Antonio Maurice Daniels

Happy Mother’s Day

Each year, I am always excited about Mother’s Day because this day gives me the opportunity to honor, celebrate, and appreciate my great mother in unison with people across the United States of America. Linda J. Daniels is certainly a great mother and my very best friend. Although she does get on my nerves quite often, we have such an unconditional love for one another. For those of you who do not have a living mother, find peace on this day in thinking about positive moments about your mother. One of the greatest ways to overcome some of the sorrow that this day presents for you is to invest your time in loving mothers who you are related to or who you are friends with.  For those of you who have a difficult relationship with your mother, try to work on your relationship with her today. Just do something nice for your mother today—no matter what type of relationship you have with her.  The purpose of this article is to express the significance of Mother’s Day.

A mother gave birth to us all. They have a special significance because these are the women who carried us for 9 months.  We literally would not be here without our mothers, even though it does take a man to have a baby too. The bond between a mother and her child cannot be closer, however.  We literally lived inside of our mother for 9 months—something no man can ever experience what it feels like. A woman certainly has more biological investment in her child than a man. My mother’s investment in me certainly persisted after giving birth to me. It seems like our mothers know us in ways that no one else, including our fathers, know us.

You have to really appreciate your mother and give her your kind words and flowers while she is living because when she is no longer living, she cannot hear your words or see your flowers.  It always amazes me how we will go to people’s funerals and pour our hearts out about how much we love them and how much they meant to us, but never expressed those thoughts and feelings when the people were alive.  It’s hard for me to really believe you when you do stuff like that.  I have often said that funerals and weddings are the two most dishonest events. We could improve the quality of our mothers’ lives if we would let them know more often how much we love them and how much we appreciate them.

If you love your mother today, walk up to her, hug her, and tell her how much you love her.  If your mother is not living today, do something for someone else’s mother to show your love.  You might even want to go to the grave site of your mother just to reflect on  her greatness.  If you are living far away from your mother, then give her a call and tell her that you love her.  For those who are able, do something today for your mother that you have never done for her before.  To all mothers, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day!  To Linda J. Daniels, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s “Ending the Slavery Blame Game”: Has Skip Gates Lost His Mind?

In an April 22, 2010 article, “Ending the Slavery Blame Game,” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/opinion/23gates.html) in The New York Times, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., an African-American and Harvard University professor, offered an interesting response to the controversial issue of slavery reparations. In the article, he explained how Africans were also participants in the slave trade that helped to create and maintain the institution of slavery in America. He also further divulged that the more interesting query about slavery reparations “just might be from whom they would be extracted.”  I could not agree more with Dr. Gates about this question. Unfortunately, the following comments that he made I could not disagree more with: “Fortunately, in President Obama, the child of an African and an American, we finally have a leader who is uniquely positioned to bridge the great reparations divide. He is uniquely placed to publicly attribute responsibility and culpability where they truly belong, to white people and black people, on both sides of the Atlantic, complicit alike in one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization. And reaching that understanding is a vital precursor to any just and lasting agreement on the divisive issue of slavery reparations.” The purpose of this article is to respond to the aforementioned comments of Dr. Gates.

Has Henry Louis Gates, Jr. lost his mind? In this article, he suggested that Blacks and Whites are both responsible for the institution of slavery in America. For a professor and director of an African-American Studies department at Harvard University, I have to think that he has lost his mind or he is on the verge of losing his mind. Just to remind you, this is the same man who was harassed by a White police officer for trying to break into his own home, but was arrested by the police officer. Next thing we know, Gates and the White police officer are enjoying one another over a beer with President Obama. Dr. Gates, was that beer in the cup or Kool-Aid? It must have been Kool-Aid because Kool-Aid is the drink of “post-racial” folk; that is, people who are here to please White folk and excuse racist White people for the legacy of slavery. While I have tremendous respect for Dr. Gates (Skip Gates) as a scholar and intellectual, he has gone too far to try to be “post-racial.” Let’s be real—the effort to be post-racial is problematic in the first place. At the core of this notion of being post-racial is an assumption that such great progress has been made in terms of race that we do not have to consider race as an important and central factor anymore. I certainly don’t need to be a Harvard professor to know that being post-racial is a foolish concept for people of color to fall prey to. The presence of President Obama in the White House does not remedy the enduring impact of slavery on African-Americans!

The Institute of the Black World 21st Century is holding a special conference on Saturday, May 8, 2010 from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. in Brooklyn, New York at Historic House of the Lord Church to respond to the article penned by Dr. Gates. I am sure that they are going to expose the many weaknesses of the article and I wish I could be there. Although I do not support slavery reparations in the traditional ways in which they have been argued for, I do believe that this nation owes African-Americans real economic, social, and educational opportunities. African-Americans deserve the idea of equality of outcomes to become a true reality. I do, however, think that the notion of getting “40 acres and a mule” should be seriously considered in 2010.

I urge people to read the article that Dr. Gates composed and find ways to respond to it. I would even encourage you to email him to let him know how you feel about what he said in the article. When some African-Americans reach a certain economic and educational level, they begin to lose sight of the harsh realities of life Black people have experienced in the past and in the present. Black people should never let anyone, not even a Black Harvard professor, tell them that their own people were just as responsible for the institution of slavery as White people were. It is my hope that Professor Gates will revise his article for the better, and we should give him an opportunity to revise and extend his remarks. I will be looking for his response to the outrage his article has conflagrated.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rochville University: A Scam

This rise of phony degree granting institutions is certainly an unfortunate social reality. People can sit back in the comfort of their homes and create a “university” and attempt to sell you a degree. While the highly educated and socially aware among us know about these diploma mills, I am tremendously concerned about the lesser educated among us. Many marginalized and socially and economically disadvantaged people are not aware of the difference between phony online universities and legitimate ones. The purpose of this article is to bring attention to phony online universities, and to offer a brief report about my scholarly and empirical work on fake universities, especially Rochville University http://www.rochvilleuniversity.org/ .

The American and international public does not have a deep understanding about accreditation. Accreditation is a voluntary and formal way of ensuring that institutions are providing their students with the quality education they claim to offer. Accrediting agencies have been entrusted with the responsibility of resolving what institutions are meeting their promulgated goals. Accreditation protects the public trust in an institution. When a college or university elects to offer degrees without accreditation, please know that you are obtaining a degree from an institution without any value and credibility. When a college or university claims to be accredited by an accreditor without any recognition, this is a phony “institution” that will waste your money. These institutions that promise you to be a Ph.D. in 24 hours for a certain amount of money are simply trying to cheat you out of your money. You will not be considered to a Ph.D.—trust me!

Rochville University is one of these fake institutions that I have been investigating for over two years now. I was able to purchase a high school diploma for my grandmother by simply submitting her resume and paying $239. The high school diploma package comes with 1 transcript, 1 Certificate of Participation in Student Council, and unlimited verification for schools and employers of one’s attendance at this institution. Rochville University claims that it can legally give you a diploma and even a degree—all the way to a Ph.D.—based on life experience. People please do not believe this because you need to know that only a small number of academic credits can be awarded to you for your life experience.

What may be even more problematic is two accredited universities accepted the phony high school diploma that I purchased from Rochville University. Troy University (formerly Troy State University) and Walden University accepted my grandmother into their universities. She was able to attend both of their institutions online with this bogus high school diploma. She was able to receive federal financial aid at these institutions too.  This means that accredited institutions like Troy University and Walden University, institutions accredited by the same accrediting agencies great universities like the University of Florida, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Albany State University, and the University of Arkansas are accredited by, need to be more probing in investigating the credentials of students during the admission process.

