Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Terrible Plight of Dr. Conrad Murray

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Dr. Conrad Murray can’t win. The Michael Jackson family through their surrogate Reverend Jesse Jackson hints that the doctor may have done something terribly wrong in the death of Jackson. Jackson fans were brutal. On the website that rates physicians there were more than 100 comments (as of Saturday). The writers mostly railed against Murray as “Michael’s Killer.” What Murray did or didn’t do in the tragic hours before the fateful 911 call that brought the paramedics rushing to Jackson’s home is nothing but wild conjecture and speculation and grist for the tabloid mill.
Yet, that Murray finds himself on the medical and legal hot seat is no surprise. When things go wrong with their celebrity client-patients, doctors always feel the heat. Because invariably the things that go wrong deal with drug use, questionable medications and treatments that they allegedly give their ailing or troubled celebrity clients. The suspicion is always there that the doctors did something either negligent or unethical in catering to and indulging their clients real or imagined medical needs. The hunt to scapegoat the celebrity attendant doctor is then on with a vengeance. Their background, training, and experience are quickly called into question.
That’s the case with Murray. 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 are under an intense microscope. The tons of money that Murray racked up in unpaid bills, and the liens and pending suits to get the money back have been dredged up to paint Murray as a doctor with a checkered and shady history.
The glare, however, is even more intense on Murray’s clinic, Global Cardiovascular Associates, main location in Las Vegas. In a call to the clinic, this writer was referred to a contact phone number to a doctor on call. The number was a pager beeper.

HealthGrades which rates America’s physicians based on their training, experience, patient responses, and quality of care, did not give Global Cardiovascular Associates a glowing four star rating. In the crucial area of patient care, there were six patient responses. They rated Global Cardiovascular on ease of scheduling appointments, office environment, cleanliness and comfort, office staff friendliness, and most importantly the wait time before seeing a physician. Murray’s three person staff rated only fair in the responses. Vitals. Inc. gave Global Cardiovascular a marginal rating on the critical areas of patient response time; follow up, and most importantly, accuracy of diagnosis. The clinic ranked below the national service average in a couple of these rated categories.
This is not damning proof that the clinic doses out substandard care, or is any way deficient in its medical practice. However, patients, medical rating boards and health care providers do place major emphasis on these as measures of patient care in decisions about the effectiveness and competence of physicians and their hospitals and clinics.
Even if Murray’s clinic had received a world class four star rating from the rating physician services, Murray or any other doctor who attended Jackson would still raise eyebrows even if they did everything by the book. It comes with the turf.
Heart related deaths account for more medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits than for any other medical problem. One survey found that they account for thirty percent of all dollars shelled out by doctors and insurers to settle malpractice suits.

Malpractice awards for heart attack typically allege misdiagnosis or mismanaged diagnostic methods or medical tests. Because the outcome of a misdiagnosed heart attack is obviously poorer than a rapidly treated heart attack, the patient may suffer severe consequences. This is the prime reason that the dollar award for heart attack malpractice cases is almost always much higher than the average payout for other alleged medical screw-up cases.
It may be that Murray did not do anything wrong in how he handled Jackson. But that won’t end things for Murray. He’ll likely be slapped with a lawsuit, or even multiple lawsuits. That’s been the lot of legions of other cardiologists. And possible lawsuits may be the least of his problems.
He will carry an even greater burden; and that’s the burden of being the doctor who was there when Jackson died. And everyone expects that doctors are supposed to save lives and not raise suspicions that they did something to end a live. It’s a terrible dilemma for any doctor. Dr. Murray is hardly the first to face it, but it’s one he'll have to live with.
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

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Remembering the Other Michael Jackson

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Near the end of the first week of Michael Jackson’s infamous child molestation trial in 2005, a large group of African-American community activists and leaders gathered at a community center in Los Angeles to talk about Jackson, the trial and whether he was a target because he was a rich, successful, and famous African-American. This is the slightly paranoid tinged chatter heard whenever a black celebrity, and there have been a lot of them, wind up in the court docket for real or alleged crimes or are lambasted in the media for bad behavior.

