Lola Adesioye: Was Dorothy Height the Last Significant Black Woman to Have a Voice?

by Lola Adesioye, Huffington Post

Dr. Dorothy Height, the matriarch of the civil rights movement, died today at the age of 98. Dr. Height stood with Dr Martin Luther King during his "I have a dream speech" and worked tirelessly as an activist until her last days.

Her contribution was invaluable in the shaping of black America and American society as a whole. Dr. Height provided an example of ceaseless dedication to a cause greater than oneself, and was a living, breathing demonstration of the formidable power of female leadership, especially for black women.

President Obama referred to Dr. Height as the "godmother" of the movement, going on to say that she "served as the only woman at the highest level of the civil rights movement — witnessing every march and milestone along the way."

In the 60s, Heights had to overcome gender prejudice in order to do her work. She was cropped out of photos because she was female and she was less well known than her male counterparts. Yet despite the challenges, she recognized the importance of women in black leadership and continued to push for that.

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Bob Marley’s New Book Draws Controversy

Bob Marley is embroiled in a fiery debate with a Las Vegas-based publisher over alleged unauthorized changes to the cover and title of his recently released memoir which threatens to taint the near-perfect image of reggae music royalty, the Marleys.
Ky-Mani Marley, a Grammy Award-nominated reggae and hip-hop artist, penned "Dear Dad: Where’s the family in our family, today?” which was released this month by Farrah Gray Publishing in celebration of Marley’s 65th birthday.
The issue between author and publisher lies mainly in the extra coverline: "The Story The Marley Family Apparently Doesn’t Want You To Know.”
In an online statement, Ky-Mani says the caption is unauthorized: "I did NOT authorize him to make any changes to the cover of my book, nor do I condone any of the captions he has written!”
Further, Ky-Mani told The Gleaner, a Jamaican newspaper, that he was considering legal action against the Gray, saying he simply wanted to tell his story without causing any conflict. He told the newspaper the title was changed from "Dear Dad: The Marley Son Who Persevered From The Streets To Prominence."
But Dr. Farrah Gray, the publisher, stands by the book, saying he worked with Marley every step of the way. He said that Marley wrote the book using a ghostwriter and the interviews were recorded.
"I didn’t write his book,” Gray told BV on Books. "I published it. He did the final edit. Now he’s issuing a statement that he didn’t approve it…for those of us who believe in one love, Ky-Mani Marley’s story deserves light. He’s throwing me under the bus and going on a smear campaign, but I have the tapes. The tapes are worse and he doesn’t want those publicized.”


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Michael Vick and Nike: The Secret Love Affair

Why Nike will just do it and sign Michael Vick

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University, MSNBC’s and AOL Black Voices 

Dick’s Sporting Goods recently made a decision that is bad for business. Taking one of the boldest, and perhaps silliest, stands of any corporation in recent memory, Dick’s decided not to sell Michael Vick jerseys in any of their stores.

Perhaps they earned a few dog-loving customers, but they lost the support of any shareholder who cares about making money. It’s one thing for lynch mobs to embrace vigilantism, but another for a corporation to engage in the same irrational behavior. Vick paid his debt to society; it’s time to move on with our lives.

The top brass at the Nike Corporation are smarter than the management at Dick’s Sporting Goods, but they too understand the need to stay away from Michael Vick, at least for right now. When asked to respond to rumors that Vick had signed a deal with Nike, the company gave an immediate and resounding "no." After the Nike denial, Michael Vick’s agent, Joel Segal, had to backpedal faster than an NFL defensive back to kill any indication that his client has re-signed with the "big swoosh." However, the confidence with which the signing was announced indicates that the relationship might be deeper than we think.

The truth is that I don’t believe a single word of the Nike dismissal. Like the big egos in Beyonce’s song, Nike’s swoosh is " too big, too wide, too strong" for them to sit idly by as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL makes his return to the game. Nike executives have seen Vick grace the cover of Xbox games and sports magazines and often refer to him as the man who "revolutionized the quarterback position." They know that Vick is not washed up, and that some of his best years may still be ahead of him.

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Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World coalition.

Visit Your Black World for additional Black News and Information!

Outside the Cell: New Book for Inmates Seeking to Become Entrepreneurs

from AOL Black Voices, Your Black World 

In the first book published by her New York-based Resilience Multimedia, Sheila Rule delivers much-needed information to a segment of society that has long been ignored: the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. In ‘Think Outside The Cell: An Entrepreneur’s Guide for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated’ by Joseph Robinson, readers learn vital information, including how to overcome obstacles that convicted felons face while trying to reenter society and find work.
Rule, who worked at The New York Times for 30 years before her recent retirement, was spurred to start her publishing company after writing to the incarcerated as a volunteer for the Riverside Church Prison Ministry. With funding from the Ford Foundation, she plans to publish next year the ‘Think Outside the Cell’ book series featuring real-life stories by the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated and their families. Rule takes time to talk about the book with AOL Black Voices.
AOL Black Voices: How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Sheila Rule: Joe’s book has been published amid renewed efforts to help the formerly incarcerated-who are disproportionately black and Latino-successfully reenter society. But Joe believes that the reentry programs being developed, while commendable, too often focus on finding jobs in a nation where, according to a Princeton University study, it is easier for a white person with a felony conviction to get a job than for a black person who has never been arrested. Joe believes that "Think Outside the Cell" presents a largely unexplored option-entrepreneurship-that can help give men and women leaving prison a realistic second chance


Click to read.

Dr Boyce Watkins Writes for MSNBC – 8/26/09

about Dr. Boyce Watkins

Black Women and Eating Disorders

That wasn’t always the case. The cover of her new book, ‘Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat,’ tells it all. Jagged black scribbles cross out a childhood photo, which is set against the backdrop of a stark yellow cover. But the most striking image, also on the cover, is of two fingers-the index and middle fingers-both used to induce vomiting by sticking down the throat.

They symbolize bulimia, which is characterized by binge eating and purging either by throwing up, laxative abuse or over exercising. A compulsion, it is usually done to numb feelings of anxiety or pain, experts say.

“My childhood picture is crossed out because it’s about my self-loathing phase,” she says in a reflective voice in a telephone conversation from her home in Los Angeles. “The two fingers, well, they are about bulimia. It resonates for me.”

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News: Dr. Wilmer Leon Speaks with Dr. Robert Brown on Managing Stress

Dr Wilmer Leon and Dr. Robert Brown discuss how to cope with the stress of a changing environment.  Click here to listen!

President Obama Must Change His Drug Policy

by Dr. Byron Price, Texas Southern University

On his website, President Obama offers us a “seat at the table,” which is the equivalent of citizens offering policy prescriptions to his administration. This unprecedented effort to increase citizen participation in the policy making process has the added benefit of simultaneously empowering citizens in a way that our government has not done and has to be what the campaign meant by “change we can believe in.” The criticism of whom he has appointed misses the mark concerning what I believe his change mantra signifies. Since the president appears to be open to unsolicited advice, I offer the following criminal justice recommendations and justification for these suggestions.
President Obama and the 111th Congress should consider ending drug prohibition.
“Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.”

As the preceding paragraph illustrates, “The War on Drugs” has been a dismal failure and has gifted nonviolent African Americans offenders, especially males a permanent handicap—a lifetime of limited opportunities. The collateral consequences of a drug conviction which limit African Americans opportunities are:
The denial of financial aid and work study .
Felony Disenfranchisement.
Lifetime ban on cash benefits and food stamps.
Lifetime ban on public housing.
Termination of parental rights and ban from becoming adoptive or foster parents.
Remove the felony conviction question on applications of employment.

