Category: Opinion Written by Raynard Jackson
(NNPA)—I was on “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” last week. This is a weekly TV show that deals with Black political issues, among other things. The roundtable discussion was very lively, but I was amazed at my fellow panelists’ response to something I said.
Americans somehow have this strange notion that all discrimination is bad. But it isn’t. We discriminate every day. You choose one restaurant over another; you watch one TV show versus another; you date skinny girls and not heavy girls.
As a matter of fact, some discrimination is quite healthy. If you know drug dealers sell their drugs in certain neighborhoods, why would you go there if you have no interest in buying drugs? If you are allergic to smoke, why would you go to a bar that allows smoking? If certain countries are more likely to kidnap an American tourist, why would you go there if you are an American?
I think most reasonable people would agree that this type of discrimination is good and healthy. Similarly, our immigration policy should have a certain level of discrimination built into the policy. I was totally surprised that my fellow panelists disagreed. They seemed to be in favor of an open borders approach to immigration. The open borders crowd basically believes that anyone who wants to come to America has a right to come here if they follow the rules.
I find this view very idiotic. If you are not an American citizen, then you have absolutely no basis for the assertion of any right. Post 911, at a minimum, our immigration policy should discriminate based on country of origin. We know that certain countries are a hotbed for producing terrorist: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Chechnya, etc. So, why would our immigration policy even allow people from those countries to come to the U.S. for any reason, let alone to get a green card or citizenship?
Is this discrimination? You betcha—it’s the good kind of discrimination. Just as you can have good and bad cholesterol, the same applies to discrimination. What we call affirmative action is called “positive discrimination” in France.
You don’t see terrorists being trained in Australia, the Seychelles, or Trinidad & Tobago, so therefore there should be less concern about immigrants from these countries. Is this not reasonable?
American visas, green cards and citizenship are not enshrined rights, but are privileges. No one has a right to enter into our country and we don’t need to justify our requirements for admittance into the U.S.
I am sure my fellow panelists would agree that an 80-year old woman should not have to go through secondary screening at the airport before she gets on an airplane. Why? Because she is very unlikely to have a bomb or other weapon on her body. Is this not profiling? How many 80-year-old female terrorists have you read about? Exactly my point.
But these same panelists took issue with me for saying that America should deny entry and student visas for people from certain countries. Is it discriminatory? Yes. Is it appropriate and reasonable? Yes.
Does that mean every person from a country known to produce terrorists is a terrorist themselves? Of course not, but that is not the overriding issue in my decision to deny them entry into the U.S. I am sure there are many good people from countries that are known for producing terrorists; but I am not willing to take a chance, just for the sake of making Americans feel good.
If you are the parent of a young boy, would you leave him alone with a Catholic priest? I wouldn’t. And most of you wouldn’t, either. I would venture to think that most Catholic priests are good people, but I am not willing to sacrifice my son’s safety to prove a point.
The two brothers from Chechnya who committed the bombings in Boston should have never been allowed in the U.S. Is this an indictment of all people from Chechnya? No. It simply means that the U.S. is exercising its sovereignty to determine who is admitted to its shores. This is a very reasonable and smart approach to our immigration policy. To do anything else is a reckless disregard for the future and safety of our country.
(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 Thursday, 02 May 2013 14:58
Category: Opinion Written by Louis 'Hop' Kendrick
LOUIS 'HOP' KENDRICK
There is an excessive amount of coverage of negative actions by Black persons, but a very limited amount of coverage of positive actions by Blacks. The death of Judge Gary Lancaster, head federal judge of western Pennsylvania highlighted that fact.
Over a period of time there have been 17 Black judges, and five who served in the capacity of magisterial district judges, a total of 22. The first Black Allegheny County Common Pleas judge was Judge Homer S. Brown. Then there were Judge Henry Smith, Judge Warren Watson, Judge Thomas Harper, Judge Livingston Johnston, Judge Walter Little, Judge Kim Clark, Judge Dwayne Woodruff, Judge Cynthia Baldwin [appointed to the Pa. Supreme Court] and the most recent is Judge Joseph Williams.
At the Pennsylvania Superior Court level there was Judge Justin Johnston and currently there is Judge Cheryl Allen.
