Michael Fauntroy Discusses Black History Month
Here are two clips from a recent roundtable discussion I participated in on Fox 5 Morning News in Washington, DC. I was pleased to be on with Dr. Edna Medford, history professor at Howard University, Kinshasha Conwill of the Smithsonian Institution, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of DC.
Here is part two of the discussion:
New Audio: Michael Fauntroy and Ron Christie Discuss Obama Budget Proposal
Here is the clip of a discussion I participated in on the Thursday, February 17, 2011 edition of NPR's "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin. I, along with Republican strategist Ron Christie, discuss President Obama's FY 2012 budget proposal. While I am concerned about the cuts in programs I think need more support than they already get, I understand that this is just the first step in the budget battle and I'm hopeful that fewer reductions will be targeted at the poor and working class people.
You Can Now See "The Forum with Michael Fauntroy"
"The Forum with Michael Fauntroy" is now on the air! I'm really excited about the show, a 30 minute one-on-one interview with newsmakers, authors, and others and hope you'll check it out when you get a moment. So far, I've interviewed former member of Congress Walter E. Fauntroy, TransAfrica Forum President Nicole Lee, professor and author James Pfiffner, professor and author Susan Tolchin, and ACLU of the National Capital Area Executive Director Johnny Barnes.
I also hope you'll be sure to tell a friend about "The Forum." The show can be seen online at GMU-TV at the following times:
Sundays at 8:30 AM
Mondays at 7:00 PM
Wednesdays at 8:30 PM
Thursdays 2:30 PM
Fridays at 7:30 AM
Saturdays at 8:30 AM
You can also catch the show on the following Northern Virginia cable systems:
Arlington County Comcast Communications, Channel 69
Alexandria Comcast Communications, Channel 73
GMU Fairfax Campus Campus, Cable 18
Fairfax County Cox Communications, Channel 18
Reston Comcast Communications, Channel 18
Northern Virginia Region Verizon FIOS, Channel 18
Northern VA/Washington DC/MD The Capitol Connection, Channel 9
Eastern Prince William County Comcast Communications, Channel 99
Western Prince William County Comcast Communications, Channel 99
Loudon County Comcast Communications, Channel 99
New Audio: Fauntroy Discusses President Reagan's Legacy on NPR's "Tell Me More"
Here is the link to my discussion (with former Reagan appointee Linda Chavez) on NPR's "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin. We discussed Reagan as we come to his 100th birthday and in the wake of Michael Reagan's column "Ronald Reagan -- Our First Black President?"
Teaching Black History: A Precious Legacy Lost?
It’s Black History Month, a time for all people to pause and celebrate the contributions that African Americans have made to the nation and the world. These contributions, big and small, have helped make the America in which Blacks now live the world’s most important country and have also created a multi-century list of accomplishments of which all African Americans, young and old, rich and poor, can be proud.
But while I think it’s a time to celebrate Black culture, I can’t help but wonder what needs to be done to build on past gains to ensure future success. I also wonder if our young people, who are increasing distanced by time from the Civil Rights Movement, really appreciate that which has been given to them by the civil rights generation. The change in America’s racial status quo that opened previously locked doors to them was won with the blood, sweat, and tears of the civil rights generation. The fruit of their struggle is a precious legacy left to today’s teens and twenty-somethings. I fear that many of the post-civil rights era babies are disconnecting from that past.
I’m particularly worried about young Black people and whether they understand what the civil rights movement was about or if they are getting the cultural enrichment that they need in order to have a well-formed sense of self. The self-confidence that comes from understanding who one is and from where one comes can provide a wealth of protection from life’s cultural slings and arrows. If this sense of self and understanding of what Black people in America have overcome is fading, then what are we celebrating each February? Further, how do we keep traditions and history in the minds of our kids when the primary mechanism for transferring information from one generation to the next–family oral history–is less possible as the nuclear Black family has deteriorated to a point where more than 60 percent of Black children are born out of wedlock?
I think African Americans need a "right of passage" exercise–a cultural equivalent to Hebrew School, if you will–in which Black children learn all that they need to know about their heritage and the contributions made by their predecessors to the nation and world. This is needed because much of the nihilistic and dysfunctional behavior coming out of some of Black America is due to a poorly formed sense of self. It is needed as well because it is a mistake for African American parents to rely solely on schools to teach children about Black history (or any other non-white history for that matter). Formal education should be supplemented by home and other cultural institutions, and should not be seen as the only form of learning.
Given that school systems around the country are homogenizing history and seeking to blot out or overlook anything that reflects poorly on the idealized view of America, it is incumbent upon Black families to impart more, not less, Black history upon our children. Failing that, we can only expect more, not fewer problems in the Black community.
