Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Acting White: WARNING! Cancer Institute Updates Risk Calculator

I love it when people pretend to do black people favors, by making them honorary white people. As if trust is not already a big enough issue between the races, the National Cancer Institute (NIC) has recently updated its cancer risk calculator to better measure the risk of breast cancer in black women – but not really. The calculator now more accurately tells black women that more of them will die. That’s the good news. The problem is that it does not tell them why – that’s the honorary part I suppose.

The reason to measure risk is to identify contributing factors, thereby giving potential victims greater control over prevention. But don’t expect fewer black women to die - 8,000 this year - from this disease. White doctors, with the help of black doctors, continue to ignore the single greatest potential factor in breast cancer – Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D researchers quietly project that at least half of those deaths could be prevented.

Oh sure, they say that black women have more ‘aggressive’ tumors. They say that black women seek treatment later in their progression, and are not as responsive to treatment regimens. Hell, there is a list of socio-economic attributes as long as my arm – education, income, wealth, weight, diet, you name it. But these are contributing factors to the disease, not directly causing or preventing it.

What we do know is that the immune system is the co-captain defense to cancer, behind self-regulation within the cell itself, and it needs Vitamin D in order to work properly. Like flipping a light switch, proper serum D levels allow the immune system to walk up to a wayward cancer cell and abruptly switch it off – killing it. We also know that black women are deficient in Vitamin D in the biggest way.

So Black women out there, do not be fooled. Sure, play the NIC game on their calculator, but know this, the melanin in your skin is blocking the production of a vital hormone that you need to fight breast cancer. You need a Vitamin D (D3) supplement, as do your kids, husbands, brothers, and fathers. 2,000 IU's per day is a good start.

Get Vitamin D and live.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Acting White: Check the Trash

It was during the fall of 2005, and me damn near 50, that I stopped being embarrassed by the behavior of black people – my people. It is easy to beam pride when you hear jazz or R&B, witness a sporting event, or simply read about a black person distinguishing themselves in the positive. But what about all the negatives: drugs; violence; neglect; abuse; and general slacking? This flip side is the daily dose of the ‘what the hell is going on in the heads of black people?’ question.

Every ethnicity does things that embarrasses their group, but when your group is struggling the sting is greater. Even with what I know, I am regularly reminded, like today, how better it would be if every black person had the chance to feel free of the weighty burden of shameful group behaviors. For me the first step is not about stopping or admonishing the behavior, but rather understanding its origin.

Today I picked up my company’s two L.A.-based accountants at Oakland International, for a meeting. Due to traffic we took a surface short cut back to our offices, through the poorer Latino and black sections of the city. Ahead of us at a stop light a black man opened his car door and dumped an accumulation of trash onto the road. I have seen this behavior many times, but was still dumbfounded, as were my passengers, one white, one Asian.

As the stop light changed on the uncomfortable moment, I said, “Now that was interesting. What do you guys make of it? I figured I might capitalize on the odd moment and learn something new - but no such luck. Each of the accountants smartly remained mute. So I said, ‘well let me tell you what I think. I think that guy is about 40 years behind in his thinking and tossing trash into the streets is just one of many lagging behaviors probably holding him back’. They agreed and we all relaxed back into our ride.

Now this man’s failure to assimilate the ‘don’t be a litterbug’ behavior introduced 40 years ago might come from lagging assimilation or oppositional culture, but regardless, it is supported by below-average intelligence that itself went unchallenged by an education system that did not know what to do with him - a scenario repeated every school-day across this country.

For whatever the reason a group displays symptoms of lagging intelligence, internally or externally influenced, if it is ignored, or band-aided by excuses or arbitrary props, then we should expect the problems to get worse, as they have. This only makes sense. Yes, we can argue racism ‘until the cows come home’, but as Harvard Black Studies Prof. Henry Louis Gates contends, it does not come anywhere close to explaining the black condition.

We need to stop making excuses for the litterbugs. We need to keep looking for real questions and answers.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Acting White: Feeling The White

Each day we deposit more collective thought into a national knowledge reservoir called ‘acting white’, describing 360-degrees of race/ethnicity and behavior in America. But if we step back a bit there is a pressing need to add the idea of feeling the majority, or euphemistically ‘feeling the white’, whereby a person feels an implicit self-empowered status - a feeling typically associated with being white-skinned in America.

Implicit empowerment is the ability to take control of situations for sustainable self-benefit. Whites, as the majority inhabitants of this country, possess this empowerment, or more accurately half of whites possess it. On average, one-half of 200 million US whites born to above-average intelligence (IQ>100) have authentic empowerment, while those with below average intelligence (IQ<100) have the pretense of empowerment, via skin-color, more or less.