I do not want people to think that I am attempting to disparage online universities and for-profit universities. There are many respectable online and for-profit institutions available. I do, however, want the American people and the international community to be aware that there are fake universities on the internet. When it comes to receiving a valuable degree, please know that you cannot simply purchase one online.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

National Health and Fitness Month

Today is the first day of the month of May. Of course, your response to this previous sentence is “thanks for telling me something I already know.” The reason that I am bringing your attention to today’s date is this is the first day of national Health and Fitness Month. We need to do a better job of taking care of our bodies. If we did more to take care of our health, then the cost of healthcare would dramatically decline. This article intends to inspire you to do some practical phenomena to ameliorate your health.

How many of you will go to a shopping center and drive around the parking lot for a long time just to find the nearest parking spot possible? I already anticipate that many of my readers do this. Make a commitment to stop doing this today. When you simply increase the distance that it takes to get out of your car and enter into the store, you are burning more calories that can help to improve your health. You will have to make up in your mind that this is a good practice for you to engage in, and be sure to stay committed to it.

Moreover, go to your local store and purchase fish oil supplements and a multivitamin. Both of these products will help you to feel and look better in many ways. Fish oil supplements and multivitamins have been tremendously useful in improving my health and aiding me in feeling so good. When you do not eat a balanced diet, as I do not, a multivitamin is essential for you to take to gain some of the necessary vitamins and nutrients that your body does not receive from your food and drink consumption. These products are really inexpensive but they significantly enhance your health.

I cannot encourage you enough to try to workout at least once a week. I very much enjoy working out 4 to 5 times a week. Working out does not mean that you have to go to the gym. You can walk or run around your neighborhood, do sit-ups and push-ups in the comfort of your home, and/or purchase a product like the Contour Ab Belt that gives your abs a serious workout—without you even needing to do one crunch. I also encourage you to lift some weights, even if it is not that much weight at all.

During this month, let’s celebrate ourselves by engaging in activities that are going to make us healthier and feel good. I think that there is something that we all can do to improve our bodies and health. I would encourage you to try some of the phenomena that I have suggested in this article. I believe that my recommendations can cause you to be a healthier person and make you feel better than you have ever felt before, without bankrupting your banking accounts. Let’s get fit in May!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Facebook Deactivation: People’s Cry for Attention

In Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Fredric Jameson posits that postmodern people are self-referential; that is, they are people who love making all phenomena about them. Although I very much love Facebook, I am troubled by a phenomenon that is increasingly developing on Facebook: the deactivation of accounts to gain attention that one is “leaving” Facebook—only to shortly “return.” Since you need attention so bad, you will think that this article is all about you. Okay, just to mollify your need for attention, I am going to go ahead and admit that this article is all about you. If you would focus on the substantive, then you might actually gain the attention you desire.

I’m getting tremendously tired of hearing people say that they are deactivating their Facebook accounts because they are not disciplined enough to stay off of Facebook long enough to get their work done. The reality is these people know that people will be wondering why they are off Facebook and this will draw attention to them, especially when they become active on Facebook again. In fact, I have actually seen people announcing “countdowns” to the day that they are going to deactivate their accounts. I can just anticipate the responses to this article now: (1) Why are you so worried about this?; (2) Antonio, are you trying to throw hints at me?; (3) Do you have anything else better to do?, (4) How are you trying to call someone self-referential when you have your own blog?; and (5) Have you run out of stuff to write about? These responses and more are only distractions to keep people from addressing a serious problem: the need to stop trying to gain attention at any cost.

Facebook does not have to consume so much of your time that you need to deactivate your account. If you don’t have enough control and discipline when on Facebook, then just close your account for good. If you are a college student, especially a graduate or professional student, and cannot control and manage your time wisely, then you may not even need a Facebook account in the first place. I have found Facebook to provide me with a nice break from the intensity of my academic work and some of the stress of life. My time spent on Facebook has not hindered my ability to be an effective academic in any way. What’s on Facebook that can cause you to consume too much of your time anyway? Revolutionary Paideia is here to suggest that only a vain person would make a significant event or advertisement out of the deactivation of his or her Facebook account.

