Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Birther Movement Won’t Go Away, and for Good Reason

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs got it right when he bluntly said that the deal is that the legions who are adamant that President Obama is an illegal alien and should be dumped from the White House will never go away. Not only won’t they go away but in recent weeks they’ve gained even more steam, and they’ve got it ironically with the unintended help of birther opponents. Every newspaper, magazine, talk show host that damns the birthers as a bunch of wacky, paranoid, Obama haters stirs the pot even more. They do it simply by acknowledging the issue with a column or a show. The birthers revel in that, and they should because there’s a canny, calculated,and politically cynical motive behind their Obama birth certificate agitation.

The clamor for Obama to produce his original birth document gained a noisy following long before the final presidential vote tally was in last November. It started the instant that he declared his presidential candidacy in February 2007. Take your pick: He was too black. He was not patriotic enough. He was too liberal, too effete, too untested. He was a Muslim, terrorist fellow traveler, and a closet black radical. The shock of an Obama in the White House was simply too much for many to bear. Obama defied the stereotypical textbook look and definition of what an American president was supposed to look like, and be like; namely a wooden image middle-aged, or older, white male.

Obama inadvertently gave ammunition to the incipient birthers during a campaign stop in late July 2007 when he quipped that he did not look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills. Obama got torched for saying the obvious and that was that his candidacy was different. Obama later admitted that it was a racial reference. The off the cuff remark simply reinforced the point that he and his candidacy marked a turning point in U.S. presidential politics and by extension race relations.

The Obama birth certificate hounders kicked their rumor mongering campaign against him into even higher gear when some mainstream papers found the birth certificate controversy good copy and grist to get the tongues wagging. The birthers spotted the opening and crudely cloaked themselves in the mantle of public spirited citizens and legal experts with no personal, political, let alone racial, ax to grind with Obama. Their sole goal they claimed was to insure electoral truth and accuracy, to make sure that all the legal requirements for holding a presidential office are met, and to head off a constitutional crisis. They even promised that they would put the matter to rest if Obama simply produced the original.

That was a lie. The birthers with an open boost from GOP ultra conservatives led by House Rep John Campbell and other House members who are pushing a bill that requires all future presidential candidates to produce their original birth certificates. That, of course, would apply to Obama as well when he presumably runs for reelection in 2012. The real value of the Birther movement is that it’s a tailored back door movement that can be used to destabilize, or at the least keep the Obama administration off balance on policy initiatives he’s pushing on health care, the economy, and a softer foreign policy outreach. They are fierce opponents of them.

Since Obama’s inauguration dozens of You Tube clips have been churned out on the controversy, legions of websites continue to recycle the rumor line about his certificate, and a mountain size stack of articles rehash the issue of whether the birth certificate that Hawaii produced is legit. More than two dozen lawsuits or petitions have been filed in various state courts contesting Obama’s U.S. citizenship (one of them was filed by political gadfly Alan Keyes). The Supreme’s Court’s refusal to demand that Obama pony up his birth certificate has done absolutely nothing to take any steam out of the movement. If anything, it probably added some vapor to it, by convincing more that the Courts or in cahoots with the Obama White House to keep the real “truth” about his imagined foreign birth secret from the American people.

The worst thing about the controversy over Obama’s birth certificate is not that CNN’s Lou Dobbs has latched onto the issue for ratings and to make mischief against Obama. Or that others in the media have even dignified the controversy by treating it as if it’s a legitimate issue. The worst thing is that none have connected the dots and seen the birthers as the shock troops to torpedo Obama’s political agenda. Their hope is that by sowing enough conspiracy paranoia about him they can do just that.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles at 9:30 AM Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dr. Conrad Murray: Patsy or Perpetrator? Pt. 1

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Dr. Conrad Murray did two things the fateful day that the King of Pop died. He rushed to the hospital with paramedics in the fawn hope of saving Jackson. And he rushed to get an attorney. Murray knew that there would be questions, lots of questions, about what did he know, when did he know it, and what did he do or not do to save Michael Jackson. These are questions that well could eventually land Murray in a court room docket. Investigators made no secret that they raided Murray’s Houston office and Las Vegas home and office to find evidence that might bolster a manslaughter charge against the doctor. That’s the reason Murray rushed to an attorney’s office. L.A. County District Attorney, LAPD Robbery-Homicide, The Drug Enforcement Administration, and the California Attorney General are investigating Jackson’s death.

Murray’s possible legal woes pose another question and dilemma. From the porous leaks from the investigations, Murray may not be the only culprit in Jackson’s demise. There are five other doctors who investigators are taking a hard look at to see just what they either gave Jackson or whether they aided and abetted him in obtaining either over or under the table. If Jackson was addicted to the assorted pain killer drugs, there were others that helped him in his drug induced downhill slide.

They shouldn’t be hard to track down since all California doctors and pharmacies are required to report to the California Department of Justice every prescription written for any drug that has high risk potential. The drug that Jackson took certainly fit that category. Though home use of the suspect drug Propofol that Jackson reportedly took to get to sleep is rare, there’s no law that prohibits it. Yet, in almost all cases a doctor must be present to inject a patient with the drug.
So once the doctors who were complicit in Jackson’s addiction are named, the logical question then is why is the only legal finger solely pointed at Murray? Is it pointed at him only because he is strongly suspected of being the perpetrator of Jackson’s end? Or is Murray the ideal patsy to take the fall for Jackson’s death. He’s probably both.

The instant that Murray’s name leaked as Jackson’s last doctor of record, the finger of blame quickly was rammed in his face. He’s been pilloried on scores of websites and in chat rooms as “Michael’s Killer.” His training at Meharry Medical College School of Medicine, one of the oldest and most renowned black medical training facilities in Nashville, Tennessee, his internships, his years of experience and work as a cardiologist, and the stack of liens and lawsuits against him were all now fair game for attack. In the public’s mind, Murray was a shady, incompetent, money grubbing doctor. And he is African-American. This added a special venom to the public assault on Murray. In a Google search of various print and blog sites, this writer found a barrage of outlandish, and provocative racist slurs of Murray. So outrageous that some editors implored readers not to make racially charged references to Murray and Jackson’s death.

Murray read the tea leaves and saw that the sentiment was overwhelming that an African-American doctor with a checkered history and publicly reviled as the man who killed Jackson had better move fast and say and do as little as possible and assemble a crack legal team around him. He would need it.

With so much clamor to pin the blame for Jackson’s death on someone, the someone being Murray, a prosecution seemed inevitable. Now that that possibility looms larger by the day, there’s little chance that a Murray prosecution will draw the kind of racial line in the sand that has been drawn when African-American notables are charged with crimes or harangued for bad behavior. Jackson was just too universally loved by African-Americans, and indeed by fans across all racial lines, for that to happen. There was the strong and early hint by Jesse Jackson that Jackson may have been the victim of foul play. The outspoken rage from Jackson family members that backed Jesse Jackson’s charge up has insured that Murray’s circle of defenders will not likely include many African-Americans.

The gnawing question, though, still stands. And that’s since so many other doctors were involved in Jackson’s grotesque descent into fatal drug dependency should Murray be the only one of them to take the fall? This is not to absolve Murray of wrongdoing. If he did what prosecutors may charge him with than he should and must pay the price? He’ll just carry two crushing burdens when he does; that of patsy and perpetrator in the death of the Pop King.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard weekly in Los Angeles Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama’s Gates Trainwreck

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The stock basketball one liner came to mind when I heard President Obama utter his now infamous “acting stupid” line referring to the cuffing of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. The star player takes a wild shot and the livid coach screams “no,” “no” “no” and then when the improbable happens and the ball swishes through the net, the coach’s livid “no,” “no,” “no” instantly becomes a fist in the air shaking “yes,” “yes,” “yes.”
My response was the same only in reverse. I said an instant and visceral fist shaking yes, yes, yes to Obama’s Gates quip. After all, the president spoke boldly and unhesitatingly on the always contentious, divisive and painful issue of racial profiling. But then just as quickly I said “no,” “no,” “no.” No, not because I didn’t think it was the right thing to do, and no not because I didn’t think he didn’t have the right to give an opinion, and it was just that an opinion on a touchy issue.

All presidents weigh in with their personal views, opinions, and thoughts, no matter how ill informed, at unscripted White House press conferences, and in countless network TV interviews on every subject under the sun. And certainly I didn’t say no because Obama shouldn’t toss racial matters and racial profiling out on the nation’s table. No apology necessary for that. The no, was because I knew that Obama would take a monster hit for piping up on a racial case that’s a ticking time bomb that could explode in his face. President’s can and do recover from ill chosen words on emotion charged issues.
In this case, though, his words came at the worst possible time; a time when the president needs to squeeze and squeeze hard every ounce of the considerable personal and political capital that he’s painstakingly built up over the past few months to get an ever growing number of push back Democrats, dogged obstructionist Republicans, and the recalcitrant powerhouse trio of insurers, medical professionals, and pharmaceuticals who flatly oppose or are waffling on Obama’s public option component of health care reform. This is the centerpiece of the reform package, without it reform is a meaningless exercise in political gamesmanship.

Two new presidential approval polls from Rasmussen and Zogby, confirmed my “no,” “no,” “no” shout. The Rasmussen is an absolute number’s nightmare for Obama. His disapproval rating has soared to nearly 40 percent among voters. Those that strongly approve of his performance sunk to 29 percent. That wasn’t the worst of the bad news. A bare 25 percent of voters thought his answer was good. More than 60 sixty percent thought it was fair or lousy. Even more ominous was the voter breakdown. The crack in Obama’s hitherto impregnable black vote support was glaring. Nearly 30 percent of black voters broke ranks with Obama on his Gates’ answer.
Among Obama’s two other huge breakthrough groups, independents, and young voters, the blowback was even more disastrous. Nearly 70 percent of Independents and nearly 50 percent of young persons rated his answer “fair” or “poor.”

This is just the opening that the usual suspect Obama foes need to pound the president, and by extension his policies on health care, the stimulus, on foreign policy overtures. All are suddenly back in play and in question as set hit pieces for the Obama mashers; but especially health care reform. The issue is no longer the standard knock that it is too costly and a gross case of too much government interference in health care. Obama is now anti-police and an out of the closet race inflamer whose judgment can’t and shouldn’t be trusted on the crucial issue of health care reform.
The more charitable don’t go that far, but instead firmly declare that the presidential honeymoon is officially over. The only good news is that Obama’s popularity outside the U.S. is still off the charts. But foreigners can’t vote for or elect the congresspersons and senators who make and decide major policy decisions, health care reform being front and center the most pressing.
Even Obama’s still high personal popularity ratings don’t mean much. Popular ratings are just that, over-hyped numbers that measure a president's likeability, not his leadership effectiveness.

The true test for a president and how the public rates him is the quality of his leadership. A foreign crisis, a souring economy, out of control partisan battles with Congress, fights with major labor and industry groups, and prolonged military adventures are the things that inflict mortal wounds on presidents. The same is true for real or perceived gaffes, slips, and shoot from the lip comments.
President Obama spoke from the heart and said would needed to be said about the thorny issue of racial profiling. Again, no apology needed for that. He just said it in the wrong case and at the wrong time. Gates was the trainwreck waiting to happen, in other words, “no,” “no,” “no.”

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles at 9:30 AM Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blacks and Hispanics Biggest Losers if Real Health Care Reform Flops

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

If President Obama’s drive for some form of universal health care falters the biggest losers by far will be African-Americans and Hispanics. According to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, blacks and Hispanics make up nearly half of the estimated 50 million Americans who have no health care insurance. But the danger signs for reform are real. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that public support for Obama’s plan is badly fraying. This is no surprise.
The instant that Obama announced he would make health care reform his defining issue the health care reform opponents kicked their attack into high gear. The two hit points are that it’s too costly and too intrusive; meaning that it will snatch from Americans their right to choose their own doctors and health plans and dump health care into the alleged slipshod, inefficient hands of government bureaucrats. The real fear of private insurers, pharmaceuticals, and major medical practitioners is that they’ll have to treat millions of uninsured, profit losing, health challenged blacks and Hispanics.
The huge racial disparity in the number of uninsured has been a sticking point for every Democratic president since Harry Truman proposed the first national health care plan in the late 1940s. The numbers of blacks and Hispanics without a prayer of obtaining health care at any price has always been wildly disproportionate to that of whites, even poor whites. It has steadily gotten worse over the years.

