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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


You don't matter

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Black Conservative Talking Heads: 'Why They Fail'
by niteskolar
Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 02:55:17 PM PST

African American conservatives have and continue to be ineffective in reaching the African American electorate for a number of reasons. Foremost, they can be found extoling ideas within the conservative canon concerning personal responsibility, a color blind society and equal opportunity with no regard for the actual realities of the landscape.

Some Black Conservative Talking Heads (BCTHs) such as Armstrong Williams, Larry Elder or Ward Connerly speak with such disdain about a certain segment of the African American populace or the entire African American populace without reference to themselves, without identifying with being African American or doing so tangentially such that the African American electorate defensively, after consideration and even instinctively disregard their positions and dialogue.

Black Conservative Talking Heads (BCTHs) sound like any other conservative. That being said, the African American electorate is heterogeneous and unique which renders the conservative ideology with regard to the African American community, the Pick Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps AddressTM wholly ineffectual and unproductive. When Tucker Carlson disingenuously argues that the Black Caucus is racist for not allowing the inclusion of a white member, he is mimicking the conservative radio talking heads and others employed to continue racist, zenophobic, treasonous, Nancy Pelosi is the antichrist dialogue that is the present staple propping President Uniter at 30%. When BCTHs come along with the same mimicry, it is no wonder that they are not regarded by the African American electorate.

When BCTHs address the ills of the African American community, they do so without addressing relevant causative factors as well as failing to propose solutions that factor in these extant, critical points. We refer to this as the Cosby Rant. It is intrinsic to the African American community as a whole that discussion of some of our poor, underperforming schools in our neighborhoods in terms of giving vouchers so that a few escape these schools instead of addressing the schools inadequacies is not supportive of the community. Any African American can see that affirmative action sometimes benefits affluent African Americans and that financial factors may need to be a new consideration. It is disingenuous to suggest that Black folk won't have a sense of pride because they went to school by affirmative action unless you give that student a 4.0 and not make him go to any classes.

BCTHs reality blindness and refusal to address the particular ills of the African American community furthers the cause of the progressive community by pushing the African American community away from them and toward us. Any conservative that cannot understand the advantage that my high school best friend, Murray, whose grandfather attended Vanderbilt while my Big Daddy didn't finish sixth grade, whose father attended Vanderbilt and got help from his Dad to get a small business loan when my father went to the Air Force to go to college while Murray went to Vanderbilt as a legacy and was employed by a fraternity brother of his father upon exiting college while I exited and sought employment(not to say that I am doing bad, I love who and where I am) does not want to see reality and will remain hopelessly lost. Many BCTHs fall in that category.

Ultimately BCTHs will continue to fail to bring the African American electorate to the Republican Party. The appeal for most of the minute African American conservative electorate is a religious one, values issues of abortion and gay rights. As more and more clergy and religious organizations and national bodies address the message of Jesus Christ and the conservative disregard of the poor of which Jesus championed as well as the selfish, politically motivated and tunnel visioned co-opting of religion by the Right, the "values" appeal will continue to wane in this electorate.

The Democratic Party needs to enlist vibrant, young and savvy African Americans to represent the party and its ideals to bring a new wave of voters to the 2008 election. We need individuals that can "take it to the streets", speak the vernacular and inform the African American youth, underrepresented and disadvantaged that the ideals of the party are the ideals of their families and the communities. We need to communicate that although they may feel a certain powerlessness insofar as a failed or poor educational opportunity (theirs, the system's or both), their failure to recognize their responsibility and poor choices already made and the lack of jobs and opportunities in the immediate and surrounding community, that if they want to begin to make a small difference toward their lives and their futures, register to vote and here is the registration form right here. The Democratic Party shoud employ a street brigade similar to the advance teams used to promote the release of rap albums or concert tours. The youth I engage are eager to skeptically ask a barrage of questions and listen; those who aren't felons and can register to vote are often surprised the process is so simple.

In the near future, the African American scholarly and engaged leadership, brothers like Michael Eric Dyson and Cornel West will have to engage the community on a wide scale as to the co-opting of African American megachurches by the Republican Party by those that receive faith based initiatives, misrepresent the realities of our community and or fail to address the unattended problems. This is not to say that those African American church clergy/leaders are disingenuous solely because they are Republican, receive faith based initiatives or champion the conservative ideal. Simply, there are those who have been co-opted just as there was Republicans asking parishioners to identify fellow church members and turn in church rolls to Republican party workers.

Finally, many refer to BCTHs as Uncle Toms or sellouts, that they have betrayed their community for power, career or financial advancement. I do not engage in such rhetoric finding it counterproductive and leading to the sidetracking of the conversation. Suffice it to say that if you are a member of the African American community and you are not addressing the causation of the ills of my community, then you do not represent my community. Leaders represent the community. They are informed, they walk among us and they reflect the anguish, the helplessness and the hope, the problems and the multitude of possibilities and solutions.

We need plain and honest discussion about Black folk. A caller to the C-Span morning show Washington Journal said "Blacks won't vote for Barack Obama." This wasn't the first time I had heard the idea that some African Americans have a self hate and distrust still embedded from a previous era. These are the conversations that must occur in earnest as we move toward casting the most important vote of my lifetime, the 2008 presidential race (congressional as well). A sneeze in the wrong direction and we will have engaged with Iran as the deluded continue to swill the kool-aid as their king, Vice President Cheney declares in interview after interview the fantasy of our herculean progress and sidesteps what he finds to be minutiae, the Iraq civil war a teensy bit of sectarian violence in the capital.

Every vote counts and it is the duty of African American Democrats to put to rest the idea of the neglect of the African American electorate by the Democratic National Party. In comparison with the neglect by the Republican Party of African Americans, the poor, middle America and everybody else except their corporate amours, we are talking pebbles to planets. The BCTHs are doing their part to insult the community, pitch the same BootstrapTM rhetoric, getting paid to champion the administration a la Armstrong Williams and sit up front at the Republican National Convention. If they keep this up and we do our part, the Democratic nominee may get 100% of the African American electorate votes cast and that electorate may swell in numbers as well.

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