Donald Sterling is Low Hanging Fruit (And V. Stiviano is a Gold Digging Public Servant)

The only people surprised by the audio recording of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his convoluted racism are those who have no idea who he is or what he is about. He is a well-documented and repugnant racist who for decades used his wealth to and privilege to negatively impact the lives of countless Black and Brown people for his own enrichment. He is a disgrace and has long deserved the scorn and ridicule that has now befallen him. But there should be no celebrating at his loss. Sterling is low hanging fruit in a larger, more significant reality: There likely are leaders in all fields of human endeavor who share his beliefs about minorities; it’s not much of a stretch to believe he has similarly low views of women. And the control the Donald Sterlings of the world have control over wide swaths of jobs, housing, and access to education. Scary.

The firestorm engulfing Sterling should not obscure this reality. From Congress and state legislatures to universities, from Wall Street to Hollywood, and from religious institutions to professional sports leagues, Sterling’s kind of racism still lives an active life. That truth constitutes a much bigger story than Sterling and his Benedict Arnold mistress. Applauding the NBA, which did nothing as his racism perfected over the years, now is to celebrate the grabbing of low hanging fruit.

Racism is a part of the human condition. It has been among us forever and will continue indefinitely. It cannot be eradicated as like a virus. The best way to deal with it is to expose the stupidity and ignorance that drives it and punish the pockets of those who perpetrate it. Enter V. Stiviano, gold digging public servant. For whatever reason, and by “whatever reason” I mean money, she kept company with a decrepit racist. In so doing, she was either blissfully ignorant or excessively tolerant of racism. While releasing the audio is probably revenge-driven, her action did the public the great service by expanding the conversation about racism from the fringes of America to the boardrooms  of the super rich.

Too often a racist is an ignorant person with no particular impact beyond his or her own words; think angry talk show caller. Here, we reconfirm that racist ignorance can be found in high and powerful places; think the guy who owns the radio network. That is an important change because those in the latter group have the means to impact the policies that perpetuate racism. We now can put a face on those people. They’re Sterlings.

So as the dust settles around this case and everyone recedes to the sidelines, let us not forget that there is a larger story worth following. Yes, Donald Sterling is a repugnant racist who is finally getting a taste of some bad medicine. Yes, V. Stiviano is a double-dealing gold digger. More importantly, though, is that the permanence of racism should not only be addressed in times of controversy. It should be exposed and treated for what it is: a dangerous scourge that merits continuous exposure in all aspects of society.

Michael K. Fauntroy is associate professor of political science at Howard University and specializes in race and politics. He blogs at MichaelFauntroy.com and can be followed on Twitter @MKFauntroy.

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Wednesday, April 30, 2014
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Black Youth, Social Movement Activism, and the Post-Civil Rights Generation

Here is my conversation with Professor Sekou Franklin, author of the forthcoming book, After the Rebellion: Black Youth, Social Movement Activism, and the Post-Civil Rights Generation. The interview airs on my podcast, "The Forum with MIchael Fauntroy" which premiers every Friday at Noon Eastern on the Tavis Smiley Network on Blog Talk Radio.

Listen To Politics Internet Radio Stations with Michael Fauntroy on BlogTalkRadio

 

 

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Friday, February 07, 2014
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Member Stations Diminish PBS Black History Month Programming

Black History Month always leaves me conflicted. I believe the entire nation benefits whenever attention is paid to the contributions of groups of Americans. I also believe the month of February is viewed by many as historical drudgery. I think its hard to argue against the notion that most schools do a pathetic job educating students on Black history. Even with my misgivings about how Black history is projected there have been outlets for compelling and informative storytelling. PBS has often been a ray of sunshine in the dreary, cloudy media scape when it comes to Black History Month programming. It has for years provided meaningful programming that far exceeds what is offered on other networks. I am saddened to have to rethink this position. If one compares the network and individual station schedules you may wonder just how committed PBS is to airing Black History Month programming at a time most people will actually be able to view it.

I was looking forward to watching “Spies of Mississippi” a documentary about 1964s “Freedom Summer” voter registration project in Mississippi. (Disclosure: The film’s director is a friend)  As a political scientist who researches and writes about African American political participation, this is the kind of film I need to see. The PBS website tells me that my first opportunity will be Monday, February 10 at 10:00pm. My Washington, DC PBS affiliate, WETA, has a different plan. They are airing “Antiques Roadshow” on Monday at 10:00pm and “Spies” will premier on Saturday, February 15th at 11:00pm.

