Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by Roxanne Jones
(CNN) -- "Thank you, Mr. President, you're not such a bad-looking guy yourself."
That would have been my response if I were California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who finds herself in the middle of a media dustup after President Obama introduced her as: "by far the best-looking attorney general in the country," at a fundraiser earlier this week.
Harris is a beautiful woman. She's also super intelligent and accomplished, which the president also noted. In fact, he lauded her professional merits first. So, I say take the compliment and move on. Or, if you're slightly embarrassed by the comment, give it back and move on.
President Obama's observation is not a major offense to women around the globe. Ridiculous flaps such as this one have always made me uncomfortable with calling myself a feminist, especially if that means I have to fly into a fit each time a man makes an awkward comment about a woman.
These were the president's exact words, according to a White House transcript from the fundraiser:
"You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you'd want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake. She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country --- Kamala Harris is here. (Applause.) It's true. Come on. (Laughter.) And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years."
Clearly, the president realized in hindsight that his comment didn't go over very well, and he has apologized. But I don't believe an apology was necessary.
It's impossible to believe that anyone could seriously call President Obama a chauvinist over this banter between friends. No matter your politics, you will have a hard time finding a president who has included women more in his agenda. What has he done for us lately? Let me recall just a few things:
- Appointed two female Supreme Court justices, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
- Appointed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
- Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored worker protections against pay discrimination. The bill had failed in the Senate in 2007.
I have disagreed with the president at times, but if POTUS is sexist, then we need more men just like him; the world would be a much better place for women. In my book, when a person -- man or woman -- acknowledges someone's intellect and professionalism and then gives a lighthearted nod to her beauty, it's not sexist. It's just a compliment.
Throughout my career, I've had to learn how to deal with men, and a few women, who made it a point to always comment on my looks, or tell jokes about women working in sports. Early in my career, I admit, I was uncomfortable and wondered how to best handle the situation, not easy when you are many times the only woman in the newsroom. But even when I started out, I realized that context is everything, especially in the workplace, when talking about women and harassment.
Here's an example: One night, while I was working late in the office editing on deadline, a male co-worker stumbled into my cubicle in a drunken stupor, he slung himself on my desk and leaned into me, slurring: "Roxanne, you're so beautiful. Seriously, I've been watching you. ... Why don't you pay attention to me?"
Now, that was creepy. And clearly it was sexual harassment. My bosses and the human resources department quickly dealt with the guy. In fact, his behavior was reported by a male colleague, who witnessed the entire thing, before I could even make the call.
On another occasion, a senior executive speaking at an employee "town hall" meeting at work, pointed me out for a professional accomplishment, and then added: "Hey, Roxanne looks like that woman on the show, 'The Next Top Model.' " There was some laughter in the room but most of the women froze. I did not. I laughed and said: "Thanks, I'm glad you like my new hairdo."
Sure, I knew immediately that the comment was a little awkward. But I was in no way offended. And I did not want the executive, who had always been a champion for women in the workplace, to get any backlash for his comment. He didn't deserve the criticism.
Honestly, when he made that comment I was more worried that my female colleagues would be angry with me. Women might not want to admit this but we often hate women who look good, are smart and successful. Just think: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, or Marissa Meyer, Yahoo! CEO. Maybe we've been conditioned to believe the stereotypes. But none of us will achieve true equality in the workplace until we end this animus toward one another and focus on how to truly achieve power.
Luckily, sometimes life isn't serious. Sometimes, we can laugh at ourselves and know that not every man is out to hold us down. And if we women are indeed confident in our abilities and our appearance -- no matter how we look on the outside -- then we should stop cowering every time a man notices us and makes a comment.
Stand up strong and take the compliment, but just make sure you're handling your business, because beauty is nothing without brains to match.
Editor's note: Roxanne Jones is a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and a former vice president at ESPN. She is a national lecturer on sports, entertainment and women's topics and a recipient of the 2010 Woman of the Year award from Women in Sports and Events. She is the co-author of "Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete," (Random House) and CEO of Push Media Strategies.
Last Updated on Sunday, 07 April 2013 13:03
Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by Ruben Navarrette Jr.
(CNN) -- It's a good thing that Barack Obama is only the president of the United States and leader of the free world, and that he doesn't have a really important job like television sportscaster.
