Monday, April 30, 2007

Race Gap Cited in Traffic Searches

Race Gap Cited in Traffic Searches - AP

My PC meter was just short-circuited. I witnessed a man, whose race shall-not-be-named, run a red light at high speed in a busy intersection. I thought I was watching COPS. From my quick view, a profile would have made him a moron-of-interest and perhaps think twice about potentially killing a person in the crosswalk, or on a bike, or in a car.

It appears reasonable that blacks and whites should find themselves stopped by police with the same frequency, all things being equal. Each has the same set of rights and responsibilities as citizen to obey the law, along with the same presumption of innocence with respect to that law.

The problem, of course, is that not all things are, in fact, equal. I profile people constantly, ever since I got my unequal butt-whipped in the sixth grade. If blacks find themselves outside of the confines of the law, whether the infractions are small or large, should they be surprised that they are stopped , admonished or arrested, and incarcerated in higher numbers?

The real question is if the police have a responsibility to ignore data showing higher levels of lawlessness, simply because it offends group sensibilities? Forget presumption. Can officers, white or black, ignore this data even when ordered or trained too, especially when it might increase their chances of injury or death in the performance of their duty? I do not think so.

This is the dilemma we face when it comes to racial profiling, culture, education, economics and stereotypes. A combination of real factors driving disparities of behaviors is distilled down to aid quick life and death decisions, in the officer’s mind, as to whether to engage someone or not, and what posture to take. There is not much time to ‘puzzy-foot around’ when the routine stuff is what gets you killed. We live in tough times.

Somewhere between my father and Richard Pryor, I learned how to engage an officer’s approach. Dad said to speak respectfully and do as you are instructed. Pryor said, make no sudden moves if you don’t want to be a mother f***ing accident. I follow both, and instruct my kids as well. In fact, the closest I have ever come to police brutality was at the hands of a black officer who took umbrage at my black-on-black wit.

Anyway, when I see the way free people dress - like prison inmates. How they tattoo themselves with all manner of aggression; the gansta-rap and speak that rules their tongues; the menacing looks that can and will kill. I say, who in their right mind would ever want to be in law enforcement? Then I say, police yourselves yes, but do not stop policing us. Dad and sir Richard, keeping it very real.

James C. Collier


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Friday, April 27, 2007

Stop Snitchin', Rapper Cam'ron: Snitching Hurts His Business, "Code Of Ethics"

Stop Snitchin', Rapper Cam'ron: Snitching Hurts His Business, "Code Of Ethics" - CBS News

Snitches have always represented the seamy side of law enforcement, as their efforts, at the behest of authorities, effectively circumvents the rights of citizens-of-interest. Whereas law enforcement must obtain judicial clearance to infiltrate lives, snitches operate outside of this protective radar screen. This is the origin of their detestable legacy.

A witness, on the other hand, is a person who comes forward, voluntarily or not, after an alleged crime has occurred. The purpose is to give accurate testimony, for all sides, to what they experienced with their five senses, pertaining to official allegations. The act of witnessing, either through expert or eyewitness testimony, is a cornerstone of our judicial process and its ability to render fairness.

The underlying premise of snitches, or witnesses, has been that crime is bad and lawful behavior is good for society. The sentiment has been that crime should be minimized through the responsible efforts of all the citizenry. But alas, good has become bad, and bad is now good. For too many, acting lawfully is acting white and something to be avoided, particularly if you are black.

So even as black-on-black crime soars, the black community is besieged, lead by fake-Tupac gangsters, further embracing the suicidal behavior he promoted and that protects senseless drive-by mayhem. Murder rates and all other forms of violent activity have free reign to multiply unchecked by a code of behavior written by thugs, for the benefit of thugs.

And the likes of the Dyson's and Giovanni's keep picking up their silver.

Thuglife indeed.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Teen's Family Sues Over Hanging Death

Teen's Family Sues Over Hanging Death - AP

Call me crazy, but something about this story smells like two-day-old sushi. A black teenager at a Christian camp near Columbus Ohio is asphyxiated - hung, on his 18th birthday, via a noose around his neck, in a remote part of the campground. His four white ‘friends’ claim, in unison, that he was ‘depressed and suicidal’ prior to his death. Give me a break!

