Commentary By Bakari Kitwana

Conservatives Hip-Hop and 2012

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2012 presidential election ramps up, expect conservatives to keep gunning for black youth, in general, and hip-hop, specifically. Black youth showed significant gains in 2008, and now represent the group of 18- to 29-year-old who vote the most. Their ability via popular to inspire young voters -- who in 2008 voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a ratio of 2-to-1 -- poses one of the most viable threats to Republicans' aspirations to retake the Ppesidency. The recent national discussion surrounding the rapper Common's appearance at the White House is perhaps the first salvo.

What was quickly summed up as either an attempt to defend law enforcement or as an attack on the value of the arts does not get to...

Should Terry Gross Go The Way of Juan Williams?

Let’s begin with the premise that no people, culture, religious, racial or ethnic group is by definition immoral. Not acknowledging this, at the core, is the problem with Juan Williams’ gross generalization about Muslims that recently got him fired from National Public Radio (NPR). But if NPR’s “Fresh Air” interview last week with the rapper Jay-Z about his new book Decoded is any indication, it’s a message still lost on Terry Gross.

To be sure, Juan Williams revealed his bias by openly expressing his personal opinion. Terry Gross didn’t do that. Instead the bias is more subtle and insidious and lurks in the line of questioning.

While not as shocking as the obvious blanket condemnation Juan Williams advanced, the Terry Gross/ Jay-Z interview is even more problematic...

Has Obama Earned the Youth Vote?

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like this: "Youth Vote: Obama Boost or Backlash?" or as reporter Greg Googan put it, "Twenty-four recession-racked months later, the question now looms: Is it still 'change' young Americans can believe in...

Has Obama Earned the Youth Vote?

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like this: "Youth Vote: Obama Boost or Backlash?" or as reporter Greg Googan put it, "Twenty-four recession-racked months later, the question now looms: Is it still 'change' young Americans can believe in?"

When it comes to young voters, has the Obama...

5 Reasons Why I'm Rooting For Alvin Greene, and Why You Should Too

Since the news broke that Alvin Greene won the South Carolina Democratic Party Primary Election for US Senate, countless media and political elites, have filled several rounds of the news cycle looking down their noses at the unlikely winner. But more important than questioning where he got the $10,400 filing fee and feigning outrage in response to the obscenity charge, those who claim to love democracy should be asking this: "why are freedom-loving political insiders asking Greene to step aside?"

The same folks leading the charge against Greene, in part suggesting that he's not smart enough to have really won, are the same public servants unable to protect us from banks smart enough to rip us off, but too dumb to fail, and oversized multinational corporations smart enough to...

Will The Youth Vote Trump Tea Party In Midterm Elections?

One of the most important unasked questions this midterm election year is this: "Will the youth vote be a factor in 2010?" Given the actual impact of the youth vote in 2008, it's a far more important question than the ones daily raised by the media manufactured so-called Tea Party Movement--despite the latter's success at striking fear in the hearts of incumbents.

The Tea Party murmuring is hardly a movement. It has not a single political victory to speak of. Not so easy to dismiss are young voters who two years ago turned out in record numbers to vote in the presidential election. Two-thirds of the 23 million voters 18-29 who voted for president in 2008, voted for Barack Obama.

"The election of Barack Obama was a major electoral politics victory for the youth vote," says...

Is Conservative Obama Backlash the New Racism?

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

The decision by parents across the country to keep their children home from school today rather than have students listen to the president's stay in school address follows an ugly pattern that began to emerge in the months since the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Conservative opposition to Obama in elite political and media circles in recent weeks has turned into routine disgruntled post-election partisan bickering to vile anti-American and racist rhetoric.

From opposition to President Obama's push for an economic stimulus bill in February, and disdain for his selection of Sonia Sotomayor to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, to contempt for his current campaign for health care reform, this...

Is Conservative Obama Backlash the New Racism?

The decision by parents across the country to keep their children home from school today rather than have students listen to the president's stay in school address follows an ugly pattern that began to emerge in the months since the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Conservative opposition to Obama in elite political and media circles in recent weeks has turned into routine disgruntled post-election partisan bickering to vile anti-American and racist rhetoric.

From opposition to President Obama's push for an economic stimulus bill in February, and disdain for his selection of Sonia Sotomayor to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, to contempt for his current campaign for health care reform, this voice of unreason has grown louder and more belligerent. The...

New Muslim Cool Forges Path for New America

New Muslim Cool comes at a time when daily we observe in our national culture old-guard gatekeepers (can you say Dick Cheney?) who work tirelessly to impose on the younger generation a shared American identity that is dated, simple, and in white and black. The magic of Jennifer Maytorena Taylor's important new film, which recently aired on PBS, is found in its ability to provide a bird's eye view of a freshly minted generation of Americans. Fighting against being defined by America's bygone eras, New Muslim Cool points us toward a more complicated future.

It's a journey full of collisions -- mainly because the very act of shining a spotlight on the ways race, politics, religion and generational rifts have evolved, something that Taylor does quite well, is a process that slowly...

The President’s Racial Politics

Originally Published in the Huffingtonpost.com

With the national euphoria of inauguration, the multi-billion dollar corporate bailouts, and even the historic economic stimulus all recent memories, one untold story of the early days of Barack Obama's presidency remains-the advent of a concise, bold and fearless new racial politics.

"Subverting race," Jabari Asim, editor of the Crisis magazine, calls it in his important new book What Obama Means.

And President Obama's uncanny knack for it takes on even greater significance post election-not simply avoiding the predicable knee-jerk behavior of traditional politics that for too long has governed race business, but advancing a more enlightened, informed and balanced racial outlook that shifts the...

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The Huffington Post

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 2:45pm

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2012 presidential election ramps up, expect conservatives to keep gunning for black youth, in general, and hip-hop, specifically. Black youth showed significant gains in 2008, and now represent the group of 18- to 29-year-old who vote the most. Their ability via popular to inspire young voters -- who in 2008 voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a ratio of 2-to-1 -- poses one of the most viable threats to Republicans' aspirations to retake the Ppesidency. The recent national discussion surrounding the rapper Common'...

Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 11:33am

Let’s begin with the premise that no people, culture, religious, racial or ethnic group is by definition immoral. Not acknowledging this, at the core, is the problem with Juan Williams’ gross generalization about Muslims that recently got him fired from National Public Radio (NPR). But if NPR’s “Fresh Air” interview last week with the rapper Jay-Z about his new book Decoded is any indication, it’s a message still lost on Terry Gross.

To be sure, Juan Williams revealed his bias by openly expressing his personal opinion. Terry Gross didn’t do that. Instead the bias is more subtle and...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 2:43pm

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 12:32pm

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like this: "Youth Vote: Obama Boost or Backlash?" or as reporter...