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New York-The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) will honor three extraordinary individuals for their outstanding commitment to democracy and voting rights at its annual 2005 National Equal Justice Award Dinner (NEJAD). Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.), Johnson Publishing Company President Linda Johnson Rice, and entertainer and producer Sean “Diddy” Combs, will be honored at the organization’s most important annual event on November 3, at the Hilton New York & Towers.

A special award will be presented to Sean “Diddy” Combs for his innovative efforts to register voters and engage America’s youth in the democratic process.

I wasn’t a fan of the “Vote or Die” movement and I’m still not. Below is a piece I wrote on “Vote or Die” last fall.

As the impending presidential election draws closer, an effort to bolster the voting power of the hip-hop community has intensified. Many influential figures of the hip-hop community, including Russell Simmons and Sean “P.Diddy” Combs, have used their clout to orchestrate large voter registration drives through organizations like the Hip Hop Action Network and Citizen Change, respectively.

Additionally, artists such as Mary J. Blige, Monica, Chingy and Ashanti, among others, have joined forces to record tracks such as “Wake Up Everybody,” with the same goal as Simmons and Combs – to increase voter turnout among young Black Americans.

While they should all be commended for giving their time and effort to such a worthy cause, I have a few qualms with this “movement.”

For one, there is an emphasis on voter registration rather than voter education. While I agree with the notion that voting is empowering, I feel as if it is even more empowering if you actually understand what’s going on in the political world before you enter the voting booth. A voter registration card is the first step.

The second, and arguably the more important step, is to educate you on the candidates and the issues. Perhaps, in the same way we learned to walk, we can simply crawl and make baby steps until we learn to stand on our own two feet. However, as pertinent as this year’s election is, do we really have that kind of time? Already, it appears that their efforts are likely to face the same dilemma plaguing much of hip-hop today: elevating image over substance.

Voting is being made out to be the latest trend in hip-hop, and like most trends, they die. The now infamous “Vote or Die” campaign by Combs and Citizen Change employs the same flashy marketing tactics Combs uses to promote his Bad Boy artists. Likewise, Simmons’ Hip Hop Action Network stages concerts and summits with a bevy of hip-hop’s top stars to bring awareness to the cause. While their methods do garner attention, what is going to keep us interested in politics after the election? What is being said about the specific issues that affect our community by the artists promoting voting? So far, nothing at all.

This brings me to another problem I have: Many of these artists, including P.Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Monica, and Andre 3000 have all admittedly voted only once or never at all. Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I find it difficult to relate to the people stressing the importance of voting who have not practiced what they preach. While everyone’s heart may be in the right place, I feel the current methodology may ultimately do more harm than good. During the late 1980s, hip-hop, specifically acts like Public Enemy, instilled a sense of black pride in the listener. Unfortunately, what was then viewed as a movement is now looked upon as a fad. I would hate for history to repeat itself.

I still appreciate the effort to motivate young people to vote, but I still believe more emphasis should have been placed in voter education. When the Christian Coalition released their voter guides, they knew exactly how to speak to their audience to get them to the polls. With another three years left of Dumbya and co., they’ll get closer and closer to their long awaited theocracy. A year later and where are we?

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There’s a lot you can say about Pat Robertson. Idiot. Moron. Jackass. Psycho. Lunatic. Fraud. Satan. And that’s being polite. It’s amazing how a man obviously missing a couple of books from the New Testament is allowed to pollute the airwaves.

When he’s not taking credit for the death of a Supreme Court Justice, he’s praying for the assassination of an elected official in Venezuela. But, just to show the world that the old man has still got it, Pat has decided to share with us yet another conversation he’s had with God.

Brace yourself, kids. Pat has found out who’s the culprit behind Hurricane Katrina. Pssh. No it’s the not the God Pat claims to speak for. It’s daytime talk show host and….*grits teeth*….LESBIAN (dun dun dun)…Ellen DeGeneres.

“By choosing an avowed lesbian for this national event, these Hollywood elites have clearly invited God’s wrath,” Robertson said on “The 700 Club” on Sunday. “Is it any surprise that the Almighty chose to strike at Miss Degeneres’ hometown?”

He then hinted that Ellen may also be behind 9/11, since she hosted the Emmy awards around the same time. Why oh why is this man not locked inside of a room with padded walls?

Wait, there is more.

“God already allows one awards show to promote the homosexual agenda,” Robertson declared. “But clearly he will not tolerate such sinful behavior to spread beyond the Tonys.”

You cannot make this stuff up.

