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Monday, October 19, 2009

Angels baseball beats Yankees baseball 5-4: battle of payrolls

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Angels win was a Money-ball story

The old saying: the more things change the more they stay the same. The Los Angeles Angels beat the New York Yankees 5-4 today in the AL Championship Series. They're back 2 games to one and could make a real game of it with another win.

But don't make the mistake of thinking that it was David beating Goliath, where the New York Yankees monster payroll was clobbered by the miserly fiscal practices of the Angels.


The truth is that the 2009 player expeditures for both teams are not far off. The Yankees payroll was between $192 million and $201 million this year; the Angels payroll was at $113 million.

Both teams are part of the top six highest payrolls in Major League Baseball, proving that it takes money to win, even in this post-Moneyball era. This was supposed to be the time when the Internet and sabermetrics created a baseball team that could consistently when with a low payroll.

But the reality in 2009 is the same as it was in 1993 and in 2002 when I created the Oakland Baseball Simworld in partnership with Forio Business Simulations, and 2003 when University of San Francisco Professor Dan Rascher and I founded Sports Business Simulations.

Payroll rules.

Our simulation was and is designed to reflect both the "Moneyball" approach and the more common "Pay-To-Win" strategy, but it's the latter that's hard to beat.

In fact, Smith college Sports Economist Andrew Zimbalist (who's also a member of our simulation advisory board) determined that after 1990 there was a more powerful correlation between higher payrolls and team performance.

I tried for years to make a team "work" in the context of the current Oakland Coliseum using the Oakland Baseball Simworld (which I developed from scratch for the purpose of teaching marketing, business, and sports finance in high school and college classrooms and is based on my work at the City of Oakland). It's hard to achieve the 250 and up score that indicates baseball business success.

The only answer is to build a new stadium. Location aside - Oakland's better - it's the best tonic to turn any Oakland-based baseball team into a winner, including the one currently called The Oakland Athletics.

Meanwhile, the Yankees and Angels will keep being in the hunt for the World Series. Some things never change.

CA DMV - Do you know where your registration money goes?

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 DMV: Where's the Money?

I just returned from another really harrowing experience with the California Department of Motor Vehicles office on Claremont Avenue in Oakland .

Between this and the taxi cab issue, and the Oakland parking problem, anti-car forces should not complain about California not charging enough to operate a car. In fact I've determined that many of them don't own cars; no bumming rides from me in the future, OK?

I think God's putting me through this just to shine a good media light on these problems.  So be it.  To that end, I got the email of the director George Valverde which I will not share, the DMV Twitter account, and his Twitter account, which I will share: @GVCADMV.

George Valverde

Mr. Valverde to date has been helpful in directing my emails, though we've not talked as of this writing, but it's these revelations below that really need to be looked into.  It may be that he's not aware of what's happening under his nose.  He should be. 

What happens, and this is from the personal experience I have gone through complete with extensive notes and papers, is that the registration paid to the DMV is not immediately assigned to whatever citations a driver gets. Plus, it may take as long as three years before a ticket or toll violation is paid from DMV to FastTrak or the California municipality!  

During that time you could wind up paying for a ticket twice and not be reimbursed - once to the DMV via registration or to clear a tow and once to the city or agency. How often this happens is not clear but I learned this from a very enterprising young man at the California vehicle collection division.

It was there that part of my horror started. They sent a "Demand for Payment" for an amount of money I already paid.

When I sent the cashier's check to prove it, it should have ended there, right? Nope. It got worse. Guess why?

They couldn't find it.

That's right. But the enterprising young man I'm taking about kept digging and determined that DMV never assigned my payment. Meanwhile the toll tickets I paid were gaining interest because FasTrak said they were not paid. It turned out that they never got the money from DMV. Now, that's not my fault - I gave them a cashier's check.

Turns out this happens to Californians more than a few times and especially when FasTrak's involved.

What's an outrage is that we allow this to go on without challenge or initiative. We as Californians worry more about being able to smoke weed than having correct and reasonable vehicle costs.

And the City of Oakland's not safe here either. It has parking records that are not accurately updated and suffer from the same DMV payment delay issues FasTrak has.  I have seen three documents with three different amounts on them. 

But what really galls me is today's discovery that DMV Sacramento can "at will" delay or adjust payments for you. It's up to how the manager looks at the situation - well, how the manager feels that day. It's discretionary, which means they can play favorites if they want to but it also means they can work to correct a mistake or at least not stick you with an obvious one.

Too much of what DMV does is so disjointed and uncoordinated that I'm really shocked the California Legislature hasn't called for an investigation. For example I got something like four different print letters from vehicle collections with different amounts. But a person in a good position at DMV told me today they should all be the same and not different. 

This person also told me that the agency - like FasTrak - that requests the money from DMV sends the payment amount and DMV doens't double check it. In other words FasTrak can send one request for $50 and then up it to $100 within a month and DMV will not question it - meanwhile FasTrak's charging weekly interest to the cost.  (Isn't that illegal?  Don't we have usery laws here?)

It's no wonder an irate Yelp user referred to FasTrak's accounting practices in a way that points to some untoward intentions.

But. But. But. She says DMV expects the documents to have the same amount. Isn't that crazy-making? But she said in one sentence that DMV doesn't care what they're charge or how it changes - (my words now) because they're just going to stick you with it, anyway.

Someone's making some extra money here. I said this to one Oakland DMV office staffer today and she agreed. "Not me" she said. But someone is. This money trail's not adding up properly, yet everyone I talked to agrees there's a problem.

This is not a good situation for the State of California to be in as it looks like and feels like it's trying to cheat California residents to clear a massive budget deficit.  I said it, and I challenge the DMV to show me that it doesn't look like that.  It does. 

Balancing the budget on the backs of California drivers is, to use a street term, just plain lame.  Ok.  It's criminal.  Moreover, it's a highly regressive practice, hurting the poor more than anyone else. A sad state of affairs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SF Chronicle talk - Phil Matier on California politics and government

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San Francisco Chronicle Columnist Phil Matier is a friend and one-half of the well-known reporting team of Matier and Ross.

I've known Phil since 1993 when I started as a columnist for the Oakland-based Montclarion and he and his professional sidekick Andy Ross were working under the same "Matier and Ross" title. Over the years Phil has always lent an ear and advice.

Now, since I blog on the SF Chronicle's website SFGste.com, I figured I'd take time to do something that was always in the back of my mind: make a vlog featuring an interview with Phil. The result is this 21 minutes long video.

Frankly, it also a way of paying back those at the SF Chronicle who've given me the freedom to express myself and bring light to some issues that ordinarily would be ignored.

Phil and I met at Merritt Station. A local cafe near Lake Merritt in Oakland on Sunday, September 27th.

Me: The legendary Phil Matier. Phil, my audience is national and international. Tell people about yourself. You're probably the most well-known - in the United States - 'muckraker', I would say. Ah. I don't really like that term. How would you describe yourself?

Phil Matier: I think I'm pretty much a political columnist, and uh, zeroed in pretty much on the San Francisco Bay Area and the state of California. Which, in a lot of ways, leads the nation both in content and in controversy when it comes to politics.

So I've been doing it for quite a number of years right now and I've seen a lot of interesting changes. In both parties and in the emergence of the third party, which is the 'decline to state' - people who don't really feel aligned with either of the two.

So, California is in some ways again on the leading edge of American politics, including the growth in the sort of disillusionment about the political system.

Me: Let's go with that, but before we get to that, what was your first big scoop?

Phil Matier: You know, Zen, scoops, they come and they go whether they be on the police beat, the court beat sports and politics. Sit back sometimes and flip through your clips and take a look at things. To be quite honest, they just sort of fly by like waves on a beach.

Me: Ha. There's so many you forgot, right?

Phil Matier: Well, its not just - there are a lot of what we call scoops - is that in retrospect what we look at as scoops: somebody, a gaffe, something on the goppip front, nonprofits not being on the up and up.. We've covered them all - me and my partner Andy Ross in the Matier and Ross column.

But sometimes you wonder whether these are the waves on the beach. And while they look big at the time they crash, it's really the tide that dictates sort of what goes in and out of this harbor. So when I look back on them I go 'That's interesting but I try to look at the tied and the bigger shifts that go on.

Me: Is California ungovernable? Because we have the initiative process. We saw the circus with Prop 8 and what happened with the California Supreme Court's decision. I want to hear your view. Is California ungovernable?