The legions of black and Hispanic uninsured are far more likely than the one in four whites who are uninsured to experience problems getting treatment at a hospital or clinic. This has devastating health and public policy consequences. A study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that they are far more likely than whites to suffer higher rates of catastrophic illness and disease, and are much less likely to obtain basic drugs, tests, preventive screenings and surgeries. They are more likely to recover slower from illness, and they die much younger.
Studies have found that when blacks and Hispanics do receive treatment, the care they receive is more likely to be substandard than that of whites. Reports indicate that even when blacks and Hispanics are enrolled in high quality health plans, the racial gap in the care and quality of medical treatment still remains.

Private insurers routinely cherry pick the healthiest and most financially secure patients in order to bloat profits and hold down costs. American medical providers spend twice as much per patient than providers in countries with universal health care, and they provide lower quality for the grossly inflated dollars. Patients pay more in higher insurance premiums, co-payments, fees and other hidden health costs. At the same time, government medical insurance programs shell out more than public insurers in other countries with universal health care.

With much fanfare, three major hospital groups and the pharmaceuticals in June and July announced that they would plough more than $200 billion into health care reform. This appeared to be a major step toward breaking the age old logjam on getting real health care reform. That’s hardly the case. Neither the pharmaceuticals, the hospitals nor private industry groups publicly pledged to fully drop their opposition to providing coverage and at cost medicines to those considered “high risk” or, less charitably, “undesirables.” Those are the millions who suffer chronic and major diseases—cancer, diabetes, asthma and heart disease.
Blacks and Hispanics have far greater incidences of these ailments than whites. Even when they can pay for medical coverage, they can be excluded from coverage if afflicted with these medical maladies. The health care industry’s reform plan is vague, tentative and subject to change at every step of the negotiating process. They still have a free hand to exclude high-risk cases from coverage.
The much debated “public option” is the only government check and balance to guarantee coverage and treatment for the uninsured and those labeled as high risk.

Yet, industry groups have mounted a major effort to kill outright or water the public plan down to where it is meaningless. In a press conference in June, Obama sent a mild signal that the public option is open to negotiation. Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel went further and privately told opposing Republican Senators and doubting conservative Democrats that Obama will consider “alternatives” to the tepid government option. Emmanuel didn’t say what the alternative is other than a nod toward an even vaguer and unproven system of loosely regulated, non profit health care co-operatives.

For decades, the health care industry has gutted every proposal for expanded health care. It has couched its attack by posing as the noble public spirited guardian of the nation’s health and pocketbook; arguing that a public plan is too costly, inefficient and entails too much heavy-handed government control and interference. The Post/ABC Poll shows more Americans are buying their spin. This is catastrophic news for the millions of black and Hispanic uninsured who desperately need real health care reform.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles at 9:30 AM Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Obama's Africa Visit Must Be About More Than Promises

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama’s two day visit to Ghana is history making only in the sense that he’s the first African-American president to visit the continent. President Clinton and Bush also made extended trips to African nations during their presidency. And both former presidents made big promises to boost trade, business ties, aid dollars, and wage an aggressive battle against corruption and disease, and to promote democracy. Though Clinton and especially Bush did substantially boost cash to fight HIV-Aids and other diseases, the score of other promises they made was just that promises.

Now Obama has a chance to add real body to those promises. He talks of a new partnership with Africa. This implies that the U.S. will bump Africa higher up on the White House’s radar scope. He must be true to his word.
This means more than uttering a few platitudes about the crime of slavery, the devastation of AIDS and other diseases, making more promises of a bigger role for the U.S. in ending the slaughter in Darfur and the Congo, and a saber-rattle of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

United Nations reports continue to tell a dire story about the plight of the continent. 20 African countries have repeatedly ranked dead last on a list of economic development rates for the world’s nations. At their present rates of growth it will take these nations a century to achieve universal primary education, and 150 years to cut poverty in half and child mortality by two-thirds.

