or Defense, McCain said, "We'd have to look into it before I'd want to do it."

McCain, again, compared the Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, to Watergate. "Nobody died in Watergate, nobody died in Iran-Contra. Four people died here," he said. He added that he favored a select committee to investigate the attack

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has demoted the former head of U.S. Africa Command who was accused of spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

Panetta stripped Gen. William "Kip" Ward of a star, which means that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general despite arguments from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff against the demotion. Ward also has been ordered also repay the government $82,000.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to discuss a personnel matter.

The demotion comes as retired Army Gen. David Petraeus resigned as CIA director because of an extramarital affair and Marine Gen. John Allen is being investigated for improper communications with a woman.

According to the official, Panetta reviewed the Ward matter and concluded that the wrongdoing found by the Defense Department Inspector General, in a report released earlier this year, demanded accountability.

Retiring as a three-star will cost Ward about $30,000 a year in retirement pay – giving him close to $208,802 a year rather than the $236,650 he would get as a four-star.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged Panetta to allow Ward, the former head of U.S. Africa Command, to retire at his full four-star general rank, according to defense officials. Other military leaders had noted that the demotion would cost Ward a lot of money.

The inspector general's report found that Ward used military vehicles to shuttle his wife on shopping trips and to a spa and billed the government for a refueling stop overnight in Bermuda, where the couple stayed in a $750 suite. The report detailed lengthy stays at lavish hotels for Ward, his wife and his staff members, and the use of five-vehicle motorcades when he traveled to Washington.

It also said Ward and his wife, Joyce, accepted dinner and Broadway show tickets from a government contractor during a trip during which he went backstage to meet actor Denzel Washington. The couple and several staff members also spent two nights at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Other charges were that Ward often extended his overseas trips – particularly those to the U.S. – for personal reasons, resulting in "exponential" increases in costs.

Although the report included responses from Ward to a number of the allegations, investigators often found records and statements that contradicted his explanations. At one point, Ward defended the Bermuda layover, saying that it came up on short notice, which is why his security team had to stay there longer. The report found records showing that the layover had been planned for at least four days in advance.

A common theme running through the report was Ward's insistence that his wife travel with him at government cost, even though it was often not authorized and she performed few official duties. It said he also routinely stayed in high-priced suites in luxury hotels rather than in standard rooms or less expensive locales.

The allegations, coming after a 17-month investigation, have delayed Ward's planned April 2011 retirement. And they were an embarrassing end note to his career, since he had claimed a place in history as the military's first commander of Africa Command.

Panetta's options regarding Ward were limited by complex laws and military guidelines. He had only one real choice: allow Ward to retire as a four-star or demote him and force him to retire as a three-star lieutenant general.

In order for Ward to be demoted to two-star rank, investigators would have to conclude that he also had problems before moving to Africa Command, and officials said that does not appear to be the case.

The investigation dragged on for so long that that Ward was temporarily dropped to two-star general status. Under military guidelines, if a full general is not serving in a four-star command or office for more than 60 days, he or she is automatically reduced to two-star rank. Ward would not be able to recoup any back pay for the time at the two-star rank, even though he is being retired at the three-star level.

Major general, or two-star, is the highest rank to which an officer can be promoted by regular military action. Becoming a three-star – lieutenant general – or a four-star general requires a presidential nomination and confirmation by Congress. It, therefore, is not considered permanent and lasts only as long as the person is serving in a job of that rank.

That technical demotion is not uncommon as generals move from job to job and unexpected delays occur. It would not have affected Ward's ability to retire as a four-star, if he had been cleared of the charges.

Nov 13, 2012

In the wake of last week's presidential election, thousands of Americans have signed petitions seeking permission for their states to peacefully secede from the United States. The petitions were filed on We the People, a government website.

States with citizens filing include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Oddly, folks from Georgia have filed twice. Even stranger, several of the petitions come from states that went for President Barack Obama.

The petitions are short and to the point. For example, a petition from the Volunteer State reads: "Peacefully grant the State of Tennessee to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government." Of all the petitions, Texas has the most signatures so far, with more than 23,000.

Of course, this is mostly a symbolic gesture. The odds of the American government granting any state permission to go its own way are on par with winning the lottery while getting hit by a meteor while seeing Bigfoot while finding gluten-free pizza that tastes like the real thing.

Click Here to Read the Entire Article.

I will admit that I’ve become an avid watcher of OWN. I really think Oprah is hitting her stride with the channel and if she continues on the path she’s on there is nothing but more success in her future.

