Monday, November 30, 2009

Dr Boyce on MSNBC Discussing Tiger Woods

Dr. Boyce speaks on the Tiger Woods controversy on MSNBC.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Prosperity Gospel: Is it Real or Not?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Nearly every African American knows just how important the black church is to our community. We also know about "prosperity gospel," the act of preaching about God within the context of wealth building. I admit that this form of faith is a bit odd to me. I am a Finance Professor and I become confused when my pastor talks about money more than I do. The saddest truth is that it's hard to tell the difference between a pastor and a pimp: Most pastors aren't pimps, but any pimp could be a pastor. The same skill set is required in both professions.

My father is a preacher, but he almost never preaches about money. I've never heard him asking for money on the pulpit, or mentioning that giving money to him is one of the keys to gaining access to heaven. But I don't presume that my father is right about all things, and given that I write about money on a regular basis, I have gained an appreciation for what financial resources can do to enhance your life. Also, one must be aware of the pragmatic realities of running a church: You have the building fund, bills to pay every month and any community service initiatives that the church chooses to pursue. The proper use of money can certainly enhance your ability to do God's work.


Click to read.

Friday, November 27, 2009

ABC News – Tiger Woods’ Accident Shakes Advertisers

Word that Tiger Woods was involved in an early morning car accident likely rattled not just fans, but also the broad swath of major corporations that rely on Woods' star power to sell everything from sports drinks, T-shirts and razors to golf tournament tickets.

Reports say the golf star hit a fire hydrant and a tree near his home.

"I can imagine that the world stopped for Tiger Woods advertisers when they first heard the news and that, literally, their hearts missed a beat," said ABC News sports consultant and USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan.

Woods has earned more than $100 million annually and, according to Forbes, more than $1 billion during his career thus far, thanks, in part, through endorsement deals with companies such as Nike, Gatorade, Electronic Arts, TAG Heuer and Gillette. The companies declined requests for comment from ABC News.

Nike, in particular, has been especially dependent on Woods, said advertising expert Larry Woodard, an ABC News columnist and the CEO of the advertising agency Vigilante.

"Nike wasn't really into golf before Tiger Woods came," he said. "He helped them take a pre-eminent role in golf."

The PGA Tour also has a lot riding on Woods -- he drives ratings for PGA Tour broadcasts like no one else before him, allowing the tour to rake in greater advertising revenues and higher TV ratings.

"Tiger brought a lot of color to the sport both on his skin and his style of play and that's something that the PGA sorely needs," said Boyce Watkins, a finance professor at Syracuse University.

In the short term, companies tied to Woods likely wouldn't lose too much cash if Woods couldn't fulfill his immediate endorsement obligations; corporations take out insurance policies to cover themselves in case of such events.

"I bet you any intelligent corporation that deals with Tiger Woods has conditions in place to protect them in the event that something like this were to happen," Watkins said. "You have to confront the fact that a human being is perishable commodity. It is a commodity that does not come without risk."


Click to read.

Inner City Schools Should be Appropriately Funded

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

The following is an excerpt from the book, "Black American Money."
I saw some random "expert" on a "60 Minutes" segment discussing the state of the education system. The man was attempting to argue that more resources won't make a difference in the quality of our schools. He went on to argue that many of the pathetic schools in the inner city are run by blacks, implying that not only do African-Americans not care about their own youth, they are shiftless buffoons when it comes to money management. I've heard similar arguments from members of oppressive groups around the world, as oppressor attitudes are shockingly consistent and universal. A friend of mine from India once explained to me that additional government resources being allocated to create opportunities for "the untouchables" were a waste of time, in large part due to the fact that the people were too lazy to efficiently use these opportunities.Stereotypes against historically oppressed groups are quite common, as the world has been trained to believe that when it comes to managing money, white men are gods and black people are idiots. But when it comes to poor money management, few institutions are worse than the Pentagon which has been known to spend $500 for a toilet seat. They also fail to look to the airline and automobile industries, the ultimate welfare queens of American capitalism. These industries consistently seek government bailouts in the form of tariffs and subsidies. I won't begin to discuss the Financial Crisis of 2008 – 2009, as we saw our entire global financial system artificially inflated and subsequently destroyed by individuals who are not black. Rather, people are usually quick to point to black administrators in inner city schools and historically black colleges and universities as the most wasteful individuals in American education and industry.


