Keeping Up with the Jonzee still at the right spot.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Tipping Point

Yesterday, your girl here almost lost it. I was seething with anger. I probably left trails of it all over the blogosphere. The Dr. Wright drama had me angry. Obama's response to it made me sad. At first, I felt like the esteemed Senator threw his pastor under the bus. And in some way's he may well have. But what I realized is that he was hurt. And so is Dr. Wright. And both of them need some healing.

Clearly, Dr. Wright is most comfortable in front of the Southside nation> His repsonses in Q and A were clearly that of man who is sick and tired of having to explain himself to White folks and that some of that he lays squarely on the Senator's shoulder--which was wrong and unbecoming.

I'm with him on the sick and tired part. It's gotten too personal and too political for me. I guess I let myself return to naivety to think the "transcendence" would not have to face old realities.

Clearly, I need a break, so I won't be around these parts for a few days. But, you can still catch me over at the krib.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dr. Wright Decides to Keep on Living! Whatever shall we do!?

There is a lot of gnashing of teeth and rendering of garments going on among the Obamaholics these days. And now there is all this crying about why Dr. Wright is making the rounds.

Hate to bear the news, but just as my boy Ink says, "the sun does not rise or set" on the esteemed Senator's campaign.

Dr. Wright makes his living being invited to speak across the country and has for 30 years. He has and will continue to be one of the most sought after theologians in the country. Lets face it, whether he decided to start doing his thing now or in the fall, all of y'all would be crying anyway. Its not his job to stop doing what he feels he has been called to do. Just like it wasn't Ceasar Chavez, or Dr King, or Sojourner Truth's job.

Get over it. The more you talk about it. The more you analyze it, disect it, pull apart this whole "OMG, Dr. Wright came outside--Gotcha" mentality that is running rampant in the media, the more license it has. I, for one, am moving on. Dr. Wright aint running for office. This whole media push to get Barack to "denounce anybody who questions America" is a double standard. Its not new news. Please stop.

As for me, I'm going to make my bi-weekly campaign donation so I can get my tee-shirt. And, I will also be in the front pew when Dr. Wright comes my way, as I have been for years.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Terrible Thing to Waste

Saturday, I had the pleasure of having a potluck with my line sister and some of her friends. I, admittedly, was a little resigned about hanging out with a group of strangers on one of my few free weekends in B'more. But I am glad I went. It is rare, that I get to to be in a room full of fun, engaging, driven folks sitting around drinking, talking loud, and eating good food.

Plus, it gave me plenty of fodder for here and over at the crib.


As usual, when you get a bunch of educated and motivated black folks in the room, the topic of the value of an HBCU education versus that of a "mainstream" university comes up. And, as usual, the conversation can be somewhat contentious.

Lots of the pro-HBCU arguments centered on the perceived "support" a black student gets at a black school--curfews, rules, etc. Most of the "anti-HBCU" argument focused on the "real-world" and "facility issues" at HBCU's. Same argument I have heard a million times. And though I am usually good at bringing up some salient, fact based points in most debates, the HBCU conversation always gets my emotion to shut my "persuasive argument button" off.

I stand by my conviction that HBCU's are necessary, important and valuable. And this comes from a woman who went to a majority, expensive-ass "elite" school.

And it was a question posed to me by the host of the potluck that got me thinking about why I was so pro-HBCU--on a less emotional level. We had similar times at school and both of us felt no real allegiance or connection to the school or the folks we went to undergrad with. That is when it dawned on me. It simply comes down to "the content of [her character], and not the color of [her] skin"--that is what all of the pro-HBCU arguments really center on. Why? Because black students at a black school simply get to be students—not black students, bearing the “blackness” flag at a majority institution, and are probably better for it.

We can simply look at the data and extrapolate the value of black schools in graduating students from their doors versus majority schools. It seems a misnomer to believe that students who attend HBCU's are "unprepared" and that they "live in a fantasy world." Study after study has shown that HBCU's graduate a greater proportion of successful science-based students. The greatest number of African-American PhD's, engineers, and medial doctors come out of HBCU's. Schools like North Carolina A and T and Florida A and M have stellar reputation when it comes to graduating students in complicated fields as complicated as rocket science (literally). For example, a study by the ETS (those folks who brought you the SAT that you sweated bullets over) has clearly demonstrated the relevance of the HBCU in graduating successful black candidate.

And lets look at diversity recruitment efforts. Companies like Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Kraft, Proctor and Gamble, DuPont, and others, heavily recruit at black universities for both grad level science students and undergrad interns. They are looking for the cream of the crop--and a lot of that crop is at a black school. As a matter of fact, I have 16 black friends who are all engineers (don’t ask me how that happened)—most at the senior project manager level. They all went to HBCU's. Every. Single. One. I have three physician friends who attended HBCU’s—two who did both undergrad and med school at an HBCU.

And lets look at students who go beyond 5 year science programs and onto other professional degree programs. During my MBA tour to 8 top-tier schools across the country, I noticed that approximately 60-70% of black students I met went to HBCU’s as undergrads. Yes, that includes THE Elite University(Haaaavaaarrd). What’s that tell you? And no, they cannot all be exceptions to the rule.

I find it interesting that folks make the "real world" argument about attending HBCU's versus majority schools, and always couch it in terms of the fact that “the world is not all black”. This is quite true. But there is more than enough time through out life for young black folks to combat prejudice and institutional racism for the rest of their lives. Why not go some place where you can simply be a student?

Lets look even further into the experience black students have at majority schools. While I was in school there was significant amount of "self-segregation", for lack of a better term. Me and my cohorts have often lamented about the daily "invisibility" that occurred on respective majority campuses. Unless, some “black issue” comes up, we were all but ignored in the classroom. I don’t know how many times, I and others like me sat in a classroom and have either been asked or felt the need to answer for the “black race”. Its tiring and exhausting. Self-segregation becomes a means to find the space to be yourself--a space that is not often found in the larger university context.

I had the rare opportunity of seeing life as a student at both a majority school and an HBCU. Through, my schools HBCU exchange, I had a chance to go to Bennett College in Greensboro, NC. It was the most influential and positive experience I had as an undergrad. It was such a breath of fresh air not to be the "black girl" in the room. There I was carefree in a way that I was not ever at my “elite” school. I enjoyed being a student. I enjoyed learning. I enjoyed the fact that I was not running to seek the solace of the “black student center”, after feeling the effects of supremacy in the majority class room all day.

When I returned to my school, The difference between the students who were on HBCU exchange and those who had been fighting the good fight at “Elite U” for there entire four years was quite noticeable. The HBCU students had an excellent sense of self and self-worth compared to my cohort. To this day, I have connections with the folks I went to Bennett with and I was only there for a semester. I cannot say the same for any of us who went to Elite or my friends who went to other “Elite’s” (Unless were apart of the “Divine 9”.)

At the end of the day, it really comes down to this for me--self-sufficiency and self worth. Black colleges where of great importance during the abandonment of reconstruction and the years of Jim Crow and are now. They address the “don’t bother us, do it yourself.” mantra conservatives are always purporting and give a student whether from the suburbs or an all black university an opportunity to simply be a student. Black students often slip through the cracks at majority schools—just like in grade schools across the country.

As usual, anything "black" is construed as worth less. When are we going to decide to support institutions that have always supported us. Black schools graduate high numbers of successful African-Americans--theologians, influential politcal leaders, doctors, lawyers, you name it. Yet, so many of us sit around and say they are not "legitmate" If it is good enough for Dr. King, its good enough for me.

And for all of these reasons, I will put my money where my mouth is.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'ma need y'all to come down off the ledge

Okay. I think you need to take a break. Seriously. All of y'all walking around whoa is me about Barack's loss last night.

And, he lost. Yeah, so. Even he didn't expect to win. I know y'all were hoping for the big upset, but the prudent look said it wouldn't happen.

