What a difference a day (or four) makes

Its all a matter of perspective

It's all a matter of perspective

Chicago rocks.

I never understood why Chicago is called, “The Second City.”   Comparing Chicago to New York is like trying to compare an apple to a tomato.  They’re both similar yet unique.

In my last blog entry I said I strongly believed UNITY ’08 was to be my last journalism convention.   In fact, I only rejoined the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) so I could attend this one.   I am a great believer in advocacy journalism, a stance that isn’t always popular in a mainstream organization such as NABJ.

But that’s another fight for another day.   I’m at peace with myself right now.  There’s always time enough to wage war.

I can’t be around intelligent, passionate and professional people without feeling I have to step my game up to meet theirs.  UNITY ’08 was everything I hoped it would be and then some.

It was enriching.

It was educational.

It was entertaining.

It makes me feel very good about being a independent, freelance journalist.

It makes me proud to be a Black man and knowing there are so many other accomplished and charismatic people.

It inspires me to meet and greet all the Asian, Hispanic, Latino and Native Americans that I did in Chicago.

Today I sat down and sent a personalized “hello” to every person whose business card I accepted.   Most of these people I will never meet again or speak with.  But for five days in Chicago we were colleagues and brothers and sisters brought together as a community with shared interests and goals.

I don’t care if they don’t remember me.  I remember them and right now I want to–need to–reach back and let them know they played a part in helping to reignite the flame.   Before time darkens my memory and I recall things differently than they actually occurred, I gotta get it right.

Which means just saying, “thanks” for making UNITY ’08 a total success for me and giving me a reason not to give up on my journalism dreams just yet.

Unity ’08: Drop me off in Chicago

Yes. Barack will be there too.

Yes. Barack will be there too.

Road trip!

Yeah, I’m taking it on the heel and toe and I’m off to Chicago for UNITY ’08, both a convention of minority journalists from the National Association of Black Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association,  the National Association of Hispanic  Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association and something of an ethnic version of Woodstock with indoor plumbing and better accommodations.

Not a lot of hard work gets done between all the workshops, meetings, breakouts, luncheons, dinners, receptions, special events, tours, socializing, job hunting, networking, glad-handing, hooking up and general foolishness.   It is a lot of fun if you don’t take it or yourself too seriously.

Waaaaay, back in the day when gas was cheaper, a freelance journalist loaded up a Pontiac Grand Prix and pointed it south to Atlanta to attend the first convention of journalists of color.

That was UNITY ’94 and I was both a little lighter in the waist and considerably brighter about the opportunities open to me as a journalist.

Fast forward 14 years later and I am absolutely certain this will be the last journalism convention I ever attend.

Though I plan on walking around the job fair, I’m not bringing a single resume or clip.  Why should I?  I’m not expecting anyone is seriously going to get a job there.  The Job Fair has become little more than a way for newspaper, radio and television conglomerations to mass collect resumes in a one-size-fits-all-setting.

The dead giveaway for me is look for how many of the booths actually have chairs for prospective job seekers.   They don’t really want to get to know you.  They just want to get through their shift and try to look interested when in reality they can’t wait to get back to their rooms or to the open bar later.

Cynical?  Nope.  Just experienced.   And this was before I had read Jill Nelson’s chapter in Volunteer Slavery on NABJ conventions.

Besides, who reads?  Look at your five closest friends or acquaintances you call friends.  How many of them read a daily newspaper, subscribe to any magazines or wait until 6:00 or 11:00 pm to get their shot of news?

Sorry folks, but we’re dealing with a profession that is hemorrhaging jobs, become less, not more diverse, and is relying upon an outdated delivery system to reach the younger demographic it craves.   Or have you paid any attention to where the advertising dollars are going?

I have a friend who teaches journalism at Temple University.  She says she’s constantly asked, ‘Why do we need to learn this stuff when there’s no guarantee we will be able to find a job in this field when we graduate?’

Good question.  I wish I had a answer, but I don’t.

Which brings to mind a question. Why exactly am I going to UNITY  ’08?