Phil Matier: Well, part of your question is (really) is California governable or is it over-governable at this point. We have very active governments on a number of different fronts.

We have, of course, your standard political government, which is elected every couple of years to your state assembly, your state senate, your governorships, different elected offices, your mayors, your city councilors, your town councilors, all down the line. On top of that we have the judicial system which can turn around and say 'yes or no' to whatever laws or decisions those various entities make.

Some say, well, is California being governed by the courts. If you look at things like prisons, roads, schools, and such like that, sometimes it appears that the courts are making the primary decisions.

In California we have another layer over that which is the initiative process. Which was initially the idea that if the voters didn't like something they could put it on the ballot and they could change it. Especially if the legislature or the courts were simply inactive or chose to ignore it.

The first big - it was a dormant thing (the initiative process) for many many year, before it sprang to life a couple of decades back with Proposition 13. The passage of that: the great California tax revolt, which in turn led to the rise of (Ronald) Reagan and other things nationally. As I was saying California in some ways moves the country.

That inspired people to say we can take government into our own hands when government refuses to act. The intiative process became a gauge of the overall political tides. If a City like Oakland didn't want to do tax reform then the people would do it for them.

That morphed into a process where people and businesses were putting things on the ballot to put them on for ballot's sake. So now we have three layers of politics in California. Three layers of governance, all competing at times, but at times all working together.

As an illustration, California's many problems with its budget. The legislature didn't have the will or the votes to pass various things to they said we will put it to the voters and have them decide.

That didn't work.

Another question is, let's say Gay Marriage in California, Proposition 8. Voters said 'no' to it, City of San Francisco said 'yes' to it, triggering a court fight, that turned around and said 'no' to it and then the voters were asked again and they said 'yes' to it, (which was a 'no' to Gay Marriage), but that is a process. Like it or not. People - if it works in your favor, people like it. If you don't get the results you want it needs fixing.

California's having these discussions about having a constitutional convention and try to remake the playing field, yet again.

Me: Can we get there, though?

Phil Matier: We may get to a constitutional convention. I'm not sure we're going to get anything out of it that's going to be substantive.

At the key to all of these problems, as (former Speaker and San Francisco Mayor) Willie Brown likes to say, it's not the system, it's the players.

Speaker / Mayor Willie Brown

And if you're a football team and you've lost the Super Bowl in politics these days in California we say 'Well, we need to change the rules' - make the goal posts closer. We almost could have won if we'd gotten those last 10 yards, so let's make the field 90 yards rather than 110 yards.

We do these under the name of reform and all they do is often times all the do is change the rules. But if you don't have the talent, it's not going to work.

Me: How much of these problems are borne of the fact that we seem to have two states in one? We've talked for years about a split state need. But we've never done anything about it.

Phil Matier: People would say we have two states, Northern California and Sounthern California because they have the water. Now, California's spliting into two states, coastal and interior of California which is exurban and suburban. What the coast has to sell, the inland's going to buy. We have two Californias, now you can say we can split them but I'm not sure it's going to work. Many states have a split; it's just that ours is a little bigger than others. 

Me: Let me ask you a blunt question, first, about San Francisco and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Why is he running for governor when there are those who feel he hasn't finished being Mayor of San Francisco?

Mayor Gavin Newsom

Phil Matier: Well, Zennie, let's be honest. If there was a rule in politics that if you were going to run for another office you could not do so until you were finished with your current one, we wouldn't have a President Obama.

Me: Are you comparing Gavin to Barack?

Phil Matier: Only in that we have this evolution in American politics to where you pass through rather than necessarily complete. So that's not a new phenomenon at all. History is full of governors and senators - congresspeople - who have moved on to other offices midterm and cast their eye high and kept going.

Zennie Abraham: But Phil, come on. I know Gavin. I love Gavin. I think Gavin's a great guy, but I keep wondering why he didn't do the 'Jerry Brown move'. Jerry was Mayor of Oakland; he remade himself. Concentrate on being Mayor, and then..

California Attorney General Jerry Brown

Phil Matier: Zennie you have to dust off your memory a little bit. Jerry Brown, no sooner did he get elected Governor of California with his father's help, did he too run for President.

Me: That's true. I stand corrected.