Click to read.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Big Ups to Shaquille O’neal

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

NBA star Shaquille O'neal is planning to cover the cost for the funeral of Shaniya Davis, the five-year old who was recently kidnapped and murdered in a story that rocked the nation. The cost of the funeral is expected to be about $4,500. According to media reports, the child was killed by 29-year old Mario McNeill on the same day that she was found to be missing.

The Shaniya Davis case broke all of our hearts. Shaquille O'neal's intervention was likely welcomed by the family, since funeral costs are usually another problem that families are not prepared to face after the death of a loved one.

Shaniya Davis' mother, 25-year old Antoinette Davis, is charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution. Her case is a reminder of the dangers of drugs in America and opens a frightening door into the underworld of child prostitution. In spite of the fact that there are ways to save on the cost of a funeral, it is highly unlikely that Shaniya Davis' mother had anything in place to pay the cost of her child's burial. So, I give Shaq major "props" for stepping up to the plate, since we all know that it takes a village to raise and protect a child. It is my hope that the other Shaniya's in the world get the protection they deserve from all of us before it is too late.

Click to read.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Has Obama Helped Black Men?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

I did a recent CNN appearance along with the actor Hill Harper and Dr. Alvin Poussaint at Harvard University. The series was a one-year anniversary segment featuring political issues within the African American community. for the entire week, the primary focus was on the impact that President Barack Obama has had onAfrican American men. Given that I've been a black man for quite a while now, I found this conversation topic particularly interesting, so getting to speak to Richelle Carey again wasn't the only perk of doing the job that day.

It must be made clear that the president should not be expected to save the entire world in one swoop. His job is difficult, and he can't give everyone what they want all the time. But to the extent that President Obama has been positioned to trump pre-existing black leadership (remember that some say we now live in a post-racial America), one can argue that President Obama's rantings in black churches come with some degree of accountability from the Oval Office. Obama has spoken at NAACP meetings, telling black men to take responsibility for our families (as if none of us do) and to engage in more personal responsibility (as if we don't do that already). Such tough talk should be backed by meaningful policy, since structural incentives play a dominant role in the ultimate choice of the individual. For example, when companies get tax incentives to invest in new projects, they almost always do.

Click to read.

Dr Boyce teaches financial liposuction on ABC News

Dr Boyce teaches the art of Financial liposuction on ABC News

Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Kids Told to Pick Cotton in front of white classmates

I received a call the today from CNN for an appearance on Headline News with the amazing Richelle Carey. The story happened a couple of weeks ago, but it took me aback and I thought I would quickly share it with the AOL BV family. During a field trip to a former plantation in Charlotte, NC, the tour guide wanted to show the kids what slavery was like. So, he asked the black children to pick cotton while their white classmates stood around and watched. When the CNN producer (a nice woman named Ebony) told me about the story, I had to do a Gary Coleman imitation: "What choo talking bout Ebony?"
Beyond the obvious, this case is disturbing on a multitude of levels. But CNN has asked me to help make this case into a teachable moment. I love finding life lessons in everything, so here are some quick thoughts:

1) The tour guide who did this clearly wasn't thinking: If you want the children to empathize with slavery, why not have them ALL pretend to be slaves? If you have the black children pretending to be slaves and the white kids pretending to be their masters, you are only teaching the white kids to be slave masters and the black kids to be their property.
2) Look at this through the mind of a child: I remember a child in elementary school saying to me, "I wish slavery was still around, because I could then tell you what to do." Those were the same words that Walter Currie's classmate said to him beforespraying him with gasoline and setting him on fire. Those were also the words that one child said to another on the bus ride home from the plantation that day in North Carolina. Do you see a trend here? While we as adults might see the educational value in our remarks, children might see it in an entirely different way.

Click to read.

CNN: Dr Boyce and Richelle Carey Discuss Obama and Black Men

Dr Boyce Watkins and Richelle Carey from CNN discuss Obama's impact on African American men.

Dr. Boyce Watkins on MSNBC - The Heather Ellis case

CNN: Black Kids Told to Act Like Slaves in School

Dr Boyce on CNN to discuss an incident in which black kids were told to behave like slaves in school.

Dr. Boyce: Setting the Record Straight on Heather Ellis

Setting the record straight with Heather Ellis


Jury selection for Heather Ellis continues
Heather Ellis case one in a long line of Missouri's racial injustices

This Nov. 4, 2009 file photo shows Heather Ellis, left, arm-in-arm with her mother, Hester Ellis, exiting the Stoddard County Justice Center in Bloomfield, Mo. (AP Photo/Corey Noles, Dexter Daily Statesman, File)

This week, for the first time, I had the chance to speak with Heather Ellis.

Heather was not previously allowed to speak, since her attorney told her to remain silent. I can tell you that after speaking with Heather for nearly two hours, she is a fine young woman. She is NOT the kind of person who needed to spend any time in prison, and I am glad she took the plea deal from the prosecution. Let me explain a few facts about the case that you may not know:

1) Heather is not admitting guilt: Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system in America should understand that there are times when you have to plead in order to make something go away. There was no smoking gun implicating Heather Ellis; there was only the risk that the jury (which her high powered attorney, Scott Rosenblum, considered to be the worst jury he'd seen in 26 years of practice) was going to send her to prison or jail.

Like most of us, Heather is not a person who wants to go to jail for any significant period of time. I personally worried that she would be abused if left in the presence of the very officers who'd attacked her on the night of her arrest, not to mention the criminals she would be incarcerated with. If she were my daughter, I would have told her to take the plea.

The good thing was that her fight led the entire nation to talk about issues that we would never have discussed otherwise. Anyone who doesn't agree with her decision needs to go put their own child on trial with up to 15 possible years in prison and see how much yapping you do then.
2) There is no evidence of an assault on an officer and she was not convicted of these felonies: According to Heather (whom I believe and I'll tell you why in a second), there was one police officer who was dead set on the idea of pursuing and harassing her. He followed her closely out of the store, referring to her as a b*tch and a ho. He then told her to "go back to the ghetto." That is when Heather turned and asked him why he was harassing her instead of chasing real criminals. That is when he said, "Because I want to harass your stupid a**." That is also the officer who, without warning, tackled Heather and dragged her to the police car.

The reason Heather's story is credible is because this officer had been fired from another job for sexual harassment and had lied on the witness stand in the past. Her attorney's research uncovered the officer's dirty past, and Heather discussed this issue in more detail in our conversation.
3) This was not a jury of her peers: Heather's father, Pastor Nathaniel Ellis, told me that he had wanted to push the trial to the very end. What changed his mind, he said, was seeing his daughter break down in tears over the idea of going to jail or prison.


Click to read.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Klan Holds a Rally at Ole-Miss: Dr Boyce Analyzes

I was intrigued by recent reports that the Ku Klux Klan had a rally on the Ole Miss Campus recently. It might surprise you to know that I am essentially unconcerned by their presence on campus. Don't get me wrong, Klansmen are incredibly ignorant. Also, we cannot deny their historical reign of terror over people of color in America. But I can also give you a list of reasons that we should stop paying attention to the KKK.

