Michael Fauntroy Discusses My Brother’s Keeper on NPR News
Here is the link to a report on NPR in which I discuss My Brother's Keeper.
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Here is the link to a report on NPR in which I discuss My Brother's Keeper.
Statement of Michael K. Fauntroy
on his uncle Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy
March 18, 2015
Los Angeles, CA
I want to thank the many, many people who have reached out to my family and me in genuine friendship and concern regarding recent reports concerning the health and welfare of Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy. My uncle is a man of great faith and determination. He is also a man that has done so much for so many for so long. Whatever circumstances he faces in the winter of his life, we are confident that his great work has created a wonderful legacy that many people appreciate.
As anyone with an 82 year-old relative traveling alone would be, we are concerned about his well-being. While we are uncertain of his current whereabouts, we remain hopeful that he is well and will return soon to his beloved District of Columbia, the city of his birth and where he built a deep reservoir of goodwill through a lifetime of service.
We ask his many friends and supporters to pray for him and his safe return to the District.
I had the pleasure of sitting with my friend and classmate Allison Seymour and her co-anchor Steve Chenevey to discuss Marion Barry's legacy.
Here is video of my appearance on WUSA-9, the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC, in which I discuss the outcome of the Virginia U.S Senate race between incumbent Senator Democrat Mark Warner and Republican nominee Ed Gillespie and the Maryland gubernatorial race between sitting Lt. Governor Democrat Anthony Brown and Republican nominee Larry Hogan.
It was a great night for Republicans as they nearly swept all the important U.S. Senate races and won some governorships that seemed very unlikely. There has been a lot of handwringing about the role of President Obama, ISIS, and even ebola in the outcome. I think the results were driven by two seemingly conflicting emotions – anger and apathy. Add in the impact of age and other demographics in the makeup of the electorate and you get a clear understanding of what happened.
• Nearly two-thirds of voters in recent polls have expressed anger about the country’s direction. The president’s approval ratings are at their lowpoint in his administration. Roughly 60 percent of Republicans said their votes were anti-Obama votes. Congress has even lower approval ratings at 78 percent. A CBS poll showed that the economy was the most important issue facing the country. Nearly 80 percent of those who cited the economy are worried about its direction. Nearly two-thirds of voters think the country is on the wrong track. That helps to explain some of the results. We should be careful not to overplay the anger narrative, however, as very few House incumbents lost.
• Apathy is notable as well. Many of the younger voters who helped deliver Barack Obama to the presidency have not stood up for him in mid-term elections. The Democrats depend on notoriously fickle brew of younger voters and minorities, two groups that are inconsistent in their turnouts. In 2012, young voters, African Americans, and Latinos represented 19%, 13%, and 10%, respectively, of the national electorate. This year, those same groups represented 13%, 12%, and 8%, respectively, of the national electorate, according to CBS News. The smaller share of the electorate was not because White turned out in overwhelming numbers. It was because younger voters and minorities stayed home. This is a really key issue. These groups are impatient and are not yet ready to vote change from the top all the way down to the grassroots. And if my students are the gauge, there is serious doubt about the legitimacy of our political system. Young people are suspicious and think their votes don't matter.
• Age/Race/Ideology. Mid-term electorates tend to be older, Whiter, and more ideologically conservative, three characteristics that bode well for Republicans. In 2012, older voters, Whites, and conservatives comprised 16%, 72%, and 35%, respectively, of the electorate. This year, those numbers grew to 23%, 75%, and 36% respectively. While that’s great for Republicans in in mid-terms, it leaves them vulnerable in presidential elections. It also makes clear that America is a bifurcated electorate: one for mid-term elections. The other for presidential ones.
It should be noted, however, that there is also a strong structural component to these results. The Democrats had to defend a number of seats in red states. The Republicans will face the same challenge in 2016, in which there are a number of competitive seats currently held by the GOP.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Professor Artemesia Stanberry enters The Forum to talk about mandatory minimum sentences and President Obama's dismal pardon and clemency policies.
Here is my conversation with Mike Hydeck of WUSA9 in Washington, DC in which I analyzed the Virginia Gubernatorial election.
YourBlackWorld.com founder Dr. Boyce Watkins joins me for a discussion on financial literacy, Black culture, and Black leadership.
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.
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.
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.