Vineyard Film Festival: Black Film In The Age Of Obama

I have been asked to moderate the annual Filmmakers’ Panel (sponsored this year by Prudential) at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, on the afternoon of Saturday, August 8, at the Katherine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven. For further details, please see:

The title of the panel is “Black Film In The Age Of Obama”


Dog Days Ahead: NFL Reinstates Michael Vick

On a conditional basis, the man who followed in the footsteps of Steve McNair is back:

He’ll be about as popular in NFL stadiums as President Obama at a Palin rally. Some of the signs and protests (not to mention talk show calls and message board rants) will be so ugly, as to move the nation to yet another dialogue about race.

Beer at the White House, anyone?


The Gates Case Asks- What Is Disorderly Conduct?

Is it okay for a police officer to arrest someone for smarting off at them?,8599,1912777,00.html

As attorney Sophia A. Nelson of says, it is troubling that Sergeant Crowley’s police report states he was all set to let Professor Gates go, until he was accused of racism and told he was “…messing with the wrong person…”


Gates-Crowley: Why The President Was Right To Speak Out’s Sophia Nelson’s take:

I have made my own feelings regarding the president’s outspokenness known in posts below. One thing the Gates arrest has done is brought a great deal of attention to (his baby) and its staff and contributors, who have been all over CNN and MSNBC, or quoted there. Ms. Nelson was just on MSNBC with Saturday anchor Alex Witt.


GatesGate: Do White People Ever Take One For The Team?

Of all the things that strike me about the prisms (Rodney King, O.J., Michael Vick, Sarah Palin rallies, and “Skip” Gates’ arrest) through which we Americans view and discuss race, one more hit me hard today. Although the Gates-Crowley encounter may not be exemplary of profiling or bigotry, there are instances in everyday American life, whether on a subway, in a classroom or courtroom, or in a high end store, when Blacks represent their entire race to a white person or persons. There are also plenty of cases where an innocent, individual Black, represents, to a white person (sales clerk, cop, banker), the most nefarious element of Black culture. Call it guilt by pigment association. Some Black person minding his or her business gets pulled over, followed, ignored service, or someone doesn’t sit next to them on the train because of the stereotype of an unsafe, poor, or unsanitary similarly-complexioned person. As a minority group, we learn to live with the fact we carry the burden of the Black criminal, or gangbanger, everywhere we go. We could have a business suit on and be driving through Bel Air or Hilton Head, we still know there are people who just don’t meet or know a broad enough representation of Black folk not to think the worst. But Gategate convinces me that most white Americans are far less willing (or as often asked) to assume and symbolize the worst representation of their number. I say that because not only are white people very defensive when Black people cite race as a factor in an incident, and quick to separate themselves from the bigots (read “worst element”), but Sergeant Crowley doesn’t want to be lumped into a group with all white people. He wishes to be recognized as an indidivual, one who gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dying (Black) Reggie Lewis, and was hand-picked by a Black police official to teach a diversity training course in a city north of Boston.

Don’t stereotype me, whites are saying when they cry “I’m not a racist”. What makes them feel Blacks feel any less stereotyped or profiled when a police officer or store clerk treats us differently than everyone else who passes their way? Why do we have to take one for the team, if no one else is willing to do so?

That is why Black people “play the race card”.


The Gates Case: Does President Obama Have The Right to Comment?

Much of the controversy swelling around the recent arrest of Harvard Professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates centers on whether President Obama spoke out of turn about the incident during a press conference earlier this week.

Many feel that since the president didn’t have all the facts concerning the arrest, and was not there, he should not have insisted Sergeant Crowley behaved “…stupidly…”. I couldn’t ¬†disagree more. The president is uniquely qualified to weigh in on this matter. He admitted an ignorance of the specifics, cited the larger issue of historic police abuse of Black and Latino Americans, and felt the situation could have been handled without handcuffs (arrest). Who died and made President Obama the arbiter of all things racial (and not)? The president is overqualified here, and certainly more than millions of others who have come down strong on either “side” of l’affaire Gates. He teaches constitutional law. He lobbied for legislation against racial profiling in Illinois. He is a Black man. He is a white man. And he lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts while attending Harvard Law School.

Whether he was actually on the scene or not, if President Obama feels no crime was committed in the occurence, who better to comment on it than he?


Who Is Professor Henry Louis Gates?

With his home arrest, the “other” American has been introduced to Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr.:

Interestingly, arresting officer Sergeant Crowley taught diversity training to members of the Lowell, Massachusetts police department, and administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (CPR) to dying Boston Celtic star Reggie Lewis.


Cambridge Police: President Obama Should Apologize

Boston and Cambridge area police organizations and unions call on President Obama, Governor Deval Patrick, and Cambridge Mayor Simmons to apologize:

The president is doing so, to some extent, at this writing. The defense of Sergeant Crowley, and backlash about President Obama opining on it, is valid, but degrees of it dismiss the fact that Blacks thrust into similar confrontations or police calls are nervous and fearful because of the history, even recent (the Cincinnati “riots”, the Sean Bell murder, the killing of an off-duty Black cop in Oakland since Inauguration Day), concerning them. Any cry that Crowley was merely doing his job, and that Professor Gates should be happy that vigilance was exercised, diminishes the fact that even this year, Black men have died in incidents which contribute to the trepidation of Dr. Gates and others.


Yukon’s Great River Journeys: Travel Educator Bob Fisher Pans for Gold

Travel Educator Bob Fisher discusses the lessons of The Yukon with an enthusiastic German guide:

Great River Journey does spectacular tours under the auspices of Horizon & Co.- if you ever have the means and opportunity to take their tour of Lake Laberge, you will be the happier for it (down to the world class chef and the rustic luxury of the cabins).

For more information on The Travel Educators, please see: