Friday, August 28, 2009


By Leland C. Abraham, Esq.

Groups calling themselves the Coalition against Gay Marriage have sent a letter to President Barack Obama warning him that he may lose a significant percentage of his black supporters if he endorses marriage between same sex couples. The coalition includes the veteran civil rights group Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), concerned pastors and other religious organizations. The group seems to be particularly worried about President Obama’s intentions concerning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

DOMA was a federal law that was enacted in 1996. There are two main portions of the law. The first part states that no state in the union shall treat a relationship between parties of the same-sex as a marriage. See 1 U.S.C. §7 and 28 U.S.C. §1738C. The Second part states that the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. At the time of its passing, it was feared that Hawaii would allow same-sex marriages by either legislation or judicial recognition. At the time, there was a fear that if same sex couples were married in Hawaii, those marriages would be recognized in the various states of the union. Currently there are three states, Vermont, Massachusetts and Iowa, that recognize same sex marriage. There are three other states, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire that have passed but not implemented legislation to join the list. Some 28 states have enacted amendments to their state constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriage and another twenty states have enacted statutory DOMAs.

President Obama’s political platform included full repeal of DOMA. This engendered support for him in the Gay and Lesbian community. However, on June 12, 2009, the Department of Justice issued a brief in which it defended the constitutionality of DOMA in the case Smelt v. United States of America. This signaled a departure from the campaign promise of the Obama administration. While the administration has taken this stance on DOMA, the administration has been pressured by many gay rights groups to repeal the measure.

The question remains how effective the coalition can be. Most major civil rights organizations either support the gay rights agenda or have remained officially neutral. While opponents to DOMA argue that the measure violates the Due Process clause and the Equal Protection clause of the constitution, supporters argue that DOMA is constitutionally sound and that it is a legitimate exercise of Congressional power under the Full Faith and Credit Clause and that is does not violate either the Due Process clause or the Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution. Challenges to DOMAs constitutionality have made its way to the US Supreme Court. So far, the Court has refused to hear those challenges.

So far, President Obama has not softened the administration’s stance on DOMA. If the administration does relent on its current view of DOMA, it will be interesting to see how the coalition will voice its opposition.

Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about the law designed to keep readers informed of pertinent legal matters affecting the African-American community. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer in your specific location if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Black Business Law Scholar Accuses University of Memphis of Tokenism – Is this a Nation-wide Problem?

An Open Letter to the Shelby County Legislative Delegation
With Regards to the 1960's Style of Black Tokenism
Practiced at the University of   Memphis Under
Joyce Raines and Ralph Faudree

To the Legislative Delegation:

This letter is addressed to you as representatives of the taxpayers of the state of Tennessee who contribute a substantial portion of the operating budget of the University of Memphis,  as trustees of state businesses who donate substantial funds to the University, and as  guardians of our students who pay tuition to the University. This letter  concerns  the operation of the University under the current President Shirley Raines and Provost Ralph Faudree, particularly with regards to none foreign born black faculty and graduate students at the University of Memphis.

While most major universities are aggressively trying to recruit, retain,  and promote qualified black faculty and graduate students, the University of Memphis,  under this  current administration, appears to operate under a 1960s form of tokenism, of marginalization, and of benign neglect of  those black  faculty members who have not been hand-picked by the administration for success, positions,  promotion, and salary, as well as an apparent lack of interest in black Phd candidates.

Click to read more.

Fenorris Pearson, The Consummate Executive


Special to 

When asked why he decided to go against the grain, and not be just another business executive climbing the corporate ladder without a value system, Fenorris Pearson responds, “It’s the way I was taught, and I want my sons to understand how to really play the game at the top.”

Pearson is an entrepreneur, innovator and human capital expert, and currently serves as CEO of Global Consumer Innovation, Inc. As former As Vice-President of Global Consumer Innovation and Global Capability Group for Dell, Fenorris managed over 400 employees globally located in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Through his vast corporate knowledge and experience, Pearson is reshaping the face of corporate America through teaching executives leadership development, enhancement, and skill capability. This philosophy is known as The Consummate Executive.