Certainly not because I’m looking for a job.  I have one of those and I’m pretty satisfied with it.  I don’t need journalism.  In fact, I’m feeling pretty sure that journalism needs me a helluva lot more than I need journalism.

So why go from one hot city in the summer to another hot city in the summer for seemingly no good reason?

Because I still believe journalism is a needed profession in this time when telling the truth can get you in all kinds of trouble.

Because I have always believed nobody can tell our stories better than we can and if we leave it up to others to tell our stories they will tell the ones that make us look like wild, uncivilized and dangerous animals instead of the intelligent, creative, innovative people we are.

Because while I’m not opposed to working within the system, I’ve never believed the system was ever the only way for our stories to be told.

Because I have been blessed enough to meet and work with some incredibly talented brothers and sisters and they inspire me to keep on keepin’ on even when i can easily think of a dozen reasons to kick this journalism jive to the curb and move on to something that pays better and worthier of my time.

Because I can still be inspired.  I might even change my mind.  It’s been known to happen once or twice.

I’m going to UNITY ’08 on my own nickel.  Previously, there were some good White liberal alternative weeklies in Columbus willing to hook a brutha up by covering the cost of the convention registration or something like that, but there are no good White liberal alternative weekliles left in Columbus anymore.

Today I washed, waxed and vacuumed my wife’s Ford Windstar van.  I’m going to load it up with her and the two kids and point it toward Chicago.  We’re going to make this a family vacation.  The last one before my son goes off to college in the fall and my daughter starts high school.

When you consider how much the price of gas is compared to 1994 and how few opportunities are going to exist for future family vacations, it’s a smart move to use a Woodstock of minority journalists as a dual purpose event.

Most of all though I want to be there when thousands of Black,  Hispanic, Asian and First American journalists get together at one place at one time.  It’s hard for me to conceive that you can bring so much talent and energy in a room and something special not happen.

Besides ANY excuse to get out of Columbus for a while is a GOOD excuse.   If The Eagles had lived here they would have called the song, “Life in the Slow Lane.”

Can’t wait to see all my Cowtown connection crew in Chicago representin.’

We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.  ~Japanese Proverb

Truth and Soul,

Jeff Winbush

I Want to Believe

It’s a hot Saturday.  I’ve worked all night.    I’m tired and hot and a more than a little ready to get past the presidential pre-game warm ups and into the real deal.

I’d love to blow off work tonight and just cool in a movie theater watching Heath Ledger lock up a Academy Award nomination for redefining The Joker in The Dark Knight. But I was blessed (cursed) with a strong sense of responsibility and I know I’m not going to blow off work tonight.  I worked too hard to get this job in the first place to lose it over really dumb reasons.

It’s just one of those days.

A few weeks ago my wife wanted me to watch a video.  It’s Will I. Am of the Black Eyed Peas follow-up to his “Yes We Can” video.  This one is called “We Are the Ones” and features  cameos by actors Jessica Alba,  Kerry Washington,  George Lopez,  John Leguizamo,  Regina King, Tyrese Gibson, and Ryan Phillipe among others.  Also  joining in are singers Macy Gray, Zoe Kravitz and Tabu, also of the Peas.

She said it made her cry.  A lot of things make my wife cry so I don’t overreact when she says that.  Some people—probably those who dislike Barack Obama—would call the sentiments expressed in the video “naive.”  Maybe so.  I’m certainly cynical about politics in general to doubt politicians that proclaim they’re all about “hope” and “change.”

But as the new X-Files movie proclaims in its tagline, “I want to believe.”

I want Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States.

It’s not that I think he won’t disappoint me.  I’d like to see him have the chance to.

With age comes wisdom…but there ARE exceptions.

Change He Doesnt Believe In

Change He Doesn't Believe In

Apparently trying to punk Barack Obama wasn’t enough for Reverend Jesse Jackson.  There was still more venom dripping from that same infamous tape:

Exclusive: TVNewser has been sent the transcript of what Jesse Jackson said Sunday morning July 6, as he prepared for an interview on Fox & Friends Weekend. Below is the partial transcript we received in our tips box, and confirmed to be authentic by Fox News Channel representatives.

