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George Curry

The Question No One is Asking Donald Sterling

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Why would a White racist have sex with a person of color?

That’s the question that few people in the media want to raise, let alone address. But it is an age-old contradiction not limited to Donald Sterling, the hate spewing soon-to-be former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Beginning with slavery in the original colonies – even earlier in Africa with the arrival of European colonizers – White men have forced themselves on Black women. Caucasian men from Thomas Jefferson on the left to South Carolina Senator and longtime arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond on the right have projected one image in public while having sex – even children – with Black women under the cover of darkness. They were talking White (superiority ) while sleeping Black.

I don’t for a moment pretend to know how to explain this obvious contraction. But in the case of Thomas Jefferson, the chief author of the Declaration of Independence, contradictions became a way of life long before he bedded and had children with Sally Hemings, a Black woman.

Jefferson will forever be inextricably linked to these words in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

At the time our Founding Fathers were proclaiming unalienable rights from God, most of them were enslaving God’s dark-skin creations. Jefferson enslaved nearly 200 African Americans.

As Columbia University history professor Eric Foner wrote, “Slaves, of course, experienced the institution of politics and law quite differently from white Americans. Before the law, slaves were property who had virtually no legal rights. They could be bought, sold, leased and seized to satisfy an owner’s debt, their family ties had no legal standing, and they could not leave the plantation or hold meetings without permission from their owner.”

And White owners did not need anyone’s permission to violate Black women.

Jefferson began having sex with Sally Hemings, one of his domestic servants, when she was a teenager. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation acknowledges that it “and most historians believe that, years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the six children of Sally Hemings mentioned in Jefferson’s records, including Beverly, Harriet, Madison and Eston Hemings.”

South Carolina, like Virginia, had laws prohibiting both interracial marriage and intercourse between Blacks and Whites. If a free Black man had sex with a White woman in South Carolina during the Colonial period, he would automatically lose his freedom, according to Judge A. Leon Higginbothan, Jr.’s book, In the Matter of Color.

Years later, Strom Thurmond’s interracial dalliances would represent the height of hypocrisy.

Running for president in 1948 on the Dixiecrat ticket he said: “I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and accept the Negro into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.”

Fifty years ago, Thurmond led the filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, still the longest debate in Senate history.

Thurmond referred to Negroes as “nigras.” But while publically despising Blacks, he had a different attitude in the bedroom, impregnating his parents’16-year-old maid. The daughter of that encounter, Essie Washington-Williams, wrote in her autobiography, “As much as I wanted to belong to him, I never felt like a daughter, only an accident.”

Armstrong Williams, a Black conservative who began working Thurmond in 1978, recalled the senator confirming he was Washington-Williams’ biological father.

“The subject came up again while the senator and I were attending a South Carolina State football game in Orangeburg. He mentioned how he had arranged for Mrs. Williams to attend the college while he was governor…,” Williams wrote. “‘When a man brings a child in the world, he should take care of that child,’ he told me, and added, “‘She’ll never say anything and neither will you. Not while I’m alive.’”

And neither did – until after Thurmond’s death.

Considering the history of Thomas Jefferson and Strom Thurmond, no one should have been surprised when Donald Sterling told his mistress, who described herself has part Mexican and part Black:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?…You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games…

“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people…Don’t put him (Magic Johnson) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

Donald Sterling, far from being a rarity, simply added another link to the long, scandalous U.S. history of hypocrisy.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (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 and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Racist NBA Owner has Fouled Out

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New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to spend several days “investigating” the clearly racist remarks of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. There’s no need to waste a scintilla of another second on this foul-mouth bigot. Escort him to the closest exit and say good bye – for good.

Record fines or a long suspension won’t do in this case if – and that’s a big if – the NBA is serious about addressing raw racism in a sport dominated by African Americans. Sterling, 81, has fouled out with his own words and the decision to permanently throw him out of the game doesn’t require a huddle around the scorer’s table to review his odious behavior.

Unless you’ve been under a rock or just landed from mars, you should know by now that Sterling, who has a long and acrimonious history with people of color, exposed his true feelings about African Americans in a conversation with his mistress, Vanessa Stiviano, who is almost 50 years his junior. The conversation was apparently taped surreptitiously in Sterling’s home by Stiviano, who describes herself as part Mexican and part Black. A 9-mintute segment of the conversation was posted Saturday to celebrity website TMZ. A 15-minute excerpt was later posted by Deadspin.

