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Newly-Elected Black Republicans – Where Will They Fit?

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By Zenitha Prince, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspaper (DC) –

Election Day victories for two Black Republicans raise a rare question in the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress: How will two African American members of the Grand Old Party interact with the Congressional Black Caucus?

Fourteen Black Republicans ran for Congress in the Nov. 2 mid-term elections but, after all the votes were counted, only Tim Scott, a South Carolina businessman, and Allen West, a Florida-based Army veteran of the Iraq War, will take seats. They are the first African-American Republicans to be elected to Congress since 1995.

So far, West has said he wants to be part of the CBC, while Scott is still undecided and is leaning toward not participating.

“It’s really heartening to see this type of diversity demonstrated in African-American representation,” NAACP Washington Bureau Chief Hilary Shelton said. “[Republican Party Chairman] Michael Steele deserves credit for seeing more African-Americans seeking office under the Republican banner.”

He added, “They could be a real asset to the strategy of passing legislation in the House and in advancing the CBC [Congressional Black Caucus] agenda… It’s very difficult to get things through without the cooperation of Democrats and Republicans.”

Not everyone is as sure about the Republican freshmen’s value to the CBC, raising questions about whether Scott and West will choose to join—or even be welcomed—into the caucus, which was created in 1969 as a Capitol Hill advocate for the nation’s African Americans.

While membership is open to all African-American lawmakers, its members have been overwhelmingly Democrats, with only one Republican, Gary Franks of Connecticut, ever becoming a CBC member. Though invited, J.C. Watts, a Black Republican who represented Oklahoma from 1995 to 2003, declined membership. Sen. Edward Brooke, a Massachusetts Republican who served in the Senate from 1967 through 1979, was not publicly invited and refused to join a CBC boycott of President Richard Nixon’s State of the Union address in 1971 although he criticized the Nixon administration’s approach to the Black community and civil rights.

“The name of the group is not the Congressional Black Democratic Caucus, it’s the Black Caucus. [And] if they go back to their founding principles then these two men should be welcomed with open arms,” said Black Republican political strategist Raynard Jackson. But, he predicted, even if they were admitted, “this group will make a hostile environment for another Black [Republican] based on them not being compatible in their philosophical leaning.”

Echoing statements by CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Calif., in an Oct. 22 article in The Economist, Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards told the AFRO, “If they’re aligned with the interests of working people, particularly African-Americans, who struggle and they want to work with us to advance those interests," Scott and West would be welcomed into the caucus. But, she added, “What I know of them and their agendas, it is difficult for me to see how that would work [though] it might make for some interesting discussions.”

Backed by the national Tea Party and elected to office by mostly White voters, Scott and West have decidedly conservative agendas, including limited government, lowered taxes, and cuts in government spending. Jackson said that, even among GOP ranks, the men are considered to be far, far right of center, making them almost incompatible with the mostly liberal members of the CBC.

“These boys are crazy; they’re Tea Party people,” Jackson told the AFRO. “I’ve had White people calling me up saying these guys are extremely conservative and so far out of the mainstream. Can you see them talking with Maxine Waters? I’d like to be a fly on the wall.”

But, he added, “If I were them, I’d join just to push the issue.”

West, in a Politico interview, indicated his interest in joining the CBC. “That has been a monolithic voice in the body politic for far too long. There is a growing conservative Black voice in this country,” that needs to be heard, West told the publication.

Scott, on the other hand, told Politico he is less willing to join, pointing to his experience in the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus and the dissonance between him and Black Democrats.

Jackson suggested that the pair also have plenty of dissonance with more moderate Black Republicans.

Moderate Black Republicans are “more concerned with pleasing White people” and less committed to a “Black agenda,” Jackson said. That makes them a detriment to the GOP, rather than an asset, he added.

Though White Republicans are excited by these two additions to the House, saying their victories signal a potential increase in the number of Black conservatives, the new additions will not incite more Blacks to join the party “if they’re saying the same thing White conservatives are saying," Jackson said. "It’s not the messenger; it’s the message. You can’t send a Black to say the same things Pat Buchanan says."