Barack…he’s talking down to black people…telling n—s how to behave.

So, yes. Jesse Jackson did use the “N” word. But it was not directed at Barack Obama. Fox News and Bill O’Reilly have maintained there was more on the tape, but that the un-aired portion was not relevant to the issue at hand: about whether Obama was “talking down” to the black community. link

This raises an interesting philosophical question.

Is it “talking down” to Black people to suggest fathers ought to be fathers to their own children or is it “talking down” to Black people by calling them “niggers.”

Perhaps the question that should be asked is Jesse Jackson a senile old fool and if he is should he be institutionalized before he further embarrasses himself and whatever raggedy-ass  legacy he has left?

Will The Next First Lady be an admitted drug addict and thief?

If you have paid any attention to the presidential campaign, you have to know that at various times the accusation has been made that Michelle Obama, the spouse of the presumptive Democratic nominee harbors un-American and unpatriotic feelings about the country her husband hopes to lead.

By contrast, Cindy McCain, the wife of John McCain has been treated quite well by the media which finds the blonde beer baroness as “elegant” and “refined.”

All of which glosses over the inconvenient truth about the second Mrs. McCain. She was both an addict and a thief.

Much has been made of allegations of youthful use of illegal drugs by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Meanwhile, his GOP opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain, has admitted that his wife not only illegally used drugs but walked away from criminal charges. The McCains have worked to make Cindy McCain’s addiction into a political asset-despite the fact that she stole the drugs from a charity she directed and used them while mothering four young children.

In 1994, Mrs. McCain admitted that she had solicited prescriptions for painkillers from physicians who worked for an international charity that she founded, the American Voluntary Medical Team. She then filled the prescriptions in the names of her staff. link

Oct. 18, 1999 | PHOENIX — GOP presidential candidate John McCain’s wife Cindy took to the airwaves last week, recounting for Jane Pauley (on “Dateline”) and Diane Sawyer (on “Good Morning America”) the tale of her onetime addiction to Percocet and Vicodin, and the fact that she stole the drugs from her own nonprofit medical relief organization.

John Max Johnson, the doctor who had written the prescriptions for Cindy McCain, surrendered his medical license.

Cindy McCain still does relief work and raises the McCains’ four children.

John McCain, of course, is running for president.

And only a handful of people remember the details of Cindy McCain’s 1994 “outing” for drug addiction and drug pilfering, and the work of the McCain machine to protect her.

In August 1994, Cindy McCain admitted that she had been a drug addict to painkillers such as Percocet and Vicodin since 1989. She resorted to stealing drugs from a nonprofit medical relief charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team. When Cindy McCain publicly revealed her addiction, years after she had proclaimed sobriety, and after county investigative materials were made public, she stated she hoped it would give fellow drug addicts courage in their struggles. She later issued a statement: “Although my conduct did not result in compromising any missions of AMVT (her charity organization), my actions were wrong, and I regret them,”. A few weeks later, the Variety Club of Arizona had to cancel its Humanitarian of the Year Award dinner in her honor because of poor ticket sales. Her activities also violated federal statutes, so a federal investigation was also performed. McCain’s defense team secured an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office that was limited to financial restitution and treatment for her drug addiction. At the time, legal experts told the Phoenix New Times that had she not been married to John, she likely would have been sentenced to federal prison. Tom Gosinski, the director of government and international affairs for the American Voluntary Medical Team, who tipped off the DEA to investigate Cindy’s drug theft, also accused Cindy of asking him to lie concerning her drug use when the McCains were applying to adopt a baby from Bangladesh link3

It’s not exactly news. It is however true as opposed to the lie Michelle Obama is un-American. Something Cindy McCain seized upon earlier in the campaign:

As she introduced her husband John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, at a campaign event, Cindy McCain told the crowd, “I am proud of my country. I don’t know about you, if you heard those words earlier –I am very proud of my country.” link

Cindy should be proud of her country. Where else could a wealthy, White woman born of power and privilege beat a federal drug rap and now stand on the verge of becoming The First Lady of the United States? Good thing Cindy McCain wasn’t some lousy Black crackhead from the hood. Think she would have gotten such a sweet deal if she were Black and poor instead of White and rich?