At the federal level there was Judge Paul Simmons [deceased] and until recently there was Judge Gary Lancaster [deceased]. All of the above judges served us well and I can openly boast that I knew all of them personally and was an active participant in all of those who were elected to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court and the two who were elected to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
At a local level, remember those on the magisterial level— the late Judge John H. Adams, late Judge Jacob “Jake” Williams, Judge Eddie Tibbs, Judge Kevin Cooper and Judge Oscar Petite. I have been privileged to know all of them and Judge Oscar Petite is currently running for reelection.
I don’t live in Judge Petite’s district, but if I did I would definitely be supporting his reelection. Why? I have sat in his courtroom as a witness, defendant and an observer and I walked out of the courtroom impressed to no extent. Judge Petite was articulate, knowledgeable about the law, compassionate but forceful. As I sat in his courtroom it was apparent to me and a number of others that his 18 years as a magistrate and the many thousands of cases he has presided over proved conclusively that he overwhelmingly has earned the right to be reelected in May of 2013.
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(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 10:17
Category: Opinion Written by Ben Jealous
Last week, the Delaware State legislature approved a constitutional amendment to all but remove the last Jim Crow-era voter suppression law from its books.
The amendment, passed at the urging of the Delaware NAACP, allows people with nonviolent felony convictions to vote after their release from prison. This is a major victory for voting rights and a strike against the practice of “felony disenfranchisement.” But it is also a major step forward for a nation still struggling to heal old racial wounds.
Felony disenfranchisement has direct roots in the Jim Crow Era. In the late 19th century, states above and below the Mason-Dixon Line began to find new and creative ways to keep Black voters away from the polls. Banning people with felony convictions was one of the solutions.
For example, in 1901 the Commonwealth of Virginia had 147,000 Black voters on the rolls. But many lawmakers saw this growing political block as a threat. At that year's Constitutional Convention, they hatched a plan to disenfranchise African-Americans through a combination of black codes and felony disenfranchisement. One legislator said on the record that the plan would “eliminate the darkey as a political factor.”
Ninety years later, Kemba Smith-Pradia was an undergraduate student at Hampton University. She got involved with the wrong crowd and found herself behind bars as an accessory to a nonviolent drug offense. President Clinton granted Kemba executive clemency in 2000, six years into her 24 year sentence. She went on to become a college graduate, law student, mother and foundation president—but until 2012, when her rights were finally restored, not a voter.
Kemba’s story is just one example of how the legacy of the 1901 Convention lives on. In today’s Virginia, 350,000 people are still disenfranchised by the 1901 law, and many of them are African-Americans. Nationwide, 48 states allow some form of felony disenfranchisement, and one out of every 13 voting-age African-Americans is affected. In four states—Virginia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Florida—disenfranchisement can be permanent.
When Virginia introduced felony disenfranchisement in 1901, they also expanded the list of felony crimes. By raising the penalty for a number of minor offenses, they planned to lock African-Americans in the prison system—and out of the political system. A century later, our drug laws have the same amplifying effect. African-Americans are far more likely to be arrested for minor drug crimes, and therefore more likely to have their vote taken away.
The good news is that Delaware and other states are beginning to turn the tide. In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell has sped up the review process for those who have finished the terms of their sentence. So far he has restored the votes of more than 4,000 citizens. And Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who callously eliminated automatic restoration of voting rights early in his term, is now taking steps toward restoring those rights.
These are certainly steps in the right direction, but there is more work to do. Virginia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Florida still allow permanent disenfranchisement, and 44 other states permit some level of felony disenfranchisement. You can learn about the law in your state at www.restorethevotes.org. If you or someone in your community is affected, you can use that information to educate your family, your community and your elected officials about why this is an important issue.
Felony disenfranchisement is an affront to our democracy. Millions of people like Kemba Smith-Pradia—parents, workers, and community leaders—pay taxes, raise families and contribute to society. But they cannot fully participate in our democracy.
If poll taxes, literacy tests, and gumball-counting tests could be outlawed because of their racist intent, then felony disenfranchisement laws from the same era should be overturned today.
