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A wee bit annoyed with Eugene Robinson

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver Velez

I realize that columnists don't always get the option to chose the headline for what they write, so I was willing to give WAPO's Eugene Robinson the benefit of the doubt when this popped up in my google news bin.

The NAACP returns to relevance with a vote on same-sex marriage

His intro however, disabused me of that notion.

With its support for gay marriage, the NAACP has done more than strike a blow for fairness and equality. The nation’s most venerable civil rights organization has made itself relevant again
So I'm a wee bit cranky.

I am sorry Eugene. To buy that, I have to accept that the NAACP has been irrelevant. It's not. Or maybe it is to people who don't belong, or support it, or benefit from its wide ranging efforts - for voting rights, education, and civic engagement.
Coming up in June, on Father's Day they have called for an end to Stop and Frisk Laws.

Maybe you should visit their website.

I hope someone tweets this to you. Cause you should know better.

Sure - I was elated to see this action come from the National Board. Other local branches had already done this. I wasn't surprised. This has been in the works for some time.

Plus their announcement was this one (full text):

Chairman Roslyn Brock Statement on Marriage Equality

As you now know, on Saturday, May 19th, our Board passed a resolution in support of marriage equality.

The NAACP is an historic organization which 103 years ago set on a path to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all people.  As Board members, we take the responsibility to guide this organization seriously.  One of the crucial roles we play is to ensure that our mission which helped define America in the last century continues to be implemented in this our Association’s second century.

When people ask why the NAACP stands firmly for marriage equality, we say that we have always stood against laws which demean, dehumanize, or discriminate against any person in this great country.  That is our legacy.  For over 103 years we have stood against such laws, and while the nature of the struggle may change, our bedrock commitment to equality of all people under the law never will.

One of the NAACP’s greatest leaders, Ella Baker, described this when she said and I quote: “Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.”

We live in a democracy.  And in our democracy we have the benefit of a Constitution which defines the equal rights which we all share and to which we as a nation aspire.  Because the text of our Constitution is so beautiful, let me share just a few simple clear words of the Fourteenth Amendment which says in part that no state “shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”  Marriage Equality is just that, the right to be treated equally in the eyes of the government.

The NAACP did not issue its support of marriage equality from a personal, moral, or religious perspective. Rather, we deeply respect differences of personal conscience on the religious definition of marriage, and we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all as protected by the First Amendment.

As the nation's leading civil rights organization, it is not our role or intent to express how any place of worship should act in its own house.  We have not done so in the past and will not do so In the future. This history and commitment to separation of church and state continues as we stand for equality -- marriage equality – under the law.

Thank you.

They clearly used "Marriage Equality".  You have to wade deep into what you wrote to see those words.

Which reminds me.

I was also cranky when the first diary up here at DKos about this...as Breaking News, had a title that needed changing (it did not say Marriage Equality), then with prodding and corrections from people in comments, the title, and later some copy was updated though the diarist didn't remove this:

They did not expressly endorse same-sex marriage, but rather came out opposed to measures denying equality. (UPDATE: this is not true, CBSNews entirely misinterpreted this. See below.)
I'd like to thank Scott Wooledge for jumping on the case immediately.

But Dkos breaking diaries are not WAPO.  And Brother Gene - perhaps you need to rethink your leads.

Rachel Maddow aired an emotional clip of Ben Jealous, on her show, followed by an interview, for those of you who missed it.

Now that I got that off my chest, I will stop being cranky and hope that there is plenty chocolate on the porch today.

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They want to take us back, we must keep pushing forward. ColorLines: Congress Speaks on Voting Rights—and Mississippi Hollers Back.
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Yesterday, Democrats in Congress unveiled the Voter Empowerment Act of 2012, legislation aimed at strengthening election procedures for voters. On the same day, Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law a bill mandating voters show photo ID before hitting the polls, a law that was passed by ballot referendum by 62 percent of voters.

While Mississippi Democrats were invited to join the governor’s signing ceremony, none joined. Similarly, no Republicans were present for the congressional Democrats’ introduction of their voter bill. Both pieces of legislation will face challenges coming online. The intersection between what Democrats are attempting in Congress and what Republicans are attempting at the state level—in Mississippi and beyond—around voting shows a tragic collision from which democracy, citizens of color, and many without wealth and resources will be the casualties.

Speaking about the Voter Empowerment bill he co-sponsored, Democrat Whip Steny Hoyer said, “Just six months from a presidential election and amid an unprecedented drive to impose new restrictions on who can vote in states across the country, Democrats will fight for the right to vote and for the integrity of our electoral system. This bill is a major step towards greater accountability and broader access.”

Using similar language, Mississippi Gov. Bryant said the voter ID law, “makes it easy to obtain a photo ID and put it in the hands of all voters. Our hope is to increase participation in the voting process. … We try and believe that it is our job to encourage this process but also bring about integrity.”

Both make claims to protect the electoral system’s integrity and improve access to it, but they can’t both be right while supporting laws that oppose each other. The Voter Empowerment Act doesn’t actually address voter ID issues, which is currently being addressed through litigation, but it would add protections against problems involving voter registration, poll-watching guidelines, and ex-felon rights restoration.


