Blogging the PBS Debate with Tavis Smiley at Howard University



It is on and poppin’ at Howard University.  Share your thoughts.

What we do without long Negro introductions?

First question: Does race matter as it did for Du Bois at the  beginning of the 20th century?  Hillary-strong.   Obama-weak.  Couples personal responsibility with institutional racism.   Richardson looks uncomfortable talking about race.  Dodd-surpisingly strong.   Biden-strong.  Gravel and Kucinich hearts in the right place.

Now the journalists get a crack.

Dewayne Wickham questions Biden.  What do you attribute the inequity between the unemployment rate of black high school grads and white high school dropouts?  Biden starts rambling and unfocused.  Richardson-higher teacher salaries, at risk programs and parental involvement, full day kindergarten and pre-k programs and college education.

Edwards-No one single cause of poverty.  When young brothas surrounded by poverty and hoplessness its reinforcing.  Work needs to pay for young men-raise min wage, right to organize. 

Obama- early childhood education is key.   Parents and counselors needed.   $ left behind for No Child Left Behind.  The reason we have consistently had underperformance from our children is because we haven’t had a president take ownership and recognition of all children.

Kucinich-need to see connection between war and education.  need to cut 15%.

Gravel-people on this stage are all guilty for not placing enough emphasis on education rather than war.

Michel Martin’s question-69% of African American teens are HIV positive, what is the plan?

Richardson-rambles.    Edwards has facts together and has visited treatment center.  1, find a cure.  2. Fully fund Ryan White AIDS program, 3. Fully fund HIV/AIDS drug treatment.

I may remove all this stream of consciousness stuff later on, but for now I will leave it.   A lot of time was wasted intially with the long and unnecessary Negro introductions and perorations about their importance.   Did anybody mention reparations?

53 thoughts on “Blogging the PBS Debate with Tavis Smiley at Howard University

  1. keto

    “Although African American teens (ages 13–19) represent only
    15% of U.S. teenagers, they accounted for 65% of new AIDS
    cases reported among teens in 2002.9 A similar impact can be
    seen among African American children.”

  2. rikyrah,

    No, because none of the white run debates has done it. All have been businesslike without intoductions. More importantly, they didn’t allow Negro outbursts and catcalls.

  3. I could have done without the long intros.

    And I’m upset that no one really answered the question about the unemployment rates. I believe the question said that black high school graduates have a 33% higher unemployment rate than white high school dropouts. All that moaning and groaning about education didn’t explain the disparity. At least Hillary got close, when she said discrimination in hiring exists.

  4. Viv,

    Good to hear from you.

    When it’s all said and done, Hillary is always on point and never rambles. She brought down the house on the AIDS question. She wins yet again, which, is exactly the problem.

  5. SB

    I think Hillary won the debate on that answer alone. What other statement by any other candidate got that kind of response?

  6. dblhelix

    I’d like a screencap of Al Sharpton’s face when Biden went there on wrapping it and shutting it.

  7. This debate really caused me to start feeling ill. It was really hard for me to make it through the whole thing. So many times, I felt compelled to get up and find something else to do with my time.

    First of all, I was annoyed by the long intros. But I quickly got over that. And then once the debate was about to get started, and some of the people started cat calling from the audience, I was bothered. I don’t know why we want to act like we’re at a probate or homecoming game. I thought that was so highly inappropriate. But I quickly got over that.

    Then once they got rolling, I was disappointed that the moderator/producer of the forum really didn’t demand the candidates to really stab at the issues. I just heard the same old rhetoric I normally hear from this group. All of the talking tonight reminded me of the empty talking that goes down at the State of Black America that Tavis produces.

    I heard a lot of rediagnosis of problems that we are already aware we have in our community. I heard a lot about the cause of those problems. I heard a lot about what should be done. But I heard very little about what exactly will be done. I need to hear some hard commitments. I’m sick and tired of talk. We do that enough at all of our countless round table discussions, forums, and conferences.

    Sadly, I think Hil did the best. (frown) She repped what she supposedly believes. Hil is a strong debater. And she really comes off like she is sincere. (frown)

    It’s funny, I felt that each and every person on the forum, no matter what they say, is so extremely disconnected from the African American community. I heard a lot of stat calls, theorizing, and disconnected rattles. I wish that we had someone that really demonstrates a sincere concern for our people. I see a sincere concern to get the votes. But I don’t see anyone of them really connecting with black folks.

    I guess at the end of the forum, I was left saddened by our state as black folks in America. I wish we would stop depending on white folks/politicians to fix our problems. It is time for us to take personal responsibilities for ourselves, our families, our schools, and our communities.

    I was disappointed by those stats about the HIV epedemic amongst our teens. That was so sad!

  8. I admit that I did go people looking in the audience, but I remember that (the people looking) at the MSNBC debate at the Reagan Library.

  9. I’m not going to forget about that stat about our babies. It makes my heart ache that our teens are getting HIV.

    Right now, most popular music gets on my nerves. But I have younger sisters. So, when we are riding in the car, I get to hear all the crap that’s being fed to our babies on the hip hop stations. I hear songs about… Well, I don’t have to go into that here. You guys know our music.

    But when we switch the station to the pop station, I hear cleaned up versions of hip hop songs. I hear songs about love and finding yourself. I sho’ in the hell don’t hear the bullcrap that flows out of hip hop radio.

    Our children are way too sexed. And they learn about sex from Radio One and Radio One’s big brother, BET.

    My godsister, who is 10, was singing this song about oral sex that she knows from the radio. When our girls and boys hear so many damn songs about strippers, dropping it low, and so on, we can’t expect good results.

    Yes, I love music, even some of the sexual cuts. But we have got to creat a balance on the radio. Where’s the balance?

  10. Yes, Rikyrah, I agree that they need to cut the guest list in half. What I hear is a lot of 5 minute speeches/monologues and no real dialogue. I don’t hear a real discussion. I just hear a lot of mike hungry speakers/authors, trying to get their points across at a very hot event.

    I’m sick of talking; I need to see some action plans.

  11. Yes, I love music, even some of the sexual cuts. But we have got to creat a balance on the radio. Where’s the balance?

    There IS no balance for Black folk. There simply isn’t. You MIGHT get a station that eeks in a few genuine R&B tunes in between the garbage- I’m sorry, Hip Hop – but who can stand to listen to it.

    I hate sounding 30 years older than I am when I say this – but, Black music used to say something. Used to talk about love, romance.

    Angie, did you read the article earlier this week that Radio One has run into financial difficulties? I find it hard to find sympathy for those who peddle emotional poison to our children.

    Roland Martin filled in for Paula Zahn tonignt, and one of the segments he did was on Father Michael Pfleger’s billboard campaign in Chicago. Roland brought on a rapper trying to talk about how Father Pfleger’s billboards were offensive to him. It was just whack, because they rationally cannot explain why they should be allowed to poison our children as collateral damage on the way to shinning and grinning for their White suburban audience.

  12. Yes, I missed Martin tonight. I didn’t get home from work until a little after 7:00. The kids were watching Ice Age, and I just didn’t have the energy to go upstairs when I first got home. (smile)

    Yes, I hate that I’m starting to sound like an old lady too. LOL But if sounding old is having wisdom to see through the crap, then I can deal with sounding old.

    No, I didn’t read the article about Radio One. Do you have a link to it? If not, I’ll search for it.

  13. I didn’t watch the BET awards. But it was on in my house (sisters), so I got a chance to catch a few tid bits. It was a sickening show as we expect.

    Thankfully, I got a chance to Public Enemy perform. They were great! However, it’s hard for me to enjoy them because of Flav. I hate what he and Viacom did to black women n the last couple of years. But that’s another issue.

    You should have seen BET’s line up for summer shows. While we’re sitting up watching the presidential forum, our people are watching BET. What are we going to do?

    I’m sorry if I sound more negative than usual.

  14. “I wish we would stop depending on white folks/politicians to fix our problems. It is time for us to take personal responsibilities for ourselves, our families, our schools, and our communities.”

    While there’s more than a kernel of truth to this…I ask you to just think about the ONE TRILLION dollars that our government is pissing away on Iraq and the trillions more of welfare for rich people they dole out. While we get penny pinching and “pull up your bootstraps” speeches. And no one on the political radar these days is even willing to speak on this.

  15. My two cents, because I was there in person:

    Hillary won this debate, although give a few props to Gravel, because he kept calling the other candidates on their BS.

    Kucinich got in a few good pops as well.

    Biden needs to be on a leash – did y’all see Sharpton’s face when Biden blurted out Obama had been tested for HIV? Made that brotha sound like he was stepping out on Michelle, LOL.

