The Unfinished Business of the Black President

There’s a huge difference between having a president who’s black and having a Black President. With Barack Obama, we thought we hit the jackpot and we were finally gonna get both, but boy, were we wrong.

Almost eight years into the Obama era, and we’ve still not grappled with some of the vexing issues of negritude and resolved some of the more serious quandaries facing our community. I mean, yeah, President Obama’s done a lot, but has he really done enough to help solve black folks’ concerns?

Let’s take a moment and explore some of the most glaring failures of leadership from the Obama administration.

1. Which room can we sit in?

When Barack Obama took office, we were in the midst of a failing real estate market in which African Americans were disproportionately exposed to risk based on shady loans and exploding-rate mortgages. Through initiatives like the Home Affordable Refinance Program and an expanding economy, homeownership has once again been made an option for African-American families. And that’s all well and good, but yo …

Can we sit in that front room (pronounced: “frunchroom”) if we don’t have company? Can we lie on the good sofa, maybe lounge about on its fine plastic cover while we run our toes ever so gingerly across the carpet with its perfectly vacuumed lines? Can we admire the knickknacks and bric-a-brac collected over the past 50 years of domestic vacations and family reunions in peace, or do we have to take our “little friends” to the other room or, worse, down in the basement as if we’re some animals?

The Black President could have given us the opportunity not just to keep or own our homes but to truly enjoy our homes unencumbered by Big Momma’s rules.

2. What do we do with our copies of Gifted Hands now?

Upon his inauguration, Obama faced determined resistance from the Republican Party, which, in its haste to appear diverse and inclusive, embraced African Americans like Michael Steele, Herman Cain and Ben Carson. Lawd, lawd, lawd, Ben Carson …

When I was 15 or 16, someone got me the book Gifted Hands, the Carson autobiography. It was, at the time, an inspirational tale of a black man who came from beginnings like mine to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon. It let me know I could do or be anything. But now they got them s–ts on for damn near free—and turns out, Carson is a strange amalgam of medical genius, pathological personal-narrative fabricator and Droopy. So we need the Black President to let us know if and when it’s OK to dispose of these copies of this book (and the movie) and how we might be able to do so in the most environmentally friendly yet personally disrespectful way possible.

3. What are we gonna do about R. Kelly?

Having appointed the first African-American attorney general in Eric Holder, Obama made reforming the criminal-justice system a priority. From the disparity in sentencing between powder and crack cocaine to ending solitary confinement in federal prisons and even commuting sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, this president has made it his mission to begin rolling back the damage done by the war on drugs. That’s cool and all, but let’s be real for a sec …

Look, for all the clemencies and commutations of black folks in our prisons, there’s one black guy who clearly needs to be locked up: R. Kelly. Seriously. Yeah, we all enjoy his music, and making fun of his marginal literacy can be quite the hoot, but if we can get real about Bill Cosby, then we can be honest with Arruh.

He’s an alleged pedophile and a predator—we have it on tape—and if there’s one person who could be the impartial arbiter of justice here, it would be the Black President. No more talk about how he might have been framed, or victim-blaming or shifting the discussion to how dope was; nah. Just an edict from the Black President to finally clear up this mess, since we can’t seem to agree among ourselves.

4. What about these grits?

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (see Obamacare), many African Americans were able to access health care and health insurance that they may have been prevented from receiving because of excessive costs. One of the leading drivers of the high uninsured rate among black Americans was pre-existing conditions, especially chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes. Man, that’s really awesome. It is, howsoever …

How are we preparing these grits, man? Are we doing sugar and committing to diabetes, or are we doing salt and pepper and doubling down on that high blood pressure? We got coverage now, so we can go either way with this; we just gotta know. This is a dispute requiring an executive action that only the Black President can order. From the White House to the Waffle House, his word would be bond and we could end decades, if not centuries, of brunch disputes once and for all.

5. Are we allowed to actually hoop in Jordans?

Speaking of Obamacare, one of the hidden perks of the ACA is that it covers behavior that is considered preventive care, like yoga and gym memberships. That’s right—you can get a discount on your monthly fee at LA Fitness and then use all that dough you’re saving for a fresh pair of Jordans.

