Tag Archives: business

The Story of Terri Upshaw, and a Family Who Would Not Accept

This one is getting some press in DC due to the imminent opening of a new Tadich Grill in Washington, DC. To be honest, I’ve never heard of the Tadich Grill in San Francisco – but have visited the city and area well enough to have frequented French Laundry (you may have to sell your firstborn for the price of a meal…But it is that good), Saison, and Quince…and have never seen the joint on any Michelin or Zagat lists. Got my eye on Restaurant at Meadowood for my next visit to the area. Perhaps it is the DC equivalent of “Old Ebbit Grill” est 1856, or the more plebian “Ben’s Chili Bowl” est 1958, which have fueled everybody from the Presidents to street sweepers in the city for generations – but are not highbrow enough to make the connoisseur lists…

Terri Upshaw was the wife of departed NFL great, and NFL Player Union head Gene Upshaw – who was probably on the top 10 list of the most respected people in sports. Her family owned the Tadich… And apparently disowned her after her marriage to Gene. The impact of that disownment, and refusal to even meet as a family with Terri and Gene’s kids is raising a few eyebrows in DC, and doesn’t bode well for their new venture. And the competition is tough.


Terri and husband, Gene Upshaw

Lonnae O’Neal: Terri Upshaw says she had to choose between family and love

Sometimes emotion gets the better of Terri Upshaw, and she appears softer, more vulnerable, younger than her 55 years. Then she regains her composure and continues, in spare, straightforward language, to tell the kind of story we think doesn’t happen anymore in modern America. A dark family story that syncs with a national racial history we like to tell ourselves we’re well beyond.

She talks about being raised in the upper-middle-class Buich family, who owned San Francisco’s famed Tadich Grill. She calls her upbringing strict, loving and marked by expressed disdain for people who weren’t white or Christian. A fellow might be “a great guy” if he came into the restaurant, but you knew never to bring one home, she says. “I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t question it,” Upshaw says. “I lived in a house where you didn’t question.”

As a young woman working as a hotel catering manager, she met an older football player. An African American. They hit it off and became friends. Then more. He retired, accepted a job in Washington and asked her to move with him. They’d dated for eight months without her family knowing, and she had to make a decision.

“I was scared,” Upshaw recalls on a recent afternoon near her home in Northern Virginia. She says she broke the news to her brother and sister first. “They said, ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this.’ They said our parents would be livid, upset, disappointed, embarrassed, ashamed.”

Tadich Grill in Washington, DC

Word got back to her father. She remembers how much she sobbed in that final family meeting with her parents and siblings. She was 23 and pleading for love — both theirs and her own. She thinks her mother and siblings were crying, but it has been so long. Only the final message was clear.

When she told her father that she had decided to follow the black man she loved to Washington, she says, “he told me that’s it — you’re out of the family. Change your last name, and don’t ever call us again.”

It was 1983. They married in 1986.

The black man was the legendary Gene Upshaw, whose 15-year career as a guard for the Oakland Raiders landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During 25 years in his equally famous second act as the controversial head of the National Football League Players’ Association, he helped usher in free agency, which led to an explosion in player salaries. Upshaw died in 2008, days after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The union headquarters in Northwest Washington is named Upshaw Place in his honor.

Terri Upshaw says she has not heard from her family in decades, true to their final message. While visiting San Francisco a few years ago, she saw a news report that Tadich Grill would open a D.C. location, and last month it did, to great fanfare. Guests included prominent members of Congress and a Supreme Court justice.

Her parents, now in their early 80s, and siblings have never met Upshaw’s sons, 28 and 25. She says they didn’t reach out when her husband died. She says that she has tried over the years to make contact with her family — that they ignored her at her grandmother’s funeral. When her oldest son was 3 months old, she says, she took him to her parents’ house and was ordered to leave.

There is surely another side to this, because there are always sides and layers to all of our stories. There is perhaps a heartache, a wish for a daughter’s well-being that was not properly expressed, but it is difficult to know because numerous calls, voice mails, text messages and messages left for the Buich family and sent through Tadich Grill executives explaining Upshaw’s contention and requesting comment were not returned. Her sister, reached by phone, declined to comment.

Tadich Grill, DC

Upshaw, who had never spoken publicly about the rift, says she is telling this story now, in response to a reporter’s query, because with the new restaurant, she is talking more to friends and “it sounds archaic,” she says.

It sounds like the kind of extreme racial story we don’t want to think happens anymore, although what’s closer to the truth is that both extreme and casual racism are all around us, even in some of our most solid American success stories….Read the rest here


Posted by on November 16, 2015 in The Definition of Racism, The Post-Racial Life


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Go Girl! Black Women Fastest Growing Entrepreneurial Segment

Don’t like not being recognized for your contribution at big company?

Start your own.

Black women increasingly are doing just that, despite obstacles in terms of venture or bank financing.

Black Women-Owned Businesses Skyrocket By 322 Percent In Less Than 20 Years


African-American women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America, a new study reveals.

The 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report released this week found that the number of women-owned businesses grew by 74 percent between 1997 and 2015. That’s 1.5 times the national average of business growth to be exact.

Meanwhile, the growth in the number of businesses specifically owned by black women is outpacing that of all women-owned firms, the report says. The number of black women-owned businesses has grown by a whopping 322 percent since 1997. Today, black women own roughly 14 percent of all businesses in the country owned by women, which tallies to around 1.3 million businesses, according to the report.

“While nationally African American women comprise 14% of all women-owned firms, African American women comprise a greater than average share of all women-owned firms in Georgia (35%), Maryland (33%), and Illinois (22%),” the report says.

Statistics show that throughout these 1.3 million companies, nearly 300,000 workers are employed and the businesses generate an estimated $52.6 billion in revenue. When digging into the number of black-owned businesses overall, 49 percent are owned by women.

Businesses owned by black women also top the charts in revenue growth when compared to other minority women-owned firms proving that their economic clout is ever-growing.

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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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The Mack Truck That Hit Paula Deen

Have to say I’ve certainly enjoyed cooking up a Paula Deen recipe or two. Most of her food is guaranteed to send you heart doctor into apoplexy over your sky high cholesterol…

But it was so damn good!


Paula is authentic deep South. Unfortunately for some folks that carries a lot of racial baggage. Some of that baggage is in the form of using distasteful racial epithets in common conversation between folks sharing the same background. Usually anymore when there is nobody else around to overhear.

Now, Paula – like myself is old enough to have lived through some of those bad old days of segregation. Led by racist and segregationist Democrats and Dixiecrats making a last stand at the schoolhouse door, folks from her world tried to stop folks from my world from having equal rights.. Attacking and abusing Civil Rights workers at the Lunch Counters. At the worst, even murdering them as they drove down back country roads. There are those who followed those very same Dixiecrats to the Republican Party, where that type of racism was made safe by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan for their kind as amply demonstrated even today.

And then there are a lot more Southern  folks who left those ignorant attitudes with the times- even though they seldom to be quite enough in the majority to get elected…

Decent people seldom do anymore.

So…Paula has said some racist things. And judging from how quickly the companies who were partners in her business empire are scrambling  for the door – there is a lot more “bad acting” that hasn’t hit the presses that they are afraid will be uncovered.

But in the scale of things…Whose racism has done more damage t America, Paula and her well used butter dish and southern fried sympathies…

Or the 4 racist thugs in robes and their Uncle Tom sitting the highest court?

Now…Don’t gt me wrong. I don’t feel sorry for Paula. But the reason has a lot less to do with her racism and a lot more to do with a lack of professionalism. Professionalism?

Yeh. When you run a multi-million dollar business – You don’t get to make an ass of yourself like Dan Cathy of Chick Fil A – without some hurt coming down from some pissed customers…And partners who know what it takes to run a business and don’t want to be hit by the shrapnel of an idiot imploding.

Obviously Chick Fil A agrees with Mr Cathy’s lack of professionalism because he is still there.

Since in Paula’s case she is the company, Paula is going to have to suffer the consequences.



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Posted by on June 28, 2013 in The New Jim Crow


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Tammy Duckworth Hammers a Fraud!

