Vegetative State of the Black Union

03/04/2009 03:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Originally published on, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: King Anyi Howell

This past weekend, Tavis Smiley's tenth annual "State of the Black Union" was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. While the main televised panel featured some of the most prominent minds and perspectives in Black America, it also featured a forward from President Barack Obama, who acknowledged, "Tough times for Americans often mean tougher times for African-Americans." I was impressed with the discussion that took place, what I heard, and saw. But it was what I didn't see that concerned me.

There was little representation of new and diverse black leadership. In these times, it would have been nice to see a brother from Wall St., someone from the LGBT community, and even someone from the Hip-Hop community. I believe that we, as a people, are not so much divided as we are disconnected, and the absence of certain elements in the debate did more to keep us in a "Vegetative State of Unity." Two attempts at bringing new perspectives to the table were made. One win and one fail:

Fail!: Van Jones, Founder and President of Green For All, attempted to shake the stigma within the black community that green issues were Caucasian issues by explaining how Africans were the original environmental activists, speaking out of against the commodification of our planet's resources, and how "green jobs," a large part of Obama's stimulus, could rebuild the black community, shook by unemployment. All that was great, until he began to call out the names of "Pookie," "Shenaenae," and others unnecessarily to further his point in the POOREST of taste (I'll spare you the video). boo!

Success!: Erica L. Williams, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Campus Progress, who mentioned her offense that people assume that she voted for Obama because she is a young black person, without checking his stances and researching before voting.

Write your congressperson and two Senators about Economic Stimulus allocation of funds, and mandatory cocaine sentencing reform!

I interviewed GOP chairman, Michael Steele, who had this to say:

Among my favorite quotes from the "State of the Black Union" panel:

Danny Bakewell, Sr:
"We shouldn't raise Obama to a sanctified position, we elected a leader, not a savior."

Rev. Al Sharpton:
"We don't have Dem or Rep in our DNA, we support those parties that support us."

Dr. Cornel West:
"For us the condition of truth is to let the suffering voices emerge."

Dr. Julianne Malveaux:
"Why did we ever have affirmative action?- because there was exclusion."
"If you can finance a car for 0% interest, why no a college education."
"Couldn't Bank of America shave off $1 billion To save the food stamp program [which is almost bankrupt]."

Randal Robinson:
"When you watch American news You get controlled news, when you watch outside news, you learn what we aren't doing."
"I played basketball in college; I ran up and down a court and thought it was important."
"We cant go around the world overthrowing democracies we don't like, just because they don't like us."

Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI) is a youth-driven converged media production company that delivers the best youth news, culture and undiscovered talent to a cross section of audiences. To read more youth news from around the globe and explore high quality audio and video features, visit