“In a lot of ways,” Jackson added, “it would be better not to have these guys in these positions because it gives the White folks in the party a way out” of having to create real change, “especially if they [Scott and West] have no real power.”

Bush Talks About Kanye West's Katrina Comment

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By Dorothy Rowley, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers (DC)–

Former President George W. Bush said in a recent NBC interview that the lowest point of his life was when rapper Kanye West made statements in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that painted Bush as a racist. West’s statement, from five years ago, that “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” hit a sore spot with the then-president. During the televised interview in which Bush promoted his memoir, “Decision Points,” set for release in November, he said he didn’t deserve to be labeled as a racist.

“I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now,” Bush told reporter Matt Lauer. “It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘This man’s a racist.’ I resent it, it’s not true and it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.”

Responding to Bush’s comments, West said he definitely understood what it was like to be accused of being a racist “because the same thing happened to me.” West was referring to criticism he garnered during a segment of the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards where he took the microphone from Taylor Swift, who had just won the award for best female video. West, apparently believing that Beyonce should have won, shouted that the hit-making Black singer had been robbed.

“With both situations, it was basically a lack of compassion that America saw,” West reportedly said in a recent interview with a hip-hop radio station in Houston. “With him (Bush), it was a lack of compassion with him not rushing, him not taking the time to rush down to New Orleans,” West continued. “With me, it was lack of compassion for cutting someone off in their moment. I think we’re all quick to pull the race card in America.”

Nevertheless, according to popular columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, “The tragedy is that it took West’s racial dig at Bush over Katrina to shame him and the nation about the response” to the devastating hurricane.

In his book, Bush also sheds light on two of the most contentious times of his eight years as commander-in-chief: the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the country’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Racist Ad Spending Signals Disaster for DNC and Whitman Campaign

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Special to the NNPA from the California Advocate –

A recent study of campaign advertising expenditures for the November 2010 California gubernatorial election by one of the the nation's leading African American print advertising agency, KimberKimber.com, has revealed major discrepancies between mainstream media, Hispanic media, and African American media outlets by political candidates and political parties nationwide.

These discrepancies are being interpreted as racist and discriminatory in nature by the African American community and can easily be the deciding factor in many elections across the country.

The most glaring examples of these discrepancies were found in the current 2010 California gubernatorial race by Republican candidate Meg Whitman, whose campaign has spent a record $110 million dollars with mainstream and Latino media outlets while spending none of her campaign advertising dollars with African American media outlets. Similarly, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is spending $50 million dollars in their national "Get Out the Vote" advertising campaign in the next three weeks and none with Black owned media in California. Likewise, California's Democratic candidates have spent an estimated $80 million dollars collectively, and have not spent any of their advertising dollars with Black owned media.

The Kimberkimber.com campaign advertising expenditure research found that between May 2010 and October 1, 2010, none of California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's multi-million dollar media budget had been spent with California's African American owned media, compared to the $20 to $25 million dollars spent with Hispanic owned media, and $70 to $75 million dollars spent with White owned or "mainstream" media outlets.

"Despite having a huge media budget and a legitimate appeal to the African American voter, the Whitman campaign has made an infamous historical decision not to market her candidacy to the millions of African American voters in our state", explained Mark Kimber, CEO of Kimber, Kimber and Associates and KimberKimber.com

Further, the Kimberkimber.com study found the DNC and Democrat candidates running for office as being equally racist and discriminatory in their media buys. To date, neither the DNC, nor any statewide Democrat candidate, has placed any media buys with Black owned newspapers in the state of California, despite "bragging" about spending $50 million dollars nationally for a "Get Out the Vote" ad campaign.

"It's an amazing fact that the DNC and Democrat candidates are proving to be the most discriminatory and racist marketers in the history of our nation's elections. How can they (Democrats) spend $50 million dollars on a national 'Get Out the Vote' campaign and ignore their most supportive block of votes; the Black community. Historically, the whole strategy of a `Get Out the Vote' effort has been to target your most supportive base, until now it appears, and unless that base happens to be Black!" stated Kimber.

"We want answers to our questions as to why the African American media is not being utilized by candidates of both the Democrat and Republican parties to reach out to the African American voter. To this date, we have been unsuccessful in getting any response from campaign officials or their advertising agencies, political consultant groups, or pollster firms, currently being paid multi-million dollars by office-seekers, as well as both the Republican and Democrat political parties regarding these issues", stated Kimber.

About KimberKimber.com (Kimber Kimber & Associates): KimberKimber.com is a respected national advertising agency and marketing firm which specializes in African American print media campaigns including campaign development, market research, brand marketing and development, and diversity outreach campaigns. KK&A's expertise has been utilized by national and international corporations, political candidates, and governmental agencies.

'FBI not Cleared, Justice Report Premature'

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Family and community leaders respond to DOJ Report on death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah

By Zenobia Jeffries, Special to the NNPA from the Michigan Citizen –

“They’re not clear[ed]. They’re very muddy,” said Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality of the FBI agents who fatally shot Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abudullah almost a year ago.

Scott joined other community leaders and family members of Abdullah Oct. 14 for a press conference at the Muslim Center on the west side of Detroit, to respond to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Report on Abdullah’s death Oct. 28, 2009. The report clears the agents of any violation of the federal criminal civil rights statues.

“The justice department should be ashamed of themselves,” Scott said.

Scott says the DOJ took valuable time that could have been used in a search for the truth, to give a presentation that exonerated individuals who participated in the killing of the Detroit Imam.

Dawud Walid, Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan (CAIR-MI) called the DOJ’s 17-page report superficial and incomplete.

“The Department of Justice report fails to explain how Imam Luqman was shot in the back,” said Walid.

Walid says given the public outcry and concerns regarding a person being shot in the back that should have been addressed in detail.

“That shows negligence on the part of the Department of Justice in terms of presenting themselves in having a so-called thorough review,” Walid said.

Walid also says the DOJ’s failure to investigate the use or “potential misusage” of agent provocateurs and usage of military-type raids and attack canines is of concern.

Holding up a letter from House Judiciary Chair Congressman John Conyers to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Walid told media representatives that a request was made by Conyers for the DOJ to review the FBI’s use of informants in mosques. According to Walid, the DOJ has not addressed Conyer’s letter.

Lena F. Masri, Esq., staff attorney for CAIR-MI and co-counsel for the family Abdullah gives four reasons for CAIR’s position that the DOJ’s Report was issued prematurely:

-The report is solely based on witness statements of the four shooters, who gave their statements seven months after the incident in May 2010.

-The report was closed before speaking to other key eye and ear key witnesses. The DOJ did not wait until these witnesses’ cases were adjudicated. According to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, their statements were not important because they were lying face down.

-The report was issued despite the lack of forensic evidence to corroborate the testimony of the four agent shooters.

-The report does not address the manner in which the FBI decided to carry out what should have been a simple arrest of Abudllah.

“The FBI had already obtained an arrest warrant for Imam Luqman,” Masri said. “Instead of arresting him at his home, the FBI set up a full-blown military-type operation.”

Masri says several government agencies were involved in the operation in addition to the FBI Detroit SWAT agents; they included the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, the Royal Canadian Police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Dearborn Police, Detroit Police, and Wayne County Sheriff.

In a previous email response to questions regarding Attorney General Mike Cox’s report that also claimed the shooters were justified, FBI spokesperson Maria Miller told this reporter that the additional law enforcement was used on the perimeter and only FBI agents were inside the warehouse — 66 agents.

Xochitl Hinojosa, spokesperson for the DOJ, declined to comment on questions submitted by this reporter stating that the DOJ issued a statement.

The statement released Oct. 13 indicates that the DOJ conducted a “complete, thorough, and independent review.” It cited that the government has to prove violations of the federal statue 18 U.S.C., Section 242.

According to the release, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez explained to the family that based on their review, prosecutors determined that the evidence does not reveal a violation of Section 242.

Abdullah’s son Omar Regan, 35, who spoke at the press conference, said the family is very disappointed and had hopes there would have been a different outcome.

“We hurt. We really hurt,” Regan said. Regan says the family is very disappointed with the U.S. Department of Justice. “I honestly had high hopes they would see [the] injustice.”

Regan questioned exoneration of the four FBI shooters. “What reason can you clear someone that shoots someone 21 times?” he asked.

“As a family we need something more than that.”

Initial accusations of terrorist acts were also not addressed in the DOJ’s report.

During the Oct. 28 sting operation, in a Dearborn warehouse, Abdullah is said to have resisted arrest and shot and killed the FBI canine attack dog that was released on him; the gun having been pointed in the direction of the officers that collectively fired 21 rounds into Abdullah’s body. His body was then handcuffed; the body of the canine was airlifted from the warehouse.

No fingerprints or DNA were found on the Glock 9mm handgun, agents say was in Abdullah’s possession. According to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s report there was no gun residue on Abdullah’s body.

CAIR-MI has filed a series of lawsuits against the Dearborn Police, the Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police, and other law enforcement agencies, brought under FOIA “in an attempt to obtain as much evidence as possible.”

“[We’re] trying to figure out what actually happened,” Masri said.

Chuck Warpehoski, Director of the Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice called the shooting a tragedy and says there needs to be a full investigation to make sure it’s not repeated. “[There needs to be] a full investigation [of law enforcement] that is complete, fair and impartial, to make sure this kind of tragedy doesn’t happen again,” Warpehoski said.

“We are hopeful that there can be Congressional hearings about this case,” Walid said.

The family may file a wrongful death suit.

Gay Bullying and Suicides Hit Black Community

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By Cyril Josh Barker, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –

Recent anti-gay attacks and suicides among gay youth have ignited a conversation about a problem that those in the LGBTQ community say is nothing new.

As the case of what many are calling one of the most brutal anti-gay crimes unfolds, three of the 11 suspects accused of participating in an attack in an abandoned house in the Bronx have been set free. Brian Cepeda, 17, Bryan Almonte, 16, and Brian Cepeda, 17, were all cleared on charges after the Bronx district attorney’s office said there was a lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, one of the latest suicides took place in the city when 26-year-old Black gay youth activist Joseph Jefferson took his own life on Saturday. Jefferson worked with HIV/AIDS charities and was an assistant to promoters of Black LGBTQ events.

“I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called ‘social mainstream,’” Jefferson posted on his Facebook page the day he killed himself.

Those in the Black gay community plan on celebrating Jefferson’s life this Friday at the LGBT Center. The event is being put on by the organization Gay Men of African Decent. Funeral services for Jefferson will be held in Brooklyn at Pone Funeral Home on Sunday.

To address the issue of bullying and suicides, several LGBT organizations are rallying on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Washington Square Park.

Last Thursday, dozens of LGBTQ youths of color, along with several elected officials, gathered on the steps of City Hall to speak out against anti-gay bullying and the recent suicides.

The rally, led by the organization Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment (FIERCE), declared October as LGBTQ Youth Empowerment Month and also addressed the need for a 24-hour LGBTQ youth center in the West Village.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, openly gay City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and gay City Councilman Daniel Dromm support the themed month.

“We are thrilled to have the mayor and Speaker Quinn and other elected officials’ support of LGBTQ Youth Empowerment Month,” said John Blasco, organizer of FIERCE. “It is crucial that we continue working together to create even more spaces for LGBTQ youth to take leadership in the communities and in the fight for justice.”

At the press conference, several LGBTQ youth told stories of abuse and abandonment they had experienced in the city by being who they are. Gay youth of all racial backgrounds have a higher rate of suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because they feel conflicted or ashamed about their sexuality. Family members often throw many gay teens out of their homes when they come out.

“We chose empowerment because to us, empowerment means being seen, heard and having the power to make the changes we need immediately,” said FIERCE member Veronica Tirado. “We need policy changes that ensure safe spaces in our schools and jobs.”

Likewise, gays in the Black community are also the subjects of bullying. One of the most recent and notable cases involving a Black gay man occurred in 2006, when Michael Sandy was killed after being hit by a car while he was trying to escape attackers in Brooklyn on Plumb Beach.

After meeting a man in an online gay chat room, Sandy and the man arranged a meeting. When Sandy arrived, he was confronted by four men who robbed him and chased him onto the highway. Sandy was then hit by an oncoming vehicle and died from brain injuries.

Last week, City Councilman Lew Fidler dedicated a bench on Plumb Beach in honor of Sandy.

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