The scheduling of “Spies” is not an isolated issue. A review of WETA’s schedule confirms that none of PBS’s Black History Month programming will air in prime time. No prime time Black History Month programming from one of the most powerful public television stations in the country that serves a media market with the highest proportion of African American university graduates and one of the nation’s highest proportions of African Americans. (Disclosure: I have proudly appeared on “The NewsHour” which is produced by WETA). In case you’re wondering, shows like “Downton Abbey” and “Sherlock” are being kept in place. If a PBS affiliate in such an important market plays around with Black history month programming, then one can fairly conclude this is going on in various markets around the country. This diminishes worthy programming and the subjects it seeks to portray.

Black History Month programming is getting the short shrift because America can’t get enough  “Downton Abbey” and “Antiques Roadshow.” While I understand the economics, public television should not mimic the programming decisions of their commercial counterparts. American culture won’t be diminished if, during the shortest month of the year, the country gets to see more stories about the contributions of African Americans. 

I encourage you to look at the schedule of your own PBS affiliate to confirm where its Black History Month programming will air. Let them know if they are airing programs in accessible time slots.

Michael K. Fauntroy is associate professor of political science at Howard University in Washington, DC and author of the book Republicans and the Black Vote. He hosts "The Forum with Michael Fauntroy" on the Tavis Smiley Network on Blog Talk Radio. He blogs at MichaelFauntroy.com and can be followed on Twitter @MKFauntroy and Facebook at Michael K. Fauntroy.

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Friday, February 07, 2014
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Joe McCormick on the Politics of Deracialization on The Forum with Michael Fauntroy

Joseph P. McCormick, 2nd, emeritus professor of political science at Howard University, enters the forum to explain political deracialization and give his assessment of the state of Black politics.

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Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Friday, November 22, 2013
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Artemesia Stanberry on President Obama’s (Nonexistent) Pardon Policy

Professor Artemesia Stanberry enters The Forum to talk about mandatory minimum sentences and President Obama's dismal pardon and clemency policies.  

 

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Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Friday, November 15, 2013
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Michael Fauntroy Analyzes McAuliffe’s Virginia Gubernatorial Win

Here is my conversation with Mike Hydeck of WUSA9 in Washington, DC in which I analyzed the Virginia Gubernatorial election.

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Thursday, November 07, 2013
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Boyce Watkins Joins The Forum with Michael Fauntroy

YourBlackWorld.com founder Dr. Boyce Watkins joins me for a discussion on financial literacy, Black culture, and Black leadership.

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Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Thursday, November 07, 2013
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Yvette Carnell Joins The Forum with Michael Fauntroy

Yvette Carnell is my guest today to talk about congressional politics, President Obama, and Black leadership. She is a former aide to Senator Barbara Boxer and former Representative Marion Bery. She previously served as a field organizer for America’s Families United and aide to the Women’s Vote Center at the Democratic National Committee (DNC). She now writes full time at the website she co-founded BreakingBrown.com, which aggregates and distributes black media content from around the web. She brings a wide range of experiences to the table and I’m happy to welcome Yvette Carnell to The Forum.

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Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Thursday, October 24, 2013
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Robert Smith on the Why Some Politicians Ignore Their Own

The politics of ethnic avoidance is today’s topic on The Forum with Michael Fauntroy.

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency as a marker in American race relations. There were lurking questions among some of his conservative critics who argued that he would show favoritism to African Americans. Two generations ago, however, more than a few observers raised similar questions about another American ethnic, Senator John F. Kennedy, as he sought the presidency. Would Kennedy, as President, take orders from the Vatican? My guest today has recently published a book that compares these two historical presidential campaigns and offers some interesting thoughts on what they say about America. Robert C. Smith is Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University and the author of numerous books and articles on various angles of American politics. His latest is John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and the Politics of Ethnic Incorporation and Avoidance.

Online Politics Radio at Blog Talk Radio with Michael Fauntroy on BlogTalkRadio
Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Monday, October 21, 2013
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Khalilah Brown-Dean on Contraditions of Prison Politics on The Forum with Michael Fauntroy

The politics of punishment is today’s topic on The Forum with Michael Fauntroy.

A “tough on crime” ethos that entered American public policy during the Reagan years still reverberates through certain American communities. Billions of dollars more have been spent since to support the incarceration of millions of Americans.My guest today argues that the impact of these policies touch more than just the person who is convicted of a crime. Khalilah Brown-Dean is associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University. Her next book is titled Once Convicted, Forever Doomed and examines the impact of the criminal justice system on African American and Latino communities.

