FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
This is NEWS & NOTES. And I am Farai Chideya.
It's time now for our Bloggers' Round Table. And what a week it has been already. Last night, Barry Bonds hit home run number 756, breaking Hank Aaron's longstanding record. But not everyone is celebrating. Also, slain Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey is laid to rest today. And Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is on the defensive.
For those stories and more, we've got Brandon Whitney, who writes the blog "Homeland Colors." Gina McCauley, her blog is called "What About Our Daughters?" and pop culture critic Desmond Burton of the blog "Afronerd." Welcome, everybody.
Mr. BRANDON WHITNEY (Blogger, "Homeland Colors"): How are you doing?
Ms. GINA McCAULEY (Blogger, "What About Our Daughters?"): Hello.
Mr. DESMOND BURTON (Blogger, "Afronerd"): Hello.
CHIDEYA: I am doing great. So, let me start with you, Gina. Barry Bonds. Last night San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds hit home run 756, breaking the record that Hank Aaron set 33 years ago. Now, first, let's listen to his history-making hit.
(Soundbite of Major League Baseball game)
Unidentified Announcer: Bonds, one home run away from history. And he swings.. And there's a long one. Deep in the right centerfield, way back there. It's gone. A home run into the centerfield bleachers to the left of the 421-foot marker. An extraordinary shot to the deepest part of the yard. And Barry Bonds with 756 home runs, he has hit more home runs than anyone who has ever played the game.
CHIDEYA: So Gina, taking this out of the realm of just sports, you heard his hometown just cheering. But what about fair play? Is this a case of fair play, or should folks really taken into account his history?
Ms. McCAULEY: I'm sorry to say that I'm not particularly interested in baseball. But as far as fair play, I think that the criticism should be aimed at Major League Baseball. If people are concerned about him taking performance-enhancing drugs, then it was up to his sports regulatory authority to police him. And so I'm sure he - if they - if people think that he did whatever he did, I don't know, kind of sort of don't care, then it was up to Major League Baseball to police that. So people need to direct their ire towards Barry Bonds - I mean, not towards Barry Bonds but towards Major League Baseball as far as I'm concerned. I kind of sort of don't care.
CHIDEYA: Brandon, kind of sort of don't care, is that the way you think most people feel about it? It hasn't been over hyped?
Mr. WHITNEY: I think - well, I mean, I can't even sit through a baseball game, to be honest with you.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. McCAULEY: Haters(ph).
Mr. WHITNEY: I mean - yeah, the thing is, I mean…
Ms. McCAULEY: Yeah.
Mr. WHITNEY: …congratulations to him if he did it the way it was supposed to be done. The only thing is, when I listen to the media, I would think that they would be more condemning of the baseball leagues because if people are…
Ms. McCAULEY: Yeah.
Mr. WHITNEY: …taking steroids on a regular basis, well, then do something about - either do something about it or shut up. That's basically how you need to look at that.
Ms. McCAULEY: Yeah.
Mr. BURTON: Well, I think there are some major character issues here or character flaws. I would say that, like Gina, I'm not the greatest baseball buff or baseball fan. I'm more of the vintage baseball guy. I'm a fan of Jackie Robertson, of Roberto Clemente, and those kind of individuals. I just don't think that you see that level of character in this day and age. And I think that he's being somewhat disingenuous when we have seen his physicality, the changes.
And Gary Sheffield has come out recently and said that he has taken - well, he didn't quite come straight forward that about him taking steroids, but he alluded to Bonds taking steroids. I think there are some character flaws with this gentleman.
CHIDEYA: Let's take a quick listen to Hank Aaron.
Mr. HANK AARON (Retired Baseball Player): I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historical achievement. My hope to be, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dream.
CHIDEYA: Desmond, you were talking about classic baseball. Did Hank Aaron do what he needed to do, had to do, maybe even was joyous to do, or did he sully his own position by endorsing Barry Bonds?
Mr. BURTON: Well, for my understanding, well, I thought - and I may be mistaken on this, but I thought he did not endorse Barry. I thought at one point he did. And then he did not show up for a few games. So I didn't think that he - just by and large supported Barry Bonds. I thought that his absence in some of the games indicated that he really wasn't on the same team.