Follow Fauntroy on Facebook!
I just wanted to let you know that I also hang out at Facebook. Please visit and tell your friends about my fan page: Dr. Michael K. Fauntroy. Like the page, if you like!
Until next time . . .
Fauntroy on Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here is a clip from a piece I did with Shawn Yancy on the WTTG, the Fox affiliate in Washington, D.C., in which I discuss Martin Luther King, Jr. and the holiday in his honor.
Obama Treating Friends Like Enemies and Enemies Like Friends
A review of President Barack Obama and his White House's interaction with congressional Democrats and Republicans reveals a troubling narrative: On too many issues, the President and his staff treat friends like enemies and enemies like friends. This is troubling because, I believe, the overwhelming majority of congressional Republicans are enemies of this President. They are dedicated to his failure in office and no amount of bipartisanship or compromise on his part will ever change that reality. It will only embolden Republicans to demand more capitulation. They will oppose him no matter what and he should govern himself accordingly. Dealing with them is a waste of time. Instead, he is quick to anger with those who are with him more frequently (congressional Democrats) than his political enemies (congressional Republicans).
This was made plain by President Obama's comments following the announcement of a deal with congressional Republicans on Bush-era tax cuts. What began as a single issue matter - whether to extend those tax cuts - morphed into a fiscal relief gumbo that will add $700 billion to the national debt. Particularly galling is the estate tax capitulation. The agreement set an exemption of $5 million per individual and a maximum rate of 35 percent for two years. The estate tax, which was dormant this year, was going to return in 2011 with an exemption of $1 million and maximum rate of 55 percent. Other aspects of the deal include an extension of jobless benefits through 2011 and payroll tax cut by 2 percent for every American worker through the end of next year. Ultimately, all you need to know about the deal can be found in its supporters and critics. Very few Republicans are unhappy with this deal, despite its massive damage to the deficit/debt, while a critical mass of Democrats are trying to clean the residue out of their Christmas stockings from the lump of coal Obama gave them. Meanwhile, Republicans are working to undermine the healthcare reform he just signed into law and other presidential initiatives. And yet, he still deals with them as if they are really want to do the right thing. Give me a break.
George W. Bush, an incompetent President, never treated his base as contemptuously as Obama deals with liberals. Even when Bush angered them - No Child Left Behind and rampant federal spending, for examples - he worked hard to keep them in the fold. Not so Obama. He responded to the criticism launched from within Democratic ranks that he sold out his campaign promise to let the tax cuts lapse by dismissing his critics as sanctimonious and fixated on purist policymaking. This is an unproductive response is part of a trend. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs derided the "professional left." Former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel lashed out at some liberal groups as "f+@king retarded" for their plans to run ads against conservative Democrats opposed to the President's health care plan. These and other examples will likely be duly noted when the fundraising requests for the 2012 reelection campaign begin to hit the mailboxes of the sanctimonious professional left retards that elected Obama in the first place.
Worst of all in this may be his statement that he agreed to extend the tax cuts because the Republicans were holding the middle class tax cuts hostage to the high end. In effect, he gave the GOP a roadmap to rolling him - hold hostage something he wants until he agrees to give you what you want. It also appears that you won't have to hold the hostage very long before he gives in. How can he fight the Republicans tomorrow when he folded up his tent so quickly today?
The 2010 elections provided a much for the Republicans to celebrate and Democrats lament. However, there are some takeaways both parties need to keep in mind going forward to avoid a electoral disaster in 2012.
Off-year elections are all about the President. Democrats can cite all the reasons they want as to why they got punished at the ballot box. Some of the reasons – economy, history, and spending – certainly ring legitimate. However, history tells us that off-year elections are a referendum on the President. In all but one off-year election since 1946, the President’s party always loses seats in the House. The question of how many is directly linked to the President’s approval. According to Gallup, if the President’s approval is above 50 percent, the losses are limited to an average of 14 seats per election. If the approval number is below 50 percent, the losses grow to an average of 36 seats. President Barack Obama, saddled with an approval rating in the mid-40's, was the primary cause of the Democratic debacle. Takeaway: Dems need to buck up and accept the truth that Obama’s aloof style is a turn off and better communication and voter engagement is the only way to fix it.
A pox on both their houses. While some Republicans may claim the election is a mandate in support of their agenda, exit polls tell a different story. Fifty-two percent of polled voters have an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party. That’s hardly a surprise given their unified control of government and the current economic woes facing the country. However, 53 percent have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party. Congressional Republicans who think the outcome of this election is a mandate for their view of governance are overstating the case and run the risk of the kind of overreach some say the hurt the Democrats. Takeaway: The Republicans now have to put their collective hand on the steering wheel and they better be responsible with it.