Phil Matier: Now he says the voters never forgave him for that; he didn't think it was a smart move but that didn't stop him from running for President again and again and again.

Zennie Abraham: Three times, I believe.

Phil Matier: With age comes wisdom. But in California we also have Jerry Brown who, while not declared is going to run for governor and who well could get into the Guiness Book of World Records for having been the first guy to be governor twice - non consecutively. And the first to have gone from governor to attorney general.

I think what you're saying is 'Why the leapfrogging' and you want to know about Gavin Newsom and wha the future holds for him.

He obviously sees himself as a person of destiny of which the mayorship of San Francisco was a step to that. Well, you would say the governorship would be a step to another office? Yes. He is a creature of that world. It's an interesting paradox that he is at once an agent of change and very much something out of a television politician, running from one office to another.

That is politics as well. It is a game of ambition. It is a game of high ideals. Very rarely do we have situations where people who are underestimated wind up in positions where they achieve greater than anyone expected.

Harry Truman, for example, was a pretty much a political machine product and had been parked in the vice-presidency as a caretaker know body though was going anywhere.

Zennie Abraham: Reagan?

Phil Matier: No Ronald Reagan was always a rising star - a man on the move. He was the first true multi-media president - Jack Kennedy was probably the first televised one - Ronald Reagan took it further.

On the next mayor of San Francisco and Black Politics in Oakland

Phil Matier: Gavin has not really laid down a political infrastructure in San Francisco It's going to be a bedoin regime when Newsom picks up his tent and moves on - the sands will, within a day, cover up most of what political tracks he had left.

Zennie Abraham: Any surprises in the City Attorney's Race that might lead to mayor?

Phil Matier: The City Attorney of San Francisco Dennis Herrera's obviously a top candidate for mayor. State Senator Leland Yee would like to see himself the first Chinese-American mayor of San Francisco. Bevan Dufty would like to be the first Gay mayor, We have a number of people out there.

But in politics, Zennie, as you well know, you don't know the field until the bell rings. Because things changes quickly. Here in Oakland, you had the return of Ron Dellums, then before that Jerry Brown. Who knows? In Oakland you have everyone asking 'Who's going to run?'

Zennie Abraham: Perata?

(Fmr.) State Senator Don Perata 

Phil Matier: He's already running but who knows, Sean Penn may move to Oakland and run for mayor. I'm just joking on that, but the point is in politics you just don't know.

Zennie Abraham: In Oakland it seems like (Don) Perata is unbeatable. I can't see anyone that can beat him. I admire Don but I always thought his want was to ascend beyond mayor, instead of be Mayor of Oakland. Am I looking at that the wrong way?

Phil Matier: I think that for Don Perata there's always been a split path there. I think that he thought he could go high in state government and I think he ran for controller on the state level and he didn't make it in the primary. There's ambition there.

But he did go up there. He did get a look inside the governor's office. There are two types of politicians: the executive types and those that enjoy the debate. Willie Brown knew he couldn't win (for governor) state wide, but he went to the state and got as far as he could. I think Perata's more on the executive side. Senator Diane Feinstein's more on the executive side, but she's in the Senate acting as an exective.

Zennie Abraham: If Perata wins, does that mean Black politics is dead in Oakland?

Phil Matier: No. Zennie you have to understand the art of politics can be very obvious on the street or very subtle. You could make an argument that if I was talking in straight political numbers, if I ..OK. I are saying that the absence of a Black mayor would lessen the political power in Oakland?

Zennie Abraham: It's not so much black mayor as councilmembers, people who are active.

Phil Matier: Let's take a look at this.

Zennie Abraham: Sure.

Phil Matier: Two (black) members on the city council.

Me: Right.

Phil Matier: Two members on the (Alameda) county board of supervisors?

Me: Right. But Phil, we...

Phil Matier: Excuse me. Your congress. Your Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Me: Yes.

Phil Matier: That is a pretty strong..black police chief. Black fire chief.

Me: Right.

Phil Matier: There's a pretty strong front there within the infrastructure of government and on the elected front.

Zennie Abraham: Phil, I gotta ask ya, we had more black councilmembers 15 years ago.

Phil Matier: There's also been a change in the population of Oakland.

Me: Yes. Yes. Yes. Very true.