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Tiny, Toya, TI and Weezy: Dr Boyce Watkins Speaks on Love and Money

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

OK, was I confused when I found out that Tiny and Toya (TI’s “baby mama” and Lil Wayne’s ex-wife, respectively) were being given a reality show on BET? Yeah, I was a little surprised. If only I could find a way to become a high profile baby mama — that seems to be the way to go. With my being a man, I guess that might be difficult to accomplish. All jokes aside, I watched this show with tremendous curiosity, as I think we can all learn from observing the thought patterns of those who live behind the scenes of our favorite celebs. Part of me feels sorry for both of these women, who seem to be desperately fighting their way out of the massive shadows being cast by the powerful men in their lives. Even the daughters of TI and Lil Weezy are trying to get their own reality show. Maybe they too are feeling the weight of their daddies’ collective fame. Why don’t we just give a reality show to the family dog? Now that would be hot!

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It’s going to be a Movie?

BV Newswire has learned, exclusively, that filmmaker Will Packer has designs to adapt Steve Harvey‘s best-selling book ‘Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man’ for the big screen.
An official announcement isn’t expected to be serviced to film industry media until next week, but the mastermind behind black blockbusters such as ‘Stomp The Yard’ and ‘Obsessed’ and Screen Gems have reportedly acquired the film rights to the Amistad/Harper Collins book, which has been atop the New York Times Best Sellers list for the past six months.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Harvey, a first-time author, told about the book’s meteoric success back in February. “It really has to be some amount of favor from God, because I have no experience at writing a book,” he continued. “It ain’t like I’ve been there, done that. It’s got to be favor from God. It’s gotta be something that he has planned for me bigger than I could see, because I just wanted to write a book so the women on my show could quit asking me to write a book.”

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Dr. Wilmer Leon Interviews Suzanne Simons

Dr Wilmer Leon interviews Suzanne Simons about her book “Master of War: Blackwater USA’s Erik Prince and the Business of War”.  Click here to listen!

Wilmer Leon and Dr. Mack Jones Analyze Obama’s speech to the NAACP

Drs. Mack Jones, Robert Smith and Wilmer Leon do an in-depth analysis of President Obama’s speech to the NAACP.  Click here to listen!

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill: Michael Steele and the GOP

by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

Columbia University

Over the past week, the political world has been tuned into a highly 
unusual soap opera involving Republican Committee Chair Michael Steele  and conservative radio jock Rush Limbaugh. After Limbaugh was publicly  lambasted for stating that he wanted President Obama’s agenda to fail,  Democratic leaders wisely used the moment as an opportunity to anoint  the polarizing pundit as the de facto leader of the GOP. Steele, the  actual leader of the party, dismissed Limbaugh as a mere “entertainer”  whose show trades in “ugly” and “incendiary” remarks. Limbaugh soon  fired back, telling Steele to do his job and to stop acting like a  “talking head media star.”

Of course, partisan infighting is not uncommon in politics –though 
such public spats are typically the property of the Democrats.  The 
difference, however, has been the party’s response. Instead of 
rallying around its newly appointed leader Steele, GOP honchos have 
either taken the side of Rush Limbaugh or remained conspicuously 
silent. Even Steele himself caved into Limbaugh, apologizing for his 
remarks and removing any lingering doubt about who the real don is.
By allowing Michael Steele to be publicly undressed by a party 
extremist, Republicans have tacitly confirmed what many of us already  knew: they haven’t changed one bit. Despite their post-November promises to rise above bitter partisanship, the GOP decided to cosign  Limbaugh’s antipatriotic machinations. Instead of living up to their  promise to broaden their message and appeal, Republicans have instead opted to defer to the steward of its most vile, ignorant, and bigoted  constituency. Most disturbingly, they have legitimized their antidemocratic enterprise by hiring a black man,  but giving him no more political muscle than the queen of England.

To be clear, I am not trying to diss Michael Steele, who I know 
personally and like a great deal despite our political differences. My 
concern is that the seductive aroma of power and prestige have 
diverted his attention from the harsh realities of his circumstance. 
Like many prominent African Americans, Steele has climbed the heights  of white society under the false premise that he is being judged purely on merit rather than color. This couldn’t be further from the  truth. While the Republican party is willing to use Steele’s black  face to celebrate its ostensible progress, it is equally committed to  reducing him to nothing more than a paper champion. Hopefully, Brother  Steele will stop drinking the Kool-Aid long enough to recognize this  and come back home.

Author Dr Boyce Watkins in Essence Magazine

Dr Boyce Watkins, Finance Professor at Syracuse University, appears in the March issue of Essence Magazine to discuss money and investing in light of the 2009 Financial Crisis.

Dr. Watkins is one of the world’s leading experts in Finance and was the only African American in the world to earn a PhD in Finance during the year 2002.  For more information, please visit

Analysis of the “New Black Church”


By Rev. Nicholas A. Pearce

Though often portrayed as a singular, monolithic entity, many scholars debate whether “the Black Church” truly exists. While the distinctive differences that have so long divided predominantly African-American Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, and non-denominational churches are apparent, a potentially pernicious predicament currently demands our attention. While many people focus on the differences that exist among denominations and local churches, our attention must turn to one critical challenge we face within many of our churches. Young people are always labeled “The Church of Tomorrow,” which suggests two things: (1) that their spiritual gifts, leadership, and contributions are less meaningful, insignificant, and/or invalid at present and (2) the presupposition that tomorrow is promised. As countless young people leave the Church and still others sit restlessly in the pews waiting for a tomorrow deferred to finally arrive, the question we must confront is clear – when is “tomorrow” today?

The situation looks much like a track relay race. Our parents in the ministry were passed the baton of the Word of God by their parents and find themselves running the race of leadership as the next generation prepares in anticipation of receiving the baton in the exchange zone. Our forerunners in the ministry generally fall into one of three typological categories as they approach the exchange zone. (1) Some of our parents finish strong and cleanly pass on the baton to the next generation to run the next leg of the race. (2) Others of our parents, hearing the acclamation of the cheering crowd, decide to run an extra lap and skip the waiting generation in the exchange zone. Other racers with fresh legs soon pass by as these overzealous individuals run out of energy and solemnly realize that the baton was meant to be passed to the next generation. The overlooked and disenfranchised next generation ponders their befallen state and searches for other constructive outlets for their energy and talent that was intended to be expended in the race. (3) Still others of our parents approach the exchange zone with timidity, fearing that they will slowly fade out of the picture as they relinquish possession of the baton to a seemingly untested new generation. The combination of the outgoing generation’s insecure ambivalence to let go and the waiting generation’s consequent loss of self-assurance, the baton exchange is botched. No matter how well the previous lap had been run, no matter how talented the next runner may have been, the baton was dropped; the race was lost.

Does the Church have the luxury of leaving its young people and their gifts in a perpetual holding pattern, never to land? Can the Church afford to continue to mistakenly equate seniority with maturity as young people are prepared yet overlooked in the exchange zone? Will the Apostle Paul’s 1 Corinthians 12 treatise on unity in the body of Christ and the importance of each member thereof extend to a generation waiting to lead? Even a cursory glance at the state of the “Black Church” reveals an institution wrestling with its identity, struggling with being attractive while remaining authentic and grappling with the challenges and realities of a new day. Will an intensifying focus on devising better methods instead of making better men and women for the Kingdom of God cause the 21st century Black Church to institutionally marginalize itself? God forbid – but let us earnestly wait for the day when tomorrow becomes today and the next generation carries forward the baton of leadership.