Click to read.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

AP: Chris Brown sentenced in Rihanna assault case

AP, Aug 25, 2009 6:19 pm PDT

A judge on Tuesday sentenced Chris Brown to five years' probation, six months' community labor for the beating of Rihanna and ordered the R&B singer to stay away from his former girlfriend for the next five years.Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg told Brown that he could be sent to state prison if he violated any terms of his sentence, including an order to stay 100 yards away from Rihanna unless they're attending music industry events.

A probation report prepared for Tuesday's sentencing describes two previous violent incidents. The first happened about three months before the February beating while the couple was traveling in Europe; Rihanna slapped Brown during an argument, and he shoved her into a wall. In the second instance, Brown allegedly broke the front and passenger side windows on a Range Rover they were driving while visiting Barbados, Rihanna 's home country. Neither attack was reported, the probation report states.
Brown will serve his sentence in his home state — Virginia — and his community labor will be overseen by the police chief in Richmond.

The judge said she wanted to ensure that Brown, 20, performs physical labor instead of community service, such as mentoring young people. He will also undergo a year of domestic violence counseling.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shocker: Autopsy Says Michael Jackson’s Doctor Killed Him

Singer Michael Jackson had lethal levels of the drug propofol in his blood when he died, according to court documents.

A search warrant filed in court showed toxicology reports found propofol in Michael Jackson's body.

A search warrant filed in court showed toxicology reports found propofol in Michael Jackson's body.

Los Angeles' coroner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran reached that preliminary conclusion after reviewing toxicology results carried out on Jackson's blood, according to an affidavit.

The drug Diprivan, known by its generic name propofol, is administered intravenously in operating rooms as a general anesthetic, the manufacturer AstraZeneca told CNN.

A source close to the investigation told CNN that Dr. Conrad Murray is believed to have administered the drug to Jackson within 24 hours of his death on June 25.

Investigators have searched Murray's home and clinics for evidence related to the anesthetic propofol, according to documents filed in court.

The drug works as a depressant on the central nervous system.

"It works on your brain," said Dr. Zeev Kain, the chair of the anesthesiology department at the University of California --Irvine. "It basically puts the entire brain to sleep."



Click to read.

Career Advice: Playing the Game at the Top


by Fenorris Pearson

How is the game played at the top? How do you get there and, once there, how do you stay put? And how, in these trying times where jobs are hard to come by and competition is stiffer than ever, can you ever hope to achieve such lofty goals? These are not questions to ask at the end of a career but at the beginning; these are thoughts to have not upon reflection during your retirement dinner but before deciding to ask for that promotion, leapfrog to another successful company or capitalize on the success you’ve already experienced.

Before starting my own business I was Vice-President of Global Consumer Innovation for Dell, Inc., the 35th largest corporation on the Fortune 100 list. Prior to joining Dell, Inc., I was Vice-President of Global Organizational Development for Motorola, Inc. Motorola, Inc. is a Fortune 50 global company with revenues over $40 billion. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on my journey to corporate success, it’s this: The rules are different at the top.

Actually, the rules are very different at the top; there is little slack and even less room for errors. Smart people like to work with smart people and don’t suffer fools gladly. When cutting edge technology, name players, new products and billions of dollars are on the line, there is no room for sleepwalkers, jokers or phoning it in. Top performers get to the top by bringing their A-game every time, but now even that isn’t enough.

Today, more than ever, with layoffs a predictable morning headline and gold-standard companies like Circuit City, Steak & Ale, Linens and Things and Sharper Image shutting their doors in 2008, if you’re not firing on all cylinders, you won’t get in the door, let alone into that corner office. Regardless of the tight economy, or perhaps, because of it, companies are still hiring; but only the best. Companies are still promoting but, again, only the best. If you are looking for that entry-level job you can have it; if you have already been working in corporate and want that big promotion you can get it – but not by coasting into position. Rewards come quickly and are still great, but you will have to come fully prepared to work at the top of your game; every day, every time. How?

Click to read.