CHIDEYA: Showed he was ambivalent.
Mr. BURTON: Exactly.
CHIDEYA: Well, it is a debate that will continue, and certainly Barry Bonds is, in fact, allegations that he doped will not be the first and probably not the last.
But we want to move on to some very serious stories. While much of San Francisco was celebrating last night, across the bay, Oakland was mourning the loss of slain journalist Chauncey Bailey. And his alleged attacker is being held without bail, due in court on Monday. Authorities say he confessed to the crime but suspect he did not act alone.
Hundreds of people are expected to turn out for Bailey's funeral. What are people saying in the blogosphere? I'm going to go to you, Brandon.
Mr. WHITNEY: In terms of that issue, I've seen some - a couple of different things, I haven't (unintelligible) personally yet. But I think it speaks to how much Bailey was dedicated to making sure that the media was definitely looking at those stories that affect people's lives on a regular basis, and willing to die for that fact.
And I think it speaks volumes about how the vast media that we have right now, when you look at cable news and things of that nature, how they're failing the public, and they're failing their profession by not being as dedicated to these stories by following other people's stories or use the exact same titles as other folks are even caving in when you're getting accused of being liberal media. So I think it speaks to how dedicated he was and how undedicated to what they're supposed to be doing - the current media is.
CHIDEYA: Gina, before we keep on this topic, I want to add yet another issue into the mix over the weekend in New Jersey. Two young African-American men, one woman were killed in what authorities describe as an execution style shooting outside an elementary school. Now, a fourth victim - one witness, has been shot but survived. To date, there have been no arrests. And another horrific crime took place in Florida last month at the Dunbar Village housing projects in West Palm Beach. A Haitian immigrant was brutally raped by 10 masked teenagers, black teenagers. And her son was beaten in the other room.
Now, when you go through this litany of crime, from Chauncey Bailey to West Palm Beach, what do you think? What have you been blogging about?
Ms. McCAULEY: Well, right now, the focus at "What About Our Daughters?" probably in perpetuity is the absolute immoral indifference on the part of the African-American elite establishment to this crime in West Palm Beach, Florida, which may be one of the most horrific hate crimes committed against an African-American woman as far back as I can remember. And all of the usual suspects are absolutely silent about it.
This crime was horrific, not just because of what happened to this woman and what they forced her to do to her own child, but also the response from the community and - before, during and after the crime. The woman was screaming for three hours in an apartment with paper-thin walls. And none of her neighbors lifted a pinkie finger to dial 911.
And if you look back about this time last year with the Duke rape scandal, Jesse Jackson, during the Duke rape scandal, without being prompted, offered a scholarship to the accuser in the Duke rape case. He's been absolutely silent in the West Palm Beach case. And the police down there put a callout to the public for financial assistance because this woman was indigent and they needed to relocate her.
Al Sharpton and Russell Simmons, last week, are obsessed with Michael Vick's dogs but they haven't issued a single statement about what may be one of the most horrific hate crimes that I can remember committed against a black woman.
Barack Obama is running around, championing the cause of Genarlow Wilson, a convicted child molester. But he - to my knowledge as of this morning, none of them has made any kind of statement about what's going on in West Palm Beach, the fact that people are not cooperating with police. There are seven outstanding suspects.
And less than a week later and less than a mile away from this incident where this woman was gang raped by 10 African-American teens, another 42-year-old African-American woman was raped by a 14-year-old boy while his friends stood nearby screaming, hurry up, me next. (Unintelligible).
CHIDEYA: But Gina, I'm going to interrupt you just because I want to reintroduce everybody and…
Ms. McCAULEY: Okay.
CHIDEYA: This is NPR's NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.
We have just been listening to Gina McCauley. Her blog is called "What About Our Daughters?" We've also got Desmond Burton of "Afronerd." Brandon Whitney of "Homeland Colors."
Now, before - we're going to get back to you on this, Gina. But, Desmond, when you hear Gina with obvious passion talking about these crimes and also about how African Americans in leadership positions have or haven't positioned themselves around these crimes, what do you hear?
Mr. BURTON: Well, I speak quite frankly about these issues on "Afronerd." And I think what really boils down to is we have a feckless leadership. I think that - I say this jokingly but I call someone…
Ms. McCAULEY: Preach, preach, preach.