Much of the blame for the famine, disease, poverty and corruption that seem endemic to many African countries can be dumped squarely on the backs of a long parade of African dictators, despots and demagogues. While Ghana, Obama’s host country, is a stable, functioning democracy, and has a relatively good human rights records, it’s an aberration among many African nations. Africa’s dictators have killed, maimed and terrorized their citizens, rigged or rejected free elections and systematically looted their countries’ treasuries while living in palatial splendor. Their greed and dictatorial rule have locked many of the nations into destructive and near permanent cycles of poverty, war, disease and dependency that have become Africa’s trademark.

Meanwhile, Africa’s military rulers have squandered millions of their countries’ meager funds on sophisticated weapons, mostly to keep themselves in power. They have turned the Congo, and for a time Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia into killing fields.

Then there’s the AIDS epidemic. Nearly 70 percent of the millions worldwide afflicted with AIDS/HIV are in sub-Sahara Africa. In South Africa, more than 10 percent of the total population has HIV/AIDS. Only a tiny fraction of those with the disease have any hope of getting the potential life-sustaining anti-retroviral drugs. Bush’s pledge of $15 billion to fight AIDS and other diseases in Africa and the Caribbean during his White House tenure helped. But more money is still needed.
Also, Bush proposed a $5 billion to fund a Millennium Challenge Account to spur development in poor nations. The hitch was that Congress had to approve the funds, and even if it had, the money was not exclusively earmarked for African nations. Still, this is a proposal that’s worth revisiting. Obama should also call on Japan and the wealthier European nations to increase their aid to Africa. According to U.N. reports, these nations could and should double their foreign aid to spur African development.

The crucial need for Obama to put muscle into the pledge to provide more political and economic support to African nations is not based on charity, morality, or simply being a good contineantal neighbor. Africa is of vital potential economic and strategic importance to the United States. It contains a vast portion of the world’s copper, bauxite, chrome, uranium, gold and petroleum supplies. The growing list of pro-U.S. African client states provide Obama with reliable political allies in his war against terrorism and the fight against Muslim fundamentalism, as well as potential military bases.

African nations remain firmly locked in the grip of terrible poverty, disease, war and autocratic rule. The United States and wealthy nations can help lift that grip by massively increasing investment in African agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and technology; restructuring Africa’s crushing debt; encouraging greater regional integration and cooperation; condemning African nations’ disastrous military arms race; and, most important, challenging African nations to establish real democratic rule. Obama’s can truly make history with his Africa visit with a real start toward making this happen.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and nationally on

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Bury the Never Ending Myth of Jackson as Child Molester

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Websites, blogs and chatrooms pulsed with garish cracks about it. Legions of commentators and news reporters snuck it in every chance they got. More than a few of Michael Jackson’s fervent admirers and supporters made a dismissive reference to it. Even President Barack Obama in a cautious acknowledgement of Jackson’s towering contributions to American music and artistry still made reference to the “tragedy” in Jackson’s life which was a subtle nod to it. And New York Congressman Pete King skipped the niceties and flatly said it.
The “it” is the never ending myth of Jackson the child molester. It still hangs as a damning indictment that feeds the gossip mills and gives an arsenal of ammunition to Jackson detractors. This is not a small point. In the coming weeks, there will be a push to bestow official commemorative monuments, honors on and a national stamp for Jackson. The taint of scandal could doom these efforts to permanently memorialize Jackson.
The child molester myth doesn’t rest on Jackson’s trial and clean acquittal on multiple child abuse charges in a Santa Maria courthouse in June 2005. Only the most rabid Jackson loathers still finger point to that to taint Jackson. The myth of Jackson as child abuser rests squarely on the charge by a 13 year old boy a decade before the trial and the multi-million dollar settlement out of court. The settlement, then and now, feeds the suspicion that Jackson must have done something unsavory and probably criminal, or else why settle?

