Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Save Black radio

If U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) have his way, Black radio will go the dinosaur route.

His current bill, H.R. 848, intended to help artists get what they deserve, but instead, unless changes are made, will in effect, kill Black radio as we know it.

Currently, any time a song is played on the radio, its author and publisher gets a cut. However, Conyers wants the singer to get paid as well -- hence, The Performance Rights Act.

However, the way it is written, all radio stations will have to pay double: to ASCAP, which collect royalties fees for writers and publishers, and a second fee to the record companies, who supposedly will pay the artists.

With only four percent of the nation's radio stations owned by Blacks, and with the media business struggling mightily at this time, this will kill Black radio. Especially those who have talk shows and Gospel music, two formats that historically don't make a lot of money, and is typically supported by music stations.

According to Cathy Hughes, Radio One owner, Conyers apparently aren't listening to her and her fellow colleagues about this. He is not looking at the bigger picture.

I am all about helping artists get their due, but not at the expense of Black radio, which barely exist today.

Go to and read Conyers' bill. If you agree with it, then do nothing.

But if you don't, and considering Hughes, Warren Ballentine and others' reactions to it, then don't stop until you contact your Congressman or woman, or Conyers himself, to voice your opposition.

Don't wait until the plug is pulled, which sometimes we as Black people do -- protest when it is too late, to react to this.

Save Black radio -- it is the only true medium of information and not blowhards that we got.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Activist questions U.S. prison system

Legendary prison activist Angela Davis wants an overhaul of the current U.S. prison system.

According to Davis, it continues to be nothing more than a place to put good and bad people away, serving neither group much good. In a March 4 speech at St. Cloud State University, the University of California-Santa Cruz professor made it clear that she didn't advocate letting all prisoners free but current rehabilitation methods aren't working.

"We put people in prison and forget about the problem," Davis told a student crowd, many of whom wasn't even alive when she reached national prominence in the late 1960s.

Davis believes that if the U.S. would work harder to improve the educational system, eventually the need for prisons will be less and less.

It was my first time hearing Davis in person -- she is currently featured in HBO's "The Black List, No. 2." She admits she is a feminist, but not a bleeding-heart one.

"I think some people get stuck on the word 'feminism," she notes. "The 'F" word is not that important to me. I like to see men refer themselves as feminists, too."

George Bush "was a major obstacle in so many ways" but President Barack Obama has done much more in his little over two months in office, said Davis. "We can see the possibility of (him) overturning most of the damage Bush and (former Vice-President Dick) Cheney done."

However, Davis warns that President Obama is not"a Messiah." She added that change will not come from one individual, but "community collectively can bring about change."

Several on-campus organizations sponsored Davis' appearance, which occurred a week after Black History Month concluded and on the opening week of Women's History Month, which is observed during March.

"As we celebrate Black History Month and Women's History Month, we tend to focus only on individuals," Davis surmised. "We have names here and there, like Rosa Parks, but we don't know how to acknowledge all those women who (also) refused to ride the bus. We tend to know how to recognize individuals but not (entire) communities."

You can read more about Davis' St. Cloud visit and speech on

Friday, December 12, 2008

Have we lost Detroit?

Gil Scott-Heron once penned a song, "We Almost Lost Detroit," which spotlighted a dangerous accident at a nuclear power plant in Monroe, Michigan. It didn't get as much publicity as the Three Mile Island incident, maybe the Motor City after all is nothing more than an once-powerful major U.S. city, now just a desolate piece of land mostly occupied by Black folk.

If Scott-Heron wanted to do a remake, he easily could sing, "GOP did lose Detroit."

A proposed $14 billion plan to rescue the U.S. auto industry failed to get through the U.S. Senate Thursday. Ever since it was proposed, lawmakers decried it.

The Big Three didn't deserve a bailout. Not unlike the Wall Street robber barons, who got their federal "come and get it" handout without any condition imposed.

But not Detroit --- they had to make deep concessions in order to get not a bailout, but a "bridge" loan.