Last Updated on Sunday, 07 April 2013 13:04
Category: Opinion Written by Raynard Jackson
(NNPA)—Several of my readers of have questioned why I am writing positive articles about my Republican Party. The simple answer is that they deserve it. In the past, I have been very critical of my party because they have ignored the Black community, disrespected our current president with incendiary language, and strayed away from our core principles and values.
Since last November’s elections, my party has seemed to have reflected on what happened during last year’s elections and have been open to positive criticism on how to best learn from the past. So, it’s not so much that my writing has changed as the facts have changed.
Current party chair, Reince Priebus has begun to change the makeup of the party by beginning to hire minorities throughout the Republican National Committee. My writings have reflected my support for some of these changes and a continued willingness to work with the party to help it get back on track.
People need to remember that Priebus and the RNC are not policy making entities. Rather, they are responsible for the execution of the principles advocated by the members of the RNC board and GOP members of Congress. The Congressional side of this equation leaves a lot to be desired, but one person on the Congressional side who really understands this issue is House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor.
I was happy to receive a phone call from Cantor two weeks ago to discuss some of his recent activities to engage with the minority community, specifically the Black community. I have known Cantor for many years and we have always enjoyed stimulating, honest conversations.
Last month, Cantor accepted the opportunity to go with Civil Rights icon and fellow Congressman John Lewis, to attend the annual march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. Cantor grew up in segregated Richmond, Va. during the 60s. Somehow the hatred of Blacks in the 60s didn’t seep into him and his family.
I hope Cantor will let me put together a town hall meeting with him to give him a forum to share with the public his reflections from Selma. He brought his son along with him and there is a fascinating event that happened as a result of this trip, but I will let Cantor share that story.
What is fascinating and embarrassing at the same time is that Cantor has come to understand that education is the Civil Rights of the 21st century for the Black community; not homosexual marriage as claimed by Al Sharpton, Ben Jealous, and Marc Morial.
I find it astonishing that a White, southern Congressman is more in tune with my community than the media appointed Black leaders. Cantor is working through a series of policy issues that I hope will lead to legislation that will benefit the Black community.
Cantor is a man that deserves, at a minimum, more engagement from within the Black community and I plan on working with him to make that happen. As Ronald Reagan once said, “My 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.” It’s not necessary for you to agree with everything Cantor believes in or accept the party that he represents. But if he is trying to create a better future for us and our kids, why would you not support and work with him?
If you agree with the media appointed Black leaders that homosexuality is the new Civil Rights, then continue to support them. However, if you believe that the new Civil Rights is education, then please reach out to Congressman Cantor and let’s help create a better future together.
Cantor has shown the Republicans in the House a pathway to the Black vote. The question is, will they follow his example? Cantor is doing his part by reaching out to the Black community, now will we return the favor? I await my community’s response.
(Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.)
Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 06:03
Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by Roxanne Jones
(CNN) -- Sports are not pretty.
Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 06:10
Category: Opinion Written by Courier Newsroom
by Ken Harris
DETROIT (Real Times News Service)--Detroit is facing an epidemic in the form of a prevalent case of African Americans who have done nothing to help the Black community but rob, cheat, steal, camouflage, and pose as credible Black leaders. Malcolm X called those who lived back during the days of slavery “House Negroes,” while others enriched the variety of names with the terms Sambo, Uncle Tom, Sell Outs, and Slave Negroes. It was a time when Black people would get called out for their direct intent to use the Black community for personal gain, opportunity, self-appointment, and contributing to the degradation of the Black community and race. Some African Americans are misguided Black folk because of their direct intentions in Detroit.
“Why not exploit, enslave, or exterminate a class that everybody is taught to regard as inferior?” - Carter G. Woodson
We have seen in Detroit very few leaders who were un-bought, un-sold, and un-influenced by the circumstances of the oppressor and the assault on the Black community. Many African Americans during slavery gave their lives so their children could be free and reach equality in America. But throughout history these Uncle Tom Black folks have sought the approval and acceptance of the dominant society while stepping on, exploiting, and manipulating the Black community. Marcus Garvey said the Black community is full of impostors and perpetrators using the name of Black power and identity.