Mr. BURTON: I call - be prepared. I call Jesse Jackson, Messy Jesse and Reverend (unintelligible). I'm going to be upfront about it. We have individuals that are more concerned with looking at issues through a racial prism instead of talking about the pathologies that are affecting our communities. I mean, let's just put it plain and simple. And…
Ms. McCAULEY: And they're also more…
Mr. BURTON: I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Ms. McCAULEY: They're also more concerned about collecting corporate donations and promoting themselves like this Al Sharpton 20-city decency tour.
CHIDEYA: So, Brandon, to you, when you hear, again, two critiques from two different people with two different perspectives, where do you fall on this?
Mr. WHITNEY: Well, I can't help but agree with them. The biggest thing when we look at our leadership currently, the reason they're not speaking about this in particular is because you can't blame white people for it. And there's no white…
Ms. McCAULEY: Bridge.
Mr. WHITNEY: …conspiracy you can put it on. There's nothing you can blame…
Ms. McCAULEY: No.
Mr. WHITNEY: …somebody for it. And you can't make money that way. You can't inspire people that way. It's hard to tell African Americans that we need to fix things for ourselves. There are certain issues in our community, like (unintelligible), like the murder rate in Philadelphia, searches that took place in Newark that we need to fix. And it's even harder to say, you know what, there are some folks who are self-centered criminals in our community who are…
Mr. BURTON: And not only that, but it…
Mr. WHITNEY: Well…
Mr. BURTON: I have to say this also that our people are more accustomed to a sermon-like discourse. And speaking frankly…
Mr. WHITNEY: And even beyond that, though…
Mr. BURTON: …speaking frankly, it's just not something that necessarily accepted in the blogosphere or in the atmosphere. I mean, we are not…
CHIDEYA: So, Desmond, what do you mean by…
Mr. WHITNEY: Beyond that preaching, though…
CHIDEYA: What do you mean, first of all, by sermon-like, very quickly? And also, what do you mean by not accepted in the blogosphere?
Mr. BURTON: Well, sermon-like, meaning that it has to have some kind of charisma attached to it. It can't be something that - one of my blog partner and my associate, Robert Bishop, on "Afronerd", he uses the term unattractive truth. And that's exactly what we're dealing with here. If the truth is not attractive, then, undoubtedly, some in the African-American community cannot deal with it. And it's better to point the finger at a white bogeyman that it is to deal with the issues that are on our own.
CHIDEYA: Brandon, I'm going to transition us to another topic, but very much in the same vein. You have rappers with endorsement deals, McDonalds dropped its support for Twister recently, Verizon did the same for rapper Akon. He danced suggestively on stage with what turned out to be a teenage girl And he threw a guy off the stage. Now, I just want to hear a little bit of his song, it's called, "Sorry, Blame Me".
Ms. McCAULEY: Oh, God.
(Soundbite of "Sorry, Blame Me")
AKON (Rapper): (Singing) She's just a little, young girl trying to have fun. But daddy should have never let her out that young. I'm sorry for Club Zen getting shut down. I hope they manage better next time around. How was I to know she was underage in a 21 and older club they say? Why doesn't anybody want to take blame? Verizon backed out disgracing my name. I'm just a singer trying to entertain.
CHIDEYA: So, you got a situation. And I heard, oh, Lord, from Gina. But Brandon first, do we…
Mr. WHITNEY: All right.
CHIDEYA: When we're talking about folks taking responsibility or not taking responsibility, we've talked in a crime context. Add in the pop culture context, what do you have?
Mr. WHITNEY: Well, I mean, if you throws somebody off the stage, there's a good chance that you won't be able to keep your deal. I mean, you've got - you have to make good decisions. A lot of our guys don't make their decisions, and they're used to us coming to their aid and saying, it's okay and it's all right. Well, it's not. If you do something stupid, if you do something negative, you pay consequences for it.
And it kind of stretches out, not just to the stars on television or on the radio, but when you look at kids who did what they did in Newark, who shot those young folks who were in college. Good kids. When you look at those situations, the reason that those self-centered criminals have been able to thrive is because we've gotten this blanket protection of everybody who's African American. You know what? Everybody who's African American is not a brother or a sister. There are some folks who will basically betray their community and their culture. And they don't care. And it's time for us to let those folks go.
