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Let's talk about it while it is happening and while it is fresh on our mind.

I am really enjoying this economic panel, we have some brilliant folk up there, although the arguing about the Black church was a bit much, I believe the points being made were on point. So much information has been offered and so many good questions have been asked.

a good question about gentrification was raised and that is, is it really gentrification when we are the gentrifiers, pushing our poor family members out?

One of the many things I have discussed in my personal life with friends was also hit on in this discussion and that is out commitment to out future via our children and how we plan to help them via transferring wealth while we are still alive, and making it so our children do not have debt. I hear so many Black folk speak about kicking their children out of their home at a certain age, in my estimate this is a sign of failure in parenting if you have to kick your child out, you should have raised your child well enough so that he or she will leave on his own not out of anger or a wish to get from under your oppressive rule but because he or she is empowered and will use his parents home as a safety net as he or she go out to take risk and build a life for himself or herself.

The Rev and former congressman comments were really interesting when he opened up by saying we are too invested in our political and social ideologies. I will speak more on that some other time.

Overall, I have taken a lot from this discussion and it is being recorded to DVD as I speak so that I can go back and use it as a tool.

April is Financial Literacy Month, remember that MBM and make it so on this forum.

what have you all taken from todays discussions so far.

BTW if you have not you need to get yourself a copy of the Covenant... it is a awesome learning tool.
I enjoyed the first panel as well Faheem. I'm hoping that other established black organizations will adopt this covenant plan into their mission statements. I also know that Tavis has his own organization, but I wish that he would talk to the various groups that were at the Millions More Movement. I think that they have quite a bit to talk about.
Just another thought here. I know that some of the members on our board are in the Houston area and will be attending the symposium. Please we need a full report on what C-Span didn't cover today. I am a fan of Tavis since his BET days. I just finished watching the majority of the C-Span coverage of this event and I have so much to say regarding the program.
However, I'll wait until we have a full board to discuss.
OFF THE HOOK!!!

tfro tfro tfro

I don't know how else to describe it!!

Since I'm at a loss of words to do that, I'll address Yemaya's question! Big Grin The only thing that wasn't shown on C-Span was the discussion with some of the economic panelists in kind of a question and answer session during lunch. I came in on the tail end of it as I went to eat lunch in my car and hurried back. But other than that C-SPAN stayed with us right to the end! tfro

It was a really small place and it was filled to capacity and they had other people in another part of the compound. That was compared to the church last year in Atlanta that had the same amout of people but was only half full! I thought it was very interesting that the church (which was actually another building) flew the Red, Black & Green flag along with those of the state and the nation and at least one of their own. There was two I didn't recognize.

Once again it seemed like when Minister Farrakhan left, half of the audience left with him. Smile Also, I personally enjoyed the morning and the second panel most of all. It was a very empowering, enlightening experience. And after listening to that panel of our younger generation, I have to say that I'm not as afraid of getting old as I used to be! Big Grin

Oh, and yes, it's supposed to re-air Monday at 8:00 eastern time!
EbonyRose, now that you've brought this up, it did have more participants than the one in Atlanta. Unfortunately for the people who had to speak after Min. Farrakhan, it did seem like the audience and the spirit left after he did. What I didn't like was that they were, except Harry Belafonte, disagreeing with him when he wasn't there to defend himself. Another thing that I did like was the fact that he did bring up the spiritual side of the issue, when the two other ministers on the panel didn't.
What did upset me, but not surprised me, was that of all the Black Republican Neo-Cons who were invited to attend the symposium only ONE came and at she was a state senator from Oregon. Rep. Winters, I believe her name is had the obvious discomfort of sitting next to Min. Louis Farrakhan. You could tell she was overpowered by his prescence.
But that goes to show, these folks have their opprotunity to show to their own people what their agenda is and prove that they are worthy of us voting them into office, but they are largely a no-show. Another missed opprotunity for them. I bet a "message" went out advising them NOT to show up at the Tavis Smiley Symposium because many confirmed, but then later declined.
This is actually a good chat topic. Maybe we can all hook up tomorrow after church and discuss live.
Yes, Yemaya, I thinking today how future forums might go if he were to invite less of the "core group" of panelists that are there ever year. I hope he takes that last young man's advice and let's the young Blood go first next year. That's a discussion that definitely needed to be expanded.