(Ben Jealous is president/CEO of the NAACP.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 15:16
Category: Opinion Written by George E. Curry
(NNPA) JOHANNESBURG, South Africa—A trip to South Africa provides painful reminders of the protracted struggle to establish democracy, how the United States propped up the White minority-rule government and the courage Black South Africans demonstrated to win their freedom.
A key aspect of the struggle is vividly captured in the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum in the heart of Soweto, not far from the homes of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. The name of the museum itself is steeped in unforgettable history. The most compelling image of the Soweto student protest of 1976 is a photo taken by Sam Nzima.
In the foreground of a crowd of Black student protesters is a tearful Mbuyisa Makhuba, a high school student, running with the small, limp body of 13-year-old Hector Pieterson and his screaming sister, Antoinette, running beside them.
The teenager’s story is told inside the museum under the heading, “An individual life can change society.” It begins: “Hector Pieterson lost his life under police fire on June 16, 1976 during a student march protesting Afrikaans as the language of instruction in African schools. He was thirteen years old. News of his death and the violence that subsequently erupted in most African townships in South Africa spread rapidly across the world. In his death Hector Pieterson became a symbol of the plight of the black South African youth under the yoke of Apartheid.”
It continued, “His public funeral commemorated, as does this museum, all those who died as a result of the tragic events of June 16, 1976—a turning point in the struggle towards a true South African democracy.”
Hector Pieterson became one of many martyrs of the fight against apartheid, a rigid system of racial segregation designed to keep the White minority in control of the country’s political, economic and social system.
In fact, Pieterson’s last protest march was prompted by the ruling National Party’s decision to force Black schools to use Afrikaans—which Bishop Desmond Tutu called “the language of oppression”—and English in equal measure.
On April 20, 1976, students at Orlando West Junior High School went on strike, refusing to go to school. The protest quickly spread to other schools in Soweto. On the morning of June 16, an estimated 20,000 students started walking from the junior high school to Orlando Stadium, where they had planned to hold a mass rally before continuing to the regional office of the Department of Bantu Education.
Instead of allowing the students to walk peacefully, police barricaded the march route and unleashed dogs on the crowd. According to some news accounts, students stoned the dogs and police soon began opening fire on the students, killing 13-year-old Pieterson and 22 others that day, all but two of whom were Black. At the end of a series of protests, called the Soweto uprising, estimates of those killed ranged from 176 to more than 600.
The violent attack on the children thrust the African National Congress to the forefront of Black political protest and ignited international protests. But that did not curb the all-White police force’s appetite for violence.
A quote from Steve Lebelo, a student at Madibane High School, describes the violence that was inflicted on the community in the immediate aftermath of Pieterson’s death. The quote, which also hangs in the museum, recalls:
“It was on the 17th and 18th, when police went out and systematically were killing people. I do know that suddenly there was the infamous green car. It was a 3800 Chev, it was a green car, and at the time they were used mostly by the police. We suspected that they had a sniper in there who picked up people at random and shot and killed them. I do know a friend of mine who was killed on the 19th of June, under the same circumstances. He had gone to the shop, and as he came back from the shop carrying a litre of milk, he was shot by a sniper and killed.”
Above the quote is a photo of a green Chevrolet, loaded with White men, with rifles sticking out of the windows.
There are other reminders throughout the museum. There is a picture of a small, naked child being drenched in a bottle of water to soothe her pain in tears. Another photograph contains student protesters, with one holding up a sign reading, “To hell with Afrikaans.”
Erected in 2002, the museum honors the memory of the students who died in the uprising. A brick bearing each name is built into the ground just steps from the entrance of the museum, which is only two blocks away from where Pieterson was killed.
The inscription about Hector Pieterson in the museum ends by noting, “When National Youth Day is celebrated each year on June 16 at the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum, it becomes a national site of commemoration, also reflecting current changes in the articulation of the South African democracy.”
(George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the NNPA. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 10:16
Category: Opinion Written by Ulish Carter
With all the important issues going on in Pittsburgh there’s none more important to Pittsburghers than the Steelers draft. Did it help or hurt their chances of going to the Super Bowl?
One thing is for sure; the Steelers of 2013 will not be the Steelers of 2012. Even though most of the starters will be returning many key players will be gone.