The discussion quickly took two surprising turns. The first was an impassioned message that Jackson delivered to the group through a personal emissary. He pleaded his innocence and asked for support. This brought a hush to the room. Then there was the second turn. The discussion shifted from talk about Jackson’s trial and his sometimes on again off again, quirky, ambivalent relationship with African-Americans and his seemingly confused racial identity, to a reminder from the Jackson surrogate that Jackson wanted everyone to know that he took great delight in his charitable work. There was no message from Jackson about his media and self anointed title as the King of Pop, his musical icon status, the Grammys and platinum records he won, nor anything more than the perfunctory mention of his legal woes.
He clearly wanted the group to think of him as much more than an entertainer or a musician. Some present vaguely remembered that Jackson had made a splash in 1985 when he and Lionel Ritchie wrote “We Are the World” and performed the music as part of an all-star cast of singers and celebrities to raise money for African charities.
A few others vaguely remembered that Jackson forked over the $1.5 million that he got in a settlement from Pepsi in 1984 for the burn accident he suffered while filming a Pepsi commercial to the Burn Center at Brothman Hospital in Southern California. But that was it.

There were puzzled looks at the mention of Jackson’s charitable giving and even more at the list of the peace and social justice related activities Jackson was involved with. At that point, most in the room listened in rapt attention at the names of the more than 40 known charities and organizations that Jackson gave to during the 1990s, both individually and through his expansively named Heal the World Foundation. The foundation was mired in a messy organizational and tax wrangle that briefly made headlines in 2002. Yet, there was virtually no press mention when Jackson jumpstarted the Foundation again in 2008 with a fresh wad of cash.
This was all new news to most of those in the room about Jackson. In fact, good news for more than a few of those who had bitterly scorned, ridiculed, and mocked him. To them Jackson was little more than a Casper-the-ghost-looking bleached skin, nose job, eye shade, straight hair and gyrating hips ambiguous black man who had made a ton of money and had been lauded, fawned over, and adored by whites. This was more than reason for some blacks to view him with a jaundiced eye.
For others, though, Jackson’s wealth and fame didn’t immunize him from being tarred by the press and many in the industry as a child molester. They felt some empathy for him and his legal battle.

In the months and years after his acquittal debate raged over whether he was a washed up, health challenged, damaged goods, and financially strapped one time pop star who desperately wanted to snatch back a glimmer of his past glory. Or, whether he still had some of the trademark Jackson flare and talent left. But even that debate seemed to pass Jackson by since he knew that his every word and act was still instant news, and that there were still hordes of fans who would heap dreamy eyed adulation on him.
The quest to seal a legacy as more than just the Pop King told much about Jackson’s desire that the small but unseen and much neglected part of his life, that is his charitable work be known and remembered. That he be remembered as more than just a black man who made his living grabbing his crotch before millions. Or a man who’s other claim to notoriety was that he delighted in surrounding himself with packs of children.
The community gathering during the Jackson trial was the last time I heard in minute details the extent of Jackson’s giving and the names of the organizations that he had endorsed and helped. I was glad for that moment. This is the Jackson that not only he wanted the world to know and remember. It is the Jackson that I want to and will always remember. This is the other Michael Jackson.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Clarence Thomas’s Continuing Payback

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

You can say what you want about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and plenty has been said and little of it’s flattering. But you can’t say he’s not a man of his word. Since that fateful day in 1991 when by the narrowest of margins a deeply divided and even more deeply reluctant Senate confirmed him to the high court, Thomas vowed payback against those who ridiculed, reviled, and hounded him during the confirmation fight. He will never forget that humiliation.
He proved that again in yet another of his patented one man dissents against the court’s majority ruling not to scrap a key section of the Voting Rights Act. Thomas went against his fellow hard line, strict constructionist, cut buddy Antonin Scalia in his dissent. He argued that he’d dump the Act since as he put it "The extensive pattern of discrimination that led the Court to previously uphold Section 5 . . . no longer exists. “

It does, and the other eight judges, Scalia included, obviously were bothered enough by the briefs from civil rights groups that implored the court to uphold the Act. They fully documented that more than a few districts in the South and the West have used rigged or malfunctioning voting machines, selective photo IDs, contrived language requirements, alleged ballot shortages, the absence of polling places and registrars, the selective use of felon laws, and intimidation tactics to chase as many blacks, Latinos and American Indians from the polls as possible. The Justice Department has filed dozens of voting irregularity and discrimination complaints in the past two decades.

