News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Profile: Gamble proves wealth and wisdom can coexist
I've asked myself: If I were rich, would I still be socially conscious? It seems to me that I care about the suffering of the poor and marginalized because I was born into circumstances that made me aware of it. Yet, we've seen how easily someone like Bill Cosby, born into a single parent, low-income home in Philadelphia, can come to mock those less fortunate than himself. I don't think I would perceive significant financial success as an opportunity to look down on others. But, since I will likely never be rich, I guess I will never know the answer to the question. Kenneth Gamble, a Philadelphian like Cosby, has had the experiences of the very successful and is just as dedicated to social change as he was before the money poured in. I have recently read about Gamble (pictured) in regard to the heydey of the company he helped found, Philadelphia International Records. During the 1970s, PRI was the most successful producer of soul music, competing with and eventually displacing Motown. Gamble and his partners made millions.
More recently, the entrepreneur appeared in the news because of one of the many socially conscious records he produced for PRI artists.
In addition to producing songs with sense, Gamble was known for penning tunes that were about more than shaking your behind, including McFadden & Whitehead's "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." His reputation as the conscience of Philadelphia has continued long past the acme of his financial success. Freedom Magazine published an indepth account of Gamble's post-PRI endeavors.
However, Gamble's dedication to the principles he has preached in his songs is not limited to moving to a community inhabited by the folks Bill Cosby sneers at. Gamble believes that any real improvement of urban environments requires hands-on participation and resources. Gamble brought his money, as well as his body, back to the the old neighborhood.
Gamble's fruitful efforts have been recognized with awards and plaques, and he has testified before Congress. But, the achievement he may be proudest of is establishing a successful charter school in the community he is revitalizing. It is the kind of 'seed project' that will bear the most meaningful fruit. Kenneth Gamble is proof that two kinds of riches -- financial and ethical -- can coexist in the same person.
•Read about the revival of "Wake Up Everybody" as a campaign anthem at Mac-a-ro-nies.
•Learn more about Kenneth Gamble.posted by J. | 1:40 PM
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Commentary: Ellison exposes black CON-servatives
I don't often find myself nodding in agreement as I read the thoughts of conservatives of color. But, I did just that while reading an article C. D. Ellison wrote for Salon in 1998. In it, he described why he did not find common cause with many other black conservatives. Ellison was responding to one of the 'Negroes, this is how you are supposed to behave. . .because I said so' diatribes racist writer David Horowitz spits out from time to time.
Ellison has exposed the black conservative movement for what it largely is -- a group of opportunists, of very limited ability, out to attract attention and a few bucks by clowning for Right Wing white people. As he says, it is a CON. The persons involved usually know that they are misrepresenting African-Americans in order to bask in the Right Wing spotlight. (However, some, including Jesse Lee Peterson, are too stupid to have even self-knowledge, I suspect.) The benefits they derive from the con game are attention and money. Much of what passes for black voices on the right is actually scripted, set up and paid for by far Right foundations, including Olin and Bradley. When cornered and questioned, a black CON-servative will tell you that he is just "gettin,' paid," and besides, the persons being conned are white, so there is no harm to African-Americans from the behavior. If only that were so. The ongoing minstrel show provided by people like Keyes and Peterson distracts attention from real efforts to confront the problems of the poor and minority Americans. It also provides white America with blame the victim excuses for inaction.
The latest act in the Black CON-servative Revue is Alan Keyes' relocation to Illinois so that he can run against Democrat Barack Obama for the Senate. Keyes' goal is a battle royale -- a fight between blacks set up by slaveowners in the ante-bellum South. The slaves would slug it out, bare-fisted, until one of them collapsed or was killed. The battle royale was considered excellent entertainment by many whites, as lynching would be later. However, the underpinnings of this show are obviously shabby. There is no reason whatsoever for Keyes to run for office in Illinois, other than attempting to embarass Obama. The white Republicans backing him reveal their racism and moral bankruptcy by encouraging him to revive the slavish practice of the battle royale.
I don't predict an end to the behavior Ellison describes. To people of limited ability and means, playing the role of modern day slave looks like easy money. And, never underestimate what people will do for approval. There were many slaves who reported plans for uprisings. Their tattling resulted in whippings and the executions of other slaves, some of them family and friends. Their reward? Often little more than their masters' approval.
What's the art?
A slave's scarred back.
C.D. Ellison hosts The Ellison Report on Baltimore’s WEAA 88.9FM.posted by J. | 2:00 PM
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Analysis: McGreevey caught in down-low spotlight
Jan Herman has anticipated some of what I have to say about the not so mysterious case of the gay governor. We've discussed the down-low -- gay and bisexual men who pretend to be straight and have sex with unprotected women -- several times at Silver Rights. The situation has received attention as something that occurs in the African-American part of the population. Much of America is still so benighted it does not realize that if behavior occurs in the black, Asian or Hispanic populations, it likely occurs in the white population, too. (Notice that when white college students riot, it is callled having too much to drink or high spirits.) Repeat after me: People are more alike than different. Herman realizes that McGreevey has brought the down-low out of the closet for white Americans.
Herman is on target. I'm sure that down-low fellows can be found in every ethnic group in America. Some commentators are saying minority men are more likely to keep their homosexuality or bisexuality hidden because they have more to lose. I am not so sure about that. Since white men still dominate the higher echelons of employment and wealth, arguably, they have more at stake when it comes to coming clean about who they are spending time between the sheets with. Consider McGreevey. It is doubtful that he could have been elected governor of New Jersey if he were not white. Can an African-American be elected mayor of Atlantic City? Certainly. Along with the indictment that often follows. But, not governor of the state.
McGreevey fits the down-low profile to a T, including the proof of unprotected sex with women -- children. However, I believe that to focus on his homosexuality may be falling for a smokescreen. It distracts people from other evidence of the governor's dishonesty. I'll have more to say about that in a later entry.posted by J. | 11:45 PM