    Richardson, Edwards and Dodd – same ol’, same ol. Nothing to see, move along…

    Would have loved to see Obama actually mix it up on the issue of criminal justice and mass incarceration. The only ones with comprehensive answers were Clinton, Kucinich and Edwards, because they specifically spoke to the need to eliminate the mandatory minimum sentencing; Edwards took it a little further and discussed the need to rehab first time offenders for non-violent crimes. All Obama did was spew rhetoric (justice or “just us”) and talked about the legislation he passed as a State Senator. Cool, now let’s talk about what legislation he’s drafted as a UNITED STATES SENATOR, please.

    We didn’t get that.

    Those who talked about legislation need to be checked on just what that “Legislation” really is. Cause the Borg Queen talked about getting rid of laws that were enacted on her husband’s watch, especially on trade legislation.

    Most of the CBC were in attendance – not seen: Dollar Bill Jefferson. Can you imagine what that would have been like if they hadn’t showed up, save for Maxine Waters?

    I’m kinda tired, but look for the full article in Black Agenda Report next Wednesday. But I thought I’d give you a sketch of the highlights.

  16. cb

    Wasn’t there – only watched it…BUT
    While I loved Hil’s response -can’t call it an answer because she didn’t say how she would PREVENT Hiv/AIDS!!!! – from by couch I thought Obama and Edwards gave the most coherent and cohesive performance…and O actually “won” this forum. The questions were totally unfair…how can anyone answer the question about income disparity and education in ONE MINUTE???
    That said, DK had the answers that most appealed to me; unfortunately, I know none of his proposals (as they are currently stated) have a chance of succeeding.

  17. Olivia

    Well the NEW AIDS cases must put into perspective…It does not tell us how many cases in ALL nor does it tell us out of the total population…Maybe black teens get tested more does not mean they have the Highest rate of HIV..

  18. yogo

    While I loved Hil’s response -can’t call it an answer because she didn’t say how she would PREVENT Hiv/AIDS!!!!

    The president can’t stop AIDS from spreading. Get tested, wrap it up, shut it down if need be. That’s all.

  19. yogo

    Oops, the president can’t “prevent” AIDS either. Short of telling people to stop shooting drugs and stop screwing, that is.

  20. dblhelix

    One thing I loved about the comment is that it came right after Tavis told Dodd he’d have an hour if he were Paris. Talk about set-up, spike …

    Really, what a president can do is make it a priority issue in terms of funding for prevention, just for starters — talking the simple stuff here.

    Las year, an article popped up in the WP about the CVS chain (drug store) putting condoms under lock and key in NE & PG stores due to chronic shoplifting.

    Some folks disagreed and tried calling out the chain, but my position is that we’re sunk once we start depending on the charity of commercial entities (compassionate conservatism in action). They are running a business. Free condom distribution comes under federal Title X. Listen, if they’re getting shoplifted in the stores, this means that it isn’t the lectures and finger-wagging that’s needed as much as a public health initiative to ensure ready access.

    Compare this to how state legislators are reacting over Gardasil. Do we want public health issues prioritized according to industry lobbyists?

  21. yogo

    We had the same thing around here. People were stealing condoms. That is interesting for two reasons:

    1) condoms are expensive.
    2) people want to have sex and prevent pregnancy and/or disease.

  22. Ellen Hamm

    I watched the debate and thought that it was a terrible forum for such critical issues as prison diversion of drug addicts, racial disparity of job and educational opportunities and the HIV/AIDS crisis in the African-American community. I really didn’t learn one thing about what the candidates would do about them: disgraceful. Highlights of disgracefulness:

    A) Gravel saying that if we didnt go to war we could solve all our problems. No shit, sherlock!

    B. Everything Dennis K said. Dennis is a politician who thinks that being POTUS is the same as King of the World and has no clue about negotiating with others in a democracy. Hey, Dennis go back to Politics 101, learn that others don’t want to do what you want them to do. In fact, they think that GWB is the greatest thing since sliced bread. How are you going to convince them otherwise?

    C. Barack Obama (I love him!) was good, but I think he has to remember he is on TV. We don’t need to hear his ‘my father was from Africa my mother from Kansas’, we get it. Time to move on, start showing how truly smart you are off the cuff (my favorite, throw away line of his is: ‘I hate cruelty to people’.

    D. Hillary Clinton is the worst, the absolute worst. She sounds as uninformed as Rudy when she makes statements about “No fly zones” in Darfur. Jesus. When are our politicians going to stop using the U.S. millitary against muslims, even if it is to “liberate” them. (Sudanese Muslims v. Darfur Muslims, Sunni Muslims v. Shia Muslims) We need to TALK AND NEGOTIATE with the muslim world before we turn the lot of thems into islamofacist working for Bin Laden. Bush & the Republicans, Hillary & Rudy, are the best things to happen to OBL since 9/11.