Thomas’s ridiculous lone wolf votes on race based court cases, of course, make no sense to most legal experts. But his decisions make sense because they have less to do with his warped interpretation of law and its practice than with his publicly expressed racial views, and his private vow to get revenge.
When asked how long he’d stay on the court, he reportedly said that he’d stay there for next 43 years of his life. He was 43 at the time. In a more revealing aside, he supposedly quipped to friends that it would take him that long to get even. Whether that is hyperbole or an apocryphal tale, it hasn’t taken him 43 years to wreak his revenge.

He has been a one man wrecking crew to expunge race from law and public policy decisions. But this is not simply one man’s personal bitterness over his alleged mistreatment by liberals and civil rights leaders. Or a case of his digging his heels in to push his retrograde view on racial matters. He wants more judges to think and act like him on the bench. And all the better if those strict racial constructionist judges happen to be minorities.
In his autobiography My Grandfather’s Son, the bitter feelings that he holds against those who did so much to dump his confimration were on full display. He showed no sign of budging a step from the relentless public and private war he’s waged against civil rights leaders and liberal Democrats. The “liberal mob” as he brands them has one goal, and only one goal, and that’s to “keep the black man in his place.” The black man of course is Thomas.

The other theme that courses through Thomas’s clinical need for payback is his obsessive view of himself as the perennial martyr. In an American Enterprise Institute lecture in 2001, he wrapped himself in the martyr’s garment and said that he expected to be treated badly for challenging liberal opinion.

Thomas’s mean-spirited and vindictive views and legal opinions on the death penalty, age and gender bias, first amendment, prisoner rights and affirmative action cases were well known by the time he hit the court in 1991. It can hardly be said that Thomas latched on to judicial conservatism solely to curry favor with white conservatives to snatch a seat on the high court. He believes what he says and writes even when others don’t and can’t. But even if he didn’t he’d still say and write the ridiculous things he does that masquerade as dissenting legal opinions. He’s simply fulfilling his vow of payback.

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

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Little Talk with the Man who prayed For Obama’s Death

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Even by the nut case standard of the assorted pack of neo-Nazi unreconstructed Klan members, Aryan Nation haters, and the legion of loose screw religious cranks and loonies, the Reverend Wiley S. Drake’s public prayer for the death of President Obama stretched far past the outer limit of credulity. The unrepentant Drake did not back away from the prayer when asked about it by Alan Colmes on Fox News Radio on June 2. He pleaded that he didn’t understand why people were upset with his comments.
Drake is not just a garden variety religious crank. In 2006, he reigned as the second vice president of the nearly 20 million strong Southern Baptist Convention. The group is by far the nation’s biggest evangelical denomination. He pastors a bonafide church, the First Southern Baptist Church in the middle-class bedroom city of Buena Park, California. Drake has his own popular radio show on the Crusade Radio Network. In April, Southern Baptist Convention spokesperson Richard Land even had kind words for Obama for his family values emphasis.

Convention officials, though, were far less forthright about Wiley’s death prayer death for Obama. It issued a perfunctory statement saying that his views were his and his alone. It did not vigorously denounce those views, especially his Obama death prayer.

Wiley skirted the legal definition of what constitutes a threat to the president by attributing the death prayer to a phony, made up prayer from God. The operative term is willful in the federal statute that makes it an offense to threaten the president. It’s punishable by up to five years in prison. Every year, the Secret Service investigates about 1500 reported or discovered threats to the president. Drake’s God attribute threat didn’t escape their attention.

But Drake doesn’t just speak for Drake, and a handful of cranks, but says what more than a few ultra conservative, religious fundamentalists actually think and belief, and in their scariest and darkest moments the violence they actually wish for. With the murder of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, the Holocaust Museum shoot-up, the recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center on a surge in hate groups, and the demand by a worried US Attorney General Eric Holder for a tougher hate law, death threats against public figures can’t be shrugged off.

