Politics of the Dab

Are you excited for Super Bowl 50, with Cam Newton’s youth and Carolina Panthers against Peyton Manning’s age and Denver Broncos?

The story lines feature the team’s stellar defenses and Peyton the future NFL Hall of Famer, playing in his fourth Super Bowl and seeking his second title.  There also is Cam in his first Super Bowl, creating a body of work that will take him to the Hall of Fame.

The sad distraction comes when the conversation turns to Cam, race, the dab (see video, Cam does this after a touchdown) and what he wore to an interview.  The distraction was captured on video in the middle of Party Politics’ meeting about our Road Trip to the White House campaign.

Join the conversation and tell us what you think about Cam Newton and the Politics of the #Dab.

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Are We the Problem…..

Social-Media

I haven’t blogged in a while, because I have been studying habits and reading your posts on Facebook.   I haven’t posted as many news stories even though some of you might say I post a lot too. 🙂  I still have opinions but realize that some of what we are saying and sharing sometimes creates more division.

Some who see me post, or read might say, I put a lot of thoughts into what I share.  And I do……

Its nice to keep up with what’s going on in people’s lives but more importantly see how people are thinking.  And the more I read, the more I make an effort to stay away from negativity and only read the positive posts.

Some posts are beautiful! Particularly the ones with your children and families move me.

But over the past year, I have recognized that many posts about politics, political parties, racism and discrimination are just as biased and racially charged as the act they seek to condemn.

How much hate there is in the World!  If we remember that hate produces hate until someone injects love into the mix, perhaps we would be more careful about what we post.  More importantly seek to say things in a way to make things better.

I don’t agree with posting things about Bruce Jenner’s sex change, the Kardashians, Beyoncé etc. who make more and more money with each post at the expense of poor and middle class people. Or the show Empire on FOX because it portrays negative stereotypes that feed a monster of money for FOX News that promotes hate and division.

I believe that we could be and do so much better than the negativity that is out there if we stop to recognize how “We” feed the monsters of poverty, division, racial divide and political division that we often condemn.

If the poor and middle class keep supporting wealth in a way that drives poverty creating more outlets for crime, how do we stop the cycle if we don’t recognize the habit?

At some point instead of pointing the finger at others, wouldn’t it be more productive if we decided that our posts and comments, actions and will could do a lot more together to eliminate the social issues and problems that race, economic disparity create.

That could create better avenues to pursue human excellence instead of its polar opposite?

What do you think?

AtibaAtiba Madyun is the President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP). Follow on Twitter @atibamadyun or Like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.

Is This About Race? Black Leaders Call for Lynch to Be Appointed

Lynch

Why are Republicans in the US Senate holding up the appointment of nominee for Attorney General, Loretta Lynch?  If confirmed, she will become the first African American woman to hold the position of Attorney General and first to hold a cabinet level position in the Obama Administration.

What makes Lynch’s confirmation interesting is that she’s had a stellar career.  Yet her confirmation has been held up longer than any Attorney General in 30 years.   A glaring and stark comparison to her appointment, is that of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter who was nominated on December 5, 2014 and approved unanimously February 1, 2015.

Observers question, is this is about race?  Lynch was nominated by President Barack Obama on November 8, 2014 and confirmed out of committee, 12-8 on February 26, 2015.   Yet, she waits for the full Senate body to confirm her appointment.

The confirmation has gone from a “process of confirmation to a trial by ordeal that has moved from ridiculous to absurd,” Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said yesterday on an hour long press call about Lynch in which he was joined by Congressional members, the head of a civil rights legal defense group and sorority president.

It is difficult to argue the absurdity of the confirmation considering that Carter who is White was nominated after Lynch and confirmed as she waits for appointment.  Adding to the drama is that nothing in the confirmation hearing questioned or challenged her qualifications or her character.

“The CBC is disturbed that this confirmation has taken four months…..the votes are there today to have her confirmed.  If she was put forward for confirmation today, she would be confirmed by tonight,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC) said.