  23. dblhelix

    Ellen –

    Biden’s proposal to establish a no-fly zone was co-sponsored by Clinton, Dodd, Obama, Feingold, Durbin, Boxer, others.

    I agree that the debate was superficial, generally speaking.

  24. Ellen Hamm

    dblhelix, a no fly zone is probably a good idea and may be needed to stop the killing in Darfur, but the millitary rules of engagement are probably more complicated than a threat to shoot Sudanese planes out of the sky. We had a no fly zone in Iraq for 10 years to stop Saddam’s aggression, and we hardly shot down a plane. Hillary uses millitary jingoisms to seem tough.

    Hillary’s flag-waving, boosterisms sound, to me, as uninformed as Rudy’s about the CONSEQUENCES of military action but the MSM rewards her for having ‘balls’. Disgraceful.

  25. dblhelix

    Ellen: MSM rewards her for having ‘balls’. Disgraceful.

    Making the underlying threat explicit is what that was all about, yes.

  26. Ogre Mage

    Poor Bill Richardson … he’s a smart man, but seems unable to string a concise, coherent sentence together. His media skills are terrible.

  27. Rick

    Angie: I thought of you when I read this article. I relate to all the frustrations you so eloquently expressed above…Rick

    June 30, 2007
    Op-Ed Columnist
    When Is Enough Enough?
    Chances are you didn’t hear it, but on Thursday night Senator Hillary Clinton said, “If H.I.V./AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country.”

    Her comment came on the same day that a malevolent majority on the U.S. Supreme Court threw a brick through the window of voluntary school integration efforts.

    There comes a time when people are supposed to get angry. The rights and interests of black people in the U.S. have been under assault for the longest time, and in the absence of an effective counterforce, that assault has only grown more brutal.

    Have you looked at the public schools lately? Have you looked at the prisons? Have you looked at the legions of unemployed blacks roaming the neighborhoods of big cities across the country? These jobless African-Americans, so many of them men, are so marginal in the view of the wider society, so insignificant, so invisible, they aren’t even counted in the government’s official jobless statistics.

    And now this new majority on the Supreme Court seems committed to a legal trajectory that would hurl blacks back to the bad old days of the Jim Crow era.

    Where’s the outcry? Where’s the line in the sand that the prejudiced portion of the population is not allowed to cross?

    Mrs. Clinton’s comment was made at a forum of Democratic presidential candidates at Howard University that was put together by Tavis Smiley, the radio and television personality, and broadcast nationally by PBS. The idea was to focus on issues of particular concern to African-Americans.

    It’s discouraging that some of the biggest issues confronting blacks — the spread of AIDS, chronic joblessness and racial discrimination, for example — are not considered mainstream issues.

    Senator John Edwards offered a disturbingly bleak but accurate picture of the lives of many young blacks: “When you have young African-American men who are completely convinced that they’re either going to die or go to prison and see absolutely no hope in their lives; when they live in an environment where the people around them don’t earn a decent wage; when they go to schools that are second-class schools compared to the wealthy suburban areas — they don’t see anything getting better.”

    The difficult lives and often tragic fates of such young men are not much on the minds of so-called mainstream Americans, or the political and corporate elites who run the country. More noise needs to be made. There’s something very wrong with a passive acceptance of the degraded state in which so many African-Americans continue to live.

    Mr. Smiley is also organizing a forum of Republican candidates to be held in September. I wholeheartedly applaud his efforts. But if black people were more angry, and if they could channel that anger into political activism — first and foremost by voting as though their lives and the lives of their children depended on it — there would not be a need to have separate political forums to address their concerns.

    If black people could find a way to come together in sky-high turnouts on Election Day, if they showed up at polling booths in numbers close to the maximum possible turnout, if they could set the example for all other Americans about the importance of exercising the franchise, the politicians would not dare to ignore their concerns.

    For black people, especially, the current composition of the Supreme Court should be the ultimate lesson in the importance of voting in a presidential election. No branch of the government has been more crucial than the judiciary in securing the rights and improving the lives of blacks over the past five or six decades.

    George W. Bush, in a little more than six years, has tilted the court so radically that it is now, like the administration itself, relentlessly hostile to the interests of black people. That never would have happened if blacks had managed significantly more muscular turnouts in the 2000 and 2004 elections. (The war in Iraq would not have happened, either.)