This writer, however, couldn’t let Drake’s purported death prayer on Obama lightly pass. So I had a little talk with him mostly to give him another chance to back off his prayer.

Here’s an excerpt from the June 19 talk with Drake:
“Did you actually pray for President Obama’s death?”
“No, I was merely citing an imprecatory prayer which in scripture is a prayer mandated by God to smite down the enemies….those that do evil.”
“So you’re saying that you did not actually call for Obama’s death?”
“I was asked in an interview about the murder of Kansas doctor George Tiller and I said in an imprecatory prayer that Tiller who was responsible for the murder of thousands of children was given a chance at salvation and that didn’t happen so he was condemned in prayer to die. I had no regrets about his death. I was then asked if the imprecatory prayer for the death of evil doers could even extend to the president. I said yes. I was merely citing a prayer.”

“Do you stand by that?”
“Unfortunately in the interview I said Obama. I’m not wanting (sic) the president dead. The prayer for his death is not my prayer but comes from God.”
Drake said since the story hit he’s gotten personal death threats and threats to picket and even burn down his church. The unrepentant Drake laughed them off saying he had nothing to fear since he was doing God’s work.
A final question:
“Pastor will you come on my weekly radio show and explain to listeners the reason for citing a prayer against the president?”
“I’d better talk to my attorney first.”
Stay tuned on that one.

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

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Good Reverend Jeremiah Wright and “Them Jews”

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

There were two things wrong with the good Reverend Jeremiah Wrights’s grouse that “them Jews are keeping me from Obama.” Oops, I mean the Zionists, not Jews. That was Wright’s nimble effort to take some heat off him for the silly crack. One was that he said it. The other is that he meant it. Wright’s “them Jews” quip was vintage Wright. That’s his penchant to shoot from the lip, damn the audience and consequences, and knowing full well that it will get the tongues furiously wagging. The correction was a trifle which meant nothing.

It still confirmed what Wright loathers firmly belief and that’s that he’s a loose cannon, closet racist, and anti-Semite. The timing of his crack coming on the heels of the shoot up of the Holocaust Memorial Museum by neo-Nazi looney, James Wennaker von Brunn, couldn’t have been worse. Wright is no von Brunn. He has not turned his life into a crusade against the mythical Jewish domination, and has never advocated violence against anyone. He’s a down-home, plain spoken, Afrocentric preacher, who had enough charisma to attract throngs, and keep them coming back week after week to his one time Southside Chicago church. One of whom was a soon to be president.
That’s a big reason Wright made the silly, intemperate knock. Wright still thinks that he’s due a seat at Obama’s table. Never mind that the universal consensus is that one of the smartest things that Obama did was to dump Wright, and dump him fast after he became a political embarrassment. But it’s the seat at the table part that makes the Wright dig revealing. It’s not just Wright’s ego, although there’s plenty of that at work in the notion that Obama won’t see or have anything to do with him because of some plot by mythical Jewish gatekeepers to keep him away. It wouldn’t have mattered if not one member of Team Obama’s inner circle was Jewish. Wright would still be banned in Boston at the White House.

The Wright dig does hurt in another way though. There’s still the widely prevalent belief among much of the public that more than a few blacks are closet anti-Semites, and even in the more bizarre circles, a rumor to that effect is occasionally heard about President Obama. That was heard after his pointed admonition to the Israeli government to crack down on the building of the settlements on the West Bank. The settlement expansion has been widely and repeatedly criticized by diplomats, political leaders, two former American presidents Clinton and Bush as well as a wide section of Israeli public opinion.

Wright, though, went one step further and poured oil on the flame by branding the Gaza battles, “ethnic cleansing.” But it’s still the suspicion that many blacks are anti-Semitic that rankles and resonates the most. Two decades later, Jesse Jackson still takes hits for his “Hymietown” crack, and Al Sharpton takes a hit on occasion for some alleged anti-Semitic act. Former Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, is still virtually interchangeable with anti-Semite.