But does anyone outside of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook or Jimmy Butler actually play ball in his J’s? I mean, $200 for some shoes I can’t hoop in—I might as well buy some peanut butter Timbs and use the rest on, like, three tanks of gas (thanks, Obama!). We need the Black President to make the call—Jordans, gym shoes or dress shoes?—once and for all.

6. How long are we supposed to keep this grease?

When it comes down to environmental policy, Obama has taken positive stands on affirming science-backed claims of climate change and taking steps to curb emissions and man-made activity that may contribute to the deterioration of the planet. Great, but hey …

We’ve been saving our cooking oil in a Chock Full O’Nuts can on top of the stove since, like, 1987. Tell us, Mr. Black President: Is keeping this old dusty-ass tin of grease good for the environment or what? How are we supposed to dispose of our collective canisters of aged cooking oils in a manner that won’t turn the back of Aunty Alfreda’s house into a Superfund site?

7. Can Puerto Ricans use the n-word or nah?

While often maligned for his inability to get cooperation from congressional Republicans, one piece of bipartisan legislation that Obama was able to pass was the Puerto Rican debt-relief bill. The bill, while imperfect, provided the island protectorate with the breathing room it needed to renegotiate its debt, restructure its finances and save itself from a future of economic doom. That’s good, but yo …

What’s up with out Borinquen cousins and the n-word, man? We’ve been wondering this for a while. We need to know if the Black President will exercise the Fat Joe Exception Clause and make it official outside of New York City or if those folks have been grandfathered in and we’re not accepting anymore n-word licenses.

8. Are we ever gonna get another Fugees album?

Obama brokered a historic deal to limit nuclear weapons with Iran, ensuring relative peace for the coming decades and abating one of our greatest Middle Eastern regional adversaries. And that’s cool and all, buuuuuut …

Can we get the Black President to get the Fugees back together? Hell, we’ll even settle for the Black President just getting Lauryn Hill to her show on time. We’ll let him ship Wyclef and Pras to Gitmo for a chance to live out that dream. If Obama can get Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to back down on the nukes, then the Black President can get Lauryn onstage before last call.

9. Is Scooter fitna pay me my money?

Unemployment on the day Obama was inaugurated was 8.3 percent. Today’s unemployment rate is 4.8 percent.

Word to the Black President: If Scooter ain’t payin’, it’s ’cause you weak, dawg.

10. Is Tupac still alive?

Obama killed Osama bin Laden and opened up Cuba—which means he knows how to find people who are supposed to be dead (and make them dead), and now he has unfettered access to the last bastion of Cold War isolation in the Western Hemisphere. I’m just sayin’ …


Article source:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WATCH: Black Anthem Singer Takes Knee At NBA Game

Yet another citizen has protested police brutality and racial oppression in the sports arena. A black woman performing the national anthem prior to an NBA preseason game in Miami knelt as she sang.

Before dropping to her knee to sing the National Anthem, Denasia Lawrence opened her jacket to reveal a “Black Lives Matter” shirt. She then dropped to her left knee and performed the song at half-court.

The social worker posted on Facebook on Saturday, saying in part, “Right now, we’re seeing a war on Black Brown bodies—we’re being unjustly killed and overly criminalized. I took the opportunity to sing AND kneel; to show that we belong in this country AND that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us. I took the opportunity to sing AND kneel to show that, I too, am America.”

She continues, “I didn’t get paid to sing the national anthem; nor was this moment about any sort of fame. Black Lives Matter is far larger than a hashtag, it’s a rallying cry. And until our cry is rightfully heard, protests will still happen and demands will still be made!”

Ever since Colin Kaepernick has not stood during the anthem in solidarity with the sanctity of black lives, athletes from many sports—and many levels, from youth all the way to professional—have followed his lead in various ways.

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

“At the end of the day, to each his own,” said Heat guard Wayne Ellington. “If she feels like that’s the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her.”

A few weeks back, white anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

“All I can say is what we’ve seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday in New York. “It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do.”

The AP reports that Miami Heat officials said they had no advance knowledge of Lawrence’s plan to protest.

Read more at the Associated Press.

Article source:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WATCH: AG Loretta Lynch Discusses Federal Election Monitors for 2016 Race

In a climate where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has asked his supporters to “monitor” elections and has repeatedly called the system “rigged,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch this week released a video discussing this year’s elections and how the federal government will play a part in monitoring them.