There was this exchange in one segment:

V: I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.

DS: Well then, if you don’t feel—don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.

V: Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?

DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?

At one point, Sterling said:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?…”

“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games…”

“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

“Don’t put him (Magic Johnson) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

Finally, there was the following exchange:

DS: You think I’m a racist, and wouldn’t—

V: I don’t think you’re a racist.

DS: Yes you do. Yes you do.

V: I think you, you—

DS: Evil heart.

DS: It’s the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.

V: So do you have to treat them like that too?

DS: The white Jews, there’s white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?

V: And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?

DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent.

V: And is that right?

DS: It isn’t a question—we don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.

V: But shouldn’t we take a stand for what’s wrong? And be the change and the difference?

DS: I don’t want to change the culture, because I can’t. It’s too big and too [unknown].

V: But you can change yourself.

DS: I don’t want to change. If my girl can’t do what I want, I don’t want the girl. I’ll find a girl that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that girl—because I tried to do what you want. But you’re not that girl.

Sterling, 81, has a long history of antagonizing Blacks.

In 2009, he paid $2.7 million to settle a suit accusing him of discriminating against Blacks, Latinos and families with children at an apartment building he owned in Los Angeles.

In addition, NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, who spent 22 years with the Clippers, filed a suit against Sterling in 2009 for wrongful termination. According to the Los Angeles Times, “In his deposition, Baylor spoke about what he called Sterling’s ’plantation mentality,’ alleging the owner in the late 1990s rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because of race. Baylor quoted Sterling as saying: ‘Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players.’ Baylor said he was shocked. ‘And he [Sterling] looked at me and said, ‘Do you think that’s a racist statement?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. That’s plantation mentality.’ ”

Donald Sterling is the Paula Deen of professional basketball. Accordingly, the NBA should stick a fork in him and tell him he’s done.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (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 and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Memories of LBJ, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton

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(NNPA) Covering the three-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the University of Texas last week brought back a string of memories – some fond, some bitter. As a son of the South –Tuscaloosa, Ala., to be specific – I saw first-hand how the region was transformed from America’s version of apartheid to one that is perhaps more genuinely accepting of African Americans than any other geographical section of the country.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – all White Southerners who grew up in the Jim Crow South – played a significant role in the region’s transformation. But that didn’t happen in a vacuum. Each was pushed and challenged by the modern Civil Rights Movement, a multi-racial movement, with Blacks serving as chief architects that prodded the U.S. to have its deeds mirror its professed ideals. (George W. Bush, a wealthy Texan, is omitted from this discussion because he did nothing significant to advance civil rights. In fact, his appointment of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court represented a setback to the cause of civil rights.)

While Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); Whitney Young of the National Urban League; NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins; John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Roy Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) receive the lion’s share of publicity about the movement, the true heroes were the everyday men and women of the South who risked their jobs and lives to be treated as equals.

As a senior at Druid High School, I participated in the last leg of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. A group of us skipped school one day and went to Birmingham to protest the killing of the four little girls at 16th Street Baptist Church. And when we boycotted the segregated buses in my hometown, I borrowed Uncle Percy’s car and joined dozens of others who retraced the bus routes through our community, picking up people and giving them a free ride to their destination.

A few Alabama-born Whites took a principled stand for civil rights. Bill Shamblin and Bill Plott, editors of the Crimson White, the University of Alabama newspaper, were among the most memorable. They supported desegregation in the face of death threats. That took a lot of courage, especially in a city that was also home of Robert Shelton, the head of the Ku Klux Klan.

Neither LBJ, Carter nor Bill Clinton demonstrated that level of courage and commitment to civil rights in their youth. Yet, they, too, are sons of the South and though they grew up on the other side of the tracks, they carried a special sensitivity to race – some say guilt – with them to the White House. Of the three, Lyndon Johnson was by far the best. His signature legislation – the Civil Rights Act of 1965, the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 – forever changed America, particularly the South.

But Johnson didn’t start out as a progressive. As President Obama said of Johnson in his speech in Austin, Texas, “During his first 20 years in Congress, he opposed every civil rights bill that came up for a vote, once calling the push for federal legislation ‘a farce and a sham.’”