Rev. Nicholas A. Pearce serves as Associate Minister of the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL and is a doctoral candidate at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. Contact:

Financial Incentives of the State of the Black Union

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

I’ll start by saying that I love Tavis Smiley and have a tremendous amount of respect for him.  Ok, I’ve said it, and I meant it.  I hope you believe me as I write.

Tavis Smiley’s work in the Black community is critically important. But there is a difference between being an intelligent guide to enlightenment and being downright self-righteous. Tavis has a way of putting political leaders “on blast” for not showing up at his forums. When he held a debate for the Republicans in the 2008 Presidential Primaries, there were several Republican presidential candidates who chose not to attend. I understand being upset about this, because the Republican Party has paid dearly for its racism and ignorance of the needs of the Black community. Smiley responded to the Republican snub by putting the name of the candidate on the podium even if they were not there. This was a clear reminder to those in the audience that the leader “doesn’t care about issues in the Black community.”

When holding the State of the Black Union of 2008 (some confuse it with the State of Black America, issued each year by the Urban League), Smiley again invited as many political leaders as he could find, with Hillary Clinton being his star for the day. Then Senator Barack Obama, in the middle of a heated battle for Democratic delegates in Texas and Ohio, said that he could not attend the forum. Instead, he offered his wife Michelle to attend in his place. That’s when the drama got heated.

Tavis, appearing to be offended by Obama’s slight toward his conference, proceeded to nibble away at Obama’s heels every morning on The Tom Joyner Morning Show. The segments started with “he-say, she-say”, in which Tavis claimed that no one from the Obama camp offered Michelle up for attendance. But even if they had, Tavis claimed that no spouse of a presidential candidate would be acceptable for the conference, even Bill Clinton.

I must admit that I felt Tavis was doing a “Karl Rove” on the truth. It was also a slap in the face of Black women everywhere who have tremendous respect for Michelle Obama. Finally, Smiley’s words and actions bordered on petty and angered the millions of African-Americans who’d come to believe that Barack Obama could walk on water. While I’ve never felt that Obama could walk on water, I certainly did not understand Smiley’s confused obsession with Obama’s behavior. Smiley’s comments toward the Black presidential candidate reminded me of the same double standard I can sometimes get as a Black professor. You may have Black students who feel a certain degree of comfort with you, and thus empowered enough to attack you more than they would a White professor with whom they have no prior social affiliation. These situations can be nightmares, as they reflect problems with the collective self-esteem of the Black community, which leads us to feel that attacking and hurting one another is easier, and thus more satisfying than working together to fight Black oppression. In other words, Smiley was reflecting the same sentiment held by Black men who shoot one another on the street, but stand in fear of the racism in White America. Aaron McGruder, creator of the popular cartoon, “The Boondocks”, would refer to this as “a nigger moment.”

Phones were ringing off the hook, as I had friends from California to New York calling and asking “What’s wrong with Tavis?” I had no idea, since I don’t know Tavis personally. However, because we run in the same circles, I know plenty of people who know plenty of people who know Tavis. One of my great and respected friends, Kyle Bowser, is one of Tavis’ best friends, and Kyle rang my phone the day after I made my comments. Going through the blogs of other Black scholars, I had a chance to see their reactions. Melissa Harris-Lacewell at Princeton University, an intelligent (though somewhat elitist) scholar, happened to be incredibly poignant in her critique of Tavis Smiley’s behavior.

Melissa angered Tavis by writing a column that asked ”Who died and made Tavis King?”.  I wasn’t as direct in my critique of Tavis, but I did have some strong words for him. I did not want to deliver any commentary on the Tavis via the major networks, since I honestly feel that there are some conversations Black folks need to have behind closed doors. But given that we get nearly 100,000 Black readers per week on our website YourBlackWorld, I felt this to be a fitting venue to let the world know how I feel.

I issued a statement agreeing with my friend Roland Martin at CNN, who felt that Tavis was out of line by making such a strong demand on Obama at such a critical time. Yes, Hillary Clinton showed up in spite of being on the same campaign trail, but the fact was that Hillary was well positioned to win in the upcoming battlegrounds states, Texas and Ohio. Also, Hillary Clinton needed to regain the ground in the Black community that was lost when her husband Bill shot himself in the foot. The words out of Bill Clinton’s mouth were so vile, that his own “ghetto pass” was revoked immediately. Clinton had compared Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson, implying that he was simply a Black presidential candidate with no chance to win White voters. While Jesse ran a great campaign, the notion that Obama’s fate would be similar to his own was disappointing for many Black people to hear. Clinton was no longer one of us, and he certainly was not the “first Black president” anymore.

I also felt that Tavis should have been more careful about being too critical of Obama in light of the fact that he was accusing Barack of doing some things that he himself had been doing. For example, Tavis claimed that he was not going to give Obama a “ghetto pass” just because he was Black. Rather, he would challenge him and question him like he would anyone else. First, Tavis’ words presumed (self-righteously) that he knows what is best for Black folks and we cannot make this determination ourselves.  No one gives the “ghetto pass” to Ward Connerly (the guy in California fighting against Affirmative Action) or Condoleeza Rice, so the idea that Black candidates get votes only because they are Black is simply ridiculous. A “ghetto pass”, should such a pass exist, must be earned, and Obama had earned the love, trust and support of the Black community. To presume that people were supporting him just because he is Black is an insult to the collective intelligence of the Black community.

Secondly, Tavis himself had been long receiving the very same “ghetto passes” that he felt Black America was unfairly bestowing upon Obama. As powerful and revolutionary as Tavis may have sounded on The Tom Joyner Morning show, the fact that you hear “This was brought to you by Walmart” at the end of each segment reminds you that the message has been diluted by corporate sponsorship. No great Black revolutionary in American history has ever been brought to you by McDonald’s, Walmart, Wells Fargo, or any of the other corporations that sponsor Tavis’ forums.

Additionally, there is a clear reality in the life of Tavis Smiley, one that he cannot ignore: the Covenant with Black America, The State of the Black Union Conference, The “Pass The Mic” Tour, and everything else Tavis has done was created with the express objective of obtaining revenue and profitability for his corporate sponsors. Tavis has sold himself (and I do not use the word “sold” in a negative sense) to White American corporations as the broker of Black leadership. He is the man that many corporate executives believe they can go to in order to reach the African-American masses. We are the drugs, and he is the pusher: White corporate America represents the group of addicts getting high on the profitability of Black consumption.

As a Finance Professor, I must say that I see nothing wrong with the Tavis Smiley business model. I am not here to say that Tavis has “sold out”, for I don’t believe he has. We all sell something in order to make a living, and even the concept of “selling out” presumes that one has managed the thin line between making a profitable trade, versus giving up something of tremendous value. The problems with the Tavis Smiley business model arise when such a business model is pursued carelessly or selfishly. I do not accuse Tavis Smiley of being careless or selfish. However, his attacks on Senator Barack Obama, none of which were thrust on Senator Hillary Clinton, smelled of self-interest from a man who appeared to feel slighted that Obama jumped his place in the line of great Black leadership.

I felt sorry for Tavis after seeing the reactions of our readers on YourBlackWorld. Hundreds of emails and comments were coming in every day, with many readers claiming that they were once Tavis Smiley fans, but not anymore. Overnight, Tavis went from being incredibly popular, to becoming the Milly Vanilly of social commentary. I can’t help but wonder what happened behind closed doors, as I am sure his publisher became concerned that he could no longer sell books. His corporate sponsors were surely aware of the fact that he was not in control of the Black audience they were buying from him. I am willing to bet that his life was a mess, at least for a while.

I hope this year’s State of the Black Union Conference is a bit more balanced.  Tavis is a good brother who deserves our respect.  But it is my greatest hope that he learns the difference between balanced critiques and flat out “haterology”.  I do a lot of critiquing, but when it comes to Obama, I want him to succeed.  I sincerely hope that Tavis wants the same.

This is an excerpt from the book “Black American Money” by Dr. Boyce Watkins, to be released in April 2009.  For more information, please visit


Nicole Spence Speaks on Your Man’s Body

What Does Your Man’s Body Look Like?

Ladies how important is it for your man or boo to be in shape, body right?

I’m wondering because I’m always obsessing about my body, more importantly my lack of muscle tone. Lol, seriously the people that know me, know me as the “Food Nazi”. Don’t even think about eating greasy fatty foods around me, I’ll go bizerick.
Oddly enough lately the “chubbsters” have been hollering. I think its because we’re making it too easy for them to feel sexy, “Oh Big Daddy”, well I’m just not into it.

So I’m pretty open about my body, its beauty and flaws. I dated this guy a while back, and he had a nice athletic build. I actually loved his body.

Anyway he knew that I’m all about fitness and eating right, even though sometimes I go weeks without squatting shit and eating emotionally. I’m Human! I just use my Joe’s jeans to keep me in check, when those bad boys don’t fit; it’s time to quit! {Like right now!

So one day my little porn star surprised me with a gift. He bought me a P90X! Have your heard of it? It’s a set of intense workout DVDs; there are 13 DVD’s in the set that you have to commit to for 90 days! It’s supposed to really “transform” your body. I didn’t know what to make of this! Was this motherfucker calling me Fat?? I mean P90X ain’t no cheap shit, its expensive. So that really got me thinking, “He thinks I really have a problem?”OMG!! And I’m naked all time and he gives me P90X! Confused and convinced that we would have sex no more, I turned to my girls, who all assured that he probably got it for me because he knows how crazy I am are about my body! Of course we were still together after that, he thought I would have loved the gift. But I didn’t.

P90X is no joke, you are literally co-signing for this man, Tony Horton, to come up into your house and Kick Your Ass! No thanks! Please note that P90x is still collecting dust on top of my fridge, no less! Lol

This story has sparked my mission {our mission join me} of no longer rebounding. I’ll be 30 and I’m going to be super tight, with a fluffy round bottom of course!

Is this just some women shit? Ladies are you satisfied with the way your man looks, when he strips for you? Or is he leaving his tee shirt on to cover his double D’s or bird chest? Or is he soo hippy and doesn’t want you to see his girlie bottom so he sometimes leaves his boxers on, like we’re in high school sneaking a phuck! Lol.
As women I think we are so much more forgiving and tend to think his belly is cute, and adds character. Meanwhile, he isn’t smiling at those dimples on your ass, or that little muffin top you’ve been rocking.

So I’m saying today that I don’t like “Chubby”, I’m putting in the work and so should he! Women should be nice and soft to touch and men need to be hard and strong! Get it!

*** P.S. I’ve decided to get my Pilates Certification! So stay tuned to my fit tricks!

Posted by Nicole Spence at 9:23 AM 6 comments

African American Families and Domestic Violence

By Hugh V. Collins and Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

I know everyone is talking about the alleged domestic assault and battery that occurred between Chris Brown and Rihanna during the weekend of February 7 – 8, 2009. Recently, MTV, US Weekly and People magazine did specials or cover stories regarding the incident. Gossip organizations like and all had their spin on what transpired. Many people are expressing outrage and taking sides. Some people have stated that Rihanna must have done something and deserved to get beat by Chris Brown while others believe that Chris Brown had no right whatsoever to lay a hand on Rihanna regardless of the argument between them. Well, domestic abuse is more common and more people in the U.S. and in the world have witnessed some form of domestic abuse in their lives or among their families. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics report in 2005, one in 320 households were affected by intimate partner violence. Also, they report that female victims are more likely to be victimized by intimates than male victims.

Click to read.

My Finance Professor: Credit Card Companies Secretly Raising Interest Rates

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

In case you weren’t sure, credit card companies are not out to help you. If you are financially illiterate and uninformed, they are going to exploit you. If you are worried about the financial crisis, they are going to prey on your fear to get money out of you. They are also doing exactly what the rest of us are doing: trying to remain protected in a fragile economy.

The stimulus is stymied. The bailout is a failout. The stock market has consistently given a “thumbs down” to every piece of legislation passed in response to this crisis. Our economy is like the sick man who won’t respond to antibiotics. While the results of the latest package are yet to be seen, the truth is that no one is sure what will work. Every company is out to protect their assets and hold on to their cash, which means they no longer have much interest in loaning money to you.

Yes, this is true even if you have a good credit score, which is the ironic part.

Customers are opening their monthly statements to find that credit card companies have started to either ration credit (give less of it) or raise the interest rate being paid on outstanding debt. This doesn’t even count all the dirty tactics used, like using your payments to pay off low interest debt first, quietly getting rid of the grace period or charging interest on your balance from the prior two months vs. the current one. Even when you’ve been making payments on time for years, banks keep raising the bar to maximize shareholder wealth. When liquidity is scarce, those giving out water demand a higher cost per bottle. Additionally, higher default rates have justified the increase in interest rates, but higher interest rates increase the likelihood of default. It’s a nasty cycle, really.

Lawmakers are trying to intervene. Congressional hearings have taken place. Banks are being scolded by senators who keep telling them that this form of business practice is unethical and that they are gouging the American consumer. All this might be true, but what is also true is that you can’t force banks to loan you money. Also, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to legislate a strong economy.

If you have a less than stellar financial history, there is an even greater opportunity for your credit card company to raise your interest rates. If you have defaulted on other loans or are a slow payer in other areas, then they have no problem telling you to pay up or ship out. The days of easy money are long behind us, and companies are dramatically shifting their business practices.

The bottom line is that THEY’VE GOT YOU. They know that you’ve become addicted to the debt they so readily offered in the past, and this debt has become the lifeblood for the lifestyle to which you’ve chosen to become accustomed. They know that they can charge you a higher interest rate because you can’t do anything about it. Like a drug addict who is angry about paying more for his product, you really don’t have any other choice.

Well, maybe you do.

Here is one solution: tighten your economic belt. That means putting together a financial fitness plan today that consists of getting rid of as much debt as possible. I’ve mentioned in prior articles and on our website that paying off debt can be one of the best investments you make with your money. This is especially true if you have a stable job and are paying a high rate of interest to your credit card company.

So, the Dr. Boyce Challenge for this month is simple: Create a budget which includes the steady elimination of credit card debt. That means you should list every single expense you have for the entire month on one piece of paper or a spreadsheet. Don’t leave anything out. Count the money you want to use for getting your hair done, your nails, paying your mortgage, car note, whatever. Count everything. That will be your first step toward obtaining financial fitness.

As you create the budget, allocate at least 10% of your monthly after tax income toward reducing credit card debt. So, if you earn $3,000 per month after taxes,$300 per month should be allocated toward removing credit card debt, not including interest. So, if you owe $5,000 in credit card debt, you can remove this debt in roughly a year and a half. While $300 may seem like a lot of money to find in your budget, it’s there if you look hard enough. In fact, if you spend $10 per day on lunch and/or coffee, you can find the bulk of the money by taking your lunch to work. Make this one of the first bills you pay, not the last. The last bill is the one that only gets paid half the time. It’s easier to negotiate with creditors if you don’t need them so much. Take small steps toward finding your financial freedom.

Next month, we will move to step 2 of the Dr. Boyce Financial Challenge. While I confess that this change won’t be easy, I can promise that it will be worth it in the end. Be strong and remain focused, this is your opportunity to shine.

Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “Financial Lipo 101: From financial fat to fitness”, to be released in April, 2009. For more information, please visit

Dr Boyce Watkins Writes about Love

Brought to you by The Great Black Speakers Bureau – The #1 Black Speakers Bureau in the world.

To get financial advice from Dr. Boyce, please visit  To see video commentary from Dr. Boyce, please click here.

Dr. Boyce Watkins

FYI: I should be on the NPR show "Tell Me More with Michel Martin", a journalist for whom I have tremendous respect.  We recorded today with Shelby Steele, a conservative scholar out at Stanford and another scholar named Jon Powell, at Ohio State.  The conversation is interesting, and I recommend you give it a listen.  You can learn more about the show at this link:

I also got another call yesterday from "The Big O"…yes, you know who I am talking about.  Apparently, there is some interest in my Financial Lovemaking Book.  I’ll keep you posted on that one, since I am not 100% sure if my demographic matches that of the Great Ms. Winfrey.  While I feel that Financial Lovemaking can work well for her audience, my alignment with the hip hop community may make for an awkward fit.  The fact that I engage in critical analysis (meaning that no one is 100% good or 100% bad) means that I sometimes make enemies in this game because of my refusal to kiss anyone’s butt too much.  But I do give respect where it is due, and I consider Oprah to be an amazing role model for all of us.  The same goes for President Obama. 

In light of the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming, I was thinking about the whole idea of love.  I must also admit that I thought about love when I noticed the singer Chris Brown might have ruined his career in this mad situation with Rihanna (apparently, there may be some abuse in that relationship, I’m not sure).  Either way, I think that anyone who has been young and in a relationship understands how stupid and crazy things can happen.  I’ve never considered Chris Brown to be a bad person.  But he may have done a bad thing.

Seeing the huge loss that these two young people may have imposed on their lives (Chris and Rihanna), led me to reflect on love and what it means to me.  Here is my personal perspective on love….love it or hate it (haha).

What Love Should and Should Not Be

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

I’ve lived a bit of life and made my share of mistakes.  But as a professor, I am trained to learn from poor choices and grow from them.  Most processes have a purpose and a pattern.  If you think hard enough and honestly confront your failures, triumphs and observations, you can usually walk away with a bit of insight.  The term “No pain, no gain”, can certainly be applied in the game of love, and I intend to gain from my own personal portfolio of blissful heartache.

So, I’ve come up with some “Rules of Love” out of respect for Valentine’s Day.  It’s not scientific and not a fit for everyone.  But it comes from the head, the heart and all the other body parts I can’t mention in this article.  So, at least you know it’s sincere.

Love should be RESPECTED: One of the silliest things I see in some relationships is that people seem to be most interested in chasing the person who loves them the least, while kicking their greatest admirers to the curb.  They choose the best option they can GET instead of the best option they’ve already GOT.  There is something that people love about a challenge.  It can be a natural instinct to equate kindness with weakness and easy access with a lack of value. Many of us are guilty of crying over the person who ignores us and ignoring the person who cries for us.  Someone who gives you their heart can also take it away, so we must respect those who’ve truly earned it.

Love should be EXPECTED:   Part of the reason that some of us spend our time chasing the loser who doesn’t love us is because deep down, we feel that someone who cares for us must be flawed or unworthy of our time.  On the other hand, it is easy to feel sorry for yourself when you see that the one you usually want doesn’t want you back.  The truth of the matter is that if someone disrespects the appreciation you are showing toward them, then they don’t deserve your love anyway.  You should love yourself enough to walk away from those who choose not to treat you as you deserve to be treated.

Love should be given to YOURSELF: Part of demanding the love that you deserve is engaging in the difficult art of SELF LOVE.  Many times, we look in the emotional mirror and see blemishes, flaws, faults, mistakes and the ugliest sides of who we are.   Rather than greeting the world with our heads held high, we keep our heads down and hope no one notices that we are not as good as everyone else.  Loving yourself is similar to learning to love another person:  there is a point where you must simply accept the flaws.   You must realize that you are no more defective and no more perfect than everyone else, and that you too deserve to be happy.  If you can’t love yourself, then it’s damn near impossible to truly love someone else, since you are only offering them what you perceive to be damaged goods.

Love is meant to be CELEBRATED:  I’ve admittedly never been able to fully grasp the concept of homosexuality, but I’ve never had a problem with gay marriage.  One thing I believe is that love was created by GOD: that includes love between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman.  There should not be religious, social or racial boundaries imposed on meaningful love, for we do not get to choose the shape, size or complexion of the package.  When God blesses someone with such a powerful connection, this love should be celebrated by all of us and not judged or held in contempt.   Melting someone’s halo of happiness by dousing it with a flood of hate is a counter-productive use of our time and a wasteful spiritual endeavor. 

Valentine’s Day is meant to be YEAR ROUND:  You should not need a special holiday to show someone you love them.  You should tell them something good, positive, and affirming every time you see them, because this will make that person feel good.  You should not need corporate America’s permission and some hyper-commercialized holiday as your excuse to show affection.   I encourage you to say ten nice things per day to people you care about, which may include complimenting them on their clothes, their hair, their personality, their beauty or their presence.  It will make them feel good and leave a lasting psychological impact.  Our words are “emotional money” and we should be consistently making donations.

Love should be REFLECTIVE:  The hardest way to get what you want is to selfishly pursue it, take it or relentlessly absorb it.  That’s like waiting for your paycheck and never showing up for work.  If you are in a truly loving situation, you get what you want by REFLECTING IT.   If you WANT more success out of life, you GIVE more hard work.  If you WANT better grades, you GIVE more time to the library.  If you WANT more appreciation from your partner, you GIVE more attention and affection.  If you choose to share your love with someone who deserves it, then they will give the love right back to you, with interest.  Like a healthy economy, the cycle will become recursive and productive trade increases the value of each partner’s “Life Portfolio”.   In pleasure, pain and everything in between, to get more, you must give more.  You must also make payments in the currency deemed most valuable to your partner.  There’s no way around that fact.

Love should be PRACTICED:  Love is not just a feeling, an emotion, a whim or something that makes your skin shiver.  Loving someone is a DELIBERATE ACT and a series of habits designed to sustain and maintain the relationship you have with one another.  The work of the greatest writers in history was not always driven by inspiration and a desire to write…..sometimes, it was the act of sitting down each day and forcing themselves to write which eventually inspired them to do their greatest work.  In other words, love is a series of proactive habits, choices and behaviors that correlate with your desire to have a meaningful and stable relationship with another person.  It’s not something you just randomly “fall into” and “out of”… is something you choose to do.

Love should be CONTEMPLATED: When it comes to dating, I tell my daughter and God daughters the following: “If a man is not someone you can see raising your children, then don’t even go out on the first date.”  They look at me like I’m crazy, but the point is simple:  While you cannot easily choose to release yourself from the psychological grips of love, you have some ability to choose who you are going to fall in love with in the beginning.  Most of us don’t meet someone and decide that we are going to be with this person for years.  There is always the first glance, the first date, the first kiss, the first touch, and before you know it, you’re stuck in a situation that doesn’t make any sense to you.  So, if you don’t start with point A, you can never reach point Z.  This makes the most sense when you can see that point Z is not the place you want to visit with this particular person.