I simply would like us to become more substantive people. You do not need to announce that you are deactivating your Facebook account—simply stay off of Facebook during times when you know that you are going to be really busy. For those of you who are in college, especially graduate and professional school, we all know that you are in graduate or professional school and you do not need to remind us. We are not going to give you any added praise just because you are in graduate or professional school—like we did not already know you were in graduate or professional school. Please consider how contradictory you can seem when you say that you are so busy, but people can see that you update your statuses every 30 minutes, stay on Facebook chat, and comment constantly on people’s walls. Revolutionary Paideia is simply asking you to check yourself!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kirk Franklin and the Significance of Hip-Hop-Oriented Gospel Music

The arrival of Kirk Franklin on the gospel music scene is without question a watershed in gospel music history. His contemporary style of music and willingness to collaborate with Hip-Hop artists engendered great controversy (and still does). Young African-American Christians and non-Christians received Kirk Franklin’s style of music tremendously well, but older African-American Christians did not. One of the reasons why I find such a tremendous interest in examining Kirk Franklin’s impact on gospel music is how he unsettled, unnerved, and unhoused traditional and limited notions of art within gospel music. His ability to usher in a Hip-Hop-oriented fusion of gospel music evinces how gospel music has the potential to have a significant influence across racial, ideological, and theological boundaries.

While I love traditional gospel artists like Shirley Ceasar, James Moore, James Cleveland and Dorothy Norwood, their music does not have the power to reach a much wider audience than Kirk Franklin’s music has and can. Please, don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that traditional gospel music did not and does not have a significant impact and influence on people’s lives. In fact, without traditional gospel music contemporary gospel music could not have emerged. Traditional gospel music has been such a powerful medium of support, uplift, and deliverance for scores of African-Americans (and people of all races and ethnicities). Traditional gospel music, however, needed an update to make it more appealing and relevant to the postmodern period in which we reside.  We live in a culture where Hip-Hop culture, particularly Hip-Hop music, is such a dominant force. Regardless of whether or not people embrace Hip-Hop, it cannot be avoided. Recognizing this social reality, Kirk Franklin revolutionized gospel music by merging the best of Hip-Hop music and culture with traditional gospel music.

Many proponents of traditional gospel music have posited that Franklin’s fusion of Hip-Hop music and culture with traditional gospel music is not gospel music at all. They see this type of music as turning gospel music from sacred music to more of a secular form of music. The contemporary gospel of Kirk Franklin still represents scared music: It maintains a fundamental commitment to the glorification, worship, and acknowledgement of God. What is different about Kirk Franklin’s postmodern Hip-Hop-oriented gospel music is it understands how times have changed in such a way that the music has to change in a way to reflect the times—while maintaining a core commitment to the same Jesus of the past, present, and future. Bishop Paul L. Fortson of Paradise Church of God in Christ in Forest Park, Georgia argues that any music that has “Jesus” in it is gospel music. I completely agree with him.

Today, I salute Kirk Franklin for having the willingness to unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse African-American Christians who hold limited views of what gospel music is. Because of his willingness to be a gospel music revolutionary artist, writer, and producer, thousands of lost souls have been able to be saved and know that there is a God looking out for them. Franklin has demonstrated that Hip-Hop culture does not have to be divorced from gospel music and the Church. He helps us to understand that Hip-Hop culture lives within the Church and the people who the Church serves and desires to reach. Without Kirk Franklin, we may have never been able to see R. Kelly singing a gospel song.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kevin Durant’s Acne

Despite the tremendous accomplishments of Kevin Durant early on in his National Basketball Association (NBA) career, it seems that some people will attempt to try to destroy him anyway. After doing a random Google and YouTube search on Kevin Durant, one can find a significant amount of negative coverage of his struggles with acne. Kevin Durant is an outstanding African-American male basketball player who does not deserve to be the subject of such hateful attacks. I have seen too many blogs, websites, messageboards, and etc. that are trying to exploit this great African-American male athlete (and genuinely nice guy). This is another attempt to demonize and exploit the African-American male body. The purpose of this article is to provide a counter-narrative to the mean-spirited coverage of Kevin Durant’s acne.

