Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by Rita F. Pierson
(CNN) -- I have been a professional educator for 40 years. I have worked at every level of the public school spectrum---elementary through high school. Having been in education for such a long time, I have witnessed many changes, all aimed at school improvement. Needless to say, not all the suggestions have been sensible.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 May 2013 14:18
Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by LZ Granderson
(CNN) -- I went online this morning to see the Mountain Dew ad -- the one some are calling the most racist in history -- expecting to see some really offensive stuff. Instead, I saw some really silly stuff.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 May 2013 09:20
Category: Opinion Written by Courier Newsroom
(NNPA)—Suppose one of the key committees in Congress scheduled a hearing on one of the country’s most debilitating economic problems—the long-term unemployment that’s ensnared millions—and none of the committee members showed up?
That’s almost what happened last week when the Joint Economic Committee’s April 24 hearing opened with just one of its members, Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., the vice chair, in attendance. At various times later, three of the committee’s eight other Democrats—Sen. Christopher Murphy, of Connecticut; Rep. John Delaney, of Maryland, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, also of Maryland—showed up. None of its nine Republican members did.
Of course, it’s standard on Capitol Hill for committee members to miss congressional hearings. Their aides have briefed them on the issues and testimony of the witnesses beforehand; and their time that day may appropriately be better spent meeting with constituents, lobbyists, donors, other politicos, or even another congressional committee that had scheduled a conflicting hearing.
Nonetheless, the near-completely no-show hearing acquired a powerful symbolism once a National Journal reporter who was there tweeted a photo of the long, curving impressive-looking dais of mostly empty chairs.
It made the visual points that a voluminous and growing file of research has been cataloging since the Great Recession peaked and the economy began to recover four years ago. First, the recovery has moved too slowly to pare the number of the long-term jobless—those out of work for six months or longer—from what continue to be unprecedented levels. That failure has produced a growing fear that many Americans in this predicament—now numbering 4.6 million people—may never find jobs again.
In turn, that has raised the prospect that today’s long-term unemployed are becoming a large, permanent out-of-work class whose joblessness will undermine the nation’s economic productivity and whose need for financial help will not only exert a tremendous drain on the government’s treasury and private-sector coffers alike but also contribute to Americans’ growing pessimism about their own and the country’s economic fairness and political leadership.
And, finally, and most damaging, the tweet powerfully suggested that the Congress just doesn’t care about the long-term unemployed.
The symbolism became even more potent the following two days when the Senate and the House hurriedly approved, and the president hurriedly signed, legislation that forestalled any possibility the air traffic control system would be disrupted by sequester-driven budget reductions. Critics of the action contrasted Congress’ quick reaction to complaints from the business sector about airport delays with its studied ignoring pleas to show equal mercy to those who depend on government social programs—such as the long-term unemployed.
Keith Hall, one of the congressional committee’s witnesses, succinctly described some of the alarming statistics used to describe the long-term unemployment crisis. Hall, a former head of the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, now directs a research center at George Mason University.
Although the number of long-term unemployed has fallen from its peak above 6 million four years ago, it remains the largest number of long-term unemployed America has endured at any one time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. More worrisome, two-thirds of this group has been jobless for more than a year.
It’s widely accepted that, generally speaking, the longer individuals are jobless, the more their connections to viable job networks will fade and advances in technology will outpace their skills. That belief is a major reason employers, as numerous studies show, are loath to hire unemployed workers who’ve been jobless for even just six months. That reasoning means that in today’s economy a great majority of the long-term unemployed have almost no chance of finding another job.
The Joint Committee’s own report suggests recommendations, which are similar to those of many economists and other observers. Governments at the local and state as well as the federal level must forge policies that promote economic growth and encourage private employers to hire more people. Governments also must undertake new projects, such as rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, that would enable them to hire more of the unemployed. The public and private sectors must “modernize” the community college system so that those institutions can help retrain older workers and prepare new ones to meet today’s employment requirements.
It will come as no surprise that Black American (and Hispanic-American) workers are disproportionately likely to be among the long-term unemployed and the very-long-term unemployed. That grim reality underscores the raft of statistics that show that, in fact, Black Americans have been beset by a crisis of high mass unemployment and long-term unemployment for more than four decades. That crisis sharply divided African-American society into an “opportunity sector” and a “crisis-ridden sector.”
For years those scholars and activists who argued that this was not a matter of Black inferiority but of economic shifts in the labor market and persisting racial discrimination, were largely ignored. I wonder: Now that the crisis of mass long-term unemployment has crossed the color line, will the larger American society take the same stance?
(Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is “Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.”)
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 13:43
Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by Will Cain
(CNN) -- On Monday, NBA player Jason Collins disclosed that he is gay, making him the first active openly homosexual athlete in the four major American pro team sports.
Last Updated on Sunday, 05 May 2013 18:33
Category: Opinion Written by Dr. Boyce Watkins
DR. BOYCE WATKINS
In my 20 years of teaching in various business schools, there’s one thing I know for sure: Marketing DOES work. The best kind of marketing is the stuff that doesn’t look like marketing at all, like a viral Mountain Dew commercial, or a song on the radio where the word “Molly” is repeated over and over again, in a way that bangs down the door of your subconscious mind and plants itself into the deepest parts of your brain.
Oh, you don’t know what Molly is? Just ask your teenage son or daughter. If they didn’t know what it was last month, they now surely know what it is, where to get it, some friends who use it and might even know when they plan to try it themselves. This brand has been thoroughly introduced to nearly every teenager in America, especially the ones who love Trinidad James. In the words of former President George W. Bush, “Mission Accomplished.”
You see, there’s a reason that Reebok once paid Rick Ross millions of dollars to put his chubby little toes into their sneakers. It wasn’t because he was training for the Olympics. They paid him money because he is what some might call an “urban influencer.” Kids in the hood see Reeboks on Rick’s feet, and they go out and buy Reeboks themselves (even if they don’t have any money). So, to those who don’t think that repetitive messages in hip-hop have an impact on the subconscious thinking of our kids, I ask this: If kids imitate rappers based on what they wear on their feet, don’t you think they might also pay even closer attention to the content of their music?
My point here is simple: I’m not surprised that police are now saying that Chris Kelly, a member of the group Kris Kross, probably died from a drug overdose. We also shouldn’t have been surprised when Lil Wayne went to the hospital (again) for “seizures.” Rick Ross also went to the hospital a few months ago for seizures, and both men want you to believe that their conditions have nothing to do with their long histories of drug and alcohol abuse. I can’t say for sure if all that “purple drank” Wayne’s consuming is causing his seizures, but I can guarantee that it doesn’t help. Oh, don’t know what “purple drank” is? Just ask your teenage son, it’s been extensively marketed to him already.
Hip-hop on the radio (which isn’t controlled by Black people, it’s only puppetry with Black face) is now pushing a hard lifestyle, where staying high and drunk is a source of pride. The powers-that-be know that a young Black man constantly seeking out his next high is probably not going to become the next Malcolm X. It must be a relief that we contribute so readily to our own oppression.
I wasn’t surprised when the rapper Nate Dogg died younger than most. Just a few years ago, Nate released a really hot song that ended with the words, “Hey hey hey hey……smoke weed everyday.” I’m not sure if someone paid him to issue what sounded like a Public Service announcement promoting excessive marijuana consumption, but it surely had an impact.
The point here is that when we see the fallout from the consistent promotion of drug use and alcohol consumption, we just might want to be a wee bit alarmed. Our kids might need to hear graphic stories about how many men and women are serving 30 year prison sentences for committing felonies that occurred while they were under the influence of one of the substances being promoted by artists nation-wide.
One young man, 19-year old Justin Jones, admitted that he deserved the death penalty after murdering someone when he “hit some weed” that was laced with PCP. When I see Justin, I see a man who could have (or might already be) someone’s father. He could have been a great husband, attorney, or perhaps a black leader. His English was definitely broken, but there was a degree of intelligence, conscientiousness and naivete that told me that had he been raised with the right messages, he could have been something other than another payday for the prison industrial complex.
I point people to an article on RapRehab.com, which shows that many of the companies that own and market hip-hop labels and artists also have significant ownership stakes in private prisons. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, but the Finance professor in me says this ownership structure is probably no coincidence. So, the truth is that those who love Black people and those who love the power of hip-hop may want to take up arms against companies that have spent billions of dollars seeking to control the minds of young Black kids.
I’m sorry for the death of Chris Kelly and I’m honestly getting dressed for the funeral of Lil Wayne already (it should be happening any day now, I regrettably must admit). What bothers me most is that these are just two of the millions of brilliant Black boys who had their brains destroyed before the third grade. Nothing great has ever been accomplished by people sitting around getting high and drunk everyday, and these messages have ruined an entire generation.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series called Commercialized Hip-Hop, the Gospel of Self-Destruction.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 09:09
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