15 Minute Break + John Wood’s “Saving Trayvon Martin”

Listen in as KC and Chris chat with John Wood and Amber Washington regarding the POTUS speech on race from this past Friday. Also check out the commemorative poem, “Saving Trayvon Martin” written and performed by our own John Wood.

Be sure to check out Friday’s live Spreecast podcast if you missed it!

Three Terms Hindering Africa America’s Institutional Development: Affirmative Action, Diversity, & Minority

“All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness.” – Tennessee Williams

This article will probably get me in trouble with the politically correct police and let’s all hold hands and get along crowd who typically have an idealistic view that all the resources in the world can magically be distributed evenly across all populations. However, truth is truth especially as it pertains to social, economic, and political (SEP) interest and until we have their idealistic world we have to consider that groups will continue to battle over power to control the resources much like what happens with every one of God’s other creations – imagine that. SEP interest drives every group’s institutional and individual decision-making except for one – African Americans. African America continues to chase the ever elusive ghost of assimilation and inclusion into the (European) American Dream to the expense of its own power. Below are the three terms that to me psychologically have and continue hamper our development and why.

Affirmative Action

Simply put this has been one of the most damaging policies toward a stronger African-American institutional power development. Affirmative Action was a bill pushed for by certain Civil Rights Movement (CRM) groups and was signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. It owes its roots to desegregation and the court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS in 1954.

Desegregation’s ultimate culmination into the affirmative action law was all but the signature that wiped out African-American institutional development. Prior, we built towns such as “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, OK and Rosewood, FL and countless self-sufficient African-American towns. These towns would be torn apart ultimately because of our lack of ability to obtain political retribution for social and economic attacks against us which is where the aim of the CRM should have been. Instead, a movement within the CRM decided that equality meant to be assimilated into European American owned and controlled institutions. We would all but abandon towns which we built, businesses we started, and colleges that were founded for our interest and then begin to define success not by what we owned or controlled anymore but by being the “first” to break through into institutions where we weren’t wanted and out flanked socially, economically, and politically. Despite an understanding that in capitalism the ultimate power lies in what you control directly or indirectly and what you own.

Today, less than 15% of African-Americans who can go to college attend HBCUs despite the institutional implications that a college and university can bring to a community as noted in The University of Power & Wealth. “Success” is defined as moving out of our neighborhoods and then we wonder why our elementary and secondary schools are weak. They are weak because the demand that drives home values up which in turn increases the amount of taxes available to fund our schools and then allows them to develop and pay quality teachers was abandoned so that we could live in a “good” neighborhood. The educated and professionals instead of being a permanent presence in the community for children to see (positive social capital) instead leave children to look up to those hanging on the corner (negative social capital). It use to be that our doctors, teachers, and other professionals lived in the community and therefore set the barometer of that community. Yet, we’ll claim they can find role models or they should seek out mentoring programs missing the point of setting the rule in a community for kids instead of hoping they’ll find a way to be the exception. Before affirmative action, we started companies like C.R. Patterson, the only African-American owned automobile manufacturing company. Now, most of define our success by the car we drive not the ones we build.


The problem for African America allowing itself to be labeled a minority are numerous but I’ll address specifically as it relates to economic policy and actions. In 2008, Dr. Verna Dauterive, alum of Wiley College, donated $25 million to the University of Southern California in memory of her late husband. The money would be used to fund a scholarship for minority students that pursued a doctorate in education. Who is a minority? The answer is simply anyone who is not a European-American male. That means the scholarships from that donation, at a school whose African-American population is not even five percent, never even have to be used for an African-American. It means that if USC so chose they could give that scholarship to anyone that’s not of African descent from here on out and they would be meeting the requirements of that donation. It should also be noted that USC has a $3.5 billion endowment while her undergraduate alma mater Wiley College has a reported $50 million endowment. To say the $25 million would have gone further at Wiley impacting African-Americans is without question.

Recently it was noted by Jarrett Carter, Editor of HBCU Digest, that many HBCUs lead their states in minority purchases. In fact, Prairie View A&M University, Mr. Carter noted leads the state of Texas with 38% of its contracts awarded to minority businesses. Again, it should be pointed out that does not mean $1 has to go to African-American businesses. As a former employee and graduate assistant at Prairie View A&M University it was not unusual for us to hear stories about European American families with businesses making the wife 51% owner of the business in order to access minority contracts. You have to love loopholes.


Every year certain business magazines release “Most Diverse Companies” and they are always speaking of the labor that works for these major corporations. The reality is that while the labor might be diverse the ownership is still typically 99.9% European American. The current idea of diversity just means you were able to get the most talented of other groups to work for another group’s economic interest. Again, I can’t state enough that it is ownership who gets rewarded the most long-term not labor. We see this in college football where schools like the University of Texas have 50,000 students of which only 500 are African-American males and 50% of them are on the football or basketball team. A football team composed of almost 70% African-American males, and is the most profitable college football program in the United States. The profits then go into non-revenue athletic scholarships which are predominantly European American (see golf, softball, swimming, baseball, etc.), along with aiding research, faculty salaries, and much more. The 1% of the population with no SEP power at the university providing immensely to the 99% with all of the SEP power. Now that’s a change.

It is always important to note who is defining what. I always get annoyed by “diversity” often being hijacked and/or pigeon holed to only mean multiple cultures. Diversity is also always talked about from a European American majority. That is to say in a room of 10 people if you have 7 European Americans, 1 African-American, 1 Asian American, and 1 Latino American you have diversity. However, if you have 7 African-Americans, 1 European American, 1 Asian American, and 1 Latino American it is not perceived as diversity. This is the hurdle that HBCUs often face in perception by not only society as a whole but even sadder by African-Americans themselves. Every time a conversation about diversity comes up I have to point out there are a number of variables by which one can create a diverse setting beyond ancestry. If I have a room of eight people of African descent with two from Jamaica, two from Ghana, two from America, and two from Brazil and each of those two is a mixture of male/female then do I not have a diverse room? Yes, I do. I just happen to have one foundational link of ancestry. I can add variables such as but not limited to geographical upbringing, economic class, education, gender, etc. Just for the record HBCUs have always been willing to take poor and underserved European Americans and others. The reverse still is not true unless of course you can do something exceptional on a football field.

We must define things from our point of social, economic, and political interest and not just blindly follow someone else’s idea of what is “good” as their idea of “good” is always from their point of view and interest. I was on a radio show where one of the guests proclaimed to me that Martin Luther King, Jr. was fighting for our right to move into someone else’s neighborhood. A clear problem of what happens when you allow someone else to control your history. Even a man who screamed for our self-sufficiency as many seem to forget has had his image and message watered down over the years. In capitalism, everything is ownership or labor. This is neither good nor bad. It just is and we all know that knowing is half the battle.

Mr. Foster is the President of AK, Inc., President of the HBCU Chamber of Commerce, Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, and sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste, full-time contributor at HBCU Money, and guest contributor for a number of African American media outlets.

No Breaks: Reality of a College Student

On my last day of classes, my aunt and I were discussing my summer plans and what I planned to do in the upcoming days. I just completed my sophomore year at the University of Southern California and have all these plans lined up including my part-time job and another internship. When I informed my aunt of my plans, she told me, “And here I thought you would be able to just relax and read all summer like you wanted to. That doesn’t sound like much of a break.”

Her response caught me off guard because, compared to my workload during the spring semester, I thought I was getting a break. But when I reflected on what I told her I would be doing and the amount of hours I would be spending working each week, my plans did not sound as relaxing as they did before. While I could just call everything off and literally be unproductive throughout my summer break, the goals I have for my future are not just handed to me. I have to make these opportunities available to myself which can’t happen in the comfort of my bed, no matter how tempting that sounds.

While the job market is showing signs of improvement these past few years, college students are still facing an uphill battle in landing a job after graduation.  Because of this, students should work hard throughout their college career to build themselves up not only as future employers but well-rounded individuals.

“Employers are looking for students who have done meaningful work,” says Lynn O’Shaughnessy, author of The College Solution. “They’re not just interested in students who may have devoted a lot of time studying and getting straight A’s. They want students who have shown initiative and are motivated and have pursued interests outside the classroom.”

According to foxbusiness.com, the top four to-do list for college students during their summer vacations are internships, academic activities, volunteering, and conducting individual projects. As the job market continues to increase in competitiveness every year, more becomes required of us as potential successors in any career path. This means the job as college students is never done whether we are during midterm and finals season or during our summer breaks. There are no breaks for college students. Every day is a step closer to figuring out where we fit in this world and every year is a set of goals accomplished towards the reality that faces us once we graduate. And when we walk that stage, it’s the end of another period and the face of a new chapter, whether it’s the internship that will jumpstart your career or the graduate program that will professionalize your career objectives. This doesn’t mean that you need to rush the process. Spend the time exploring your interests and researching opportunities to cultivate yourself.

While I have two years left, I still cannot help but wonder where I go from here. In reality, yes, I enjoy my three months of academic freedom then start the second half of my undergraduate college career in the fall but even at this point in my education, the only thing that keeps me going is my future. Where am I headed? What does it take from me to achieve the goals I have set for myself? These are the common thoughts of the average college student frequently, especially upperclassmen where time just seems to be running out a bit faster than they thought. With all of this being said, these four years spent trying to find yourself in this world and develop the skills and talents you have been given should not add stress. These four years should challenge and encourage you to think big and set the bar high.

They say that college is the best four years of your life. And they are. Parties and meeting your lifetime friends is an awesome experience but so is discovering who you are and working towards whom you dream to be in the future. Go to the beach, drive to Vegas with your friends, have a great time this summer but remember that every day as a college student is sacred and spend it not only in celebration of early adulthood but also productively.

Shelby White is an intern for Black Is and a student at the University of Southern California. 

The Break: Mics Off!

In this Mics Off! edition of The Break, we discuss random topics including, Obama helping the black community, violence in Chicago, black on black crime, taking responsibility, and hoodrats getting tazered.

Contact Us: Email – kc@blackisonline.com; Twitter – @BLACKISONLINE; Facebook – Black Is Magazine; Voicemail – (323) 455-4219


The Break: The Podcasters’ Roundtable Part II

Listen in as KC chats with some of her favorite podcasters including Mr. Moody of Mr. Moody’s Neighborhood, Darryl Frierson of Straight Outta Locash, Rod and Karen from The Black Guy Who Tips and The Player Hater from The Player Hater Podcast.

Track: If (Kaytranada Remix) Janet Jackson

Single Parenting: The New Nuclear Family?

In the midst of scrolling through my Twitter timeline recently, I came across a tweet that sparked an hour-long debate . A guy tweeted about how he would “put his daughter on game” about what guys think so his daughter would never be “played”. A woman I followed retweeted it and added that every “black father” says that. She proceeded to say in another tweet black fathers rarely stay around to raise their children regardless. Keep in mind this is a young black woman in her early twenties who is single and does not have children.

Now let me stop you right there. Many people believe the notion of not taking anything on Twitter seriously because it’s on a social networking site, which holds some truth. However, I also believe we live in this parallel online universe where people are more likely to say things they wouldn’t ordinarily say because they’re hiding behind creative screen names. While places like Twitter are for venting and promotion, people do speak their minds, and at that point we need to pay close attention to what people aren’t saying vocally and what they’re typing instead.

Why is it that black men don’t stay around to raise their children? Why do we think it’s normal for children to be raised by a single parent? Why are we shocked when children are raised by both parents? Why aren’t we shocked when the children are left to be raised by their grandparents, who’ve presumably have already raised kids, while the parents roam around the city for the next fun thing to do? Why are our children getting pregnant at what seems to be a pandemic rate? I get that families go through the motions and many get divorced but at what point does that relieve the parent(s) of their parental duties? Why are we accepting this?

Many place the blame these issues that affect the black community on black people on rap music – which might hold some truth – but we also have a black president whom our children should be looking up to. I understand this change is not going to happen overnight but we need to take baby steps. Our children are growing up way too fast but that’s in large part because of the parents. Our children are listening to music and watching television programs and movies that are not age appropriate. A 10-year old should not know all the lyrics to Lil’ Wayne songs.  Perhaps these parents are leaving their children because someone left them and they weren’t taught better. It’s time for a change.

The Cinematic Saga of Christopher Dorner

I was not the first person to hear about elite former police and naval officer Christopher Dorner’s campaign of violence to avenge the disgrace and slander he alleges was wrongly perpetrated against him by officers of, and attorneys and officials affiliated with, the Los Angeles Police Department: acts which led to his termination as a police and naval officer and the ruining of his career and, according to Mr. Dorner, his personal life as well. I didn’t start to catch on to this story until hearing some chatter on the radio Thursday morning about a former Los Angeles police officer gone rogue, and then listened to snippets of the manifesto he posted online detailing the story behind his vendetta, as well as his arbitrary opinions on a long list of other issues and people. My interest developed, but it wasn’t until I saw Chief of Police Charlie Beck addressing the press from a secured room that I realized that there was an unusual dynamic in place in this murderous tale. The Los Angeles Police Department is scared. And with one of their own dead, downed after exchanging gunfire with the suspect in Irvine, and two other cops wounded at the hands of one of their most capable officers, they have good reason to be. Christopher Dorner remains at large. The search for him is wide ranging, fanning out now to the snowy mountains of Big Bear, where he is thought to be concealing himself in the wintry cold, though no one knows for sure. They, with the rest of the city and even the country, wait with bated breath to see if and when he strikes again, hoping only that the police find him before he does.

Of course, not everyone is hoping the cops do find him, and that is the part of this story which is most interesting to me. While the mainstream media and most people are portraying Dorner as a murderer who needs to be brought to justice, many people, and very many within the black community in Los Angeles, have more than a little bit of sympathy for the plight and crusade of Christopher Dorner. We, after all, know the dark side of the LAPD better than any other group in this massive city of Los Angeles, and the corruption and brutality of Los Angeles city police officers historically speaking is something that even they do not dispute. Dorner puts himself forward as an avenger of those who have suffered at the hands of the LAPD, as the just punisher of the sins of the department which have driven him to this point. He writes, “I saw some of the most vile things humans can inflict on others as a police officer in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the streets of LA. It was in the confounds of LAPD police stations and shops (cruisers). The enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it’s the police officers.”  Black people of inner city Los Angeles have little problem believing that, being the children of the Watts riots, the Los Angeles riots and Rodney King. And as I hear people talk about Dorner, not all of them black by any means but many of them, with subtle and not so subtle tones of admiration for his willingness and his ability to intimidate the most feared police department in America, I understand. I understand the historic mistrust and animosity we have towards the police, and it does not strike me as unbelievable that every word of Mr. Dorner’s testimony might be the truth. Liars are seldom so motivated by their own lies as this man is. But it does not make him worthy of our admiration. It does not erase the horror of the terrible things he is reported to have done.

Because of Christopher Dorner, the former first lady of the Church I attend has lost a step son; Keith Lawrence, the fiance of Monica Quan, both of whom  he supposedly shot to death in a car in Irvine simply because Ms. Quan was the daughter of a police Captain Dorner blamed for his misfortune; two individuals who had nothing to do with the injustices Mr. Dorner allegedly suffered at the hands of the LAPD. I can think of no greater hypocrisy than to accuse some people of treating innocent people unjustly, and then to turn around and take vengeance by murdering innocent people oneself. Had he confined his retribution merely to those against whom he may have had legitimate grievances he would still be wrong. But to expand his carnage to those so completely undeserving makes him more than misguided; it makes him as bad and worse than those whose supposed corruption has brought him to this terrible point, where he has made himself judge and jury, meting out death and punishment not only to those who may be guilty, but also to those who certainly are innocent.

I do not hate Christopher Dorner. I feel sorry for him. He is compelling because in his writings one can easily perceive the thought processes of a rational, even thoughtful individual. In reading his manifesto, I felt great remorse that such a person could be twisted by circumstances to become such a distortion of what I imagine to be his former self. The record seems to indicate that this was once a man of integrity, though he deludes himself to think he is such a man now. Nevertheless, if the culture of corruption Mr. Dorner illustrates in his manifesto is even half true, than such perversions of justice in the halls of the police department must too be reckoned with. That a man’s reputation can be destroyed for bringing to light the crimes of his fellow officers is a sin almost as serious as the crimes Dorner has perpetrated, and even worse when one extrapolates the consequences such corruption has for this great city of Los Angeles that the LAPD is meant to protect and serve. It is by no means to condone Christopher Dorner to say that if these sorts of incidents which he has described do indeed persist in our police force (and there is more evidence than this that they do) than it is right for this to be a come to Jesus moment for those who govern the force, and shape the system.

I wish the Los Angeles Police Department luck in bringing Christopher Dorner to justice. Then I wish honest officers and city, state and federal officials, as well as the people of Los Angeles through the legitimacy of the democratic process, the utmost luck in bringing justice to the criminal elements of the LAPD.