Monday, June 29, 2009

Why Today’s Supreme Court Ruling In Favor of “The New Haven 19” Could Turn The Clock Back On Minority Economic Gains

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of 19 white fire fighters and one Latino fire fighter in their lawsuit against the city of New Haven Connecticut. The case stems from a 2004 lawsuit filed by white firefighters who passed an exam for a job promotion only to have the test results thrown out because no African-American candidate received a high enough score to also be considered for promotion.

City officials said they wanted to add diversity to the management ranks within the fire department. But when no blacks and only two Hispanic applicants qualified for consideration for the management jobs, the city decided to scrap the entire test. So the white firefighters sued charging that the city violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against them solely because they were not black—the court agreed.

While the Supreme Court’s ruling might help fuel conservatives´ opposition to supreme court nominee Sonia Sotomayor (as today's decision in Ricci v. DeStefano ruled against an earlier ruling Sotomayor upheld as an appellate judge) I fear this case will have a wide-ranging negative impact on anti-discrimination employment—especially in Government which has traditionally been a bastion for minority economic development. Think about the “good jobs” of the past: teachers, postal workers, city workers, county workers, and Federal workers. The only equal for minorities were factories and the mills. Now look at today, those factory and mill jobs have all but dried up, making Government employment all the more important for minority economic parity. If affirmative action programs are abandoned and Government goes the way of cooperate America, fewer minorities will be hired or promoted to high-level Government positions—regardless of how well they do on some “objective” test or process. How could I say this? More on why later, but first, some background.

The first reverse discrimination law suit reached the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s when a white student named Allan Bakke accused the University of California medical school of twice denying him admission because he was white. In their decision, the Supreme Court ruled that strict racial quotas were unconstitutional but affirmative action was not. In the years to follow, the cases continued to mount, especially as minorities and women began to get climb the economic ladder.

In April of this year in South Carolina, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a historically black college on behalf of three white faculty members who complained they were forced from or denied jobs because of their race.

Simultaneously, federal officials reached a settlement agreement with Benedict College paying $55,000 to each instructor, including an art teacher who said she was denied promotion in favor of a black professor.

And there have been other Governmental cases:

Michael C. Ryan v. Norman Y. Mineta (FAA). On October 6, 2004 -- after nine years of litigation and hearings, Federal Judge John W. Bissell found that the FAA had, in fact, illegally discriminated against white employee Ryan via the agency's zealous racial-quota hiring and promotion policies.

Larry Price v. HUD. The HUD St. Louis office denied promotions to Larry Price because he is white and male. Mr. Price won in Jan. 2002.

Joseph Ray Terry vs. EEOC. EEOC found guilty of reverse discrimination! White EEOC employee wins lawsuit.

Diersen vs. U.S. GAO. U.S. General Accounting Office discriminates against its older employees, especially those who are white and male! Lawsuit pending for discrimination and retaliation. Agency downsizing disproportionately affects older, white males. (UPDATED 12/17/04)

IRS found guilty of reverse discrimination and retaliation against employees! (Updated 04/22/99)

FAA -- Air agency rejects highly qualified, disabled, white veteran DeWayne Currier. FAA says air safety is less Important than skin color. (Updated 12/30/98)

INS Fires Disabled Jewish Woman. In Caryl Leventhal v. Janet Reno; Caryl B. Leventhal worked for the Immigration and Naturalization service (INS). Caryl is white, she is Jewish, and she has multiple sclerosis. Black INS employees insulted and discriminated against Ms. Leventhal for her race, religion, and medical condition.

Yet, there were no major rulings to Governmental affirmative action programs—until today. Why is this so important? I would dare to say that the Government (County, State, and Federal) is by far the principle provider of higher paying jobs and advancement opportunities for minorities. According to the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal Government’s rate of employment of all minorities ranged between 29 percent in 2001 to 32 percent in 2006—far above minority population levels. If these opportunities are lost due to a “fairness issue,” it could set minorities back 100 years. Many conservatives argue to the contrary.

Whites, especially white males, say that affirmation action is no longer necessary and that instead of leveling the playing field for minorities, it unfairly punishes whites. Let’s examine this argument. First, I challenge the idea that affirmative action unfairly punishes whites and does not level the playing field. I would agree if it weren’t for one simple fact: the “old boy” network and “white privilege” still exists. Are whites being unfairly punished? Some…maybe. The majority of CEO’s are white, the majority of business owners are white. Time and time again studies have revealed that whites receive better treatment from everything to loans to catching a cab. So, while some whites may not get the job they think they deserve, this is not the norm for them—for minorities, it is.