Considering that this is the first presidential contest in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, and that voter suppression is in full effect, Lynch notes that the Department of Justice will dispatch hundreds of federal monitors to polling places around the country. Lynch specifically named the noted the 2013 “Shelby v. Holder” case in the video—in which the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act—and said that she is proud that her Justice Department has challenged many of the subversions of this law.

“The most fundamental right that we enjoy as Americans is the right to choose our leaders at the ballot box,” begins Lynch. “Attempts to abridge that right not only run counter to federal law, they contradict the defining spirit of our democracy.”

I want the American people to know, she continues, “that we stand ready to ensure that every voter can cast his or her ballot free of unlawful intimidation, discrimination or obstruction.”

The trained federal officials will be “deployed to half of 50 states” and will gather information on numerous aspects of local election procedures, including whether voters are treated differently depending on their race or color; whether jurisdictions are adequately serving individuals with disabilities; whether jurisdictions are complying with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act; and whether jurisdictions are complying with the Voting Rights Act’s requirement to provide bilingual election materials and assistance in areas of need.

Read more at the United States Department of Justice.

Article source:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Twitter, Spotify and Netflix Among Websites Downed in Massive Internet Outage

If you had trouble reading your Twitter timeline or listening to your favorite Spotify playlist Friday morning, you are not alone.

Major sites like Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, Netflix and Etsy were down Friday morning after hackers unleashed a major distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attack on servers at Dyn, a major DNS host.

Domain Name System is basically the Internet’s phone book. When you type a URL into your web browser, DNS makes sure that you get taken to the right site. If the DNS provider that handles that particular web address is down, you will not be able to access the site.

Many larger internet companies will use what are known as managed DNS servers, which means they are able to distribute their name servers geographically so that if a server goes down in one place, the site can still function because it can run off of name servers elsewhere.

In Friday’s DDOS attack, managed DNS servers were the target. Dyn originally stated that the outages seemed to be focused on the East Coast. They were able to get service back up briefly around 9:20 a.m. EDT, but another attack started around noon EDT, taking service down again.

The culprit has not been identified yet, but TechCrunch reports that the White House press secretary has said that the Department of Homeland Security is looking into the attacks.

According to Gizmodo, the sites affected by Friday’s attack include CNN, Etsy, PayPal, Pinterest, Playstation Network, Twitter, Spotify and Reddit.

Dyn engineers were still working to investigate and mitigate the attacks as of 2 p.m. EDT on Friday.

Article source:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wells Fargo Fraud Scandal Could Force Branch Closures

As Wells Fargo fights to come out from under a fake account scandal that has forced its former CEO and Chairman to retire, there is talk that branch closures may be in the near future.

Over the last few years, the Wells Fargo network has held strong, with only 2 percent of its branches closing compared to 9 percent for JP Morgan Chase and 15 percent for Bank of America, WSOC reports.

The bank currently maintains 6,000 branches across 39 states, which is 1,000 branches more than any other bank in America according to CNN Money.

As previously reported on The Root, last month the banking giant agreed to pay $185 million in fines and penalties after it was revealed the branch employees had created nearly 2 million fraudulent accounts in the names of unsuspecting current customers. The scandal launched several congressional hearings and forced the retirement of CEO and Chairman John Stumpf.

While Wells Fargo has not announced any branch closures, its need to find ways to pay for the mounting legal and compliance costs related to the fraud issue topped with the loss of credibility in the consumer market may cripple its ability to make money.

“Whether Wells Fargo realizes it or not, they’re going to be closing 1,000 branches,” CLSA bank analyst Mike Mayo told CNNMoney. “It’s a matter of when, not if.”

Mayo also said that the pressure to make money to keep branches open may have been a contributing factor to creation of the fraudulent accounts.

During a presentation for analysts last week, Wells Fargo hinted at branch closures. The bank said that a renewed focus on mobile and online banking would allow them to review their “branch footprint for consolidation opportunities.”

Wells Fargo is still contending with ongoing investigations including an internal review of the fraudulent account scandal, and a California investigation into whether or not the bank committed identity theft when making the fake accounts.

FBR bank analyst Paul Miller said that Wells Fargo senior management is in crisis mode right now.

“They’ve still got to figure out how to get back on everyone’s Christmas list,” Miller said.

Article source:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment