You are currently viewing archive for September 2006
Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Behind Bars

Recently, a federal panel of medical advisers recommended that the government lighten up on regulations that restrict prison inmates from being used as subjects in pharmaceutical tests...According to The New York Times, such testing all but ended more than three decades ago, after some prisoners were exposed to dangerous substances such as dioxin.
Around Alabama, South Carolina, and even in New York City, you’ll find statues of J. Marion Sims.

What you won’t find are statues or, for that matter, many mentions of Anarcha.

Back in the mid-to-late 1800s, Sims, a surgeon, performed at least 30 experiments on Anarcha, a slave woman, in a quest for a way to treat a 19th century childbirth complication that caused many women to leak urine from their vaginas after developing connections between it and their bladder. Eventually, he was successful -- and has been lauded as the father of modern gynecology ever since.

But even though Sims developed a treatment for an embarrassing and painful ailment that still afflicts many Third World women today, there’s no ignoring the fact that he built his legacy off of the pain of slaves like Anarcha. Women like her endured the experiments with no anesthesia. They also endured it amid times in which people like Sims believed that black people’s pain and anonymity were merely part of the landscape of privilege to which whites believed they were entitled.

I got to thinking about Anarcha’s story after reading about how another captive, disproportionately-black population could wind up being reduced to guinea pig status. Recently, a federal panel of medical advisers recommended that the government lighten up on regulations that restrict prison inmates from being used as subjects in pharmaceutical tests.

According to The New York Times, such testing all but ended more than three decades ago, after some prisoners were exposed to dangerous substances such as dioxin. Leodus Jones, a former inmate at Philadelphia’s Holmesburg prison in the 1960s, told the Times that lotion tests caused him to develop rashes, and his skin to change color.

We don’t need to go down that road again.

Now, I understand that it’s tough to make medical progress without some human experimentation. There’s also a possibility that some of the inmates who participate in the pharmaceutical tests might wind up helping companies find cures for ailments that disproportionately dog black people.

Still, the whole notion doesn’t sit right with me. Mostly because it makes me think of how, even though black inmates aren’t slaves as Anarcha was, when it comes to such experimentation, being behind prison walls still makes them vulnerable to becoming slaves not only to coercion, but to their own desperation.
To read the rest of the article, click here

What do you say?
Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderX
The United States National Slavery Museum

The United States National Slavery Museum is raising support for its building and they are asking every American to donate $8 dollars.

Helping America in Commemorating Understanding and Overcoming Slavery
The United States National Slavery Museum is committed to telling a more complete story of American slavery. Its honesty will lead the nation in commemorating, understanding, and overcoming slavery and its enduring legacy.

For several years, the museum's educational outreach programs have been working toward this goal with pilot school groups and community organizations across the nation. We are proud to announce the 2006 groundbreaking for the permanent museum that will carry this story to all Americans.

Spectacular architecture will establish a permanent monument. Innovative permanent galleries will create penetrating insights and experiences. Changing exhibitions will reveal the need for ongoing vigilance against slavery. Inspirational programs will deliver the tools to transcend the limitations of America’s past and forge a better future for generations to come.
To view the website, click here

What do you think about this?
Posted on: 09/26/06:

Bring It Home Moses!

Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
St Moses the Black

How do we “bring the Creation narrative home” to our audience? How do we communicate in a way that compels people to consider our message? How do we minister to people where they are in life? We are able to begin to answer these questions by first turning to Scripture.

Biblical authors such as Moses had particular intentions in applying for instance the Creation story to the lives of their audience. They “brought the story home to their audiences” by applying the Creation narrative to their audiences’ contexts, and this in turn compelled their listeners and readers to understand and live in the reality of God’s intentions and actions put in motion long ago. Let us look at an example.

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Posted on: 09/23/06:

The Color of His Skin

Category: Politics
Posted by: RBAFounderX
by John McWhorter
Imagine him white.

Barack Obama, that is. Amidst all the glowing talk about the possibility of his becoming America's first black president in 2008, it's an interesting thought experiment to imagine whether Mr. Obama would elicit this swooning buzz if he were white.

That is, let's imagine a white guy with all of Mr. Obama's pluses: crinkly smile, sincere concern for the little man, fine speech a couple of years ago about bringing the nation together, a certain charisma, wrote a touching autobiography. Let's call him Barrett O'Leary.

I do not think Mr. O'Leary would be touted a year-and-change into his Senate appointment as a presidential possibility. No knock on Mr. Obama intended, mind you. For all we know, he could have the genius for national statesmanship of a Disraeli. The point is that we don't know yet. Like any new senator, Mr. Obama has been quietly learning his way around the byzantine procedures of Senate lawmaking.

The key factor that galvanizes people around the idea of Obama for president is, quite simply, that he is black. Other things about him don't hurt, but that's all — they are not the deciding factor. Take away Mr. Obama's race and he's some relatively anonymous rookie. Barrett O'Leary, even if as cute and articulate as Mr. Obama, would have to wait at least another four years, and possibly six or seven, before being considered as a possible commander in chief.

What gives people a jolt in their gut about the idea of President Obama is the idea that it would be a ringing symbol that racism no longer rules our land. President Obama might be, for instance, a substitute for that national apology for slavery that some consider so urgent. Surely a nation with a black president would be one no longer hung up on race.

Or not. Mr. Obama is being considered as presidential timber not despite his race, but because of it. That is, for all of its good intentions, a dehumanization of Mr. Obama. We're still hung up. What Mr. Obama has done is less important than his skin color and what it "means." The content of our character is not exactly center stage here. We are a long way from Selma, but not yet where the Rev. King wanted us to be.

To read the rest of the article, click here

Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Oprah and Jim McGreevey

From the
Just two years ago, New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey was a family man with a beautiful wife and two daughters by his side. He was also one of the most powerful governors in the country, with dreams of the White House. For decades he worked to shape his public image, all while hiding a secret he thought would destroy his career and his life—a secret he finally revealed to the world.

"I am a gay American. Shamefully, I engaged in an adult, consensual affair with another man. … I have decided the right course of action is to resign," he said at a press conference two years ago, with his wife at his side.

In his brutally honest book, The Confession, Jim writes "the closet starves a man and when he gets a chance, he gorges 'til it sickens him."

For the first time, Jim talks exclusively about the private and agonizing story behind his very public fall from office. (Source)

One question: Is McGreevey's treatment in the media different from Black gay men who were also on the "down low?" And why? (Recall the appearance of J.L. King, author of "On The Down Low" on Oprah's show a couple of years ago and all the stigmatization surrounding Black gay men thereafter).

To read the rest of the article, click here

Category: Politics
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Christian Coalition

The Los Angeles Times recently published an article, “Chapters break with changing Christian Coalition”. Three state chapters (Alabama, Iowa and Ohio) pulled out of the Christian Coalition, a powerful national organization credited with helping the Republican Party consolidate power in Washington in the 1990s. The Coalition describes itself as “the largest and most active conservative grassroots political organization in America”. Last month, the Christian Coalition of Alabama announced it was severing ties with the national organization. “It’s one of a growing number of chapters to express frustration as the Christian Coalition broadens its mission to include issues such as Internet neutrality, the minimum wage and the environment.” As The L.A. Times explains, certain states have pulled out because they think “the famous political powerhouse of the religious right has strayed from its founding mission: defending traditional marriage, strengthening the family and protecting unborn human life”.

The article did not state that the Coalition had in any way failed to support traditional marriage, the family or unborn human life. The article did however state that certain chapters left the Coalition because it is broadening its mission to include issues such as Internet neutrality, the minimum wage and the environment. Is the break from the Coalition needed, why or why not?
Black Augustine

The Purpose of This Work
Augustine was not familiar with hermeneutics as it is explained and known today. Even though he was unfamiliar with theological frameworks and cogent interpretive systems, he yet is recognized as setting the groundwork for evangelical hermeneutics. This work is not an attempt to evaluate or formulate an Augustinian hermeneutic, or a way to interpret the Bible following in the footsteps of Augustine. The term “Augustinian hermeneutics” if stated to describe this work would not resemble a defined and coherent hermeneutic system or even a rounded and methodical approach to biblical interpretation. “Augustinian hermeneutics”, if applied to this work, could be seen as the fusing of an Augustinian view about God, authorial intention and meaning. Hence, the term “Augustinian hermeneutics” would need to be greatly qualified if applied to this work. This work is better viewed as an evaluation of Augustine’s thoughts about God, authorial intention and meaning in relation to one another.

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Posted on: 09/14/06:

A Sweatshop Behind Bars

Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
The nation's prison industry now employs more people than any Fortune 500 corporation except General Motors. Is prison labor rehab or corporate slavery?
If you think prison inmates only make license plates, you're behind the times.

As a child Ayana Cole dreamed of becoming a world class fashion designer. Today she is among hundreds of inmates crowded in an Oregon prison factory cranking out designer jeans. For her labor she is paid 45 cents an hour. At a chic Beverly Hills boutique some of the beaded creations carry a $350 price tag. In fact the jeans labeled "Prison Blues" -- proved so popular last year that prison factories couldn't keep up with demand.

At a San Diego private-run prison factory Donovan Thomas earns 21 cents an hour manufacturing office equipment used in some of LA's plushest office towers. In Chino Gary's prison sewn T-shirts are a fashion hit.

Hundreds of prison generated products end up attached to trendy and nationally known labels like No Fear, Lee Jeans, Trinidad Tees, and other well known U.S. companies. After deductions, many prisoners like Cole and Thomas earn about $60 for an entire month of nine-hour days. In short, hiring out prisoners has become big business. And it's booming.

At CMT Blues housed at the Maximum Security Richard J. Donovan State Correctional Facility outside San Diego, the highly prized jobs pay minimum wage. Less than half goes into the inmates' pockets. The rest is siphoned off to reimburse the state for the cost of their incarceration and to a victim restitution fund.
Click here for the rest of the story
I will begin an intermittent series which delves into Augustine’s approach to interpretation which in large portion is the foundation of the evangelical hermeneutic today. Begin by reading the preface below.

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Category: Theology
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Boys Learning

I recently spoke with an educator, living in the Atlanta area, who is an assistant principal at a predominately black (99.8%) elementary school in south Atlanta. Our discussion was riveting, sad, encouraging and informative. I asked him to rank in his opinion the greatest problems facing the black students in his school. At the top of the list was the reality that many of his students have an inferiority complex. There are certain types of inferiority complexes among black youth just like there are various types of giftedness in the areas of intellectual, creative, and artistic development. Regardless of the reasons for such a complex, the causes of which are extensive and multi-dimensional, the fact remains that many black youth suffer from an inferiority complex. In other words, they have low expectations of themselves or sense that they should not or are unable to perform as well as others. Of course, the issue of performance is at the heart of both the way one lives and the way one views himself apart and in relation to others. So the black male deals with an unhealthy sense of impression as well as expression. Impression or the way one views themselves and expression or how that impression develops outwardly, which are supposed to be points of value and knowledge, instead become hindrances in life.

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Posted on: 09/09/06:

Rice likens Iraq to what?

Category: Politics
Posted by: RBAFounderX

Condi is in more controversy again with the situation in Iraq.

Here's why:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is drawing a parallel between the Iraq war and the Civil War. Both had their critics but both were justified, she says.

In both cases, it was the right decision to fight and see the wars through, Rice, who is black and is from Alabama, said in an interview with Essence Magazine.

Asked if she still thought the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 was right, considering the cost in lives and treasure, Rice said, "Absolutely."

Rice then offered a parallel between critics of the administration's Iraq policies and "people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War (in this country) to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold."

Difficult doesn't mean wrong
"I'm sure that there were people who said, "why don't we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves."

"Just because things are difficult, it doesn't mean that they are wrong or that you turn back," Rice told the magazine, which has a large audience among African-Americans.

Rice, a former academic, said she spent the summer reading biographies of the Founding Fathers and said she was certain "there were people who thought the Declaration of Independence was a mistake" as well. (Source)
What do you say?
Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX

Talk of the Nation · "As Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, it exposed a raw nerve of racial tensions in a city that had long prided itself on tolerance. A year later, much of the bitterness remains unresolved, and New Orleans is shaping up as a much different city."

To listen to the radio program that feature different people, like Michael Eric Dyson, click here.
Category: Church
Posted by: RBAFounderX
AIDS in Black America

Late last month, ABC News ran a special edition, “Out of Control: AIDS in Black America” covering the AIDS epidemic in Black communities. In assessing this tragic situation, one of the problem areas addressed was the silence of Black churches (which I would strongly urge you to listen to below since I will be responding to some of it).

The church segment of the program began with Pernessa Seele, an AIDS activist, affirming the historic reality that the Black church has been "the cornerstone of political action, social justice and spiritual empowerment." She went on to say that the Black church has been at "the center of life...and how we think about certain issues." Today, however, I would argue that Black churches have lost their prophetic voices because that voice has been replaced by a Black apathy topped off with an American dream of anti-community, privatization and consumerism. What makes matters worse is that many of our Black churches are probably unaware of this growing crisis. Perhaps, they are too busy with taking up multiple offerings, buying the pastor a new car or even a jet, or building a several million-dollar edifice that can host a Super Bowl crowd. What is also ironic is that with all the health-wealth-prosperity messages, Black communities are not any healthier (e.g. the rapid AIDS growth).

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Category: Black
Posted by: minruth
Painting of Langston Hughes

Cornel West points out that black cultural distinctiveness is more stylistic then anything else: “It’s a history of black styles and mannerisms: ways of singing…worshipping and communicating that have created a certain sense of community and sustained sanity…Louis Armstrong had a black style. How he walked, talked, blew his horn and so forth…Wynton Marsalis in the same way comes deeply out of a tradition of black cultural distinctiveness. In many ways he recognizes the degree to which black styles and mannerisms have influenced his sense of who he is.” When Langston Hughes points out in his The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, that there is “a very high mountain indeed for the would-be racial artist to climb in order to discover himself and his people” it begs the question whether this is a distinction that must be made. That is to say, does the artist have to grapple with the decision to be a racial artist – which, in my definition would be, an artist who is committed to the promotion and perpetuation of that style and manner most widely accepted among peoples of his own race.

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