Anti-Semitism is alive and well in America, and it didn’t take the the murder at the Holocaust Memorial Museum by a deranged, delusional nut to prove that. The legion of neo Nazi websites, videos, and books, pamhplets, that rail against Jewish or Zionist conspiracies under every bedpost, even the bedposts in the Obama White House are ample proof of that. But African-American leaders, officials and organizations have always vigorously condemned and fought against anti-Semitism. The heroic sacrifice of Stephen Tyrone Johns, the African American security guard, who gave his life to save others at the Holocaust Memorial Museum was tragic and symbolic of the long history of blacks and Jews fighting against racial biogtry and anti-Semitism. The good Reverend Wright’s pithy, loose tongued crack won’t change that.

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why the Alleged Holocaust Museum Shooter Ran Loose

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Here’s the hate rap sheet on James Wenneker von Brunn. In 1981 he loudly boasted that he’d take Fed Reserve members hostage, a boast he tried to act on. In 1999 he penned a book with the inflammatory, violence inciting title, “Kill the Best Gentiles.” In 2003, he sketched a fawning portrait of William Turner, the guru of executed Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh. In between there were long stints spent hobnobbing with a pack of outlandish, violent prone, Neo Nazi groups. von Brunn’s punishment for the telephone book thick list of hate threats was to serve a 6 ½ year out of an 11 year sentence in a federal pen. It took two years after he was sentenced before he did the time.

The question then is how could a guy who made absolutely no effort to hide his intent to wreak murder and mayhem on Jews and blacks and had a personal track record of acting out the lunacy run loose for so long? One answer is that von Brunn and the thousands of others that rant, rail, and spew hate in speeches, on websites, in videos and in their fringe, kooky publications are simply exercising their first amendment right; a right that can’t be abridged no matter how scary they sound. von Brunn has that right.

The other answer is that even when the von Brunns are known tracked, monitored and surveilled and worse commit hate acts, they often evade full punishment. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment, but rather muddled, confused, and outright lax enforcement and prosecution of hate acts. The FBI and local law enforcement agencies long knew about von Brunn’s propensity for violence. But even if he had committed a violent act in his home state of Maryland he still might not have been prosecuted under state and especially federal hate crime statutes.
Federal prosecutors are loath to step on the toes of police and prosecutors in criminal cases no matter how badly the crime is tainted by race, gender or religious hatred. Federal prosecutors flatly say that the hate perpetrators are more likely to be convicted and get stiff sentences in state court. That makes good legal and political sense.

But that’s not the only reason for their hands off of the von Brunns. Except in the highest profile cases, they see these prosecutions as no-win cases with little political gain, and the risk of making enemies of local police, DAs, and state officials. The rare time that the feds cracked down on civil rights violence was during the 1960s civil rights battles. The wave of violence then stirred national and international revulsion and forced then President Lyndon Johnson to order more civil rights prosecutions.

The only exceptions to the set in stone rule that prosecutors stay out of state cases occurs when a hate crime triggers a major riot, generates mass protests or attracts major press attention. The Rodney King beating case in Los Angles in 1992 is still the best example of how it took a mass civil upheaval to move the feds to go full blast after a conviction of the police that beat King, and then only after a failed prosecution in state court. The King case is also an example of how criminal cases with clear civil rights abuses become highly politicized and racially divisive.

Hate crimes may be horrific but they are largely seen as common crimes and are treated as such. Few state prosecutors will chance inflaming racial passions and hatreds by slapping a hate crime tag on a case.
There's also the belief that hate crimes are mostly a thing of the past. When they do occur, they are isolated acts committed by a handful of quacks, and unreconstructed bigots, and that state authorities vigorously report and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes.

When Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990, it compelled the FBI to collect figures on hate violence. However, it did not compel police agencies to report them. Record keeping on hate crimes is still left up to the discretion of local police chiefs and city officials. Many police departments still refuse to report hate crimes, or to label crimes in which gays, Jews, and minorities are targeted because of race, religion, or sexual preference as hate crimes. Still other police departments don't bother compiling them because they regard hate crimes as a politically loaded minefield that can tarnish their image and create even more political friction. The official indifference by many police agencies to hate crimes prevents federal officials, even if they wanted to more aggressively enforce civil rights laws, from accurately gauging the magnitude of civil rights violence.

