Entries Tagged 'Journalism' ↓

My Hero.


“A Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life.”

If Ida Bell Wells (1862-1931), above, had never written another word in her entire life, she would have been the object of my supreme ancestral regard merely for those sixty, above. Composed when she was about thirty years of age, the text, from her 1892 pamphlet, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, still simmers over a hundred years later with the nostril-burning scent of bitter defiance.

Keep in mind, however, that Wells was not describing some kind of abstract notion of a second amendment embrace, but penning her ideas when there was a literal price on her head. The definitive leader of her era in a wildly underpowered crusade against the lynching of Black people, Wells and her jagged prose sent entitled racists into spasms. Documenting their morbid outrages as a journalist, she inevitably had to leave for the North, merely to keep from becoming another prized lynching victim herself.

I read her words for the first time in the mid ’80s, in college, in a book titled When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America, by Paula J. Giddings. At the time, South Africa was raging. Black New Yorker’s were being killed, seemingly with wanton disregard, by New York City police while an indifferent mayor, Ed Koch, wagged his finger at us.

I was looking for a functional political position that made humanitarian sense, but that had some teeth in it. Needless to say, Wells not only fit the bill, but lit my brain up, and sent me back to the stacks. There, I learned that Black radicalism was not new or recent, but a legacy response to racism.

paula-giddings-headshotNeedless to say, Wells changed my life, but not as much as she did Giddings’, right. Indeed, the Elizabeth A. Woodson 1922 Professor in Afro-American Studies at Smith College says that, even with the abundance of astounding characters in her book, Ida kept speaking to her, from the mists of history, beckoning for a volume of her own.

As my mother always said, listen to your elders. Giddings’ follow-up to When and WhereIda: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching—is a masterful, 800-plus page tome that, no doubt, will be the definitive record of Wells’ life and work for decades.

Paula J. Giddings is my hero, too, and the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 1, at 2 pm ET. Indeed, our conversation was so rich and bountiful it wouldn’t fit into one broadcast. Look out for the second part, soon, on a future date.

For now, you can hear Part I by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Why Can’t U.S. TV Stations Give Us Tiger Woods Visuals Like These?


My friend MaryKay sent me this riotous clip, above. Apparently, it uses Maya, Poser, or some other animation software to visualize a likely scenario for Tiger Woods’s November 27 car crash—the one that has opened up, not only the right front end of his car but, a window into his clearly troubled marriage.

The bit, produced by 1-Apple news of Taiwan and narrated in traditional Chinese, is mixed with photo stills and police press conference footage, but that’s merely styrofoam peanut padding for the good stuff.

screen1In the videogame-looking sequence, Tiger’s wife, Elin, becomes enraged and strikes Tiger in the face, above, upon learning of his relationship with his alleged mistress, Rachel Uchitel, pictured in the thought balloon inset. The golfer escapes their home and the conflict in his car, but his wife then takes off after him, above, clutching one of his prized golf clubs, striking at the car. Woods, distracted by her pursuit, then runs into a hydrant and a tree.

Of course, this is all still hypothetical, as the couple have not detailed what actually happened, and why, that night. Also, none of this accounts for the latest revelations: That Jarius Lavar Adams, the neighbor who called 911 upon hearing the commotion, rushed out to find the star athlete “unconscious and snoring [my emphasis], in the street on the passenger side of his 2009 Cadillac Escalade.” But it does make fine entertainment out of other people’s ongoing misery.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

[via huffingtonpost.com]

Ladies and Gentlemen, Introducing the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.


“For what?”

That was my response Friday when a friend tweeted me with news that President Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unguarded as my words were, though, similar sentiments would soon reverberate across the land as incredulous newswatchers wondered the same question aloud. Like him or not, what exactly had Obama done during his first eight months in office to deserve what is, arguably, our species’s highest honor for reconciliation?

TIME.com writer David Von Drehle remains one of the incredulous, apparently. As he ponders next year’s Nobel, and the list of presumably more deserving recipients, the journalist has reached an odd, yet captivating, conclusion:

If the Nobel Committee ever wants to honor the force that has done the most over the past 60 years to end industrial-scale war, its members will award a Peace Prize to the bomb.

Von Drehle is not kidding in the least. In his adroitly titled, “Want Peace? Give a Nuke the Nobel,” he argues

60728-004-bcf9187dthat industrial killing was practiced by many nations in the old world without nuclear weapons. Soldiers were gassed and machine-gunned by the hundreds of thousands in the trenches of World War I, [right] when Hitler was just another corporal in the Kaiser’s army. By World War II, countries on both sides of the war used airplanes and artillery to rain death on battlefields as well as cities, until the number killed around the world was so huge that the best estimates of the total number lost diverge by some 16 million souls. The dead numbered 62 million or 78 million — somewhere in there.

So when last we saw a world without nuclear weapons, human beings were killing one another with such feverish efficiency that they couldn’t keep track of the victims to the nearest 15 million. Over three decades of industrialized war, the planet averaged about 3 million dead per year. Why did that stop happening?