16 years later, though, the facts remain unchanged. The charge that Jackson molested the boy was brought by the boy’s father. In interviews the boy repeatedly denied the charges. This changed only after he was administered sodium amytal, an invasive, mind altering drug that medical experts have frowned on and courts have disregarded in witness testimony. Prosecutors, police departments and investigators in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara spent millions of dollars, convened two grand juries and probed nearly 200 witnesses that included 30 children, who knew Jackson to try to substantiate the charge. Not a single corroborating witness was found. Nonetheless, a motley group of disgruntled Jackson’s former housekeepers, attendants and bodyguards still peddled the story to any media outlet willing to shell out the cash that Jackson had engaged in child sexual wrongdoing. Not one of the charges was confirmed. Typical was this exchange between one of Jackson’s attorneys and one of the accusing bodyguards under oath:

“So you don’t know anything about Mr. Jackson and [the boy], do you?”
“All I know is from the sworn documents that other people have sworn to.”
“But other than what someone else may have said, you have no firsthand knowledge about Mr. Jackson and [the boy], do you?”
“That’s correct.”
“Have you spoken to a child who has ever told you that Mr. Jackson did anything improper with the child?”
“Where did you get your impressions about Jackson’s behavior?”
“Just what I’ve been hearing in the media and what I’ve experienced with my own eyes.”
“Okay. That’s the point. You experienced nothing with your own eyes, did you?”
“That’s right, nothing.”

When asked at the time about the charges against Jackson, child behavior experts and psychiatrists nearly all agreed that he did not fit the profile of a pedophile. They agreed that the disorder is progressive and there are generally not one but a trail of victims.

The myth of Jackson as child molester never hinged on evidence or testimony to substantiate it, but solely on the settlement. Why then did Jackson agree to it?
No charge stirs more disgust, revulsion, and pricks more emotional hot buttons than the charge of child molestation. The accusation stamps the Scarlet letter of doubt, suspicion, shame and guilt on the accused. The accused can never fully expunge it. There is simply no defense against it. Under the hyper intense media glare and spotlight that Jackson remained under, the allegation no mater how bogus would have been endless fodder for the public gossip mill. This would have wreaked irreparable damage on Jackson’s ever shifting musical career and personal life.
A trial in Los Angeles in the racially charged backdrop of the Rodney King beating, the L.A. riots, and pulsating racial tensions in the mid-1990s would have been risky business. A trial in staid, upscale, and majority white, Santa Barbara County would have been even more risky.
Jackson and his attorneys knew that when it came to the charge of child molestation the presumption of innocence, or even actual innocence, is tossed out the window. Though Jackson did nothing wrong, a trial would have left him, his reputation and his career in shambles. The settlement was the only pragmatic, logical and legal way to end the sordid issue.
The settlement under extreme duress must not sully his name and place as an honored American icon. The myth of Jackson as child molester must finally be buried.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and nationally on

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable

July 6, 2009
for Immediate Release
Contact: Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Press Advisory

Youth and Civil Rights Leaders Call on Jackson Memorial Ticket Winners to Give to Jackson Supported Causes

Leaders Will Announce the Organizations That Jackson Urged Donations For

A broad coalition of youth and civil rights leaders will publicly call on Jackson Memorial Ticket winners to donate to the list of needy organizations and social causes that Michael Jackson supported during his career. Jackson had an all consuming passion to aid and support programs and organizations that furthered human betterment. Toward that end Jackson gave tens of millions of dollars to social and children’s causes and charities.

“Jackson Memorial ticket holders can show their appreciation of Jackson’s monumental humanitarian work,” says Hutchinson, “By donating to the specific causes that Jackson held near and dear. This will be the best and most fitting way to celebrate and pay homage to the humanitarian spirit of giving and help that Jackson dedicated his life too.”

Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable

July 6, 2009
for Immediate Release
Contact: Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Press Advisory:

Civil Rights Leaders Release List of Charities and Organizations Michael Jackson Aided

· Minority AIDS Project L.A.

· Angel Food

· Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles

· BMI Foundation, Inc.— Support music education for gifted youngsters.

· Brotherhood Crusade

· Brothman Burn Center

· Camp Ronald McDonald

· Childhelp U.S.A. – Aims at meeting the needs of abused an neglected children—including education.

· Children’s Institute International

· Cities and Schools Scholarship Fund

· Community Youth Sports & Arts Foundation

· Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)

· Dakar Foundation

· Dreamstreet Kids

· Dreams Come True Charity

· Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation

· Juvenile Diabetes Foundation

· Love Match

· Make-A-Wish Foundation

· Minority Aids Project

· Motown Museum


· National Rainbow Coalition

· Rotary Club of Australia

· Society of Singers

· Starlight Foundation

· The Carter Center’s Atlanta Project

· The Sickle Cell Research Foundation

· Transafrica

· United Negro College Fund (UNCF)

· United Negro College Fund Ladder’s of Hope

· UNESCO—The proceeds of one of his tours went to the education of children in developing countries.