No such demands placed on greedy Wall Street financiers who make outrageous loans that came back to bite them squarely in the butt. But instead auto workers, who already made big concessions both in 2005 and 2007 to help keep the auto industry alive, including no pay raises in their current contract, to again dig deep in their pockets and lose some more.

While they sit in their corner offices and take three-hour martini lunches, real workers are risking their lives to make cars.

I know. I once worked in a Chrysler plant. Eight to ten hours a day, during tedious work. Dirty. Grimly. Dangerous.

Yet we workers had pride in our work, on our line. There was a sense of accomplishment, albeit weary and tired, at the end of our shift.

But yet the Senate want these workers to again sacrifice their wages in order to save their jobs.

Clearly, Wall Street is more important than Jefferson Avenue. White collars are more important than blue collars.

"We cannot let a cornerstone of the American economy got into bankruptcy," said U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) on Wednesday. The House approved the same measure that the Senate voted down.

Ellison quoted estimates from the Economic Policy Institute that if even one of the three automakers go bankrupt, at least three million jobs could be lost in 2009. "We can assist the auto industry in their recovery and help to reshape it in a way that makes sense economically, or we can watch the devastating impact bankruptcy would have on hard-working American families," the congressman added.

Furthermore, it will put Detroit in a further depressed state: it leads the nation in foreclosures. Downtown has been a ghost town for years. The existing tax base has been eroding ever since the auto industry first came into peril back in the 1970s.

I agree that the Big Three should have made changes at least two decades ago. Their stubbornness not to retool and produce more fuel efficient cars, which in result, would produce more affordable automobiles.

But it isn't the workers' fault. Nor is it President-elect Barack Obama's.

Instead, the current responsibility to help the automakers fail clearly on the current President: George Bush's lackadaisical approach to this, unlike his coming forward to help the AIGs of the world, is just another sad notch on his sad legacy.

Meanwhile, the White House stands on the sidelines, keeping their white collars clean of this current financial mess: "We believe that the economy is in such a weakened state right now that -- another possible loss of 1 million jobs is just something our economy cannot sustain," spokeswoman Dana Perino said Thursday.

Such tough talk from a lame duck administration.

We almost lost Detroit three decades ago. Unless something is done quick, a search party soon will be needed to find the Motor City because it will be gone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A dangerous person in tow

It has been only a week since the election, and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin already acting like she's the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.

We found that Palin played Daffy Duck to John McCain's Bugs Bunny in her role in helping him lose the election. Yet she boldly wants to blame others, including the media and George Bush for the defeat. She accomplished nothing but dealt America's looking at a woman for national office a serious setback because Palin was far and away not qualified.

Instead of heading back and be the governor of Alaska, Palin is dealing with election day hangover with veiled declarations that she will be the Republicans' new standard bearer, allowing her intoxication with fame and flirtation with power that she was exposed to for the last three months totally consume her.

The last time I read, we have a new president. The 2012 campaign haven't commence as yet. But Palin foolishly has thrown her hat in the ring.

Palin is a dangerous person. Don't let the "aw, shucks" shtick fool you, like she is some 21st Century Jed Campett, when instead she acts more like Mrs. Drysdale.

As a conservative, Palin preaches separatism as she blindly defines who's "a real American" and using Mr. Magoo directions, point out to us where the "real America" is when she can't tell us what Africa is, what countries make up the North American free trade agreement or the titles of the magazines she reads.

Her idea of diversity, as she proudly claim, is her family, which is all White. This explains why Palin is the first Alaskan governor to not have a single person of color in her administration.

As an evangelical Christian, Palin during the campaign props up Joe Six Pack, which I believe refers to someone who drinks beer, like they were Jesus Christ.

She claims to be a soccer mom, but used a GOP-issued credit card to go on a shopping spree like she hit the lottery, then play it off like she's entitled.