If you are ‘feeling the white’, whether liberal or conservative, you feel good about yourself, albeit protective of your legacy, via your race and your intelligence. For good and bad, the American Dream is your birthright. On the other hand, if you are solely dependent on the advantage of skin-color, your below average station has you feeling poorly of yourself and more critical of the impact of others, outsiders, to gain or maintain advantage over you. This occurs despite being born white.

With an average relative intelligence that is less than whites, US blacks and Latinos experience less of feeling the majority, or ‘feeling the white’, than do actual whites, and proportionately more pretense. Their pretense, unlike that of below-average whites, has taken on an ‘oppositional’ character and trails that of below-average whites. Below-average white behavior moves in the same direction of other whites, but still lacks critical skills, resulting in a fleeting benefit. Of all blacks, again on average, only 16%, or 6.4 million, have the potential to truly ‘feel the white’, as they have the intelligence (IQ>100) that propels them above the average white person. We see this result. Alternately, 33.6 million US blacks, with their limitations (IQ<100), are reasonably drawn to activities of pretense, reduced assimilation and oppositional behavior, much to the dismay of the top 16% of the group.

So what is to be concluded from all of this? For starters, our notions of equality of potential and result must become less rigid to the true and differing abilities of the people, particularly related to education. Racial disputes from all sides are too often surrogates for what a person or group is ‘feeling’ about where they reside in the order. This racial behavior must be challenged against a new backdrop that includes inherent disparities of geography, ethnicity, heredity, and social happenstance, none of which can be ideologically dismissed, or ‘normed’, out of relevance.

All people are not ‘equal’, or prepared to move forward in an equal manner or result, despite contrary declarations. Public and private education at all levels must reject the one size fits all attitude that forces reactive add-ons as band-aids rather than integrated branches of a responsive educational system. In place of these programs, we must create new programs that affirm and motivate children of varying ability from conception through adulthood, with equal enthusiasm regardless of intelligence level, or ethnicity. Why treat everybody the same when some are clearly smarter? Because in the end not only do we need each child to realize their full potential, but we desperately need them to feel empowered at all levels to take sustainable control of their futures as adults - and just perhaps also cut each other some slack on the journey.

James C. Collier


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Friday, November 09, 2007

Acting White: Window on America. Dog, The Bounty Hunter


So what’s to make of Dog – Duane Chapman, aka Dog: The Bounty Hunter. He got himself and A&E in one heck-a-spot with his very dumb use of the n-word, to say the least. Now for the record, I am not a Dog-hater. In fact, I grew up with poor white folks in Dog’s hometown of Denver and he and I are not that far apart in age.

I cannot say whether Dog deserves to be ‘put down’, so to speak. On one hand, I can live without his crude hypocrisy, but I understand it, the same way I understand Al Sharpton getting his hair straightened once a week, so as to look ‘good’ while hunting guilt-ridden white folks. I accept the window Dog gives on a whole group of people that are invisible in America – poor white people. With all the complaining that goes on, poor whites are largely left out of the picture. Why? Because to place their plight beside blacks completely screws-up the two opposing pictures people typically attempt to draw – that poor dumb blacks are, by virtue of race, either responsible or not responsible for what ails the group and this country.

Now it is one thing to infer, as did Dr. James Watson, that this country’s 40 million blacks are dumb compared to its 200 million whites, but quite another to say that there are 32 million whites with IQ’s below 85, or dumber than the average black. Damn! That’s right folks, 32 million! And remember, these poor dumb white folks have absolutely no excuse for their plight. They are not the ancestors of squatters in Africa. They were not stolen slaves, forbidden from education. They were not even red-lined out of housing in Detroit, or Cleveland. They are just dumb folks with no plausible excuse, except their own randomly inherited way-below average intelligence.

I say that if we are going to consider a Dr. Watson-esque foray into genetics, race and intelligence, then we should lay all the cards out on the table. Talking about relative stupidity and its impact on the future is okay by me, but lets include the 32 million Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman’s too. They deserve to be included in whatever labeling we do, and solutions we identify. Do they not bleed?

As I see it, bringing poor white folks out of the self-segregated shadows will place a completely new spin on acting white discussions of the black ‘problem’. It will stop a lot of the confusion and trickery. Associations and behaviors that are too conveniently considered black will show themselves to be white, as well. Perhaps then we can get on to what is acting ‘right’, where the emphasis is on teaching ourselves about advancing behavior, regardless of skin-color or ethnic origin.

Maybe Dog, and his big dumb mouth, did poor dumb white and black folks everywhere a favor. He made them a little less invisible and ignorable for the moment. Just maybe…

James C. Collier


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Monday, November 05, 2007

Acting White: Sub Prime-Time For Blacks

When we take a hard look at who is bearing the brunt of the sub-prime lending melt-down, there are three relevant constituents; the investment houses, the consumers, and the rest of the world that gets whip-sawed when corrections happen.

