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NAACP: To Glenn Beck’s Comments Calling President Obama A Racist

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We deplore the statement of Glenn Beck on Fox and Friends that President Obama is a “racist.”

Mr. Beck’s statement was irresponsible and inflammatory at a time when as a nation we are attempting to engage in a constructive dialogue on race. Beck’s statements are an attempt to divide when we need to be united, an attempt to inflame with rhetoric when we need to discuss with thoughtfulness the serious question of race. It is a futile effort to distract from the serious issues of health care, the economy and the environment – issues that President Obama is tackling with foresight and fortitude. How could the President be a racist? A man of both African American and white heritage; a man who inspired millions of Americans to unite across the divide of race, religion and age in his historic run for the presidency.

We commend President Obama for having the courage to discuss an issue that all too many Americans consider a third rail. We applaud President Obama for extending the invitation to Henry Louis Gates and Sgt. James Crowley to have a respectful dialogue as a way to open the door for all of us to begin a conversation that ultimately can lead to healing the racial divide. Mr. Beck’s hate filled comments, on the other hand, would take us back to the days of enmity and division. We hope that rather than following the example of Mr. Beck, the American people will embrace the example of President Obama and be willing to sit down and discuss the tough question of race with the hope of finally healing the painful divide that has haunted our nation for far too long.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

Don’t Launch A Probe Based On Rumors, Gossip

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Josie Gonzales, San Bernardino County Supervior, 5th District

It’s disappointing to say the least to see a San Bernardino County Supervisor team up with a criminal defendant in a shameless attempt to discredit and punish the district attorney for prosecuting corruption. But that’s exactly what Supervisor Neil Derry did last week when he helped out his disgraced ex-chief of staff, Jim Erwin, by calling for the county to launch an investigation of DA Mike Ramos based solely on rumors and gossip.

Less than a week after a local newspaper refused to publish a story focusing on the gossip because it couldn’t find reliable evidence, Derry used the bully pulpit of his office to call for a county investigation of Ramos, forcing the media to cover the story and publish the rumors.

It looks too much like Derry did nothing more than help Erwin carry out a vendetta against the man trying to bring him to justice.

The timing is suspicious and raises too many questions, considering the rumors about Ramos center on alleged events that occurred several years ago.

Derry has argued the Board of Supervisors’ reluctance to embark upon an investigation of Ramos is part of an imaginary pattern by the county of looking the other way when officials are suspected of wrongdoing.

PROOF ISN’T THERE

The fact is that the county has consistently proven that it will conduct and investigation when there is credible evidence to suggest an investigation is warranted. The county filed suit in 2000 in relation to the James Hlawek scandal. The county conducted an investigation in 2005 concerning a questionable land deal and the purchase of a jail. And the county most recently took swift and responsible action in response to the evidence of misconduct in the office of ex-assessor Bill Postmus, who now faces multiple felony charges ranging from grand theft to drug possession. There is no credible evidence to suggest an investigation of the DA is warranted at this time. An account contained in a tabloid based solely on un-named sources, and subsequent posting on blogs, amount to gossip and do not constitute credible evidence. At this point there is nothing to even suggest that the DA misused county resources or did anything else to compromise the county or his office. If there were, the county would not hesitate to launch an investigation. If Derry has such evidence, he should present it to the board in a public meeting, rather than simply issue a news release.

ENOUGH MEDDLING

I am certain that if credible evidence surfaces that the rumors about the DA may be true, some will take the opportunity to blame the county for not acting sooner. However, I will not regret refraining from an irresponsible investigation based solely on gossip, especially when such an investigation could very well disrupt the prosecution of Erwin and the others involved in the Postmus scandal.

Last year, Derry ran a commendable campaign based on a call for reform and ethics. Rather than continuing to carry water for Erwin, Derry should allow the justice system to do its job free from political interference.

And as a Board of Supervisors, the five of us should be united in our stance against corruption. It confuses the public and slows our progress when we have one board member, Derry, calling for ethics one day, and attempting to thwart the prosecution of corruption the next.

I understand the public’s frustration. Justice can be a slow and confusing process, especially when wrongdoers throw up smoke screens. But I am confident that when all is said and done, the truth will be known and those who have cheated the public will be held accountable. Josie Gonzales is vice chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

Black Press Response To Gates' Arrest

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JOINT COMMENTARY --

In the tradition of the Black Press working as an opponent of racial injustice, we as Chairmen of the California Black Media, West Coast Black Publishers Association and the National Newspaper Publishers Association stand with President Obama in his original assessment of the arrest of Dr. Henry Louis Gates.

 

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President Barack H. Obama

Gates, a Harvard Professor was arrested in his home on July 16, 2009 for disorderly conduct. Our position is based on the history of black men suffering at the hands of white male stupidity and racism since African Americans hands of white male stupidity and racism since African Americans arrived in this country in shackles. The President commented about the officer on this occasion and, as he said, his comment was based on his limited information and based primarily on his experience as a black man in America.

 

Virtually, all African American males in America are familiar with the law being applied to them in ways that are not only stupid but in ways that are discriminatory and that deny them their dignity. Deposited in the memory banks of African American males is the treatment of Rodney King being beaten by Los Angeles Police officers, while lying on the ground. They have memories of the July 2002, image of teenager, Donovan Jackson, being thrown onto the hood of a car in Inglewood, California and Tyisha Miller being shot 49 times while sitting in a car in Riverside, California. Further, there are the more recent actions of police officers in Tenaha, Texas taking money from Blacks driving through Tenaha, to avoid losing their freedom and/or their children. President Barack Obama has stated that he was surprised by the controversy arising out of his comments about the Gates incident. After all, here was a police officer arresting a man at his own home for expressing his contempt for a system that arrests a Black man for disorderly conduct in his own home. The crime, I suppose, is “contempt of cop”, or was it “talking trash while black?”

 

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Danny Bakewell, Sr., NNPA President

When the President said that the officer, Sergeant Crowley, acted stupidly, he was speaking from his vast experience as a black man in America. As a Constitutional Law Professor, and from a vantage point different from any of his white critics who have lived a privileged life because of the color of their skin, the President is aware of the historical unequal treatment and profiling of blacks and their being singled out for more serious treatment by authorities under similar circumstances. There was no legal basis for arresting Professor Gates in his own home once he had provided identification proving that he was at his home. His indignation was apparently based on a new reality that even though it is widely understood that “a man’s home is his castle,” a different standard applies to African American men.

 

The actions of sergeant James Crowley were consistent with, as Dr Gates said, how vulnerable all blacks are to white authority. Many white men will never understand the continuing effect of a black man’s experience in America including the recent stupid efforts requiring the president to prove that he is an American citizen.

We believe as the President stated that this is indeed a teachable moment. As long as everybody keeps their eyes and minds open and apply the law to the facts, they will be taught that this is indeed another deposit in the bank of Black-White relations in America. Like so many of the previous acts, it was a stupid act that should not be repeated.

Black Farmers Must Be Protected

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By John W. Boyd, Jr., NNPA Guest Columnist --

Black farmers in the United States are disappearing. In the 1920s, there were approximately 900,000; today there are only 18,000, accounting for less than 1 percent of America’s farmers.

But the staggering 98 percent decline in Black farm ownership does not tell the whole story: when each farm closed, those farmers, their families and their employees all lost a way of life that had existed for generations.

When I started the National Black Farmers Association in 1995, I, like quite a few farmers in my community, was on the brink of losing my farm. As a third-generation Black farmer, I wanted to save my own farm and preserve my heritage, but I also wanted to protect the first and oldest occupation for Black Americans. Today’s Black farms primarily are small enterprises with particular needs for the crops we grow. Our productivity comes from our enterprise and hard work, aided by biotechnology innovations that help our crops tolerate certain herbicides and protect them against insects.

Biotechnology helps reduce labor costs by eliminating the need to use more labor-intensive farming methods, reducing pesticide use and insect problems; and increasing crop yields. Because no two crops are alike, having access to the best choice of biotechnology innovations is critical to meeting the challenge of feeding an ever-increasing world population.

For most of the NBFA’s history, racial discrimination was the biggest threat to the livelihood of Black farmers. More recently, however, anti-competitive conduct by monopolists and reduced competition for the biotechnology that we need has emerged as a major obstacle. Lack of choice in agricultural markets was a topic of discussion at the NBFA’s recent Legislative Conference.

One area we identified in which we desperately need more competition is for biotechnology used in seeds, because it currently is controlled by one company: Monsanto.

Monsanto is the Microsoft of agriculture: the dominant company that controls the key biotechnology that all farmers need. The St. Louis-based company’s recent lawsuit to block DuPont and Pioneer from introducing their new biotechnology with Monsanto’s biotechnology in soybeans is only one of the practices it has used to preserve its monopoly and attempt to intimidate customers and competitors.

A few years ago, following the NBFA’s public opposition to Monsanto’s acquisition of Delta and Pine Land, then the largest cotton seed company in the United States, Monsanto used those practices against us. Several of my colleagues and I were unable to purchase seed —the lifeblood of any farm — from our local retailer because of threats to penalize the retailer financially.

Profiling of a Professor’s Pigment

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By Gary L. Flowers, NNPA Columnist --

Professor Henry Louis Gates has arguably learned and taught his most profound lesson of his academically acclaimed career - in handcuffs. Dr. Gates’ arrest last week by the Cambridge, Mass. Police Department has generated a renewed national discussion relative to the issue of racial profiling of people of color. Although Dr. Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, have conflicting accounts of what was said by whom, the essential facts are not in dispute. Officer Crowley responded to a call from one of Dr. Gates’ neighbors who reported a possible break-in occurring by two Black men at Dr. Gates’ home. Upon arrival of the officers, Dr. Gates was in his home and produced his driver’s license bearing his home address and a Harvard University faculty identification card. Dr. Gates asked for officer Crowley’s name and badge number and was told to step out of the house to receive the information. Upon stepping on to the porch Dr. Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct. Under Massachusetts law, an individual cannot be charged with disorderly conduct inside of his home (thus officer Crowley conditioned the provision of his name and badge number on Dr. Gates’ exiting his house only to arrest him).

Therein lies the central issue: officer Crowley acted improperly (I agree with “stupidly” as President Obama opined) by luring Dr. Gates into custody on an unrelated charge to the original call to police of a possible break-in of Dr. Gates’ home.

Once Dr. Gates produced his identification the officer should have left the home (or at least asked nicely to search the home for any burglars). Instead officer Crowley racially profiled the professor’s pigment and made yet another unnecessary arrest of a Black man. Racial profiling of Black and Brown people in the United States has been - and is - a daily occurrence by police and private citizens. During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Africans were racially profiled and subjected to the most atrocious dehumanization in world history. Following the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution outlawing slavery, southern corporations seeking cheap labor racially profiled African Americans into virtual enslavement in the form of sharecropping and actual neo-slavery. Corporations such as U.S. Steel, 1st National Bank (Sun Trust), Alabama Coal Company, and Southern Brick Company worked with southern sheriffs to enforce “vagrancy” laws on Black men alone on street and roads in the South. Black men would be bonded to White executives and worked for free until the “bond” was paid (determined arbitrarily by the sheriff). Such practices are exposed in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name (Blackmon). According to the National Black Police Association (member of the Black Leadership Forum), Black men have a far greater chance of being racially profiled and arrested than any other ethnic demographic.

According to Amnesty International, approximately 32 million people (near the population of Canada) are victims of racial profiling, and excessive force by police officers, which actually undermines law enforcement efforts. Moreover, racial profiling is a human rights violation of the Standards Against Non-Discrimination in treaties signed by the United States. Among them are the UN Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) In the case of Dr. Gates, and although the preponderance of blame should be shouldered by the officer Crowley, he is not the lone culprit.

Dr. Gates exacerbated the situation by exclaiming, “Do you know who I am?” Was he serious? Such a statement implies that, if officer Crowley “knew” of his cerebral celebrity, he should have treated him with more respect. No! If professor Gates is a true advocate for the victories of racial oppression then it should not matter “who [he] is.” All citizens of the United States of America-regardless of race or resources- should not be subject to racial profiling. No one!

The biggest lesson learned by Dr. Gates may well be that he was misinterpreted Dr. W.E.B. Dubois’ view of a “talented tenth” within Black America. Dr. Dubois suggested that the Black intelligence should lead the masses in fighting oppression, not that the Black elite should expect a “pigment pass” due to their academic acumen. But, in the final analysis, how far down the “post racial” road is American society when today there are racially charged placards planted in front of Dr. Gates’ home. Hmm….

Gary L. Flowers is executive director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc.

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