Love should be REMEMBERED: A big challenge for many young or single people (and even those who are married) is that we spend our time chasing the love and affection that is most intriguing to our hormones, while ignoring the love that is most tried and true.  A man might spend hours on the phone with a pretty lady who doesn’t even like him, but simultaneously ignore his grandmother who would gladly give her life for him.  Valentine’s Day is not just the day you send “sweets to your sweetie”.  It is also the day you shower love on your mother, brother, sister, father, best friend, homeboy, children, grand parents and all the people who will love you long after your sweetie has become sweet on someone else.   In the city of love, new buildings are shiniest and most appealing.  But the older buildings are the sturdiest and most enduring.  

Love is LIFE:  Not only does the act of love create and sustain life, it is also the greatest part of our journey through life.  We may or may not remember or be inspired by our professional or educational achievements, but we have an immediate and powerful emotional reaction when we reflect on the love we’ve experienced over the years.  Thinking about children, family or ex-lovers can create an emotional response that can’t be matched by a corporate job or advanced degree.  I tell my students that one of the most important decisions they will ever make is who they choose to spend their lives with.  I’ve seen many people drive themselves down the path to hell by choosing to share their love with someone who deserves it the least.  Like the most amazing roller coaster, the journey of love is long, complicated, exciting, scary and fulfilling.  So, while we’re on this journey, we should make sure we turn on the GPS.

Happy Valentine’s Day and I hope this day inspires you to find the love that exists in your life.  It’s all around you if you learn to look for it.  Even in an economy like this one, the love in your life can make you a billionaire. 

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University.  For more information, please visit    

Nicole Spence – Relationship Guru: Is 30 the New 20?

Nicole Spence – Relationship Guru

I’m a sexy soon to be 30year old woman… not quite at that the age where I could be labeled a Cougar. So, of course the notion of dating younger men seemed like a big waste of time! Why, you ask? Because in my mind, I’m like WTF is he ready for? And when I say young, I literally mean anyone below two years younger than me. Pointless! But you know what? I’ll be 30 soon, so, I’m all about doing things differently and seeing what the outcome will be….

A girlfriend of mine, let’s call her "Renee" recently started dating (or let’s just say hooking up) with a younger guy. She is 30 and the guy is 26! Once she mentioned his age, I was like “Oh Please K.I.M {Keep It Moving}.” Then the story grew even more stereotypical…drum roll please…he wants to be a Rapper!! WTF?? Who has time to deal with that headache? "Not I" said the Cat LOL! The voyeur that I am found this story to be very interesting, because my formerly sex starved friend then began to describe a “sexcapade” of 10 rounds! Whew! Nice! I’m Jealous!

Apparently, this young lad never grew tired or limp (giggles). He wasn’t the dreaded "one nutter"! My girlfriend who once shared my same sentiments: " MF is too young K.I.M!" was now lying spooned up with this young buck! She felt comfortable, so she was honest about her initial reaction to his career aspirations {wack}! To her surprise, she found out that "The Rapper" has a degree in Marketing, and can write his ass off! Light bulb! He’s talented. Being that’s she’s in the entertainment field, they discussed other avenues where his skills could be used like "advertising". Then, they rested in between sessions and had a building dialogue. Now, this sex buddy doesn’t seem that pointless. They had a great weekend of; I repeat 10 rounds {still jealous}! You never know they could be really good friends, or dare I say, "future Boos!”
I don’t know but it has me wondering… Is Young More Fun?
Ladies, is young more fun? Hit me up and tell about your experience with younger guys…

Your Black World: The Administrative Negro

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

In case you wonder where I’ve been, I’ve been buried under a rock. I am not a political person, for I think that being tied to political machines can cause one to lose their sense of purpose in the world. Your choices become disconnected from your soul and more directly connected to the incentives of the institution around you. You find yourself doing all the wrong things for what you think are the right reasons, and then you realize that both your means and your ends are equally counter-productive.

I was not even very social or political as a child. I’ve never had a long list of meaningless friends, for that makes for a meaningless life. Rather, I was the child who sat in the corner just watching all the other kids interact. I watched the consequences of their choices, the limitations of their friendships and all the lessons in life we learn from the short-comings of our social environments. So, although I never wanted to get involved in politics (especially the petty politics of academia), I’ve always had the ability to understand it.

But I’ve been thinking about politics a lot lately, as I prepare my case for tenure here at Syracuse University. In spite of dedicating my life to my work (you’d be amazed at how bland my social life is), the battle is uphill because, quite frankly, Black professors don’t usually get tenure in predominantly White Business Schools. Even getting respect from Jesse Jackson, Cornel West and others means nothing to those who don’t even know who Cornel West actually is (and probably don’t care). But this process has taught me a lot about my campus, who does what, and who the “power brokers” are in higher level administration. Honestly, I never paid attention to these things, because I find that petty politics and meaningless measures of departmental esteem can slowly murder the academic’s ability to engage in purposeful intellectual leadership. I spend my time seeking truth, not trying to align myself with the most advantageous lie.

In my exploration, I was led to reflect on the life of what I call “The Administrative Negro”. Through my research in academic journals, I read about how many Black faculty like myself confront a consistent and predictable pattern of marginalization by their campuses: they are sent to “academic ghettos”, like African American Studies (a field I happen to respect very much – but this should not be our only academic option). They are also not invited to be a part of the true decision-making infrastructure of the campus. One of my mentors, the great Doris Wilkinson, a Sociology Professor who was invited to teach at Harvard during the summer, was also marginalized in the same way. Cornel West was marginalized at Harvard and told that his efforts to connect with his community were virtually worthless. A friend of mine who was close to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described Dr. King’s marginalization and abandonment (by both whites and blacks) toward the end of his life. Dr. Ron Walters, one of my mentors at The University of Maryland, describes this as a “black tax” that many African American scholars pay at predominantly White Universities. Another respected colleague, Christopher Metzler at Georgetown, refers to it as “academic imperialism”, as Black scholars are told that the things that are most important to them are really not that important at all. All of this put things into perspective and helped me realize that I was in good company.

The granted role of The Administrative Negro (whether or not they choose to accept it), is to become a catalyst and legitimizing force in the “Out-of-Line Black Faculty” punishment process. The Administrative Negro can be used as a weapon for those seeking ways to undermine Black faculty who challenge institutionalized racism. After all, if a Black person attacks another Black person, then it CAN’T POSSIBLY be racist.

What is forgotten in this overseer-like transaction is that when The Administrative Negro is pressured into marginalizing someone that he/she might otherwise have little problem with, this individual is engaging in actions that don’t reflect the preferences that lie in his heart. This is sad, problematic and an artifact of slavery. Even Barack Obama is affected by this phenomenon, as he has been forced to denounce individuals he has loved for the past 30 years. In effect, the Jeremiah Wright-Barack Obama scenario is played out on campuses across America: someone that you might normally be friends with becomes your enemy because the powers that be have defined the other individual as dangerous and uncooperative. The campus works through the overseer to achieve its goals by saying “We’ll take care of you if you help us deal with him.” Even the writing of this article would likely lead to further marginalization from those who are simply made uncomfortable by free expression by people of color. Freedom of speech doesn’t really apply to Black scholars who are saying the wrong things.

I work about 15 hours a day, so I don’t take much time for “hanging out”. But I made an exception and went to a reception the other day to meet some of my colleagues. I wanted some of my associates to be able to separate the person from the persona. I wanted them to realize that I am a good human being and I care about doing what’s right for other people. I don’t hate the Black Administrators here at Syracuse, and I actually feel sorry for some of them. I feel that, deep in their hearts, they understand why I do what I do, and many of us end up trapped by our own ambition: we have a lion inside that wants to roar, but we are in a world where we are told to whimper. The conversation behind closed doors usually sounds like this: “You’re right about the racism, but they will fire you for bringing it up. You have to play the game!”

At the reception, one Black administrator asked me about a panel on which I was going to appear. She said “Now Boyce, please make sure that everyone else has a chance to talk!” I turned my head sideways, confused, because I didn’t recall the woman ever seeing me perform on a panel before. I asked her, “Have you ever seen me on a panel in the past?” The woman replied “No.” I then politely informed her that, contrary to what she might have heard through the rumor mills (I guess people talk about the guy who led to police having to scour the building in response to his death threats), I am typically the least talkative person on panels. I explained to the woman that when I arrive to speak, the attention is already thrust upon me. I don’t show disrespect to the esteem of the audience by hogging up the spotlight. Also, if you save your words on a panel, it maximizes the impact of what you have to say. I told the woman that “I talk far less than most people do. But the difference is that when it’s time to say something, I am not afraid to say what needs to be said.”

I wasn’t angry at this person, but again, I felt bad for her. Apparently, some administrator had told her things about me that were likely based on some rumor or media impression. Like pawns in a chess match, we’d been played against one another in a way that never would have occurred had she not been black. A potentially productive association between two African American colleagues had been turned into a divide-and-conquer by those who appoint the Administrative Overseers. It makes me sad, because if my campus had actually taken the time to get to know me, we could have had a very productive partnership. In spite of my “blackity-black – angry black man” reputation, the truth is that I grew up around more white people than Black and I am just as comfortable around either group. I am not, however, uncomfortable living a lie, which leads me to be honest about institutionalized racial inequality. The problem is that most of us are too institutionalized to notice it, care about it or feel empowered to confront it.

Part of the job description of The Administrative Negro is that they should be afraid to be seen eating lunch with people like me. They are also instructed by their controllers and even each other to be afraid to take a stand on any issue that adversely affects African Americans (especially the poor – you should have seen the reaction I received when I suggested bringing in a Finance Speaker to talk about the real and disturbing Financial Incentives of the Prison Industrial Complex). They are afraid to work together to confront racial exclusion, such as the statistical and undeniable reality that many academic departments have gone over 100 years without granting tenure to a single person of color. They all experience and empirically document racism in the classroom, but are intimidated into not talking about it. We quietly accept it when our non-black colleagues send us away with our tails between our legs, telling us that our work in the Black community does not make us worthy of a position at their institution. We then sit at faculty meetings the following spring, as someone explains that there are no employees of color because Black people are simply unqualified. We thus become walking anecdotes for the research papers that cite how Black faculty marginalization occurs on predominantly white campuses, and why most Black students never have a Black professor unless they take a course in African American studies. So, rather than seizing the opportunity to make the world a better place, we create the same world over and over again. Dr. King’s dream will never be realized if we continue to remain asleep.

I never became a Black public scholar without knowing the consequences. Call me a cynic, but I’ve known to not expect people to be brave in a world where freedom isn’t free. I’ve never expected people to be loyal or to do the right thing. I’ve never expected academia to reward me for this kind of work and I’ve never expected to be anyone’s chairman, dean or provost. I’ve always known that the predominantly white media slaughters Black men like me, and that this kind of work might cost me my career or quite possibly even my life. I let go of my addictions to money and institutional status that keep many of us perpetually enslaved. I let go of the need to win any popularity contests.

As a result of these tradeoffs, I found myself very comfortable making the sacrifices that other people are afraid to make. Being an expert in Finance and risk-taking, I can say that I am no more courageous than anyone else. Sometimes, it’s not as much about being courageous as it is about putting yourself in a position where it is easy to take the risk. A financially secure person with no kids and no addictions to money or status can be far more courageous than someone with a mortgage, major debts and an addiction to money while seeking promotion, awards and other forms of validation from their historical oppressors. I also found that marginalization, while being a lost opportunity for my campus, was actually quite liberating. The marginalized faculty member is not worried about losing political points, and doesn’t care a whole lot what other people think. So, in many ways, my rejection from mainstream academia was a blessing, because I could then spend my life seeking truth. The greatest compliment I’ve ever received came from the daughter of the Great Syracuse alum Jim Brown, who said, “You are what my father would call a ‘free black man’”.

That was one of the greatest days of my life.


Your Black Scholar: Peniel Joseph Writes from the DNC

By Peniel E. Joseph,

What About the Black Community America?

A front page story in today’s New York Times explores the way in which Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy has precipitated excitement and anxiety among African Americans underscores the way in which race continues to contour the dynamics of this historic election. Obama’s march to the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination has produced what I call “racial vertigo” in the United States and beyond. Racial vertigo is characterized by a profound inability to comprehend historic events and phenomena due to the way in which they upend pre-conceived notions of America’s color-line. This is to say that the prospect and promise of Barack Obama being elected America’s first black president has dramatically transformed the national political landscape in ways that continue to defy analysis. In America, what the pre-eminent black intellectual of the twentieth century–W.E.B. Du Bois–called “double-consciousness” cuts both ways. Du Bois defined “double-consciousness” as the tightrope between American citizenship and black marginalization that African Americans faced. Famously, Du Bois wrote of a “veil” or wall that separated blacks and whites in a world where skin color shaped social, political, and economic reality. The color-line imposed its will on white folk as well, allowing them to embrace an identity that, in large measure, defined itself as anti-black. This fiction was backed by an elaborate mythology that used popular culture, public policy, and, as a last resort, racial terror to rationalize black oppression. Racial vertigo distorts these deeply ingrained assumptions that shape the hopes, dreams, ambitions, potential, and imagination of all Americans.

Obama’s dramatic primary battle against Hilary Clinton revealed stark racial and gender cleavages within the Democratic Party and the nation as a whole…

Click to keep on reading


Your Black Men: Dr. Boyce Watkins on The New York Times

Dr. Boyce Watkins

I read an article in The New York Times asking if Senator Barack Obama was the “end of black politics”. I couldn’t help but stop for a second and say “huh”? The statement confused me, since I wasn’t sure what the guy was trying to say. Was he saying that older Civil Rights leaders are no longer relevant? Was he saying that promoting a Black agenda is no longer important? I wasn’t sure. I only knew that, like CNN’s modestly degrading “Black in America” series, people were talking about this article. So I took a second to read the damn thing.

Personally, I am not so fond of the idea that a non-black publication and non-black journalist are writing articles trying to possibly kill Black politics. Not that they can’t have an opinion, but it always seems that their opinions of Black people are more important than the opinions that Black people have of Black people (notice how excited everyone was about Black in America on CNN). I grow tired of non-Black media, corporations and media personalities heavily influencing the direction of Black leadership in America. This is yet another reminder that African Americans must work to secure and patronize our own media outlets. Our socio-political destiny should not be determined by the New York Times. That would be like Ebony Magazine explaining to Jews that Nazis weren’t as bad as they think and this whole holocaust remembrance thing is just a waste of time.

I went through the article and thought about it. Essentially, the author was highlighting the generational rift in Black leadership, the one in which young hotshots (I guess I am in that group) are pitted against the tried and true, “I marched with Dr. King so you don’t know anything” generation. I respect my elders, but sometimes they think that way.

