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President Barack Obama was re-elected to serve as President of the United States of America for four more years last night.

I had no doubt in my mind that he would win. I remember my dad asking me back in 2010 if I thought the president would be re-elected and I said yes. I believed it then, I believed it when I cast my ballot to vote and I was right **toots horn**.

Although the media and the exit polling results helped to prove that this was a close election, I would hope that we as Americans, have learned a great deal from this election and presidential campaign.

I know that POTUS has learned a great deal, as he pointed out in his victory speech last night and I am hopeful that he will use this newly discovered wisdom in the coming years.

Some of the conversations surrounding the election and voting have been very troubling. While I have seen many young people motivated and inspired to exercise their right to vote and be involved in the democratic process, I have also heard some of the most uninformed and misguided statements from my peers. I know people who didn’t vote at all because they say the president didn’t do enough for the poor. Do I think the president could be more vocal about the conditions and issues affecting the poor? Absolutely. On the other hand, I feel that the President’s plan of investing in education and offering tax cuts to the middle class will have a direct affect on the poor. I know that this is not enough for some people. I know that some people need him to broadcast for “the hood” at all times but I think that is an unrealistic request of the President of an entire country.

There are some movements such as, #Occupythehood  (@Occupythehood on Twitter)  that are geared toward organizing minorities in underserved areas and engaging them in the political process to get their issues to the top of the president’s list. I hope more of these groups are formed and put into action because simply “hoping” that the President will represent every issue that plagues minorities simply on the premise that, “he’s just supposed to” isn’t smart at all. “Hope” may have made for a good campaign slogan but organization is the key to progress. This was ever so evident with the results of this presidential election.

 

What would’ve happened if women no longer had the choice to govern their own bodies or if they no longer had access to the minimal healthcare they have now in order to treat and prevent the diseases that so disproportionately affect poor, African Americans? I am black and female and I couldn’t afford to take that chance by voting for the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. I have no desire to support a party that does not support me. Women’s issues can be found at the bottom of that thick binder Mitt Romney is so proud of and they’re far too important to me to be brushed under the rug.

I just want to encourage people not to let the media tell you who to vote for. Vote on the issues. That’s what democracy is about.

Bipartisanship is going to be so important in the coming years. The President is going to have to lead in a way that forces congress to put politics aside and find reasonable solutions to the issues. There are SO many issues.

To get back to the lessons learned, I hope and pray that the Republican party has discovered their AHA! moment. You cannot alienate minorities and ignore women’s issues and expect to win an election. This strategy may have worked 50 years ago, but in 2012, that’s just not going to fly.

I’m a firm believer that thoughts become things and what you speak into existence shall be. That being said, I’d like to suggest a small detail that could help to move the Republican party forward. It’s just a small thing, I promise. STOP calling yourself  “The Grand Old Party.”

If this election has proven anything, it’s that old policies and ways of thinking will get you nowhere in this country. It is time for the Republican party to start thinking in the “now”. Republicans need to evaluate how conservatism is defined. Is conservatism merely an ideology that disregards anything that opposes Biblical and traditional values? If that answer is yes, “Houston, we have a problem.”

There will be 20 women with seats in the Senate come January  and that alone should be enough to show the world that we are moving forward.

Forgive me if this post was all over the place but I’m filled with so many different feelings after this campaign. We still have a way to go in this country but it’s encouraging to know that the only way to go from here is, up.

 

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IGNITE 2012 EVENT COVERAGE

Lana Adams

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(left to right) Journalist Andreas Hale, Hip-Hop pioneer Paradise Gray, Rapper Jasiri-X, Tarik Ross (Stampede Management), Brandon Wyche (Hiphopsince1987.com), Kim Osorio (E.I.C., The SOURCE)

“Well, should Obama be the president of Black America?” –This question has been raised increasingly since the 2008 Presidential election, and it was now being posed to a group of writers, entertainment personalities and hip-hop artists on a breezy Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

This controversial topic was one of many during the first panel of the day for the final stop on the Ignite 2012 tour. Panelists included, hip-hop journalist Dream Hampton, former host of BET’s 106 & Park, Rocsi Diaz, SOURCE Magazine, Editor-In-Chief, Kim Osorio and many other community leaders and activists.

“Could Obama do more?” —“Yes,” Rocsi Diaz interjected but, she’s happy with the work that the president has done for the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The president signed The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in 2010 which included a proposed $98 million increase to funding for HBCU’s. Diaz added that Governor Mitt Romney is very open about the demographic he represents and serves and that there is nothing wrong with the President supporting African Americans.

Panelist Deion Jordan, a seventeen-year-old young leader and member of The Philadelphia Youth Commission, entered the conversation claiming that Blacks in America need to see themselves not as “Black Americans” but as Americans.

“I consider myself an American. Race is philosophical nonsense,” Jordan added.

The crowd erupted into an uproar with this comment but moderator Biko Baker, Executive Director of The League of Young Voters politely asked the crowd to let the young man speak.

Jordan, pointed out that there are many credible universities that don’t qualify as HBCU’s that are in need of funding as well. Jordan will be attending Haverford College upon graduating from High School next year.

Hip-hop journalist, Dream Hampton, added that the POTUS should feel a responsibility to represent the African-American community because of the integral part the community played in getting the president elected. Exit polls from 2008 show that President Obama won approximately 96% of the black vote, with Black women voting at higher percentages than black men.

The feeling of abandonment when it comes to the president’s representation of issues plaguing African-Americans is not new at all. Most of the panelists agreed that many successful blacks begin to separate themselves from the community upon becoming successful.

“With successful people, it seems as if blacks are scared to be black [publicly], there is a sense that when you speak out on something that is a “black issue” and you have some sort of esteem, you are doing something wrong– as if, when you endorse your own, it’s seen as reverse racism,” journalist Andreas Hale added.

SOURCE magazine Editor-In-Chief, Kim Osorio agreed with Hale’s theory of desertion as she recounted the many artists whose careers were launched by The Source magazine, but who decline interviews when asked now.

“Certain artists get to a certain level and they don’t want to do The Source anymore; they’d rather be on Rolling Stone or GQ,” Osorio said.

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(left to right) Rocsi Diaz (BET), Chuck Creekmur (Allhiphop.com), Malik Rhassan (Occupy The Hood), Biko Baker (League of Young Voters), Deion Jordan (Philadelphia Youth Commission), writer, Dream Hampton

Many of the megastars like Sean “P.Diddy” Combs and Jay-Z have used their influence to encourage people to get involved with the political process. One may recall the excitement behind the “Rock The Vote” movement during the 2008 Presidential campaign.

I too, remember being in my sophomore year at Temple University running down Broad Street to see Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce and other stars perform for free to get the youth mobilized about voting.

Many, including rapper and panelist, Jasiri X, have wondered if the hip-hop community has fallen short in the months leading up to November’s presidential election with efforts to keep the youth motivated and engaged in the political process.

Tarik Ross, of Stampede Management believes that when it comes to hip-hop’s role in civic engagement, it is just a different time. Ross doesn’t believe today’s artists can be compared with emcees like KRS-1, and other more conscious rappers from the 90’s. “Hip-hop culture is still just as powerful, there’s just less focus on being lyricists,” Ross said.

Dream Hampton, who co-authored rapper Jay-Z’s book, “Decoded,” doesn’t believe the hip-hop community should be expected to do anything.

“Jay is doing what he can do,” Hampton said. “Why is he held to such high political responsibility? It’s our responsibility to peer educate; all of these wannabe rappers should want to be activists. Would it be nice if the mainstream artists cared more? — “Yes” but, Hampton added, “each individual, no matter your occupation, should help one another [become more politically aware], not just celebrities. Churches and spiritual leaders should be leading those movements; we need more youth leaders.”

Hampton isn’t a fan of this sensationalized popular idea of “celebrity”, which is one of the reasons she asked not to be photographed and declined my request for an on-camera interview. Hampton talked candidly with me about the power and influence of social media and how enthralled our generation is with sharing ourselves so freely through pictures, and constant status updates.

Other panel discussion topics included how men in the hip-hop industry can do a better job of protecting African American women.

“Be intentional about what we do; stop supporting women that take their clothes off to rap and stop being afraid to love,” Hip-Hop pioneer, Paradise Gray offered as one way to make a change for black women in the hip-hop industry.

Brandon Wyche, CEO of Hiphopsince1987.com believes that more “respect records” should be made for women to set a trend while Tarik Ross believes we should be honoring the women in our community that are making positive strides.

Kim Osorio knows how hard it is to be a woman in the male dominated industry of hip-hop all too well, having won a lawsuit filed against The Source Magazine in 2006 claiming unlawful termination for filing a complaint of gender discrimination, as well as a defamation suit against the owners of the magazine.

Osorio credits the misogynistic views of women in the industry partly to the current sensationalism with female exotic dancers. Osorio also wants women to be responsible and held accountable for “not always doing things that are constructive,” which adds to the negative portrayal of women of color in hip-hop culture. She wants people to understand that these things are for entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously.

The issue of violence and its alarming rates in the African American community was another topic of discussion.

“It makes people too much money,” Paradise Gray said. Gray noted that the images of violence in hip-hop serve as a perpetual money-maker for businesses which set young black men up for jail or death.

Rapper and activist Jasiri X, cited that blacks are to blame as well for the perpetuation of violence by supporting many of the violent images and artists. “Through our own dollars, we finance our own destruction,” X said.

The conversation closed with a performance by Rapper Dee 1 and a charge to the young people to stay motivated and involved with the community.

The event was organized by The League of Young Voters Education Fund and The Philadelphia Youth Commission.

View event photos here.