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The NAACP’s board of directors voted Saturday to endorse same-sex marriage rights – adding the influential voice of the country’s leading black civil rights organization to the debate. WashingtonPost: NAACP endorses same-sex marriage.
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The decision has political implications for President Obama, who needs an enthusiastic turnout from black voters to help him win reelection in November but angered some African-American church pastors with his announcement this month that he believes gays and lesbians should have the right to marry.

The NAACP now presents itself as a counterbalance to the influence of the traditionally socially conservative black church. It can also help establish closer ties between blacks and gays, two of Obama’s most loyal constituencies.

Some pro-Republican conservative evangelical activists have said Obama’s announcement gives them an unusual opportunity to deflate enthusiasm among black voters for reelecting the country’s first black president, who tends to win more than 90 percent support in that community.

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law,” NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement released Saturday. “The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people. The well-funded right wing organizations who are attempting to split our communities are no friend to civil rights, and they will not succeed.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights group, issued a jubilant statement following the NAACP announcement. “We could not be more pleased with the NAACP’s history-making vote today – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese. “It’s time the shameful myth that the African-American community is somehow out of lockstep with the rest of the country on marriage equality is retired -- once and for all. The facts and clear momentum toward marriage speak for themselves.”


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Colorism in Latin America through the family tree of actress Michelle Rodriguez. The Root: The Colorism in Michelle Rodriguez's Roots.
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Actress Michelle Rodriguez always knew that skin color played a large role in her cultural and ethnic history, but she was surprised to learn just how big a part. Rodriguez was a guest on  Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s PBS show, Finding Your Roots, where The Root's editor-in-chief unraveled the history of her ancestors on the islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.  

"Lots of animosity of my dad's family not being accepting of my mom –- for being the darker-skinned Dominican," Rodriguez told Gates of her family dynamic. "Just this slight racism."

Gates found out that Rodriguez' light-skinned paternal ancestors married each other at a surprising rate. In fact, three of the actress' great-great-great-grandfathers were brothers, while all of her great-great-grandfathers were first cousins.

Watch Finding Your Roots: Michelle Rodriguez, Adrian Grenier & Linda Chavez - Preview on PBS. See more from Finding Your Roots.


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Prostate cancer has claimed the lives of many black men, but it doesn't have to be a death sentence. Jerry Bembry writes on his personal battle with the disease. The Root: Fighting a Silent Killer.
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Even though it's been some time since I was told that I had cancer, I'm still numb. To know that something inside my body can potentially kill me consumes my thoughts every day. The thought of what cancer has done to my family -- and what it can do to me -- robs me of sleep every night. Still, I consider myself lucky.

Prostate cancer is a silent killer, and because it grows slowly, many men have no idea it's there. With the spike in my PSA levels, it's likely that I've lived with cancer for many years. Fortunately for me, the cancer was found in its early stages and, based on tests so far, never left the prostate. Doctors tell me that with treatment, I can expect a full recovery.

But some men never have a shot at recovery, mainly because they have no idea the cancer is there. After telling a close friend two weeks ago that I had prostate cancer, I asked him the question that I ask all my friends now: When was the last time you had a PSA test? His response: Never. He's 49 years old, just like me.

The following facts -- which I learned after I was diagnosed -- will, hopefully, have him calling his doctor this week:

One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Think about that: If you're at home having a cookout with 11 of your buddies, it's likely that two of you at some point in your lives will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

If you're an African-American man, those odds increase to nearly one in five. African-American men have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world and have the disease at rates three times higher than those of white men.

Prostate cancer is the second-most-common cancer among men, behind skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men.


                                    Jerry Bembry

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Africa is experiencing some of the biggest falls in child mortality ever seen, anywhere. Economist: The best story in development
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IT IS, says Gabriel Demombynes, of the World Bank’s Nairobi office, “a tremendous success story that has only barely been recognised”. Michael Clemens of the Centre for Global Development calls it simply “the biggest, best story in development”. It is the huge decline in child mortality now gathering pace across Africa.

According to Mr Demombynes and Karina Trommlerova, also of the World Bank, 16 of the 20 African countries which have had detailed surveys of living conditions since 2005 reported falls in their child-mortality rates (this rate is the number of deaths of children under five per 1,000 live births). Twelve had falls of over 4.4% a year, which is the rate of decline that is needed to meet the millennium development goal (MDG) of cutting by two-thirds the child-mortality rate between 1990 and 2015 (see chart). Three countries—Senegal, Rwanda and Kenya—have seen falls of more than 8% a year, almost twice the MDG rate and enough to halve child mortality in about a decade. These three now have the same level of child mortality as India, one of the most successful economies in the world during the past decade.

The decline in African child mortality is speeding up. In most countries it now falling about twice as fast as during the early 2000s and 1990s. More striking, the average fall is faster than it was in China in the early 1980s, when child mortality was declining around 3% a year, admittedly from a lower base.

The only recent fall comparable to the largest of those in Africa occurred in Vietnam between 1985-90 and 1990-95, when child mortality fell by 37%—and even that was slower than in Senegal and Rwanda. Rwanda’s child-mortality rate more than halved between 2005-06 and 2010-11. Senegal cut its rate from 121 to 72 in five years (2005-10). It took India a quarter of century to make that reduction. The top rates of decline in African child mortality are the fastest seen in the world for at least 30 years.




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Welcome to the Front Porch

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Originally posted to Black Kos community on Tue May 22, 2012 at 02:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges.

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