At least the woman progressives are being real in terms of standing up for their principles. In this one, during a Congressional Hearing on companies which benefit from Small Business Set Asides for disabled Veterans (In tax hack Darrel Issa’s Committee no less), Tammy unloads on a guy who has fraudulently represented himself as a disabled vet to take advantage of the program…


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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in American Greed


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Signs of Life in Detroit

Been hearing rumbles of this for a while. The first thing I heard about was some very creative groups working in the area of urban farming, who were leading the country with revolutionary concepts on hanging urban landscapes. It appears that Detroit may be “catching fire” again with creative talent, drawn by the low rent, and possibilities to chart their own space.

Two years ago, the renowned graffiti artist Revok moved from LA to Detroit Josh Harkinson

Graffiti Artist Revok

Detroit may be down… But it ain’t dead quite yet.

How to Bring Detroit Back From the Grave

“Warning! This city is infested by crackheads. Secure your belongings and pray for your life.” So reads a hand-scrawled sign just off I-75 in Detroit, where a post-apocalyptic cityscape of looted and charred homes has come to represent a sort of sarcophagus of the American Dream.

But beyond simply fueling murders and bribery scandals, decades of hard times have finally birthed new signs of life here in the Motor City, as its gritty neighborhoods attract a burgeoning community of artists, hipsters, and socially minded entrepreneurs. “With a little bit of motivation, you can make anything happen here,” says Jason Williams, a.k.a. Revok, a renowned Los Angeles graffiti artist turned Detroiter, whose lively murals adorn walls not far from the crackhead sign. “It’s all about the reality that you create for yourself.”

For those willing to brave the nation’s most dangerous major city, Detroit offers a tight-knit and successful creative community. The birthplace of Motown and techno still manages to turn out chart-busting artists like Eminem and Jack White. And growing numbers of bohemians have found that a few thousand dollars will buy them a classic brick townhouse or a loft in an art-deco skyscraper. Where old buildings have fallen, hundreds of urban gardens sprout.

Detroit is hardly the first city to lure urban homesteaders with access to cheap and artfully crumbling buildings. The same formula revitalized (and eventually gentrified) neighborhoods such as the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and San Francisco’s Mission and Dogpatch districts. The big difference in Detroit, however, is that its economy blew a rod long ago, triggering an exodus of more than half the city’s population—last year, it lost another 28,000 people. Barely a quarter of those who remain have a degree from a four-year college. During my recent visit, local elected leaders were warning that the city could run out of money—within the week.

Last year, in Guernica magazine, Wayne State literature professor John Patrick Leary cautioned against what he called “Detroitism,” the fetish for urban decay mixed with utopianism, “where bohemians from expensive coastal cities can have the $100 house and community garden of their dreams.” But Detroit offers much more. Here is a city that foretold the woes of America’s middle class—and spent decades searching for a path out of its recessionary wilderness. Forget the clichés about heirloom tomatoes and check out these four examples of creative Detroiters who are making a difference

The Power House Gina Reichert

Meet the Power House and the new “Hood Cat” changing neighborhoods a brick at a time

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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in The Post-Racial Life


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Keith Ellison Exposes Another Conservative Lie

Keith Ellison exposes one of the right wing’s favorite lies – that regulations always stymie business growth.

The reason that isn’t true is that many business regulations in the US spawn R&D and new businesses. The second reason that isn’t true has to do with the economic impact of not having safety or environmental regulations is far greater than having those regulations in place. Ergo, deregulation results in taxpayer subsidy to recover from the massive damages caused by environmentally unsound business practices. That corporate welfare thing … Again.

Trying to Explain Business 101 to Conservative Idiotlogues

Spearing Sacred Cows

Earlier this week, I was on MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes about jobs, the Occupy Wall Street movement and other issues. During the show I said I’m a fan of health and safety — not regulations. I said that some regulations have created jobs, since the industries being watched have to comply with the rules. For example, technological requirements can spur engineering improvement, which means employing engineers.

Well, the right wing went crazy. People who aren’t even from my congressional district called my office and blasted me over email and the Twitterverse. I had gored one of their sacred cows — deregulation — and they howled loudly.

So who’s right? Have health and environmental rules cost America jobs, or not? I said no. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Environmental Protection

Environmental spending creates jobs in engineering, manufacturing, construction, materials, operations and maintenance. Vehicle emissions standards directly sparked the development and application of a wide range of automotive technologies that are now found throughout the global automobile market. The vehicle emissions control industryemploys approximately 65,000 Americans with domestic annual sales of $26 billion. The worldwide market for environmental goods and services is worth over $700 billion, a size comparable to the aerospace and pharmaceutical industries.