So, is this about race or something else?  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says her confirmation vote will occur after the Senate votes on a human trafficking bill.  While Senators Jeff Sessions (AL), John Cornyn (TX) and Ted Cruz (TX) have said the President’s action on immigration and Lynch’s defense of his actions are why they oppose her appointment.  Either way, her confirmation hearing has now come and gone.  While Secretary Carter has been nominated and confirmed during a shorter timeframe.

“Rather than focus on race, we should ask, what are women and African Americans perceiving when they watch this?  For those who watched a woman who is an African American woman control the room during her confirmation hearing, also saw her move even the opposition party with her story.  When women all over the country see a woman, move toward getting this job and then see it held up despite her qualifications, what does that say to women?”  Sherilynn Ifel, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund stated.

Loretta Elizabeth Lynch, born in Greensboro North Carolina is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  She has been confirmed for the position twice by the Senate, holding the position now twice, first from 1999-2001 and now since 2010.   With leaders around the country calling for the Senate to vote up or down for her appointment, despite her stellar record, there is speculation two Senators from Lynch’s home state may vote against her confirmation.  One saying before the process began, he would not vote for her.

When the vote happens, some on the call said, it could be one of the closest ever for Attorney General.  Some analysts speculate, that Vice President Joe Biden may provide the deciding vote.

Potential Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton weighed in this week on Twitter, “Congressional trifecta against women today, 1)Blocking a great nominee, 1st African American woman AG, for longer than any other AG in 30 years 2) Playing politics with trafficking victims 3) Threatening women’s health and rights.”

Dr. Paulette C. Walker, National President of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., for which Lynch is a member said, “Call upon the Senate to confirm.  The Senate needs to do what it is elected to do and confirm Loretta Lynch.  She has committed her life to make the lives of all Americans better.”

If this is about race or even opposition to the President, the Senate’s disparity in confirming the two nominees, may show that control of the Senate is harder than it was in the minority.  The Republican Senate appears more fractured than what we see on the surface.

Is McConnell holding up the nomination because he is having the same issues Congressman John Boehner experienced with Tea Party members in the House of Representatives?  Either way, holding up the nomination of Lynch, a qualified candidate, may further distance and hurt GOP relations not only with important voting communities of African Americans or Hispanics around immigration.  It may also distance itself with women.

Atiba  Atiba Madyun is the President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP). Follow @atibamadyun or like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.

We Cannot Move On Until…….

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I was as many others were, disappointed that a grand jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed Michael Brown.  But I wasn’t empathetic after seeing the convenience store surveillance footage taken minutes before his death, where he stole a $48 box of cigarillos.  Truthfully, I wasn’t empathetic because too often, I see young men like Michael and his friend give law enforcement, teachers and others in positions of authority a hard time.  I see them on the metro and in malls loud and disrespectful of others around them.

I am empathetic to this though, Michael was unarmed.  The grand jury’s failure to indict Wilson is an indictment of our lenient American law enforcement policies.  That is why today, we see another officer Daniel Pantaleo in New York City cleared for his role in the stranglehold death of unarmed Eric Garner.

Is this a trend?  It is reminiscent of stories of slaves who tried to escape the bondage of slavery, but when caught were hung from trees and murdered.  It brings forth the sad image of the lifeless young body of Emmitt Till lying in a casket after he was killed for whistling at a woman.  In far too many cases like these, their murderers go unpunished.

That is why today, an overdue conversation on American relations is at the forefront of discussion on media outlets here and abroad.  Michael and Eric aren’t the first young unarmed American men to be killed by police officers who weren’t indicted or convicted.  What about Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Kimani Gray, Kendrec McDade, Timothy Stansbury, Jr or Sean Bell?  That is why it was good to hear President Obama say today what many of us believe, “this is an American problem.”

I don’t agree with any of the violent protests or the yelling going on in Ferguson.  But I understand the root frustration of it.  Too often it takes this type of protest to get the empathy and support of others.  Today’s conversation is eerily too similar to video images from the civil rights era, where police officers and White men got away too often for killing unarmed young men because of the color of their skin.

It is sad that it takes instances like Ferguson to turn the tide of despair into hope.  History shows that empathy from fellow Americans didn’t come until they saw images of police officers turning fire hoses, dogs and guns on unarmed Americans marching for civil rights long denied them because of the color of their skin.