Some of my favorites shows on the channel of course all involve Oprah: Lifeclass, Next Chapter, Super Soul Sunday, and Where Are They Now. But there has been on show that has become a most see on Saturdays and that’s Iyanla’s Fix My Life.

Oprah and Iyanla back together has definitely made for some wonderful television. I don’t think there was better evidence of this then the show Iyanla had this past weekend with the cheating pastor and his wife. I don’t think I’ve ever cussed at my television as much as that episode.

Well, Iyanla is about to top herself with this next episode she had coming up that will feature actress Maia Campbell.

Maia Campbell was a stunning beauty who had a great run as a 90’s sitcom actress and video girl (remember her from Tyrese’s ‘Sweet Lady’?). She is also the daughter of late author BeBe Moore Campbell. Her mother’s book ’72 Hour Hold’ was loosely based on her mother’s struggle with her mental disease.

Campbell will be on Iyanla’s OWN show to discuss what has brought more attention to her life than her acting career: her abuse of crystal meth and the viral videos circulating the internet.

As a fan of her mother, it was heartbreaking to see Maia in the state that she was in during those videos. Her mother never made it a secret that her daughter struggled with mental illness, but to see the state in which Maia had gotten to was hard to take especially given the fact that the videos surfaced after the untimely death of her mother.

I pray that Maia continues to take her medication and that Iyanla does some good in her life. I’ll definitely be tuning in next Saturday.

Preview: "Fix My Celebrity Life"
Iyanla Vanzant heads to Los Angeles to support actress Maia Campbell, best known for her role as Tiffany on the sitcom In the House, starring LL Cool J. Through the years, Maia has struggled with addiction and was publicly humiliated when shocking videos of her hit the Internet.

Tune in Saturday, November 17, at 10/9c.

Nov 11, 2012

If you have listened to any of the post-election chatter, then you have heard the topic of the changing demographic in our country.  If you have listened further as to why the Romney-Ryan ticket lost and more specifically what the GOP will do differently in the future, you heard GOP representatives talking about winning more of the Latino vote, but you do not hear them talk at all about winning more of the black vote.  At best I have heard them say they need to win more of the minority vote or more broadly the need to diversify their party.  Why are they so bold in stating they want Latinos but not utter a word about African Americans?  That is a glaring oversight.  Yes Latinos are the fast growing minority group.  They are in fact, according to the 2010 Census, 17% of the US population compared to 13.6% for blacks.  It is perfectly understandable to pursue the latino vote, but incomprehensible to seemingly dismiss the black vote?  To me, numbers are numbers.  Any votes that can be taken from the opponent should be the focus.  So are their diversification efforts one-dimensional?  For real, what is up with that?  The make up of the 2012 electorate shows latinos and blacks as 10% and 13% respectively.  That says to me that the black vote should be a prime target but apparently it is not.  Do they expect Latinos to surpass us in the electorate such that they get the biggest bang for their buck by pursuing the latino vote?  Is immigration the only thorn in the GOP side when it comes to Latinos?  Are they fine with them otherwise?  What is about African Americans that makes the GOP simply not interested?  Have they just fully embraced the Southern Strategy that says they do not need the black vote?  Are there more "black" issues that they simply cannot align with? Or is this just another example of latinos (particularly the lighter skinned latinos) being considered more acceptable than blacks?

Before I get into this next paragraph, first let me say that I am personally fascinated with latino culture.  They appear to have a very soulful charm/expression that I appreciate.  The intent of this essay is not to pit blacks and latinos against each other.  What I want to discuss is how acceptance of one does not mean acceptance of the other.  I think that because of the shared discrimination experience in this country, blacks and latinos tend to be on the same side.  Aside from that shared experience though, is there true solidarity between the two groups?  If you have ever seen the play, Platanos and Collard Greens, then you would probably answer no to that question.  My eyes were opened after hearing two Latino faculty give a presentation about the Latino population in our state.  I clearly remember one statement of latinos not having much in common with blacks and even less in common with whites.  In terms of the struggle for equality, I believe African Americans have laid the foundation for how to fight in this country and it is my observation that Latinos have organized similarly and further capitalized on it.  As with our progress and all progress, I am happy about what all they have been able to accomplish.  It is just that this embrace of Latinos and continual disdain for Blacks says to me that advancement for Latinos maybe an advancement for diversity but not necessarily an advancement for the African American community.