Tag Archives: education

Aw Pell Yes: Obama Slow Jams the News with Jimmy Fallon

I love this.  Critics have been nothing but critical of President Obama from day one, but they can’t stop him from having some fun. He has charisma and a personality (something one candidate in the Republican field can’t seem to find or make up his mind about). Take notes people. It’s called like-ability.

“I’m President Barack Obama, and I, too, would like to Slow Jam the News,” said Obama.  Good Job, Mr. President. Kudos to the Roots and Jimmy Fallon as well!!!

This video will get millions of views and make people aware of what is going on with student loan funding, Pell grants and the potential rise in interest rates.  Many of the viewers will be young people who don’t follow politics.  They will be able to easily understand why this is a pocket-book issue of them and how it impacts their future.  Obama needs to see huge youth vote numbers to win in November.  I believe this was a smart move for him.

If it’s ok for Santorum to take news crews with him on a hunting trip and Gingrich to talk about building a colony on the moon, I really dare crazy Right wing folks to have a problem with Barack Obama using some humor to get a serious point across to young people.

If you don’t get it, you may not be part of the intended audience.

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Once Upon a Time, You Were Not White

Once upon a time in America; Italians, Jews, and Irish people were not considered White.  Yes, it’s surprising.  Some people who are classified as White may not consider themselves Caucasian.  Many people consider the concept of race to be an illusion, a construct to be defined and re-defined.  For example, you may consider yourself white until you find out that your great-great-grandfather was a Louisiana born Black Creole who passed for white in the north.

Last night I saw author  and Princeton professor Nell Irvin Painter was on “The Colbert Report” discussing her new book  “The History of White People” [Read some of it for free on Google Books].  She talked about how race is not permanent, how definitions of race are affected by education, class and sex, and the history of the definition of whiteness.  The interview was a lot of fun, but I [like Colbert] had no idea what the book was really about at the end of the segment.  Her interview with NPR provides A LOT more information.

Painter is the author of Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (1996) and several other scholarly works on the history of slavery and race relations in America, most recently Creating Black Americans (2006). Her latest selection examines the history of “whiteness” as a racial category and rhetorical weapon: who is considered to be “white,” who is not, what such distinctions mean, and how notions of whiteness have morphed over time in response to shifting demographics, aesthetic tastes, and political exigencies. After a brief look at how the ancients conceptualized the differences between European peoples, Painter focuses primarily on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There, the artistic idealization of beautiful white slaves from the Caucasus combined with German Romantic racial theories and lots of spurious science to construct an ideology of white superiority which, picked up by Ralph Waldo Emerson and other race-obsessed American intellectuals, quickly became an essential component of the nation’s uniquely racialized discourse about who could be considered an American. Presenting vivid psychological portraits of Emerson and dozens of other figures variously famous and obscure, and carefully mapping the links between them, Painter’s narrative succeeds as an engaging and sophisticated intellectual history, as well as an eloquent reminder of the fluidity (and perhaps futility) of racial categories. –Brendan Driscol, Booklist

Video – ColbertNation.com

Here is part of an awesome documentary that aired some years ago on PBS that deals in detail with the evolution of race

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Question: Who is this “We” people always refer to when talking about change in the Black community?

I’m looking for WE.  You know, the “WE” that Black journalists, commentators, business people, politicians, and pundits talk about when they are interviewed on television and radio.  When they say things like…

  • We need to educate our children and take back our communities.
  • We need to harness our socioeconomic power and influence corporations.
  • We need to support “X” and “Y” legislation.
  • We need to step up and be fathers, mothers, mentors, leaders, business people, etc.

Do you know who “We” is?

In my opinion, the homogeneous black WE is a figment of the imagination.  We as African-Americans are not of one economic or social strata.  We are not all college educated or high school drop outs.  We don’t all have the Cosby family dream or come from strong single mother households.  It is this reality that is overlooked when people call on the WE.

When you call out to someone who isn’t there…they don’t hear you.  Black America is not hearing the call of some of it’s best and brightest leaders because they aren’t calling US collectively.  We are not WE…we are YOU.  You are the poor sista on welfare who is looked down upon because she needs food stamps to survive.  You are the brother who was passed along by “No child left behind” so that the graduation rates would be acceptable.  You are the child who is told they can be a great as Martin Luther King, but faces a reality in their neighborhood that says they will be lucky to secure a decent paying job after high school graduation.

When we all see our brothers and sisters as ourselves we gain the perspective that compassion and understanding brings.  Advising from a place of understanding brings context, and context makes words relevant.  You must take on the challenges, differences, issues and problems and see them on a personal level.  Seek to understand, not just provide lip service.  Then we can go from You to US.  Community.  You are then able to speak to the community at large as well as segments of the community in the ways that are most effective.  From there we can move the community to action, because as we all know, actions speak louder than words.

I don’t think that many people I hear are talking about US when they say “We need to”.  I think they are really saying that “The Talented Tenth” needs to.  They may be saying “You people” need to.  I think the appeals and advice, no matter how good and well intentioned, is falling on deaf ears.  We need action plans and road maps to the future that are formulated to appeal to our diverse community.  Black History Month is a great time to consider whether it’s time for talking or time for us to build community and effect change.

Hello, Negro family, I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

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French schoolbooks riddled with racist stereotypes

A study of more than 3,000 illustrations found in 29 of France’s most commonly used school books revealed that black people were frequently portrayed as jazz musicians, good sprinters or poor, while children with foreign backgrounds were shown to be inferior academically than their white French peers.

