Saturday, June 19, 2010

Billy Hawkins: NCAA is Actually a Plantation for Black Male Athletes

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Professor Billy Hawkins of The University of Georgia has released a controversial new book that describes the experiences of NCAA athletes by comparing them to slaves on a plantation. According to the research of professor Hawkins, black athletes are exploited by the NCAA physically, financially and intellectually.

Hawkins cites the massive revenue earned by the NCAA via March Madness, which includes a 14-year, $10.8 billion contract with CBS sports. In spite of seemingly unlimited revenues to encourage athletes to stay focused academically, Hawkins notes that nearly one-fifth of the 64 teams participating in the NCAA tournament had graduation rates of less than 40 percent. Across the 36 sports monitored by the NCAA, men's basketball has the lowest graduation rates, where less than two-thirds of the players earn degrees.

The dismal graduation numbers for the NCAA support Dr. Hawkins' research, in which he argues and shows that black athletes at predominantly white institutions are being exploited while being neglected academically. In his book, "The New Plantation," the well-respected Professor of Sport Management and Policy uses a plantation model to present the black male athletic experience as part of a broader historical context.


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Dr. Julianne Malveaux Speaks on the BP Crisis

William Butler Yeats did a good job of capturing a harrowing pandemonium in his poem, The Second Coming. He wrote, in 1919

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

I was twice introduced to the poem in college, first in a class that required the study of English poets, then in a class that examined African literature, including the powerful novel of Nigerian colonization by Chinua Achebe, ironically titled, Things Fall Apart. The poem is so emblazoned on my brain that from time to time it comes to mind, most recently when I contemplate the BP oil spill, its damages, its consequences, and its handling.

I am writing from the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Conference, 55 days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 people and started an oil leak that apparently continues. While BP says that the leak was only 5000 barrels of oil a day, scientists estimate that between 20,000 and 40,000 barrels of oil leaked each day between April 22 until June 3. If you use the midpoint of 30,000 barrels and a period of 42 days (assuming all leaking stopped when a dome to catch some of the leak was installed on June 3), we are talking at least 1.2 million barrels of an oil leak.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Study Says Gates Was Probably Not Profiled

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, The Institute for Black Public Policy

A recent report to be published Thursday in the Boston Globe is set to show that the Cambridge Police Department does not use racial profiling, as it was accused of doing during the controversial case last summer involving Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates. The report, compiled by the New England Center of Investigative Reporting, analyzed 392 disorderly conduct arrests between 2004 and 2009. During that time, 57 percent of those arrested were white, and 34 percent were black. These numbers almost directly mirror the percentages in the community in which the arrests were made.

I did a great deal of CNN commentary on the Henry Louis Gates case, and to the ire of some of my fellow black scholars at Harvard, I firmly held the position that the Gates case was not about racial profiling. Not to say that the officer didn't violate procedure, but the truth is that there was almost nothing about that case that made me believe that Professor Gates was arrested because he was black.


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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Slim Thug Didn't Mean What He Said about Black Women

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, AOL Black Voices

Many of you may already know about the "interesting" comments made by the rapperSlim Thug, and his frustration about the lack of loyalty among black women. His comments were met with resistance by myself and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill from Columbia University, who gave him the stable advice to keep his mouth shut. I say that "Slim Thugga" needs to be quiet, not because he's wrong, but because this is a battle he can't win and still sell records. Getting every black woman in America to hate you is simply not good for business. Even Talib Kweli, a fellow hip hop artist, had something to say about Slim Thug's remarks.

On his twitter page, Slim Thug went out of his way to try to protect his image in the face of all the backlash:

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Black Scholars Kept From Getting Jobs at White Universities

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

Dr. M. Cookie Newsom

is the Director for Diversity Education and Assessment at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also a trouble maker and an angry black woman, which is likely going to cause her serious problems with her colleagues (we talked yesterday about how being angry can get a black person into serious trouble). Dr. Newsom, however, has good reason to be angry. In a recent interview with Diverse issues in Higher Education, Dr. Newsom stated in plain language that most major universities are not serious about diversifying their faculty and that this hurts all students, especially students of color.
"The dismal truth is academe doesn’t really want a racially-diverse faculty," Newsom said during a faculty diversity presentation at the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) annual national conference in Washington, D.C. "It’s totally a myth."

Dr. Newson based her conclusions on statistics and data she collected which shows that most major universities are good at documenting plans to increase faculty diversity, but most of it’s nothing but lip service.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

African American Scholar Marc Lamont Hill Goes After Rapper Slim Thug

Marc Lamont Hill Responds to Slim Thug's Take on Black Women

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

When I recently read the open letter to the rapper Slim Thug(pictured above), written by Columbia Professor Marc Lamont Hill (pictured below), I was concerned. I love "Slim Thugger" and his musical brilliance, but putting him in an intellectual toe-to-toe with one of the most brilliant young scholars in America is like puttingLennox Lewis in a boxing match with Beyonce. Marc is my boy, and incredibly sharp, and I would encourage him to pick on someone his own intellectual size. Simultaneously, I encourage Slim Thug to quietly walk away and shut up. He needs to stay in the booth and use his intellect for something other than ridiculous social commentary.
But Slim Thug asked for his public butt whooping, after engaging in one of the most feeble and misguided critiques of the African-American woman that I’ve heard in quite a while. Even for a rapper, he sounded as if he needed to be educated on what black women are all about. Here are Slim’s words, "straight out of the negro’s mouth":

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Latest in Black Politics – 6/8/10


Monday, June 7, 2010

Julianne Malveaux on the Jobless Recovery

by Dr Julianne Malveaux

Our economy generated about 431,000 jobs last month. Good news? Only if you don't count the fact that more than 400,000 of the jobs were temporary jobs connected to collecting data for the Census. Those jobs won't last for long and when the dust clears the current 9.7 percent unemployment rate, down from 9.9 percent a month ago, is likely to rise again.

Still, those who are desperate for good news are clinging to the fact that there are more jobs out there. What they don't understand is that people are looking for something more than a few months of work here and there. Nearly seven million Americans have been out of work for more than half a year. What has this done to their finances?

Of course the situation is worse for African Americans, even though black unemployment dropped from 16.5 to 15.5 percent last month. The 15.5 percent is a modest estimate of what is really happening. The U6 number in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation report includes discouraged workers, those working part time that really want full time work and others peripherally connected to the labor market. That number dropped last month from 17.1 to 16.6 percent for the overall population. While the BLS does not report the number for African Americans, using the same relationships, the African American U6 number is at least 25.6 percent. That means that one in four African Americans is jobless!

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Arizona Seems to be Dominating the News, Please Stop - Dr. Boyce Watkins

Arizona isn't the only state with a racist agenda

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

Forgive me for saying this, but part me of is getting sick of hearing about Arizona. Most states only get a few days in the news cycle, but since the politicians in Arizona were crazy enough to pass a law to stifle illegal immigration in their state, our news has been seemingly flooded with one story after another about Arizona: A politician in Arizona has links to the KKK, Arizona changes its textbooks to downplay people of color, brown faces are lightened up on a mural in Arizona. It never seems to stop.

OK, I think I get the point: Arizona is a state with racist policies, at least more racist than most. Can we try to move onto something else now?

This isn't to say that there is not a level of seriousness to the illegal immigration situation in Arizona. We've figured that out. The federal government has long refused to properly enforce immigration laws, and the residents of Arizona came up with their own response, one that threatens to undermine the civil rights of every black and brown person in the state. Got it.

To some extent, the national attack on the state of Arizona smells a bit like political narcissism. The collective outrage that some have expressed over the civil liberties issues in the Arizona immigration law has been hardly present during other more serious racial atrocities that have occurred over the past 20 years.

The sense of urgency that President Obama had about the passage of the state's new immigration law has never been matched when confronting the fact that the United States incarcerates over five times more black men than South Africa did during the height of apartheid. Attorney General Eric Holder's investigation into the legality of Arizona's political decisions was never preceded by a similar investigation into the civil rights abuses of unequal funding for inner city public schools. It seems that when civil liberties of a broad Latino base were attacked, the whole country went up in arms. But when black folks have been getting abused, our needs have been put at the bottom of the to-do list.

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