But stepping into the Oval Office upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Johnson was able to rise above his past.

Unlike Johnson or Clinton, Jimmy Carter had a close relationship with African Americans growing up in Georgia.

“I grew up in a little village, unincorporated named Archery, Ga., just a few miles west of Plains,” Carter recounted. “…We were surrounded by 55 other families who were African American. All of my playmates, all of my companions in the field – the ones I hunted with, fished with, wrestled with, fought with – were Black people,” Carter said in his speech.

He explained, “I learned to appreciate, you might say, Black culture. When I wrote a book called Hours Before Daylight, at the end of the book, I tried to think of five people other than my parents who had shaped my life and only two of those five were White.”

Bill Clinton was a good president but was probably the most overrated of the three Southerners. When looking at permanent cabinet positions, he appointed more Black cabinet members than Barack Obama, he was a firm supporter of affirmative action and appointed two liberals to the Supreme Court – Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. But he also was part of the successful movement to shift the Democratic Party to the right and signed into law a regressive welfare reform measure.

Last week’s summit at the University of Texas celebrated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It could have also been a celebration of three Southern-born presidents who managed to overcome the rampant discrimination of their youth.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (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 and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Black Press Critic Clint Wilson Needs a 'Reality Check'

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (NNPA) – Howard University Journalism Professor Clint C. Wilson II’s broad criticism of the Black Press proves that he needs a “reality check,” said Ben Chavis, leader of a group of 1970s activists known as the Wilmington Ten.

“There’s a distinguished journalism professor in Washington,” Chavis said, referring to Wilson. “He recently said that none of his students read the Black newspapers. Well, I am saying, ‘What kind of teacher are you?’ It isn’t the students’ fault. That Negro needs a reality check.”

The former executive director of the NAACP made his comments at a dinner here Saturday night following the premier of “Wilmington Ten: Pardons of Innocence,” a documentary co-produced by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and North Carolina journalist Cash Michaels. Former Gov. Beverly Perdue and NAACP State President William J. Barber, II were honored at the dinner.

Chavis was reacting to a column by media critic Richard Prince that was redistributed by The Root, the Black-oriented website created by the Washington Post.

“One devastating piece of circumstantial evidence of the waning influence of the Black press is the response I have received from journalism students in my virtually all Black Howard University classes over the past decade,” Prince quotes from Wilson’s self-published book on the Black Press. “When asked whether they have either read – or have knowledge of – a Black newspaper in their home communities only about 20 per cent say they have. Among those who are aware of the papers, almost none say they read them with any regularity. Let me emphasize, these are journalism students…”

Wilson evidently failed to ask a follow-up question even a first-semester journalism student at Howard University would have been expected to ask: How many of those students in his unscientific study read White-owned newspapers with any regularity?

Studies by the Pew Research Center and others show that newspaper readership has been declining for more than a decade, especially among young people. So, declining readership is an industry-wide problem, not one limited to the Black Press, the studies show.

Chavis credits the NNPA for leading a successful 2-year campaign that resulted in the Wilmington 10 receiving pardons of innocence Dec. 31, 2012 from outgoing Gov. Beverly Perdue 40 years after their unfair convictions.

Chavis and nine others were arrested and convicted on an array of charges connected to the firebombing of a White-owned grocery store amid violent White resistance to local school desegregation. Most of the defendants received a 29-year sentence, with Chavis receiving 34 years, the longest sentence. Citing prosecutorial misconduct, an appeals court reversed the convictions. Yet, the Wilmington Ten never received pardons until the NNPA launched a national campaign with member newspapers carrying numerous front-page stories on the injustice, most of them written by Cash Michaels.

Addressing an NNPA convention in 2013 shortly after the pardons were issued, Chavis said, “If it were not for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, your leadership, I doubt if we would be here today.” He also said, “I guarantee you that there’s no other organization of journalists that could have pulled off what you just pulled off.”

In his speech Saturday night, Chavis said, “We need the Black Press. The Black Press helps us affirm what we need to be about every day, every week.”

Chavis continued, “What I like about the Black Press is that it doesn’t put us in a straightjacket. The mainstream press is always trying to put us in a straightjacket…There are some in high places now that are questioning the power of the Black Press. I am going to be very honest: some of the people now questioning the Black Press are some of us.”

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley, an African American, also ridiculed the notion that the Black Press is no longer needed today.