 

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Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Monday, October 21, 2013
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Jerry Mayer Talks House Republican Politics on The Forum with Michael Fauntroy

I'm pleased to welcome my friend and former colleague Jerry Mayer to The Forum with Michael Fauntroy. He is associate professor of public policy at George Mason University the author of numerous books on various aspects of American politics. He enters the forum to talk about the Republicans' efforts to repeal Obamacare and the general state of congressional politics.

 

Popular Politics Internet Radio with Michael Fauntroy on BlogTalkRadio
Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Monday, October 21, 2013
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Michael Fauntroy March on Washington Analysis (Part 2)

More video from my appearance on Fox5 in DC analyzing the March on Washington commemoration.

 

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG
Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Monday, October 21, 2013
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Michael Fauntroy Analyzes March on Washington Commemoration

Here is one of a number of hits I had on Fox 5 DC discussing the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington.

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Monday, October 21, 2013
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New Audio: Michael Fauntroy on WURD-AM in Philadelphia

Here is a link to a July 26, 2013 conversation on WURD radio in Philadelphia. Benjamin Robinson, Chief Administration Officer at Prudential Annuities, Alfred Edmond, Jr., senior vice president/multimedia editor-at-large of Black Enterprise, and I had the discussion at the National Urban League annual convention. We touched on some of the ideas we offered during a panel discussion at the convention on the "2013 State of Black America." I was happy to participate in this discussion. As you will note when you listen, Robinson, Edmond, and I, in my humble opinion, gave some real serious food for thought as it pertains to African American empowerment. I hope you'll listen to the clip, which is about 15 minutes, and share it as you like.

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Friday, August 02, 2013
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Trayvon Martin and President Obama’s Moment

President Obama’s recent remarks on Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s acquittal opened the door to a new, more fulsome national dialogue on racism, the law, and American society. While his words were poignant and necessary, they will ring hollow if he does little else going forward to give voice to the millions of Americans of all colors who want to change our culture for the better. I hope he grasps this opportunity because he may never get another like it. And the national dialogue would be worse as a result.

He is uniquely positioned to lead. When a President speaks on an issue it immediately becomes legitimized and can snowball into greater attention and action. Conversely, a President’s silence makes it difficult, if not impossible, to generate traction. That is why some of President Obama’s African American liberal critics have been so vocal over the years. They see enormous potential withering on the vine of timidity and politics while people continue to suffer. His office represents the most important tool in the country to change the conversation on race. If he said to the country “We can do better” and consistently lays out the case for the nation to honestly come to grips with its racial truths, then positive change can follow. Without his voice and bully pulpit, the likelihood for positive change dims considerably.

Some of the President’s most ardent defenders, particularly among African Americans, contend that context matters and that there is only so much he can do. I agree, but only to a point. I do not give him the pass that so many others are too quick to offer. I get that his conservative opposition is so virulent that they will fight him no matter what he says or does. Much of the conservative reaction to his remarks display a continued sad resistance to facts and the realities many Americans live with on a daily basis. Too many American conservatives refuse to acknowledge that not all Americans exist in the same relative equality of opportunity. So the President is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Given this intractable, militant opposition, he might as well spend some political capital to tell some uncomfortable truths. I just want him to do all that he can whatever the context; I think it is fair to conclude that he has not.

There are reasons to be doubtful that much positive will happen. His much heralded “race speech” in the run-up to the 2008 Pennsylvania Democratic primary turned out to be a missed opportunity; nothing of substance came of it. The reception to his speech and his election gave him the standing to lead. He did not. The White House Office on Urban Affairs was created in part to coordinate policy to help American cities, where a disproportionate number of African Americans live. If its website is representative of its work, and I am happy to be corrected if it is not, then there appears to be little policy activity and only one staffer.

Too often, America’s conversations about race occur when the air is filled with the dust of a controversy. Hopefully the dust will settle soon and President Obama, uniquely positioned to lead the country on this issue, will walk through the door he opened and do what is necessary to make positive change.

Michael K. Fauntroy is associate professor of political science at Howard University and author of Republicans and the Black Vote. He blogs at MichaelFauntroy.com and can be followed on Twitter (@MKFauntroy) and Facebook (Michael K. Fauntroy).

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Wednesday, July 24, 2013
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