But, there are the "usuals" that have headlined the show since the beginning pretty much. And I think Minister Farrakhan was a little "under the weather" today! As much as I love to hear him speak, I didn't agree with him either inasmuch as by the time of his closing remarks he was telling the audience that a (the) Covenent was not necessary, but that, in fact, revolution was, which was totally counter to the event. Not that I disagree with what he said, but I don't think that was the proper time to say it! Smile

I've got a full day tomorrow, but I'll try to pop in and get in on any conversation that's going on Big Grin
I this forum was again of very high quality.

I was, surprisingly, impressed with the quality of Harry Belafonte's comments. He has always been an impressive speaker. I have not always been impressed with what he had to say.

I noted that later on the scheduling notice of C-SPAN2 that he and Walter What's-his-name, the author of 'Devil With the Blue Dress' will be on a 7 p.m. with discussion on an African American, or 'black' political party.

What I didn't like was that they were, except Harry Belafonte, disagreeing with him when he wasn't there to defend himself.---Yemaya

You said you are disappointed that the commentators disagreed. I am interpreting that to be more about 'after he was gone' than the simple fact they disagreed.

I was a little uncomfortable at first as well with this. Then I realized the panelists who disagreed could not be expected, or constrained from expressing disagreement simply because he left.

Leaving was his choice.

No one was disparaging of the man in disagreeing with what he said.

The Covenant will take its place among the documents of African American history.

I certainly need a copy.

PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
Yes, Yemaya, I thinking today how future forums might go if he were to invite less of the "core group" of panelists that are there ever year. I hope he takes that last young man's advice and let's the young Blood go first next year. That's a discussion that definitely needed to be expanded.

But, there are the "usuals" that have headlined the show since the beginning pretty much. And I think Minister Farrakhan was a little "under the weather" today! As much as I love to hear him speak, I didn't agree with him either inasmuch as by the time of his closing remarks he was telling the audience that a (the) Covenent was not necessary, but that, in fact, revolution was, which was totally counter to the event. Not that I disagree with what he said, but I don't think that was the proper time to say it! Smile

I've got a full day tomorrow, but I'll try to pop in and get in on any conversation that's going on Big Grin

I don't have much to add to what ER has said. My wife and I were there for the last two sessions. I definitely think that the the "younger" folk did get the shaft with respect to time. Part of the problem was not only the amount of time taken up by the second group, but the delay in getting right to the panels after lunch, althought I think that it was important to have the survivors or "acheivers" of Hurricane Katrina share their stories as a frame for the discussion.

With respect to Minister Farrakhan, I think that those who differed with him did so in a very respectful manner, and in my opinion, what they offered needed to be said. While I value apocalyptic imagery and prophetic rhetoric, I do not think that the notion of somehow escaping the house, or leaving this world, nation, etc. for a better one is realistic. There are no new lands in which to move. We are dealing with a social/political/economic entity that has global reach. We will have to deal with it here and now.

In addition, I think that we need to be very careful in how we understand the spiritual in this context. I am coming to believe more and more that human existence is a unitary one, i.e., there are more problems created in thinking dualistically in terms of spirit/world or mind/body than are solved by it, especially for black folk. Too often for black folk, this has lead to quietism or escapism with respect to their material or social situation.