And here’s something to think about. Could it be that the election of the nations first African American President will only strengthen the dismantling of affirmative action? My answer, could be. It’s exactly because you now have an African American President and Republican Party Chairman—both firsts the history of this nation. You also have a good number of African American professionals. Because of this, some would argue that affirmative action is obsolete. You also have a President who’s big a advocate of personal responsibility and has called loudly for the same saying Government can not and should not do it all. How will he be balance these proclamations with the needs of minorities in a still racially divided America? and still be the President for all the people?

Friday, June 26, 2009

You Left Too Soon ~ A Tribute To Michael Jackson

clip_image002 You left too soon.

I remember it was only yesterday, maybe Late ’79, that you came to visit. Now you’re gone. But we’re still here, experiencing this thing called life, still here to carry on. We are here: fighting, crying, laughing and playing. Yeah, ,79 was really Off The Wall. I’m sure you’re proud of what we did: Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. was elected the first black Mayor of Atlanta and Coleman Young was elected the first black Mayor of Detroit. But still; we miss you. We want to be with you, to have just one more good time to Rock With You.

clip_image003 You left too soon.

I was talking to Bille Jean just the other day in ’82. We were talking about what a Thriller it was: Rev. Ben Chavis’ struggles to block a toxic waste dump in Warren County; North Carolina launched a national campaign against environmental racism. And, Bryant Gumbel was named anchor of The Today Show and became the first African American to hold the post on a major network. I was so pumped up! She said that I always Wanna Be Starting Something. Na, I’m just tired. I’m tired of pouring out swigs for my “homies.” I’m tired of attending funerals. I’m tired of walking behind draped chariots or following in somber processions. I’m tired of 21-gun salutes. I’m tired of dancing in the streets with fewer of my friends. I’m tired of being tired. I guess I’m just tired of seeing good men die too young.

clip_image005 You left too soon.
You see, I will never forget The Way You Make Me Feel—the joy, pain, sorrow and happiness. Sometimes I didn’t like it. Sometimes I didn’t understand. But through it all one thing remained constant—I always felt real. Yeah, ’87 was a rough year; hundreds of our families that really felt Bad. We remember that this was the year that HIV/AIDS ranked 10th as a cause of death for African Americans (third for African-American men, fifth for African-American women between 25 and 34 years of age, and ninth for African-American children ages 0 to 14). Even more sadly, many of those inflicted were treated like some sort of pariah…Smooth Criminal.

clip_image006 You left too soon.

In ’91 did you Remember The Time Roland Burris become the first black attorney general of Illinois? Or who could forget the Los Angeles police force beating and arrest of Rodney King after a San Fernando Valley traffic stop? What about Clarence Thomas, taking a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court? Or Julie Dash releases “Daughters of the Dust,” the first feature film by an African American woman? clip_image008 And although our emotions would sway too and fro like a ship in the wind, we had your music and your life to see us through. I had you Michael to Rock My World.

clip_image010 Yes Michael, you left too soon.

But now, you are gone. You are no longer with us. In this year, when we have so much to celebrate—most notably the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States. And so many challenges: home foreclosures, Wall Street, bank bailouts, healthcare reform. The list goes on and on. I guess we will have to hold on to the memories, both good and bad. And as I think about it, I know what you would tell me, tell us. I, we, must do our best…because We Are The World.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

PETA Pissed ‘Cause Obama Kills Fly. Who Cares? Let Me Tell You What We Should Be Talking About!

PETA or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is upset with President Obama because he killed a fly during a recent interview with CNBC. The organization even went as far as to send him a Katcha Bug; a device that catches bugs not kills them.

Give me a break! You tell me with all that’s going wrong with the country today, all PETA has to focus on is the killing of a fly? And just think; this is the same organization that called for the imprisonment of Michael Vick.

Here are just a few of the issues WE SHOULD be talking about:

1. The Economy. Deep recession, job loss, and retirement savings loss are the current drivers of the challenges to the economy right now.

2. Breakdown of the family. Welfare: a system that makes government dependency more attractive than husbands. Illegitimacy: children born out of wedlock have increased from 23.6% in 1963 to nearly 70% of all black children today. Absence of black fathers: Over three-quarters of black household do not have fathers in the home or involved with the children. Even more don’t have a positive male role model around. Marriage or lack thereof: Half of all black women and men are not married.

3. Black anti-intellectualism. Accusations of "acting white" in the classroom, as detailed by John McWhorter, undermine education as a vehicle for advancement. Instead, black leaders expend enormous resources to advance affirmative action at a small number of elite universities, unmindful of the pernicious effects it has had on talented young blacks. Low-Effort Syndrome: African-American students are not putting forth the effort to succeed in the classroom while parents enable them to do so. The high school dropout rate in the U.S. is higher for black males than any other group — 53 percent. There are so few African-American males attending college until it’s be deemed a crisis by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

4. Failure of urban K-12 schools. Teachers unions and the education establishment have been more interested in pay-raises and grants than student achievement, testing, and competition from Catholic schools. Not to mention the costs of replacing the more effective Basic Instruction with the Self-Esteem pedagogy.