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A recent conversation with a friend of mine has been echoing through my mind lately. It raised a question that I am constantly faced with as a black woman and as a journalist.

We were talking about blackness and what it means in relation to one’s professional title. I went to the  National Association of Black Journalists convention earlier this month. At the convention, I attended a forum called “Cultural Tensions in the Black Community.”  The panel consisted of several celebrities in the sports world such as Isaiah Thomas, Bernard Hopkins and Greg Anthony, in addition to some experts in African American studies from colleges and universities around the Philadelphia area. It was moderated by CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien.

Bernard Hopkins was asked about his comments regarding former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan Mcnabb. Hopkins allegedly made comments referring to Mcnabb as a “house negro.” Hopkins went on to explain his position and how he felt about Mcnabb. I really want to explain exactly what this position was but I can only tell you what I understood from it.

It was difficult for me to understand what Hopkins was trying to say but I think it had to do with Mcnabb being okay with white people in the sports world and not wanting to do anything to upset them. He felt that Mcnabb never came out fully and took charge as a leader in the black community and stood up for the rights and injustices that plague the African American community. Again, this is what I was able to grab from Hopkins’ speech. He tended to ramble and Soledad had to bring him back to his point several times.

I began explaining Hopkins’ position to my friend and he disagreed with him as did some of the members on the panel.

My friend felt that Mcnabb never claimed to be any civil rights leader. He never stood at the 40 yard line with his left fist clenched as some act of black pride, so to speak. He didn’t feel Mcnabb owed black people anything. He was an athlete, the only thing he owed people was to be great, to be a great quarterback and leader for his team, not for the entire African American community. However, he did recognize the that Mcnabb’s position as head quarterback was a major accomplishment being that there are so few black quarterbacks in the NFL.

He went on to say that whenever Mcnabb was seen publicly, he was respectful and never did anything to burn any bridges with either the black or white community. His commentary was always neutral. My friend believed he did  this knowing that his football career wouldn’t last forever and he had to be careful what he said and did so that he could be looked to in the  future for career endeavors outside of playing football.

This is where I am confused. After my friend explained himself, I had to ask this question: You say you, as a black male, don’t feel Mcnabb owes anything to the black community but yet, you feel President Obama does?

He answered with “absolutely.” He said President Obama was elected by black people (these are his words not mine) because of a promise he made. He felt the president made a promise to poor people that they would see change with his administration. Naturally, when you say change to a poor person, that means escaping poverty, finally. He acknowledged that the majority of people on welfare that make up our nation’s “poor” are white. This being said, he still felt that President Obama specifically received support from the black community and although in some cases this was a superficial “just because he’s black” thing, in many cases, it was on the premise that he would finally stand up for the black poor. We hear this among the black community over and over again. We also have critics that will say “he didn’t run to be the president of Black America, he ran for the entire United States of America.”

While at the NABJ conference, Vinnie Goodwill of the Detroit News said something that really stood out to me. He said, “I am not a black journalist, I am a journalist who happens to be black.”

This, to me, meant, he is a journalist first, no matter what. He talked about his race as it related to his job as a beat writer covering the Detroit Pistons for the Detroit News. He talked about how some black athletes expect other black journalists to have some sort of unwritten code that limits what will or will not be reported on. He said that several times in his career he had to make clear to these athletes that he was doing his job, and that came first. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, was also on the panel and he agreed with this sentiment.

This idea that a person should see my work before they see my race was what I retained from that conversation. Does this notion, this responsibility to your race, differ among various professions?

Is this to say that an African American female journalist, such as myself, has no obligation to any one demographic in reporting, but the President of the United States most certainly does. Did the campaign slogan  “Change” translate differently to those of us who happen to be black?

I would really like to hear your comments people. Thank you for reading! 🙂

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A recent Reuters article addresses the fears and concerns associated with the passage of the same sex marriage law in New York. I’ve summarized the article below. What’s your take on this issue?

The debate on legalizing same-sex marriage is being heavily discussed presently. New York state senate has proposed a same sex marriage law. However, some critics oppose the law due to a possible religious exemption.

This would mean that “religious officials or organizations” could refuse service to same sex couples. The bill is just one single vote away from passage.

Senate leaders fear that a large amount of lawsuits will arise concerning what entities are protected by this law. The article states that Conneticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia have passed the gay marriage law with exemptions and  there have been very few lawsuits.

There has been much discussion and conflict on President Obama’s stance on gay marriage. The president has been noted as supporting gay marriage through a petition back in 1996 but said in an interview in 2008 that he was against it. President Obama now says he has “evolving” views on the issue.

In an interview on “Anderson Cooper 360”, strategist Paul Begala stated that he believes President Obama will support gay marriage before the election.

“I think he’s likely for certain to do it before the election, he’s going to have to”, Begala said.

See the full interview about the president’s views on “Anderson Cooper 360”, here. And see how the president’s position has “evolved” through the years here.

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