If you want to know more about the wrongheaded jobs versus environmental protections argument check out the report, “Regulatory Uncertainty: A Phony Explanation for our Jobs Problem” by EPI’s Larry Mishel.

You know the situation: roughly 14 million Americans are out of work and 46.2 million live in poverty. The Republicans have held the House for almost 300 days but they’ve introduced no jobs bills. In fact, they shot down President Obama’s jobs bill like skeet. What have Republicans done? They’ve pushed for even more de-regulation in the name of “creating jobs.”

One last point:

Moody’s economist Mark Zandi, an advisor to John McCain’s presidential campaign, estimates the $61 billion in spending cuts proposed by the House Republicans will cost the economy 700,000 jobs by 2012. Wrongheaded policies.


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The Small Business President vs. The New Jim Crow

One of the reasons the right wing despises Obama so much is his focus on small business. Which is the same reason they despised Bill Clinton. Follow my logic here –

After the Civil War, the majority of skilled artisans in the South were black. The people who built wagons, coopers, dressmakers, furniture makers  – and many of the skilled labor jobs prior to the industrial revolution were done by either slave, or free black labor. By 1860, there were more free blacks in Virginia than black folks slave or free in most of the northern states.

What Jim Crow really was about was stopping these people’s economic progress, such as to preserve white supremacy. Ergo though the destruction of the black artisan class businesses, Southern whites prevented the emergence of a new, black merchant class – who by nature of existing skills was in position to dominate certain industries when freed from the “Black Codes”. A merchant class, who would have followed the logical progression of gaining a piece of political power through wealth.

In America today, according to Forbes Magazine and numerous other sources, black folks a 3 times more likely to start a business than their white counterparts. And despite receiving only .3% of the Venture Investment in this country, are – according to the same studies 8 times more likely to succeed when they do get Venture financing. Only in America does that not translate into quickly shifting 30% of the investment money into more successful enterprise.

Indeed, the Bushit Administration was quite possibly the most hostile administration in history to small business, and was especially toxic to Minority owned business, as I have documented in previous articles, in reducing the quantity of SBA Loan Grantees to black owned business by 60% over 8 years, while holding it the same or increasing it to non-Minorities. The Bushit administration was also adamantly pro BIG business. So much so as to flat-line R&D and emerging technologies in a number of previously competitive industries like Telecom and Energy.

So why don’t Republicans want small business to succeed? Because the wrong color folks just might make a success at it, and in doing so threaten the old-boy power structure.

The New Jim Crow… Not much different from the old.

Jim Crow in Alaska

Obama pushes for Hill passage of small business agenda

President Barack Obama turned the spotlight to his small business agenda Friday, urging congressional passage of legislation meant to boost federal assistance to a key segment of the economy.

Among the proposals highlighted by the administration is a $30 billion government lending program offering capital to community banks that boost their small-business lending. Banks with assets worth less than $10 billion would be able to borrow money from the Treasury at a dividend rate as low as 1 percent provided they use the cash to make more small-business loans this year than they did in 2009.

Other proposals being pushed by the president include an elimination of capital gains taxes on certain small business investments.

“Ensuring that small businesses can thrive is about more than our economic success,” Obama said at the White House after a meeting with small business leaders. “It’s about who we are as a people. It’s about a nation where anybody with a good idea and a willingness to work can succeed. That’s the promise of America.”

Legislation enacted in March included new business tax credits for hiring additional workers, as well as a measure allowing companies to write off, instead of depreciate, new equipment.

Many small businesses, however, are still struggling to regain their footing in the wake of the recent recession. The Commerce Department reported Friday that retail sales fell for the first time in eight months in May, widely missing analyst expectations.

Total retail sales fell 1.2 percent to $362.5 billion last month, compared with April’s upwardly revised 0.6 percent increase. It was first decline since last September, when retail sales fell 2.3 percent.

Data from the Small Business Administration (SBA) show that small companies have generated 64 percent of the net new jobs every year over the past 15 years. Those businesses, however, were particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. A Senate report last year found that American businesses with fewer than 20 employees have suffered steeper job losses than larger companies.


Posted by on June 14, 2010 in The Post-Racial Life, The New Jim Crow


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