That is why we cannot move on until the conversation in Ferguson becomes about something more than race.  This is about America and how we treat one another as human beings.  It has to call into question why the behavior of our young men, makes it difficult for others to see their humanity.  Truly, why has friction grown so evident between our young men and police officers?  Is there an image problem?

My brothers and I talked about this over the weekend as we celebrated my brother Damani’s 40th birthday.   He said that Black men don’t have an image problem rather we have a branding problem.  I found this to be an interesting statement since I think they are one and the same?

Image is everything.  That is why I have never seen the dignity in wearing pants off the waste line down to the knees, or thick steel toed boots unless there is snow or it is cold, hoodies, huge gold chains or having unkempt hair and long beards.  While this is a personal choice, why would anyone want to dress or look like this?  In my opinion and siding with my brother on this, it is an image that has become a uniform and branded by some as “thuggish”.

On the other hand, police officers wearing uniforms are seen as threatening to these young men and the friction and fear on both sides has risen to a level of hostility that leads to senseless deaths.  That is why we should call it what it is “a war on American streets.”

How did our young men go from wearing saggy pants during slavery to suits and back to pants now falling around their knees?  If the conversation about Ferguson and young unarmed American men being killed is about race isn’t it important to look at how Americans put their best image or brand forward?  If this is true, then both young men who dress this way and police officers in uniform going to work every day, both have an image or branding problem.

The conversation about unarmed American men being killed by police officers requires introspection in order to move forward.  It is one that will be uncomfortable for everyone.  As my friend Chris Finan said responding to my post about the five St. Louis Rams players, who courageously put their hands up in solidarity with protestors in Ferguson just before their game this past Sunday,

“This is exactly the point. White privilege allows us white folks to decide not to have the discussion. We can walk away whenever we want and get along with our day. Those players for the Rams that made that statement were all black. They were in their uniforms so everyone loves them and cheers for them. However, let one of them be walking down the street in plain clothes and be dealt the same racism that happened in Ferguson. That’s why they did what they did and they had every right to do it. It was exactly the best platform for them to make that statement. Anyone who’s uncomfortable with that truly has no idea why everyone is so upset about what happened in Ferguson. It’s about the bigger issue. That’s why we need to have the discussion and not walk away when it feels uncomfortable.”

The issues in the American Black community are prevalent in other communities.  Far too many American families are led by single mothers.  While many single mothers are doing the best they can to raise their children and our hats go off to them, too many should not have to.  Too many of our young men are being raised without a father in the home.  Therefore too many, lack the guidance only a father can provide, no matter how hard the mother tries.  The American value system has lost respect for the traditional family.  If it hadn’t, more Americans would voice their outrage that programs like Housewives, Basketball Wives, Honey Boo Boo, and the Kardashians are doing nothing more than making these families wealthier, while too many of us watching are becoming poorer.

The issues of race, the division in politics and in communities near and far are a byproduct of our value system.  We see this in the lack of class exhibited by elected officials in Congress with their lack of respect for the President and even more for holding Americans hostage over their senseless debates and failure to come together to advance causes that benefit all Americans.  Our current value system divides us along party lines, race, religion and gender.

If the conversation in Ferguson is to yield anything of significant consequence, it will take level heads, moderators and leaders who can get us to take the high road.  Further they will elevate the conversation beyond Black and White and who is to blame and help us find solutions.

The conversation in Ferguson requires language that will unite us and bring us together as a nation.  It cannot be about another black man being killed.  The language has to be that another young MAN was killed and taken away from his parents when he was too young.  Making him just a black man diminishes that he was a man just like any other man, irrespective of color.  An officer who kills an unarmed young MAN is wrong and should go to jail!  Michael, Oscar, Sean, Eric and the countless other MEN who have been killed were someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father, someone’s husband, someone’s friend.

Too many young MEN are being killed and their killers are not being punished.  We cannot move on until we address this as a human rights issue that transcend race.  It goes beyond the idea of civility.  In the end, when it is all said and done, do the lives of the victims and their families find the justice they deserve if we don’t call into question about how we treat one another with dignity.  Last, how will our lives be defined?  Will it be how we lived as Blacks, Whites, Asian, Hispanic, Muslim, Christian and Jew?  Or how we lived our lives “being human” to one another?

It is my belief that we cannot move forward until we accept that our humanity binds us in ways that the different colors of our skin cannot.  The lives of those who have been slain will again be in vain, if we don’t realize that.  Can we finally find a way to move on together?

What do you think?

A Punch in The Face!

Yesterday FB friends responded to my post about the singer Chris Brown’s arrest in DC.   I didn’t weigh in because I wanted to see how his arraignment would go.   Now that’s done, and his parole may be revoked thus sending him to jail, we can hit first on celebrity “entitlement!”

The entitlement issue in our country leads to way too much sensitivity.  Last night talking to two friends born outside the US, I smiled when one of said, something I’ve believed a long time.  Whether it’s race, culture or sexual orientation, we are awful as a nation to rules on political correctness.  Unwritten rules that you cannot say this or that because it hurts my feelings or someone else’s.  Grow up! 

How does this relate to Chris Brown?  In his version of what happed, he says two guys jumped into a photo he was taking with two women.  “I ain’t into no gay shit! I feel like boxing.”  And?

Celebrities get a bad wrap sometimes for their celebrity.  If you cannot deal with it, don’t be famous!  That is why, I have no sympathy for Chris.  He’s been in these situations far too often.  After Rihanna, no matter what she did to invoke his anger, she didn’t deserve to get a “fruit punch” ie. beat down.

Chris your celebrity status doesn’t give you the right to break someone’s nose.  Instead, it should heighten your awareness of your surroundings making you keenly responsibility of your job to keep your fans happy.  They want a picture?  No matter who they are, take the picture.  Remember your fans make it possible for you to buy your home, clothes, the bus you were protecting and the attorneys you will now have to re-hire.  

Should the gentlemen in question have tried to get on your bus?  If that is what happened, then you should have let your bodyguard do his job.  That’s what you pay him for!  Your job is to make the people happy.  Bodyguards job, protect you from people who overstep the boundaries.

On FB some of you said, Chris has some sort of mental illness.  It appears he has anger issues.  That is his problem.  I want to know when will fans get angry enough to stop putting money in his pockets?  Better yet, why are fans so angry with Jay-z for not ending his Christmas partnership with Barneys? 

Millions of fans that have put money in Jay-Z’s pocket should have been angry with him years ago for using the word “nigga” in just about everyone of his songs.  Instead they are angry with his partnership because they heard through the media that the store is accused of profiling African Americans buying expensive items in their stores.  Don’t get mad with Jay-Z stop going to Barneys!

The mental illness and entitlement we see in celebrities is just as much the fans fault.  So what Jay-Z doesn’t want to end his partnership!  He wants to know the whole story before he cuts his ties to a company that will give 25% of the money raised through their partnership to his charity.  A charity that provides scholarships to low income disadvantaged children.  His argument not a dime goes directly to him.  Hmmm…..okie dokie then does that mean you also don’t get the tax write off for the donation on the income you make from the fans?  Why get mad at Jay-Z?  Get even, stop buying his music!!

Jay-Z is rich and “entitled” to do what he wants with his money.  Just like Chris Brown is “entitled” to do what he wants with his anger issues.  I’ve downloaded only one Jay-Z CD ever and never one by Chris Brown.   My issue with Chris is that he beat down a woman!  My issue with Jay-Z is he’s made over a billion dollars using the word “nigga” in his songs. 

Yes, that is my sensitivity and until now I haven’t shared it publicly, just to my friends.  I have an issue with the word not because it makes me crazy.  You see my mother repeatedly told her children when we called each other names, “sticks and stones…words don’t hurt me none!” 

My issue with the word is I understand the psychological impact it has had on generations of people.  It is why I loved the movie “12 Years a Slave: The Solomon Northrup Story” and why I encourage all who haven’t to see it. 

My last question, which really is the real question is this, “When will the public hold the artists we support and make rich accountable?”   

I guarantee you, if John Boehner used the word “nigga” in a public speech, or, if Ted Cruz punched someone in the nose, the masses would come together and make sure neither of them ever won another election, or made a dime at the public’s expense.  Just sayin’