Finally, the space was definitelty too small. It is clear, however, that the event has been growing. When I went when it was in Detroit in 2003, there were not nearly the number of people present. I am surprised that they could not get another venue in Houston for that date. There are more megachurches around here than probably anywhere in the country.
Well, I have to credit Tavis Smiley for both taking this Convenant "Movement" through the Black Church, given its historic role in our Community, while at the same time supporting a Black Institution. Complaints about the size of the venue, as they are, should take that into account. He could easily generate [extra] revenue for some "White" hotel by having the panels in a hotel ballroom or some "White" auditorium.

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Minister Farrakhan... those who differed with him did so in a very respectful manner
I think the disrespect was mutual. Farrkhan not only "broke from the script" so to speak (the Operational Unity, if you will) but he threw in a shameless plug for his Millions More inspired Black Ministries (of Health, etc.). While I support all that, it was not the place and I don't think the Convenant is that far from Farrakhan's more pronounced Black Nationalism. I think Kimberle Crenshaw brought it all together by saying, "We all agree that: We Are A People."

And the "apocalyptic imagery and prophetic rhetoric" was too... aloof? It, too, had little or no place. And I'm saying this when I favor a much more pronounced Black Nationalism...
Well, two things I add to this is, one, here in Houston, as Kresge has already stated, there are Black megachurches capable of holding a larger number of people than the venue it was held in. I would surmise that St. Agnes Church was picked because it is probably the biggest one in Sheila Jackson-Lee's district. sck I'm not sure about that, but that's just my guess. Also of note, the hotel where the bunch was staying was at least 40+ miles from where the church was, in an upscale suburb of the city known as Greenspoint. I believe there are two Black-owned hotels here ... I was surprised that they didn't choose one closer in to the Hood!

Secondly, after giving a cursory read through the book so far, I would venture to say that for everyone that was looking for a "plan" and I think we all (here and in general) sit around asking ourselves, "what can we (I)do?" and "what steps should we (I) take next" ... this book is a definite answer. I implore everyone to get a copy. In fact, get two and give it to someone who wouldn't have gone and bought one for themselves.

A call to action has been sounded... and actually, in two voices: that of this Covenent with Black American and in Minister Farrakhan's Movement (which I think show many similarities!) And if we, as Black people, don't answer it ... then that's on us, because to continue to sit around and whine about what's wrong and wish for a solution, yet not use them when they are provided ... makes us unworthy of the blessing of the People that we are.
Well I watched the whole show and i found it pretty interesting. Some of the people that were picked I wouldnt have picked, but it was cool all the same.I was a little dissapointed in the dept of the conversation. We were talking about economic empowerment, but no one was talking about building our own schools, or other institutions we can create to sustain ourselves.The reason they fell out with The Minister is because people like Cornell West and Tavis are more Assimilationist types you see they get a lot from the Mainstream society. Nationalist like the Minister doesnt have that 0ption. So it was like the house negros saying dont say too much dont want Master to cut us all off and where else are we gonna live better than we live here with Master. I think we have o recognize we have Assimilationist and Nationalist in our community. So in order to be productive we can do both at the same time. Those of us that wants to change the system for the better can work towards that while at the same time supporting programs by nationalist that uplift black people. Those of us who are Nationalist can build those international connections while at the same time supporting programs by assimilationist that uplift black people. As long as we are working for our betterment and survial all options are available.
quote:
Those of us that wants to change the system for the better can work towards that while at the same time supporting programs by nationalist that uplift black people.
No disagreement. The two can and should co-exist "peacefully" - i.e. in harmony and in conjunction.

The problem though (and this may be pretty biased, coming from my Nationalist perspective)... none of those "Assimilationists" were talking about any essential changes that they wanted or demanded from the system. Name one change Cornell or Tavis demanded.

If that were so, then there was plenty of room for common ground. Farrakhan referenced Thomas Jefferson's idea of Revolution where it is incumbent on the people to fight to ALTER or ABOLISH any form of government that is dysfunctional, as I noted in my thread. Nowhere in the discussion did Cornell or Tavis talk about REFORM(S) to the American Gov't system. Obviously, Farrakhan made the case or expressed his preference for the latter. He used the Burning House metaphor as if to say that America's system of gov't, etc. must be ABOLISHED.

Perhaps you can share with me any of Cornell West's or Tavis Smiley's ideas that are more specific and not at all vague and nebulous as the "Pipe Dream" of what West certainly wanted to try to pigeon-hole Farrakhan into saying.

I got absolutely NO sense that Tavis or West proposed any such "change" save a superficial change in how we seek/obtain audience with the two political parties.

NO REFORMS and certainly no Revolutionary or even MLK like RADICAL CHANGE. But, maybe I have to read more... which is all the more reason why I hope you can inform me if I'm somehow off in my assumption/contention.
quote:
Originally posted by Nmaginate:
quote:
Those of us that wants to change the system for the better can work towards that while at the same time supporting programs by nationalist that uplift black people.
No disagreement. The two can and should co-exist "peacefully" - i.e. in harmony and in conjunction.

The problem though (and this may be pretty biased, coming from my Nationalist perspective)... none of those "Assimilationists" were talking about any essential changes that they wanted or demanded from the system. Name one change Cornell or Tavis demanded.

If that were so, then there was plenty of room for common ground. Farrakhan referenced Thomas Jefferson's idea of Revolution where it is incumbent on the people to fight to ALTER or ABOLISH any form of government that is dysfunctional, as I noted in my thread. Nowhere in the discussion did Cornell or Tavis talk about REFORM(S) to the American Gov't system. Obviously, Farrakhan made the case or expressed his preference for the latter. He used the Burning House metaphor as if to say that America's system of gov't, etc. must be ABOLISHED.

Perhaps you can share with me any of Cornell West's or Tavis Smiley's ideas that are more specific and not at all vague and nebulous as the "Pipe Dream" of what West certainly wanted to try to pigeon-hole Farrakhan into saying.

I got absolutely NO sense that Tavis or West proposed any such "change" save a superficial change in how we seek/obtain audience with the two political parties.

NO REFORMS and certainly no Revolutionary or even MLK like RADICAL CHANGE. But, maybe I have to read more... which is all the more reason why I hope you can inform me if I'm somehow off in my assumption/contention.

Cornel has definitely mollified his orientation over the last decade. There have actually been a number of books noting this. The West of Prophesy Deliverance who argued for a radical restructuring of society along progressive socialist lines is certainly no more. He is certainly more of an accomodationists (I am hesitant to classify him as an assimilationists. I reserve tha label for Uncle Clarence Thomas and Auntie Condi Rice).

The irony is that West has fallen into the same trap that he identified as the failing of one of his pragmatist heroes, John Dewey. In the American Evasion of Philosophy he notes that Dewey was inhibited due to not wanting to jeopardize his status or security in the academy in particular, but also in his public life. I fear that West has made the same Faustian bargain.
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Cornel has definitely mullified his orientation over the last decade. There have actually been a number of books noting this. The West of Prophesy Deliverance who argued for a radical restructuring of society along progressive socialist lines is certainly no more.
And that type of Cornell West complete with his statement that he has to "go with Martin" would make him close to a Manning Marable it would seem. That would be one public intellectual conspiculously absent from Tavis' panels. Especially considering how Marable is no stranger to CSPAN or such symposiums.

But, of course, I'll have to defer to you about West's fall... And his protege, Glaude, seemed to obsessed with his own rhetoric. I mean, at least Michael Dyson does it egotistically in a seamless fashion...
It's funny, but after I re-watched Minister Farrakhan's statement, I realized that I, too, had misunderstood the content of his speech. At the time he was kind of bouncing around here and there and I hadn't realized how he actually brought it all together. To me, he didn't say nuthin' wrong ... and I ain't mad at him! Big Grin I took it as not being a "by any means necessary"-type of comment, but more of a "why dance with the devil?"-type thing. And that's a question that definitely needs to be asked!!