I mean, sometimes, you can help folks and sometimes you can't. They don't want your help. In fact, if they want to hurt us, it's time to let them go. In fact, it's time for us to condemn them. If anybody condemned people who kill successful, young, black folks - and this happened in Philadelphia. There's a young brother who was a college grad who came back to Philadelphia and was killed over a parking spot by some brother who had killed somebody the month before. I mean, there are brothers - let me restate that. There are African Americans who are not brothers and sisters, who do not care about their community, who are destroying our community. It's time for us to put them in their place, and that's far, far away from us.
CHIDEYA: So, Gina, there has been a long tradition of African-American self-help, which can cut either way, can really help save people or can, you now, arguably drag people down. Is it time that some people get voted off of the collective island?
Ms. McCAULEY: Oh, absolutely. And let me tell you something. That's why that's the motto of "What About Our Daughters?" is stop funding foolishness. Don Imus, as far as I'm concerned, was the Archduke Ferdinand in a battle within the African-American community between black folks with common sense and those without.
And Mr. - oh, gosh. What is Akon's - Akon, he is a student of the Russell Simmons school of obfuscation and redirection of all criticism directed towards hip-hop music. I don't care if that girl that he was simulating a violent sex act with was 34 years old. No woman should have been treated the way that she was. And the fact that he doesn't have a common sense or decency or character to acknowledge that, throwing people off stage or treating any woman that way no matter how old she was, is wrong, and he's putting out a song saying please don't blame me.
It is just a consistent pattern. The people in hip-hop or the people in popular culture don't want to take responsibility for the words and images they put out in the world. And they always want to go back and blame society. And it's not society's fault. And these…
Mr. WHITNEY: Well, we need to take responsibility for purchasing that stuff, though. I mean, the thing is…
Ms. McCAULEY: We do. We do.
Mr. WHITNEY: …they do it because the sell it. And we need to get to a point where we just stop buying this garbage from these guys.
Ms. McCAULEY: Yeah. And that's what…
CHIDEYA: Desmond, I'm going to throw one more curve ball in here. We talked a little bit earlier in the show about Senator Obama, attacks on him, whether or not he's made some political missteps. Do we have a situation where we, inside the black community, but also people outside, lift up some people, demonize others, and then get confused if certain people, like Senator Obama, you know, as human beings, sometimes don't always live up to these high expectations?
Mr. WHITNEY: I think what it is, Republicans want to run against Hillary. And so what's going on in the media right now is that every little thing Obama does slightly incorrectly, they're going to jump on him, because they know that if they run against Obama, there's a fantastic chance that they'll lose. If they run against Hillary, there's a better chance for them to win. And if they don't win the presidency, they're going to win it down (unintelligible).
Mr. BURTON: What…
Mr. WHITNEY: I mean, people who aren't planning on coming out to vote, who are Republicans, who are on the far right, don't want to - will come out to vote to vote against a Clinton.
Ms. McCAULEY: Hmm. That's…
Mr. WHITNEY: And so, what they're doing - and they're setting it up for 2010 because - let's say she does win the presidency - and that is a big if - if she wins the presidency in 2010, during the interim elections, when you usually lose to Congress, if you're the president, that means that they can get into Congress. And that means when they're gerrymandering, after the census, they have control of Congress.
CHIDEYA: All right. Well, you know what? We have to make this a wrap. But again, we're going to continue this on our blog. And, of course, we reference back to your blog. It's one of the beauties of the blogosphere. Thanks, guys.
Mr. BURTON: Thank you.
Ms. McCAULEY: Thank you.
Mr. WHITNEY: Thanks. Thanks a lot for having us.
CHIDEYA: So, we've been talking with Brandon Whitney of "Homeland Colors". He spoke with us from member station KANU in Lawrence, Kansas. At member station KUT in Austin, Texas, Gina McCauley. Her blog is called "What About Our Daughters?" And Desmond Burton writes the blog "Afronerd". He was at our New York studios.
To join this conversation, you can come on to our blog, nprnewsandnotes.org.
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