I'm in Los Angeles today to blog the State of the Black Union conference. I'll be posting throughout the day with observations about event. Note: All times are Pacific Standard.
10:55 AM Q & A session: Morial gives "action items" for making sure that the stimulus money gets to the neighborhoods. He urges everyone to ask their elected officials to publicly state their plans for spending the stimulus money. Jackson calls for a squatters movement on foreclosed homes.
10:45 AM Michael Eric Dyson bypasses Raymond Brown's question about how we should measure Obama at the end of his first term to sermonize on other things.
10:29 AM Les Brown: "Recession, restores, resourcefulness." He emphasized the importance of studying success.
10:15 AM Michelle Singletary begins her remarks with a tribute to Jesse Jackson and her husband.
10:02 AM Iyanla Vanzant gave a personal twist to this notion of the tough time people are going through. She lost her house and two major contracts that left her unable to pay her bills, including health insurance. She emphasized personal accountability and gratitude for her life and used that to pull out of her troubles. She's a beast. I love her honesty and willingness to share her story.
9:38 AM Peter Harvey, former New Jersey Attorney General, lays out the fact that aggressive prosecution alone never eradicates social ills -- overemphasis on prosecution and incarceration will lead to greater destruction in Black communities. Harvey offers a clear, intelligent plan for dealing with social problems. He emphasized the importance of mentoring programs as a mechanism for addressing gangs and other problems. No bluster. Just real solutions.
9:21 AM Q. to Professors Ogletree and Rose regarding the negative narrative regarding Black youth. Tree identifies the importance of voting as a mechanism for changing the narrative. Black youth turned out for the November 2008 election and made change in many states in which Blacks have generally not been able to take the reins of power. Rose cites the role of commercial hip-hop as a driver of racial stereotypes. It's a particularly problem given that 70% of those that buy commercial hip-hop are not African American.
9:11 AM Jesse Jackson speaks to the governors around the country who are threatening to not take stimulus from the government. He believes that Bobby Jindal and others are posturing for political purposes. I've written about that. Jesse also argues in favor of greater expenditures for student grants (not loans).
9:03 AM Marc Morial lays out how the stimulus package provides funds for important initiatives that could have a positive impact on Black communities. He commends the Congressional Black Caucus for their work to make sure that money that was originally cut from the stimulus was restored. He emphasizes the need to hold local officials accountable to make sure the money gets into Black neighborhoods.
8:52 AM Maxine Waters takes out a stick and beats the banks on sub-prime mortgages when asked about the Troubled Asset Recovery Program (TARP). She goes after Wells Fargo, a sponsor of the SOBU, for their unwillingness to re-do loans. A WF Executive Vice President told a gathering last night that their bank didn't do sub-primes. Either Waters or the WF rep got it wrong. The first two rows of people behind me include many WF staffers, virtually all of whom cringed and moaned when Maxine went off.
8:45 AM Michael Eric Dyson gets the first question and it is on this notion of "post-racial" America in the wake of Barack Obama's election as President. He associates "post-racial" with "post-gender" as lens put upon how we view race and gender.
8:40 AM Raymond Brown brings the heat in his introductory statements. He associates Obama's election as striking a blow against White supremacy. He further puts the beat down on this notion of a "post-racial" America. I've written about this before. Put me on the list with Brown and others who think "post-racial" is real. It isn't. In fact, it's bullshit.
8:33 AM Tavis introduces Tom Joyner, who been with SOBU from the outset. Joyner introduces the panelists: Maxine Waters, Charles Ogletree, Stephanie Robinson, Peter Harvey, Michelle Singletary, Marc Morial, Michael Eric Dyson (flashing hand signs!), Iyanla Vanzant, Les Brown, Jesse Jackson, Tricia Rose, and moderator Raymond Brown.
8:20 AM Tavis takes the audience through Accountable explaining its layout, which includes solutions for particular issues. He lists President Obama's campaign promises and how he is living up to them in office. The book includes similar lists for Congress, governors, legislators, corporations, community leaders, and individuals. At the end of the book is an "accountability check list" which allows us all to identify the extent to which elected officials are on their jobs.
8:13 AM Tavis discusses the Covenant with Black America, the Covenant in Action, and Accountable: Making America as Good as its Promise, and how it prepares an action plan for ensuring that the president, Congress, and other elected officials live up to their political promises.
8:08 AM Tavis introduces a video from President Obama who brings greetings from the White House. Obama lays out some of the policy changes he will lay out with is domestic economic agenda. Toward the end of his statement, he notes that the African American unemployment is five points higher than that of the rest of the country. I was hoping he would encourage the audience to keep him accountable for what he's doing as president. He didn't.