Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin...

In the words of my ever so insightful mother...

McCain's pick of Sarah Palin for his running mate brings up some serious questions about his judgment. Picking someone with only one year of experience (as governor of a state with less people than Charlotte, North Carolina), when you are 72yrs old, at risk for heart disease, and after being diagnosed with skin cancer... is just insane to me...

It also speaks to his sexism... to McCain, all women are the same... any woman will do, regardless of her [lack of] qualifications..

Polysigh makes an excellent point about how the acceptance of this nomination brings up some serious questions about Sarah Palin's judgment as well... Especially after she has admitted that she knows nothing about the position...

For more comments about the Republican VP selection check out The Kitchen Table and On The Dig.

In the meantime...

I hope you have enjoyed this weeks coverage of the Democratic National Convention.... South Side Scholar will be going on temporary hiatus until after September 20...

During my absence please continue to check out past blogs and leave comments... and come back after the 20th to see what new stuff South Side Scholar is up to!


Friday, August 29, 2008

Final Day of the Democratic Convention

I was deeply moved by the speech of Rep. John Lewis who did the introduction to the tribute to Martin Luther King jr. Rep Lewis is the last living main speaker from the March on Washington.

(Although Dr. Irene Height... one of my sorors/former president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc... was also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March and Washington and is still alive and was present at the convention today)

Jennifer Hudson's rendition of the national anthem
was absolutely beautiful

LOL... side note: I love Spike Lee, when interviewed by MSNBC about what he thought about Barack Obama, he said "I think history will be defined as B.B. and A.B... Before Barack and After Barack..."

I know ya'll are going to want to burn me at the stake for this... lol... but I really didn't get into Stevie's first song... don't get me wrong... I LOVE me some Stevie Wonder, but I just think his song choice was lacking... However, in typical Stevie fashion he proceeded to bring the house down :-)

Unfortunately I don't think the live version of's "yes we can video" worked out very well...

Al Gore's speech was so poignant and so powerful... the comparisons he made between the critical nature of this election and his 2000 election really struck a cord with me...

One thing that I can't help but be amazed by, is the way in which all the major Democratic heavyweights... both Clintons, the Kennedys, Al Gore and John Kerry... are all coming out to support Barack Obama... a black man... in such a big way... I know most of you are like... "well they don't have any choice... he is the party nominee." But think about it... this time last year, the chances of this occuring seemed next to impossible... but the people spoke and the party was forced to let go of their "chosen daughter" and listen to the voices of the primary voters... I don't know about you... but I continue to be awed by the power in that....

John McCain's rinky dink commercial congratulating Obama on his nomination had absolutely no purchase for me... After teasing the media relentlessly about his VP pick in the middle of the Democratic Convention and the loads of petty and childish commercials (which had absolutely nothing to do with politics) that hes been shoving down my throat for the last three days... McCain has made it clear that Obama isn't the one who has no idea what he is doing... I'm predicting it now... once the debates start... any gains McCain has made are going out the window....

It's amazing... Obama managed to draw 90,000 people to Mile High Stadium... McCain is having a hard time convincing 10,000 people to show up to his acceptance speech... yet somehow pundits are describing this as a problem for Obama?

Lets be honest... McCain is the media darling... he absolutely gets away with anything and everything... How is it after weeks of negative commercials, he all of a sudden is "gracious and classy".... ??!!

Onto pleasanter things...

I did think it was appropriate for Sen Dick Durbin to introduce Obama... those democrats love them some symbolism huh?

But onto the most important part of the night....

I LOVED Obama's speech... he did absolutely everything he needed to do. Like Micheal Eric Dyson told Wolf Blitzer on CNN prior to the speech... the trademark of agreat orator is to draw the audience in emotionally, and then to lay out the meat and potatoes of his political policy... and that is exactly what Obama did...

He described himself in a way that everyone... regardless of race or class could identify with... from talking about growing up with a single mother to his and Michelle's struggle with student loans... it would be ridiculous for McCain (with his seven houses) to think about calling Obama an elitest...

and yes... his discussion of individual responsibility and the necessity of "fatherhood" did make me a bit squirmish... but I did appreciate his ability to link issues and to make an arguement about how folks from both sides of the aisle can begin to see eye to eye on issues like domestic benefits and abortion...

And he finally REALLY critized John McCain!!!

My favorite lines?

"this election isn't about me... this election is about you..."

"at the defining moments of history... change didn't come from Washington, it came to Washington"

"I don't know about you... but I'm not willing to take a 10% chance on change"

and lastly...

"America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess..."

That scripture is actually from Hebrews 10:23. The full quotation is as follows (international standard version):
Let us continue to hold firmly to the hope that we confess without wavering, for the one who made the promise is faithful.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 3 of the Democratic Convention

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed day 3 of the convention...

Bill Clinton finally got his mind back and reminded all of us why we loved him in the first place... my favorite line?

people have always been more impressed with the power of our example, than the example of our power

Although I'm not sure he will ever be able to completely repair the damage done to his image this primary season... this speech was certainly a good start...

I was so much more impressed with his speech than I was with HRC's... he did EXACTLY what he needed to do... I LOVED the fact that he compared his candidacy to Obama's and went so far as to say... as a former president... he could guarantee that Obama was qualified....

I head that the Joe Biden and John Kerry speeches were really good... I'm going to check them out on you tube momentarily...

(after watching the Kerry speech... I absolutely love how he was talking about speaking truth to power... and that Obama would finally be the one to speak that truth....)

And how could I forget!

Like a lot of folks I was definetly nervous about this roll call vote business... so I was pleasantly surprised when it ended so gracefully...

I couldn't help but get emotional watching some of the older black women on television start to cry after Obama had officially been nominated.... many of them never thought they would live to see the first black man nominated for president by a major U.S. party... it was beautiful!

I was more impressed with HRC when she requested that Obama be nominated by acclimation, than I was with her entire speech last night...

I'm so excited for tonight!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Random Thoughts for August

1. I really wasn't feeling HRC's speech at the Democratic Convention, she spent way to much time congratulating herself and her husband. There is no way this would have even been an option had she won and Obama lost. At some point, this egomanical focus on the "Clinton Legacy" is going to have to stop and we're going to have to start thinking about how to get Obama ELECTED.

Not to mention the fact that I hate how she is trying to get as much purchase as possible out of being a woman (a la "my sisters of the traveling pant suits") after ignoring this part of her identity up until May 2008.

Melissa Harris-Lacewell sums up my feelings exactly in her latest blog post on HRC's speech.

2. Although I was annoyed with the beginning of Michelle Obama's convention speech, I understood that she did what she had to do. She had to convince people that she loves her country and that she isn't "scary"... mission accomplished.

But... I loved the end... something about being a black woman, watching a black woman with such poise and grace speaking about what it meant for her to stand at the intersection of race and gender... made my heart speak. Of course her daughters are beautiful and Michelle's style is impeccable... I couldn't help but wonder what it meant for young black women to watch her on tv, and to see her image everywhere.... she gives a lot to aspire to!

3. I am REALLY excited to see Jennifer Hudson sing the national anthem on Thursday night at the convention (Obama personally requested her).

4. I'm so excited that Rachel Maddow is getting her own show on MSNBC.

5. 47 Days till the Chicago Marathon

6. Iyanala Vanzant's 20th anniversary edition of Tapping the Power Within is changing my life.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Obama is My Slave T-Shirt

I had dedicated my day towards watching the law and order marathon, healing my knees and ankles and of course getting some work done... when i came across this article in my friend's google chat status message.

The article is about t-shirt "designer" Apollo Braun in New York City, who has now earned his place in internet infamy be producing "Obama is My Slave" t-shirts.

In an even more twisted plot turn, a New York free daily called the Metro published the following article about a 25yr old Manhattan student who allegedly was beat up by four black teenage girls for wearing the t-shirt.

Turns out, a week later the editor of the Metro was fired because the entire lawsuit was a hoax, concocted by Apollo Braun to get more attention for his t-shirts.

I'll leave it to you all to actually read the articles and to witness Braun's numerous racist statements.

What makes this story complicated is the way in which Braun is not only a Jewish immigrant, but ironically he got his start at a hip hop store in Soho....

In the context of the recent controversial New Yorker cover and The Assassination of Barack Obama art exhibition, one has to wonder about the insipid ways racism is now used in this country.

We've come full circle, from a rampant blatant racism that was found culturally acceptable, to an institutional racism that found "overt" racism something only for the "uneducated." Now we find ourselves back to a place where blatant racism is once again something to be entertained by.

To call somebody a "racist" in responses to these pieces of "art" or "satire" is to be accused of overreacting. Yet one has to wonder about the ways in which this artistic, educated and institutional racism, combines to disempower black communities from mobilizing.

If you complain about the New Yorker cover you are to sensitive (and if poor black people boycott would it really affect their subscriptions?). If you protest outside of the Assassination art exhibit you are not appreciating the artist's first amendment rights. And if you critique folks like Braun (or write blogs about them), then you are just giving them the stage they need to sell their product.

BlackSymthe alluded to this when he talked about the way Obama dealt with hecklers at one of his rallys. And I talked about this briefly when I talked about Mandela's Eight Lessons for Leadership.

Obama's ability to simultaneously tap in black community support without necessarily indicating that he has intentions of (or is able to) fulfilling their expectations. A cultural environment that labels todays racial climate as one where racial disparities no longer exist. And a political environment where racism is now called "satire" or "art"... seem to continue to point to the necessity of a new mode of black political organizing.

The question will continue to be... what does this new black politics need to look like?


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Economists Argue that Mixed Kids are Worse Behaved

You all might remember Roland Fryer from CNN's Black in America Special and his now infamous "Salty Negro Theory"

This past July the Harvard Scholar along with University of Chicago's Steven Levitt (author of Freakonomics) and Yale's Lisa Kahn released an article entitled "The Plight of Mixed Race Adolescents"

Their findings? (Courtesy of

1) Mixed-race kids grow up in households that are similar along many dimensions to those in which black children grow up: similar incomes, the father is much less likely to be around than in white households, etc.

2) In terms of academic performance, mixed-race kids fall in between blacks and whites.

3) Mixed-race kids do have one advantage over white and black kids: the mixed-race kids are much more attractive on average.

4) There are some bad adolescent behaviors that whites do more than blacks (like drinking and smoking), and there are other bad adolescent behaviors that blacks do more than whites (watching TV, fighting, getting sexually transmitted diseases). Mixed-race kids manage to be as bad as whites on the white behaviors and as bad as blacks on the black behaviors. Mixed-race kids act out in almost every way measured in the data set.

Their explanation for these behaviors?

Mixed race adolescents – not having a natural peer group – need to engage in more risky
behaviors to be accepted

I suddenly find myself speechless

The only reasonable question I can think to ask is.... why are three ivy league economists suddenly posing as social behaviorists/sociologists/psychologists?

I have to repeat the question asked by Uptown Notes a couple of weeks ago... why does Roland Fryer continue to push these unsubstantiated theories in a way that is both irresponsible and potentially harmful?

As scholars of any color.... I would hope that we would have the wisdom, humility and integrity to not just create controversy in order to keep ourselves in the public eye...

.... i guess not...


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Funny Stuff


Friday, August 8, 2008

Question of the Day: Kilpatrick vs. Obama

On Tuesday Terry Neal on The Root wrote an interesting article about Barack Obama. In it the following argument was made:

When Camp McCain says he's arrogant, they're playing to those who think he's another black man who doesn't know his place.

On Thursday The "D" Spot wrote a blog about the recent imprisonment of Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The blog made the following argument:

The real reason our mayor is sitting in jail tonight has nothing to do with that phone call he ‘forgot’ to make. Our mayor is behind bars because of his arrogance. His blazing intelligence, which everyone who knows the man can attest to, has been short-circuited by his arrogance and staunch belief that the rules of the world don’t apply to his planet. Because on Planet Kwame, the rest of us are merely bit players and props, placed here and there on a ‘K’ shaped stage only to cast a better reflection upon His Highness.

Now I know ya'll are like.... these two have absolutely nothing in common! and you might just very well be right.... Nevertheless....

I think the fact that both are black men that are in historic positions (Obama could be the first black president and Kilpatrick is the youngest mayor to ever be in office in the City of Detroit), and that both are currently being accused by the national media as being arrogant... is interesting and something to be thought about.

So my question to you all is this: can we think about accusations of Obama and Kilpatrick being arrogant as operating in the same way? If not, how are they different?


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

what am i supposed to do with all of this hair?!

a couple of months ago i saw a blog entry that completely summarized the evolution of my relationship to my hair:

there was a point in my life where i made the simplistic assertions that if you straightened your hair as a black woman than you hate yourself and by extension your blackness.... while i sincerely believe there is immense meaning in the way we as black people approach our hair, i find greater meaning in the hierarchies of blackness erected by self-righteous folks who in whatever covert/overt way make the assertion that folks who sport dreads or fros are in some way more enlightened

I have had long straight hair, fire-engine red hair, fire-engine red locs (can u tell i like the color red? ooo-oop! *smile*), sisterlocs, traditional locs, big afro's, little afro's, twists, plats, braids, and a fade.

yet and still... most folks continue to make completely generalized assumptions about the type of person i am, my politics, the music i listen to and even the food i eat (apparently i am a militant, erykah badu listening, radical liberal who doesn't eat meat.... whether those things are true or not, is so not the point! *smile*)

... of course all of the bangles, the birkenstocks and big hoop earrings i rock probably don't help...

but the point is.... india was right! i am not my freakin hair!

so that leads me to the point of this post.... now that i have [temporarily] taken out my locs... i am completely at a loss about what to do with my hair and am seriously considering taking a hot comb to all this hair!!!

because regardless of what anybody thinks... i did not get a fade or locs out of some radical rejection of black cultural values of beauty... i did it because i 1. thought it would be attractive, 2. was tired of spending money on getting my hair done and 3. i am probably the laziest person you will ever meet when it comes to expending energy on things like hair/makeup/clothing.

this isn't to say i don't have an opinion about what black people do and do not consider beautiful... it just means that my hair isn't the way i choose to articulate those opinions...

so the question of the day is...

what do i do now?!


Monday, August 4, 2008

New York Times Comic

if you can't see the full comic go here


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mandela's 8 Lessons of Leadership

In honor of his 90th birthday, Time Magazine published an article on Nelson Mandela's 8 Lesson's of Leadership

I encourage you to read the article... But I thought I would share the lessons that I found most poignant

No.1: Courage is Not the Absence of Fear, it's Inspiring Others to Move Beyond It

Mandela talks about how necessary it was to "pretend and, through the act of appearing fearless, inspire others" during his tenure at Robben Island.

Although he was constantly afraid in the prison, he knew that his fear would only function to instill fear in the people who were risking their lives everyday to fight against apartheid outside of the prison.

He knew, that by appearing to be fearless in facing the horrors of Robben Island, he could inspire others to face the horrors of Apartheid.

It's an interesting idea.... and brings up the question of what exactly are the functions of "leaders" and what constitutes "leadership"?

Is it primarily a symbolic label as Mandela seems to suggest? Is leadership merely the ability to inspire/motivate/convince others to accomplish the work that must be done?

And if this is the case, one has to wonder about the ways in which this idea of leadership simultaneously disempowers people.

If "leaders" are never really the ones responsible for the work being accomplished (as one could argue was the case during the Civil Rights Movement, particularly in the ground work of getting major tactics like the March on Washington and the Birmingham Bus boycotts coordinated), and it really is the work of the "community" that creates and sustains movements. Then what does all the credit for the work of these movements being attributed to these symbolic leaders do for the communities feelings of self-assurance?

In a time where the black community is constantly lamenting the lack of "black leadership" and looking for the next protest movement (a la the 60's and 70's). An important question would seem to be whether or not our communities addiction to symbolic leadership has prevented us from recognizing and acting on the (already demonstrated) power in grassroots activism.

No. 8: Quitting is Leading To

This seems to be another poignant lesson for black leadership in the United States.

Mandela was determined to set a precedent for all who followed him — not only in South Africa but across the rest of the continent. He would be the anti-Mugabe, the man who gave birth to his country and refused to hold it hostage. "His job was to set the course," says Ramaphosa, "not to steer the ship." He knows that leaders lead as much by what they choose not to do as what they do.

This seems to speak for itself. The author of the article points out that in many ways, Mandela's greatest legacy as President of South Africa is the way he chose to leave it. When he was elected in 1994, Mandela probably could have pressed to be President for life. But by stepping down, and allowing others to take part in the leadership and development of South Africa, he reached beyond himself and did what was best for his country.

In a time where today's black leaders are the same people who were "black leaders" thirty years ago. It seems that their inability to find the humility to step down and not only allow young black men and women to take on positions of leadership, but to train them to take on those positions of leadership, has paralyzed the evolution of black activism in the United States.

We are stuck in a cycle of trying to recreate the 1960's-70's in a political environment that requires a new form of black politics. Until as a community we are willing to free ourselves from the belief that the civil rights and black power movements were a high point that we are obssessed with trying to reach again, we will continue to cycle through ineffective political strategy after ineffective political strategy.

Mandela's lessons on leadership have a lot to offer us in the United States. I encourage you to take a look at the article and let me know what you think!