Now I have watched enough CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) real and fictionalized to know that death by hanging oneself creates quite a different postmortem pathology than death at the hands of another. It would seem that if the authorities were fully doing their jobs, they would be able to figure out conclusively whether the four are telling the truth about how this young man died. Conspiracies are nearly impossible to maintain when the klieg-lights are properly aimed and turned on.

What is also amazing to me is the criteria the leading print media outlets use to decide what is newsworthy. Neither the Washington Post nor the New York Times, to my knowledge, felt the original story was worthy of passing along to us, let alone applying any of their own resources to its more in-depth coverage.

The importance of good investigative journalism cannot be understated, relative to insuring that the responsible authorities treat their jobs with the importance and thoroughness required. The family should not have to sue in civil court, and pay their own money for a full investigation, including whether a crime was actually committed. It is this breakdown in the ‘information feedback loop’ that loads-the- shoots for huge financial judgments, when the truth finally breaks the surface.

In reality, what the family probably wants and deserves most is an honest accounting of what happened to their child. It is sad that they must take this accusatory approach with the authorities to get objective attention, justice, and peace.

James C. Collier


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Monday, April 23, 2007

Acting White: Blacks and Professional Baseball

I took my son to a San Francisco Giants baseball game a few days ago. As I had recently read an article about the decline of blacks in professional baseball, I had my ‘race’ antenna turned on. I noticed a number of related items from the stands, as well as on the field, that might be worthy of consideration.

To start off, the number of black players quite easily meets their proportion in greater society. This is strikingly different from football or basketball, where blacks seem to dominate. Nevertheless, the contribution of black baseball players, beginning with Jackie Robinson, has clearly been great. Black success does not mean the group should dominate the game, in my mind.

San Francisco recently had a black Manager in Dusty Baker, so I am also accustomed to the reality of black team leadership. Team ownership, however, is one of the last bastions that I believe will crack as the ranks of blacks in the mega-rich category grows. The Washington Nationals were nearly sold last year to a predominantly black investor group, and basketball has a black owner in Robert L. Johnson (Charlotte Bobcats).

As for the game itself, what really struck me was how baseball fits with the values that I am trying to teach my son. Throughout the game I had many opportunities to sneak in tidbits on hard work, preparation, perseverance, fundamentals, and sportsmanship. In the case of super star Barry Bonds, my son is now noticing the consistent lack of sportsmanship Bonds displays to his teammates. He still wants to hit like Barry, but no longer seeks to ‘be’ like him.

In contrast, when we watch football and basketball, dominated on the field by blacks, I painfully forget about the lessons I might teach. The behavior of the players is constantly sending the message to be self-absorbed, whenever possible, in order to maximize the advantage in the next contract or endorsement deal. My son’s take-a-ways from these events are usually how to celebrate success in a fashion that inflicts the maximum humiliation on the other team.

To be fair, baseball is not without its ‘hotdogs’, white and black, in and out of the dugout and owner’s box, but the game has done a much better job of policing behavior so that individualism cannot totally ruin the game. There is still work to be done regarding performance enhancing drugs, stratospheric contracts, ticket prices, and minorities in the front office.

I think if legendary no. 42, Jackie Robinson, attended a present-day professional football or basketball game, he would shake his head at the demonstrations and return quickly to the game he helped define, all the while saying with his unforgettable smile, ‘there’s room for improvement, but I think this is the game for me’.

James C. Collier


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Acting White: Nikki Giovanni's Eyes Wide Shut

After reading the creative works of the VT student and mass killer Cho Seung Hui, and then reading the works of his star VT professor Nikki Giovanni, it is very reasonable to consider the similarity in violence each created in their minds, onto paper, and in Cho’s case, through a killing spree we shall not soon forget.

I confess that I know little of Ms. Giovanni, other than her fame as a poetic voice of the sixties. But if Cho spent anytime reading his famous professor’s works, which would not be unreasonable, he found, as I did, quite a glimpse of thoughts of violence, murder and mayhem to tickle his sick mind.

I am not saying the noted professor caused Cho to go on his rampage, but the word ‘inspire’ would not be an unfair consideration, in light of the death and injury toll. The consideration is particularly appropriate as she proudly whips out her ‘thuglife’ tattoo, displaying to her impressionable students and the world, the up to date bridge of solidarity she sought with murdered gansta-rapper Tupac Shakur.

In an interview in 2004 with Brian Lamb, she compares Tupac to Emmett Till, a black boy killed in 1955 by Mississippi whites, for allegedly whistling at a white women. She says, “…I wanted to share with the generation a loss, because Tupac was this generation`s Emmett Till”. Say what? Excuse me, but wasn’t Till killed by racist white men, while Tupac, on the other hand, was killed by murderous men, like himself, who extolled violence as a way of living and dying?

If Ms. Giovanni wants to live ‘phat’ as she might say on the lecture fees of dishing memories of the sixties, this is fine with me, but no way in hell should she be ‘teaching’ kids. VT leadership, lawyers, and risk management advisers have to be hoping and praying that the families of the dead and injured never read Ms. Giovanni’s web site, which points the way to selected works, and more.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Acting White: Beating the Devil

It has been a tough two weeks for America.

Sometimes it just feels like it is too much. “Stop the world, I want to get off!” But we keep going because we have no choice. Time is linear. The past is history. Each new second is an opportunity, whether we like it or not.

Today I am dead-ass tired. Yesterday I rode my bike 82 miles, and climbed 7,000+ feet, including Mt. Diablo. Why? Because I am dying – we all are dying. Most of us die slowly at our own hands, others die in tragic instants by the hands of others. In between, nature’s dice takes the rest.

Riding my bike is an explicit statement about living. It’s about a stronger heart and lungs, muscles and bones. It’s about using or losing it. It’s about un-needed weight coming off not on. Its about being around people with the same crazy notions that what they do for a second, or minute, or 6.5 hours, in this case, makes a difference. But mostly it is about taking a moment to enjoy my life, with no extra charge for the pain.

Today, I am off with my son to see the Giants. Win, lose, rain (60% predicted) or shine, I am reaching for a ‘two-fer’ - back-to-back days of consciously savoring each second of life as precious, against the headlines.

James C. Collier

Update: Giants win 2-1, sweeping their series with Arizona; Barry Bonds hit home run no. 740 and is still a jerk; it was sunny; and most important - my son and I had a great time.


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Friday, April 20, 2007

Acting White: Race Chicanery in the Media

ABC News: S.C. Teachers Accused of Sex With Boys

In the aftermath of the VT tragedy there has been much talk about the relevance of race and its place in the discussion of the event. I contend that the Pandora’s Box of race is relevant except when it is clear that it is not relevant. The VT killing spree is exceptional, by definition, thereby making the killer’s race important in considering all the facts that may unearth his motive(s).

Alternately, the race of a common mugger, in a city with thousands of muggings is not relevant, except if the perpetrator is either still at-large and the description would aid capture, or the alleged crime was carried out in manner that connoted special racial motivation. Simply being a different color than the victim is not proof of racial animus.

It is the mere difference of race that many whites leap upon, when they challenge the hypocrisy of media systems that do not automatically include the race of non-white perpetrators. Inasmuch as those whites feel that race dominates our thoughts and behaviors, they may be correct. However, history reveals a myriad of non-racial motivators behinds human action, and our understanding of race has simply not yet advanced to the point of discerning itself so clearly.

Having said this, this day I borrow from my white brethren in their media outrage. Today, I found out that in late March of this year two white female teachers in Clinton, South Carolina stand accused of sexuality abusing six black boys, students in their school. The story was written by an AP correspondent but not, to my knowledge, picked up by either the Washington Post or the New York Times. This alleged crime is appalling and the race of both the teachers and the students is important, as it goes directly to the question of what was motivating them. But why did I have to take a plane, a train, a bus, and a taxi, to find out this happened?