“Yes, the Black Press is relevant for the work that you do,” she said. “You are also relevant for the way you teach, for the perspective that you offer and the reality that you help explain.”

Obama Worse than George W. Bush on SBA Loans

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(NNPA) When I interviewed Marie Johns, then the outgoing deputy secretary of the Small Business Administration, a year ago, she said the SBA does not separate figures by race, though it hopes to do so at some point.

Technically, she was correct in saying the SBA does not separate agency-wide figures by race. But the SBA’s 8 (a) program figures can be broken down by race and that’s where she was being disingenuous. I specifically asked her twice about the status of Black businesses under Obama and twice she was less than forthcoming.

Now, I know why: The Obama administration’s record of guaranteeing loans to Black businesses is worse than it was under George W. Bush.

Yes, that was documented recently by the Wall Street Journal in its analysis of data for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

“Black borrowers received 1.7% of the $23.09 billion in total SBA loans. The percentage is down sharply from 8.2% of overall SBA loan volume in fiscal 2008. By number of loans, black-owned small businesses got 2.3% of the federal agency’s roughly 54,000 loans last year, down from 11% in 2008,” the newspaper reported.

Major banks are encouraged to make SBA loans to small businesses for up to $5 million, with the federal agency agreeing to cover as much as 85 percent of any loss.

Financial institutions share responsibility for the drop in loans to African Americans.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bank of America made 1,400 SBA loans in fiscal 2007. For the latest fiscal year, however, that figure fell to just 247 borrowers. But the total loan amounts remain relatively unchanged, reaching $40.2 million in 2007 to $40.7 million for the last fiscal year.

That’s part of a larger trend by banks coming out of a recession to favor larger deals over smaller ones. According to the SBA, their average loan is $426,796, more than double the average of $192,919 in 2005. That’s problematic for African Americans because 80 percent of the loans to fund Black business are for $150,000 or less.

The housing market decline has also had an adverse impact on African Americans.

Of course, everyone acknowledges that the Great Recession was a drag on business, both big and small. Other ethnic groups had a hard time obtaining business loans in a depressed economy, but they are recovering at a faster rate than Blacks.

“This is the fallout from the recession and housing bust,” J. Patrick Kelley, a deputy associate administrator of the SBA, told the Wall Street Journal. “The borrowers hardest hit…are the last to see a recovery come to them.”

According to the SBA Office of Advocacy, Black business owners made up 49.9 percent of all minority owners in 2012. Asians made up 29.6 percent and Hispanics 10.3 percent. Overall, Blacks own 14.6 percent of U.S. businesses and women own 36 percent.

When it comes to Black businesses, there is good news and bad news.

A Census Bureau press release, dated Feb. 8, 2011 stated:

“From 2002 to 2007, the number of black-owned businesses increased by 60.5 percent to 1.9 million, more than triple the national rate of 18.0 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. Over the same period, receipts generated by black-owned businesses increased 55.1 percent to $137.5 billion.

“’Black-owned businesses continued to be one of the fastest growing segments of our economy, showing rapid growth in both the number of businesses and total sales during this time period,’ said Census Bureau Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg.”

Now the bad news: Of the 1.9 million Black-owned businesses, 1.8 million had no paid employees in 2007.

Because 82 percent of business startups, both large and small, require capital beyond the owners’ personal assets, access to capital remains a major concern.

“Minority small business owners are disproportionately denied credit when they apply for it even after controlling for other variables such as business credit scores, personal wealth, and revenues. These findings hold true particularly for black and Hispanic business owners,” according to an issue brief by the SBA.

The variation of home ownership can also be a factor.

“Home ownership may provide an important catalyst to small business growth, but it may also serve as a barrier to entry for prospective entrepreneurs,” the SBA said. “For instance, business growth can bridge the wealth gap between minorities and non-minorities across geneder. Among existing businesses, home ownership significantly decreases the probability of loan denials and can be critical to such growth.”

According to Census data, 78.2 percent of business owners owned homes in 2012. Research shows that 72.6 percent of Whites own homes, 58.7 percent of Asians, 47.2 percent of Hispanics and 43.8 percent of Blacks.

Clearly, a number of factors contribute to whether Blacks own their own businesses. The SBA must play of stronger role in opening the doors for Blacks, not just “minorities.”

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (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 and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

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