February 22, 2006

Stan O'Neal

Stan O'Neal, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and president. Merrill Lynch.

He heads one of the world's leading personal and institutional financial management and advisory firms, with offices in 36 countries and total client assets of approximately $1.5 trillion.

Mr. O'Neal became chief executive of the company in December 2002 and was elected chairman in April 2003. He has held a series of increasingly responsible positions since joining the company in 1986 as vice president of investment banking.

He was named president and chief operating officer in July 2001 and served as president of Merrill Lynch's U.S. Private Client group from February 2000 until July 2001. He served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Merrill Lynch from 1998 until 2000 and also held the position of executive vice president and co-head of the Corporate and Institutional Client Group (now Global Markets & Investment Banking) prior to that. Previously, Mr. O'Neal had been in charge of Capital Markets and a managing director in investment banking, heading the financing services group, which included the high yield finance, restructuring, real estate, project and lease finance, and equity private placement groups.

Before joining Merrill Lynch, Mr. O'Neal was employed at General Motors Corporation in New York and Madrid. He held a number of financial positions at the company, including general assistant treasurer in New York, responsible for mergers, acquisitions and domestic financing activities.

Mr. O'Neal received a master's of business administration with distinction in Finance from Harvard University and is a graduate of Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute).

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February 02, 2006

New Schools in New York


Rod Bowen on the left of the podium, is helping lead the charge to reinvent education for the youth of New York City. I wasn't able to get a transcript of his keynote address to Mayor Bloomberg's ceremony yesterday but I have some snippets from the NYT:

The schools announced yesterday will start with 100 students in the sixth or ninth grade or both, and will eventually grow to between 300 and 600 students — a size that will, it is hoped, foster a sense of intimacy to make it more difficult for students to slip through the cracks.

Among the new schools are the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism High School, which will join a collection of small schools that have replaced Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn; the East-West School of International Studies, which will open in Queens and teach children proficiency in Asian languages; and the DreamYard Preparatory School, whose principal, Rod Bowen, said he planned to use visual arts and theater to make math and other academic classes come alive.

Yes this is the same Rod Bowen of Rising Circle. Yes he is my cousin. We're all very proud.

Also the event was covered by the city government's website. The press release can be found here.

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January 28, 2006

Fred Johnson: Amp'd Mobile

As Vice President of Product Marketing, Fred Johnson brings a wealth of business savvy to the Amp'd marketing group, providing an acute sense of what works for the Amp'd demographic to help establish the company as a leader in wireless entertainment. Formerly with Apple Computer's Applications Marketing group, Fred was responsible for driving marketing and feature definitions for new product releases. Prior to his 3.5 successful years at Apple, Johnson served as Creative Director for Yahoo! Inc., where he oversaw the company's broadband services including streaming broadcasts, and private webcasts. He is the author of the best-selling book Global Mobile: Connecting without Walls, Wires, or Borders. Fred resides in Marina Del Rey, CA with his Fiance Elsa, and cat Baba.

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January 26, 2006

Blacks In the West Symposium

Note the keynote. Way to go Uncle Ray!


Blacks in the West, 1100-1899
"Exploring the Black Frontier"

Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.
Albuquerque Marriott
2101 Louisiana Blvd NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110 U.S.A

Phone: 1.505.881.6800

June 14 - 17, 2006

Objectives for this symposium are to:
• Provide a forum for leading experts in the area of American history.

• Promote the exchange of information and resources.

• Obtain support for collecting and cataloging historical data.

• Increase national and international awareness of this chapter in our

• Encourage academics to pursue further study in this area.
Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Raymond C. Bowen, President Emeritus of LaGuardia Community College
His speech is entitled: "The Historical Significance of African American

We are thrilled that the Keynote Speaker for this event is Dr. Raymond C.
Bowen, President Emeritus of LaGuardia Community College speaking on the
topic: The Historical Significance of African American Education.

Plan on attending this one of a kind symposium, where you will enjoy four
days of presentations on topics ranging from Black Migration and Buffalo
Soldiers to Black Towns and the building of the West. Each day we will
offer up seminars by premier scholars and allow you to sign up for the
lectures of your choice.

In addition to the many and varied presenters, Historical Research Patrons
will also host the one of a kind art exhibit on “Blacks in the West”, with
pieces done by many of New Mexico’s premier artists.

On Wednesday June 14, 2006 we will have a reception that will allow you to
meet and chat with the presenters whose seminars you will be attending
over the next three days.

As part of your symposium package we will also be offering:
• Breakfast and lunch on Thursday and Friday

• A banquet Friday evening

• Breakfast on Saturday
Historical Research Patrons has arranged with the [
http://marriott.com/property/propertypage/ABQNM ]Albuquerque Marriott a
special rate for our attendees. Be sure and mention the symposium in order
to take advantage of these great rates.

Save your space at this exciting symposium by contacting HRP and

HRP, Inc.
3200 Carlisle Blvd., NE
Suite 219
Albuquerque, NM 87110

(505) 830-6005
Early Registration (through June 5, 2006):
• Non-student: $225.00

• Student: $115.00
Regular Registration (June 6-14, 2006):
• Non-student: $250.00

• Student: $125.00
Late Registration (at the door):
• Non-student: $300.00

• Student: $225.00
General Information:
For general information about the symposium, e-mail: [
mailto:symposium@blacksinthewest.org ]symposium@blacksinthewest.org

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Real Talent

Admitting my bias, there are few things that are more impressive to me than seeing young black musicians pick up the Jazz tradition. It gives me a pure unadulterated sense of pride in our people and hope for the future. I come fully prepared to give props when I hear about new talent. But none of that prepared me for this twelve year old kid, even when he dedicated his performance to Tony Williams. So here's what I'm going to say today to everyone who is concerned that my lack of enthusiasm for Jamie Foxx betrays some kind of weird grudge or self-hate.




If there is a conspiracy in Hollywood, it is to keep the idea of black clowns alive. But then again Hollywood is just doing what America wants it to do (except in the distribution business). But nothing can manipulate the pure genius of live instruments being played in classic styles. There's a big difference between star power and talent. There can be no denying Jamie Foxx's star power. He's getting the kind of exposure that a generation of black entertainers have broken barriers to achieve and he demonstrates that we're getting our cultural thing in order with less focus on race, more or less. However in terms of pure talent... well, he ain't got greatness in him, whereas this kid Royster is just oozing greatness.

Now the question about the future of black entertainment. Does black star power do right by black talent?

Posted by mbowen at 08:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 07, 2006

Tommie Shelby

Once upon a time, I killed Boohab. The reason? The birth of the Boondocks. I quit being a race man and persistent pain in the ass in cyberspace because I felt a little redundant. It's more accurate to say that rather like the dynamic of the fly in the buttermilk, once there are a sufficient number of flies, no individual needs to buzz so very loudly. And with that in mind, pursuant to my Conservative Conclusion, it is a great bit of fortune and synchonicity that I happened upon this review of Tommie Shelby by Orlando Patterson. Read the whole thing. He's right where I am, almost to the letter.

Shelby directs his most forceful criticisms at the two other main forms of black identity politics: black power and cultural particularism. He maintains that the black power call to collective action based on exclusive black organizations is now inappropriate because of the economic and regional heterogeneity of the black population. It is also, he says, politically counterproductive since it risks alienating badly needed progressive allies among the nonblack population.

Shelby's powerful critique of black cultural particularism incorporates and supersedes all previous discussions of the subject. He identifies eight basic tenets of this tradition: blacks have a distinctive culture; they should collectively and consciously reclaim that culture; they should take pride in conserving and reproducing it; unlike white culture, it provides a valuable foundation for their individual and communal identities; it is an emancipatory tool in resisting white hegemony, providing an alternate set of ideals to live by; it should be accorded public recognition by the state; blacks, as the main producers of this culture, should benefit from it in financial and other ways; and as "owners" of this culture, blacks should be the foremost authorities and interpreters of it.

We hear these arguments all the time, sometimes subtly, often crudely. Most non-blacks are either contemptuous of them or quietly dumbfounded. Many simply turn a blindly patronizing eye. Shelby takes the arguments seriously, and meticulously demolishes them all. He does not deny that there are distinctive forms of Afro-American culture. Far from it. His concern, rather, is with the ways black spokesmen think about this heritage and the chauvinistic claims commonly made about it, beginning with the questionable view that being black means one is, or ought to be, culturally black.

The laudable goal of promoting the finer aspects of black cultural productions, Shelby argues, in no way implies that every black person should root his identity in them or is under any obligation to cultivate them. And the fact that blacks have had to make a special effort to undo the centuries of denigration of black cultural creations in no way implies that a common cultural identity should undergird political solidarity. Further, just because blacks created some particular cultural form is not necessarily a good reason to value it, since there is a good deal in black culture, as in all cultures, that is without value. And he nicely extends previous criticisms that the tiresome proprietary claims made of black culture risk marginalizing both black culture and intellectuals.

My predictions are a bit harsh. I say, like with the bodies at the bottom of the Middle Passage, those who do not survive America will have no effect on its destiny and those that do will not have the patience, time, inclination nor power to properly represent or gain cosmic justice for them when all is said and done. So therefore, I'm taking Kujichagulia to its end, which is that you're on your own, brother. What's most important is that I say 'brother'. At some point in our distant histories, we went through the same things, but I cannot guarantee that for my descendants the understanding of those things will be anything more than theoretically sympathetic.