1) They thrive off of attention: The KKK has very little power. They don't do very much anymore, and even in this rally, it appears that there were only a few members present. The truth is that the klan only has power because we give it attention. They are like a grease fire: The more water you put on it, the more it grows. But if you starve the fire of oxygen, it eventually dies out. The klan must be starved of attention, and then they will go away. They only remain relevant because we want them to be.


Click to read.

Dr Boyce on MSNBC: The Heather Ellis Case

Dr Boyce Watkins discusses his national rally for Heather Ellis, the woman facing 15-years in prison for cutting line at a Wal-Mart.

Dr. Boyce on Black Planet – 11/22/09

OPINION: Depression in the Black Community – Why it is a Serious Problem

By Dr. Boyce Watkins November 22, 2009 8:27 am

OPINION: Depression in the Black Community – Why it is a Serious Problem

Read more about OPINION: Depression in the Black Community – Why it is a Serious Problem

TAGS: african american doctors, african american news, black doctors, black news, depression in the black community

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OPINION: Heather Ellis Finally Tells Her Story & Why I Believe Her

By Dr. Boyce Watkins November 21, 2009 11:20 pm

OPINION: Heather Ellis Finally Tells Her Story & Why I Believe Her

Read more about OPINION: Heather Ellis Finally Tells Her Story & Why I Believe Her

TAGS: african american news, black news, Heather Ellis, heather ellis case

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OPINION: Heather Ellis Reaches Plea Deal, But I’ve Still Got Questions

By Dr. Boyce Watkins November 20, 2009 9:18 pm

OPINION: Heather Ellis Reaches Plea Deal, But I’ve Still Got Questions

Read more about OPINION: Heather Ellis Reaches Plea Deal, But I’ve Still Got Questions

TAGS: heather, Heather Ellis, heather ellis case, heather ellis plea

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OPINION: Jesse Jackson Was Right About Artur Davis … Sort Of

By Dr. Boyce Watkins November 20, 2009 12:56 pm

OPINION: Jesse Jackson Was Right About Artur Davis … Sort Of

Read more about OPINION: Jesse Jackson Was Right About Artur Davis … Sort Of

TAGS: artur davis, black politics, Congressional Black Caucus, Jesse Jackson

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OPINION: How We Can Work Toward Justice For Heather Ellis

By Dr. Boyce Watkins November 13, 2009 5:05 pm

OPINION: How We Can Work Toward Justice For Heather Ellis

Read more about OPINION: How We Can Work Toward Justice For Heather Ellis

TAGS: justice system, Missouri, Wal-Mart

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OPINION: We Should Mind Our Own Business In Chris Brown Vs. Rihanna

By Dr. Boyce Watkins November 8, 2009 11:35 am

OPINION: We Should Mind Our Own Business In Chris Brown Vs. Rihanna

Read more about OPINION: We Should Mind Our Own Business In Chris Brown Vs. Rihanna

TAGS: Chris Brown, domestic violence, Rihanna

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OPINION: The Racial Ignorance Of Barack Obama’s Financial “Gurus”

By Dr. Boyce Watkins November 5, 2009 10:54 am

OPINION: The Racial Ignorance Of Barack Obama’s Financial “Gurus”

Read more about OPINION: The Racial Ignorance Of Barack Obama’s Financial “Gurus”

TAGS: ben bernanke, poverty, wealth

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OPINION: 5 Things President Obama Can Do For Black Men

By Dr. Boyce Watkins November 2, 2009 10:30 am

OPINION: 5 Things President Obama Can Do For Black Men

Read more about OPINION: 5 Things President Obama Can Do For Black Men

TAGS: Barack Obama, black men, education, prisons

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dr. Boyce Talks Heather Ellis on Anderson Cooper 360

Dr Boyce Watkins and Anderson Cooper discuss the case of Heather Ellis, the woman who faced 15-years in prison after cutting line at Wal-Mart.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dr. Boyce: Jesse Jackson vs. Artur Davis


by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

I love speaking with Rev. Jesse Jackson.  He walks and talks like a man who has seen and heard nearly everything.  Our civil rights leaders are social hubs through which many members of our society must travel in order to reach their destinations.   You can’t call yourself a black man and not know the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Rev. Jackson took things a step further by stating recently at a Congressional Black Caucus function that,”You can’t vote against health care and call yourself a black man.”

RELATED: Jesse Jackson Says To CBC You Can’t Be Black And Be Against Health Care

This comment was aimed at Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, the only member of theCongressional Black Caucus who does not support health care reform.   What is most interesting about Jackson’s comment is that he is right, but not quite.  You can certainly argue that Davis’ lack of support for the plan implies  that his interests are not in line with the majority of African Americans in this country:  Most of them love Barack Obama and are willing to support anything that he supports.  The other sad truth is that health care reform is so complicated that most Americans don’t have a clue about what’s going on.   In that regard, we can argue that it is difficult for Davis to say that he represents the black community when he votes in a direction that is not correlated with the majority of African Americans in the state of Alabama.

Click to read.

Dr. Boyce: I’ve Still Got Questions about Heather Ellis


by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

I have been actively involved in the fight for Heather Ellis, the 24-year old school teacher now facing up to 15-years in prison for cutting line at a local Wal-Mart.  Although Heather has now reached a plea deal with prosecutors over her arrested, there are still questions that need to be answered.  No, she was not charged with cutting in line, but it was the cashier’s reaction to the alleged line cut which led to the relevant sequence of events.  Had the cashier been more professional and not refused to serve Heather, none of this would have happened (You hear that Walmart? Perhaps that’s why your attorneys are telling you to remain silent).

I have five simple questions about the trial of Heather Ellis:

1) If “no one was seriously injured,” why was she facing up to 15-years in prison?

In the opening statements of the trial, the prosecutor in the case, Morley Swingle (the dandy fellow with the Confederate flag on the cover of his book) stated that “There was no serious injury, but it did hurt,” when referring to the alleged assaults committed by Ms. Ellis.  If no one was seriously injured, does that constitute a Class-C felony?  This statement was quite telling when it comes to understanding the style of justice being administered in the Southeast Missouri area (which is why we are sending our reports to the Justice Department after the trial is over).  Given that Ellis appears to have been the only person to go to the hospital after she allegedly beat down all of these great big men, it would seem to me that perhaps she might be the one who is able to file an assault charge against the officers.  Additionally, the defense attorney on the case, Scott Rosenblum, presented evidence in court of there being blood in Heather Ellis’ jacket pocket from the night of the incident.  This would be consistent with her claim to the doctor the next day that she was assaulted by the police.

Click to read.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Black News: Video Released in Heather Ellis Case

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

When I held the rally for Heather Ellis last week, the woman facing up to 15-years in prison after allegedly cutting line at a Wal-Mart, I was hoping that one day the rest of the world could see what I saw nearly two weeks ago. In spite of the prosecutor's contention that the video tape would prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt, the truth is that the video is highly inconclusive. Check the video out and see for yourself.
You can click here to watch the video.

Click to read more on the Heather Ellis case.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Anderson Cooper 360 Weighs in on the Heather Ellis Case

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Heather Ellis is facing 15-years in prison for allegedly cutting line at a Wal-Mart store in Missouri.

Heather Ellis is facing 15-years in prison for allegedly cutting line at a Wal-Mart store in Missouri.

Dr. Boyce Watkins
Special to AC360°

Heather Ellis is in trouble. The 24-year old preacher’s daughter has spent most of her life doing the right things: Going to college, getting ready for medical school and staying out of trouble. What Heather didn’t realize is that even when you do the right things, your margin of error as a person of color in America is virtually non-existent.

When I wrote my book, “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” the key point was that America’s justice system has a difficult time understanding that punishments must match the magnitude of the crime that has allegedly been committed. The actions that a “frat boy” can get away with 20 times during college can send an African American to prison for the next 20-years. America is a country that has, without question, consistently over-charged, over-searched, over-incarcerated and over-sentenced African Americans for the past 400 years of its existence.

