Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dr. Boyce and George Kilpatrick Discuss Developments in the Case Against Kelley Williams-Bolar

Note from Dr. Boyce:  Before listening to my interview with George Kilpatrick about the Kelley Williams-Bolar case, I had two questions:

1) Would her kids have been allowed in that school if they’d been two 6’5”, 220-lb basketball players?  I’m sure they would have made an exception.

2) Its interesting that the judge wanted to send her to jail for her crime, but there are Wall Street execs who got less time for stealing millions.

The interview is here if you want to listen.

What’s Wrong with the Economy? Dr. Boyce Watkins and Rev. Jesse Jackson Discuss



Click here to listen to Dr. Watkins and Rev. Jackson’s conversation about the state of the American economy.  It appears that the US has some serious fundamental problems.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dr. Boyce: Why Would Terry McMillan Attack Will Smith’s Children?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I was surprised to see the esteemed author Terry McMillan slip to an all-time low by attacking the children of Hollywood power couple Will and Jada Smith. Using Twitter as her forum of choice, McMillan expressed her concern that the Smith kids were being "pimped and exploited" by their parents in their acting and singing careers. "It feels like the Smith children are being pimped and exploited. Or, they're already hungry for fame. What about 4th grade?" said McMillan
McMillan then went on to write the following:
"The Smith children already act like child stars. There's an arrogance in their demeanor and behavior. I find it incredibly sad."
Of course the entire world spread McMillan's words quicker than wildfire. That then led to an apology from McMillan:
"I apologize for using the word pimp and exploit in referring to the Smith children. It was insensitive of me and wrong."

Click to read.

Former NFL Players More Likely to Abuse Pain Killers

by Dr. Boyce WatkinsThe Athlete Liberation Academic Reform Movement (ALARM)

According to a new study in a scientific journal, retired NFL players misuse opioid pain medication at a rate that is four times greater than the general public. The study goes on to connect the abuse to the number of pain killers athletes take during their playing days in the NFL. The results were published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a peer-reviewed academic journal.
The study was conducted by scholars at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. It is also the first study conducted on pain killer misuse by former players. Linda Cottler, a professor of Epidemiology in the school's Department of Psychiatry led the study and it was also commissioned by ESPN.


Click to read.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

University of Texas Signs $300M Deal off the Backs of Its Athletes

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

The University of Texas just inked a $300 million television rights deal for a 24-hour network that will broadcast Longhorn athletes and games. ESPN is the partner in the deal and will distribute the network via satellite in Texas and other states around the country. The network is expected to launch in September.
Given that college athletes are serving as the foundation for massive wealth being generated by schools like the University of Texas, it is time that we consider allowing these athletes to have the same labor rights as other workers who generate wealth around the nation. The United Steel Workers Union has actually spoken out on behalf of NCAA athletes, stating that they should have the right to unionize to ensure that their families can benefit from the wealth being created in these massive financial deals.

Click to read.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Flava Flav, Fried Chicken and Liquor – Hmmm, Interesting

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Last year, at the "Measuring the Movement" forum, hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, I had a chance to sit next to Chuck D from Public Enemy. I found Chuck to be as impressive, interesting and intelligent as he is on television. He also didn't give off the mind-numbing, stomach-turning, arrogant celebrity vibe that I see all too much. I was thoroughly impressed.
While I feel that I have some understanding of Chuck D, I simply cannot say the same for Flava Flav. Flava almost seems to come out of a different time, place, and perhaps even another planet, from the rest of us. He would have been great in the 1920s, when black performers could make a fortune by embracing ignorant stereotypes and engaging in ridiculous behavior. Flava seems to relish his role as the cultural clown, reminding all of us of exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King did NOT want our children to become.

Click to read.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Terry Sullivan: Former High School Standout Does 25 Years for a Crime He Didn’t Commit

Click to watch the video about the case of Terry Harrington, a former highschool football standout who served 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.



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Monday, January 24, 2011

Dr Boyce Watkins Spotlight: Black Scholars in Computer Science

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

While many of us know who the leading black basketball and football players happen to be, we are rarely exposed to the leading Computer Scientists, Mathematicians and Physicists. Most importantly, most of us don't know that there is an entire organization of African American male PhDs called "Brothers of the Academy" who do scholarly work in a multitude of important fields. The media would be quick to feature these men if they were committing crimes, busting rhymes or dunking basketballs, but black males should be more readily celebrated when we are hitting the books, working our butts off and establishing sustainable institutions within the black community.
Ladies and gentleman, meet Professor Juan Gilbert. I've observed Juan as President of Brothers of the Academy for the past several years, and I can say with complete certainty that he is one of the most focused, dedicated, reliable and capable leaders in black America today. Juan not only runs BOTA, but he has also raised millions to fund his own computer science lab at Clemson University and at even before the age of 40, has served as the "academic father" for a large number of black Computer Science PhDs. It is for that reason that Professor Juan Gilbert is today's Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:

Click to read.

Mike Tomlin’s Big Win is a Huge Win for Diversity in the NFL

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Anyone watching with pride as the Pittsburgh Steelers fought their way to yet another Super Bowl likely heard a few interesting facts about their general on the field, Mike Tomlin. Tomlin, at the age of 38, is the youngest head coach to ever lead two teams to the Super Bowl. Before that, he was the youngest head coach to win a Superbowl. He does this while sitting at the helm of a storied franchise that has more Super Bowl wins than any team in NFL history. In other words, the man is a serious beast.
Tomlin's feats are not just impressive for a black coach, they stand above nearly any coach in NFL history. It is equally ironic that he is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose owner was responsible for opening the door for black coaches to get a chance in the league. Steelers owner Dan Rooney helped to create the Rooney rule, requiring NFL teams to interview African Americans for head coaching and senior administrative positions.


Click to read.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kelly Williams-Bolar: Sent to Jail for Sending Kids to Wrong School District


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

An Ohio mother of two was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on three years probation after sending her kids to a school district in which they did not live.  Kelly Williams-Bolar was sentenced by Judge Patricia Cosgrove on Tuesday and will begin serving her sentence immediately.

The jury deliberated for seven hours and the courtroom was packed as the sentence was handed down.  She was convicted on two counts of tampering with court records after registering her two girls as living with their father when they actually lived with her.  The family lived in the housing projects in Akron, Ohio, and the father’s address was in nearby Copley Township.

Additionally, Williams-Bolar’s father, Edward L. Williams, was charged with a fourth-degree felony of grand theft, in which he and his daughter are charged with defrauding the school system for two years of educational services for their girls.  The court determined that sending their children to the wrong school was worth $30,500 in tuition. 


Click to read.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight: Fighting for the Rights of Fathers

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

One of the most difficult, stunning and defining experiences of my entire life was when I went through the child support system. My daughter was born when I was an 18-year old freshman in college, and although I didn't want her mother to leave me for another man, I still knew that I had a responsibility when it came to taking care of my kids. So, I did what I was supposed to do, signed the papers where necessary and paid tens of thousands of dollars in child support over the next 18 years, even when it emptied out my bank account.

What surprised the heck out of me was that while the courts were always quick to threaten me with jail time if I'd chosen not to pay my child support, they showed almost no concern regarding whether or not I had the right to see my daughter. There was also no accountability regarding where my money was going and if those funds were being used to manage the needs of my child. I found myself increasingly frustrated by both my experience and also the broader perception of all black male non-custodial parents as dead beat dads. The truth is that while there are far too many dead beats, there are also fathers who've been victimized by parental alienation or an overzealous mother who feels that she can dictate every dimension of the father/child relationship. The mere implication that black males love their children any less than other people is a clear and stereotypical insult to our humanity.

Click to read.

Keith Olbermann Leaves MSNBC: Will They Even Consider a Black Replacement?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Apparently, eight years has been enough for both MSNBC and Keith Olbermann. The network announced Friday that this is the end of Olbermann's tenure with the network and that he is moving on immediately:
"MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract," according to a statement issued by the network. "The last broadcast of 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors."
Olbermann addressed his departure from the network on air, starting off with a story about his time with ESPN many years ago:


Click to read.

Friday, January 21, 2011

President Obama’s State of the Union Speech: What Black Folks Might Want to Hear

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Next week's State of the Union Address to be offered by President Barack Obama comes at a time when our nation is especially divided, and our future as a country is foggier than it has been in recent memory. The event that will be on everyone's mind is the attempted assasination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from an assassin's bullet in the hospital right now. The Giffords shooting has slowed down the most extreme Republican rhetoric for the moment, but it certainly has not ended the animosity shown toward President Obama.

While President Obama must contend with the Republicans, he must also deal with a wide variety of special interest groups, all expecting something in return for their loyalty. With well over 90 percent approval ratings, no group has been more steadfast and committed to President Obama than the African American community. Therefore, as we seek to determine what our community should expect from the State of the Union address being given this week, we have every right to demand what is best for us.

Click to read.

Frederick Jermaine Carter and the Questionable Suicide


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 


The black community in Greenwood, Mississippi is on edge and angry after the death of Frederick Jermaine Carter. Carter, who was 26 years old, was found hanging from a tree in what authorities have labeled to be a suicide. But the community isn't buying the police's story and claim that he was actually murdered.
The Final Call is reporting on the death of Carter, and even Michael Pimbleton Jr., the mayor of Sunflower, Mississippi has said that there was more going on than meets the eye.
"This is 2010 and we still have Black people hanging from trees? They're saying he hung himself but I have doubt in my mind that he actually did that. That wasn't his character. This wasn't a suicide, this was a homicide," Mayor Pembleton said to The Final Call.
Carter was found on December 3, with his body hanging from an oak tree in North Greenwood, which is a predominantly white section of Leflore County. He actually lived in nearby Sunflower County, and North Greenwood is known as an area that black people are sometimes afraid to visit. Carter was with his stepfather, who said that he wandered off from an area in which they were both working.


Click to read.


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Sunday, January 16, 2011

MLK’s Adultery: Does It Change His Legacy?


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Every year on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., there are some people who raise questions about Dr. King's sex life. They openly ask if the legendary pastor and civil rights leader ever deceived his wife, and some have even gone as far as referring to him as a "sexual degenerate". Conversations about King's alleged adultery tend to be built on three interesting and ultimately incorrect, assumptions: 1) That Dr. King's legacy is somehow impacted by his infidelity, 2) that he is less likely than other men to cheat on his wife, and 3) that it is somehow sacrilegious to discuss his flaws in public.

First and foremost, the idea that King's memory as a great American patriot is tarnished by his infidelity is both illogical and problematic. A great man is not defined by his weaknesses, but by his strengths. Regardless of what Dr. King may have done during the course of his marriage, those actions are almost completely disconnected from the manner through which he inspired billions with his courage and led people of color to the life we share today. It is our fault, not his, that Dr. King has been placed on a pedestal so high that we've forgotten that he was human.

Nearly every single week, I am asked to comment on the financial implications of a celebrity divorce. In nearly every single case, adultery is cited as one of the reasons for the break-up. Dr. and Mrs. King were, in many ways, just another celebrity couple. With Dr. King hitting the road most days out of the year, he sacrificed time to the world that he much rather would have spent with his wife (I've always felt that neither Dr. King, nor Malcolm X, should have ever gotten married, since it put their wives and children in danger). Mix this with the fact that women were likely throwing themselves at King on a regular basis, and you've got the recipe for scandal.


click to read.

Friday, January 14, 2011

ESPN Panel on the State of the Black Athlete: How Did They Do?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I was sitting in front of my TV set flipping through one channel after another, and I found something that both intrigued and concerned me: An ESPN special about the image of the black athlete. I was curious to see what they had to say about black athletes, especially males, since that's something I think about nearly every single day of my life.

The panel consisted of Jalen Rose, John Calipari, Randy Shannon, Spike Lee, Robin Roberts and others. I was hopeful that the panelists would not succumb to the temptation of taking the paternalistic viewpoint that black male athletes are somehow destined to be ignorant and need to be told what to do. For example, unlike any other sport, men's basketball and football are the only ones in which there are age limits before the athlete can become a professional. The reasons for these regulations are driven primarily by the argument that the men are too young to go out and support their families by doing what they do for the NCAA without being compensated.


Click to read.

Dr. Boyce Watkins on NPR: Is College Still a Good Investment?


Click here to listen to Dr. Boyce Watkins discuss whether or not college is a good investment during a recession.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight: Meet the Rev. Jesse Jackson

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I've always had a special admiration and appreciate for Rev. Jesse Jackson. While most of us know Rev. Jackson as a public figure and prominent Civil Rights leader, most of us don't know about the difficulties he's endured while fighting for African Americans over the past 40 years. There were days when money was tight and death threats were at his front door, but he continued to push on.

In fact, there was a time when Rev. Jackson was listed as one of the top three human beings on earth most likely to be assassinated. This was right after the murder of Dr. King, so you can imagine the pressure one would face from loved ones to give up the struggle and instead aim for self-preservation. But that wasn't what he did, as he persevered and stood strong for his community. So, love him or hate him, you must admire anyone who is so consistent in his role as a public servant, for I assure you, the job is not easy by any stretch and the sacrifice is tremendous.


Click to read.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dr. Boyce: Tavis Smiley Holds Another Forum on Obama

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Yesterday, I rushed through the snow to do an interview with NPR's "Talk of the Nation" to discuss President Barack Obama's agenda for 2011 and the issues that matter most to black people. At the top of my brain was the old adage, "It's the economy stupid." So, fitting with my role as a Finance Professor, I led the interview off with financial topics, because it is my opinion that the country can benefit from more audible voices that work to portray the depth of black economic suffering.

