You are currently viewing archive for July 2008
Category: Politics
Posted by: RBAFounderX

House apologizes for slavery and Jim Crow
Resolution does not mention reparations; commits to rectifying 'misdeeds'

The House on Tuesday issued an unprecedented apology to black Americans for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow segregation laws.

"Today represents a milestone in our nation's efforts to remedy the ills of our past," said Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The resolution, passed by voice vote, was the work of Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen, the only white lawmaker to represent a majority black district. Cohen faces a formidable black challenger in a primary face-off next week.

Congress has issued apologies before — to Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II and to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893. In 2005, the Senate apologized for failing to pass anti-lynching laws.

Five states have issued apologies for slavery, but past proposals in Congress have stalled, partly over concerns that an apology would lead to demands for reparations — payment for damages.

No mention of reparations
The Cohen resolution does not mention reparations. It does commit the House to rectifying "the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow."

It says that Africans forced into slavery "were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage" and that black Americans today continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow laws that fostered discrimination and segregation.

The House "apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow."
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From Star-Bulletin:

Obama notes ‘tragic’ US past
American history's "sad" aspects require action, the senator tells cheering journalists

Sen. Barack Obama, speaking to a gathering of minority journalists yesterday, stopped short of endorsing an official U.S. apology to American Indians but said the country should acknowledge its history of poor treatment of certain ethnic groups.

"There's no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we've got some very sad and difficult things to account for," Obama told hundreds of attendees of UNITY '08, a convention of four minority journalism associations.

The Hawaii-born senator, who has told local reporters that he supports the federal recognition bill for native Hawaiians drafted by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, noted other ethnic groups but did not mention native Hawaiians when answering a question about his thoughts on a formal U.S. apology to American Indians.

"I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged," the Democratic presidential hopeful said.

"I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds."
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Category: Church
Posted by: RBAFounderX
From USA Today:
Churches nationwide are fretting and sweating to reel men into their sanctuaries on Sundays.

Women outnumber men in attendance in every major Christian denomination, and they are 20% to 25% more likely to attend worship at least weekly.

Although every soul matters, many pastors say they need to power up on reaching men if the next generation of believers, the children, will find the way to faith. So hundreds of churches are going for a "guy church" vibe, programming for a stereotypical man's man.

"I hear about it everywhere I go," says Brandon O'Brien, who detailed the evolution of the chest-thumping evangelism trend this spring in Christianity Today.

IDEA CLUB: Is manliness next to Godliness?

One church, 121 Community Church in Grapevine, Texas, outside Dallas, was even designed with dudes in mind, from the worship center's stone floor, hunter-green and amber decor and rustic-beam ceilings to woodsy scenes on the church website.

No pastels. No flowers. No sweet music. No sit-with-your-hands-folded mood. Women are welcome, but the tone is intentionally "guy church" for a reason, says Ross Sawyers, founder and pastor of 121.

"I have read that if a child comes to Christ, 12% of the time the whole family will follow," Sawyers says.

"If the mom comes, there's a 15% chance the family will. But if the man comes to church, 90% of the time the family will come along behind.

"That's the reality, and that's why we do this."
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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Yesterday, I had the privilege of being able to attend a private screening of a new upcoming film - Call + Response. It is a riveting film that deals with some of most surreptitious present-day human evils around the world. And Reformed/Evangelical folks want to talk about abortion and/or gay-marriage all day as though it is the most pressing moral issue of our day. Really?!?! I wish I could say more, but I'm short on time right now.

Check out the trailer:

From the Call + Response website:
CALL+RESPONSE is a first of its kind feature documentary film that reveals the world’s 27 million dirtiest secrets: there are more slaves today than ever before in human history. CALL+RESPONSE goes deep undercover where slavery is thriving from the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India to reveal that in 2007, Slave Traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined.

Luminaries on the issue such as Cornel West, Madeleine Albright, Daryl Hannah, Julia Ormond, Ashley Judd, Nicholas Kristof, and many other prominent political and cultural figures offer first hand account of this 21st century trade. Performances from Grammy-winning and critically acclaimed artists including Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Cold War Kids, Matisyahu, Imogen Heap, Talib Kweli, Five For Fighting, Switchfoot, members of Nickel Creek and Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Rocco Deluca move this chilling information into inspiration for stopping it.

Music is part of the movement against human slavery. Dr. Cornel West connects the music of the American slave fields to the popular music we listen to today, and offers this connection as a rallying cry for the modern abolitionist movement currently brewing.
To find out more, click here.
Posted on: 07/08/08:

Will Smith's 'Hancock' Fiasco

Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Will Smith's 'Hancock' Fiasco
By Eileen Jones

"Hancock" is supposed to be a wry commentary on the pressure of being Will Smith, but the message gets lost in a big-budget Hollywood train wreck.
"Hancock" starts off with an inspired idea: Will Smith as an angry street person alienated by his own superpowers. Smith's Hancock is overlaid with two potentially volatile elements that accompany Smith everywhere: his race and his superstar status. In the typical Will Smith movie, those elements are neutralized and made to play nice together. That's why everybody not only loves Will Smith, but loves to boast about how much they love him; because of his unique ability to negotiate black stardom with such aplomb, distributors have long claimed he "transcends race" (meaning his films sell anywhere, even in regions and nations where racial prejudice typically limits the box-office appeal of certain stars). You can see the logic behind Barack Obama's joke that he'd like to see Will Smith play him in a movie. In turn, Will Smith joked on a recent episode of "The Colbert Report" that Obama might ruin his own plan to become the first African American president. Each recognizes in the other his fellow "transcender." Both are engaged in a public high-wire act that's exhausting to watch, in part because it must appear to be as effortless and uncalculated as possible.

In succeeding so spectacularly so far, both men risk accusations of "transcending race" by selling out, flashing megawatt smiles while skating over the bitterness of the African American experience, refusing to display anger, appealing to white audiences with endless reassurance: See how smoothly we've succeeded, how apparently unscarred we are by experience, what solid citizens we are with our nicely tailored suits, our picture-perfect families, our upbeat attitudes. Madison Avenue couldn't have come up with better advertisements for racial progress in America than Obama and Smith.

Which somehow makes it a downright relief to see Will Smith slouching around in a greasy watch cap, drinking cheap bourbon out of the bottle and swearing at anyone who looks at him. It's clear that the marketing drones who designed the film's preview actually understood the appeal of the project, making it all about Smith- -- Smith slouching, Smith snarling, Smith drunk, Smith looking dirty and smelly and low-down, Smith seeming to care nothing about his own appeal, his own powers or his own popularity. Seeing him play the opposite of the slick "Mr. July" blockbuster persona is an example of the conspiratorial joy we feel watching any big star subvert his or her own image, knowing that our star will be restored to us before long. We know Will Smith will emerge clean, handsome and can-do, just like we know the supposedly plain, awkward, badly dressed girl will get a makeover and turn into Anne Hathaway. We like watching this star-emerging process over and over.

But in "Hancock," Smith's roll in the gutter followed by his transformation back into his usual shiny star-self has an even bigger kick to it: It's a spasm of guilty pleasure when the African American Superman allows the audience, for a moment, to share the inhuman, exhausting strain of trying to be "twice as perfect."
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Category: History
Posted by: RBAFounderX

Frederick Douglass: A True American Prophet
By Jonathan L. Walton
The 4th of July is a high and holy day on America’s civil religious calender. It is a time for Americans to read patriotic speeches by the “founding fathers,” extol the virtues of “sacred” documents such as the Declaration of Independence, and unite our voices with the national hymns of Francis Scott Key and Julia Ward Howe.

Moreover, today we will hear, explicitly and implicitly, the theological doctrine of American exceptionalism proclaimed from both ecclesial and secular pulpits. Just as John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, declared America to be a “City on a Hill,” many will continue to elevate America as the moral arbiter of the world; God’s divine voice and example in all matters of freedom, justice and democracy.

But there are also those who have used the 4th of July to indict this nation concerning the incongruence between her self-professions and actual social practices. Famed abolitionists and American statesman Frederick Douglass is an example. Before the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society on July 4, 1852, Douglass offered what many consider one of the greatest speeches of the century.

“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” illumines the hypocrisy of a nation unable to check and challenge itself concerning its own moral hubris. True to form to the jeremiadic tradition, Douglass’ address transcends the particular topic of chattel slavery and the historical moment of its delivery. Douglass directs us back to the founding principles of this nation, even as he calls Americans to critically examine our own perverse dealings with one another as well as the world. This is what made Frederick Douglass, unlike those who sat at the helm of political power, a true American patriot. Rather than ignore or gloss over the travesties of this nation, Douglass was willing to uncover and confront them. And if we, too, are committed to America, we would do well to do the same.

Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Black Girls Get Pregnant and Get Scorned; Why Do the Gloucester Girls Get Tea and Sympathy?
By Tonyaa Weathersbee

By now, another racial stereotype ought to be biting some big-time dust.

It seems that in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a fishing town described as white, Catholic and blue collar, students who walk the halls of the local high school this fall may find themselves bumping into classmates who will be returning with their own bump. Seventeen girls at Gloucester High School are pregnant -- more than four times the number of pregnancies that the school of 1,200 has had in a year.

Time magazine recently reported that the pregnancies may have been part of a pact that the girls entered into to give birth to and raise their children together. But the principal of the school, Joseph Sullivan, has been silent since making that assertion -- possibly to quench the media firestorm ignited by that sordid tale. The mayor of the town, Carolyn Kirk, is vigorously denying that there was any pregnancy pact -- saying that Sullivan now claims his memory of the details is foggy.

Me, I believe Sullivan’s memory is just fine. It’s his courage that has lapsed.

But Kirk and others needn’t worry too much about the town’s reputation because ultimately, the Gloucester girls will receive more of society’s sympathy than its scorn. The fact that the media is focusing on whether there was a pact and whether the girls are victims of a celebrity culture that spawns movies like “Juno” and “Knocked Up,” says that when white kids do something that smacks of antisocial behavior, people are quick to dig for explanations.

When black kids do antisocial things, people think that all they need are sermons.
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