Given its ugly past, the criminal justice system has very little credibility, and even police reports are subject to being questioned – especially in a town like Kennett, MO. My father’s a cop, so I know how all this works. Even when black men were lynched 100 years ago, there were always “witnesses” and police reports to say that he was a bad person. Fortunately, lynching does not occur anymore (although a black boy – Walter Currie Jr. – was burned alive by his white classmate in the same area as Heather), but the noose has been replaced with the long prison sentence as the most typical and most devastating form of punishment. As a result, black men and women are filling up America’s penitentiaries at an alarming rate, and it is destroying the core of the black family.

Click to read.

Heather Ellis Case is National – ABC News

The prospect of spending 15 years in jail was probably the last thing on a Missouri woman's mind nearly three years ago when she switched checkout lines at a Walmart store.

Heather Ellis could face 15 years for allegedly assaulting police officers at a Missouri Walmart.

Heather Ellis, inset, could face up to 15 years in prison after allegedly assaulting police officers who asked her to leave a Walmart store in Missouri when she cut a line to be with her cousin.

(Courtesy Your Black World/Getty Images)

But jail's a possibility for Heather Ellis, 24, who goes on trial today for charges stemming from a dispute at the Kennett, Mo., Walmart.

Ellis faces charges of disturbing the peace, trespassing, resisting arrest and assaulting police officers after she became"belligerent" when she was asked to leavethe store Jan. 6, 2007, authorities say.

The schoolteacher could face 15 years in prison, if convicted.

But Ellis, who is black, has said that the charges are racially motivated, and that she has been unfairly targeted, which authorities deny.

Click to read.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Major Rally for Heather Ellis – The Inside Scoop

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

I am sitting in my hotel room in Memphis after the exhausting day I spent marching forHeather Ellis, the 24-year old college student now facing up to 15 years in prison after cutting in line at Walmart. If you were to be picky about it, you could argue that Heather is technically not being charged for cutting in line. But had the Walmart employee not mistreated Heather after accusing her of cutting in line, the entire incident would not have taken place.

When the black folks rolled into Kennett, Missouri for our rally, the entire town stopped, the police showed up in massive force and there were even snipers on the rooftops. I assume the snipers were there for our protection, but after visiting the Lorraine Hotel (where Dr. King was killed) just the day before, I was honestly a wee bit nervous. There were people standing on the side of the road, taking pictures and some holding up flags with swastikas and confederate flags on them. It was very interesting.

I've put together some random thoughts about the case, the rally and everything in between. I have to be blunt and honest, since you know that's how I operate:

1) The fight is not over: Heather's trial begins Wednesday and I am highly concerned about the outcome. The idea that this young woman's entire future can be stolen over such a tiny incident is simply unbelievable. The truth is that common sense tells us that this situation should have been squashed long ago, and Kennett, MO is becoming known as the racist town that destroys the lives of young black women.

Click to read more on AOL Black Voices

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tom Joyner Morning Show Discusses the Heather Ellis Case

On Thursday, November 12, Dr. Boyce spoke with Tom Joyner about The Heather Ellis Case.  Please sign up to save Heather at and get involved!

The Financial Value of Rihanna’s Pain

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

I hated what Chris Brown did to Rihanna. I was angered, disappointed and irritated by the fact that many are quick to forgive egregious behavior on the part of celebrities, and a hit song can forgive all sins. At the same time, celebs are just like the rest of us, full of complexities that the world may never come to understand. Rihanna has walked away from Chris and she is now telling the entire world how bad of a man he is, and we're all taking her side.

The problem for Rihanna, however, is that her actions aren't making much sense.

