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The future of black people; the war here and now

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By ERNEST HOOPER

© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 28, 2001


His lecture style is part poet, part preacher, part comedian, part rapper.

Consequently, critics have not been able to characterize his recently released Afrocentric CD blending his lecture style with rap lyrics and heavy beats.

Cornel West is as ubiquitous as he sounds, so there is good reason to be excited about his visit to Tampa. West, a Harvard professor considered one of the foremost authorities on race relations in America, will give a lecture Saturday night at the Tampa Marriott Westshore.

Sigma Pi Phi and Dimmitt Luxury Motors are sponsoring the lecture as part of their annual Carter G. Woodson Lecture Series. There is a wine reception at 5:30 p.m. and a dinner and lecture at 6:30 p.m.

As a communicator and teacher, West told the New York Times, he always is searching for different modes to get his message across. Those modes include his lectures as well as 15 books on race and culture, including the bestselling Race Matters.

Among his opinions that resonate with me is his contrasting of where blacks were in the 1960s and where they are now. He has correctly noted that while blacks and Americans in general may be materially better, many in the "working class and working poor are more isolated, insulated, lonely, alienated and estranged."

On Saturday, West will lecture about The African/American Century . . . What's next? The dinner price is $75 per person, but I don't think that is too much pay to find out about your future.

* * *

Look for Mia's, the new restaurant filling the spot vacated by Selena's in Old Hyde Park Village, to have a soft opening some time next week, possibly Thursday or Friday.

It'll seat 200 and have a varied menu.

* * *

The grapevine has picked up on two potential buyers of the South Howard property that used to be McHale's Chophouse and Puluzzi's. One is an Atlanta restaurateur who wants to expand to Tampa.

Native Seafood, which once had a spot on Howard before eventually ending up on Tierra Verde, also is believed to be eyeing the property, but I could not reach anyone for confirmation Tuesday.

* * *

All I wanted to do was watch Harry Potter with my kids Sunday, but thanks to a Florida Department of Health PSAairing in AMC Theatres around Florida, I got a two-minute minimusical reminding me that every eight seconds a smoker dies.

There wereadults in diapers and a patient having his lung removed. I think it was supposed to be funny.

Maybe it would move teens, but my 9-year-old and my 7-year-old just didn't get it. Instead of lampooning big tobacco companies, perhaps the focus should be less complex. Cigarettes kill.

* * *

Apologies to Sterling Powell, the colorful Tampa artist/journalist, and Wendy Roberts, wife of Bucs director of communications Reggie Roberts. Both were improperly identified in recent columns.

Word from the NFL is Mark Royals will not be allowed to be a spokesman for the Budweiser/AAA Tow To Go program because individual players are prohibited from endorsing programs involving alcohol. The team, however, is allowed to participate.

I think the Bucs should step up with additional support.

* * *

Can we get something that says Tampa and put it behind Gen. Franks' head the next time he is having a press briefing at the Marriott Waterside? We're running the war out of MacDill and while the lectern had some designation, it got lost.

The background was just plain black curtains, so Franks looked like he was in a Nebraska bunker.

I'm thinking of a banner in rainbow letters: Tampa -- America's Next Great City. Or at least one of those curtains the NFL uses for all its dropbacks. Or maybe we could have his back to the bay with palm trees swaying.

Come on, it's free advertising.

That's all I'm saying.

- Ernest Hooper can be reached at 226-3406 or Hooper@sptimes.com. His column appears on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

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