It did, Von Drehle says, for one reason: Thanks to nuclear weapons,

Major powers find ways to get along because the cost of armed conflict between them has become unthinkably high.

Is Von Drehle right? It’s an old argument, that the power of the nuke is not explosive, but aversive; that no one really wants to see one go off. And although there’s exactly zero chance the Norwegians will give a Peace Prize to the Peacekeeper, the notion has got to have the inventor of dynamite—Alfred Nobel—cracking up in his grave.

[via TIME.com]

I Can’t Believe the News Has Officially Been Chopped and Screwed.


It’s no secret that Katie Couric, above, had some serious problems with the ratings when she took over the CBS Evening News in 2006. For a couple of years, there, her future didn’t look good, and management reportedly started speaking in low tones about pulling the plug on her broadcast.

But that was until she triumphantly body-slammed Republican VP hopeful Sarah Palin in September 2008, with a series of interviews that almost certainly helped nominee John McCain lose the November election, that boosted Couric’s viewers by millions, and that proved she was not to be messed with.

So: Where do you go from there? You go where Hillary Clinton, FOX’s Sean Hannity, CNN’s Kiran Chetry, and The Washington Post‘s Ruth Marcus have all gone: With Auto-Tune, the so-called “T-Pain/Cher-style” vocal processing technology that’s sweeping the nation.

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Fight the White Rap History Rewrite.


I don’t know how, until this very morning, I missed the April 15 New York Times profile of white rapper Asher Roth by former VIBE music editor Jon Caramanica. (“To Be Young, Rapping and White,” it was near sacrilegously titled.) But it was certainly worth the wait.

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St. Amy the Democratic?

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, February 5, 2009

I’m not clear on the cause of this optical effect, but talk about subliminal messaging.

That is, was it just me, or, when you look at this completely unretouched video still of Amy Goodman, above, host of news show Democracy Now, from yesterday’s broadcast, does she have a halo encircling her head?

As Long As We’re All Throwing Shoes, Bush Should Just Be Glad That Shaquille O’Neal, Sir Edmund Hillary, Maxwell Smart, Shaun “The Flying Tomato” White, Frankenstein, Hell’s Angels, Bozo the Clown, the Pinball Wizard, Flyguy the Pimp from I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, UK Proteus Syndrome-Sufferer Mandy Sellars, and Wayne Gretzky Aren’t Humiliated, Pissed-Off Iraqi Journalists.

Iraqi Journalist Throws Shoe At Bush

Also, he should be thankful that Muntader al-Zaidi, 28, the Iraqi journalist who, yesterday, one at a time, threw both of his shoes at President Bush, but missed, above, though fairly accurate, doesn’t exactly have a killer right arm, or pitch for Baghdad’s Salam baseball team.

According to The New York Times, al-Zaidi,

a correspondent for Al Baghdadia, an independent Iraqi television station, stood up about 12 feet from Mr. Bush and shouted in Arabic: “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!” He then threw a shoe at Mr. Bush, who ducked and narrowly avoided it.

As stunned security agents and guards, officials and journalists watched, Mr. Zaidi then threw his other shoe, shouting in Arabic, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” That shoe also narrowly missed Mr. Bush as Prime Minister Maliki stuck a hand in front of the president’s face to help shield him.

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How They Did It.

The challengers.

FRONTLINE turns out expertly-researched, -written , -shot, and -edited news documentaries with startling consistency. But whether or not you’ve ever seen one of their incredible pieces—my favorite to date: House of Saud, on the Arabian monarchy—make absolutely sure you check out The Choice 2008.

The 2-hour work, which debuted October 14th, but I saw last night, deeply covers the rise of John McCain and Barack Obama, above, as the 2008 Republican and Democratic party nominees, respectively, noting the varied paths both men have run.

However, even with McCain’s long career in Congress, the portions on Obama are what will most captivate. Whether it’s footage of him at Harvard Law School in his late 20s; Obama, the Chicago activist, debating the then seemingly all-powerful Rep. Bobby Rush; or details of his party’s vision of him as its heir apparent and golden child, The Choice 2008 powerfully helps fill in blanks on a man who, for all of his immense and mounting visibility, still arguably remains a profound enigma. Buy the DVD, or watch it online, right now, via iTunes, YouTube, or directly on the web site. Great stuff.

The Next Time You’re On National TV, “Joe the Plumber,” Wear a T-Shirt with Your Business’s Logo On It.

“I hate becoming a historical footnote.”
Obama describes a nasty clog in his campaign. Photo by Jae C. Hong

TO: Joe Wurzelbacher, above, the Cincinnati, OH-based plumbing contractor that John McCain and Barack Obama mentioned by name 26 times during their debate last night (five times as many Joe Biden!)

Dear Joe:

I believe you have really great business sense. However, if you immediately follow my Seven Tips for Plumbing the Depths of Success, you are going to truly G-off….

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Another Time’s President.

“I can’t live with myself.”

The Huffington Post’s Michael Seitzman wrote about last night’s debate, but by avoiding its specific proposals or content, and, instead, focusing on the manner by which it was conducted, he created something near poetry.

When is the last time we had a leader that we wanted to emulate? Continue reading →