When people commit heinous acts we deserve to know about it. Their race, if it is relevant, should be included in the reporting, including being spoken of as a potential motivator. This communication needs to happen without the political correctness filter that short-circuits discussions of race and its influence. Every issue is not about race, but knee-jerk white-washing of events will keep us stupid and fighting each other forever.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Acting White: Exceptions and Rules

Cho Sent Package to NBC News, Network Says - Washington Post

In these days following the Virginia Tech tragedy, I have tried to stay abreast of the event itself and the community discourse that has followed. I had the hope that something illuminating and uplifting would find the tips of my fingers, but I am still waiting.

In the meantime, I just let my mind wander among the thoughts of the dead, including the killer, Cho Seung Hui. I did some research along time ago at Blacksburg and still vaguely remember the campus. My musings keep retuning to the outrageousness of it all, and what it tells us. So far, I don’t think it tells us much of anything.

Although some, including the Asian Journalist Association, would like to argue the point, everything about Cho, including that he is a Korean immigrant is germane to the discussion. Every nook and cranny, and rock this person ever crawled under deserves to be revealed and examined in microscopic detail. We will probably learn nothing, but the lives he took and the injuries he caused demand it.

So why will we learn nothing? Largely because exceptions defy the rules – and Cho was exceptional. Koreans should not worry; his heritage tells us nothing about the intersection of mass killers and the Korean people, or Asians, or immigrants for that matter. I know many Koreans, immigrants and nationals, through school, work and studying tae kwon-do (martial arts), and it was no ‘insane Korean killer’ that did this, but rather just an insane killer who just happened to be Korean.

He could have been black, brown, or white; Christian, Hindu or Muslim. Deranged minds do not discriminate with their host forms. The more important question is how he slipped through the cracks with dorm advisors, counselors, professors, doctors, and authorities. All accounts present this kid as a walking billboard for “1-800 I Need Help!”.

So let’s talk about all the things that could be relevant, including his ethnic background. But let’s do it not to prove any preset agenda about race or immigration, but rather to examine the world we have created for ourselves, where world societies collide and individuals go off the deep end. Making some sense of it will help us to rehabilitate our existence, if only a worthy bit.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Drop the Race Card

Drop the Race Card - Washington Post

Joe R. Hicks is a smart man, America should listen.

Distilled down, what I heard, related to the Don Imus and Duke University cases goes like this:

1. Apologies as strategy do not work, forget them.

2. Racial opportunism abounds in our society on all sides, and tricks us.

3. Black people are programmed victims, unable to exploit their hard-won progress.

4. Reverends Jesse and Al are not leaders, but rather distracting self-promoters.

5. Blacks continue looking for government protection, painting themselves as incapable.

6. Double standards abound where, ‘do as I say’ ignores the persuasive ‘do as I do’.

7. Pursuits in the name of ‘racial justice’ deserve scrutiny, for all sides.

8. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ applies to all, and blacks should not cut corners on this, even when invited by zealous white prosecutors, looking for votes.

9. The outcome of Imus or the Duke players has little or no effect on what is thwarting black progress, and we should stop pretending that it does.

10. It is time that Blacks yank the reigns of their destiny from those exploiters, black and white, who misguide the group’s precious energy to advance.

Words to progress by.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Deejay Axed for Using Imus Phrase on Show et al

Deejay axed for using Imus phrase on show - Denver Post

Don Imus Is Fired by CBS Radio - Washington Post

If this Don Imus Rutgers dust-up causes America to debate the acceptance of Gangsta Rap lyrics, I would happily vote that he should get early work release from his punishment, conditioned on good behavior, not that anyone is asking me.

I am not a familiar with women’s basketball, but the men with all their tattoos look like Hep A/B poster-kids of a bunch of ex-cons, and no one should have to tiptoe around this obvious issue. Racist, sexist name-calling is a different 'kettle of fish'.

It is interesting that the two sides defending Mr. Imus represent ideological opposites in their view of his words. The first group, lead by angry white men, feel they he should be able to say anything he wants because it’s a free country, rappers use the terms already, and this is one more example of their country ‘going to the Snoop dogs’ at a speedy clip. The second group, lead by angry black men, realize the trap of demeaning terms, and know that a double-standard keeps the foul-mouthed rappers in the business of polluting our airwaves, and thwarting group advancement.

I am against commercializing dysfunction in any form, and no group has the right to force their dysfunction on others under the auspices of cultural diversity. Gansta Rap should be treated the same way we treat pornography, protected from our ears except in the privacy of our own headphones.

While Imus may have inadvertently done us a favor in bringing this issue to a boil, I have no sympathy for the copycat Deejay in Allentown, PA, who got himself fired by running a "Phrase That Pays” contest where the winners had to call in and say, “I’m a nappy-headed hoe”. This neat packaging of our dysfunction should not go without full punishment, and deserves no mercy. You’re Fired!

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Acting White: vs. Acting Sneaky

Forgive me; this blog is not about sneaky blacks or whites, but rather about the sneaky health care professionals, of all types, deserving of our caution. I just had a eye-opening conversation with my son’s neurologist.

To back up a little, when consumers choose a doctor or health care provider each gets to evaluate the other for acceptability. The provider wants to assure their compensation for services, while the consumer wants assurance of health care quality and greatest coverage toward need. Everyone is fully informed and gives their consent via agreement. This is fair.

Now switch over to the growing cadre of provider organizations, including many hospitals, who may very well accept you as a patient or client, but also ‘grade’ your insurance in a way that instructs and motivates their staff to enhance or lessen the care options they present to you, without your knowledge. In this case, your sigh of relief from knowing you are accepted could be very premature.

My son’s doctor has just move from area-leading Children’s Hospital in Oakland to a clinic in SF whose philosophy of care does not secretly discriminate based on the carrier of the client. Specifically, he described Children’s compensation to their physicians as a formula calculating the patient services they recommend and how much the patient’s provider pays for that particular procedure/service. Under this situation, the doctor’s paycheck is placed in direct competition with their presentation of best care alternatives.

I understand that health care is financially squeezed and this means hard choices on all sides, but the idea of a bean counter, in the examination room, with his hand in the wallet of the doctor, unbeknownst to the patient, is just plain wrong. In fact, this explains how, a few years back, my late father was prescribed a needless 10 minute medical helicopter ride between two hospitals, at a cost of $13,000. The guys in accounting knew his insurance would pay up so that meant, ‘fire up the chopper boys - we got us a ‘full-retail’ customer!’.

Absolutely sinister.

James C. Collier


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Monday, April 09, 2007

Imus Takes His Lumps on Sharpton's Show

Imus Takes His Lumps on Sharpton's Show - Washington Post


One minute an airhead hotel heiress is ‘caught’ without her panties and the next thing you know every Tom, Dick, and Britney Spears are showing us panty-less crotches. Then comes drunken Mel with his anti-Semitic tirade, followed by Michael Richards, Isaiah Washington, and now Don ‘nappy-head’ Imus. Throw in the wildcard Gov’nator of California, Arnold Schwartza’negro, and prime time won’t be able to handle the apology traffic.

I can just imagine what George Bush’s handlers are working on even as we speak. Surely he could make some off-hand racist or sexist reference to Condi that would get his bee-hind out of Dodge, while giving his ratings a boost. He’d better be quick about it though, the Reverends Al and Jesse are stacking the guest apologies up like mid-day traffic at O’Hare. Each will undoubted have a daily ‘white man with his tail-between-his- legs’ talk show. The Vatican is probably thinking where the heck is that Farther Guido Sarducci dude when he could finally generate some serious Nielsons.

Anyway, I am tired of these ‘accidental’ racist screw-ups. They are not accidental, but rather lame attempts for people to exploit the level of stupidity we all have achieved. We dignify foolishness by recognizing it in full 360-degree THX YouTube-captured fidelity, way past the point of news worthiness. It is sad that we are so firmly ensconced in the age of ‘info-tainment’.

I will stop now, before I say something I will regret, all the way to the bank.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Acting White: vs. Acting African

Both my mother and father kept us kids on the straight and narrow with these choice words. “Act like you have some sense”, they would say. My own kids parrot my reprise of this as well, mainly to each other, and sometimes to their friends, when things are getting out of hand. But what happened to this sage instruction, which parents or total strangers could use to reign in youthful knuckle-headed behavior, before it hardened into adult dysfunction?