I am more likely to conclude that it will be the traditions of Christianity that will bind us together in the future, than any political program of uplift. Where Shelby defaults on matters of self-reliance for the poor masses, I say that's all you have, and the Spirit. Won't it be hilarious to see then, how the kind of crass commercial Christianity derided in caricatures of the Right that Progressives wind up prescribing for the least of ther bretheren? You can't black politic your way into the economic mainstream, but you may be able to use faith in God, since Progressives won't allow you to have faith in America itself.

I feel that I ought to buy his book even though as with Ellis Cose' 'Rage of a Privileged Class' I feel I already know the conclusions. But I may as well have it on hand as Shelby enters the pantheon. I wonder then what to do with Glenn Loury. Hmm.

Posted by mbowen at 02:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 17, 2005

A New Jack Network

I just got a comment from somebody I'd like to get to know better, and it occurs to me that I've been sleeping on a particular aspect of Old School business. That is the business of business networking. Since I've been doing none of my own contracts in the past 9 months, I've gotten out of the day to day game of drumming up contacts and opportunities. Even though have my company on the back burner it is still alive. So where are all the black entreprenuers and small business owners? Let's look around and do some linking here folks... Maybe even set up a directory - The Black Business Blogroll...

I'll start with the Esteves Group, and then Grupo Utopia.

Posted by mbowen at 09:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 15, 2005

Randal Pinkett: Overachiever du Jour

Randal Pinkett is the new Apprentice. If I watched more network television, I would have been aware of this gent some time ago. Alas. Still it's never too late to give props to a fellow NSBE alum. With any luck his high profile will give more visibility to the class of African Americans I tend to favor, those who tend to be a bit more conservative than the average bear. Yet I know nothing of Pinkett's politics, I gather that the millions of viewers of The Apprentice know more than I and can give some flavor. Considering that he won this week within days of the execution of some other butthead who shall remain nameless, I think it does show the true diversity of African America. For those of you who are as clueless as I was 15 minutes ago, here's his bio:

Randal, 34, is the founder, president and CEO of his fifth venture "BCT Partners," a multi-million dollar management, technology and policy consulting firm based in Newark, N.J., that works with corporations, government agencies, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. Born in Philadelphia and raised in Hightstown, N.J., he holds five academic degrees in engineering, business and technology including a B.S. from Rutgers University, an M.S. from the University of Oxford in England as a Rhodes Scholar, and an M.S., M.B.A. and Ph.D. from MIT. A former college championship track and field athlete, he has received numerous awards for his accomplishments as an entrepreneur and technologist including the National Society of Black Engineers "National Member of the Year." A Leadership New Jersey Fellow and Next Generation Leadership Fellow, Randal has been featured by Black Enterprise magazine and Ebony magazine in their "30 Leaders of the Future" issue. He is a proud member of First Baptist Church in Somerset, N.J., where he resides and is happily married to his wife Zahara.

This is the kind of exposure that people in my generation worried our heads about in the 80s as we entered the corporate white collar workforce in larger numbers than ever before. In those days when Bill Cosby was chided for being 'unrealistic', we struggle in relative anonymity. Today, Pinkett should raise few eyebrows in a nation who has been schooled. His educational achievements in reality far outstrip that of the fictional Huxtable and I think it is extra cool that such a story makes for entertainment.

I realize that the traffic has subsided on my website since the fathead Crip bit the dust, but I would hope there are some straggling defenders who might perhaps recognize that there are alternative role models. Not that I am big on the role-monkey business, I think achievement and excellence ought to speak for itself, but for every loser that makes the news, there is a winner somewhere unsung. Today is Randall Pinkett's day. Let's try not to forget that. He didn't just pop out of nowhere. He came from people. Might I be so bold to suggest that they are my kind of people, and I think they're your kind of people too.

More on Pinkett (an interview, pre-TV stardom) can be found over at Ed Batista's blog.

Posted by mbowen at 09:10 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

November 21, 2005

Derrick Wallace

Rarely do the actions of any of the officers of local NAACP chapters make national news. The switch from Democrat to Republican of Orlando's Derrick Wallace is a bold and brave move to be applauded.

"I've thought about this for two years," Wallace said Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours after returning from the elections office. "This is not a decision I made yesterday."

It is, however, a decision that rang out like a shot among political circles.

Republican Party leader Lew Oliver described himself as "extraordinarily pleased," while Democratic leader Tim Shea said he was disappointed.

Wallace, a construction-company exec, was candid about the fact that his business life was a big part of his decision to change.

"It's purely a business decision. Ninety percent of those I do business with are Republicans," he said. "Opportunities that have come to my firm have been brought by Republicans."

Wallace is just doing what makes sense, his is a perfectly rational and understandable change. We in the Old School understand that it is not a long walk from our front porch to the front door of the GOP, and we don't have to change our values or priorities to walk in that open door. We merely have to change our attitude. Wallace' example proves that it's not too hard.

McGeehee predicts a 40% chance of Oreo Storm.

As I've tried to follow this story around the 'sphere, I have found almost no mention of Wallace or his branch before. The national NAACP site only gives a PO Box and a phone number - his branch like hundreds of other NAACP branches, has no website. What's clear is that he has been doing business with Republicans for a long time and that nobody (here) knew nor cared. So it raises a particularly interesting set of questions. First, how does one get to be president of an NAACP chapter? Wallace is clearly a big shot, having run for mayor of the city, and he's clearly pro-business having supported two GOP candidates for mayor. When Republicans are mayors of the city, it's incumbent on those who want permanent influence to have an in with the Republicans. What's so crazy about that?

Anyway, there's a host of hateration going around that I'll catalog here when I finish my lunch.

Posted by mbowen at 10:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 20, 2005

Do You Know This Man?

boo_aylwinLewis_150x180.jpgThis gentleman is probably the most unknown superstar on the planet. You have to admit that he's rather unassuming looking, and yet he has influenced American life in profound ways. I'm predicting that his next success is going to propel him into something of a cult hero, if he's not already that. His name is Aylwin Lewis.

OK here's a clue:

Aylwin Lewis stepped before an audience of about 80 people Sept. 8 and received an enthusiastic ovation. And consider who these fans were: H. Carl McCall, former New York State comptroller and gubernatorial candidate; Hugh Price, former president of the National Urban League; John Rogers, CEO of Ariel Capital Management; Charles Tribbett, principal at Russell Reynolds Assoc.; and more of the most powerful African Americans in Corporate America.

Now you're probably getting the idea that he may have something to do with business. You're right. But how big could this guy be? Can't guess? Alright, enough with the suspense. This is the man who made YUM Brands. Yes, that's right. He's the one whose idea it was to merge Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silvers, Pizza Hut and A&W. Wow you say? But that's all in the past. Aylwin Lewis has been there and done that, now he's the CEO of Sears.

Huh? What? You mean that Sears? Yes, that Sears & Roebuck and guess what, KMart too.

From Business Week:

I'm 51-years-old, and 51 years ago I didn't even have the right to think that I could have a job like this. I had great parents and I have a great wife. Growing up, we lived in the projects. I had big dreams.

But I could have lived a great American dream running a hundred restaurants for KFC. That would have been a nice career that would have been very good success, particularly for a black person. So it means a lot, keeping this door open. The history of this thing, the importance of this thing, yeah, you betcha it's important. And it's not a burden. It's a wind in my sail.

Now you know.

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September 17, 2005

Brazile Comes Correct

Donna Brazile has shown herself to be a class act.

On Thursday night President Bush spoke to the nation from my city. I am not a Republican. I did not vote for George W. Bush -- in fact, I worked pretty hard against him in 2000 and 2004. But on Thursday night, after watching him speak from the heart, I could not have been prouder of the president and the plan he outlined to empower those who lost everything and to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

Bush called on every American to stand up and support the rebuilding of the region. He told us that New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast would rise from the ruins stronger than before. He enunciated something that we all need to remember: This is America. We are not immune to tragedy here, but we are strong because of our industriousness, our ingenuity and, most important, because of our compassion for one another. We are a nation of rebuilders and a nation of givers. We do not give up in the face of tragedy, we stand up, and we reach out to help those who cannot stand up on their own.

There's not much to add to that. But read the whole thing just in case you think that's she's just making nice.