Civil rights leaders are dumbfounded at the apparent refusal of many federal prosecutors to recognize what are obvious hate acts. When prosecutors, however, try to sort out whether a crime is a hate motivated crime or just plain crime it's anything but obvious. That’s just enough space for the von Brunns of America to crawl through and run loose.

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

Saturday, June 06, 2009

President Obama Confronts Holocaust Evil, Now Confront the Slavery Evil

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama spoke forcefully, passionately and correctly at the Buchenwald death camp on the evil of the Holocaust. He implored nations to confront those who would deny its horror. Obama should do the same about the evil of slavery. There are two arguments against him doing that though. Then Presidential candidate Obama raised one on the couple of occasions when he was asked about reparations. He tersely said that the best way to address racial disparities is to provide more resources and programs for education, employment and health care. Blacks would be the greatest beneficiaries.
The other argument is that slavery ended nearly a century and a half ago. The obliteration of legal segregation, oceans of civil rights laws, voting rights, affirmative action programs, Oprah, Colin Powell, Eric Holder, Tiger Woods, and of course, Obama, and a big, prosperous black middle class, have erased the stain of slavery. Neither argument will wash.
Two years ago Virginia apologized for slavery. The apology was not just a matter of doing the morally right thing. The U.S. government, not just a handful of evil Southern planters encoded slavery in the Constitution, and protected and nourished it for a century. Traders, insurance companies, bankers, shippers, and landowners, made billions off of it. Their ill-gotten profits fueled America's industrial and agricultural might. For decades after slavery's end, white trade unions excluded blacks and confined them to the dirtiest, poorest paying jobs.
Though many white and non-white immigrants came to America after the Civil War, they were not subjected to the decades of relentless racial terror and legal segregation as were blacks. Through the decades of slavery and Jim Crow segregation, African-Americans were transformed into the poster group for racial deviancy. The image of blacks as lazy, crime and violence prone, irresponsible, and sexual predators has stoked white fears and hostility and served as the standard rationale for more than 4,000 documented lynchings, as well as the countless racial assaults, and acts of hate crime violence.

Many blacks earn more and live better than ever today, and have gotten boosts from welfare, social and education programs, civil rights legislation, and affirmative action programs. But that does not mean that America has shaken the hideous legacy of slavery. The Urban League in its annual State of Black America reports finds that young blacks are far likelier than whites to be imprisoned, serve longer terms, and are more likely to receive the death penalty even when their crimes are similar.
Blacks continue to have the highest rates of poverty, infant mortality, violence victimization rates, and health care disparities than any other group in America. They are still more likely to live in segregated neighborhoods, be refused business and home loans, their children attend failed public schools than any other group, and are more likely to be racially profiled on America's urban streets.
There is nothing new about state and federal governments issuing apologies and even payments for past wrongs committed against African-Americans. The U.S. government admitted it was legally liable in 1997 to pay the black survivors and family members of the two-decade long syphilis experiment begun in the 1930's by the U.S. Public Health Service that turned black patients into human guinea pigs. The survivors got $10 million from the government and an apology from President Clinton They were the victims of a blatant medical atrocity conducted with the full knowledge and approval of the U.S. government.

The state legislature in Florida in 1994 agreed to make payments to the survivors and relatives of those who lost their lives and property when a white mob destroyed the all-black town of Rosewood in 1923. This was a specific act of mob carnage that was tacitly condoned by some public officials and law enforcement officers. Florida was liable for the violence and was duty bound to apologize and pay. The Oklahoma state legislature has agreed at least in principle that reparations and apology should be made to the survivors of the dozens of blacks killed, and the hundreds more that had their homes and businesses destroyed by white mobs with the complicity of law enforcement in the Tulsa massacre of 1921. A bill by Michigan Congressman John Conyers has has kicked around Congress since 1989 would establish a commission to study the impact of slavery and the feasibility of paying reparations to blacks.
The brutal truth is that the mainstay of America's continuing racial divide is its harsh and continuing mistreatment of poor blacks. This can be directly traced to the persistent and pernicious legacy of slavery. Nearly a century and a half later, that legacy is still very much alive and well.