Rihanna's recent whirlwind media tour has included the likes of ABC News, MTV and other major media outlets. Throughout this tour, she has allowed the world to enter into her dark reflection on the relationship she had with Chris Brown, with that reflection seeming to have almost no productive purpose. I am not sure why the he-say/she-say between two 19-year old kids should be the concern of the nation. But then again, I am sitting here writing about it, so I am as guilty as everyone else.


Click to read.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dr Boyce and Armstrong Williams Talk about Obama's Health Care Plan

Listen to Dr. Boyce Watkins and Armstrong Williams debate Obama's Health care plan on Power 105.1.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Prosecutor Removes Himself from the Heather Ellis Case

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 ~ Updated 1:25 PM

Heather Ellis is shown alongside her mother, Hester Ellis, outside the Justice Center at Bloomfield last month following her pre-trial hearing in a case that has gained national attention. At right is Ellis' attorney, Timothy Hunsaker from the St. Louis firm of Rosenblum, Schwartz, Rogers and Glass. Also pictured (at left) is an unidentified member of the American Civil Liberties Union.
(Staff photo by Noreen Hyslop)

A motion filed in a Dunklin County courtroom brings a new twist to the case against Heather Ellis, a case that has garnered national media attention.

Ellis, an African-American woman from Kennett, is charged in connection with an incident at the Kennett Walmart in 2007 during which she was arrested and charged with two counts of the Class C felony assault on a law enforcement officer, one count of the Class B misdemeanor peace disturbance and one count of the Class A misdemeanor resisting arrest. Ellis was charged as a result of a scuffle that broke out in a checkout line at the store, following Ellis being accused by associates employed by Walmart of cutting in line.

The motion in question, filed by Ellis' attorney on November 2, involves Ellis' legal representation requesting Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokoloff to recuse himself from the case.

Click to read.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What do the Cleveland Murders Say about Our Respect for Black Women?

Cleveland murders are a product of our own values

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Anthony Sowell is a name that most of us would like to forget. Sowell is the 50-year-old man in Cleveland found to have 11 corpses in his home after being arrested on a rape charge. His neighbors noticed the smell, but some blamed it on the sausage factory next door.

Sowell's case jars the mind, and even the sight of him makes me want to change the channel. But not only is Sowell repulsive, the circumstances under which these women were killed are equally alarming.

All of the women were African-American. All of them were poor, marginalized and ignored by society. Some of their families called police to report them missing and the police refused to thoroughly investigate. Even Sowell was intelligent enough to know that he was taking the lives of women who would not be missed, telling one of the victims that no one would care if she disappeared. In Sowell's warped mind, many of these women had already disappeared. The truth is that he was absolutely correct.

The Anthony Sowell case is one that requires us to stop and reassess our values. Why are some people considered to be less worthy of police protection than others? I recall hearing a police officer explain to me that he felt that the job of the police was to simply protect the rich from the poor. I was under the false impression that their job was to protect the good from the bad. Apparently, Sowell's victims were not wealthy enough, blonde or blue-eyed enough to be defined as inherently good. Their disappearances were deemed unworthy of the attention of Nancy Grace or anyone else for that matter.


Click to read.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chris Brown vs. Rihanna: Time to Butt Out


When I heard that Chris Brown hit his ex-girlfriend Rihanna, I was concerned and surprised.  I also found myself irritated by the fact that many women, along with my teenage daughters, were quick to forgive Chris for his actions, primarily because they think he has a great voice and a cute face.  I had little sympathy for Chris Brown, and doing something like that to one of my girls would’ve had him singing a cappella for the rest of his life.

RELATED: Rihanna: Chris Brown “Had No Soul In His Eyes”

But that’s where I have to get off the Chris Brown bashing bus.  In spite of my frustration with Chris’ behavior, I cannot endorse the media’s decision to turn his relationship with Rihanna into a one-sided slugfest, committed by yet another violent black man whose rage consistently overrides his intellect.  I also cannot endorse Rihanna’s decision to bring ABC News into her relationship, portraying herself as the completely innocent victim who was terrorized by the big, scary black man.  Yes, she is the victim, but we all know that love is not that simple.

Let’s be clear: No man should ever put his hands on a woman in a violent way.  We all agree on that.   Not only is it morally wrong, but it’s an easy way for a man to find himself in jail (especially if he’s black).  We should also agree that no woman should put her hands on any man.  The second point might be subject to disagreement, but the truth is that you shouldn’t hit someone if you don’t expect to get hit back.  While that person might end up being punished by the police, you might end up in the morgue.  We can also agree that the disproportionate amount of force that a man is capable of inflicting is a legitimate reason that the man is more to blame than the woman, even if both parties are involved in a physical altercation.


Click to read.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Jay Z vs. Beanie Sigal: A Lesson in Corporate Power


Consider it a strange dream, but I had some thoughts about the Jay-Z beef with the rapper Beanie Sigal. No, I'm not here to talk about keeping street cred. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Half of the artists in the hip hop industry are not nearly as hard or as real as they claim to be. They're too smart for that. The guys who are really as hard as most rappers claim to be are either in a jail cell or a casket. That's the truth.
What got my attention was when Charlamagne Tha God was fired from 100.3, "The Beat" in Philadelphia. I've known Charlamagne for years from our work on The Wendy Williams Show, so this made me a little upset. What was even sadder is the allegation that Jay Z may have played a role in getting Charlamagne fired, in large part because Charlamagne conducted an interview with Jay-Z's new rival, Beanie Sigal. This incident represents more than the standard thuggery that some might see on the surface. Instead, it brings forth a plethora of issues that relate to business, entertainment, money and corporate power. Here are some quick thoughts:


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Monday, November 2, 2009

Dr. Boyce: Michael Baisden Steps to the Plate on the Heather Ellis Case

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Just when you thought black celebrities didn't care anymore, the "Bad Boy of Radio,"Michael Baisden announced today that he is going to give $5,000 to the legal defense fund of the family of Heather Ellis, a 24-year old black female college student who faces 15-years in prison after cutting in line at a Walmart.

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Dr. Wilmer Leon Speaks on the Heather Ellis Case

Dr. Wilmer Leon, Howard University

One of the things that make America unique is its Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights. In its original form, the Constitution did not include a list of basic civil liberties or guarantees to the individual. Many prominent Americans, including Thomas Jefferson insisted that a list of fundamental protections be included to restrain the national government from tampering with the fundamental rights and civil liberties of its citizens. The intent of the framers of the Constitution was to level the playing field. They felt it necessary to restrain the very powerful government, prosecutors, and police from arbitrary and capricious action against the less powerful individual. Over time these protections have been passed down to the state level.

The case of Heather Ellis is a perfect present day example of why individual American citizens need to be protected from over zealous capricious prosecutors and police. For a young woman to be facing up to fifteen years in prison for trespassing, disturbing the peace, and two felony counts of assaulting a police officer, all for allegedly cutting a check-out line at a Wal-Mart is unconscionable.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dr Boyce: Ben Bernanke’s Racially Ridiculous Comments

I've always had mixed feelings about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. I feel that he is better than the previous chairman, Alan Greenspan, but the Fed Chairmanship (like the presidency) is almost never given to the right man. Just the fact that it is almost always given to a man is problematic enough, and the truth is that only white men need apply for the job.
Well, when you are limited in your option pool for the top job, bad leadership and flat out ignorance can sometimes be the result. While Fed Chairman Bernanke might know some nuts and bolts about economics, he appears to be shockingly misinformed about economic disparities between blacks and whites. His embarrassing and highly inappropriate statements at Morehouse College serve as a significant case in point.
In a recent interview at Morehouse, the Fed Chairman was asked what he felt to be the reason for the wealth gap between blacks and whites. In response, Bernanke said that the gap was due to a lack of "financial literacy" and "financial education" on the part of African Americans. That's all he mentioned.

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