Friday, August 21, 2009



BALTIMORE, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Two teenagers and an adult were charged in the beating of a 76-year-old black man in Baltimore, an incident police said has racial overtones.

Charged as adults were Emmanuel Miller, 16, and Zachary Watson, 17, who, along with Calvin Lockner, 28, face charges of attempted murder, assault and harassing a person because of race or religion, CNN reported Friday.

The victim, James Privott, was in critical condition Thursday, but making progress, a Baltimore police spokeswoman said. Doctors told police he sustained a possible fractured eye orbital bone and had serious head trauma, court documents said.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

read more click here

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Problem with Our Post-Racial America

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

In 1903 W.E.B. DuBois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line, --the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.” In 1968 the Kerner Commission determined "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—-separate and unequal."

In 21st Century so-called “post racial” America the problem is still race. African American’s like Derryl Jenkins are still being brutalized by the police in north Minneapolis, MN; shot in the back of the head while handcuffed like Oscar Grant in Oakland, CA; and mistaken for perpetrators and killed by fellow officers like Officer Omar Edwards in New York City.

Many questions still need to be answered about these latest tragedies. What leads these officers to perceive people of color as a threat? Why do the police feel the need to use excessive force first and ask questions later? This takes me to the continual discussion about racism (white supremacy), its perceptions, and emotional responses that people of color deal with all too often.

Click to read.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Troy Davis Gets a Little Help

The United States Supreme Court has granted Troy Davis' request to postpone his execution in yet another attempt to clear his name and prove his innocence.

Davis is an inmate that was sentenced to death after the 1989 murder of a Savannah, GA police officer. Since his incarceration, Davis has gained international support behind his claims of innocence.

Justice John Paul Stevens ordered a federal judge to "receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at trial clearly establishes petitioner's innocence."

Among the supporters of the motion were Justices Ruth Bader and Stephen Breyer. The newest member of the high court Sonia Sotomayor, however, did not participate in the petition. "Brother" Clarence Thomas did however and was one of two judges that dissented their reasons for not taking another look at the case and going ahead and killing Davis.

In the last year or so, Davis' case has been quite turbulent, even being granted a stay of execution just two hours before he was to be put to death.

Despite the execution delay, Davis will continue to sit on death row, reports CNN.

Davis insists that he is innocent of the charges brought upon him in the murder of Officer Mark MacPhail. Witnesses claimed they saw Davis, then 19, and two other men harassing a homeless man in a Burger King parking lot when officer MacPhail arrived to the help the man. Witnesses identified Davis as the shooter claiming he shot MacPhail twice and fled on foot.

Since the 1991 conviction, however, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimonies. In addition to the witnesses reneging, no physical evidence was ever presented to the trial jury or court.

Click to read.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How do you Sue Saddam?

In this episode of “On with Leon", Dr. Wilmer Leon speaks with the man who successfully sued Saddam Heussein. Click here to listen!

Friday, August 14, 2009

At What Point is Michael Vick Rehabilitated?

by Dr. Wilmer Leon

On December 10, 2007 suspended Atlanta Falcon’s quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for his role in a dog fighting ring. He was also found to have been involved in killing pit bulls that did not demonstrate sufficient fighting prowess.

Michael Vick, once one of the highest paid players in the NFL with a 10 year $130 million contract that provided him with an $11.4 million salary in 2006 and $6 million salary in 2007 made 12 cents an hour in his job at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. He filed for bankruptcy; claiming assets of $16 million and liabilities of $20.4 million. Vick is on the hook for judgments of $2.4 million to the Royal Bank of Canada and $1.1 million to Wachovia Bank, both because of loan defaults, and $4.5 million for a sports agent who sued him and won.

On July 20, 2009, after serving 18 months of his 23 month sentence, Michael Vick was released from Leavenworth Federal Prison. After having served his time, on August 13, 2009 signed a two year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Click to read.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obama’s Lawyers Go Nuts over This Ad

Jasmine Messiah, 8, says her Florida school doesn't offer vegan or vegetarian options for lunch.

The posters went up last week, 14 in Union Station. On each of the large displays, a thought bubble rises up from a picture of a beautiful 8-year-old: "President Obama's daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don't I?"