“If you can control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.” ? Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro
The line is being drawn in the sand. We are starting to see exactly who is who within the Black community. The African Americans who really had the best interest of the Black folks who have been dealt the backhand and baggage of slavery and its economic conditions. We are starting to see which ghost will take off the sheet of self-destiny, hatred, and anger towards the Black people and the communities and ghettos where they reside. We are discovering certain Black politicians, clergy members, educators, educated, bourgeois, poverty pimps, media pundits, businessmen, young professionals, elected, old-guard, and establishment leadership.
“In a later age 'Uncle Tom' became an epithet for a black person who behaved with fawning servility toward white oppressors. This was partly a product of the ubiquitous Tom shows that paraded across the stage for generations and transmuted the novel into comic or grotesque melodrama.”
We can trace Black neglect back from the post-Civil Rights days, and the existence of the selfish, opportunistic, profit-driven, sold out, and political prostitutes for decades. There was a time when Negroes would deal with out-of-touch Black folks. There was a time in history when if you got caught back-stabbing another brother or sister, you could expect something coming to you. There was a Black code in the streets and there was respect for that Black code. We have been truly mis-educated to be African American without a Black identity. There are Black folks who only feel comfortable within the dominant culture and society. They totally remove themselves from the Black struggle, while trying to live a life without acknowledging race, creed, or color. Society is more racist now than ever before; everything Black people worked for since slavery is being attacked and threatened by the complete removal of progress. The clock is being turned back in time, right in African Americans’ faces.
“The present system under the control of the Whites trains the Negro to be White and at the same time convinces him of the impropriety or the impossibility of his becoming white... the Negros will have no outlet but to go down a blind alley, if the sort of education which they are now receiving is to enable them to find the way out of their present difficulties.” ? Carter G. Woodson
Isn’t espousing a color-blind, race neutral, melting pot society a modern way of hiding the master’s silver? What are Black leaders conserving when Black Detroit and other communities are burdened by poverty, crime, unemployment, homelessness, and other social pathologies?
We have to watch out for these types of Negroes: they are in our families, at our jobs, at the gym, in our social networks, elected to office, owners of Black businesses, and operating in the names of historically Black organizations, associations, fraternities, sororities, nonprofits, and community groups. We need to start calling these Black folks out for what they truly are and do with the express purpose of exposing those who are leading exploiting, opportunity-seeking, and money-grabbing lives promised by the dominant culture. We have to protect our families, friends, community, and workplace from these individuals. No longer can we stand for ideals. No more can we keep getting smacked in the face. Am I my brother’s keeper? Can we honor the code? If we don’t, Black society and culture will be removed completely. There is no exception for inequality; no regard for servitude or enslavement by our own people. We must stand and we must fight and in some cases we must die for righteousness, truth, equality, and excellence in the Black race and nothing short of it.
“If they were to be subordinated to some one it should be to the white man of superior culture and social position. This keeps the whole race on a lower level, restricted to the atmosphere of trifles, which do not concern their traducers. The greater things of life which can be attained only by wise leadership, then, they have no way to accomplish.” - Woodson, Carter Godwin
It is time for Detroit’s next generation to step up, step out, and take it from these Sold Out, Uncle Tom, Power Hungry Opportunity Negroes. It is time for those true to Black excellence, identity, struggle, and uplifting of the race to move forward with a plan, solutions, and resolute leadership qualities. The time is now. Power is not given; it must be taken. Although we have had some phenomenal Black leadership in the past, they were few and far between, many going unnoticed because they never wanted to be in the spotlight, but they gave their lives for the Black race. Detroit is ripe for strong, new, and bold leadership unlike what has existed until today. Do something special to uplift the Black race and not just yourself and let your actions, deeds, and efforts speak louder than your words, brothers and sisters.
Power to the People! Stay Black! Keep it Real!
Ken L. Harris serves as the President/CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce with access to more than 79,000 black-owned businesses in Michigan.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 18:51
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the New Pittsburgh Courier Digital Daily newsletter!
- Obama's Morehouse visit shines spotlight on HBCUs (1)
- Janet Jackson, Wissam Al Mana Married In Secret Wedding (2)
- Fifth annual National Achievers Society inductions (2)
- Breast cancer survivor group targets young Black women (1)
- Wes Moore replaces Dr. Ben Carson as Johns Hopkins commencement speaker (3)