Personally, I have been frustrated by this rift and I’ve grappled with it. At the same time, I am equally frustrated by the desire of some to throw 40 years of hard work under the bus because we have the chance to have a Black President. It is disturbing that in spite of what many Black leaders have achieved over the past 400 years, people think that having a Black President is the single most significant achievement of any African American in history. Sorry, but it’s not.

Yes, getting enough votes to have a President with a Black face is important, but not the most important thing any Black man or woman has accomplished. Those who fought against slavery made the greatest sacrifices. Those who died during the Civil Rights movement made a grave sacrifice. Those of us who’ve climbed the ladder at predominantly White institutions have allowed the money and power of these institutions to blind us into believing that we’ve achieved more than we actually have. We are like the newly-signed NFL player who rolls through the hood with a beautiful woman and a new Mercedes (not even paid for), looking down on the hard working father who owns a grocery store to get his kids through school. For some reason, the wealth and validation of predominantly White institutions feeds into our own internal commitment to White supremacy by making us feel that we are more important than those who truly serve and support the masses of Black people. This is the same reason that Black professors choose to teach at Harvard over Howard, or why an athlete or entertainer feels that getting signed to a corporate endorsement makes him better than other entertainers who have lost favor with corporate America. If the American public gives you a carrot, that usually makes you a bunny who has to hop for it. Being POPULAR is not the same as being POWERFUL. What’s worse is that, for many of us, the carrot doesn’t even belong to us. So, many members of the Black middle and upper class, because they have no true ownership in the institutions with which they boast affiliation, are not much more than highly paid sharecroppers. But like an abused housewife, we avoid punishment by seeking validation from our historical abusers (no one wants to be the “bad negro” in the office) and it’s hard to maintain a commitment to Blackness when Blackness is not politically and economically convenient. In fact, Blackness gets you into trouble! (You should have seen the scowls I got after Bill O’Reilly’s last two attacks)

The author in the Times piece stated that Barack Obama’s success may cause “Black politics to disappear into America politics”. In other words, Blackness would become as coincidental as having red hair, or shopping at Best Buy. The premise is that a politician with a Black agenda can’t possibly expect to amount to anything in American society, since they would never be able to defeat a White opponent with broad White support. A businessman serving the Black community would not be able to possibly earn as much money as the man across the street catering his Business to the cultural norms of White America. A Black manager will never climb the corporate ladder if he doesn’t properly assimilate and denounce dimensions of his Blackness that make others nervous. I can’t disagree with this, since Blackness is not the easiest way to get power in a Capitalist Democracy (where money and political power are the rarest and most cherished commodities).

In spite of our temptations to let go of Blackness, the reduction of Blackness into a coincidental attribute is something that should concern us all. While I am fond of the idea of people respecting all dimensions of my humanity (i.e. CNN tends to only call me when they want to talk about “black stuff” – which makes me want to work with international networks), I choose to maintain a strong racial identity. One of the limitations of integration is that by being dependent upon predominantly White institutions to feed our children and pay our bills, we will remain subject to cultural domination. At my current position at Syracuse, no one hates me for having Black skin, they hate me for associating with “those people” (meaning Black males in prison, Black male athletes and African Americans from lower economic backgrounds).

The ultimate questions for us (which should be answered within ourselves and our community, not in the New York Times) should be the following:

1) What does it mean to be Black (to you)? I can’t tell you the answer to that question, but you should definitely answer it. Ultimately, we should be challenged to think beyond our prior limitations, those that say graduating from Harvard or Yale (with little connection to our community) automatically implies that we are a high Black achiever. The same is true for getting elected to office, getting a job promotion or having a high income. Not that these things are insignificant, but you also have a right to make your Blackness as meaningful as a Muslim’s commitment to Islam, or an American’s commitment to patriotism. Drawing these clear lines helps clarify tough choices you’ll have to make later, when someone tells you that “letting go of all that black stuff can help you make more money.” Your Blackness is like your religious or sexual virtue: If you never draw firm lines, then people will always convince you to sacrifice just a little bit more.

2) Does a Black President automatically become a Black leader, or does he become an American leader who happens to be Black? Barack Obama’s successful candidacy would imply that he is going to be an American leader, with a direct responsibility to the American people. This argues that we are still in need of Black leaders to directly promote and maintain a Black agenda without the biases that come from pandering to a fundamentally racist society. Someone has to be ready to hit the streets during the next Hurricane Katrina, Sean Bell shooting or Jena Six incident. Dumping Black leadership without finding empowered and independent replacements is a very dangerous move. You don’t kill your mother because you found a new daddy.

3) If we have a need for Black leaders, where do we get them? Not usually from mainstream American politics. American institutions are still too sick with the disease of racism to allow an individual to be both an effective Black leader and a powerful mainstream political leader, at least right now (Remember: “The O’Reilly Factor” is still the number one cable news show, which says something about our country’s mindset). Political leaders, by virtue of the fact that they are forced to “play the political middle”, apologetically pander and even demean African Americans in order to get more votes from a culturally self-centered constituency (note Barack’s 10 million apologies and denunciations), are not typically empowered enough to truly promote a Black agenda. You see, true power is not based on ACCESS to power. It is based on the ABILITY and the DESIRE to use that power for the greater good. A Black President could certainly do a great deal to help Black people and could even wipe out starvation in Ethiopia. The problem is that political constraints would not give that individual the desire or ability to do so.

– For the same reasons I mentioned above, we would also not get Black leadership from high ranking officials in media or corporate America. I am a Finance Professor and I can tell you that the incentives of American capitalism are not typically aligned with those of Black people, particularly the urban poor. Praying to the God of American money means you carry around a lot of demons.

– A reader made a great comment on my blog last month. They said “The smartest negro on the plantation was not the house negro or the field negro. The smartest negro on the plantation was the slave who ran away.” The problem is that, while the runaway slave was, in hindsight, the greatest visionary on the plantation, she was also the most disdained. She was the one who never had a chance to work in the “Big House”, and she was the one that all the other slaves chose not to associate with. When it comes to power in America, one of the great consequences of integration is that it leads to “dis-integration” of your cultural norms, Black identity and Black culture. The only solution to this problem is to use the spirit of the runaway slave to actively engage in the building of political and economic institutions in the Black community, those that are free from the cultural sacrifices we all make by trying to climb the White American corporate or governmental ladder. At that point, new relationships with White America can be established, interactions based on mutual respect and cooperation. I can say, for example, that I became truly liberated as a Black man when I learned to validate myself, educate myself and own my own business (I know that my university will never give me awards, promotions or validation for what I do in the Black community, because my work runs counter to the incentives created by the racially exclusive foundation of most American universities – in other words, there is an eternal price to pay when you go 130 years without hiring any Black professors). But building our own institutions requires patience, courage and a square ability to let go of our need for others to tell us that we are good or important. You are still significant, even if you don’t get that promotion.

To make a long story short, I don’t agree with the New York Times writer that Barack Obama will be the end of Black politics (the author is an admitted outsider to Black America). I am even offended that the New York Times feels that they have the ability to try to tell me that Black Politics is dead. Black people decide if Black politics lives or dies, and we are the ones who choose our destiny.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” For more information, visit


Your Black World: Toni Morrison’s Gift to Slaves

Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison has dedicated a bench in South Carolina to commemorate the memory of those who were enslaved.

“The Bench by the Road” was inspired by Morrison’s words in her book “Beloved”.  She felt that there was no suitable memorial for those who had been enslaved. 

The bench is at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island.  Roughly 40% of all slaves who came to North America came through this island.