    There are, of course, many people, black and white, who are working on a vast array of important issues. But much, much more needs to be done. And blacks, in particular, need to intervene more directly in the public policy matters that concern them.

    In the 1960s, there were radicals running around screaming about black power. But the real power in this country has always been the power of the vote. Black Americans have not come close to maximizing that power.

    It’s not too late.

  28. yogo

    George W. Bush, in a little more than six years, has tilted the court so radically that it is now, like the administration itself, relentlessly hostile to the interests of black people. That never would have happened if blacks had managed significantly more muscular turnouts in the 2000 and 2004 elections. (The war in Iraq would not have happened, either.)

    I don’t think he should blame blacks for GW Bush. The war wasn’t our fault either.

  29. Thank you Rick for posting that article. Here are some of my favorite lines in the article.

    “There’s something very wrong with a passive acceptance of the degraded state in which so many African-Americans continue to live.”

    “”It’s discouraging that some of the biggest issues confronting blacks — the spread of AIDS, chronic joblessness and racial discrimination, for example — are not considered mainstream issues.”

    Every since I watched the forum, I’ve been a little disturbed. I actually wished I would have missed it. But truth is a medicine that may cause the heart to ache a little, but the heart needs it to get stronger. Sadly, the forum reminded me of two things: 1. We, as a people, are more messed up than we realize. 2. We can’t depend on “them” to help us get well.

    Ernesto responded to my comment above. And although I somewhat agree with him, I still take the position that we, African Americans, must take action, take personal responsibility, and take charge of our destinies. Get the government support. But use that support to better yourself.

    I went to college on the government’s dime. But the point is that I used the government’s money to go to college. I didn’t use it to lie on my a** all day doing nothing but blaming the man.

    I live in a world that is completely unfair and merciless to disabled folks. But I can’t sit up and wait for people to decide to not be prejudice and discriminate. I got to go out there and make the best of this thing, no matter how much work I got to put in it.

    That’s what we’re going to have to do as a people. We have got to realize that our faith, culture, health, and futures are under attack. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get moving, working, and fighting. There are some things that we are going to have to do from within. Really, that’s how we got where we are today. Our forefathers busted their behinds to make sure that they were improving their lives and their children, grandchildren, and offspring that they would never see. It’s time to be thinking about changing the world today and the future. We don’t need to abandone that type of thinking.

    Sorry for the long post. (smile) Needed to get that out of my heart.

  30. “But use that support to better yourself.”

    No doubt, Angie, no doubt!

    I did 3 years and 3 months in Uncle Sam’s army and came away with a grand total of 8,100 bucks from the VEAP program for a four year degree. While this was a pittance, I also fully took advantage of the CLEP test program the military provided for FREE. I accumulated 33 credits, all of which transferred to my degree program, saving me thousands of dollars and many hours of time. The sad part was that I know of very, very few others that took advantage of this opportunity. Even those hellbent on getting out after their time was up were not willing to do much to prepare themselves for the outside world.

    BTW…your efforts at raising awareness to health issues is timely and important. We haver to make the effort to take better care of ourselves and cut down/eliminate the poisons we ingest on a daily basis. At least twice a week (weather and traffic permitting) I try to ride my bike to work. I still ain’t about to give up my BBQing on weekends tradition just yet though. 😉

  31. Where is the outcry from African American leaders for Biden to apolgize for his latest racial insult. “White males must educate black men to use condoms and white females must educate black women to understand it is okay to say no.
    How about having a justice and educational system that allow our youth to learn and florish? African American males across this country are not making it through high school but are instead tossed into prison. They are tossed out of the learning process long before high school.
    Racial profiling is not just policemen stopping young black drivers. It begins in our schools, public and provate.It is the bias discipline practices and lack of academic expectations that lead to failure early for young black men.
    Too many of them fail to graduate from high school and find themselves in juvenile hall and prison. These same young men marry young women who end up with this deadly disease. The disease begins each time they are not educated in the classroom. Instead large numbers of black male children are suspended, placed in special ed programs and expelled. Finally they end up in jail. Then racial profiling leads to large numbers of innocent young black men tossed in with the others. Their precieve guilt comes from driving or walking while black. Some of the youth who rot in our juvenile homes, jails and prisons are innocent but once placed into the system they are exposed to conditions that will lead to HIV exposure.
    I wish Biden had stuck with a simple answer about education. I want to hear Al Sharpton’s reaction not just see it.

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