Friday, April 30, 2010

Robert Johnson: The Barriers That Hold Back Minority Entrepreneurs

The Barriers That Hold Back Minority Entrepreneurs

By Robert L. Johnson
Washington Post
Monday, April 26, 2010; 25

As an entrepreneur, I know firsthand the challenges minority entrepreneurs face. I also know the talent, dedication, determination and vision that minority entrepreneurs possess in their desire to become a part of and a contributor to the American Dream. But the simple fact of economic reality in America is that minority Americans are significantly and disproportionately underrepresented in access to capital to start and fund entrepreneurial enterprises due to years of racial and economic discrimination.

It's worth taking note of a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, which found that the median net worth for African Americans was $11,800 compared with $118,000 for whites. When home equity was subtracted, African Americans had $300 in net assets while whites had $36,000. This gap is likely to widen as employment stagnates and as the mortgage crisis costs some black families their homes.

Without question, the lack of access to capital and capital formation are the principal factors holding back opportunities for minority businesses and as a consequence, wealth and job creation within the minority community. In my opinion, there are two crucial political and philosophical issues that first must be confronted and resolved before capital can be effectively directed to minority Americans in this society.

The first question is: Why do the federal and state governments and major U.S. corporations define minority ownership as owning or holding 51 percent equity?

The answer usually offered is that a 51 percent equity requirement prohibits so-called minority "front companies or shams" from gaining access to government preferences. But why do we assume minority companies are fronts? The answer is painfully obvious, and it is partially why we are all here today. We know that minorities as a whole lack access to capital and therefore are unlikely to raise sufficient equity capital to control a company without outside financial assistance. But whose fault is that?

Think about this for a moment: As a businessperson, your goal is to grow in scale and value. How do you accomplish this if your company cannot raise outside equity if it exceeds your 51 percent ownership requirement?

Why not the debt market, you might ask?

Lenders have only one goal, a repayment of debt with interest as quickly as possible. On the other hand, and I know this to be a fact, strategic equity partners seek to combine investment and operational synergies with the minority company to maximize long-term growth and value.

I suggest we let market relationships decide and base ownership not only on equity control, but other factors. Such factors could be: Is the minority the founder of the company? Is the minority the key revenue driver in the company based on his or her intellectual capital, i.e. Oprah Winfrey?

What about considering voting control in different classes of stock that give more votes to the minority, or board control where the minority has the right to appoint the board majority. Or simply drop the equity requirement from 51 percent to 10 percent to recognize what we all agree is the true problem: the disparity in capital access that minorities face when launching a business.

This leads me to my second point. Is there a compelling national interest for helping minority businesses and what are its limitations?

If the goal is to foster minority businesses as opposed to small businesses, how do we address the Supreme Court's compelling-national-interest test for race-based remedies to discrimination? The court in the past has ruled that any government-sponsored economic preference to minority businesses should be "narrowly tailored" so as not to cause reverse discrimination.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, writing for the majority in the Adarand case [Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pe?a, June 12, 1995], stated that there was no compelling national interest in favoring a minority contractor for a highway construction job over a majority company.

If this precedent dictates our approach to minority business development, it will forever, in my opinion, restrict minority access to government-sponsored business opportunities.

We agree that due to past discrimination, minorities can't compete on capital formation, on experience or scale without capital, and are unlikely to win most competitive bids without an advantage or preference.

I don't have a ready politically acceptable answer to these philosophical quandaries, but I am enough of a businessperson to know that the free marketplace, left to its own devices, will not solve this problem.

I don't believe the government can promote minority ownership by placing restrictions on their start-up potential by requiring an "unconditional 51 percent ownership." I don't believe the government can say it's critically important to have minority businesses succeed in the marketplace and on the other hand declare there is no compelling national interest to favor these businesses.

This commentary is adapted from Robert L. Johson's testimony April 15 before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, now chairs the RLJ Cos.

Nancy Lockhart, Key Scott Sisters Supporter, Appointed State President Of S. Carolina Chapter Of The Ordinary People Society By Rev. Kenneth Glasgow

Listen To The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special:
All Eyes Are Still On Mississippi: Free The Scott Sisters!!!

Also On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio...
***Check Out The Scott Sisters Update Featuring Sis. Nancy Lockhart 3/24/2010 (Starts In The 2nd Hour)***





Phone: 843.217.4649




South Carolina ---- Reverend Kenneth Glasgow has appointed Nancy R. Lockhart as state president of The Ordinary People Society better known as T.O.P.S. T.O.P.S. is a nonprofit, faith-based organization located in Dothan, Alabama offering hope, without regard to race sex, creed, color or social status, to individuals and their families suffering the effects of drug addiction, incarceration, homelessness, unemployment, hunger and illness through comprehensive faith-based programs that provide a continuum of unconditional acceptance and care. (

T.O.P.S. is the first organization in the country to win a Lawsuit in Alabama gaining Voting Rights for the Incarcerated with little to no funding. This major win was accomplished through advocacy and community organizing. The organization also has a strong focus on Criminal Reintegration, Early Intervention, and After School Programs.

Lockhart is a legal analyst residing in the State of South Carolina and is best known for her grassroots organizing strategies in the case of The Scott Sisters. She is responsible for establishing a global grassroots network of supporters for the sisters without funding. ( In addition, Lockhart has experience as a Community Services Consultant for RainbowPUSH Coalition, Chicago where she served while completing a Master of Jurisprudence at Loyola University Chicago School Of Law.
Rev. Glasgow has a vision for the state of South Carolina which includes major efforts in advancing the safe and successful reentry of individuals from prisons and jails into their communities.

South Carolina State President

T.O.P.S. ~ The Ordinary People Society


Eliot Spitzer: The Goldman Casino

Eliot Spitzer is the former governor of the state of New York.

The Goldman Casino
Do Investment Banks Do Anything That Helps America Anymore?

By Eliot Spitzer
Posted Monday, April 26, 2010, at 5:34 PM ET

In ordinary times, the SEC's fraud case against Goldman Sachs would have been settled before it was even filed. There would have been a consent decree in which Goldman neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing, paid a fine, and agreed to make more fulsome disclosures in the future. But these are not ordinary times, and the SEC's very public announcement that it's charging Goldman with misrepresentation and fraud in its marketing of a subprime debt product has become one of the biggest stories in the entire Wall Street scandal.

The filing of the Goldman case has crystallized the public support for more vigorous regulation of Wall Street. The Republican effort to oppose financial regulatory reform is now fading into an effort to forge a compromise that will give them some sort of defensible exit strategy. Under any bill that is likely to pass, derivatives trading will become reasonably transparent; a consumer protection agency will be created with a significant degree of independence; some chairs will be rearranged on the organizational deck of the regulatory ship of state; capital requirements and leverage ratios will be adjusted in ways that will be designed to reduce overall risk; and a systemic risk overseer will be created. This is all good stuff, but none of it is really adequate to address the "too big to fail" structure of the financial industry in a fundamental way. And it won't repair the underlying asymmetry of our having "socialized risk" and "privatized gain" for those entities that have an explicit federal guarantee behind them.

The furor around the Goldman case offers an opportunity to consider Wall Street's most profound, and entirely ignored, crisis. Now that we are seeing the inner workings of the products that Goldman is marketing, we must ask whether what Goldman and others investment banks do deserves the huge public subsidies they have received. Do they do anything that has any real social value?

In the traditional model, investment banks are thought to serve two critical functions. First, they are financial intermediaries: They are the conduits for transferring savings to those sectors of the economy that need capital. They fulfill the essential function, the economists tell us, of efficient allocation of capital. That is where their initial public offering and other capital-raising functions come into play. They enable productive companies to access the capital markets so they can grow their businesses. Second, they are supposed to be market makers that provide liquidity and stability in the markets to permit the free flow of capital on an ongoing basis.

The question that must now be asked is: Are investment banks doing that? Are they doing the things that merit public support at all? Or are they just running a casino with products that have no great social utility? The regulators, legislators, and investigators have not focused on the fact that the fundamental business of banking has changed from capital allocation to, essentially, gambling.

It's time to start figuring out whether and how investments banks perform economically useful functions. To do that, we need to know how big banks deploy their capital and how they make their money. So here are a few questions that I believe are structurally more important than the ones that reporters and senators have been asking about Goldman during the past week:

1. What percentage of Goldman's capital is dedicated to proprietary trading, as opposed to capital formation for client companies?

2. What percentage of Goldman's profits derives from proprietary trading, asset management, and prime brokerage activities; and what percentage comes from capital formation for client companies?

3. What percentage of Goldman's profits derives from marketing and trading derivatives, specifically the synthetic CDOs that are at the heart of the SEC investigation?

4. What percentage of Goldman's capital has been invested in U.S. government securities over the last year, essentially taking advantage of an interest arbitrage between Goldman's cost of capital and the rate being paid on Treasury bills?

5. How much income did Goldman derive from bets against products it marketed?

6. How much capital—debt and equity—have Goldman and the other major investment houses raised for their clients over each of the past five years?
7. How much capital have they invested overseas in foreign-based companies—especially through private equity funds?

This is just a starting list. I hope that the Senate, the SEC, and the Fed have other, more precise questions to add. The point is that we need to get a real measure of the social value of investment banking activity and to determine whether they are fulfilling the essential capital formation and liquidity needs of the markets. We taxpayers have given them billions upon billions upon billions based on the theory that they perform economically useful activities. They need to prove that they do.

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How To Live A Well-Read Life

How To Live A Well-Read Life
Stepping Up The Pyramid Reading Chain

Word, words and more words – I cannot imagine what life would be without W-O-R-D-S. But where do they come from, why are they here, how are they used and, in a word, what do they mean?

Words are power! They are the pegs upon which some civilizations hanged their hats; a human being without words is like a bank without money; a bank without money is not a bank. What banks and humans have in common is the need for currency to operate each of their constituted systems. The bank’s currency is money; the human being’s currency is words. Banks need money; humans need words to carry out our naturally constituted functions.

To paraphrase Thomas Sheridan, an 18th Century British philosopher, “There is such an ultimate connection between words and ideas, that whatever fault or deficiency there may be in one necessarily offsets the other.”

In other words: words and ideas are inextricably interwoven.

Realizing that a cache of words is currency, a necessary part of my intentions to live a quality life, I began to purposely collect them so that I could reach my goals. Forty years ago, in the course of teaching myself how to read, I ran across an interesting word in Mortimer J. Adler’s book on, “How To Read A Book.” The word is syntopical, another dimension in reading totally foreign to me.

Adler coined syntopical to explain the highest level of reading at the college level. The question is whether high schools and colleges teach this level of reading. Or do they simply assign the task without teaching the theory? If one is already out of high school or did not go to college, there is the opportunity to study and learn at home.

Picture what syntopical reading looks like:

If we were to imagine a reading pyramid, we would find “elementary reading” at the bottom, “inspectional reading” on the second tier, “analytical reading” on the third tier, and, at the very top – the fourth tier – “syntopical reading.” Like the food pyramid, the steps in the reading pyramid are cumulative. Each tier or dimension has its own steps and each tier from the bottom up is germane to the tiers other above.

Syntopical reading is moving up the pyramid reading chain towards your own synopsis: what you now know about your subject or question and how you know it.

There are other books on the market with somewhat misleading titles and subtitles on how to read a book, but Adler’s “How To Read A Book” is the best I have found. His is not simply theoretical. His is a critical praxis approach taking the reader from theory to practice. I have another book titled: “How to Read and Why.” In this book Harold Bloom provides synoptic snapshots of books he enjoyed but little or no theory or practice as to how he arrive at the abstracts. About all we can take away from Bloom’s is what he liked about the authors’ stories.

(Maia Ajanaku-Locke is a former schoolteacher, state Department of Human Services caseworker, and daycare center owner who now works at the Memphis Airport Authority for Republic Parking Systems of Memphis. She can be reached at

Barbershops, Ben Rothlisberger And Changing Times

Barbershops, Ben Rothlisberger And Changing Times

A few weeks back I was in my barbershop having the kind of demographically rich and entertaining conversation that popular culture now expects to occur in every black barbershop in America. The room was filled with the sounds of laughter and argument as a college professor, UPS delivery man, community college student, bank employee and two barbers all pontificated about life, money, race and of course, sports. Eventually everyone started debating the possible fortunes of Ben Rothlisberger, the embattled quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was investigated by police after two women accused him of rape over the last 18 months.

My barber took bets on how long people believed he would be suspended from football, but the consensus in the room was that because “Big Ben” was a Super Bowl winner, hadn’t been convicted of a crime yet and, most importantly, was white, that he would not suffer the same fate as other athletes such as Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant or Tiger Woods. I am pleasantly surprised to see that for once it appears that at least in the case of sexual assault justice has trumped race and money in the eyes of the NFL.

The facts of the story are pretty basic: “Big” Ben Rothlisberger has been the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers for 6 years, and has been very successful on the field and had plenty of problems off of the field. He has won two Super Bowls with the Steelers but has also been accused – not convicted – of rape twice in the last 18 months.

The first case was brought in 2009 by a Lake Tahoe hotel employee, who claims that Rothlisberger called the front desk late at night, asking specifically for her to help him fix a television. The accuser says that after ‘fixing’ his television, Rothlisberger would not let her leave the room and then proceeded to rape her.

The second case came in March of 2010 when a 20-year-old Georgia college student claims that after socializing with the quarterback at several bars he became too aggressive and exposed himself to her. She rejected his ‘advance’ and went to the women’s room to get away from him. He then allegedly followed her into the women’s room and raped her, while his bodyguards, both off duty policemen, stood in front of the door preventing the woman’s friends from finding her.

While both of these stories – and many others circulating around the Web – were damaging enough, what everyone was waiting to see was what punishment “Big Ben” would receive.

In recent years, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has punished many athletes for being involved in situations – regardless of whether they were ever convicted of a crime – because their behavior reflected poorly on the league. Of course, all of those who received heavy suspensions, such as Michael Vick and Adam “Pacman” Jones, were African American. Many, from the guys in my barbershop to the national press, believed that the NFL, like much of the American justice system, was quick to punish black athletes for crimes that white ones would get a free pass for.

That was not the case this time. Goodell handed down a six-week suspension and ordered mandatory counseling. That is the longest suspension of any white player in the NFL for a non-drug related crime in the last 10 years. Fortunately, this suspension and the story that preceded it aren’t just about race.

I believe that the suspension and subsequent public outcry against Rothlisberger is a good sign for society. That perhaps we are turning the corner in our thinking about sexual assault and violence. I find it fitting that in the final weeks of April, which happens to be National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, one of the most prominent sports in America has stood up and said that the implication of sexual violence against women will not be tolerated, regardless of whether it can be proven.

For far too long in this country, women who have been victimized by famous athletes have been dismissed by the press and fans or pressured into not seeking justice. Fans booed Rothlisberger and chants of “She Said NO!” echoed throughout Radio City Music Hall during the NFL Draft last week. While a small step, maybe this means we’re changing as a society. Maybe we are starting to value the lives and sanctity of women’s sexual freedom more, and perhaps for the first time in years a ‘public’ conviction on sexual assault is truly colorblind.

(Dr. Jason Johnson is an associate professor of political science and communications at Hiram College in Ohio, where he teaches courses in campaigns and elections, pop culture, and the politics of sports. He can be reached at

More Jason Johnson On W.E. A.L.L. B.E.:

Gates' "Slavery Blame Game" Misses the Point

Gates' "Slavery Blame Game" Misses The Point
By Frederick Alexander Meade
In recent days an enormous discussion has taken form within many American quarters, as Dr. Henry Louis Gates has once again weighed in on the question of reparations for African Americans.

The Harvard Professor’s most recent article entitled, “Ending the Slavery Blame Game”, in which Gates produces information regarding those African nations which actively aided European slave merchants during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade has functioned to not only broaden the lens in which this tragic event may be viewed, but has also served to explain the complexity in which culpability may be assessed.

Gates, within the article, makes mention of several Western and Central African populations, including but not limited to, the Akan of the Asante kingdom in what is now Ghana and the Kongo of what is presently Congo as those groups that profited from the selling of Africans to European forces.

The scholar even makes mention of the revered 17th Century Queen Njinga, ruler of the Mbundu, as he reveals her duplicitous station as opponent and business partner to Portuguese slavers.

Professor Gates’ excursions into the history of the African holocaust and subsequent assessment as to those parties who may have been responsible therein are to be commended. However, the scholar’s suggestions that the fact numerous African nations were considerably involved in the development of this horrific event, presents an obstacle regarding the payment of funds to the descendants of the victims may be inaccurate.

Such a determination may emerge, as the professor’s proposition lacks some measure of historical perspective.

In Nazi Germany’s unfortunate efforts to enact genocide on its Jewish citizens, considerable hardships were endured by this population. However, once this egregious affront to humanity was brought to an end, the prevailing world powers demonstrated little difficulty in procuring capital for the effected group. This reality prevailed in light of the fact other nations supported and contributed to the creation of this unspeakable segment of Germany's history.

Aid to the Jewish world community surfaced to the extent that even a population - The Palestinians – that had nothing to do with the lamentable plight experienced by these European peoples, was displaced from its land so as to make available this resource to those surviving this holocaust; thus the creation of Israel.

In the face of this historical event, Dr. Gates’ statements suggesting payment to African Americans for centuries of forced labor experienced by their ancestors may be compromised by virtue of the fact multitudinal nations partook in the heinous institution which caused the circumstance to exist, is without merit.

The United States government, as reflected by its past and current financial and militaristic support of Israel - similar to that of its aid to the citizens of Bosnia - has an established history of providing considerable resources to many of those groups that have experienced the profound sting of gross inhumane treatment. Such has been the case; irrespective of whether the United States has been responsible for the suffering of these populations or not.

Additionally the professor’s thoughts, via this article, fail to address what ought to be the fundamental question regarding the reparations debate.

The primary question with respect to reparations for African Americans hinges not on who is responsible for these crimes against humanity, but rather what measures must be imposed by this people to bring this desired objective to fruition.

At the very least the United States along with several European and African nations are culpable for the legacy of slavery within this nation. If additional entities can be proven to have participated in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, they too, must be held accountable, and made to provide restitution to the descendants of those effected parties.

The failure to pose this question on behalf of those scholars, who engage the subject of reparations, bespeaks a desire to avoid any serious discussion in regard to the matter.

In the instance of Gates, it may be suggested that perhaps his desire to propose the garnering of reparations for African Americans lies on faulty ground, serves as a tactic designed to quell this group’s call for justice in regard to the issue.

Such a reality is conceivable, as a demand for reparations from an African-American public increasingly disenchanted with our nation’s first African-American President, Barack Obama, would function to potentially compromise the political standing of Gates’ long time friend.

In an effort to curtail such a request, the reintroduction of information that would make the reality of obtaining payment for centuries of slavery less perceivable, functions to potentially accomplish this goal.

The debate in regard to reparations has and will continue to be a source of contention among the American populace. If African Americans are to ever engage this issue in a serious manner, those individuals influencing the discussion must frame the conversation to the extent the acquisition of such a goal remains the primary focus.

Accordingly, intellectuals and or scholars who present ideas that run contrary to the ultimate realization of such an aim must not be permitted to orchestrate the debate.

It will only be under the condition of the African-American public’s unrelenting resolve to further honor their ancestors’ contributions to the United States of America in this manner, the realization of financial compensation for their centuries of toil will find its expression.

In achieving such an end, the question for African Americans is not so much one of who is responsible for the legacy of North American slavery, but rather what must be done to secure payment for this disastrous event.

The answer to this question is essentially all that counts.

The author is an educator and journalist providing analysis on social and political matters. His works have appeared in news magazines and publications around the country. Meade, who lives in Atlanta, GA, can be reached by E-mail at

My Brother, Gang Starr’s Guru

(Harry Elam Jr. Photos)
Harry Elam Jr., Harry Elam Sr., and Keith ("Guru'') Elam on Cape Cod in the 1970s.
My Brother, Gang Starr’s Guru

By Harry J. Elam Jr.
The Boston Globe
April 23, 2010

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Boston-born Keith Elam, who rose to fame as Guru, founder of the rap group Gang Starr and a person who sought to merge rap and jazz, died earlier this week. His brother, Harry, a distinguished professor of drama at Stanford, has written this remembrance).

“Positivity, that’s how I’m livin..’” So goes the lyric from my brother’s early hip-hop song, “Positivity.” My brother Keith Elam, the hip-hop artist known as GURU—Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal—died this week at the too-young age of 48 because of complications from cancer. ‘Positivity’ was what he sought to bring to the music and to his life, and for me that will be a large part of his legacy.

In February of this year, my brother went into a coma, and I traveled across the country from my home in California to see him. At his bedside, I stood and stared at his overly frail frame, his head that he had kept clean-shaven for the last 20 years uncommonly covered with hair, his body connected to a sea of tubes and wires. I listened to the whirl of machines around us and took his hand. As I did, my mind flashed back to now-distant times, so many memories. And I saw us as teenagers at the beach on Cape Cod playing in the water together. And I saw us as boys, driving to school. My brother was five years younger than me, so we attended the same school only for one year -- my senior year, his seventh-grade year -- at Noble and Greenough School, and I would often drive us both to school. Invariably, I made us late, yet my brother, never as stressed as me, was always impressively calm. At school he endured the jests and teasing from the other boys about being my “little brother.” I was president of the school and had charted a certain path at Nobles. But my brother found his own creative route at school, as he would throughout his life. His journey was never easy, never direct, but inventive. Through it all he remained fiercely determined with a clear and strong sense of self.

Over the years I had proudly watched my brother perform in a wide variety of contexts. While at Nobles, we had a black theatre troupe known as “the Family.” In 1973, we put on a play entitled ''A Medal for Willie,'' by William Branch, and because he was only in the seventh grade, Keith played only a small role, but even then you could see his flair for performance, his comfort on the stage. At home, our older sister Patricia would teach him the latest dances, and he would execute them with verve as I watched from the sidelines, impressed with his moves, and not without a few twinges of jealousy since I’ve always had two left feet. As a teenager he raced as a speed skater. I do not remember how he became involved in the sport; I only remember traveling with my family to watch his meets in the suburbs of Boston. I do not remember if he won or lost, I do know that he always competed with great ferocity and commitment.

When he announced to me that he was dropping out of graduate school at the Fashion Institute of Technology to pursue a career in rap, I thought he was making a grave mistake and warned him against it. But as always he was determined, and in the end he would succeed beyond perhaps what even he had imagined. Early on in his rap journey, he visited me in Washington., D.C., over a Thanksgiving weekend. I was teaching at the University of Maryland then, and we went to what was perhaps the most dreadful party we had ever attended. As we hastened out the door, I apologized for bringing him to this party. My brother replied “let’s write a rap song about it,” and we did. The lyrics made us laugh as we collaborated on the rhyme scheme and rode off into the D.C. night. It is one of my fondest memories, this spontaneous brotherly moment of collaboration and play.

Keith’s big break came with Spike Lee’s film ''Mo’ Better Blues,'' with his song “A Jazz Thing” underscoring the credits. I watched that film over and over again just to hear my brother at its end. Soon he was on to creating his first Jazzmatazz album with others to follow, and he became credited for creating a fusion between jazz and hip hop. To be sure, that fusion owes something to our grandfather Edward Clark and Keith’s godfather, George Johnson, who introduced Keith to jazz by playing their favorite albums for him. He credits them both on his first Jazzmatazz. That first Jazzmatazz album featured musical heroes of my youth, Roy Ayers, and Donald Byrd, and here was my brother featuring them on his album. And with this success, came tours. I have seen him perform all over the world, and each time he would give a shout out from the stage to his brother and my wife, Michele. And I was so proud. It sometimes struck me with awe that all these people were there to see my brother. I watched him deal out magic; he was in his element feeling the crowd, and them responding to his groove. This was my baby brother, the kid with whom I once shared a room. The kid whose asthma would cause him to hack and cough and wheeze at night keeping me up. But when I would complain, my parents would send me out of the room. The message was clear: Love your siblings, whatever their frailties. Shorter than me and slighter of build, my brother suffered from asthma and allergies his whole life, but he was always a survivor.

Back in 1993, when he played at Stanford University, I was in perhaps my third year as a professor there. As I walked into the auditorium that night, the assembled audience of students looked at me with a new awareness, “that’s the Guru’s brother,” not that’s Professor Elam, but the Guru’s brother.

And I was, and am, the Guru’s brother. I admired and loved him deeply, my little brother. And I was and am so proud of him, and how he made his dreams reality . And with the outpouring of love that has crowded my e-mail with his passing, I know that he touched so many with his music. My brother cared deeply about family. He raps of my parents in more than one song. They are featured on his video “Ex girl to next girl.” It was one thing seeing my brother on MTV; it was another seeing my parents. His son K.C. was the joy of his life.

The doctors told me back in February that there was not much chance of my brother recovering from the coma. But my brother has always been a fighter, always been one to overcome surprising adversities, so this seemed just one more. We prayed that he would again prevail. But it was not to be. Still his drive, his spirit, his energy, his positivity will live on, and so will his music. “that’s how I’m livin…”

Harry J. Elam Jr. is the senior associate vice provost at Stanford University and the author of several books, including "The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson."

Watch Full Coverage Of Dr. Dorothy Height's Funeral Courtesy Of C-Span...

Funeral Service for Civil Rights Leader Dorothy Height
During the funeral service for civil rights leader Dorothy Height, Pres. Obama eulogized that she led a life of “vision and class.” The long-time Chairman and former President of the National Council of Negro Women was remembered by family, government officials and civil rights leaders.

More Civil Rights Movement On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. :

Gang Starr Guru Tribute...R.I.P.

Gang Starr - Jazz Thing

Gang Starr - Royalty

Gang Starr - Full Clip

Gang Starr - You Know My Steez

Gang Starr - Mass Appeal

Gang Starr feat. Nice & Smooth - DWYCK

Gang Starr's DJ Premier Comments On Guru's Death

Apr 21 2010 6:58 PM EDT

MTV-Premier does not comment on harsh statements directed at him in 'farewell' letter reportedly written by MC.

In the statement announcing the death of Gang Starr's Guru on Monday, a letter was included that found the MC directing some harsh words at his longtime partner in the group, DJ Premier. Some have questioned the validity of the letter — claims that Guru's recent partner, Solar, has refuted.

"I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name, likeness, events, tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this," the letter reads. "I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ."

In a statement issued Wednesday (April 21) on a DJ Premier fan blog that his manager had earlier told MTV News is legitimate, the Gang Starr DJ chose not to address the comments in the letter and instead remember his longtime collaborator.

"It was a sad day for me to get confirmation on the death of a man who I will continue to call my brother, Keith Elam, better known as Guru of the legendary Gang Starr," the statement reads. "From 1988-2004, we experienced so much success together that we were able to expand our businesses independently and give each other what Guru called 'creative space,' before planning to reunite for our seventh LP when the time was right. Tragically, we will never reach that day.

"I've been asked to comment on a letter speaking ill of me which was supposedly written by Guru in his dying days. All I will say about it is that our time together was beautiful, we built a hip-hop legacy together, and no one can re-write history or take away my love for him. One thing I would never do is play around with the truth about his life.

"I will celebrate Guru's life ... I will honor his memory ... I will grieve with the Elam family over his untimely death ... I will remember the Gang Starr foundation and all of the original members of Gang Starr who came before me — we all know each other ... mostly, I will cherish everything we created together as Gang Starr, forever. I'm gonna miss hearing his signature monotone voice when he walks in the room, but the songs will always bring it back to me ... His rhyme flows were insane, and I will never remove him from my heart and soul. Rest in peace to the man who felt 'satisfaction from the street crowd reaction.' I love you Goo ... DJ Premier."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Houses Of Hypocrisy By Philip A. Faruggio

Houses of Hypocrisy by Philip A. Faruggio

Now I know this column is going to upset many people. Well, I have upset many people before with my critiques and commentaries…. Why not now? I will focus on our Judea- Christian culture in my commentary today.

 As a preface, I must address some other areas of worship where hypocrisy reigns as well. Let us not forget the great Hindu traditions echoed by Yogananda and Ghandi…. That are now prostituted by this current Indian government and its economic system. Ghandi fought against both the colonial British rule and the caste system. Sadly, India still maintains a caste system, now under the guise of Free Market Global Capitalism. The fine film Slum Dog Millionaire captured this better than any muckraking book could.

Next, we have the brutal Feudalism of many Middle Eastern Moslem nations. Sheiks, dangling mistresses and Western bankbooks, with fleets of limos and million dollar racehorses, jetting to and fro elite resorts….. While serfs garden their oasis. Or the jihadists who praise Allah while celebrating suicide bombings of civilians.

Getting back to America and Israel, how Jesus and Abraham must be grieved at what their current followers are all about. Inside those truly blessed temples, the altars remain silent as to the corruption, the greed, the devastation being done outside.

We have a Catholic Pope, who, as Cardinal and right hand man to John Paul II, covered up the sexual abuses perpetrated by a myriad of priests, spanning decades! This Cardinal ( now Pope Benedict ), also subverted the ‘ Liberation Theology ‘ principle that many Latin American bishops and priests subscribed to. This theology taught that the Church has a duty to lead the way for social and economic justice in the communities and countries it may be in. Instead, the Vatican, at that time ( and now ) would rather tolerate , thus condone, horrific dictatorships throughout Central and South America.

The so called ‘ division of church and state ‘ should never include any government or society outside the church that rejects the teachings inside. Would Jesus have remained silent after viewing the film clip ( actual US government footage ) of US helicopter crews , after authorization by superiors , massacring innocent and unarmed Iraqi civilians….. Whose only crime was walking through the streets of their neighborhood? Would he not condemn those who torture, or order torture, or attempt to justify it?

Would he not intercede when a priest asks his flock to ‘ pray for our brave troops ‘ , but never the civilians being killed by our troops, our stray bombs or IEDs? Would Jesus not question as to why our innocent soldiers were even sent to Iraq?

Would Jesus remain silent as super rich CEOs earn mega millions while others in his flock cannot afford their rent, or medicine, or perhaps three good meals a day? What would Jesus say to the top executives of private nursing homes, who earn mega dollars, about those $ 9.00 and $ 10.00 an hour aides who wipe the **** from the old person’s rear end, give them showers, change their soiled clothes? Would he not repeat his ‘Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get to heaven‘ warning?

Abraham, what about his feelings? Do you think he would remain silent, if he ran the Saturday temple service, about what Israel is doing? The children and grandchildren of those poor Jewish souls who were ghettoized, terrorized, starved, beaten, worked to death or gassed to heaven…… Are they now deaf and dumb? Would Abraham stand by on that altar of the holiest of holy temples, and allow his people to do what they are doing to the Palestinians in Gaza?

Do they not recall the ‘ Siege of Leningrad ‘ when millions were systematically starved to death by the Nazis? How many of those Israelis have relatives who were actually there in Leningrad? How many Israelis had relatives in Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Yugoslavia…. Throughout Europe, who had their valuables, homes, businesses, farms, livestock all taken from them to allow for Aryan settlers?

What then would Abraham say to Bibi Netenyahu when he insists on forcing Palestinians from their homes so as to expand Israeli settlements in Arab East Jerusalem? Would Abraham not demand, from the temple altar, that this nonsense stop!

To worship our Creator and give thanks for this life, is that it? Or is the whole purpose of this life to bring a little touch of heaven to earth? In heaven do they torture? In heaven is there greed and corruption? In heaven is it ‘ Every man for himself ‘ ?

The most important reason we are in these bodies, with minds and hearts etc. is to use our free will to make this a better place. To go to a house of worship and pray and sing is all well and good. Yet, if we just think that it is OK , in the eyes of God or the universe, to ignore injustice and suffering , so long as it is not affecting us…..

Well, then what in the heck was Jesus and Mohammed , Buddha and Lord Krishna , Abraham and all the other holy men here for? If only we could follow the most basic of sayings: ‘ As ye do unto the least of mine you do unto me.’

Philip A. Faruggio is a sales rep, free lance columnist and activist. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq he has been standing on the street corners of his town …. Once a week. Philip’s recent work can be seen on his blog at by searching his name. He can be contacted at

Black Graduates Owe More Debt Than White, Asian, Or Hispanic Graduates

Copyright By R2C2H2
Black Graduates Owe More Debt Than White, Asian, Or Hispanic Graduates

By Ashley Marchand
The Chronicle Of Higher Education
April 26, 2010

Many students graduate with manageable debt or no education loans, but almost 17 percent of graduates in 2008 borrowed $30,500 or more to get their bachelor's degrees, according to a new analysis.

A report released today by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, also said that students who borrow the most are disproportionately black, and are more likely to have attended a private nonprofit or for-profit college than a public four-year college. But debt levels did not necessarily reflect family income.

Over all, the analysis—based on data from 2007-8 graduates in the "National Postsecondary Student Aid Study"—revealed that about two-thirds of all those who received a bachelor's degree graduated with some amount of loan debt.

About 25 percent of all college-degree recipients graduated with at least $24,600 in debt, and 10 percent graduated with at least $39,300, says the report, "Who Borrows Most?: Bachelor's Degree Recipients With High Levels of Student Debt."
Borrowing by Income

A key finding by Sandy Baum and Patricia Steele, consultants to the College Board and authors of the report, was that debt levels at graduation among financially dependent students do not correlate to those students' family income.

"It's not the lowest-income students who are most likely to have debt," Ms. Baum said. "It's actually middle-income students who are slightly more likely than others to have high levels of debt."

She said, however, that it would be difficult to pinpoint exactly why that is so. Several factors, including the types of institutions that students from middle-income families choose to attend, could contribute to their higher debt.

Among bachelor's-degree recipients, independent students were also more likely to have high debt levels. About 24 percent of them had at least $30,500 in loan debt, twice the percentage found among students who depend on their parents or another guardian. "Independent students—who are disproportionately likely to come from lower-income families—are most likely to have high debt levels," the report says.

The College Board also analyzed the relationship between student debt and race, finding that black students were more likely than Asians, whites, and Hispanics to have high debt levels. Only 19 percent of black students graduated with no debt, while the percentage of debt-free graduates from other racial groups ranged from 33 for Hispanic students to 40 percent for Asian students. About 27 percent of all black students graduated with at least $30,500 in student-loan debt, while the portion of students with that level of debt ranged from 9 percent to 16 percent for other races.
Debt and For-Profit Institutions

The amount of loan debt that students graduated with also depended upon the type of institution they attended.

Thirty-eight percent of students from public four-year colleges graduated without student-loan debt, compared with 28 percent from private nonprofit colleges, and only 4 percent from commercial institutions.

Those from the commercial, or for-profit, institutions were more than twice as likely to have $30,500 or more in loan debt when compared with their peers from private four-year colleges and more than four times as likely to have that level of debt than their counterparts from public four-year institutions. About 53 percent of for-profit graduates had that high a debt load, versus 24 percent of those from private, nonprofit four-year colleges and 12 percent from public four-year colleges.

Despite the loan debt that students built up, Ms. Baum said, borrowing can be beneficial, as long as students make wise choices about whether or not a college fits with their financial resources, and whether they are taking out the best loans available.

"Borrowing for college makes a lot of sense, but some students seem to be borrowing more than they will be able to reasonably repay," she said. "It's better to realize that in advance than to realize that after you've already taken the debt."

According to the report, the problem is not that all students are borrowing too much, but that difficulties in predicting earnings after graduation, and students' lack of understanding about the financial impact of loans, leave too many of them borrowing more than they can manage.

Jill Scott’s ‘Pretty Face’ Opens Door To Weighty Issue

Jill Scott’s ‘Pretty Face’ Opens Door To Weighty Issue

dinner. As is often the case when you are the only single man in a car full of three single women, the conversation moves to dating, marriage and the inevitable “who do you think is good looking.”

Each side pitched names back and forth with the usual results. I say “LL Cool” and the women all coo about his chest and lips. They say “Kelita Smith” and I say Bernie Mac was the luckiest man on television. But eventually the conversation turned to a name that put me on the spot in a way I didn’t expect.

“Jill Scott?” my friend posed. I said she had a pretty face; and before I could say another word I was bombarded with a torrent of comments about how black men don’t appreciate plus-sized sistas, that plenty of men found Jill Scott beautiful and that my attitude contributed to a host of problems from low self esteem in girls to the break-up of the black family.

Ironically, I hadn’t said anything about Jill Scott’s weight, but the reaction of women in the car is a reflection of the real problem that the black community has about weight issues. Our obesity problem is killing us, and no amount of social badgering and whining is going to save us if we don’t take our weight problem seriously.

In a recent column, I suggested that Michelle Obama’s focus on childhood obesity as first lady was a soft-ball issue picked to avoid bringing any controversy her husband’s way. But the truth is that she might be tapping into something that is a lot more serious than many of us accept, especially in the African-American community. Obesity in America is having serious consequences on commerce, our culture and healthcare. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reports that 35 percent and 53 percent of African-American men and women are obese respectively.

Now bear in mind that’s obese, not overweight. Plenty of us could benefit from shedding a few pounds, but obesity is another issue entirely. The long-term health consequences to obesity, colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease are pretty well known, but the short-term costs are often ignored.

Obesity is getting expensive. Department stores such as Lane Bryant and Today’s Man are starting to charge more for plus sizes for men and women because they know it’s harder to comparison shop for size 52 dress slacks. Airlines have started to charge obese passengers for two seats, health insurance costs go up and then there’s job discrimination.

Studies have shown that obese white women make 6 percent less a year in income than their skinny friends, even when education, experience and performance are taken into consideration. It’s even worse for black women. While men don’t suffer nearly as much wage discrimination due to obesity as women, the higher you move up the income scale, the more likely you are to be passed over for promotions and advancement as public stereotypes about ‘fat people’ affect job evaluations. These are all things that hit us in the pocket book immediately.

Being overweight is something that most of the African-American community can control with changes in diet and exercise. We’re way past simply giving up extra helpings of fried food and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If moving to a lower fat diet, and walking up and down the stairs in your apartment complex, or walking to the grocery store with your kids instead of driving can end up saving you thousands of dollars in clothes, healthcare and denied wages over the next several years, that seems like small price to pay.

I think it’s a great thing that in the black community we can appreciate women and men of all sizes and shapes as beautiful. That, however, does not mean we can simply forget that weight problems are having a serious impact on our community.

For the record, I think Jill Scott is a pretty attractive woman, I’ve always preferred natural haired, nose ring, artsy “Freddy from a Different World” types of women. But whether we like big like Ruben Studdard and Jill Scott, or fit like Trey Songz and Gabrielle Union, we cannot continue to avoid the issue of weight in the black community. Some preferences have bigger consequences than others. 

(Dr. Jason Johnson is an associate professor of political science and communications at Hiram College in Ohio, where he teaches courses in campaigns and elections, pop culture, and the politics of sports. He can be reached at

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‘Man-ters’ Versus Mentors

‘Man-ters’ Versus Mentors

Modern mentoring programs, for the most part, are well intended, and occasionally effective. Amid all the noise from groups and individuals who claim to be mentoring, the results continue to be shallow and isolated at best, and manipulative at a more realistic and sinister level. There are approximately six million African-American (urban) youngsters in the U.S., aged 12 to 21. Current mentoring efforts touch most of these children in some distant way, mostly as a resource, but the actual number of effective mentor-mentee “connections” is miniscule, perhaps 10 percent.

Part of the reason for this shortcoming, and the central problem we face, is the inherent disconnect in the way mentors are recruited, screened, trained, and assigned to a mentee. Another part of what’s missing is the direct connection between the man and the boy, in terms of direction and purpose, where “real” men can immediately share what they know… right here, and right now. To quote one of my earlier editorials in the Tri-State Defender newspaper, “Real men have jobs, homes, families, responsibilities, and passions for life. Real men are confident in their persons, and in their abilities. They’re usually busy most of the time, but that’s what maintains those homes and families and passions.” These types of men have some time to share, but none to waste. I call them “Man-ters.”

Traditional “mentors” are recruited and given orientation to a variety of vague concepts concerning behaviors and responses of young boys. Too often, the facilitators are untrained, good-hearted souls who are in over their heads. God bless them one-and-all, those who would share time and attention with misguided urban teens. All of us should mentor or “coach” the young people around us, and volunteer a few hours to share some new ideas, skills and tasks with children who have never really learned to seek self-improvement. “Man-ters” are in a position to help fill this void, but they don’t have a lot of time for six-hour training sessions, before they ever see a child.

We need men to share their knowledge of chivalry and class with young boys. We need men to show them how to check or even change the oil on a car, or replace a kitchen floor tile for an elderly relative, or mix a bucket of concrete for a small home repair. Real men have time to share this kind of hands-on knowledge with boys, but they don’t have a lot of time for philosophical meetings that “explore the possibilities” for growth of a young boy. Real men want to show up, meet the boys, get to work, see some progress, and leave all of the psycho-social aspects to counselors, preachers and parents. “Man-ters” offer encouragement to the young men as they leave, headed back to their families and to their busy lives. These men return to their homes and careers with a small sense of accomplishment, and will very likely return to “Man-ter” again, if they can comprehend what we’re doing here.

Finally, the concept of “Man-ter” versus Mentor is aimed at a healthy exercise in placing critical resources where they’re needed most, and not squandering the human capital that is needed now to train (or re-train) urban boys. I personally favor “team-mentoring” in nearly all cases, with several men and several boys assembling for skills development and task-completion. One-on-one mentoring (or coaching) is tough stuff. Mentors are not psychiatrists, and the boys who really need the help, don’t really make for very good patients. But the group concept is measurably more effective, and as common as the “Boy Scout” model or the “Pop Warner” football team operated by volunteer-coaches from the neighborhood.

“Man-ters” are real men who have time to share, but none to waste. We need millions of them to step forward, and offer what they have to local churches and schools. We need a million dollars, and a million mentors, but what we need most is for every man to stand up for his community, and be a “Man-ter” to every boy who needs it.

(Anthony Nichelson is program director for the Citadel Radio Group and founder of the 110 Institute. 

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Star Parker: Defining The Liberal Versus Conservative Divide

Defining The Liberal Versus Conservative Divide
Will We Live In A Nation In Which There Are Absolute Truths Or One In Which We Are At The Hands Of Political Arbitrariness In Which Our Lives And Property Are Up For Grabs?

Now that President Obama is getting ready to make his second Supreme Court nomination, the usual banter is taking place about the court and judicial philosophy.

The Supreme Court, of course, profoundly influences the character of our country.

Although, for instance, many look back on the policies of Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal programs as the beginning of the real growth of the American welfare state, it is really key Supreme Court decision during that time that enabled all of this. Court decisions changing the interpretation of “general welfare”, interstate commerce, and the authority of the federal government to tax changed the game and opened a new era of big government.

At the beginning of the 1930’s, the federal government’s take of national GDP was a little over ten percent. By the mid-1940’s it was over twenty percent, and the trend has been only upward since.

Although much of the discussion about judicial philosophy contrasts how conservative and liberal judges relate to the constitution, I think the real key to conservative and liberal divergence is the world view these judges already have when they sit down to interpret the constitution.

The statement of vision defining American values appears in the Declaration of Independence. Understanding that vision is where I think the most fundamental conservative versus liberal divide exists.

Consider how President Obama relates to the Constitution, as he wrote in his book The Audacity of Hope – “Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth….”

Our president is a moral relativist. So we may expect that he doesn’t take very seriously the idea, as state in the Declaration of Independence, that there are absolutes. That we have God given rights that precede government and that the job of government is to secure them.

Rather than seeing government’s job as securing our rights, the liberal sees it to invent them. The politician – or the empathetic judge – defines what is moral and just.

There’s a lot of speculation about what is driving the tea party movement and why, as reflected in the latest survey by the Pew Research Foundation, Americans’ trust in government is at an all time low.

I think most fundamentally it’s discomfort with this moral relativism that is driving the pervasive unrest.

The whole unique idea of American government – the idea of human liberty – was that there are absolute truths and that individual citizens can and must be protected from arbitrary rulers – whether it is a king or a political class with arbitrary powers.

President Obama said the other day regarding the kind of court nominee he will seek, “…I want somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights…”

What in the world can this possibly mean from our president who has just signed into law a health care bill which will force every single American citizen to buy a government defined health care insurance policy? A health care bill that opens the door to unprecedented government control over how private individuals manage their health care and the most private decisions they make over their own lives.

Or what can it possibly mean coming from our president who opposed the Supreme Court’s decision a few years ago banning partial birth abortion – which is pure and simple torture and murder of a live infant?

The real differences over liberal and conservative judges is most fundamentally about the world in which Americans will live. Whether we live and will live in a nation in which there are absolute truths or one in which we are at the hands of political arbitrariness in which our lives and property are up for grabs.

Our country is being governed today by those with the latter view of the world and, fortunately, more and more Americans are deeply concerned.

Star Parker is president of CURE, Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education, and can be reached at

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