James Harrison, gone. Casey Hampton, gone. Mike Wallace, gone. Rashard Mendenhall, gone. Willie Colon, gone. Keenan Lewis, gone. Ryan Mundy, gone. Will Carter, gone. And even though it’s not official, Charlie Batch, gone. Byron Leftwich, gone.
The draft gave people a break from all the heavy hitting of the mayoral race, the city council races, school board races, and judge races. But people in Pittsburgh are just as serious about their Steelers as they are about who’s going to be in whatever political office.
Jarvis Jones, an outside linebacker who led the nation in sacks from Oklahoma was the first choice. He is being counted on to replace James Harrison. Not this season, however, because Jason Worilds will handle that position in 2013. But don’t be surprised to see Worilds moved to the inside spot in 2014 replacing Larry Foote, to make way for Jones.
Le’Veon Bell is a big running back who many are comparing to Jerome Bettis. He will have to sit behind Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman this season but should move past them in his second or third season.
Markus Wheaton, a wide receiver, went in the third round. With the departure of Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders will join Antonio Brown in the starting lineup. But there will be an all out battle for that third receiver slot and Wheaton should win out before the season is over. Justin Brown, selected in the sixth, will also battle for playing time.
Shamarko Thomas was selected to backup the two aging safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. With Mundy and Allen gone he will probably see a lot of time and will be looked upon to eventually replace one of them in the near future. He’s an outstanding player and would have gone much higher if it wasn’t for his height, 5 foot 9.
Landry Jones, a quarterback from Oklahoma, was the big surprise of the draft, but it didn’t surprise me. Ben is getting older and it’s time to start looking for a replacement. Lundry is a four year starter for the Sooners and owns every record there is at this football school. He will be the third string quarterback this season with the recently signed Bruce Gradkowski serving as the second string quarterback, but don’t be surprised if he moves ahead of him next season. That means that the two old veterans Leftwich, and Batch are gone.
Finishing out the draft for the Steelers were Terry Hawthorne, cornerback; Vince Williams, linebacker; and Nicholas Williams, defensive tackle.
Surprisingly no offensive linemen were selected, which says the Steelers management must be happy with all the young talent they have acquired over the past three years; so happy that they chose to let veteran Colon go. They do have some very talented young players on that offensive line, but the question is can they keep them healthy? If Ben Roethlisberger gets rid of the ball quickly, yes, if not it’s going to be a long season.
Overall the draft was a very good draft, and if everyone stays healthy the Steelers will be in the playoffs again, in pursuit of another Super Bowl, with eight returning starters on defense, and eight returning starters on offense.
Changing the subject. One of the people here emailed me an article from the Afro American newspaper upset over the fact legendary sports writer Sam Lacey wasn’t mentioned in the movie “42” about Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in Major League Baseball. As I stated in my movie review and column, the movie only dealt with Robinson’s first two years in White professional baseball: his one year in the Dodgers minor league, and his first year up with the Brooklyn Dodgers. That’s all there was time to deal with, and do it justice.
Just like all the complaints about the movie “Red Tails” about the Tuskegee Airmen people wanted the whole story told in one movie and there’s no way that can be done in a two or even a three hour movie.
After World War II a crusade was created in which every Black paper throughout the country fought to integrate baseball, even though they knew it would be the death of the Negro Leagues. The Courier, with by far the largest national circulation, led the fight. Wendell Smith was the lead sports writer for the Courier, but there were others with the Courier as well as Lacey with the Afro American, and a key writer with the Chicago Defender but I can’t recall his name at this time.
These sports writers traveled with their teams all over the country sending back stories to their papers about the great exploits of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell and many others including the young Jackie Robinson. It was the Black Press that fought through its sportswriters, and its editors, and publishers to get the doors opened for Blacks in professional sports.
It was men such as Lacey, and others who were names in the fight. But there was no name bigger than Wendell Smith in this fight, mostly because more people read the Courier at the time than any other Black newspaper.
Maybe someday someone will tell the whole story. Maybe the Black Press will use its influence to get some of the big money people to create follow up movies, telling the stories of these great newspaper people and the fight they forged to open the doors not just in sports but in all walks of life.
Yes, there are many untold stories out there that are begging to be told.
Where are you Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey, John Singleton or whoever? Let’s not hate on each other, let’s try to get the whole story told.
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 10:33
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