A Washington nonprofit that advocates nutrition-policy reform paid $20,000 to get its message across and carefully maneuvered Metro's tangle of regulations to display its posters. Metro gave it a go -- but the White House did not, according to the group. Within 24 hours of the signs' appearance, the White House asked thePhysicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to take down the ads, which feature Jasmine Messiah, a vegetarian who attends a Miami-Dade County public school that, she says, offers no vegetarian or vegan lunch options.


Click to read.

Time to Shut Down some Prisons

Prisons bursting at the seams, destroying our future

  • (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

by Rev. Al Sharpton

As the battle lines for health care reform are being drawn - and redrawn - a silent segment of the population is strategically left out of the conversation. It's a group of individuals who have been deemed enemies of society, and cast away behind iron bars to fend for themselves. In California's 33 prisons, healthcare is so inadequate that one unnecessary death takes place per week, as inmates are often stacked in triple bunk beds in hallways and gymnasiums. With nearly twice the number of prisoners than they were designed to hold, California prisons will have to reduce at least 40,000 prisoners in the next two years - and it's about time.

Federal judges just released a 184-page order demanding that California's inmate population be reduced by 27%, and gave the state 45 days to come up with a plan. In what they termed an "unconstitutional prison healthcare system", the three-judge panel concluded that disease was spreading rampantly and prisoner-on-prisoner violence was all but unavoidable. Forced to close a $26 billion dollar budget gap, California will now have to look at mechanisms to reducing its extensive prison spending, which in 2007 topped out at nearly $10 billion (approximately $49,000 for each inmate).

Whether it's for pure economic reasons or for an actual concern over the well being of prisoners, California will hopefully serve as an example for a reversal of the ever-growing prison industrial complex. A system that unfairly profiles and detains minorities, American jails produce a vicious cycle of recidivism and community breakdown. Last year, the Pew Center on the States released a scathing report stating that one in every 100 American adults was in jail, and that an astonishing one in 15 black adults was behind bars. According to government reports in 2007, there were three times as many blacks in jail than in college dorms, with Latinos not far behind at 2.7 times more behind bars than in secondary schooling.

Click to read.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Can you get 2 years in prison for making the wrong song? This guy did

BS Top - Allen Rapper

A Florida rapper is sentenced to two years in prison for a song called 'Kill Me a Cop' that he produced as a teenager.

Authorities say 20-year-old Antavio Johnson raps about killing two Lakeland, Fla., police officers in the tune, which cops found on MySpace while surfing for gang-related activity.

Johnson pleaded no contest to two counts ofcorruption by threat of a public servant and was sentenced to two years in prison last month. He was already in jail on a cocaine charge at the time. ...

Singing about killing a cop was not Johnson's first mistake. Pleading guilty and not hiring a lawyer were. Just ask Ice Cube and N.W.A., who sang '%#@* tha Police' as a form of police protest more than 20 years ago.

Back in 1988, N.W.A had everyone from the FBI to the Secret Service breathing down its neck and lawsuits galore. If someone could have figured out a way to charge the group with a crime, lock 'em up and throw away the key, I'm sure it would've happened.


Click to read.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Legal Benefits of Changing Our Drug Policy

by Dr. Byron Price, Texas Southern University

On his website, President Obama offers us a “seat at the table,” which is the equivalent of citizens offering policy prescriptions to his administration. This unprecedented effort to increase citizen participation in the policy making process has the added benefit of simultaneously empowering citizens in a way that our government has not done and has to be what the campaign meant by “change we can believe in.” The criticism of whom he has appointed misses the mark concerning what I believe his change mantra signifies. Since the president appears to be open to unsolicited advice, I offer the following criminal justice recommendations and justification for these suggestions.
President Obama and the 111th Congress should consider ending drug prohibition.
“Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.”

As the preceding paragraph illustrates, “The War on Drugs” has been a dismal failure and has gifted nonviolent African Americans offenders, especially males a permanent handicap—a lifetime of limited opportunities. The collateral consequences of a drug conviction which limit African Americans opportunities are:
The denial of financial aid and work study .
Felony Disenfranchisement.
Lifetime ban on cash benefits and food stamps.
Lifetime ban on public housing.
Termination of parental rights and ban from becoming adoptive or foster parents.
Remove the felony conviction question on applications of employment.

Click to read.

Friday, August 7, 2009

News: Grand Jury Acquits Philly Police in Taped Beating

Philadelphia police officers involved in the videotaped beating of three suspects after a car chase won't be charged with crimes, according to a grand jury that found no excessive use of force.

The widely seen news footage of the violent police stop in May 2008 does not tell the whole story, District Attorney Lynne Abraham said Thursday.

Officers considered the shooting suspects armed and dangerous, and in keeping with department policy did not beat or kick them once they were handcuffed, she said.

The suspects — Pete Hopkins, Dwayne Dyches and Brian Hall — have since been acquitted of the triple shooting earlier that night for which police had pursued them.


Click to read.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Black Politics: Sotomayor Confirmed

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who rose from the housing projects of the Bronx to the top of the legal profession, made history Thursday when the Senate confirmed her to become the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

Sonia Sotomayor, 55, will be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor, 55, will be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor was easily confirmed in a 68-31 vote. Nine Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic caucus in supporting her nomination.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, supported Sotomayor but was not present for the vote because of illness.

Sotomayor, a 55-year-old federal appeals court judge, will be the 111th person to sit on the high court and the third female justice.

She will be sworn in at the Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts on Saturday.

President Obama, who selected Sotomayor on May 26, said he was "deeply gratified" by the Senate vote.

"This is a wonderful day for Judge Sotomayor and her family, but I also think it's a wonderful day for America," Obama said at the White House. Video Watch Obama's remarks »

Click to read.

Black News: President Barack Obama’s Approval Rating Drops


President Barack Obama’s approval rating is falling on concern unemployment is rising and the budget deficit will grow, a Quinnipiac University poll shows.

Exactly half of the registered voters surveyed from July 27 to Aug. 3 by Quinnipiac said they approve of the job Obama is doing, compared with 42 percent who disapprove. That’s down from 57 percent approval and 33 percent disapproval in a poll taken in late June, according to results released today.

Americans are upset about rising unemployment and worried that health-care plans making their way through Congress will add to the U.S. budget deficit, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Hamden, Connecticut-based polling institute. The combination has helped drive down the president’s ratings.


Click to read.

Rep William Jefferson Convicted

Former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana was convicted Wednesday on 11 of the 16 corruption charges against him in a case that included the discovery of $90,000 in his freezer.

Former Rep. William Jefferson arrives at U.S. District Court with his wife, Andrea, on June 9.

Former Rep. William Jefferson arrives at U.S. District Court with his wife, Andrea, on June 9.

A federal court jury convicted Jefferson on four bribery counts, three counts of money laundering, three counts of wire fraud and one count of racketeering. He was acquitted on five other counts including wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

Jefferson, a 62-year-old Democrat, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 4, 2007, about two years after federal agents said they found the cash in his freezer. Authorities said the cash was part of a payment in marked bills from an FBI informant in a transaction captured on video.

Jefferson had pleaded not guilty. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 150 years in prison, with sentencing tentatively set for October 30.

After the verdict on the fifth day of jury deliberations, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis turned down a prosecution request for Jefferson to be taken into custody, ruling that he posed no flight risk.

The verdict showed that "no person, not even a congressman, is above the law," said U.S. Attorney Dana Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia. Asked what might have turned the case in the prosecution's favor, Boente said: "We always thought that a powerful piece of evidence in this case was $90,000 in a freezer."

Click to read.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Where Should the National Discussion on Race Really Be?

By Leland C. Abraham, Esq.

The country has been mesmerized by the events in Cambridge, Massachusetts involving a distinguished Harvard professor, Henry Gates, and a police officer. According to reports, Gates had a rather heated exchange with the officer and he was subsequently arrested on the porch of his own home. The question immediately became, “If he were a white professor, would this have happened?” While it is a legitimate question, I am of the opinion that this is not the right case for the national discussion on race to ensue.

While I am not sure if the same incident would have happened if Professor Gates were white, I am quite certain that if he were not a Harvard professor the media would not have made it such a big story. There is clearly a problem between the black community, law enforcement and the legal system. A case more deserving of the national discussion on race is that of Walter Currie, Jr. Currie is a 15 year old high school student in Poplar Bluff, Missouri who had an altercation with two white students. On June 13 of this year, after an exchange with the two white students, Currie was doused with gasoline and the students set him on fire.

The two white students initially claimed self-defense. They were charged with assault and taken into custody. They were later released and as of the writing of this article, they were still free individuals. Walter is recovering from burns to most of his body from this horrific act. As if this were not enough, one of the white teenagers who perpetrated this act claimed that some months before this incident, Currie struck a relative of the white teenager in the face. While there was no police report taken at the time of this alleged incident, the police notified Currie and his family on July 6, that he will be arrested and charged with assault once he has completed his treatment.

There are many problems that I, as an attorney, have with this fact pattern. The first issue is that they are going to charge Currie with an incident that may or may not have happened some months ago without the aid of a police report or credible eyewitnesses. Currie denies having any part of striking someone in the face. The police then inform him of such news while he is recovering from an act that had he been white and the perpetrators been black, would have most certainly ended up with a charge of attempted murder. Not only that, but he is to be charged with assault. If you missed it before, that is the exact same charge as the white kids who doused him with gasoline and set him on fire were charged with. This means that you could potentially have a young man who may or may not have hit someone in the face and whose life was in extreme danger have the same punishment as the people who tried to kill him. When questioned by the parents of Currie, the prosecutor on the case said that he felt fully justified in this course of action.

Currie’s mother has stated several times that she doesn’t understand how there can be as much evil in the world as to set another human being on fire. While the world proves itself to be more evil than any of us could have imagined, it most certainly never crossed Mrs. Currie’s mind that the institution that is supposed to protect her son from such an act as this is seeking to give him the same punishment as those who tried to take his life for an incident in which there is no credible evidence of its occurrence.

While I am happy that the media has finally taken notice that there is a problem with law enforcement and the black community, the Gates incident is just not the right case to have the national discussion. While I am happy that president Obama engaged both parties in a “Beer Summit,” the country suffers because the media is fixated on that rather than on cases like Currie’s. I can only hope that now that Gates has the country’s attention, he would use the spotlight to shed some light on some of these cases of clear racial discrimination that the media is sleeping on.

Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about the law designed to keep readers informed of pertinent legal matters affecting the African-American community. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer in your specific location if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

Dr Boyce Watkins Speaks on the Banana Eating Jungle Monkey Comment

Dr Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

I did some commentary on CNN last week about Justin Barrett, the cop who referred to Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates as a "Banana eating jungle monkey" in an email. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that the officer is suing the city of Boston, claiming that they violated his civil rights.

As part of my assignment for media work I was doing on the topic, I read through the email by officer Barrett very carefully. The email was not written by a disciple of David Duke, a man with gallons of racism flowing through his veins. Rather, it was written by a man who seemed to hold a great deal of anger and resentment toward almost everyone. In one sentence, he was critiquing the grammar of the journalist who wrote the original Gates article. In the other, he was degrading Professor Gates in ways that a police officer should never degrade the citizens he/she is sworn to protect.

I am not angry with Barrett, I feel sorry for him. In fact, when it comes to Barrett, I offer the following thoughts:

1) There is the broader constitutional issue of whether or not Officer Barrett has a right to say what he said. We do have the First Amendment, and no one seems to clearly understand the great social price we must pay to uphold these rights. Personally, I feel that Barrett has the right to say whatever he wants, but revealing such bias while serving as a police officer becomes a completely different issue. At the same time, should it be ruled by a court that Barrett has the right to say what he says, then I would stand behind his rights as well. I guess if someone calls you a "banana eating jungle monkey," you should just say, "ya mama."

Click to read.