President Obama condemned the monstrosity of the Holocaust six decades after it ended. In doing that he recognized that there’s no time frame or statue of limitations on evil. It can still affect generations that were born years after the horror officially ended. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing the same about slavery.

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

Monday, June 01, 2009

Obama Might Need to Show ID in More Places than East Harlem

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The only thing wrong with New York Congressman Charles Rangel’s quip that President Obama had better bring his ID to East Harlem is that he limited it to East Harlem. A President Obama in his trademark baseball cap, sometimes hip clothes, and sneakers, sans White House entourage and limo, strolling or driving down a dimly lit night time street in any number of poor black neighborhoods could easily be stopped. He wouldn’t have to fit the near textbook profile of a poor, young, black male. He could just as easily be rich, older, a businessman, a professional, star athlete, college professor, or as in the horrific case of NYPD officer Omar Edwards, the police officer gunned down by a white cop.

There have been countless cases where prominent black men have been stopped, frisked, shaken down, and humiliated by police officers, trailed by store clerks, and fumed in anger as taxicabs whizzed by them on busy urban streets. Edwards is hardly the first black cop to be victimized by fellow officers. In recent years, there have been more than a few cases where white cops stopped, harassed, attempted to arrest, even arrested, and shot off duty black cops.
The wishful thought was that Obama’s election buried once and for all negative racial typecasting and the perennial threat it posed to the safety and well-being of black males. It did no such thing. Immediately after Obama’s election and months before Edwards was shot dead, teams of researchers from several major universities found that many of the old stereotypes about poverty and crime and blacks remain just as frozen in time. The study found that much of the public still perceives those most likely to commit crimes are poor, jobless and black. The study did more than affirm that race and poverty and crime are firmly rammed together in the public mind. It also showed that once the stereotype is planted, it’s virtually impossible to root out. That’s hardly new either.

In 2003 Penn State University researchers conducted a landmark study on the tie between crime and public perceptions of who is most likely to commit crime. The study found that many whites are likely to associate pictures of blacks with violent crime. This was no surprise given the relentless media depictions of young blacks as dysfunctional, dope peddling, gang bangers and drive by shooters.

The bulging numbers of blacks in America’s jails and prisons seem to reinforce the perception that crime and violence in America invariably comes with a young, black male face. And it doesn’t much matter how prominent, wealthy, or celebrated the black is. The overkill frenzy feeding on the criminal hijinks of former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, O.J. Simpson, and the legions of black NFL, NBA stars, Hollywood personalities, and entertainers who run afoul of the law or are poorly behaved, and of course, everyone’s favorite stomping boy, the rappers and hip hop artists, further implants the negative image of black males. None of them are hardly poor, downtrodden, ghetto dwelling young black males.
There was, however, a mild surprise in the Penn State study. It found that even when blacks didn’t commit a specific crime; whites still misidentified the perpetrator as an African-American.

University researchers were plainly fascinated by this result. Five years later they wanted to see if that stereotype still held sway, even as Obama’s political star rose, and legions of whites said that they liked him, and would vote for him, and meant it. Researchers still found public attitudes on crime and race unchanged. The majority of whites still overwhelmingly fingered blacks as the most likely to commit crimes, even when they didn’t commit them. That’s especially important to say, since the fall back line on racial stereotypes is that to link race and crime is not to stereotype since blacks commit the majority of street crimes.

One implication for this is that Obama’s victory was more a personal triumph for him. It did not radically remap racial perceptions, let alone put an end to racial stereotyping. Another is that much of the public still sees crime and poverty through narrow racial lens.
An early newspaper account of the Edward’s shooting minced no words. It said that Edwards was mistaken for a thug. The brazen inference was that Edward’s clean cut look, police badge, and that he was doing his duty in giving chase to a criminal suspect didn’t exempt him from the young black male equals thug standard typecast. Edwards paid the price for that casting. And all Charlie Rangel was trying to say is that the casting could fit any young black who happens to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, even if he’s a president.

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