She was supposed to be No. 2 on the Republican ticket, but Palin self-appointed herself queen, and played Marie Antoinette, virtually stabbing McCain in the back at every opportunity. The O'Jays' "Back Stabbers" should be her theme song.

If she can do this to friends, what'd you think Palin will do to her enemies besides name calling and false accusations.

And don't rule out Palin, either appointing herself as U.S. senator if and when current Sen. Stevens is booted out, or running in a special election, using this to get back in the national spotlight.

Memo to the spotlight operators: please pack up your equipment and run away from her as fast as possible. Stop giving her any air play -- Palin is a non-factor. We have turned the corner.

Honestly, moose isn't the only ones who should worry about this Manchurian candidate, who is acting like she's the shoo-in for the next election, which is over four years away. Palin rather should stick to running her state.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

If twice you succeed, why not try again

Where else but Florida, home of the 2000 stolen presidential election, that once again GOP shadiness is afoot.

NPR reported Friday that registered Democrats have received mailings from the Republican National Committee, informing them that records show that they are registered Republicans. Of course, this isn't the case, and of course, RNC officials deny everything but that the other party registered folk received the wrong mailing.

Warning to Floridians, and everyone else -- don't open any mailing from either party. If you applied for an absentee ballot, make sure that it is official. If you are not sure, then go to your local secretary of state office for verification.

Remember, the GOP have done this twice before, and they are not beyond thinking along these cheating lines again in order to suppress voter turnout.

Stay forewarned and former vigilant.

In other related news . . . The McCain-Palin "traveling salvation show" swept through Minnesota Friday, speaking to 10,000 at a Blaine airport hanger. A 16-vehicle motorcade carried the two to the same folk they are used to speaking to.

McCain has yet to swing through the Black community here, as opposed to his opponent Barack Obama, who has. Instead the GOP running mates, who seemed now joined at the hip, speaks to suburban and rural crowds, steering way clear of urban areas.

It's keeping with McCain's "Country First" theme.

Again, be forewarned and forever vigilant.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Save Troy Davis

Following is my interview with Troy Davis, who is scheduled for execution on Sept. 23 unless the Georgia Parole Board changes its mind, from May, 2007, and later published in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (

Troy Anthony Davis was all set to join the U.S. military. Instead, he has been locked up in a Georgia prison for almost two decades.
Davis was convicted and condemned to die in 1991 for killing a Savannah, Ga. police officer. After having exhausted his appeals, Davis was scheduled to die by lethal injection July 17th until the Georgia parole board granted him a 90-day stay of execution for “evaluating and analyzing the evidence provided during the board appointment.”
After he was sentenced, seven of nine witnesses who testified in his trial that he shot Mark Allen MacPhail in 1989 have recanted their testimonies and now say Davis did not shoot the police officer. Davis all along has contended that he is innocent of the crime.
Davis and a group of friends were outside a Greyhound bus station in Savannah, where a man was getting beat up on by Sylvester Coles. After being told by Coles to get away while trying to break it up, Davis and a friend then left the scene.
McPhail, who was off-duty at the time, then came over to offer assistance, and was shot twice. He was White.
A few days later, Davis was out of town preparing to join the Marines, when family members called and told him that he was wanted for the shooting. Davis then turned himself in. Two years later, he was convicted and has been on Georgia death row ever since.
In an exclusive interview in May, MSR asked Davis several questions. The following are his unedited responses:

MSR: Troy, explain how have you kept your composure, patience, sanity, etc. during almost two decades of maintaining your innocence?
TD: I have been able to remain positive and keep my composure due to having a strong family and truly believing that my innocence has to come to light somehow. My mother raised us to believe in God so I asked God to keep me safe and help me prove my innocence. It hasn’t been an easy road trying to be patient, but I am a strong minded person. I see so many traumas, sadness, fear and many other emotions in the other death row inmates, and hatred from some of the people that work here.