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September 08, 2005

Dream Center Success

dream1-1.jpg I got the following from Pops and Deet this evening. They've been pulling weight.

deet came by this afternoon with a LOAD of clothing items. i took the to the unity center and, although they were grateful, they said they had enough clothes and were now looking for toiletries. the lady suggested i go to the dream center where a large number of folks were sent. i went and WOW!! the place is buzzin' with activity. a line of cars waiting to drop off all kinds of things. 2 dudes and a woman unloaded the avalanche post haste. they were polite and grateful (the big surprise is that they are l.a. folks!!) anyway, while i was there, "monique" from tv drove up in that big red benz in the foto. a bunch of folks flocked to her car to get autographs. she was all smiles. the dude came back to the avalanche and said magic johnson and sugar ray leonard had been by earlier. he then flashed a super grin and said oprah is coming, too!! pickup-1.jpg although i was just the delivery dude, i left with a real good feeling. the woman (whose back you can see in the unloading flick) said the need right now is for baby items. so, i will seriously deal with that tomorrow.

king deet called tonight and came up with a (typical king deet) good idea: go to the center and pick up a family and take them out to dinner! that got my mental wheels turning. take some folks to church or bowling or the beach or a park or (drum roll) the mountains. the kids would probably love meeting other kids, the possibilities are as endless as the caring of the human heart...............

if any of you can think of other ways to simply be involved and being decent to our new orleans/mississippi brothers and sisters (of whatever color or kind), lemme know.........or contact the king of deets!

I'll forward any ideas of course. Remember. It's all about DO!

Posted by mbowen at 10:15 PM | TrackBack

September 04, 2005

Russell Honore - The John Wayne Dude

General Honore is a native of Lakeland, Louisiana. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Vocational Agriculture upon graduation from Southern University and A&M College in 1971. He holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources from Troy State University as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Public Administration from Southern University and A&M College.

General Honore has served in a variety of command and staff positions. His overseas assignments include tours in Korea and Germany. He served as Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea; Vice Director for Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.; Deputy Commanding General and Assistant Commandant, United States Army Infantry Center and School, Fort Benning, Georgia; and Assistant Division Commander, Maneuver/Support, 1st Calvary Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Most recently, General Honore served as Commander, Standing Joint Force Headquarters – Homeland Security, U.S. Northern Command.

General Honore’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

I'm going to spend a little time on the people who are doing the right thing. I've already settled on my first favorite, Mayor Ray Nagin, who stuck his neck out and became the exact right kind of squeaky wheel. The details are all at Wikipedia. The first clue I had about Nagin was that he basically said, hey if you don't want to give me authority, then give it to Honore, clearly implying that the general had some bureacratic BS to deal with in getting supplied as well. So let's follow Honore. His is the story I want to hear.

According to CNN, Honore did the sensible thing (as opposed to Blanco who wanted to give shoot to kill orders) with respect to giving the evacuees some measure of dignity:

"By-and-large, these are families that are just waiting to get out of here. They are frustrated; I would be, too. I get frustrated at the cash register counter when the paper runs out."

Hundreds of National Guard and active duty troops are carrying weapons in the city. But the way they carried those guns was a concern to the general.

He ordered all he encountered to point their weapons down, said CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, who was with the general. Honore repeatedly went up to military vehicles, National Guardsmen standing sentry and even to New Orleans police officers, telling them to please point their weapons down and reminding them that they were not in Iraq.

There's another article about him at the Stars & Stripes. He used to be the CO of the 2ID.

So while people are making punching bags out of Brown and Chertoff, the praise is pretty much universal for Honore. Pump it up.

Posted by mbowen at 01:12 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

August 22, 2005

Adam Hunter

Today's Boston Globe profiles young Adam Hunter:

Hunter, who as an undergraduate headed Howard's chapter of College Republicans, sees himself as part of a younger generation of African-Americans. He is ready to cast aside traditional loyalties to the Democratic Party and forge his own political identity.

I've got vague memories of coverage of College Republicans out of Howard U, and perhaps Hunter is the same guy (oh yeah), but I think we will be hearing a great deal of similar stories as time goes by. By being the majority party, the GOP is destined to make sense of itself in recognition of its various factions. I continue to hope that the African American contingent grows significantly.

I haven't had nearly as much free time as when I was working my own business, so opportunities to speak on college campuses have been, and I've made no progress. However I will be in Greensboro this fall. I am very curious to know how undergrads would react to me and my message, which is born of the experience I've had with progressive politics.

I would sum up my message thusly, African American collegians are more free than their ancestors to single-mindedly pursue their careers. They are less indebted to the idea that some racial catastrophe would 'set back the race' than any previous generation, and they should take advantage of that fact to make more bold attempts at achieving independent excellence. What African America needs is capital formation and a better sense of networking which is not burdended with false socialist politics. There is a lot more social space out there. Take advantage of it. Work towards internationalism. Discover America. Learn a different language. Understand multiple religious philosophies. Cultivate cultivated friends. Air dirty laundry. Differentiate with respect.

I say, of course, more power to young Mr. Hunter. Oh yeah, and start a blog.

Posted by mbowen at 09:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 17, 2005

My Kinda Nationalist

This afternoon at the airport where I lost my bluetooth headset on my way to Chicago, I looked forward to the peaceful moments above the country where I could stop engaging my colleagues on subjects of Gay Marriage and Black Militancy, both dubious concepts in which a great number of people other than me have invested much faith and rhetorical fire. Wouldn't you know the cover of Fortune magazine at the newstand dragged me back into the latter.

Fortune begins:

In 1962—less than a lifetime ago—Harvey C. Russell did what no other black man had done before. He became a vice president of a FORTUNE 500 company.

The company was Pepsi-Cola, and Russell, then 44, had been a standout salesman in its Negro Sales Department for the previous 12 years. "Mr. Russell's promotion was based solely on merit," Pepsi's president, Herbert Barnet, told the New York Times a few months later. "He came the hard way and has been one of our brilliant young men for 12 years." But this milestone was not greeted with widespread rejoicing. The Ku Klux Klan called for a national boycott of Pepsi's products. The group flooded the country with handbills that read: DON'T BUY PEPSI AND MAKE A NIGGER RICH.

On the cover of Fortune are old heads and new-jacks, veterans all of that place we call Corporate America. Not long ago I was talking about how Black Nationalism bogarded Corporate America, and while some would call that a militant mindset, I would not. If we have that kind of epistemological difference, that's OK, but I am notorious for parsing words to the extreme, and I'd prefer if people used my terms. Nevertheless there was a particular individual who struck me as different than the rest. His name is Lee Archer, and that's a funky webpage about him.

I also found this interesting clip about Archer:

Governor George E. Pataki unveiled a full-scale replica of a P-51 Mustang fighter as a permanent tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport. The Governor was joined by Lt. Col. Lee Archer, a Tuskegee ace whose aircraft markings are featured on the Mustang, and by leaders of Long Island’s veterans community. The replica will serve as a tribute to the challenge the Tuskegee Airmen faced in confronting a two-front war: the German Luftwaffe and American racism.

Lt. Colonel Lee Archer said, “Governor Pataki has been in the vanguard of the battle against racism in all its repugnant forms. It should come as no surprise that he would now take the lead in creating this fitting tribute to these veterans of 60 years ago. This Mustang represents every one of us who have been willing to fight—and to die—for our nation’s liberties. In honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, you honor the inherent strengths of a nation where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a right guaranteed to all of us, regardless of race, color or creed.”

That's what I'm talking about. Furthermore, here is part of the Fortune article on Archer:

General Foods sent Archer to the University of Pittsburgh to take a graduate course in financial management. He came back a venture capitalist. In 1973 he became CEO of Vanguard Capital Corp., General Foods' minority-business investment company. Two years later he also became CEO of North Street Capital Corp., the company's small-business investment arm; in 1980 he became CEO of Hudson Commercial Corp., a tobacco-investment arm. In those three roles he helped create 74 companies, including Essence Communications and Black Enterprise magazine. Archer also became a key advisor to the late Reginald Lewis in the leveraged buyout deal that created the conglomerate TLC Beatrice in 1987. "Lee is tough, just like my husband," says Loida Lewis, widow of the Beatrice CEO. "Lee constantly challenged him, which made him better. "

The hardest part of his corporate career, says Archer, was knowing who was going to be fair and who wasn't. For the 17 years he was at General Foods, he kept journals with lists of names. The names are divided into two lists: white hats and black hats. The white hats "gave me a shot," he says. The black hats ... Archer stumbles, trying to pick the best bad word he can think of. "It can't be published," he concludes. He won't name names. For him it is enough simply to write them down.

One of the things I hadn't mentioned in the debate about militancy was a couple of books by Price Cobbs. One of them is entitled 'Black Rage' and the one published after that is 'Cracking the Corporate Code : From Survival to Mastery'. I've only touched briefly on the subject of black organizational strategies, but I believe very strongly that what black nationalist organizations began in their move on Corporate America has been the most useful source of knowledge accruing to the state of African America. They owe their success to the inroads made by individuals like Lee Archer and others who put their heads down, rose up and offered a hand. I privilege this set of skills over those acquired through the integration of the Civil Service and of the Armed Forces, just so you know up front. I find men like Lee Archer to be heroic and worthy of emulation. He's what I would call an Old School pioneer.

Now how do I make the hookup?

Posted by mbowen at 05:20 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

April 08, 2005

Byron Allen: Who Knew?

OK I have to confess that I remember Bobby Rivers a lot, but I only remember Byron Allen a little. Like other mellow and slightly nebbish young adults of the brown persuasion, I took my share of ribbing for liking Bobby Rivers, the old VH1 host back in the late 80s. Maybe it was his sugary and bouyant personality that both endeared him to me and made me gag, but I thought Bobby Rivers had something. It was more that your basic non-threatening negro pose, he was engaging and pushed his personality all over everything like carmel fudge.