The report by Halde, the state anti-discrimination body, cites an example of a picture of a girl with a “nice French name” getting top marks while her foreign-sounding classmate, Samira, failed the exercise.

In geography and social history textbooks, Africans are consistently shown as “poor and sick” – with the exception of one photograph of a “smiling Maasai herdsman surrounded by his flock while talking on a mobile phone”.

The French education system wants to make it clear that discrimination is an offence. It conceded that improvement had been made in recent years but there was a lack of “counter-examples” – positive images to counter negative ones.

Source

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Friday Question: What should be done about black youth and education?

Black youth are not getting a quality education in many of the major centers of black life in this country (NYC, ATL, DC, Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis, Chicago, etc.) Not to mention all across the south. Nationally, the graduation rate is 53 percent; in contrast, the graduation rate of what schools call “underrepresented minorities” – blacks, Latinos and American Indians – is 45 percent. In California alone, 41.3 percent African-American students drop out of high school.

If these children are not prepared to graduate from high school and don’t attend college or get some form of higher education…what will be their prospects for the future? Will they end up with low paying jobs, find crime as a way to support themselves, or just fade into the new face of U.S. poverty. A recent study on the bulging prison system noted, “One in 100 Americans is behind bars in 2008, about 2.4 million people currently are incarcerated and nearly 60 percent of young black males who dropped out of high school have served time in jail

What will happen to the young people who do not receive a REAL “education” from America’s public school system?

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Friday Question: Is there still a “Talented Tenth” in Black America?

The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races. -W.E.B. DuBois, September 1903 [Full text]

“The Talented Tenth” is the phenomenon of one out of ten black people who is influential in the world, through methods such as education, artistic talent, musical talent, athletics, writing books, or becoming directly involved in social change.

DuBois is talking about the 10% of the race who he charged with uplifting the race by providing morally sound, socially conscious, and unselfish leadership to Blacks in the post-Reconstruction era. Interestingly enough,  1948, Dubois recanted this claim, acknowledging that he didn’t realize the extent to which egotism, self-interest, and self-righteousness would prevent the Talented Tenth from serving its intended purpose.  I think he would recant even further if he were alive in 2008.

Do you think that there is a “Talented Tenth” in Black America today?   Who is the “Talented Tenth” of today?  Are they willing to accept DuBois’ challenge in this era.

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Study shows African-Americans add $44.7 billion to state economy

From the UNC News Services – click here for article

North Carolina’s growing African-American population contributes more than $44.7 billion to the state’s economy through its purchases and taxes – $22,272 per black resident – while costing the state budget $4.5 billion – or $2,498 per black resident – for health care, education and corrections, according to a new report by researchers at UNC.

If recent growth trends continue, the total economic impact of black spending in the state could increase to $60 billion by 2009.

These were among key findings of “The Economic Impact of the African American Population on the State of North Carolina,” a new report that details the impact of African-American spending and employment, state government costs for education, health care and corrections and ways North Carolina can better capitalize economically on its significant African-American population.

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Video: A Vision of Students Today

This video is very telling with regard to the current state of college level education.   It summarizes some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University (I’m from Kansas originally!!!  Kansas Love).

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Dr. Boyce on Why Universities are Fundamentally Racist

By: Dr. Boyce Watkins

This was an interesting weekend. Two things happened that I was involved with that led to a tremendous amount of reflection on my part. I’ll start from the beginning, as the passion is so strong that my fingers are boiling on the keyboard. They say you shouldn’t try to think or write when you are angry, but I am a man of passion and passion brings out the strongest part of my intellect.

First, I went to visit my alma mater (or my “alma-mama” as I call it), The University of Kentucky. UK is an amazing school, beautiful in some ways, but sick and twisted in others. I saw our football team win an amazing game a couple of weeks ago, as they beat the #1 ranked team in the country for the first time in 43 years. I was with them the entire time, cheering and jumping up and down as they scored one touch down after another. Part of me bleeds blue, which happens to be one our school colors.

But it is also my love for my “alma-mamma” that inspired my visit to the school this week. I gave a speech after being requested by the black students on campus to come in and comment on the series of racially-motivated incidents that took place on campus recently. In one of the incidents, a black student had the words “Die Nigger” sliced into his door. The incident was in the media, and I was forwarded the article by one of my cousins. The reason I got the article: The student who had the words scratched into his door also happened to be my cousin.

Before I could pick up the phone and “raise holy hayell”, I received a call from one of the black administrators, who wanted me to intervene. The answer was a resounding “yes”.

Coming back home was an amazing experience, as I could literally look at every corner, street, building and sidewalk on that campus and have a fond memory of being in that particular spot. It could be the place where I first kissed my girlfriend, stood fuming over a bad grade in a class, played football with my friends, had a car accident or drank a milkshake. I consider that university to be my home.

The energy in the auditorium was off the chain, as the house was totally packed. Apparently, the arrival of the “Dangerous Negro” had driven many people to come out, young and old, white and black. The students came ready for war, and I was ready to guide them down the war path. I didn’t want them filled with hate. I just wanted them to have understanding, purpose and direction. I reminded them that the same things that happened in 2007 were also happening in 1997, 1987 and 1977. I told them about how the administration had made promises 20 years earlier to substantially increase the presence of black faculty on campus, and that none of these promises were kept or acknowledged. I reminded them that if they acted firmly and strongly, 2007 would be the year when the shit was going to stop. Continue reading

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