Lookie, here. The fact is that there was no way he was going to win every state--let alone a state that has nearly the same demographic characteristics of Ohio. Two states that are more like each other than any other state in the union--except for other states in the Appalacia region. And nobody, including the Obama campaign thought that PA would go in the win column. The ideas was to close the gap--which they did reducing it by more than 13 points.

This right here is chess, not checkers and we have to be patient enough to get to the end--whatever it takes.

Lastly, so what he lost two in a row? After his 12 wins in a row--she won two in a row. Basically the same state--with a narrower win this time 'round.

She has branding and name recognition and whether we like it or not, alot of Americans just don't pay attention to the detail. If you expected her to lay down and die, or not big up this win like she just got the entire nation to vote for her and no one else, well, you might want to find out if you are coming down with something.

If we supporters of Obama give up, when the going gets tough. Well, Clinton will in fact, be right when she says we are a bunch of wimps. Won't she?

Now, go drink some tea, put in a movie and relax. We still got time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Come on Over to My Crib

I finally decided to do something constructive with all of my experience in housing and community development.

This Monday, come on over , and discuss, debate, and delight in all things housing and housing-related!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Great 'Keeping-It-Real-Around-Your Way' Hustle

Identity politics is what this presidential race has largely come down to. Yes, it seems obvious. And it is. But it's deeper meaning, in many context flies under the radar in many ways, especially as it pertains to us thinking critically about the message and messenger, as they "keep it real" with us.

Identity politics is one of the greatest political hustles known to man. In our major cities, a number of mayors have one election on the "keeping it real" ticket. In cities like Detroit, Newark, Memphis, and New Orleans (to some extent), current mayors have campaigned on the "I'm one of you, I'm from 'round the way, I keeps it real." sort of bent. They have lambasted those with solid policy ideals, vision, and the ability to build coalitions as "elitists", and have appealed to our need to "feel like we know they are our friends." Hence a fool like G Dub can win office not only once but twice largely because many of us felt in our core that we could "have a beer" with him. And when people start identifying elitism with your choice of orange juice over coffee or a Coke over a beer? Well, then we all need to check our biases and our sheer and utter lack of ability "...of thinking of better shit to do with[our]time."

All any of this type of discourse does is distract us from what we really want to feel like we can expect from our political leaders--competence, vision, and ability to push forward an agenda that benefits our needs both economically and socially.

And this is particularly worrisome in this game-changing presidential election season. More so, because this time the identity politics is playing on a national stage in terms of some of the most pervasive hot buttons in the country--Race, Gender, and Economic Status--and if nothing else the candidates have made it so that we have no choice but to face it.

Whether in positively building coalition across percieved interest groups or using the aforemention constructs to pull our biases out to cloud our better judgement.

As one of the writers for Jack and Jill Politics put it:

Hillary and McCain's attempts to cast Obama as "elite" is a classic example of what Taylor Branch called the "inversion of history," wherein the privileged become the oppressed. Obama was raised in a single parent working class home and despite his recent success, you don't get much more elite than earning 16 million a year from making speeches and a family of high level military officials.

The way this works on a racial level cannot be ignored. Hillary's supporters have worked for months to cast Obama as the recipient of some magical form of affirmative action, through proclaiming that his only appeal comes from his blackness and that Hillary "should be winning." These further invoke the myth of the unqualified black masses stealing jobs from hardworking whites. The twist of the knife is in the subtext, which is simply, "this black guy thinks he's better than you." Whether this is deliberate or not is irrelevant, this is the emotional level at which this argument resonates.

All of this resentment serves to obscure the obvious: That we want our presidents to be elite. We want them to be extraordinary, not ordinary, and Obama shouldn't have to apologize for being "elite" any more than any black kid should have to apologize for getting good grades.

Senator Obama's remarks in San Francisco put the already glaring issue of the pervasive nature of the division of class in an even larger spotlight--even if he could have said it better. The response shows the embitteredness we are all feeling about how politicians pander and patronize us--and then use the construct of race and gender to distract us.