Read the Jungle Monkey Letter

My posted the entire text of the letter written by Officer Justin Barrett, who referred to Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates as a “Banana Eating Jungle Monkey".”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

News: Michael Jackson’s Mom Gets the kids

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Michael Jackson's mother was given permanent custody of the singer's three children Monday.

Katherine Jackson has accused the executors of her son Michael's estate of "keeping her in the dark."

Katherine Jackson has accused the executors of her son Michael's estate of "keeping her in the dark."

Katherine Jackson, was appointed permanent guardian of Michael's three children -- Michael Joseph "Prince Michael" Jackson Jr., Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince Michael II (known as "Blanket") -- by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff.

A hearing is scheduled for October to look at some remaining issues.

Katherine Jackson was in the courtroom Monday with three of her children: Rebbie, Randy and LaToya.

An agreement last week between Katherine Jackson and Debbie Rowe, the mother of the two oldest children, cleared the way for an uncontested custody hearing.

Rowe, who was briefly married to Michael Jackson, agreed not to fight for custody in exchange for visits with the children as recommended by a psychologist.

The agreement does not involve any financial payments to Rowe "apart from the continuation of spousal support payments" that Michael Jackson personally agreed to make to Rowe after their divorce, their lawyers said in a joint statement.

Click to read.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Your Black News: Dr Boyce Watkins explains the meaning of “consumer confidence”

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

Beyonce has a song about how she loves men with "big egos." This might imply that she likes men with confidence. Confidence matters a great deal in terms of male/female attraction, but believe it or not, it actually impacts our economy. Every month, the University of Michigan measures consumer confidence, to determine if Americans are willing to spend money and how they feel about their current and future economic security.

But you might ask, "Why would I care about confidence, since it's only psychological and imaginary?" Good question. Actually, confidence is a psychological phenomenon which leads to very real impacts on our choices and behavior. A confident man who asks out every girl he meets will probably have more mating opportunities than a good looking guy who doesn't open his mouth. A confident consumer is someone who feels good about his/her economic situation and therefore decides to spend money, which is always good for the economy. Confident companies make investments and hire new employees, but insecure companies put projects on hold and don't hire anyone. Confident banks make loans, but nervous banks hold onto their capital, thus slowing down economic growth for the nation.

Click to read.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Boyce Watkins: College Athletes Should Be Paid



The NCAA, which is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 'educational' organization, has come under fire recently for capitalizing on the commercialization of college sports. Many athletes have accused the organization of unfairly using them for financial gain.

Since 1995, the NCAA has spent more than $84 million on legal fees, including some settlements. Former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon filed a lawsuit on July 21 against the NCAA and its member schools, accusing them of illegally profiting from using the likeness of former players for commercial pursuits like video games, DVDs, and jersey sales.

Dr. Boyce Watkins, a finance professor at Syracuse University, has become a vocal critic of the NCAA, for what he calls its exploitation of the black community.

click here to read more

Legal Action Filed Against AKA President


Members of the country's oldest black sorority are suing to remove their president, alleging that she spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of the group's money on herself — some of it to pay for a wax statue in her own likeness.

In the suit filed in Washington, D.C., the Alpha Kappa Alpha members also alleged that international President Barbara McKinzie bought designer clothing, jewelry and lingerie with the sorority credit card. She then redeemed points the purchases earned on the card to buy a big-screen television and gym equipment, the lawsuit said.

"This is extraordinarily shocking if not illegal conduct," Edward W. Gray Jr., an attorney representing the plaintiffs suing the Chicago-based sorority, said Wednesday.

McKinzie denied what she called the lawsuit's "malicious allegations," saying they were "based on mischaracterizations and fabrications ... not befitting our ideals of sisterhood, ethics and service," according to a statement issued this week by the sorority.

The lawsuit also accused the sorority's board of directors of signing off on spending funds on McKinzie without the required approval by the group's membership. For example, the lawsuit says the board approved a monthly "pension stipend" of $4,000 for four years after she leaves office and purchased a $1 million life insurance policy for her. The suit demands McKinzie be fired and return money to the sorority.


Click to read more.