Monday, December 10, 2007

Respectable Negroes of the Week

Brad Pitt, In a Move that Makes Me Want to Consider him for Honorary Negro Status
Actor Brad Pitt, who moved with his family to New Orleans a year ago, is spearheading a project to start rebuilding affordable, safe and sustainable homes in the city's Lower Ninth Ward. He has committed $5 million of his own money to get the Make It Right project going. Pitt's project has unveiled 13 designs for houses — each about 1,000 square feet — all with front porches, built off the ground and with environmentally friendly features including solar panels. The goal is to start off with 150 homes, even though he acknowledges that number is just "a drop in the bucket." "There are 5,000 [homes] just in this neighborhood, and I don't want to be contained to just this neighborhood. This place needs help everywhere; every district needs help along the Gulf Coast still," Pitt says.

Denzel Washington & Oprah Winfrey for Bringing Attention to Historically Black Colleges
On Dec. 25, “The Great Debaters" will appear in theaters with Denzel Washington as its director and star, and Oprah Winfrey as producer. The film depicts Wiley’s most glorious chapter: 1935, when the black poet and professor Melvin B. Tolson coached his debating team to a national championship. In many respects, Wiley’s story is the larger narrative of historically black institutions whose graduates lived to see landmark achievements in the 1960s, including passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But after securing the opportunity for bright young students to attend any institution they wanted, many black colleges stalled. Texas had 11 black colleges in 1954. Three are now gone, another is on probation for academic and other problems, and a fifth operated during most of the 1990s without accreditation.

ACLU's King Downing for Challenging Racial Profiling in U.S. Airports
In a case of "messing with the wrong negro": King Downing said he was stopped and questioned by state police in October 2003 after arriving on a flight to attend a meeting on racial profiling. Downing sued the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the airport, and Massachusetts State Police, alleging they violated his constitutional right against unreasonable search. A trial in the case began Monday in U.S. District Court. Downing, who is black and wears a short beard, said in his lawsuit that he was stopped by a state trooper and asked to show identification. When he declined, Downing said, he was told to leave the airport, but was then stopped again. He was surrounded by four state troopers and told that he was under arrest for failing to produce identification. Downing, an attorney who serves as national coordinator of the ACLU's Campaign Against Racial Profiling, said after he agreed to show his driver's license, the troopers asked to see his airline ticket. He was then allowed to leave, and no charges were filed against him. In 2002, about a year after terrorists launched the Sept. 11 attacks by hijacking two planes from Logan, the airport began a program called "Behavior Assessment Screening System," which allows police to question passengers whose behavior appears suspicious. Logan was the first airport in the country to use the system.

Barack Obama & Oprah (again) for Proving that Negroes Can Stick Together
...When Ms. Winfrey strode onto a stage in Iowa Saturday, imploring voters to support the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama, she acknowledged not knowing whether her endorsement would matter. And as she waded into American politics deeper than ever before, she declared: “It feels like I’m out of my pew.” as she explained her rationale for supporting Mr. Obama, of Illinois, she stood behind a lectern, reading from prepared remarks. She paused for a moment, saying: “Backstage, somebody said, ‘Are you nervous?’ I said, ‘Damn right I’m nervous.’” But for 17 minutes, Ms. Winfrey delivered a testimonial for Mr. Obama arguing the nation was at a critical moment in its history that required a candidate who could heal divisions and chart a new direction. “If we continue to do the same things over and over again, I believe we get the same results,” Ms. Winfrey said. Later, she added: “When you listen to Barack Obama, when you really hear him, you witness a very rare thing. You witness a politician who has an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth.”

Hugo Chavez for Challenging the IMF
Leaders of several South American nations have signed a founding document to create a new body, the Banco del Sur, as an alternative to multilateral credit organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. President Chavez sees the IMF and World Bank as tools of the US. The idea was first put forward by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in December 2006 as part of his battle against the influence of the US and the international financial institutions, which he has decried as "tools of Washington".


Anonymous said...

Thumbs up for Brad Pitt. Where are blacks with money, or a black drive to raise money to rebuild homes in N.O.?

Thumbs up for Denzel Washington & Oprah Winfrey. We need more focus on black achievements and achievers, and on those black institutions that foster them.

Thumbs down for ACLU's King Downing for Challenging Racial Profiling in U.S. Airports. His call. Could have showed his ID, but decided to create a stir to have "racial profiling" litigated. A man with too much time and too much money behind him.

Thumbs up for Barack Obama & Oprah (again) for Proving that Negroes Can Stick Together. Thumbs down for suggesting that we can't and don't. I don't object to the term "Negroes," but it's a little passé don't you think, unless you're using it satirically or derisively.

Thumbs down for Hugo Chavez for Challenging the IMF.

Any creep who believes he knows better than the people what is best for them and is willing to back his play using the playbook of Fidel Castro, will have me questioning his intentions even when they appear to be salutary.

What we don't need is another "multilateral credit organization" serving as a tool for a tyrant.

Zora said...

Unfortunately, racial profiling in airports is not a case of "much ado about nothing." For those of us who meet the profile, being targeted at airports is pretty damn scary -- especially if you are taking an international flight. Showing your ID is simply not enough for people who are determined to reveal you as a dangerous negro, a dangerous arab, a dangerous latino ... Being pulled aside, taken to a back room, separated from the rest of your party, having your bags searched, having your body searched, having to remember even the tiniest minutae related to your trip, being threatened with missing your non-refundable flight to Algeria ... All the while, white folks who look like Timothy McVeigh are walking past you untouched. Tell me again why King Downing doesn't deserve a thumbs up.

As for Chavez, I guess it depends on how you read history.

Anonymous said...

I'm not mad at Hugo Chavez.
As we should all know, all leaders are far from perfect or ideal (GWB) and you can not please everyone.
I feel Chavez efforts on the international stage. Go Chavez!