Look for rematches in 2012. We now have a different electorate for off-year and presidential elections. Off-year electorates are older and whiter than those in presidential years. That tells me that Republican gains in 2010 could be reversed in 2012 if turnout demographically mirrors 2008, which featured a younger more racially diverse voter profile energized by a charismatic Black candidate. Given the well-documented racial/demographic changes facing the country, Republicans will be hard pressed to maintain the gains they just won. Meanwhile, Democrats that lost close contests in marginal districts may be willing to seek rematches in 2012 because the demography of their district may be more favorable than now. This, of course, assumes no major changes following redistricting. Indeed, the likely court challenges may force many states to keep their current boundaries for 2012. Takeaway: Republicans should not overreach and Democrats should not think all is lost.
Obama the triangulator. The President has a choice to make: Drop or de-emphasize his desire to win bipartisanship and govern with an eye toward energizing the Democratic base for 2012 or take a page from Bill Clinton’s book and triangulate his way to reelection even if it means coopting Republican ideas. If we know anything about Obama, it is that his personality will lead him to triangulate. He should hope for a useful foil on the other side and it seems likely that Speaker-elect Boehner will accommodate him. Takeaway: Obama may have to throw overboard some Democrats in 2012 to keep his job.
African American Republicans. One of the underplayed plot lines in this election was the so-called rise of African American Republicans. Forty-two African Americans ran for the Republican nomination for House seats; 14 won. Going into this election, three had legitimate chances to win and two – Tim Scott of South Carolina and Allen West of Florida – actually won. They are the first African Americans to serve in the House since J.C. Watts in 2003. GOP activists will try to suggest that they represent the vanguard of Black Republicanism and genuine competition for African American votes. Takeaway: While two is certainly an improvement on zero, there is no credible evidence that this is the start of a trend.
Michael K. Fauntroy is associate professor of public policy at George Mason University and author of Republicans and the Black Vote. He blogs at MichaelFauntroy.com.
A Disturbing Lack of Diversity on PBS News and Public Affairs Programs
Count me among the millions of people who value public broadcasting. I think it is a viable and necessary alternative to commercial broadcasting which, too often, waters down its ability to tell the truth for fear of running afoul of its corporate benefactors. However, a recent study conducted by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) leads me to wonder if I may be giving too much credit to the news and public affiars broadcasting offered by PBS. According to FAIR:
- The NewsHour's guestlist was 80 percent male and 82 percent white, with a pronounced tilt toward elites who rarely "go unheard," like current and former government and military officials, corporate representatives and journalists (74 percent). Since 2006, appearances by women of color actually decreased by a third, to only 4 percent of U.S. sources.
- Viewers were five times as likely to see guests representing corporations (10 percent v. 2 percent) than representatives of public interest groups who might counterweigh such moneyed interests--labor, consumer and environmental organizations.
While all this is disappointing, here's the stunner for me--
- The NewsHour, "public TV's nightly newscast," is actually privately owned. For-profit conglomerate Liberty Media has held a controlling stake in the NewsHour since 1994. The company is run by industry bigfoot John Malone, who has declared that "nobody wants to go out and invent something and invest hundreds of millions of dollars of risk capital for the public interest." Public dollars still support the NewsHour, and former PBS president Ervin Duggan declared the show "ours and ours alone," but Liberty CEO Greg Maffei refers to the program as "not our largest holding," but "one we're very proud of."
I know that qualified people exist who represent a wider swath of the American populace (I, if I may be so bold, am one of those people). So why does PBS do so poorly when I'm so sure their audience would not respond negatively to a more diverse pool of analysts, commentators, and subject matter?
Here is the link to FAIR's magazine Extra!, which details the disappointment.
What say you?
Tea Party Racism Confirmed
The NAACP caught some heat earlier this summer when it passed a resolution at its annual meeting calling on the Tea Party to turn its back on racism. This report, written by Devin Burghart, Leonard Zeskind, and the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, should end the debate about whether there are racist elements within the Tea Party. They document the extent to which the Tea Party movement includes, at its highest levels, people who have trafficked in racism.
Obama: The Very Model of a Modern U.S. President!
Here's a clip which spoofs President Obama's critics. Very funny.
Study: Foreclosure Crisis Disproportionately Injured Black Homeowners
African Americans have been disproportionately injured by the foreclosure crisis, according to a recently published study by Princeton University professors Jacob Rugh and Douglas Massey. Among lenders that went bankrupt in 2007, blacks were three times more likely than whites to receive subprime loans, according to a previous study that the authors cite in their report. Among lenders that did not go bankrupt, blacks were equally as likely as whites to receive "predatory" treatment.
This is in line with many other reports (and here and here) of the recent foreclosure crisis and how jurisdicitons with large Black populations -- such as Prince George's County, Maryland and Atlanta -- are disproportionately impacted.
Michael Fauntroy Quoted in New York Times Magazine
Here is a link to a New York Times Magazine article written by Judith Warner on the impact on education reform in Washington, DC now that Adrian Fenty lost his reelection bid. Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of public schools in the District, is the focus of the piece. I'm quoted in the article.
MichaelFauntroy.com: The Widget
Be sure to sign up for the MichaelFauntroy.com widget. You can get immediate access to new posts as they are added. Just click here.
Teachers as Collateral DamageDiane Ravitch is one of the most respected scholars in America on education. She has hit on something in her Daily Beast commentary that I think warrants great consideration.
An unfortunate narrative has been allowed to fester in the public education reform debate. It goes something like this: Our kids aren't learning because they have bad teachers. This is problematic on a number of levels and simply feeds the beast that education reformers have created: Blow up the system and start over with better teachers. The problem with that, of course, is that it overlooks the reality that there are numerous variables involved in student performance, with quality teaching being just one. But the education reform narrative is focused almost exclusively on teaching, so family reform, infrastructure, and other resource issues fall by the wayside.
I'm with Ravitch: Stop trashing teachers!
Haley Barbour Rewrites GOP Racial History
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is mentioned among those serious candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Barbour is the consumate insider, having served in previous Republican presidential administrations and as chairman of the Republican National Committee. He's smart, savvy, and ambitious. That's why his recent attempt to rewrite the racial history of the Republican Party are particularly dangerous. He's purposely trying to position the Party as less racist that it has been in recent decades. If he can do that, then his position as governor of one of the most racist states in the Union won't be as much a detriment to his candidacy.
Political Correction has more on the story, including this Barbour quote:
BARBOUR: There's no question that in the fifties and probably the sixties there was some of that. At the same time, the people who led the change of parties in the South, just as I mentioned earlier, was my generation. My generation who went to integrated schools — I went to integrated college, um, never thought twice about it. And it was the old Democrats who had fought for segregation so hard. By my time, people realized that was the past, it was indefensible, it wasn't gonna be that way any more. So the people who really changed the South from Democrat to Republican was a different generation from those who fought integration. In fact, I can never forget — I mentioned we elected these two young congressman. We were just itching to get a senator, and one of my friend said, "Haley, we're just a few funerals away." You had some of the old crowd that just wasn't going to give up on the Democratic Party because it was the party of the civil war, segregation.
We all must pay close attention to the clear attempt by Barbour, among others, to rewrite America's racial history. We must also call BS on those who do. The problem, however, is that our populace is so willing to accept whatever is presented to it, Barbour is likely to ring true to some people.
A Christian Caliphate?
Here is a Mother Jones article that should raise your eyebrows. The piece explores the C Street Family, a group of Christian conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the article,
That agenda isn't about converting the masses. The Family's goal, according to one internal document, is to create a "hidden structure" of "national and international world leaders bound together relationally by a mutual love for God and the family." In researching two books on the Family and C Street, I sought to uncover the workings of this hidden structure. I reviewed the Family's files (592 boxes of documents stored at the Billy Graham Center Archives) and conducted hundreds of interviews. I found that as far as the Family's "key men" are concerned, the separation between church and state doesn't extend overseas, and no dictator is too heinous to be embraced as a brother.
This sounds a lot like the creation of a Christian Caliphate.
U.S. Income Gap Grows
Here is an Associated Press piece on the growing income gap in the United States. According to the piece, which is based on newly released Census Bureau data, found that the "wealthiest 10 percent of Americans -- those making more than $138,000 each year -- earned 11.4 times the roughly $12,000 made by those living near or below the poverty line in 2008."
This growing gap feeds the economic insecurity felt by millions of Americans. Economic insecurity helps to feed the voter anger that is fueling is likely to sweep Democrats from control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Of course, the gaps has been intensified by Republican policies during the Bush years that cut taxes on the rich while, at the same time, pushing down wages for everyone else. The irony is that many of the same voters who were damaged by Republican policies will vote for GOP candidates who embrace those same policies. Talk about voting against one's interests!!
"Pledge to America" Literally Ignores Black People
Congressional Republicans have just introduced their "Pledge to America," their attempt to remind voters of their 1994 "Contract with America." It hits on all their talking point greatest hits and is familiar reading for anyone who has paid any attention to the Grand Old Party during the last 30 years. It familiar for another reason as well -- it's utter failure to include African Americans and other minorities in its policy plans. As The Grio points out, Black people are invisible to the GOP. Richard Trumka also has an interesting take on the "Pledge."