I also noticed that someone I don't always agree with, Tavis Smiley, said something similar. In a recent interview with, Smiley went deep on the fact that black economic problems have been rarely addressed by our elected officials and that our community may need to find ways to amplify its voice. Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson even went as far as giving President Barack Obama a C- on how he deals with black issues. All of this has been interesting to watch, particularly in light of how President Obama's rise to power has created a peculiar divide within pre-existing African American "leadership." The infamous on-air brawl between Rev. Al Sharpton and Tavis Smiley is a perfect case-in-point.


Click to read.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dr. Boyce Watkins and Rev. Al Discuss Right Wing Hatred

Three Things President Obama Can Do for Black People

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I was shaking my head over and over again in preparation for a conversation we are going to have on NPR tomorrow about President Obama. The show is called "Talk of the Nation," and I had the esteemed honor of being the resident black guy, as the other two guests are set to discuss various elements of foreign and domestic policy. I'm just joking about the "black guy" thing, since I'm just happy they didn't choose someone like Juan Williams.

At any rate, my brain started spinning on how President Obama can best use the remainder of his first term as it pertains to people of color. I thought carefully about what he's done, what he's doing, what he's up against and what matters to us. In my course of thought, I came to a few conclusions.


click to read.

My friends Mark Anthony Neal and Khalil Muhammad: Two of the Leading Black Intellectuals in the World

 Black scholars Mark Anthony Neal and Khalil Muhammad talk about black history, black politics and more

From CNN: Is College Athletics a Sweatshop?

A view of the court where Purdue played Illinois for the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament March 14, 2009 in Indianapolis.


On Monday night, with millions of fans watching every play, Auburn will take on Oregon for the national championship of college football.

If you're viewing at home, you may notice the same thing you can observe each season at every massive college football stadium or glistening big-time college basketball arena:

Everyone working in the place is being paid: the hot dog vendors, the television broadcasters, the guy peddling game-day programs, the person who manufactured the university-logo jerseys and caps that are for sale at the souvenir stands, the employees changing lightbulbs in the tunnels. ...

Everyone except the people who are most responsible for putting the fans in the seats and in front of the TV screens at home: everyone except the players on the field.


Click to read.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

After the Scott Sisters are Freed, It’s Time to Move for Broader Reform

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I spent some time this week with NAACP officials analyzing the Georgia Prison Strike that occurred last month.  The fallout has been unbelievable, as some of the inmates were reportedly beaten with hammers for choosing to participate in the work stoppage.  One of the inmates allegedly has brain damage and is in a wheelchair as a result of the beatings.  Perhaps that’s what happens when you simply ask for basic human rights, which we’ve denied prison inmates for far too long.

Seeing what happened to these brothers and sisters after this incident was a cold, stern reminder that there is an infinite amount of work that needs to be done to clean up our criminal justice system.  Most of us think that prison has nothing to do with us, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  One out of every three black boys born this decade is expected to spend time in state prison, federal prison or local jails.  Also, the United States puts more people in prison than any country in the world, and most of us are only God’s grace or one bad situation away from ending up in the big house.  Additionally, there are millions of black folks who’ve seen their fathers, brothers, sisters or cousins negatively impacted and traumatized by this system, even when they were innocent.  The experience of prison is bad enough and only made worse by not being able to get a job for life, losing the right to vote, and not having access to housing or education.

Click to read.

The Shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Appears to be Linked to Racism



Short note from Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says anger, hatred and bigotry are getting out of hand in this country.  If you read between the lines, you can see that the sheriff is trying to say that racism may have been part of the reason that Giffords was shot.  Perhaps the Republicans will reconsider their rhetoric, since lives are being put in danger by their consistent commitment to capitalizing off the racial hatred of our country.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dr. Boyce Watkins and Marc Lamont Hill on CNN’s Joy Behar Show

Click the video to see Dr. Marc Lamont Hill at Columbia University and Dr. Boyce Watkins discuss Mark Twain and the n-word

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Inmate Released After Serving 30 Years for Wrongful Conviction


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Cornelius Dupree was sent to prison in 1979 on charges of rape and robbery. After doing over 30 years in prison, he has finally been set free by the Innocence Project. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins is also arguing that Dupree "did not commit this crime" and that he should be freed.
If Dupree is freed, he will have served more time in Texas prison than any other innocent person in the history of the state. There are only two others in the country who have served more time and been exonerated, according to the Innocence Project.
"Cornelius Dupree spent the prime of his life behind bars because of mistaken identification that probably would have been avoided if the best practices now used in Dallas had been employed," said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project. "Let us never forget that, as in the heartbreaking case of Cornelius Dupree, a staggering 75% of wrongful convictions of people later cleared by DNA evidence resulted from misidentifications."


Click to read.