KEITH - I humbly confess to being one of Keith Olbermann’s biggest fans. His “Countdown” program on MSNBC was a definite staple at 8 p.m. most nights of the week I wasn’t bogged down with work. His keen insight, bold “Special Comments” and childlike humor, especially his trademark, “Worst Person in the World” segments, easily made me a devoted viewer.
But more than that, as a journalist, I was drawn to Olbermann’s extraordinary abilities as a writer and an interviewer. Keith didn’t fool around in those areas, especially areas he cared deeply about.
That’s why, when he and MSNBC decided mutually to have nothing else to do with each other, it was bittersweet. We all knew, given the drama there was between Keith and MSNBC management after eight long years, that something was soon going to give, especially with the upcoming acquisition of NBC-Universal by Comcast.
But at the same time, MSNBC biggest star by far, Keith Olbermann, deserved to leave better than late on a Friday night.
News reports have it that, by agreement, Olbermann cannot appear on television, nor can he say anything about what transpired in his leaving MSNBC, for at least six months.
But make no mistake. We’ll be hearing an earful from Keith a year from now.
Count down on it!
OSCARS - Well, unless I missed it, I didn’t see any black actors or actresses nominated for any Academy Awards this year (I’ll stand corrected if you’re aware of any).
To be fair, I’m not aware of any outstanding performances by African-Americans in cinema last year, not because there weren’t any, but because I didn’t go to the movies very much. My bad. I wait for the DVD to come out. Sue me.
Indeed, 98 percent of the films that are nominated for “Best Picture” I haven’t seen yet. I say 98% because I haven’t seen “Inception” with Leonardo DiCaprio, but I did purchase the Blu-ray just last week. So by the time the Oscars roll around, hopefully I will have seen it.
If you’ve noticed, a British film, “The King’s Speech,” has taken top honors with twelve Oscar nominations, followed by the remake of “True Grit” with ten.
“Inception” and “The Social Network” both have eight a piece.
Gee, at least “Iron Man 2” got one nominations for Best Visual Effects. I want to pull for something.
IGNORANT HATE - Last week was a difficult one for me because Wednesday, Jan. 19th, was the second anniversary of my mother’s death.
But what made that day, and the rest of the week for that matter, even worse, was listening to the “Rick and Donna Martinez Show” on right-wing conservative talk radio station 680 WPTF-AM in Raleigh (http://www.wptf.com/).
It was the morning after Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central went after the Republicans on the Wake County School Board and their continuing efforts to end student diversity.
You guessed it, Rick and Donna didn’t like Colbert’s sharp satire portraying the Wake School Board Republicans as a bunch of backwards-looking bumpkins (and that’s being kind, trust me).
Understandable. Both are committed conservatives. Donna and I used to work together over at NBC-17 TV doing the “At Issue” program for a few years. She is sharp, well-read, and does her homework. Donna always kept me on my toes with my arguments.
Rick is not only the co-host of the show, but the news director of WPTF. And, he writes a column for the News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh.
Both are conservative right-wingers, yes, but also nice people.
That is, until now.
A black caller named “Abe” (and I know who he really is), called to get in on the conversation about the Colbert show, and also the defensive counterpoint by both Rick and Donna that the comedian should have been talking about the poor graduation rate of economically disadvantage students a year ago (54%), and how diversity, in their opinion, failed to properly teach students of color in the system before the Republican-dominated school board came on.
To set the record straight, under socioeconomic diversity, Wake County Schools delivered student achievement rates of 91.5 at or above grade proficiency of grades 3 through eight overall, and 81 percent for black and Hispanic students in the system in 2003.
Those numbers made Wake County Public Schools the star of the academic world. Everyone from Forbes Magazine to the New York Times raved about the system’s success. The conservatives counter that it was all a fraud and meaningless because the state achievement tests then were real easy and no challenge at all.
Let’s say what the righties say is true. Doesn’t matter. Wake County repeatedly came in first at the time out of the state’s 115 school districts. Even when the state tests were re-normed (toughened), Wake still came in first overall, even though the grades of black and Hispanic students began to plateau.
And it’s real convenient how the conservatives never give the real reason why black and Hispanic student achievement began to plummet around 2005-06. Wake’s success brought about tremendous growth as families across the nation moved here for the great school system they had been hearing about.
The growth became the number one issue for the system, which was already doing a lot with far less funding that comparable schools systems (like Charlotte-Mecklenburg, which was getting tens of millions more, and failing its black students like crazy).
Wake School administrators admittedly took their eyes off the student achievement ball in order to deal with the growth, and things began to slide downhill big time.
And yes, a Republican-led Wake County Commissioners in 2005 refused to give the school system the ample funding it needed to deal with the ballooning growth effectively.
Thus, the poor achievement of black and Hispanic students from 2006 to today.
The conservatives don’t tell THAT story. They can’t. It would explain too much; wouldn’t give them the easy target they’ve had of using the academic struggles of black and economically disadvantaged students for political fodder.
Just like they did during the school board races of 2009 to take control.
So what does the Rick and Donna Martinez Show on Jan. 19th have to do with all of this?
As I indicated, on that morning, a black caller named “Abe” got on during Rick and Donna’s denunciation of Stephen Colbert’s stinging satire on the Wake School Board.
Abe wanted to make clear that despite the low achievement scores of recent years for black students, black parents historically have valued education, and still do.
That’s when the outrageous and ridiculous happened.
Rick Martinez literally interrupted Abe, stopped him from saying another word, and told the man that everything he was saying about black parents was “rhetoric.”
Martinez, who is Mexican-American, then followed up with the amazing statement that “Hispanic and black parents are not concerned about education as much as Asian and white parents” are.
Think about that for a minute. Martinez didn’t say “some,” which would be accurate. He didn’t say “many.”
Martinez just said “Hispanic and black parents….”
Martinez then went on to ask Abe when Asian and white students, and Hispanic and black students step on a college campus, “who is better prepared?”
Now I know “Abe,” so I know why he said “white and Asian students.” He wasn’t in a position to argue or bring clarity to the point. Not publicly.
But forget Abe. Martinez is the madman who started this rhetorical and, yes, RACIST forest fire!
The utter carelessness of Martinez’ declaration is breathtaking, but it’s not new.
Conservatives have always sent this signal to their right-wing constituents that black children are not good enough to share the same classroom with their white children because black parents don’t value education as much. That’s how they’re able to implicitly justify going back to neighborhood schools.
But to hear a man of color - a Mexican-American - run that game, even on his own people, is shocking indeed.
Of course there are a number of black parents who, for many reasons, are not as up on the education of their children as others. But THEY ARE NOT THE MAJORITY of black parents. And yet, Martinez and other conservatives use the minority to broad-brush and slander the majority.
Suppose I said, “Black people love the Lord more than any other people or community, because we sing, pray and praise GOD better than any other group.” Do you think some folks just might have a slight problem with that? Might even take that personally?
It is always dangerous to make broad-brushing statements like that, and usually intelligent people don’t do it, unless they have a bone to pick, or want to start some mess.
As a conservative radio talk show host, Rick Martinez gets paid to start unnecessary mess.
That’s a shame.
Hearing this garbage (I’d use a stronger word, but this is a family newspaper) on the painful second anniversary of my mother’s death, touched a nerve. How dare ANYONE say that my dear mother, who put off buying a house for years just to send me to private church school in the 60’s because she feared how I would turn out if she sent to a New York City public school, didn’t value education for her child as much a anyone else.
And how dare anyone say that Markita and I don’t care about education as any white or Asian counterpart. My oldest daughter, Tiffany, graduated college in 2005, and earned her Master’s in Business Administration in December 2008. Today she’s gainfully employed in the radio business as an account executive.
Does Rick Martinez have an MBA?
And our youngest daughter, KaLa, who turns eight in three weeks. She’s always been at the top of her class no matter what grade. She’s Met Pres. Obama, First Lady Michelle and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. KaLa loves to read and write stories.
Hey Rick, think these two kids came up in black households that don’t value education? Think again.
So folks, if you didn’t know it before, know it now. The right-wing will do or say ANYTHING to destroy and regain power. You see the lies they’ve been telling about president and First family.
And now you see how far they’re willing to go in the lies about us.
If you haven’t before, you better stand up now. GET INVOLVED! On February 12th at 9:30 a.m., the NCNAACP and its 100-member coalition will come together for their fifth annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HK on J5). That date is the 102nd anniversary of the NAACP, and President/CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous will be here to participate. Meet on the South Street side of Shaw University in Raleigh (in front of the McDonald’s).
Bump Martinez. He only represents part of the problem. Together, we have to confront the power!
Be there, especially if you’re a proud, devoted black parent.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.Power750.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, by Cash Michaels, honored this year as well by NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian your life. Bye, bye.