Or is that just me playing the race card?

Here she comes America, your drug-addicted and addled, thieving and beating the rap First Lady. Wonder how that would play in Peoria?

Not that you’ll hear a whisper of this from our well-trained, lapdog, corporate controlled mainstream media.

Nothing to see here.  Move along.

A Open Letter to David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."

Dear Mr. Remnick,

I am writing you today to express my outrage and disappointment in The New Yorker for the depiction of Barack and Michelle Obama as terrorist Muslim subversives.

Cartoonist Barry Blitt may have thought he was doing a clever satire, but he fell far short if that was his goal.  Satire has wit and intelligence.   His illustration is totally devoid of both.

I don’t read The New Yorker. I don’t know anyone that does. But if I did, I would ask, what exactly do you find funny about a illustration of a gun-toting, Michelle Obama, sporting a frizzy Afro and military fatigues and boots, standing in what appears to be the Oval Office of the White House, fist-bumping Barack Obama, decked out in Muslim gear, while an American flag burns in the fireplace and a picture of Osama bin Laden looks on approvingly?

I know what’s funny and I know what doesn’t work. This cover illustration doesn’t work. If it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and a funny commentary on the ridiculous fear that Barack Obama is a covert Muslim, it doesn’t get the point across.

Maybe it does for you, Mr. Remnick.  It doesn’t for me. Not even slightly.

I’m all for freedom of the press and satire in a democratic society. I’m also a big believer in responsibility of the press and int his case I don’t see anything remotely resembling responsibility.

Please don’t think I’m calling for boycotts or censorship.  I do not favor such heavy-handed tactics.

The right of The New Yorker to publish whatever they want to on their cover does not invalidate my right to be offended by it.

I’m tired of having to defend the patriotism of African-Americans which constantly seems to be called into question and I’m really tired of liberal elitist magazines like The New Yorker taking cheap shots at The Obamas.

What I’m most sick and tired of is the overbearing presumptuousness of liberals presuming because they are liberals they are somehow magically exempt from being boorish, insensitive and as intellectually stunted in understanding what is offensive to Black people as any right-wing conservative.

Due to the chilly relationship between White conservatives and Blacks,there is a certain reluctance by conservative to say or do anything that might be misconstrued as having racial overtones. There are exemptions such as Rush Limbaugh who just don’t care if what they say is received poorly by Blacks.

White liberals are not similarly constrained. Some presume because of their supposed greater enlightenment and sensitivity to race, they are incapable of deliberate acts of insensitivity.

It is a pitiable, but sobering thing to note, in the battle to see who can best demonize Barack Obama, it’s his supposed allies on the Left that have continually stabbed him in the back even while he anticipates a brutal assault on his character from The Right.

Now The New Yorker is joining Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Geraldine Ferraro, and The Clintons in the dog pile on the Obamas.

The only thing missing from this abomination of a cartoon were the two Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, wearing burkas and chanting,’Death to America

To paraphrase Hillary Clinton, ‘Shame on The New Yorker.’

This isn’t about looking to be offended or lacking a sense of irony. There are no limits and nothing is out of bounds for those on the Left or the Right that fear, hate, and despise The Obamas .Everything is fair and everything is permitted as long as it makes themlook bad. Up to and including the fear more than a few people have that Barack and Michelle Obama don’t really share ‘traditional American values.’

The New Yorker owes an apology to Barack and Michelle Obama specifically and the American public in general for your furthering the coarsening and division that plagues the current political dynamic.

If this supposedly falls under the category of ‘entertaining satire’ then why aren’t I laughing?


Jeff Winbush
Columbus, OH

When Snobby Rags Race-Bait

If this is supposed to be funny, why arent I laughing

If this is supposed to be funny, why aren't I laughing?

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they say, “Enough!  I will not allow you to disrespect me any longer.”

At what point do we say “ENOUGH?

I don’t read The New Yorker.  I don’t know anyone that does.  If I did, I would ask, what exactly do you find funny about a illustration of a gun-toting,  Michelle Obama, sporting a frizzy Afro and military fatigues and boots, standing in what appears to be the Oval Office of the White House, fist-bumping Barack Obama, decked out in Muslim gear, while an American flag burns in the fireplace and a picture of Osama bin Laden looks out approvingly?

Then again, maybe that question would be better poised to David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker.

How long will Americans allow the media to attempt to “niggerize” Barack Obama?

When do we draw the line and say no more of crap like this:

Attack of the Far-Left Zealots

Attack of the Far-Left Zealots

This image originally appeared on the DailyKos website.  Not exactly known for being a right-wing attack site, but apparently some moron saw nothing wrong with an image of the Ku Klux Klan branding a helpless Black woman.

I’m all for freedom of the press and satire in a democratic society.   I’m also a big believer in responsibility of the press and in the case of The New Yorker depicting Michelle and Barack Obama as fist-bumping, gun-toting, flag-burning, Osama bin Laden, I don’t see anything remotely resembling responsibility.

I’m damn tired of having to defend my patriotism as a Black man and I’m really damn tired of watching the supposedly “allies” of African-Americans, liberal rags like The New Yorker taking cheap shots at The Obamas.

This is NOT the end of this.   Somebody’s ass needs to be fired and fired right NOW. Maybe the cartoonist who drew this disgusting piece of shit.  Maybe the editor who approved it.  Maybe everyone remotely associated with this vicious smear of the presumptive Democratic candidate for the presidency.

Right now, I’m just pissed.  Tomorrow, I’ll be focused and thinking just how badly everyone and anyone remotely associated with this vicious smear should be punished and how I can bring that to occurring.

David Remnick is about to have a very bad next few weeks.

The Black Stabbers

They smile in your face...

Another day, another Barack Obama controversy.

But this time it comes from an unexpected source. The Reverend Jesse Jackson was on FOX News and despite doing thousands of interviews, he apparently forgot his microphone was on.

Jackson was appearing on Fox News on July 6 when a microphone picked up his remark suggesting that Obama was “talking down to black people”‘ in recent speeches at black churches, according to a tape of the comments played on Bill O’Reilly’s show on the Fox News Channel.

He then said, referring to Obama, “I want to cut his nuts off,”‘ according to the Fox News Web site. At the time, he was speaking to Reed Tuckson, executive vice president and chief medical officer of United Health Group Inc. link

Things being as they are this political season, Jackson quickly issued an apology to Obama.

“I offer apologies. Anything I said in a hot-mic statement that’s interpreted as a distraction, I offer apologies for that,” Jackson said at a news conference yesterday after his remarks became public.

“I have supported Barack’s campaign with passion from the very beginning. I thought the very idea made sense,”‘ Jackson said. “We’ve been there all the way, because I think this campaign is a redemptive moment for America and a great opportunity to redefine America.”

Even Jesse’s own son, Jesse Jackson Jr. wasn’t hearing that noise. “I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric,”‘ the lawmaker said in a statement. “He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself.”

What do Jesse Jackson and Brett Favre have in common?

Besides the fact they both need realize their better days are behind them,  get up off of the comebacks and finally sit their tired old asses in a rocking chair somewhere, not much.

What we’re seeing here is a generation gap.

Jackson represents an once formidable,  but now played out paradigm.  it’s one that I respect and admire, but dammit Jesse—GET OFF THE STAGE.

Jackson is feeling the loss of power and prestige like a blow to the head.   He won’t go away and he won’t allow anyone else to take the spotlight.  Not his son.  Not Barack Obama.  Not anyone.

The unofficial Black President of the United States sees himself being marginalized by the possible first official Black President of the United States.   He should relax.   Obama isn’t trying to replace Jackson.  He represents the logical extension of what Jackson and Dr. King marched for: a Black man who stands a damn good chance of becoming the Most Powerful Man in the free world based not on the color of his skin, but the content of his character.

It’s sad to see someone I’ve admired for years make a fool of himself.   But this is what happens when you stay on the stage too long and don’t know how to bow out gracefully.