The failure of urban schools is not attributable to a lack of funding. There has been a 300% real increase in per pupil spending since 1970. This increase has been only modestly offset by increases in special need students from 8.3% to 11.8% of the student body - of which the percentage of seriously challenged children actually declined.

5. High incarceration rate of black men. Black males make up more than half of America's prison inmates. They are four times more likely than whites and twice as likely as Hispanics to be jailed.

6. Reduced respect for human life. A study conducted by Northeastern University found that nationwide, the number of black male juvenile homicide victims increased by 31 percent from 2002 to 2007. The number of homicide perpetrators within the same demographic group increased by 43 percent during the same time period. As if that weren’t bad enough, black women have nearly 30% of the all abortions, resulting in the death of 350,000 fetuses a year or one every 90 seconds

7. Financial Freedom. Today, many African-Americans (regardless of educational and employment status) are living paycheck to paycheck, overwhelmed with debt—stressing already fragile families to the limit.

8. Poor Lifestyle Choices. According to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, two-thirds of the difference between death rates among African Americans and Caucasians are now due to causes that could be prevented or cured. – Wow

And these are just a few.

Even more idiotic; the media covered this story! That’s exactly the reason why folks like us have to holler at the top of our lungs—TO GET PEOPLE TO MAKE COMMON SENSE!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Low-Effort Syndrome: Just Another Label For Lazy

John Ogbu was a Nigerian-American anthropologist and professor known for his theories on observed phenomena involving race and intelligence, especially how race and ethnic differences affected educational and economic achievement. One of his more famous studies was why Black children consistently underachieved in the affluent suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Ogbu found that while Shaker's Black children did better academically than Black children everywhere else in the state and in much of the nation, the gap between the Black children of Shaker Heights and their White schoolmates was significant. For instance, more White kids were in advanced placement and honors courses. The Black children however, who took the easier "general education" and "college prep" courses but made up 80 percent of the failing grades.

During the course of the study, Ogbu and his researchers found that, in general, White students studied more, worked harder and cared more about getting good grades. Even more interesting was the fact that Black students knew one had to work hard to succeeded, but didn’t. Ogbu characterized this as low-effort syndrome. . . . “[They] were not highly engaged in their schoolwork and homework.’ And their parents and communities, wittingly or not, supported them…”

You know what? This just sounds like laziness to me and giving it a new label is part of what is wrong with our children today—we as parents don’t want (or want anyone else) to hold them accountable! There’s nothing clinical about this, these children simply didn't want to apply themselves. That’s called laziness.

Recently, a teacher introduced her students to the study. And you know what these kids said was the number one cause of the problem? Lack of parental involvement. Yep, you’re hearing it here—again. Parents, take an active part in your child’s education.

  • Education is important. Homework has to be done. Let children know that this is what you value.
  • Read to them while they’re young and encourage them to read while they continue to stay with you—a family that reads together grows together.
  • Set specific study times—peek in on them from time to time to be sure they are doing it.
  • Try to have a special place where each child can study.
  • Ask to see homework and check it after it’s done.
  • Review report cards.
  • Monitor what your kids watch on television. In fact, turn it off while they’re young and give them a book.
  • If your kids are having problems with a subject, get them a tutor if you can.
  • Keep your child’s mind active during the summer months by having them study a bit each week, especially on subjects they are week in.
  • Help your children plan how to do all the things they need to do--study, work around the house, play, etc.
  • Let your children know that you have confidence in them. Remind them of specific successes they have had in the past perhaps in swimming, soccer, cooking, or in doing a difficult homework assignment.
  • Don't expect or demand perfection. When children ask you to look at what they've done--from skating a figure 8 to a math assignment--show interest and praise them when they've done something well. If you have criticisms or suggestions, make them in a helpful way.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Put An End To The Bailouts! GM Should Just Make Cars People Want To Buy

I recently came across an article written by Felicia Davis entitled “Why Blacks Should Support GM.” In the article, Ms. Davis argues rather passionately that more US taxpayer dollars should be used to bailout General Motors (GM) and that the company should not be allowed to fail. She also goes on to say that African-Americans should be loyal to GM for all it’s done for them. I couldn’t disagree more. The taxpayers are not responsible for GM’s solvency—their management is. GM should focus on making cars people want to buy. But this is so obvious, why would Ms. Davis make such an assertion?

According to Ms. Davis, “…One in 10 jobs are connected to the auto industry and for Blacks, especially Northern Blacks, there are deeper and more extensive connections to UAW and our mighty automobile industry. Union jobs still offer the best opportunity for supporting a family for men and women lacking a college education.”

To this I say, Poppycock! African-Americans need to change their focus and not let the Government change the system of Capitalism as we know it. Face it—manufacturing is out! Ever since John Nesbitt wrote Megatrends 2000, anyone in the know realized that the US was moving from a manufacturing economy to an information economy. They also knew the important role a college education would play in being qualified for these jobs. African-Americans, like all others, must re-think and re-tool to stay competitive. That means staying in school and getting a good education and/or marketable skill. You know, most trades today are requiring more than just a high school education. I always tell folks you should have a college degree and know a trade just to be safe.

And what about Unions and job opportunity? According to the Heritage Foundation, “Economic research finds that unions benefit their members but hurt consumers generally, and especially workers who are denied job opportunities. The average union member earns more than the average non-union worker. However, that does not mean that expanding union membership will raise wages: Few workers who join a union today get a pay raise. What explains these apparently contradictory findings? The economy has become more competitive over the past generation. Companies have less power to pass price increases on to consumers without going out of business. Consequently, unions do not negotiate higher wages for many newly organized workers. These days, unions win higher wages for employees only at companies with competitive advantages that allow them to pay higher wages…”

Ms. Davis then says that the automobile industry might be needed for war mobilization—saving it would protect the country’s manufacturing capability. Being a former logistician in the military, yes, some capacity is needed just in case of war. But what one has to remember is there are other manufacturers out there besides GM. There are also manufacturers of other things such as tractors and heavy trucks. The simple fact is if GM folds, the US wartime manufacturing capability would still remain strong.

Finally, in her most emotional argument yet, Ms. Davis says that GM monetary contributions helped move black folk forward. “It was GM that provided buses to transport people to the Poor Peoples’ March on Washington not to mention supporting national organizations in significant ways for decades.” Again, I applaud GM’s efforts. However, I don’t see anyone giving black folk reparations because of all the pain and suffering done to them during slavery. So why should black folk repay GM with unconditional loyalty to a poor product?

Why should more taxpayer dollars go to a company that pays executives millions of dollars just to drive the company in the ground? And when the company fails, they still get all this money while they are laying laborers off. GM’s
Chief Executive Officer is getting paid to ensure their financial solvency, not the taxpayer.

Let me finish by saying I am pro-labor, pro-union and pro-US business. I also believe given the current economic crisis the Government had to do something. But, as TD Jakes says, “sometimes you have to know when to let go.” I think when you approach this issue from a demagogic point of view you miss the point: GM should make a product people want to buy.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Perhaps you remember this clunker?


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Atlanta To Tear Down Public Housing - Why This Could Spell Doom For Local Communities, Why You Should Take Heed

In 2008, the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD gave the city of Atlanta Georgia approval to tear down its last four major housing projects. For those of you who didn’t know, Atlanta was the first city in the nation to create public housing during the Great Depression.

Today, Atlanta stands on the precipice of being the first to have eliminated all of its large public housing projects by 2010. Back in 2008, Renee Lewis Glover, Atlanta Housing Authority’s (AHA) Executive Director said, “These approvals mean the end of the 73 years of housing projects in Atlanta. We have become the first major city in the nation to completely eradicate these areas of government-sponsored concentrated poverty, crime and low educational achievement." Question is: where will all the poor, crime-ridden, under achievers go? According to the AHA, “AHA will utilize Responsible Relocation in coordination with Atlanta Public Schools and other community stakeholders.” Short answer: your community! I believe, if not closely scrutinized by the communities involved, this could threaten home values more than the foreclosure crisis.

What I found most odd was the lack of specifics of what the AHA meant by “Responsible Relocation.” By that, I mean just where does the AHA plan on relocating former public housing residents? I’m sure by now they have a good idea—and I have some of my own.

I think several factors have come together that make this a big win for the cities and developers and a big lose for you. Right now, Atlanta, Sandy springs, and Marietta Georgia rank third in the nation for average rental and home ownership vacancies according to and the U.S. Census Bureau. What are cities to do with all those houses, even when the market improves? After all, these cities are not land locked and builders will continue to build, because that’s how they make their living. And you are all too familiar with the federal intervention in bailing out the banking and housing industries. Right now, the federal government owns a major portion of the banks and thousands of home mortgages—some of which are being foreclosed on today. And, HUD has always had an expansionist agenda and has been toying with the idea of locating public housing tenants in residential communities for years-- “just give them a house and they’ll make it a home.” And did I mention that the properties being torn down in Atlanta are right next to downtown and represent a real gold mine. That’s pretty much the case in most major cities.

I believe these pressures—large indigent populations, too much housing stock, federal government intervention (indeed ownership of private sector properties), developer interest in extremely valuable land located in or near major cities, and HUD expansionism could mean that the indigent might be moving to a house near you. This could spell doom for your property, your wealth and community. Why, because it's human nature not to care about anything you didn't pay for.