America is waiting for her to apologize for the death and destruction that her sexual deviance has brought onto this great nation.”

And I’m waiting for this con artist to get deported.


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On Tuesday, Minister Louis Farrakhan spoke on the campus of Howard University. For me it was a bit surreal. Not because of Farrakhan’s stature, but because only a few months ago did Republican National Committee Chairman and spinster Ken Mehlman speak on our campus hoping to lure the young and opportunistic into the fold. What a difference a few months make.

Farrakhan’s appearance was promoted as the minister paying homage to publishing pioneer and namesake of our school of communications, John H. Johnson. Farrakhan admitted that he did not know Johnson personally, however. Well you know, get in where you fit in. I can’t be mad at that.

I’m not particularly fond of Farrakhan, but I will admit that his speech was pretty enjoyable. The man is a talented orator. Full of charm, panache, and has that cut-the-bullshit-let’s-get-to-the-real delivery that I can’t help but admire.

Farrakhan touched on a number of issues. The effects of globalization on our economy. America being an empire on decline. The need for blacks to become more proficient in mathematics and science instead of focusing on athletics and entertainment.

Like the story of Malcolm being encouraged to become a carpenter versus a lawyer, Farrakhan shared his tale of being told by his 6th grade teacher that it would be in his best interest to become a violinist rather than a doctor. Farrakhan told us that whites seek to keep blacks in disciplines that don’t challenge white supremacy.

He then proceeded into breaking down the gender make up of our school, which is currently 62% female. He posed the question I’m sure many educated black females have posed to themselves, “Who am I to marry?” Farrakhan suggested that there is a conspiracy to destroy black men, employing biblical text to drive the point home.

He used a lot of Christian doctrine to reel the audience in. So much that I began to wonder if he lost his Qu’ran and decided to pick up whatever book was left around. I haven’t heard so much Jesus since the last time I watched the Stellar awards.

While everyone hooted and hollered at Reverend Louie, I started to wonder what reaction a crowd inside of a mosque would give Jesse Jackson had he discussed the teachings of Elijah Muhammad.

Even I had to give him credit for taking a swipe at T.D. Jakes, who only days before dodged the Kanye West question on CNN, pretending that race had nothing to do w/ the relief efforts or lack thereof in New Orleans. Coward. Then again, when you’re in bed w/ the Bush administration, you can’t formulate an opinion that hasn’t been crafted by Karl Rove. Besides, I’m sure those checks he gets only help keep him closer to God.

I loved that Farrakhan touched on Americans being dumbed down and how it’s creating even more sheep in this country.

I even had to rise up and applaud his comment about most universities being modern day plantations as they don’t prepare their students to be critical thinkers and to question things; rather, they encourage and train you to get in where you fit in. Many students at Howard fit that bill to a tee.

All and all, it was a bit touch and go, but after the speech my dislike for him went down. I think part of it was a bit extra, but many speakers of his fame are extra. He is trying to uplift people of color, which is more than I can say for many of his fellow black leaders – particularly the show boating, Benz driving, hallelujah come lately pastors bamboozling parishioners by turning attention to petty political issues while turning a blind eye to the poor economic climate and its effect on our community. Yes, protest abortion, gay marriage, and other cultural issues of little relevance and ignore that your people are hungry, dying, and nihilistic. That’s the sure fire way to lead them onto the promised land. I almost want to sell a bean pie outside of a few churches in protest.

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Thank you NY Daily News for this.


Come the fuck on.

Bill Clinton on whether or not the criticism directed at the federal government for its slow response to the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina:

“You and I are not in a position to make any judgment because we weren’t there.”

He later added in a sit-down interview on CNN:

“I’m telling you,” nobody thought this was going to happen like this…they had problems they never could have foreseen.”

Arianna Huffington sums my thoughts on Slick Willie perfectly:

“Is his need to be a part of this country’s wealth and power establishment so great that it blinds him to reality? Is his need to be fawned over so desperate that he has forgotten how to speak the truth?”

House Speaker Dennis Hastert on the future of New Orleans:

“It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed.”

The man just embodies compassionate conservatism.

Laura Brown, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, on reports of helicopters being shot at by New Orleans residents:

“We’re controlling every single aircraft in that airspace and none of them reported being fired on,” she said, adding that the FAA was in contact with the military as well as civilian aircraft.”

You mean to tell me someone has been lying? Shocker.

And in another surprise, Halliburton has been tapped to rebuild New Orleans.

Kanye West on this great land of ours:

“America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible.”

Condoleezza “I Have No Soul” Rice on charges of racism affecting the relief efforts in New Orleans:

“That Americans would somehow in a color-affected way decide who to help and who not to help, I, I just don’t believe it. The African-American community has obviously been very heavily affected. But people are doing what they can for Americans. Nobody wants to see any American suffer.”

Negro, grow up.

Crimson, with the “Gold Digger” remix:

He takes my money, when I’m in need
Yea he’s a triflin head of state indeed
Oh he’s a oil digga way in D.C.
That digs on me

….

If you ain’t no punk, holla we want IM PEACH MENT
we want IM PEACH MENT
Yeah!
It’s something that we need to have


Get down, Crim, go’n head get down!


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Kudos to Jack Cafferty of CNN for speaking out on how race and class factor into the government’s behavior in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Same for Anderson Cooper and Paula Zahn, who refused to take it easy on Louisiana Senator Mary L. Landrieu and the director of FEMA. Though it may ultimately be deemed inappropriate of them to allow their feelings affect the broadcast, both of Landrieu and the gentleman from FEMA had it coming.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists these organizations for those seeking to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina:

Donate cash
American Red Cross (800) HELP NOW (435-7669) English; (800) 257-7575 Spanish

Operation Blessing (800) 436-6348

America’s Second Harvest (800) 344-8070

To donate cash or volunteer
Adventist Community Services (800) 381-7171

Catholic Charities, USA (703) 549-1390

Christian Disaster Response (941) 956-5183 or (941) 551-9554

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (800) 848-5818

Church World Service (800) 297-1516

Convoy of Hope (417) 823-8998

Lutheran Disaster Response (800) 638-3522

Mennonite Disaster Service (717) 859-2210

Nazarene Disaster Response (888) 256-5886

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (800) 872-3283

Salvation Army (800) SAL-ARMY (725-2769)

Southern Baptist Convention — Disaster Relief (800) 462-8657, ext. 6440

United Methodist Committee on Relief (800) 554-8583

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Join me in celebrating the most beautiful girl in the world’s birthday. My niece, Alexis, turns seven today. I hate always missing her birthday due to school, especially after she reminds me that I miss her birthday each year. Though I miss out on every birthday party, I’m still one proud uncle.

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That pretty much describes my mood for the week. The following is a perspective I contributed to our paper, the Hilltop.

When I left for college, a friend of mine sat me down, looked deep into my eyes, and gave me some heartfelt advice: “Don’t you come back here broker than you already are!” Four years later, I’m knee deep in student loans and have credit cards out the wazoo. While there was no way to avoid taking out additional educational loans, I certainly could have learned to spend my money wiser.

I won’t say credit cards are the enemy per se. That simply is not realistic. One must establish credit somehow, and when choosing your spending habits wisely, what better way to build your credit than with credit cards? On the other hand, credit cards aren’t exactly like your best friend. Think of them more as a trifling relative. Sure, you love them (mainly because you have to), but that does not mean you have to see them frequently. Try that approach with credit cards.

Soon you will be bombarded with brochures, emails, and maybe the occasional phone call from credit card companies hoping to lure you into the fold. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Should you enter the world of credit, try doing a little research. Compare interest rates. Avoid store issued credit cards, as they don’t help you build your credit in the least. Try applying for credit cards specifically geared towards students.

Don’t spend your money on frivolous items. Don’t buy that third iPod. You can watch Boomerang on HBO – it comes on almost daily. Do you really need that shirt in that many colors? Let them pay their own bond. The last one was a joke, but you get the idea. The bare essentials: Books (for my friends without book vouchers), food (Chinese food isn’t going to pay for itself), and the occasional trip to the mall (you can’t look busted at the club). Just try not to splurge and ask yourself the tough questions, for instance, “Do you really need that McFlurry?” It’s just going to melt by the time you hike back to your dorm anyway.

When I told my mother I got a credit card, she asked, “What job do you have?” I quickly answered “None”, and she replied, “I hope you know my job isn’t paying your bill.” She then assured me that if I ever reached into her purse to find some monthly minimum payment money, I would pull back a nub. Right about now, I wish I did have that nub: It would make pulling those credit cards from my wallet all the more difficult.

As I enter my senior year at Howard University, I look back on all of my purchases and ask myself what in the world was I thinking and why didn’t anyone warn me? Let me make it plan for you: Credit card debt can make you sob at night – rebuke it. Consider yourself warned.

For anyone interested in throwing in a dollar or a thousand of them, get at me. Paypal gets it done.

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