Kevin Durant’s acne is conspicuous. There has to be less ostensible phenomena and more important issues that people can discuss than Kevin Durant’s acne. With so many critical quandaries we face in the world, a number of people have found Kevin Durant’s acne to be worthy of covering. If people were really looking to cover something substantive about him, they would cover the fact that he is a rookie and won the NBA scoring title and the fact that he has led his team to a 2-2 series tie with the defending NBA world champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. He also shutdown Kobe Bryant in the 4th quarter of Game 3 of the current playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. This young star should be commended for his immediate impact in the NBA and for establishing himself already as one of the best players in the NBA.

How has Kevin Durant’s acne hindered him from accomplishing so much in the NBA at a young age? The easy answer to this query is it has not hindered his basketball performance at all. Although it has not hampered his play on the basketball court, we do not know how it has affected him personally, especially in the quiet moments of his life when he is surfing the internet. It cannot be a good feeling to surf the internet and see such egregious coverage of one’s acne problems. The same people who try to exploit Durant’s acne problems for a quick laugh would not like others to take advantage of their problems for a simple laugh.  It would be easier for me to accept this negative coverage of Kevin Durant if he was an arrogant player, but he is a tremendously humble basketball player.

To those bloggers, messageboard authors, website creators, and YouTube contributors who have attempted to exploit Kevin Durant’s acne problems, I simply think you all are simple and mean-spirited people. Before you say something about somebody, start thinking about the full ramifications of your comments. Kevin Durant knows that he has acne problems—he has to live with this reality daily. He does not need to be reminded each time he surfs the internet. When will we reach a day when we love one another much more than we do right now?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Earth Day and a More Evironmentally Sustainable Future

No matter what our political ideologies and affiliations, we all should take a serious interest in our environment. Although there are specific methods of ameliorating the environment and sustaining it that are controversial, there are fundamental and practical ways to improve and sustain it that we all can agree on. Each year, Earth Day offers us an opportunity to unite to enhance and maintain our environment. The purpose of this article is to speak about the significant potential in Earth Day and to provide phenomena we all can engage in to ameliorate and sustain our environment.

I have always been tremendously disappointed about how little attention Earth Day receives. Earth Day should be everyday! We to have a more complex understanding of Earth Day as a signal of how much more value we should place on the environment in our daily lives. The need to have an “Earth Day” should help us to recognize that we are not doing enough to ameliorate the environment, and be good stewards of the environment. The “going green” movement is simply not enough to achieve good stewardship and improvement of our environment. While there is much discourse taking place across the nation about environmental sustainability, there has not been a significant improvement in actually moving toward a more sustainable environment.

Although we have not done all that we can do to move toward a more sustainable environment, we can begin to by adopting a more common sense approach. We can have monthly times of solidarity where we (on a national level) participate in picking up trash in our communities and find items to recycle. Local communities can hold meetings to establish tree planting projects. Using various forms of communication, discourses about how to live more environmentally sustainable personal lives and within our communites can emerge. Establishing a national discourse at the local community level about environmental sustainability is a critical way of enhancing the significance of Earth Day. These aforementioned recommendations would not involve much stress for individuals throughout the nation, but the implementation of these recommendations would dramatically buttress our environment, and will help us to move toward a more environomentally sustainable future.

No longer can we sit back and mock “tree huggers” and no longer can we simply be “tree huggers.” We have to work colloboratively to find consensus on how we can protect, perserve, and restore our environment. I encourage everyone to participate in Earth Day today and to make Earth Day an everyday reality!

Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tiger Woods and the Exploitation of His Penis

We have recently discovered the increased fascination the media has with Tiger Woods’s life. While in the past it has been more of a focus on his athletic talent, now the media is focused on his sexual prowess. I thought that the only stick that the media would be concerned with is the golf club he uses and not the one in his pants. How foolish was I? The media has engaged in an effort to try to reduce Tiger Woods to nothing more than his penis. The media wants to overlook Tiger’s great athletic skill and mental acuity to engage in a sensational exploration of his sexuality.

The last time that I checked it was not our business what Tiger does with his penis. It’s his penis and it does not belong to the media. If ever one wanted to know whether or not Tiger Woods is a Black man, the individual now knows that he is. All one has to do is consider the tremendous “news” coverage his penis has received. This fascination with Tiger’s love of women has a strong history that has to be explored. During slavery, the fascination with the Black male penis was shared by both White women and White men. The Black male body became viewed as useful for the slave labor it could produce and the entertainment value the Black male penis could generate for White people. Again, we have a media that is largely operated by non-Black people and a significant number of White people. I am, of course,  not suggesting that all White people are racist.  What I am suggesting, however, is there are still some racist White people living. Some of these racist White people are involved with the media. It benefits these individuals’ agenda to try to destroy the reputation of a man who is considered to be a Black man by many people. This probing into Tiger’s life is not about learning more about him as a golfer, but is more about discovering ways to exploit him as a Black man and to exploit negative perceptions, stereotypes, and stigmas about “blackness” and Black people, especially Black men.

One person who the public has not really thought about who has to be really suffering from all of this media coverage: Tiger Woods. Far too often, we, media consumers, are so eager to consume media’s sensationalism that we forget about the real lives that are being affected by this sensationalism.  Wow! What a shocker–Tiger Woods is human. He has a problem that he needs to address. Guess what? The rest of us also have problems we need to address too. I wonder how many people are willing to have their lives examined in the way Tiger has had his life examined because of his problem of being faithful to his wife. Many men cheat but I have not seen such interest in one man’s cheating ever in my life. With so many important problems in the world, I will be glad when we begin to challenge the media about what it covers. What Tiger Woods does with his penis does not having anything to do with us.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Falsehoods of Classroom Participation

How many of you have ever looked at your course syllabus and found that you were being evaluated for “classroom participation”? How many of you have also looked at your course syllabus and discovered that you were not provided with an understanding of how you would be evaluated based on “classroom participation”? I have wrestled with these two aforementioned queries for some time now. I contend that it is quite problematic to evaluate students based on “classroom participation” when they are not given specific details about how they will be evaluated.

One of the chief reasons why I find being evaluated based on classroom participation is it becomes a way for your instructor to punish you if he or she does not like you, or if he or she has ever taken offense to something that you have said in class. When one views classroom participation from this perspective, it becomes tremendously easy for one to understand how “classroom participation” can become a mask for discrimination. In college, I’m not sure that we (instructors) should even be focusing on evaluating students for their classroom participation. The focus for instructors should be on ensuring that students are learning and not on punishing them for a lack of attendance, which is often the larger rationale for why classroom participation is included on most course syllabi (in my opinion). The challenging way in which the course instruction is offered should be enough to drive students to class. Instructors should not use false ploys like “classroom participation” to try to punish students for not attending their classes.

I must say, however, that if a clear standard is being employed when one includes “classroom participation” on his or her syllabus, then I do not have a problem with including it. For example, when an instructor decides to engage students in a significant amount of the learning activities inside of the classroom, then I think that it would certainly be reasonable for classroom participation to be included on the syllabus, and, in this case, it is justified to have it account for a significant percentage of students’ grades (if this is the desire of the instructor). From my experience as a college instructor, I know how important class attendance and participation in class is. I do not think, however, that it is my duty as an instructor to be students’ parents and force them to attend my classes. I have hardly ever had a problem with any student who elected to not attend my classes. One of the dominant reasons why I believe that this has happened is I empowered students to make the decision about whether or not to come to my classes or not. From the very first day of class, I always let them know that without an excused absence I would not do anything to help them with what they missed in class.

Instructors need to rethink how they construct their notions of “classroom participation” and students need to begin to understand the value behind coming to class and actively participating in class. It is not simply the responsibility of the instructor to provide students with knowledge, but students have to become stakeholders in their own education. The next time you see “classroom participation” on your course syllabus be sure to ask probing questions of your instructor about what it really means, especially if he or she has not provided you with any specific details.

Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison