Showing posts from November, 2008

My reflections on Prep For Prep's 30th Anniversary

Yesterday was an historic day for Prep For Prep. The program celebrated its 30th anniversary. The celebration took on two crucial components. A convocation was held at Columbia University where various key figures in the Prep community spoke, were honored and reflected on the impact of the program during the past 30 years. The program also received an official proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg recognizing Saturday November 29, 2008 as Prep For Prep Day. A new award was even created in honor of Prep's founder Gary Simons.

The other aspect of the celebration involved an alumni dinner at Riverside Baptist Church. It was a great time. Having the chance to reconnect with some crucial figures in my life, as well as create some new connections was amazing. It was great to see the community come together and really let loose in the spirit of the occasion.

Every alumnus who spoke at yesterday's convocation was asked to describe their most important Prep memory and why it impacted…

Al Qaeda's message and the myth of authentic blackness

As I awoke yesterday morning to the new Al Qaeda audiotape, I was shocked at the content in it. Now we all know that Al Qaeda is notorious for vitriolic messages, but there was something especially strong in this particular one. Al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman Al-Zawahiri issued a taped message insulting Americans, and Obama specifically. He referred to Obama, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and their "likes" as "house slaves (negroes)." He furthermore said that Obama was not an authentic black leader like Malcolm X. Let me attack this from a series of angles.

1) It is very clear that Al-Zawahiri has been reading some of the books that Malcolm X wrote. Clearly as one runs around and ducks the American and coalition forces in Afghanistan, living in caves and the like, there must be considerable time to read. And in all likelihood the way that he became attuned to Malcolm X was through an American member of the Taliban, as some of his recent taped messages have …

Eric Holder to be the first black Attorney General

It was announced today that President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Eric Holder to be the next Attorney General of the United States. His selection marks the first time in history that an African-American has been selected to head this vital government agency. I believe that this selection will have far-reaching implications, the likes of which we may not know for some time.

The role of the Justice Department is an important, yet slightly unknown role to most people. The role of the department is: "To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans." This is a rather broad definition, but one that holds considerable amounts of weight in some key instances.

When it comes to Civi…

The Rise in Hate Crimes After the Election

A recent and rather disturbing trend has sprung up the New York area since the election of Barack Obama last week. Three major instances of hate crimes have sprung up, with direct ties to the selection of Obama. Two occurred on Staten Island and one occurred on Long Island. In the incident on Long Island as well as one of the incidents on Staten Island vandals spray painted swastikas, anti-Obama messages as well as racist commentary on signs, cars and property. In the Staten Island case the vandals referenced murdering Obama. As a result the State Department, Secret Service as well as the Department Of Justice has been called in.

The second case on Staten Island is even more disturbing. On the evening of the election, an 18 year old black male allegedly was assaulted by four white men who shouted out Obama's name as they beat him with a baseball bat. The injuries were severe enough to require staples to close a head wound as well as crutches for an injured leg. The sheer violence o…

Proposition 8 and the Black Vote

Full disclosure: I am a straight man that supports gay marriage.

While Tuesday was undoubtedly one of the seminal days in the history of America, especially significant to Black America, an event took place in California that concerns me. Proposition 8 was an amendment to the California Constitution that aimed to limit the legal definition of marriage to that between a man and a woman, thus banning gay marriage. The amendment passed with over 52% of the vote. I fully expected this to occur. It is clear that America is not a country that is ready for gay marriage (even our new president has stated that he is against it, but in support of "strong civil unions.") What concerns me the most is that 70% of the black voters who voted for President-Elect Obama voted for this amendment. In all likelihood the large number of black voters were the exact ones who allowed this amendment to pass.

The ramifications of this move are quite jarring. As with everything I do I tend to look at thi…

What an Obama Presidency Means To Me

Growing up the oldest of seven in Brooklyn I always envisioned a life that was very different than what was around me. I grew up with a considerable amount of responsibility. I was lucky to have a strong support system that included my mom, grandmother and great-grandmother. They instilled in me values that have made me the kind of man I am today. Unfortunately the positive male influences that I needed from my family was not always present. I internalized this and continued to strive to be the male influence that I wanted to see around me and needed in my life. I did not see strong male leaders, so I became one. I did not see academically successful men, I became one. I did not see men who were actively involved in making the world a more equal and just place, so again I became one. I did this not only for myself, but also for my siblings and family.

I studied the lives of successful black male leaders. Men like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and Thurgood Marshall ju…

McCain campaign releases Castro robocall!

According to CNN within the last hour the McCain-Palin ticket has launched a new Spanish-language robocall in primarily Cuban-American south Florida. In the new robocall it is alleged that today at 1:28 today Fidel Castro threw his support behind Barack Obama's candidacy. Isn't using a robocall such as this quite late in the game? Its almost 6pm in Miami. A sizable chunk of people probably voted already. Admittedly its an effective yet lowball robocall. But this is similar to the McCain campaign. Good ideas, yet ineffective and too late.

Get out and vote

Tomorrow marks the culmination of the longest presidential campaign ever in the United States. It is imperative that after 726 days, countless debates, rallies, primaries and efforts that everyone exercises their constitutional right to vote. This election will be remembered as the most important election of this generation, no matter the outcome. If you are not involved in the process then your complaints will fall on deaf ears. Especially as this election, which has garnered the most passion of any in recent memory. Join me and everyone who will be lining up in the dark of night to wait for our chance to vote. Too many died before us fighting for the simple right to cast their vote. And I will stand for as long as I have to stand in honor of them.


11th hour undecided voters...yes they still exist!!

I received a message from a friend of mine who spent part of the weekend working the Obama campaign phone banks. It appears that there are still quite a few people out there who remain undecided about who they will vote for on Tuesday. I am beginning to wonder why the decision is so difficult. This election has gone on for 22 months. From party primaries, to nominations, to Vice-presidential picks, to debates and rallies, I would hope that people have had time to make up their mind. I guess that is not the case.

The two candidates and campaigns to me appear very different. While McCain is more of a moderate candidate than the Republican party wanted to have as a representative, but he clearly will espouse much of the values that the Republican party has supported. Pick any topic ranging from abortion, affirmative action, gay marriage, free market versus regulation among others, it is clear that in order for him to garner support from his party faithful, he needs to tow the conservative…