I think those that were there that also apparently did not catch his drift did do their best to accomodate his statements while at the same time, counterpointing with their own. I believe had he remained there, he would have clarified himself before the conversation ended. I wish I could have seen that happen. Smile
Here's not so much an opposing view, but a different view on how the symposium went. I enjoyed the symposium for the fact that it even exists, but I can understand where the author of this article is coming from. Although we love our educated black folks and they have great ideas, the masses want some action.

Why is Tavis Smiling? And Why are we watching?

Every year, radio/tv commentator Tavis Smiley holds a forum that brings together "the best and the brightest" African-Americans from academia, political, economic and health care, to hold panel discussions on what's wrong with Black America, and how we Black Americans should go about fixing it.

This is a good gesture, if we truly believe it will bear positive fruit in the lives of African-Americans, to the point of where we will actually be motivated to take action to improve and take back the communities that serve to develop and nurture us. I cling to that hope, for in many instances, the hope of a better future is all we, as African-Americans, have left to sustain us.

We live in a country where the President truly engages in all things Orwellian; from the reasons for war, to the reasons why our Black elected officials support legislation designed to harm more than help the majority Black districts they represent. So, when Brother Tavis holds his annual "State of the Black Union" conference, rather than blindly support these forums, we, as African-Americans, need to start asking, as well as looking, for the reasons we choose to willingly give up our Saturdays to be in attendance at such events.

So, this year, when I attended the SOBU event in Houston, I decided I would ask the following questions: What do we hope to get out of the SOBU? Why do we attend?

In response to my questions to the attendees I spoke with, some stated they came to see certain individuals and hear them speak. Judging from audience reaction to comments made by economist Julianne Malveaux ("the mega-churches pimping of Black communities"), while the Rev. Floyd Flake tried to persuade the audience that all Black churches were not like the churches Dr. Malveaux attended, I would say that some attend because such notables will be the voices of concern and frustration that they cannot be. Marc Morial, Wade Henderson, and U. S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee provided other topics for concern and discussion, largely to diffuse the conflict between Malveaux and Flake. Some were frustrated because Malveaux hit a nerve with her comments about Black "mega-churches," and since Rev. Flake couldn't really counter what she said, the moderator tried to move that panel along, leaving things that needed to be said, unsaid.

Some attend for informational purposes, and the likes of Dr. Ian Smith, Michelle Singletary, Lynnette Khalfani, former NBA star Junior Bridgeman, or young Mr. Najee McGreen, serve to be useful as they share what African-Americans must do to become more prudent with our financial resources, and pay better attention to our health concerns, while learning how to talk to the physicians that are responsible for our care, yet have no clue of what African-Americans deal with that directly impacts their health.

Some attend to hear leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton, and Minister Louis Farrakhan take their pot shots at the Bush Administration and everything wrong with it, not to mention echoing Kanye West ("George Bush doesn't care about African-Americans"). If we already didn't know that, Hurricane Katrina, and the devastation she caused should have torn the rose-colored glasses from our eyes.

In last year's conference, there was a commitment to develop a sort of "Ten Commandments" for Black America, which became known as "The Covenant with Black America." This year, a book was given to all in attendance. It is the blue print for addressing the ills of Black America on economics, education, civic responsibilities, health and the environment.

The title of the book is "The Covenant." And we're supposed to go into our communities, after reading this book, and implement the plans for taking back our communities, and obtaining and maintaining the political clout that is ours come election time. This would be a good idea, if the blogsphere wasn't already showing signs of resistance from Black Americans who watched the SOBU on television.

Many think that Smiley holds these forums because of personal gain, as well as more media exposure, and they could well be right. But, I must give him the benefit of the doubt when he says that he loves Black people, and that there are no other forums for us to come together and engage in dialogue on our problems and find ways to solve them. My suggestion to him, if what he says about why he has these forums are true, would be to do a few things:

(a) Limit how many panelists you bring together on the stage. By the time they get through pontificating, the audience has little or no time to ask questions and participate. Instead, allow the panelists to speak, and then go out in the audience and pass a microphone and allow the audience to ask the questions they want asked. This facilitates true participation, and less like we're being subjected to a lecture. Most of us know what's wrong with our communities; we'd like to be able to get a question in every now and then, and see for ourselves if the "best and brightest" can "walk their talk."

b) Hold actual workshops where participants can take back information that is written down on paper. If you review the history of the Civil Rights movement, people not only talked about what needed to happen, they wrote out action plans that people followed to the letter. Give them information that tells them how to organize a boycott, sit-in, protest. Provide resources to sustain the adverse reactions from taking actions, like labor leader Roger Toussaint did for his transit workers when he led a strike that paralyzed New York City two weeks before Christmas. When Mr. Toussaint led that strike, he provided money for the transit workers to pay their bills and support their families during the strike, and kept lawyers on stand by to bail out anyone NYPD arrested. Toussaint prepared the workers for the long-haul of having to be on strike. We all should know what Dr. King did when he organized the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955; it worked because people vowed not to catch the bus until Blacks were allowed to sit wherever they wanted, and Black bus drivers got hired. That boycott lasted over a year (381 days to be exact).

(c) Quit calling for boycotts of businesses when you don't tell the people in written form why they shouldn't shop or do business there. Many times you have to repeat this until it sticks. Then follow through by showing up to march, boycott, protest, whatever, with the people. Quit telling us to do this, and you're not going to be there to participate with us. We may rip Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, but when it comes to protests, more often than not, they do show up. Harry Belafonte walks his talk; how dare Bernice King be counseled by the likes of an Eddie Long to uninvited the man who so believed in her father's dream that he helped finance the movements that went with the dream, and provided support to her mother, brothers and sister, when her father was assassinated.

(d) Tell people the truth; that there are no overnight solutions to problems which have plagued our race for almost 400 years. You must be willing to bring tenacity and "testicular fortitude" when going up against a resistance. The "status-quo" of our elected officials should not be allowed to stand when they are willing co-conspirators in our demise as they vote on egregious legislation as was outlined in the CBC Monitor's Report Cards.

(e) The way we can tell if any of these solutions are working is to evaluate their effectiveness. This may mean having this "conversation" more than once a year. It may mean giving actual deadlines for completion of projects. It will definitely mean holding someone accountable, and they must be equally willing to be scrutinized.

We can attend events like the SOBU and walk away with a few hours, or days of euphoria as noted guests entertain us with their ability to give rousing speeches and arouse and galvanize our emotions that demonstrate our frustration and anger at largely being ignored as a people. Or, we can start questioning why we attend such events - do we want to just be in the company of celebrities and politicians that are celebrated in their field and are afforded accolades like Dr. Cornel West? Or do we attend because we want to know what we must do in order to make our lives and the lives of other African-Americans better than what we have now? Do the speakers provide that resource for us, or are they there to pontificate and tell us what to do, while demonstrating an equal unwillingness to get their hands dirty in doing the hard work of taking back our communities and healing them to wholeness on all fronts?

I'll tell you why I attend such events - because I want to ask these questions, and determine for myself the correct courses of action to take. If any of these noted speakers are not willing to step into the fray with you, get their hands dirty, do the hard work, make themselves available to hear your concerns and provide you with concrete solutions (for which they should be held accountable), then we shouldn't support such venues, because we can always attend a Kanye West, Kirk Franklin or Norman Brown concert, if all we want to do is feel better about ourselves. We shouldn't be so willing to give up a Saturday (in my case as well as others, spend the money to travel to these venues) to feel good about ourselves while we listen to people talk loud and say nothing.

Leutisha Stills is a member of the faculty administration at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia, and can be reached at leutishastills@hotmail.com

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