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Prince Georges County is right now taking the highest rate of foreclosures
in the state, and in my zip code, which is in a supposedly affluent African
American neighborhood, people with college degrees and advanced
degreesand we’re facing the highest rate of foreclosures in our county
Cancer in the Congressional Black Caucus
as That Body Has Become Increasingly Pro-Corporate and Anti-Community
By Glen Ford
When the Congressional Black Caucus began its slide into irrelevancy, Al Wynn was there, one of four Blacks to vote to authorize George Bush’s Iraq invasion, in 2002. By 2005, the list of irredeemable backstabbers had grown to ten, with nine CBC members joining Wynn in support of a Republican bankruptcy bill.
The cancer in the Caucus must be removed one cell at a time, but that requires courageous candidates backed by enough non-corporate money to go the distance. The larger challenge is to recognize that Jim Crow is over, and it’s long past time to make Black politicians accountable.
In recent years, a cabal of corporate-bought members have degraded the cohesion and progressive legacy of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), reducing the once-proud body to an impotent shell. The fracturing of the CBC is largely the work of the Democratic Leadership Council, the bastion and bank of corporate power in the Party. As a Trojan Horse for Big Business on Capitol Hill, the DLC has suborned the most opportunistic members of the Caucus, awarding them with key positions and prime access to campaign cash. Among the worst malefactors is Albert Wynn, the mis-Representative from the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC, and the DLC’s corporate bagman within the Congressional Black Caucus.
By slavishly voting for corporate-backed legislationRepublican bills supported by the DLC’s right wing of DemocratsWynn’s faction in the CBC give credence to the fiction, that African Americans are drifting politically to the right. Although having no basis in fact, this wishful canard holds that Blacks in more affluent districts are becoming more “conservative”especially in places like Prince George’s County, Wynn’s base and the most prosperous majority-Black county in the nation.
However, Albert Wynn looks like he’s on the rocks. Donna Edwards, who came within a few percentage points of ousting Wynn, in 2006, despite a late start and bone-dry treasury, has the derelict congressman running scared and desperately attempting to revise his sordid record before Democratic primary voters have their say on February 12. A solid progressive, Edwards is confident she can dethrone the pretender, this time around.
“There is no excuse for somebody representing the 4th congressional district voting with Republicans and voting with President Bush,” says Edwards, a longtime executive in the non-profit sector. “Where it’s really coming home to roost, today, is with his bad vote on bankruptcy. When he sided with Republicans to undermine consumers’ and homeowners’ positions in bankruptcy court, we’re seeing that come to roost today in the number of foreclosures going on in our district and around the country.”
Edwards is referring to the disastrous Spring of 2005, when ten Black Caucus members voted with Republicans (and DLCers) to limit citizen access to bankruptcy court. A total of 15 Black congresspersonsmore than a third of the Caucussupported at least one of three key GOP measures on bankruptcy, the estate tax, and energy. Albert Wynn was one of four Blacks that supported all three Republican bills — a total sellout.
But Wynn had been working for the other team for years. He and Harold Ford Jr. (TN), Sanford Bishop (GA), and William Jefferson (LA) were the only CBC members to support giving George Bush authority to invade Iraq, in 2002the very same treasonous faction that would pitch their tents solidly in the Republican camp on bankruptcy, energy, and the estate tax, in 2005.
It was the beginning of the end for the Congressional Black Caucus, as presently constituted. Ever since Wynn, Ford, Bishop, and Jefferson defected to Bush, five years ago, the CBC has been incapable of taking a firm position to end the Iraq war, forcing progressive members to work outside of the Caucus. Beginning with Wynn’s original Four Saboteurs, political corruption has spread like a cancer in the Caucus. In the Spring of 2006, two-thirds of the CBC caved to the telecom industry to support a bill that would have rolled back decades of hard-won Black gains in cable accessa higher percentage than among Democrats in the House as a whole!
This steady Black Caucus slide into irrelevance, and worse, compelled long term activist and Prince Georges county resident Donna Edwards to challenge corporate power, in the person of Albert Wynn:
We need some regulation on the telecommunications industry, because some of our neighborhoods are completely left out of the next generation on the internet. The telecommunications giants are giving my opponent money, but they’re not giving me money. I want to challenge the oil and gas companies and say, instead of giving you $20 billion in tax breaks, like my opponent voted for, I want to take that $20 billion and invest it in alternative sources of energy and research and development so that we can look at a new energy future that is not dependent on fossil fuels.
Wynn will, once again, outspend Edwards by millionsthe DLC will make certain of that. Former congressman Harold Ford Jr., once George Bush’s favorite Black Democrat (“I love George Bush!” Ford gushed), now chairman of the DLC and a richly-paid vice-presidential flunky for Wall Street, was the speaker at Wynn’s campaign kick-off, last summer. Nancy Pelosi, once co-chair of the Progressive Congressional Caucus but now indistinguishable from the DLCers that surround her as Speaker of the House, gave her blessings to a Wynn fundraiser, last weekend.
Edwards, however, has shown she can work wonders on a small budget, and an array of progressive organizations have pitched in. An assortment of bloggers centered on the Blue Majority has pledged to raise $150,000 for Edwards’ campaign. Black internetizens, led by ColorOfChange.com, relentlessly champion Edwards’ candidacy as a prelude to a wholesale cleansing of the CBC. “Congressman Al Wynn from Maryland’s 4th district is a perfect example of the lack of accountability that’s hurting our community,” said a Color Of Change letter sent to tens of thousands of potential donors. It “is about whether or not representatives like Al Wynn can stay in office when they repeatedly cast votes against the interests of their constituents. It’s about whether or not members of the Congressional Black Caucus which claims to work for the interests of Black people and describes itself as the ‘conscience of Congress’can afford to turn its back on the Black community.”
Shocked at almost losing to Edwards’ challenge in 2006, Wynn attempted to erase his 2002 pro-war vote by nominally joining the Out of Iraq Caucus. But anybody can place their name on that list, and it’s far too late, now. Wynn’s combined scores on the CBC Monitor’s Report Cards, from September 2005 through September 2007, rate him fifth from the bottom of the classdespite the leopard’s frenzied recent efforts to change his spots.
Residents of Maryland’s 4th Congressional District don’t need a report card as testimony to Wynn’s betrayal. “Prince Georges County is right now taking the highest rate of foreclosures in the state, and in my zip code, which is in a supposedly affluent African American neighborhood, people with college degrees and advanced degreesand we’re facing the highest rate of foreclosures in our county,” Edwards reports. “We need to get back to a system of regulating this industry that seems to have bought its influence all over Capitol Hill and is running away with the store against the interests of consumers.”
What Black America needs is a Congressional Black Caucus that is accountable to the will its constituents. Al Wynn is only one of at least ten members that are beyond political redemption. Wall Street doesn’t have enough corporate vice-presidential slots to accommodate these derelicts, once evicted from The Hill, so some of them may face financial hardship.
Let them take their chances in bankruptcy court.
Source: http://www.alternet.org/story/68191/ (Photos above: Donna Edwards, left; Albert Wynn, right)
posted 19 December 2007
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Potomac Primaries (12 February 2008)In Maryland, Donna Edwards, a lawyer and domestic-violence-prevention advocate, ousted Rep. Al Wynn in the state’s Democratic congressional primary. Edwards is heavily favored to win the general election in November in the solidly Democratic district outside of Washington, D.C. Womensenews
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By John Lewis
The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Congressman Lewis have never been more relevant. Now, more than ever, this nation needs a strong and moral voice to guide an engaged population through visionary change. Congressman John Lewis was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. He is the author of his autobiography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of a Movement, and is the recipient of numerous awards from national and international institutions, including the Lincoln Medal; the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Lifetime Achievement Award (the only one of its kind ever awarded); the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, among many others.
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By Peter Edelman
If the nations gross national incomeover $14 trillionwere divided evenly across the entire U.S. population, every household could call itself middle class. Yet the income-level disparity in this country is now wider than at any point since the Great Depression. In 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 millionclimbing to over $11 million when all forms of compensation are accounted forwhile the current median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000. How can some be so rich, while others are so poor? In this provocative book, Peter Edelman, a former top aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a lifelong antipoverty advocate, offers an informed analysis of how this country can be so wealthy yet have a steadily growing number of unemployed and working poor. According to Edelman, we have taken important positive steps without which 25 to 30 million more people would be poor, but poverty fluctuates with the business cycle.
The structure of todays economy has stultified wage growth for half of Americas workerswith even worse results at the bottom and for people of colorwhile bestowing billions on those at the top. So Rich, So Poor delves into what is happening to the people behind the statistics and takes a particular look at the continuing crisis of young people of color, whose possibility of a productive life too often is lost on their way to adulthood.
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By Randall Kennedy
The word is paradigmatically ugly, racist and inflammatory. But is it different when Ice Cube uses it in a song than when, during the O.J. Simpson trial, Mark Fuhrman was accused of saying it? What about when Lenny Bruce uses it to “defang” it by sheer repetition? Or when Mark Twain uses it in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to make an antiracist statement? Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School and noted legal scholar, has produced an insightful and highly provocative book that raises vital questions about the relationship between language, politics, social norms and how society and culture confront racism. Drawing on a wide range of historical, legal and cultural instances Harry S. Truman calling Adam Clayton Powell “that damned nigger preacher”; Title VII court cases in which the use of the word was proof of condoning a “racially hostile work environment”; Quentin Tarantino’s liberal use of the word in his films Kennedy repeatedly shows not only the complicated cultural history of the word, but how its meaning, intent and even substance change in context.
Smart, well argued and never afraid of facing serious, difficult and painful questions in an unflinching and unsentimental manner, this is an important work of cultural and political criticism. As Kennedy notes in closing: “For bad or for good, nigger is… destined to remain with us for the foreseeable future a reminder of the ironies and dilemmas, the tragedies and glories, of the American experience.” (Jan. 22)Forecast: This may be the book that reignites larger debates over race eclipsed by September 11. Look for a bestselling run and huge talk show and magazine coverage as the Afghanistan news cycle continues to slow; the book had already been the subject of two New York Times stories by early January.Publishers Weekly
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By Randall Kennedy
Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama . . .
The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism. Recalling some of the criticisms of Americas past made by Mr. Obamas former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.
His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him boy, and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedys father relished Muhammad Alis quip that the Vietcong had never called him nigger. The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.
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By Gil Scott Heron
Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King’s birthday ended up becoming a national holiday (“The Last Holiday because America can’t afford to have another national holiday”), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.
Gil uses Lennon’s violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King’s assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.
Jamie Byng, Guardian
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 10 February 2012