Furthermore, at what point did acting like you have some sense become acting white – a betrayal of blackness? Something has influenced swaths of black people to give up on not only ‘doing the right thing’, but even caring about the right thing. One side contends that white stubbornness, to maintain dominance, is the culprit. Others say that blacks simply lack the motivation, or orientation, to lead or properly follow in our society.

There are reasons for both of these attitudes. Whites, when they are searching for answers, look at the behavior of blacks rather than themselves, so they miss their inflexibility and selfishness. They see attitudes and behaviors that are counterintuitive and eroding, and wonder why ‘those people’ simply do not straighten-up their acts. Blacks, looking for answers, ignore their own thwarting behavior as it is eclipsed, in their eyes by that of conspiring whites. They miss their own obstinacy and its result.

But what if we take a different approach? Whenever I go to an event, a ballgame, a movie, or a party that is not satisfying me, I leave. Alternately, most people stay and tough it out, especially if they paid for their entry. Whites are simply Africans who walked out of Africa thousands of years ago because it was geographically inhospitable. As they moved north, their skin adapted quickly for health’s sake, to produce more vitamin D in the sun-intensity-starved higher latitudes, but beneath that skin they remained Africans. Other Africans stayed put and toughed it out, becoming the ancestors of today’s African-Americans. This relentless affection for the unknown versus the known is at the heart of the disparities we see today. Whether we like it or not, they extend well-beyond the influence of slavery and colonialism.

So when blacks look at their behaviors and confuse doing what is right with acting white, they might better judge such behavior as that of a sibling or cousin who left home at an early age to see the world, only to return with many new and ‘strange’ ways, most good, some not so good, but in the aggregate diverse and advancing to humanity and worthy of emulation. The same look would aid whites as well.

We are all Africans under the skin.

James C. Collier


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Monday, April 02, 2007

Acting White: Vitamin D Gap in Black & White

So why are white people white? And let’s skip the ”because God wanted it that way” answer. We know that humankind, of the homo sapient version, started out dark-skinned around the horn of Africa, at least 6,000 years ago. We also know that white skin was not a random mutation, but rather an adaptive genetic response to less available ultra-violet (UV) laced sunlight, as Africans ventured farther north into Eurasia.

But again, why white? Skin-cancer mortality occurs after reproduction, so this influence is negligible. In part, it turns out that as the body’s essential vitamin D production decreased, from less sunlight as we moved north, a host of health problems followed, ultimately including reproductive interruption. Light-skin absorbs more sunlight, thereby inducing the production of vitamin D in reduced light and reversing the loss. Overtime, and for this reason, melanin levels in people’s skin closely matches the latitude of their ancestors.

Researchers are beginning to match-up our current health data against the adaptive responses that have occurred over time, with some rather startling revelations. This matching is necessary, given the abrupt movement of dark-skinned people to higher latitudes, as occurred during the Atlantic slave trade. It turns out that a disproportion of the disparities we see in health between blacks and whites is the logical outcome of this abrupt movement.

Vitamin D’s influence on our bodies is far greater than science has previously understood. The occurrence of many cancers seems to correlate directly to sun exposure and Vitamin D levels, as D is believed to regulate cell growth. Breast, colon, and prostate cancer prevalent in blacks, as well as autoimmune, diabetes and heart disease, correlate to vitamin D deficiencies, and also show up in whites in the higher latitudes, such as Scandinavia, as we would expect.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 42 percent of African American women of childbearing age are Vitamin D deficient. In places like Boston and Seattle in the winter, D production drops to zero for whites, and the same for blacks living even farther south than places like San Francisco, Denver, Philadelphia, and Columbus.

Currently the FDA recommends that people (presumably white) under the age of 50, get 200 IUs a day; 51- to 60- year-olds take 400 IUs; and over 70 get 600 IUs. These numbers are likely to be revised significantly higher, and even higher still for dark-skinned people. What is clear is that everyone, especially blacks, should, at the least, be taking the daily requirement for the protection of this essential and affordable vitamin.

Vitamin D, take it to live!

James C. Collier


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