Byron Allen, on the other hand, didn't give anybody a reason to thing 'damn, is he black at all?' There was never any question about Allen's soul credentials. Back in those days there were six young black media stars. They were Bobby Rivers, Chuck D., Arsenio Hall, Byron Allen, Ed Lover and Dr. Dre. Nobody else was close, not even Janet Jackson, although she took over shortly thereafter.

Byron Allen seemed unremarkable at the time, but you couldn't help but notice how smoothly he just did the talk show thing. He was a natural and didn't push the boundaries like Arsenio, but then he didn't tip over my little black mental crab either. He never got me into the yellow zone pushing over to red my internal 'set back the race' meter. He just did his thing, cracked corny jokes and got paid. For those of you born after 'The Empire Strikes Back' know this: Tiger Woods isn't even close to being the first surprisingly charming black man who outclasses most of his peers.

I saw Byron Allen some time later doing some standup at the old Improv in West LA after his show was cancelled, and I thought to myself, this man is talented. He's funny and intelligent, what a shame that he peaked so soon. I'm glad I was wrong. Allen was nowhere near the peak. Still, I don't think any of us had any idea how paid Byron Allen has become. In today's news his Entertainment Studios (with the pathetically clunky website) offered 2.2 Billion dollars to buy PAX. You remember PAX, well they're in trouble, and Allen is their knight in shining armor.

Everytime you read something about Lil Kim and shake your head in shame, you can read the following paragraph:

The former co-host of the hit 1980s show "Real People" said he has had preliminary discussions with Paxson as well as talks with investment bank Credit Suisse Boston and a number of private-equity firms about putting together a deal.

Allen said he also has had preliminary talks with General Electric Co.'s NBC, which bought a 32 percent stake in Paxson for $415 million in 1999 in the form of preferred stock. NBC exercised an option in 2003 requiring Paxson to buy back the stake with interest. The matter is currently in dispute.

Falls under the radar? Shame. Nobody in the NBA is ballin' like that. Byron Allen could buy a football team. Hell, $415 million is the payroll of the NY Yankees for three years, and that's just a fraction of the size of the deal that he's putting together. Now I know that deals are meant to collapse, and nothing is promised, but if he pulls this one off, it's going to be sweet.

You go, bro.

Posted by mbowen at 08:55 AM | TrackBack

April 07, 2005

The Bigger Brotherhood

What's the scariest thing about being a conservative black? It's that you're friends with black conservatives, Republicans, Christian Conservatives, Right Wingers, Black libertarians and a host of other thoughtful, uppity and unbreakable blackfolks that everybody tries to marginalize in our democracy. But you can't put a team like that down, 'cause we've got Brotherhood.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, The Conservative Brotherhood strikes back. This afternoon I am pleased to announce three new writers to the fold.

Tavares Forby
Young Mr. Forby knows his mind and he's not afraid to speak it. He's a Republican, an Electrical Engineer and he's straight out of Compton. An unusual combination? We think not. His precise logic, enthusiasm and straightforward attitude endeared him to the Brotherhood the minute we saw him online. We're proud to have him.

Demond Hunter
Ole Sarge Hunter's back from Iraq taking care of domestic business. He's a dad, he's a NASCAR fan, he's regular Army and he's our kinda guy. Be sure to check out his blog, I think he's finally over the Tarheels' victory. Well, maybe not.

Joseph C. Phillips
You may have heard him on NPR, you may have read his essays, or you may have seen him at the Republican National Convention in NY. But even if you didn't know of him from TV or Film, you must surely have seen him on The Cosby Show. Joe is frat, and is a constant inspiration to me. Just being around him reminds me of the kinds of men a lot of our mamas raised us to be.

And you know what? There will be more before too long. How you like us now?

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March 31, 2005

Reggie Mebane

Reggie Mebane was recently hired to manage a big part of the CDC. He's a friend of the family, so we had to pub him up. Reggie is a testament to hard work, humility and integrity. Congrats!

CDC Leadership Profile:

Meet Reggie Mebane
As part of our series of leadership profiles, we continue with a profile of Reggie Mebane, MS, Chief Management Officer, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases.

Reginald R. Mebane

MS Title:
Chief Management Officer, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases (February 2005)

Direct authority for business operations (including human capital, information technology, grants, facilities, administrative services, etc.) for the Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases (CoCID). He is one of seven Chief Management Officers (CMOs) who report directly to Bill Gimson, CDC's Chief Operating Officer.

First job at CDC:
Current position

Path to public health:
"My path to CDC started with my path at FedEx. I started working for FedEx in 1981 when I took a part-time position as a handler where I unloaded trucks, loaded planes, etc., while working toward my bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Memphis.

"While I worked at night at FedEx, I worked as a psychiatric case manager and psychotherapist in Memphis, during the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill. That was my first tie to public service, and I did that for about six years. That work taught me very valuable life lessons in leadership and humanity-that stereotypes are not accurate and that perseverance is the most crucial life leadership skill of all. As a result of this experience, I later became Chairman of the Memphis Health, Education & Housing Finance Board. The restructuring of this board under my chairmanship is my legacy to Memphis in making housing affordable to people of moderate income means.

"Over the years, I was promoted at FedEx-to manager, then senior manager and eventually, as part of the FedEx Leadership Institute, teaching leadership and management practices to FedEx employees from all parts of the company around the world. I also was the corporate lead for diversity training from 1995 to 1997. In 1997, I was promoted to Director of International Operations, where I was responsible for overseeing shipments to and from more than 200 countries.

"In 2001, I moved to Buffalo, New York, to become the Chief Operating Officer for a company that FedEx acquired-one with $2 billion in revenue yearly. My job was to manage the massive changes, create best business practices and facilitate the merger and integration of over 1,000 new employees.

"About three years into this assignment, FedEx went through a major reorganization and restructuring. Just for perspective, the company has over five different operating companies and over 150,000 employees worldwide with over $27 billion in revenues. Each company operated independently, but competed collectively. I like to think that there are immense parallels to the change we're experiencing now at CDC.

"After this reorganization, FedEx offered senior executives the opportunity to take an early severance package or early retirement. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for me to have a whole new management career and the freedom to choose a career path based on my personal passion to serve others.

"It was CDC's mission that attracted me here. CDC is an icon name brand just like FedEx or Wal-Mart. You could not be doing more important work in life than what the great people of this organization are doing now-saving lives and improving health.

"One other career area that I'd like to mention is teaching. While I worked the night shift at FedEx, I also was on the adjunct faculty of the University of Memphis. Last year I also taught at the University of Buffalo in the MBA program."

Last book(s) read:
His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis. "I really love old detective stories that took place in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. My favorite author of all time is Ross MacDonald (that was his pen name; his real name is Kenneth Millar). I am also reading a series of biographies-Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton."


Married 18 years to his wife, LaRhonda, who has a background in finance. They have twin daughters, Lindsey and Mallory, age 17, who have aspirations to study law and medicine, respectively. They both have black belts in karate.

"In my free time, I enjoy exercising, writing and old movies-Turner Classic Movies, especially film-noir. I collect CDs and DVDs of old-time radio shows-like the Lone Ranger, The Mercury Theater, Orson Wells and gum-shoe detective stories.

"By the way-FedEx was featured in the movie "Castaway." I was actually in the movie. At the end of the movie when the Tom Hanks character is being welcomed back to FedEx at a banquet, they wanted real FedEx executives. The 10 seconds you see me on the screen took two days to shoot!"

What are the top priorities you are working on? "Over the next 30-60 days, the big challenge for me is to get a handle on organizational performance and build a good business plan that will enhance all three centers (NIP, NCHSTP, NCID)." Meanwhile, a top priority "is getting the Coordinating Center up and running from a staffing perspective. We would like to have the Coordinating Center fully staffed by September.

"The next immediate priority is improving communications with all the divisions and branches. That means we get our website updated, make sure there is information coming out consistently from myself and Mitch [Cohen, Director, CCID] so that people will know where we are in our efforts related to the Futures Initiative. More importantly, we must build in mechanisms for effective feedback and consistent leadership visibility and accessibility. This means face-to-face meetings in groups and in one-on-one sessions within and outside our own coordinating centers. In my most recent meetings with staff and people throughout the organizations, one point that keeps coming up is that it is important for us to clarify how the new organizational structure will add value. The second thing is to really be clear on goals and roles within the centers.

"I also plan to continue to fully share best practices with my fellow CMOs and to utilize the Management Council and Executive Leadership board as platforms for strategy and positive change related to the Futures Initiative."

Mebane also plans to focus on leadership. Citing The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, he said "Good leaders inspire the heart-I think this is the soft side of the leadership challenge we need to work on. It doesn't matter if you are a technology person or a scientist, behind it all we are still people, and people still want to feel connected to the organization and connected to the leadership. That's why we have to make a concerted effort to be more visible and accessible. The other thing we have to do is enable people to act-we should create a culture where people act responsibly and freely. We should also reward and provide incentives for people who embody those values.

"On the service side of the business, we have to look at how we can run the business better. As a team, we must collaborate to figure out how best to consolidate services, create efficiencies and run the business better while simultaneously doing the right thing by our people. Establishing best business practices and creating efficiencies are at the top of the list on the service side.

"As for my top finance priorities, I am focused on executing the current budget and planning for the next year. I think that we can both meet our public health mission and save money in some areas. In order to be able to do that, we need to engage people in the process to look hard and deep at what we are doing and finding more creative ways to do business better.

"To summarize, my focus right now at CDC is on being the best leader and doing the best job that I can. I want employees to know my sincere commitment to the organization and to the people. They won't find anyone who will work harder or longer or be more sincere in trying to do the right thing for the organization and its people. It's the way I've always managed and to me, it's not just a job, it's a way of life.

"Longer term, I hope to be a part of this organization for many years. I'm very proud to be a part of the CDC mission. My motto is no egos, no silos; one team, one mission."

Posted by mbowen at 08:39 PM | TrackBack

March 30, 2005

Johnnie Cochran: Ordinary Hero

It's going to take a long time to get out all I want to say about Johnnie Cochran, especially now that Harold Cruse is gone. I met Johnnie on several occassions and I was good friends with one of the attorneys at his firm in Los Angeles, the firm that was there before he got supersized.

Cochran was your basic hero, the kind of crusader who never went off the deep end, a man who understood what was possible and never stopped being a champion or a defender. I think Ira Reiner had some fairly uncouth things to say last night on Warren Olney's show, then again Ira Reiner is not famous as Johnnie Cochran, and it shows.

I knew Johnnie from the perspective of black cultural nationalism, which is nothing more or less than that set of values that make blackfolks work together within America for their common benefit. Johnnie represented black law because Johnnie not only did the work, the integrative mainstream work, but he did the meta-work, opening doors, showing pathways and mentoring. He wasn't just a symbol, he was an active part of the process of getting kids into the profession. As such, there was a certain amount of BS that flew by the wayside. You couldn't complain about blacks not being properly represented in the legal profession or that nobody was doing anything about police brutality, because not only was Johnnie doing that, he had a chain of folks he could point to. He was to black law students what John Slaughter has been to black engineering students - the man that made so much happen.

Johnnie had a unique way about him. He was larger than life in quiet ways. He was both unassuming and unflappable. He made you think that, here was a man who had everything going for him, and yet he remained personable. He wasn't just 'the man' he was a node in a network, and when you knew that you could network with Johnnie Cochran, that was powerful inspiration indeed. At least that's how he appeared to me.

I first met him at a graduation affair. My friend 'Dianne' had just graduated from Law School and at the humble home of one of the others in her graduating class, people had gathered to munch, mingle and celebrate. There was an odd mix of the connected, family members, experienced attorneys, politicos and neighborhood folks and friends at the small gathering. Some of them whispered to me how much Johnnie had made connections with just about every organization of black law students. In the living room, the atmosphere was relaxed, while some serious political rap session was going down in the kitchen. There was a brief ceremony and Johnnie, along with the graduates decked in Kinte scarves, joined hands in a circle of prayer. Johnnie seemed, nothing more or less than everybody's kind and wise uncle.

What impressed me most about Cochran, was not the man himself but what he was trying to prove in the Reginald Denny case. If you haven't heard yet, he took on the LAPD in a new and unique way by defending the civil rights of a white man, at least that's the soundbite version. His case was essentially that Denny and several others suffered because police had made a strategic decision not to defend the lives and properties of people in black and latino neighborhoods. Since I am a big follower of Loury, Massey & Denton this was a new angle that made perfect sense to me. I don't know whatever became of the Denny case, but the implications of what might have been (and still may yet be) are fascinating.

Like most people, I know that Johnnie Cochran was police brutality's enemy number one. And I know that he was involved in most of the city's most notorious cases. What I didn't know was that 'If it doesn't fit, you must acquit' was not his idea. I'll try to find out more if I go to the funeral.

The last time I saw Johnnie was just a day before the OJ verdict. I saw him at the San Francisco airport. He stopped to say hello and I wished him good luck. He actually looked like he needed it.

Also: This time NPR got it right. I expect to hear a lot of idiocy about Cochran, but I'm not going to dignify it. I'll tell you that right now.

Posted by mbowen at 04:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 20, 2005

Roland Gerhard Fryer, Jr

Roland Fryer appears to be one of those brothers that I wished I had some way to keep up with. But I think any number of us are going to have some difficulty as he chips away at the convenience of the largely accepted. You see Fryer is aiming for DuBois, and people think he has a shot.

It's difficult to tell whether or not it's important to know what Fryer is trying to discover, a grand unified theory of... well what is it exactly? Blackness? Economic differences between blacks and whites? Implications of social patterns of behavior? But whatever it is, Fryer comes with street cred from the hard side of the tracks as well as all the props from the academic powers that be. And he looks to be assembling his drop squad at Harvard. Do you hear me? Homey from the hood is an economist at Harvard. Enough said.

I first heard about Fryer last week from a surprising email I got personally from Steven Levitt. Yes, that Steven Levitt. He gave me a little sideways intro and told me to watch out for the Sunday NYT Magazine. Having read it this morning and just (lazily) 40% done with Levitt's new book, certain things are starting to click. A little background.

The other night, when I took a picture with Sharpton and also met a young brother who considers himself one of the luckiest men in the world (Lahore, Karachi?), I was chilling with Spence and some very cool academics. One of them, Harwood, who teaches at Ohio State espied my galley proof of Levitt's new book Freakonomics. Spence was already jumping up and down when I showed it to him not two minutes after we first met. Harwood, who'll take Strata over SPSS anyday, practically snatched the book out of my hand and read it all night. When Spence talked about Levitt, he mentioned that it was difficult to believe he didn't have some black in him. I think perhaps we've found the answer, Fryer is a catalyst.

More accurately, Spence said of Levitt's work that he had to be white to do this - to ask the hardball questions and formulate them into the notable paper which became Chapter Three: Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live With Their Moms? Why? Because brothers in the 'hood are already deeply immersed in those economics, and it simply doesn't occur to any of them that this drug economy is worthy of study. The very act of asking all the dumb questions an outsider needs to was Levitt's advantage. Now consider this:

Fryer well appreciates that he can raise questions that most white scholars wouldn't dare. His collaborators, most of whom are white, appreciate this, too. ''Absolutely, there's an insulation effect,'' says the Harvard economist Edward L. Glaeser. ''There's no question that working with Roland is somewhat liberating.''

Glaeser and Fryer, along with David M. Cutler, another Harvard economist, are the authors of a paper that traffics in one form of genetic theorizing. It addresses the six-year disparity in life expectancy for blacks versus whites, arguing that much of the gap is due to a single factor: a higher rate of salt sensitivity among African-Americans, which leads to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke and kidney disease.

Fryer's notion that there might be a genetic predisposition at work was heightened when he came across a period illustration that seemed to show a slave trader in Africa licking the face of a prospective slave. The ocean voyage from Africa to America was so gruesome that as many as 15 percent of the Africans died en route, mainly from illnesses that led to dehydration. A person with a higher capacity for salt retention might also retain more water and thus increase his chance of surviving.

So it may have been that a slave trader would try to select, with a lick to the cheek, the ''saltier'' Africans. Whether selected by the slavers or by nature, the Africans who did manage to survive the voyage -- and who then formed the gene pool of modern African-Americans -- may have been disproportionately marked by hypertension. Cutler, a pre-eminent health economist, admits that he thought Fryer's idea was ''absolutely crazy'' at first. (Although the link between the slave trade and hypertension had been raised in medical literature, even Cutler wasn't aware of it.) But once they started looking at the data, the theory began to seem plausible.

That's what I'm talking about. Fryer is a catalyst and as such will be able to bring down to cases those things that we think we know but don't. This is about applying a curiousity abetted by the need to make sense of the African Experience in this land which may finally get the attention of harder science. How many times have I had to explain the lack of hypertension in my family to doctors? We're from Connecticut - we don't eat salty slave food. And yet it was only in the 90s that medical researchers first isolated diet from race in looking at hypertension in blacks. I think we stand at the beginning of a long series of discoveries about how African Americans really do live that stands outside of the accumulated pile of wobbly theory, idiot conspiracies and dismissal.

A while ago, Cornel West stunned me with an idea. He essentially posited that blackfolks don't do 'enlightened self-interest' and don't fit into economic models because we have a psychic hunger for things other than the fungibles of the American economy. In other words, African Americans were receptive to two kinds of economies, the one for everyone, and our own unique afro-psychic one. It was a difficult argument to counter at the time so I accepted it. But ultimately it was my acceptance of Loury's economic view that I think set me right. It is also the difficulty I have in sustaining any discussion about Ujamaa vs Capitalism that gets me steamed, but simply looking at things from an economist's perspective, that of incentive, we're right back into economy. (And yes I do pay my kids to get good grades). Fryer is going to have plenty opportunities to start knocking back old ideas and finding interesting new sets of facts about African American life, but not only Fryer himself, but a new generation of researchers who are not Andrew Hacker, Manning Marable or Daniel Patrick Moynihan. That is a change that is long, long overdue. Who knows which way he's going, but stick him and McWhorter in a room and you've got enough thoughtful dynamite to inject some science into what has too long been speculative (Not to mention well.. how exactly do you describe this?)

I've not studied the economics of the ghetto enough to be surprised to learn much new, but I've been around enough people who've lived there and elsewhere to know much that we do hear ain't right. So much of it is tied to the interests of a dumb national debate that rarely does anything that sounds like truth shine through. I have a good feeling that scholars like Fryer will make a difference.

Now there are the existentials.

I suppose it's rather intriguing that anyone who grows up in close proximity to scary things, like drug dealers and violent knuckleheads, ends up at Harvard. I would expect a certain amount of 'hair touching' in any profile of an up and coming academic star. However I do have some concerns that young Fryer get the blunt end of gratuity. According to the story, Fryer is a phenomenon of self-discipline whose work ethic propels him through. Like a sea lion, he can hold his breath while fishing. I've lived in Boston too, and I've called it the coldest city in the world - a place so white that even the Nike basketball shoe commercials don't have brothers in them. But I am wishing upon Fryer an existential network that keeps the flavor alive (whatever flavor he desires, whatever oxygen he needs). It's impossible to tell, through Dubner's eyes how Fryer might consider his own place or his ability to breathe freely. He may be dreading that he grows gills, he may be perfectly comfortable. All of us 'exceptionals' have some degree of a strangeness about our blackness given our individuality and rareness, and none of us are immune. To this day people aren't quite sure how to take Sowell or Loury, and the more we hear about their own personal demons (speaking of Loury) the more we leap to conclusions about the political spin given their economic work. No matter where Loury goes or what he does, it's always Loury vs D'Sousa or Loury vs Drugs. America doesn't treat black academics well, period. We don't know them, they don't know us. It's a strange relationship. Me personally, I hate on 'em because they don't blog or otherwise show up anywhere they can't get paid or gather up brownie points for their strange rituals and rites of passage. Hmmm. Maybe I ought to join the forces of evil and hack LexisNexis too.. or maybe that's just journalists. (On the other hand, everybody loves Skip - mostly)

Still in all there is much good news in that Fryer gets to grow up and do in a nation that's much better for him to air whatever laundry we've been hiding under the bed. And I'm betting that he won't hesitate. For a gadfly like me, there are worlds to be spun and a great deal of my Socratic needs the kind of ammo I believe he is likely to provide. And yet I do wonder whatever happened to Brent Staples.

What do I do? I do business intelligence - so I know myths about 'corporate America' are overbroad and simply don't apply. I have the numbers and computer models to show it. If the China Deal had worked, on the other side of that I would have built XRepublic and then sat down to study some economics. I've always wanted to know what I believe that men like Fryer and Levitt seem poised to present, which is some juicy detail at the micro. How do the numbers work in this neighborhood, that neighborhood? And is that neighborhood like my neighborhood? And I just did that geek thing out of curiosity and a little bit of myth-questioning over the question of the 'black mecca'. Imagine what we're going to get when the pros come with the hardline. (Damn, this reminds me of an email I haven't responded to..sorry Kevin G.)

Posted by mbowen at 07:19 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 07, 2005

Condi's Black Ops II: Tyrone Willingham

According to the WaPo's Russakof:
Perhaps Rice's biggest impact on Stanford football was as provost in 1994, when according to Tyrone Willingham, she was "very, extremely instrumental in my becoming head coach."

Rice as provost and Willingham, one of the few African American head coaches in Division I-A, sent a powerful signal of Stanford's vision of opportunity, recalls athletic director Leland. In 1999, Willingham coached the team to its first Rose Bowl appearance in 28 years, and Leland remembers watching the game that clinched the bowl berth from the press box with Rice. With two minutes to go, Leland says, Stanford recovered a fumble, sealing the victory, "and right then, Condi jumped up and cried out, 'There is a God!' I said it was fitting that for 4,000 years we've debated this question, and Condi Rice has settled it -- at a football game."

I had heard that Rice was a big football fan, but I really had no idea until I read this piece. Thanks George.
Posted by mbowen at 08:52 AM | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

James McLurkin

James McLurkin is a daring innovator who has helped to push the frontiers of microrobotics. Awarded the prestigious Lemelson-M.I.T. Student Prize, his inventions range from a tiny self-contained autonomous robot that was the smallest in the world at the time—named Goliath, it measured a little over one inch per side—to his current research project: constructing the largest fleet of autonomous robots that have ever worked together to carry out cooperative, real-world tasks.

Called SwarmBots, McLurkin’s tiny robots (they measure 4.5 inches) are programmed to emulate the behavior of bees with the capability to cluster, disperse, follow and orbit. Equipped with bump sensors, a self-charger, a radio modem and an audio system, the robots are autonomous yet travel in a fleet. When one robot makes a discovery, it signals the group to execute the task together.

The implications of McLurkin’s groundbreaking work are far-reaching—from clearing fields of land mines to searching for survivors in the aftermath of a natural disaster to mapping the surface of Mars. With his initiative, creativity and extraordinary inventiveness, McLurkin is a natural speaker and educator. At the podium, he discusses the possibilities of robotic research and the future of his swarm robots, and, for younger audiences, illustrates the fun in inventing and engineering.

Inventing since the age of three, McLurkin’s inspirations came from Lego bricks, model trains, video games, BMX bicycles and his parents—who were key role models. He is now a role model to many as a teacher in The Saturday Engineering Enrichment and Discovery Academy at M.I.T. (a college preparatory program).

A Long Island, New York native, McLurkin went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering. He received his master’s degree in electical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in computer science, also at M.I.T. Since 1999, McLurkin has also worked as the lead scientist and manager for the Swarm Robotics Project at iRobot in Burlington, MA, developing algorithms for large communities of autonomous robots.

As an undergraduate at M.I.T., McLurkin built twelve cubic-inch robots and programmed them to simulate the behavior of an ant colony. His robotic ants are currently featured as part of Invention at Play, an interactive traveling exhibit that focuses on the similarities between the way children play and the creative processes used by innovators in science and technology.

Posted by mbowen at 11:48 AM | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

Jonathan Rodgers

Rdogers.jpg“I am a child of television and for 50 years of my life, I’ve wanted there to be a channel like this. This is an idea that is long overdue…the programming will be worthy and the demand will be voracious. TV One will give the African American community something to be proud of.”
―Johnathan Rodgers | CEO

Johnathan Rodgers has been named president and CEO of a new cable television network targeting adult African American and urban viewers that will be launched later this year by Comcast Corporation, the nation’s largest cable operator, and Radio One, the largest radio broadcaster primarily targeting African-American and urban listeners.

Rodgers was president of Discovery Networks U.S. for six years, where he was responsible for the programming, marketing, research, distribution, operations and ad sales of the highly regarded television group which included the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Kids and the Travel Channel.

“Johnathan has an incredible track record in operating top-quality, financially successful television ventures,” said Alfred Liggins, president and CEO of Radio One and chairman of the to-be-named cable network. “While at the Discovery Networks he helped launch Animal Planet and re-launch the Travel Channel. That experience plus his strong programming skills will be invaluable as we move forward with this new enterprise to bring high-quality entertainment programming to the African American and urban television audience.”

“I am delighted and honored to be a part of this historic new enterprise,” Rodgers said. “I am confident that Radio One’s marketing prowess in urban markets combined with Comcast’s tremendous resources and experience in cable operations and programming will help ensure that this network becomes a prime destination for adult television viewers,” Rodgers said.

I'm on the late freight with regard to TV One. I had heard about it but I didn't know that it had progressed this far. I picked up some buzz about it this weekend at a birthday party. A friend of a friend is involved with the channel. I'm looking forward to seeing it in the lineup.

Posted by mbowen at 09:23 AM | TrackBack

Black Self-Help Info

Ed Brown, one of my colleagues at Vision Circle and a long time Internet personality is putting his time and money where everybody else's mouth seems to be at. He is gathering together an online resource directory of black self-help organizations.

His new website, appropriately named Black Self Help, is just underway. Nothing fancy today, but you just wait.

It's interesting that this idea is not a new one but it doesn't seem to have been fulfilled after a whole generation of Internet technology. When I first started on the net back in '93, and built The Cool Zone, I wanted to do something like this. Surely Carter Bing had the same idea when he got The Drum rolling. Ed has been around since those days and I'm sure has learned his lessons well, so I expect that his efforts will far surpass those, given the tools and technologies he will have at his disposal.

Back in the days of The Drum, it was unthinkable that blackfolks would own their own webservers. Now it's trivial. Hmm. Maybe it's time to have a second look at some of the concepts we considered impossible a dozen years ago. Just recently over at Prometheus 6, the old impetus raised its head. So I suspect that inevitably there will be some stunning resources available to us - far beyond the realms of the old hackneyed Fedix and Molis.

Posted by mbowen at 08:14 AM | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

Faye Anderson Strikes

Faye Anderson has entered the blogosphere. This changes things.

If there is anyone capable of giving a new level of detail on things Republican & things black, it will be Faye Anderson. Her arrival on the scene is timely and she debuts with a scorcher on Armstrong Williams.

It goes without saying that Anderson is a key figure in the public debate about the future of American politics. The proof can be found in conversations that have taken place behind her back, some of them here at Cobb. Her PolitcallyBlack.com was a pioneering website going back several years, and there is every indication she has been most everywhere black Republican activists would want or need to go, save the Promised Land.

So mark me one as excited to hear more from this insider.

Posted by mbowen at 08:01 AM | TrackBack

January 15, 2005

Renford Reese

I had the distinct pleasure this morning of meeting Dr. Renford Reese of Cal Poly Pomona. He gave a brief accounting of some of his work in multicultural interaction at Ofari's Saturday morning roundtable. I really love his attitude.

In 1996, Renford Reese received his doctoral degree from the University of Southern California's School of Public Administration. He conducted his doctoral research on ethnic conflict and intergroup relations at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva, Switzerland. He received his Master's degree in public policy from the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies in 1990. He received his Bachelors of Arts degree in political science from Vanderbilt University in 1989. He is the founder/director of the Colorful Flags program and teaches in the political science department at Cal Poly Pomona University.

Reese has a couple of books out and he sold every copy of American Paradox that he brought with him. Although much his talk today was about the Colorful Flags program, I'm really interested to hear what he has to say about the LAPD which is the subject of his latest book, Leadership in the LAPD: Walking the Tightrope. I took a moment to find out whether or not an old rumor that I heard was true, and Reese didn't think that there was much to it. This was that when the Christopher Commission had assembled a list of rogue cops that ought to have been fired, demoted or disciplined that Mark Fuhrman was on it. This was among the things known about Fuhrman by Marcia Clarke and Chris Darden, and while Johnnie Cochran decided to trounce him about the N-word, this was other incriminating evidence. Of course going to public events and schmoozing with folks is a great way to find out crazy stories like these, (and some like these) and it's not very often you get to check them out with people who make it their business to know better.

Reese, by the way, is the man who was assigned to mentor Rodney G. King and has some extensive contacts with roughnecks in prison education programs. As well, he has collaborated with Jim Brown through his Amer-I-Can program. But what impressed me most about him was that he has a personal touch and a personal approach to problems of race that are simple, thoughtful and powerful. He's a great storyteller, and which is something I aim to be.

I'm looking forward to hearing a lot more from and about Renford Reese.

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January 08, 2005


smile.jpg In the process of cleaning up my closet and otherwise reorganizing stuff in My Terabyte, I came across this woodcut from my cousin. It was the opening title for his MFA thesis exhibition 6 years ago. He's doing well, thank you. Just thought I should share a little bit of the magic.

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November 03, 2004

More About The Society

It's not the Quad A, AAAA but the AAAS. Society not Association. My bad.

The African-American Alumni Society ("the Society") was established in 2000 with a core mission to assist in the advancement of Loyola High School of Los Angeles through the united efforts of its alumni as well as to foster the continued cordial relations of the Loyola alumni in the Amcan-American community. The Society seeks to recruit qualified Amcan-American prospective students for entrance into Loyola High School. The Society also seeks to support the development and advancement of African-American students of Loyola High in efforts to secure their successful matriculation.

The Society seeks to generate and maintain the active interest of all Loyola alumni in its regular business. The Society assists with the development of Loyola High School and the fulfillment of Loyola High School's mission, through fundraising and public relations efforts. The Society provides the African-American alumni with regular opportunities to assemble and maintain valued relationships through the promotion of alumni events and religious activities. The , Society acts in accord with the values of the Catholic, Christian and Jesuit nature of Loyola High School.

Community, Outreach Tutoring Program:
Established in 2000, this initiative offers 8thgrade students from targeted Catholic and private schools the opportunity to hone their math, English and interviewing skills in order to gain admissions to the Catholic high schools of their choice. The program is offered free to the students through the generous' support of the Loyola community. To date, more than 900 students have participated in the program, including 50% of the Amcan-American students in this year's Freshman class.

Black History Month Outreach Program:
Established in 1999, this initiative offers Loyola alumni and underclassmen the opportunity to return to their respective elementary schools and give testimony to their individual experiences while a student at Loyola, and in their current profession. The goal of the program is to impress upon our young men and women the value of ~ a Catholic education, and of attending a premier Jesuit educational institution.

St. Peter Claver Scholarship:
Established in 1992, this scholarship offers need-based assistance to African-American students with exemplary conduct. The scholarship has been successfully endowed with $462,000 through the generosity of the Loyola community. To date more than 64 awards averaging $2,745 have been given to deserving Loyola underclassmen.

Welcome Back Reception:
This annual gathering of Loyola's African-American alumni, underclassmen and their families offers the opportunity of fellowship and discussion regarding the Loyola experience.


Mentor Network:
It is dearly recognized that a young man will transition into adulthood more effectively when shown the correct I?athfrom one who has walked it before. The objective of this important program is to pair underclassmen with Alumni in order to begin teaching them the opportunities and responsibilities that lay ahead in their development beyond the halls of Loyola. It is anticipated that the Mentor Network program will begin in the Spring of 2005.

African-American Alumni Society' Scholarship:
Administrative processes are almost complete in the establishment of this merit-based scholarship to support and recognize the accomplishments of African-American scholars at Loyola. Requests for endowment support will begin in January of 2005.

African-American student annual adminision at Loyola has increased from 12 to 37 students since 2000. This figure represents an increase of more than 300% in four years. African-American students represent approximately 11% of this year's total incoming Freshman class body, and. is the second highest number of African-American students in a given class year in the history of Loyola.

African-American faculty at Loyola has increased from 2 to 4 teachers since 2000. Their experience and dedication is a welcomed addition to the Loyola community.

An African-American alumnus has been honored as a recipient of the Cahalan Award -- "'(alumnus of the year) in each of the first -three years of this notable award. Honorees include: Al Sanford '76, Michael Porterfied '73, and Anthony Williams '69. African-American alumni hold active leadership positions in support of Loyola's growth and development. We give thanks to the generous contribution of the time and experience of: Mr. Glenn Harvey '78 (Board of Regents), Mr. Marlon Thompson '79 (Vice President of the Loyola Alumni Association, Executive Council); Mr. Ty Carter '80 (President of the African-American Alumni Society, Executive Council); Mr. Gabriel Alfred '80 (Executive Committee of the African-American Alumni Society); and Mr. Gifford Irvine, '81 (Executive Committee member), Mr. David Walker '76 (Executive Committee member), and .Mr. Lou Williams '67 (Executive Council).

African-American coaches have made valuable and significant contributions to the coaching staff') of Loyola's sports teams. We are honored by the commitment of: Mr. Greg Wells (Head Coach, track team), Mr. Michael Porterfield (Head Coach, Junior Varsity team), Mr. Al Sanford (Assistant Coach, track team), Mr. Gifford Irvine (Assistant Coach, Varsity football team), and Mr. Stephen Faulk (Assistant Coach, Junior Varsity football teanl) for their dedicated service.

The foundation of the Jesuit education system is deeply rooted in the principle of ethnic inclusion. It: is widely recognized by the Loyola community that no individual can be truly successful without offering to assist his less fortunate brethren. We are thankful for the leadership and support all of the Loyola community for working to strengthen the universal ties that:bind all of us together.

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November 02, 2004

Trudy Schuett

Trudy Schuett is fighting the good fight. Check it.

For the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness month, I've been tracking news stories on domestic violence and encouraging my readers to contact their local media to correct some of the many factual errors that keep getting recycled. Each of the stories appearing at the DesertLight Journal represents at least one e-mail either correcting an error or thanking the reporter for their balanced coverage.

It is my stance that current programs, which are rooted in feminist anti-marriage, anti-family ideals have failed miserably in serving their communities and have in fact, impeded progress in finding solutions to this problem. Even though these kinds of programs have been in place for 30 years, they still only promote divorce as the single solution and have made no effort to seek other options. In addition, in most cases they still refuse to recognize or help either male victims or female abusers. Websites for these organizations are often more concerned with placing blame and providing divorce assistance than anything else.

I believe that I've had some impact -- pieces that appeared in the Arizona Republic early in the month reflected only the feminist side of the story, but a more-recent article was more objective. My local paper, the Yuma Daily Sun, which has mainly ignored my efforts in the past will be providing a link to my site as a resource in an upcoming article on domestic violence. I've also noticed a general trend away from the simple repeat of bogus statistics in the media as the month wore on.

Checke it out.

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October 21, 2004

Angela Winters

Angela Winters' new blog Politopics takes a centrist position and covers, well.. political topics. Check it out.

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September 22, 2004

Raymond Cobb Bowen

There are a lot of reasons that I am proud of my family, but I've got to admit, it sounds like a whole new level when other people are saying nice things. He has now been included into the HistoryMakers site. We continue to be proud of this man, who just turned The Big 70! Like Pops, Unk defies his age. I don't know where they got that picture because most of the time, he's looking dead at you and you know it. In fact, I really don't like that picture and I'm going to replace it as soon as I find a better one.

Scientist turned college administrator Raymond Cobb Bowen was born September 19, 1934 in New Haven, Connecticut. Growing up in the Elm Haven public housing projects, Bowen's parents, Raymond Curtis Bowen and Lucille Cobb Bowen, were frustrated in their attempts to gain a higher education and wanted more for their son. He attended Baldwin and Winchester elementary schools and graduated from James Hillhouse High School in 1952. He earned a B.A. in zoology in 1956 from the University of Connecticut, an M.S. in biology from the University of New Mexico in 1962 and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in parasitology and biochemistry in 1966. From 1956 to 1959, Bowen served in the United States Army.

What the HistoryMakers folks probably don't know but I'll tell you, is that Unk is a tremendously competitive man. He studied martial arts and has a pretty sharp mind for real estate. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy with a that classic Bowen laugh, but is the last guy you want to cross. I still have yet to study enough at the feet of this master of administration and bureacratic politics but I assure you that in a manner of speaking, Putin has got nothing on Unk. Look at those dates and those positions and you suddenly understand how much he was a pioneer and the highest ranking black anything a lot of people ever saw. He can wheel and deal like nobody's business, which made him loved and feared from what I could tell at my distance. Unk's quite a prankster too. I like that very much about him.

Like most leaders, Unk can read people like a book. I'm glad he's been patient with me and I know that he's helped me break through the Gordian Knots of life, whereas if I only had Pops' influence, I'd be contemplating forever. Unk is one of three or four people in the universe who may be able to barbecue better than I, and I can't wait to get out to the next reunion on the East Coast next summer. Wait 'til you see what his kids are up to.

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September 09, 2004

Sylvester James Gates, Jr.

jimpnts4_sm.jpgPops hipped me to SJ Gates who is apparently keeping it right.

Sylvester James Gates, John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, told a radio audience of African American children and their families that they should strive to find the playfulness in science and math, and to understand the role of physics in everything from cell phones to space travel.

"What I would like most for your audience to understand is that (science) belongs to them," said Gates during an interview on a radio program called Delta SEE Connection. "You see for me, all of the mathematics I know, and all of the physics that I understand and the equations that I deal with for me this is like a basketball and a court. When I go out and do science, I am having fun. I'm doing the thing that's truest to being me. And as an African American I am not separated from this. This is so much a part of me that it's like my listening to music; it is like watching Michael Jordan play or watching Venus or Serena"

To produce Delta SEE Connection, a weekly radio program, AAAS has joined forces with the nation's largest African American sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the Delta Research and Educational Foundation (DREF).

Entire Article

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September 02, 2004

Real Black Republicans

This is tiring, but I'm going to post it anyway. I will say that in about 12 months I'm going to stop being a black Republican and just become a Republican. I've got about a year's more BS to deal with as a Sophomore and then I'm going to graduate early. I still have yet to make any T-shirts, but that's coming too.

My boy Joe Phillips is doing fine. It's nice to see him mentioned. Meanwhile, lazy editors of presumptuous publications mischaracterize what's real about black Republicans. I'm starting to see why Thomas Sowell spends so much ink. It really is a fight over who owns the race. But as I said, I'm not long for this game. I say that as a [Black] computer scientist. Watch my race disappear and then show up stunningly.

Meanwhile to the text:

The percentage of black Republican national convention delegates grew from
10 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2004, he said. Black Republicans hold
office in 22 or 23 states across the country, Watts said.

The former college football star called on the party activists in the room
to support black Republican candidates financially and to spread the
message themselves of how the Republican Party better matches blacks'
values. Bush-Cheney campaign staffers and celebrities, such as former
"Cosby Show" actor and Republican Joe Phillips, are overwhelmed by
invitations to speak, Watts said.

"We don't have enough time to cover the requests that we have," Watts
said. "I am appreciative of all the efforts that all of you make."

I'll be getting in touch with these guys in California in due time. Meanwhile here's the full text of the article reprinted without permission for discusssion and review.

Lonely days are over, black Republicans say

12:35 AM PDT on Thursday, September 2, 2004

MICHELLE DeARMOND / The Press-Enterprise

NEW YORK - Standing before a packed ballroom of fellow black Republicans
on Wednesday, Ohio's lieutenant governor told the story of a reporter who
half-jokingly asked this week if all the black members of the GOP could
fit in one elevator.

Looking around the standing-room-only crowd in The Waldorf-Astoria, Lt.
Gov. Jennette Bradley didn't need to tell the audience how she replied.

"We do not have to apologize for being Republican," she told the crowd.
President Bush "does have support within the African-American community."

Bradley laughed about the episode, noting this Republican National
Convention is her fourth as a delegate, and she's been serving as the
country's first black female lieutenant governor since January 2003.
Still, the anecdote touched a chord of frustration with many at the
weeklong event in New York.

"The media blacks out what we do, and we literally have to beg the media
to come cover us," said Roxanne Petteway, a Temecula Republican on the
African-American Coalition for the Bush-Cheney campaign. "They believe the
lie that we can all fit into an elevator."

Hundreds at Event

A few hundred black Republicans and a handful of reporters attended the
two-hour affair at the swanky Manhattan hotel, where several high-profile
black Republicans spoke. Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., drew murmurs of "amen"
and enthusiastic head nods as he revved up the crowd, offering statistics
to back up his point that the involvement of blacks within the party is

The percentage of black Republican national convention delegates grew from
10 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2004, he said. Black Republicans hold
office in 22 or 23 states across the country, Watts said.

The former college football star called on the party activists in the room
to support black Republican candidates financially and to spread the
message themselves of how the Republican Party better matches blacks'
values. Bush-Cheney campaign staffers and celebrities, such as former
"Cosby Show" actor and Republican Joe Phillips, are overwhelmed by
invitations to speak, Watts said.

"We don't have enough time to cover the requests that we have," Watts
said. "I am appreciative of all the efforts that all of you make."

Democratic Doubts

The mayor of Palm Springs, a black Democrat who attended that party's
convention last month in Boston, said if the GOP really best suited
blacks, the membership would naturally reflect it. Speeches like those
made Wednesday disprove the Republicans' point, he said.

"The very fact that they have to go out and do that says that isn't true,"
Ron Oden said in a telephone interview from the desert. "There would be a
natural gravitation (to the GOP) if that were true."

Petteway and others argue that the GOP has historically been better for
blacks, and it's time for it to come "back to its roots." Some people just
don't know the facts, she said. Oden disagreed.

"If they're looking at who was president when slavery was abolished,
perhaps, but the thing is that is not the Republican Party of today," he
said of President Abraham Lincoln, who oversaw the abolition of slavery.
"The fact is that we don't have to worry about recruiting

Black membership in the GOP has been growing for awhile, Petteway said,
but people just haven't heard about it. Black Republican candidates and
officeholders from Utah to Maine attended Wednesday's meeting, standing to
tell of their successes in the ballroom where marble columns flanked the
speakers at one end and a chandelier hung overhead.

State GOP Support

In California, the state Republican Party has thrown money behind the
California Black Republican Council and has backed efforts to boost black
Republican activism in urban areas, Petteway said. Places such as
South-Central Los Angeles historically have been such Democratic
strongholds that the GOP often doesn't even run candidates there.

The California Black Republican Council also has opened several new
chapters in recent months, Petteway said. The council has chapters in
Riverside and San Bernardino counties. For Damon Alexander with the San
Bernardino chapter, spreading the word about the party is something he
does without pressure. He simply outlines the GOP's positions and asks
people to see which lines up with their own beliefs, he said. "Don't look
at the elephant or the donkey," he said. "I let them make up their own

Reach Michelle DeArmond at (951) 368-9441 or mdearmond@pe.com.

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August 29, 2004

Booker Rising

Booker Rising is an excellent compendium of facts and statistics about African Americans. Edited by Shamara Riley of Crispus, a member in good standing with the Conservative Brotherhood, it aggregates moderate and conservative African American opinion from within the blogosphere and print journalism. If you haven't checked it out lately, do yourself a favor and hop to it.

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August 19, 2004

Keeping It Right

I'm adding a new category to my blog today in order to do something that I've been meaning to do for a while, which is to introduce and keep track of outstanding individuals and groups that smack me in the face as being Old School and/or Conservative Blacks and/or Black Republicans. This serves two primary purposes. One of them is to satisfy my packrat proclivities and organize something which I have failed to organize so far. The side effect of that will be to allow everyone else easy access to the same pile. And the other is equally self-serving which is to create a mountain of examples which deflect the ever increasingly tiresome questions about how/why and to what extent am I 'being' all that I claim to be. Ask them too.

Today I spotlight Tavares Forby, the young man who runs the newly hatched Blackpundit.com. He says:

I have very few black friends that I can talk mathematics, physics, politics, or other abstract subjects with. These are very powerful subjects that change the world. One night I went to go see the second Matrix at a theatre near UCSD. I got there about 40 minutes early because it was the first night it came out. During that 40 minutes before the move, I looked around the theatre and all I saw was a lot of Asian and White college kids with there text books open, using their TI-89, or had their laptop open doing some type of school work. I was amazed (besides the fact I was the only black there). And I thought to myself, how come I never see this in the black community? How can we get African Americans to shift some of their interest into something outside of their own? Maybe making these other interests look cool or a focus on changing the views of our younger African American generation can make a difference. Whatever the answer is, we need to get back in the race!

We're with you Tavares and we've got your back and I am pledging my support of the Keeping It Right network to insure that our folks are hooked up properly. At the very least, I can start placing some people in all the tech jobs people keep throwing at me over at my other site, Cubegeek.

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