Do I care about investors who take unreasonable chances with lenders in order to scoop up inordinate profits? Hell no! Let’m bake I say. Do I care about the rest of the world that gets slammed by some inevitable destabilizing flavor-of-the-month world event? Hell no (again), I believe in free markets and we all know that stuff happens. But what does matter to me is the people in the middle, disproportionately poor and/or black in ethnicity, who are loosing their homes. They are worth talking about.

Now it would be easy to say that the lenders are simply predatory racists and should be strung up. Did I say strung up? No, no, I meant drawn and quartered. But hold on a second. Greed is surely a motivator, but where does racism fit? Adjustable rate (ARM) and interest-only mortgages help more people qualify for home purchases and represent a relaxation of requirements, albeit balanced with mechanisms of higher risks. This would seem to be good for the poor as many more can buy homes, but goodness only arrives if the money is invested into real estate that performs, or at least holds it value. And herein lies part of the rub.

Black-owned real estate cannot escape certain historical behaviors of its owners, with the most influential being the propensity for blacks, in my experience, to carry a higher level of deferred maintenance on their properties, too often by choice. From my earliest recollections as a kid, and anecdotally to the present, I am amazed at the quality of automobiles that grace the streets and driveways of houses crying out for the attention of their black owners. The pristine neighbor’s 'Hog' of my youth is now replaced with a Mercedes-Benz, but the result is the same - fences remain broken, roofs crumbling, paint peeling, and lawns languishing. All the while, monies that could encourage appreciating properties are poured into rolling, depreciating 'status' assets, themselves destined for the ravages of the deferred maintenance ethos.

Now is the Mercedes-Benz dealer racist because he sells you a car that he only suspects will keep you from fixing your house, or paying the mortgage? Is the banker racist because he charges higher interest to off-set a higher default rate associated with these behaviors? No, these trade offs fall to the buyer and where they see themselves and their financial future. Unfortunately, many blacks are not looking out far enough to see the financial fallacy in their choices. These mortgages are opportunities to build a good credit ‘bridge’ from the past to cheaper credit, but borrowers are not using them this way.

I still believe that banks indirectly red-line neighborhoods by race. This is most easily accomplished by simply not being available to those consumers. I also believe that certain types of high-interest lending are indeed predatory and should be outlawed. And if the Fed is willing step in to help interest rates and the economy, they should also let their teeth find the back sides of some of these scum-bag lenders, ahead of the abuse. But every borrower must take it upon themselves to ‘give to get’ – that is, they must give up some style points to get some financial advancement.

Yep, that’s it, give to get, easy to say, harder to do, but worth the sacrifice.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Acting White: Shades of Tuskegee

After reading so much on alleged black inferiority, coming on the heels of DNA guru James Watson’s meltdown and exit, I decide to revisit one of my research interests. The role of Vitamin D has a heretofore-missing voice in the discussion of intelligence. The gap in the debate looms in a way that should remind us of what went on in Tuskegee 75 years ago, when black men with syphilis became part of a gruesome research experiment.

If you recall, it was in Tuskegee, Alabama from 1932 until 1972, that white government doctors looking to extend the known science of the impact of syphilis on humans, secretly ‘captured’ undiagnosed black men with the disease. They sought this knowledge about the impact on blacks even after penicillin had been proven effective as a cure, beginning with laboratory rabbits. The 399 men were denied knowledge of their infections or access to the medicine that would have cured them. Instead, the disease was left to progress untreated. The fate of these men at the hands of these doctors-without-souls was horrendous. It was only their skin color that made them akin to laboratory animals, and undeserving in the name of science.

So the question today is what have we learned in all these years since Tuskegee? Answer; ‘plausible deniability’, it would seem. If one can somehow credibly deny knowledge of a potential negative impact, then they are not responsible, or so it goes.

Research tells us that the link between Vitamin D and brain development in humans is practically irrefutable. The research on laboratory rats is certain that Vitamin D deficiency leads to under developed brains. But who in their right mind would run this experiment on humans, with the permanent damage guaranteed to follow? The sad answer is that this is exactly what is happening in this country. The Center for Disease Control pegs Vitamin D deficiency in US black women at 42% (8.8 million), with 12 percent (2.4 million) of those women classified as severely deficient. Severe deficiency guarantees that black newborns suffer disproportionate intelligence-stealing neuro-development challenges, prior to higher cancer rates later as adults. When we see black kid’s under performance in school and continuing into working adulthood, we are looking, in part, at the results of this continuing experiment - an experiment where the cure is a $.10 pill each day.

To be clear, our government is not repeating Tuskegee per se, but by refusing to address such a significant and known public health challenge, it is no less culpable in the diminished lives of black citizens who will suffer as surely as did those 399 black men in Tuskegee, not so long ago.

James C. Collier


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