MSR: Throughout the entire ordeal, why hasn’t the authorities heard your side of the story?
TD: The authorities wanted to find a cop killer. Once Sylvester Coles (who testified against him) and his lawyer pointed the finger at me, they made a secret deal agreeing not to charge him if Sylvester (Red) gave them what they wanted. They took his word at face value and thought it was an open and shut case. In order for the authorities to even entertain my side of the story, they would have to admit to lies, coercion, unethical conduct and threats they made to me.

Soon after the McPhail shooting, Coles and his lawyer went to the police and made a statement exonerating him and implicating Davis as the gunman. During the trial, Coles admitted that he carried a .38 caliber handgun, the same type of gun used in the shooting. However, investigators never found the murder weapon.

MSR: Did you do anything to Sylvester Coles that you would think spur him to falsely accuse you?
TD: I have never done anything to Sylvester Coles (Red). Red always has been a very mean spirited person, who felt as if guns were his power. I am assuming he thought I might snitch on him because he had the gun, and he was attacking that man, so he ran to the police station a few hours after the shooting with a lawyer and pointed the finger at me. I did not even know anyone was shot, especially a policeman until my family told me I was on the news.

MSR: Anything that I didn’t ask that you wish to talk about?
TD: The incident started for me when I tried to stop Red from pistol whipping and attacking a homeless man over a can of beer. The man was struck by a left-handed attacker, as he testified. I am right handed.
I want people to know, I voluntarily turned myself in, once I knew I was suspected of the murder. I had nothing to hide and I thought by telling the truth I would be released. Once at the police station, the only question was, “Tell us where the gun is and make it easy on yourself.” In their minds, I was already guilty and convicted. They never asked me what happened that night, and from then on my life and the life of my family was forever changed.
My prayers go out sincerely to Mr. McPhail’s family. They hate me because of lies but until a court agrees to view all the new real evidence of what happened, they’ll never know the truth. They deserve justice. Just like I do.
I refuse to hate those who stole my life from me because that is not who I am. I am angry that I have missed so much of my life and my family’s life. I have missed my father’s funeral.
I just want my freedom back. I want justice once and for all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vikings coach bailed out

Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress caved in worse than a house of cards by benching starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. This bail out is nothing compared to what the federal government recently did with ING and the Mae's, but the head coach's action tells you something about the man.

His word is about as good as a three-dollar bill.

All off season long, Childress told the world that Jackson was his QB. Then two games into the 2008 season, the coach pulled the starting rug right from under the young man's feet. Instead, Childress names journeyman Gus Freotte as starter for the remainder of the season, much to the delight of Vikings fans, and more importantly, the Twin Cities media.

Jackson's vote of confidence from Childress lasted all but two games and barely 48 hours.

Childress cowardly bowed to media pressure, many of whom never was high on Jackson in the first place. Now they can go around with dislocated shoulders from all the back patting they're doing.

These media second-guessers or every morning quarterbacks essentially forced Childress to switch quarterbacks, and the coach responded in kind. He sent a clear message that whenever the Twin Cities scribes say jump, Childress doesn't ask how high, but instead just bends over and start kissing their feet. It's easy for him to do that because based on his latest decision, Childress has no backbone.

It's common knowledge that pro quarterbacks usually take longer to develop, learning to correctly read the myriad of defensive schemes thrown at them, which are not seen during their college days. There has been few QBs who have come into the NFL that prepared.

The brothers Manning struggled before they got the right offensive line, backfield and the right coaching and tutorage to properly mold them into their now great selves.

Should we attribute Jackson's struggles to the same? I would, but most of the local scribes would beg to differ. Did Jackson play all 22 positions in the two Minnesota losses? No.

Is he solely the blame for the defeats? Depending on who is asked, will determine the answer to this question.

If you ask the local scribes, they'd say yes. If you ask Vikings fans, they'd say yes.

If you ask a head coach who months previous said that Jackson was his man through think and thin, that he'd back him all the way, Childress' recent actions also would say yes.

I feel for Jackson, not that he lost his starting job, but how again can he trust the head coach, now knowing that when the heat is on, Childress is outta there looking for cover.