Let’s get something straight: Jesse Jackson’s biggest cause has always been doing what’s best for Jesse Jackson.

And Jesse might have a personal reason to be ticked off at Barack Obama about his call for Black men to be men and take responsibility. Jackson has his own “baby daddy” issues.

As a member of the Columbus Association of Black Journalists, we received an e-mail blast from one member with an open letter to Reverend Jackson from Najee Ali, a community activist out of Los Angeles:

Obama’s recent comments about Black fathers not abandoning their children and accepting moral responsibility in our lives is a lesson you apparently needed to learn when you were younger. If you had, it may not have caused you to cheat on your wife and father a child out of wedlock with a former staffer.

Maybe that’s what really bothered you about Obama’s message to the church that Black fathers should be responsible for their children; you certainly haven’t been.

Living in Los Angeles I have watched your ten year old daughter Ashley Laverne Jackson grow up. Over the years I have had the pleasure to spend several holidays with your daughter including Christmas, her birthday parties and other milestones in her life. I will never turn my back on Ashley her mom and their family. It’s about providing friendship, support and love to them while you have been missing in action.

Your daughter has never traveled or taken a trip with you, you have an annual birthday party in Beverly Hills every year where your entire family is welcome but your youngest child has only attended it once. She has had very little contact with her siblings and has never even met her big brother Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr, who apparently doesn’t want anything to do with her. And allegedly (I believe it to be true ), he was the one to leak the scandal to the media concerning your affair. Now don’t get me wrong, Obama is not above reproach. He is a politician and is fair game to be fairly criticized by you or anyone else. But to personally attack Obama is crossing the line. Obama is not talking down to Black people; he wants you and other dead beat dads to spend time and care for your children properly. The destruction of the Black family and absentee fathers is a major problem in our community.

It’s a problem that King spoke out and fought against. 40 years after King’s murder I can see why King didn’t trust you. If you can’t and won’t sincerely help Obama in this historic run then at least stop attacking him. Listen to Obama’s message of being a responsible father and start taking care of your daughter Ashley.

Let’s not be so quick to lionize Jackson that we forget that while he was counseling President Clinton over his betrayal of his wife during the tawdry Monica Lewinsky affair, he was engaged in a illicit affair with Karin Stanford.. One serial womanizer shows understanding to another serial womanizer. Game recognizes game.

If Jesse Jackson had the slightest interest in leaving the stage so youth may be served, I might agree about passing the torch. The thing is Jackson won’t get off the stage. For years and years he’s fended off any and all challenges to his self-appointed title as the Unofficial President of Black America. The only contender was Al Sharpton and he had to drop some lbs, trade in the warm-up gear for tailored suits and get the perm out of his hair before anyone could take him seriously.

This isn’t 1988. It’s 2008 and twenty years dead and gone, Jackson is still peddling the same old snake oil. Up with hope. Down with dope. I am somebody. Please Mr. Corporate CEO, write a fat check for Operation: PUSH and the Rainbow Coalition or we’ll organize a boycott of your racist butt.

Then along comes Barack Obama. Also from Chicago. Already in shape. Good looking. Well spoken. Equally ambitious, but while respectful of Jackson, Obama never had to kiss the Godfather’s ring and ask for his blessing. And that annoys the living hell out of Jackson. Obama doesn’t owe him a damn thing and that really burns his butt.

Jackson is, was and has always been a relentless self-promoter. Nothing wrong with that. Everybody’s got to have their own hustle. I was willing to look the other way because the greater good Jackson did mitigated his own obvious self-promotion. enrichment and horndog behavior.

But let’s not pretend for one damn minute that if there’s ever a Mount Rushmore of Civil Rights Icons, Jesse belongs up there alongside Rosa Parks and Dr. King. There’s way too much dirt, scandal and sleaze in Jesse’s background for him to pass the entrance exam.

It’s never easy for the old and the tired to give way to the young and the energetic, but it’s the way of the world and even Jesse Jackson has to recognize his days at the headliner are over.

First, Im gonna grab your nuts like this...