Phil Matier: Now, is it reflective of the city? If that is the goal is it reflective of the ebb and flow as well.

Me: Yes. It is reflective of the city. We have change. We have our first Lesbian councilmember. We have a large lesbian population per capita. But even with that, my contention is that those who are African American and politically involved are not as cohesive as they used to be.

Phil Matier: What is the reason for that?

Me: I don't know.

Phil Matier: Well, part of it is, possibly, with success comes complacency.

Me: Also lack of leadership.

Phil Matier: I don't think..What leadership. I don't...you have a black congresswoman, a black..

Me: Mentors. Lack of mentors.

Phil Matier: I don't think that's for lack of leadership.

Me: Ok.

Phil Matier: Now, Ron Dellums was congressman he handed it to Barbara Lee. Right?

Me: But they're older than me.

Phil Matier: Well, OK. That is universal in politics - young versus old cuts across all political lines. Now whether the young organize around political issues that remains to be seen. Now whether a Perata ..You could make an argument that a Perata or a Jerry Brown perhaps increased African American participation because they felt like they needed to fight for something.

Me: In Oakland, I see younger talented white women in politics. Frieda Edgette who runs the East Bay Young Democrats is well-liked and moving forward, as just one example. But that's why I say: there's a strong group over there that's unmatched in any area.

Phil Matier: Well, all I can say is at the core of politics in America a person gets to decide their willingness and level of involvement It's not mandated. You don't get drafted. You decide how much you want to be involved or not be involved.

In terms of politics if we go back to the idea of courts, we have organizing tools as economics - getting the piece of the pie. If it attracts quotas or whatever you want to call them is there a need to organize?

Me: Forecast the Governor's Race.

Phil Matier: It hasn't started yet. We have people hovering around. We have Gavin Newsom. We have Jerry Brown. We, on the Republican side, we have Meg Whitman. We have Steve Poisner. Tom Campbell. A race is when the running starts. What we have are people putting on their sneakers and looking in the mirror.

Me: Senator Boxer. Vulnerable?

Phil Matier: Anybody is going to be vulnerable when we have national issues like heath care in this situation. It's no secret that when your party's president is in office and its midterm elections, you're vulnerable. Yes. She's vulnerable. I don't have to say that; every politician feels that in their bones. Even if they're uncontested they always feel vulnerable.

Me: Phil, I can sit here and talk to you all day but I know you're a busy man. We can catch you at SFGate, and Channel Five.

Phil Matier: and on KCBS (radio) in the mornings and the afternoons.

Me: Phil, thank you so much.

Rush Limbaugh in NFL = Modern Slavery

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Right wing Radio talk show blowhard Rush Limbaugh wants to own at least part of the NFL's St. Louis Rams and has joined St. Louis Blues owner and former Madison Square Garden CEO Dave Checketts to do so.

But with Rush Limbaugh comes baggage and a lot of it in this case. Given his statements about African Americans, Rush Limbaugh's even partial ownership of any NFL team is akin to (deliberately capitalized) Modern Slavery.

Rush Limbaugh's record ads up to a view of blacks as alien, second class citizens that are to be feared, held in check, and watched. So imagine Rush owning a team mostly black? What would he say if the St. Louis Rams drafted a black quarterback in the 1st round of the NFL Draft? Would he complain that 'while the league's desirous to see a black quarterback do well, I'm not'?

Rush, with all due respect to his incredible business acumen in securing a $400 million radio contract, has made a ton of statements that put blacks down. For example, he twice used the term "spade" in talking about President Barack Obama in 2008, even though he thought he could get away with it because then presidential candidate and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used the term "spadework" in a talk about Obama.

NFL and Rush?  No!

Rush is quick to point to a crime where (sadly) black youth were beating up a white young man on a bus (and it wasn't even because he was white), but turns a blind eye to any news of a hate crime against blacks.

He's compared NFL players to the gang members the crips and bloods, using the time worn code words for "black gang member".

Rush has made so many anti-back statements, there's a "top 10" list complied by Casey Gane-McCalla of Newsone in 2008:

1. I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.

2. Zennie's note: There is some question over whether Rush actually said this comment but it's all over the Internet. This entry is mine, not that of the original blogger.

3. Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?

4. Right. So you go into Darfur and you go into South Africa, you get rid of the white government there. You put sanctions on them. You stand behind Nelson Mandela — who was bankrolled by communists for a time, had the support of certain communist leaders. You go to Ethiopia. You do the same thing.

5. Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.

6. The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.

7. They’re 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?

8. Take that bone out of your nose and call me back(to an African American female caller).

9. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve.

10. On Obama : a ‘halfrican American’, an ‘affirmative action candidate.’ Limbaugh even has repeatedly played a song on his radio show ‘Barack the Magic Negro’ using an antiquated Jim Crow era term for black a man who many Americans are supporting for president.

It's obvious Rush Limbaugh doesn't like any African American person save for Bo Snerdley, who works for him. If working for Rush is the price blacks have to pay to gain respect from him, I say forget it. Please don't let Rush Limbaugh own any NFL organization.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kanye West | Kanye West "I want chicken because I'm black" an insult to blacks

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Kanye West has done it again. Proving that President Obama was right and he indeed is a jackass just weeks after his celebrated break in on Taylor Swift as she was accepting the award for "Best Female Video of The Year" at the MTV Video Music Awards...

Kanye West opened his mouth and told a TMZ.com reporter that he wanted chicken because "I'm black."

You know, there's an old saying that if you forget the past you're doomed to repeat it. In this case, younger African Americans like Kayne obviously weren't instructed that being black does not come with a set of instructions or limitations, as we were told in the past, as much by ourselves as by others.

This - his comment - strikes a heavy nerve with me (and I don't care if he was kidding) because when I was little, specifically between the ages of 4 and 13 while growing up on the mostly black South Side of Chicago, I was told repeatedly by others who were black like me that I wasn't black.

"You talk white", was all I was told again and again. And if it wasn't that, it was this by the African American adults: "Well, you talk 'proper'. (Thank God for my Mom and Dad, who never, ever, pushed that idea in my head.)

The point is I was bombarded with constant signals telling me how I was supposed to act and be as an African American person. And signals telling me that I should not expect to achieve because I'm black.

Those signals that I ignored at and pushed against, at times deliberately, and eventually I created something I called "My Iron Man Suit", in a Chronicle column two years ago. It wasn't until we moved to Oakland in the early 70s that I stopped hearing that because I wasn't in an entirely black environment. Sorry, but was my experience.

Yeah, I'd evolved to the point where most of my friends were not only black but white, Latino, and Asian, and not the kind of people who would tell me that, "Star Trek's for white people", for example.

Are you anti-diversity folks paying attention here?

To me freedom is the ability to be who you are, free from the chains others try to confine you with, and chains crafted from their own insecurities. Heck, I got those messages constantly when I worked at the City of Oakland between 1987 and 1989 and then again from 1995 to 2001.

When I was an intern in 1987, a person, black, who I know to this day and respect told me something that still makes my blood boil, even if I knew what he meant. He said "Man, you've got three problems: you're young, gifted, and black."

In other words, society can't stand an intelligent African American man. That's what he was saying to me.

Someone else said that my problem with trying to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland was that some thought a high-profile white person should do it (and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce certainly sent that message to me at the time).

I'm not kidding.

Another Oakland employee in economic development said "I guess you can tell we don't like smart people around here."

But those were the 80s and now in 2009 I can say the are a lot of blacks like me who've risen to public view, which makes me smile. One of those people is in the White House. I know, without knowing all of them personally, what kind of struggle they endured just to be themselves.

Kanye is channeling those messages all over again here in 2009, and there's a part of me that just wants to grab him by the collar and yell "Knock it off, will ya?!!" Thanks to Kanye West, we can see that regardless of how much one talks about progress, integration, and President Obama as the first black president, we still have people who talk as if being black is a kind of confinement of personality and extinguishing of ambition.

That's why when Barack won the Presidency last year, I cried. I just cried.

Kanye, hear me on this: try sending a signal to your followers that one can be anything they want to regardless of color, but especially young black men. I think a large part of black-on-black crime is self-hatred. We've got to stop that, and you can help, big time. Do that for me. Heck, do it for society because you have a big voice. But lately, your voice been an irresponsible one. Please step up and help advance us, not knock us back. Yes, I like Chicken, but it's not because I'm black.


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