· Volunteers of America

· Watts Summer Festival

· Wish Granting

· YMCA – 28th Street/Crenshaw

Friday, July 03, 2009

Even the King of Pop Stirs Racial Divide

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The first nasty inkling that even the King of Pop can stir the racial divide came with the the Mt. Everest size list of postings on blogs, chat rooms, and websites the week after the death of icon Michael Jackson. The comments ranged from mild rebuke to pure venom in which the writers dredged up all the old drug, child molestation, and other dirt digs on Jackson. In many cases they explicitly took big racial swipes at Jackson, papa Joe Jackson, and Jackson family members. Then there was the inevitable instant poll taken days after his death to measure just how popular Jackson really was with Americans.
A CNN poll found that a bare majority of Americans were thrilled by the Pop King. But as always buried in the numbers was the racial kicker. The overwhelming majority of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians hailed Jackson. A decisive majority of whites, especially older whites, said that Jackson had no appeal to them. The age factor in the line in the sand on Jackson is to be expected. Though Jackson at the time of his death was uncomfortably ensconced as a middle-age pop star on the rebound, his music, dance and style appeal to the young and hip.

But age alone doesn’t explain the top heavy racial split. A majority of older blacks in informal surveys and interviews clearly like Jackson, if not solely for his music, for smashing musical and racial barriers in his artistry, in defying Sony and MTV and demanding top money and billing for his music, and for the role he played in opening the doors for other black artists. They remember a few years back when he marched on and picketed Sony with Al Sharpton in tow and his blasts at it as a racist institution. This tagged him in their eyes as a black man ready to challenge the corporate musical establishment. The snickers and wisecracks that Jackson had betrayed his racial roots by remaking himself as a whitish, cartoon caracture didn’t cut much ice with most blacks.
Jackson is no Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson, or Michael Vick. There would never be a gaggle of sportswriters, talking head commentators, and pundits heaping every pejorative that they could think of on his head. Jackson’s innate sweetness, childlike innocence, vulnerability, and his big hearted charitable giving insulated him from that type of vilification. Yet, none of this is enough to obliterate the tint of race from Jackson.
There are some distinct markers that Jackson has beyond age and musical tastes that send a racial signal up. He lived an opulent and princely lifestyle. This always engenders grumbles and resentment in some quarters.There was a widespread rush to judgment during his child molestation trial that he was guilty of the terrible things that he was charged with. His clean and full acquittal didn’t totally wipe the smear away. And he is an African-American male.

This can’t be cavalierly shrugged off. The finger point at President Obama as the supreme example to refute any charge that black males are still routinely stereotyped, negatively typecast, and reviled is not a compelling argument that the old the racial myths have totally vanished. During and after the Presidential campaign, polls consistently showed that while Obama got a high likeability rating from a big majority of whites, many whites still clung tightly to the ancient negative, stereotypical fears of black males and strongly questioned their work ethnic and competence. Though Obama did soften the racial barrier when the final vote was in, he didn’t demolish it. The majority of whites still voted against him.
Jackson found out the hard way that at the first touch of legal taint that fan adulation, goodwill, and fame can vanish faster than a Houdini disappearing act. Long before he touched a toe in the courtroom, much of the old racial typecasting of black males when the allegation is a sexual crime quickly kicked in. The aquittal prompted more finger wags that Jackson was able to use his fame and name, and his A team, high priced attorneys to massage the legal system to skip away scot free.
While Jackson, unilike O.J. Simpson, was not a public pariah and polarizing figure, for a time he was damaged goods. The ill fated 50 city concert tour was a monumental risk and a gamble, given his tattered image.
Millions will hail Jackson at his public memorial tribute. They will continue to hail him for his enduring world class music and artistry. But sandwiched in between this some will continue to pick, probe and nag at him for his alleged drug use and addiction, and oddity. Jackson likely will never get a complete pass in death from the negative stuff. Sadly this comes with the turf when the racial divide inevitably rears its ugly head; even for the King of Pop.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and nationally on