Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Affirmative Actionomics

Forgive me in advance, but when a Black man says that affirmative action should be repealed because it hurts White people it conjures up Richard Pryor's old comedy album, "That Negro's (sic) Crazy". Now I am not trying to start or end an N-word debate, just having a fit of unplugged, cold-filtered, honesty.

Nevertheless, this brief relief only makes it all the more difficult to argue in concert for the repeal of affirmative action, mind you not for its unfairness to Whites, per the words of he who shall not be named, but rather what it has wrought upon its targeted benefactors, Blacks. When you shift a whole group of people from their center of competence, you may not knock them out of the game, but you sure as heck knock them off their competitive stride. So it is no wonder that the under performance of Blacks which we witness in higher education makes its way to the workplace, and throughout every nook-and-cranny of our census tracks.

Who would argue with the logic of not putting average students in high school into advanced placement (AP) classes? To do so would surely commit those students to needless struggle, hampered learning, and under achievement. Yet this is exactly what affirmative action does in college admissions. The ethnic plus factors propels said recipients into more rigorous settings that drag down their performance, grades, attitudes, and future success.

As it stands, we could aptly rename this brand of affirmative action as 'catch and release' owing to recruitment programs, lower grades, and higher dropout rates. This recurring sham is the direct result of promoting Black students into situations where the competition takes them to task, minus the protection of the admission's officers, donning their peel-and-stick gold stars for whatever 'lure' worked this season.

Programs to help Blacks and others earn their way into all tiers of higher education are definitely needed and will deliver if given the chance. What is not helping is the 'set-up' for greater failure that affirmative action delivers today, as some perennially sing 'we shall overcome…someday'.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why Doesn't White Adopt Black

Why Doesn't White Adopt Black - Washington Post

Many years ago a college friend asked what I thought of the idea of her and her husband, both White, adopting a Black baby. Without hesitation, I said I thought it was an excellent idea, if this is what they really wanted. Only more discussion revealed that she was really hoping for a different answer from me. It seems they were waffling between a Chinese baby and a Black child.

Instead of looking for support, she seemed to be fishing for something to relieve them of preferring the Chinese baby over the Black baby. My twenty-something idealism was not about to give her a break. It seemed such a clear case of racism, all these poor Black babies ignored, for Asian and Russian babies born into similar squalor, half way around the world.

So why do I see it differently now? Why would I now tell her to go ahead and get the baby she wants? Very simply, far away babies are malleable in part because no one will ever come for them. This is very important in adopting. Hispanic and Asian babies represent large swaths of disparate ethnicities, naturally uninviting those who might try to claim them as one of their own. Black American culture alternately will claim anybody with darkened skin, even a 'brother from another planet', as in the movie by the same name.

White parents adopting Black children face a Catch-22 challenge in that they will be encouraged to place their child in the various role-modeling company of Blacks whose rhetoric will make that child feel like they must chose between the parents and authentic blackness.

When a White person adopts a Black child they should consider all the reasons that child might reject them, and what aid and comfort that child will receive if and when they ever take such a course. The farther an adopted child is away from their location of ethnic of origin (LEO), the more defensible and lasting the bond they will likely develop with their new family. It really is that simple.

Update: It seems that international transracial adoptions between Black children and European parents are on the rise, and I would suggest that this is due, in part, to lower emotional barriers aided by distance.

James C. Collier


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Monday, December 25, 2006

Hardworking Godfather Of Soul

Hardworking Godfather Of Soul - Washington Post

Eternal Soul - Washington Post

Elvis was great, but did not do it. Weird Michael Jackson tried to buy it. The Rolling Stones shot blanks from the start. Eric Clapton was too shy. So what is it? - capturing a moment of need of a people.

The Beatles did it. Elton John, perhaps when Lady Diana died. Bono has certainly given it a good shot with AIDS. And then there was James Brown. Before Black people could officially start the struggle that will be unflinchingly theirs for many years to come, they had to find a toe-hold in themselves.

The name began as nigger, then colored, then Negro, then Black, and now sometimes African-American. But it will always be the Godfather of Soul's challenging proclamation, "(Say It Loud) I'm Black And I'm Proud", that put Black Americans, and the world on notice that how they view the group needed to change, even to this day. The Black Panthers may have lit the match, but it was Brown who tossed the log.

Back then it was a struggle to be proud of something as simple as the color of one's skin. Today, the song stands also as a monument of how all rhetoric has its limitations. The failure of Blacks to drive the superficial views of skin color to the recesses of their hearts, minds, and hands is crisply captured in Brown's roller-coaster life. Ah, but what a star he was.

Prince is the only artist that seems to really have what it takes to steal the thunder, or at least carry the water of James Brown. Let us hope he continues this legacy. As it remains for Blacks, the group cannot be proud while too many pursue academic ignorance, and spiritual bankruptcy. Regardless of how many songs Blacks sing or rap, sports awards they capture, or Oscar's they mantle, it is diplomas and PhD's earned that accurately measure the pace and direction of advancement of the group. Nothing accelerates a group faster than the leading edge of learning. But the value needs to be deep-rooted, and unfortunately it looks nothing like bling.

R.I.P, JB.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Post-Revolutionary Recognition

Post-Revolutionary Recognition - Washington Post

The world of political correctness makes for strange bedfellows of thought.

While it was distressing to many of his lineage, Thomas Jefferson's intimate relationship with Sally Hemmings, which seemed to move beyond a master raping a slave girl, offered mild rehabilitation to his racist founder image. Former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond took a similar walk, but in neither case did these revelations change who they were or what they stood for.

It pings odd that a black slave, with no rights as the property of another, should be posthumously elevated to the distinction of patriot. A patriot is someone who gives of themselves, freely and clearly, for a cause they believe in. Could Oscar Marion, slave of General Francis Marion, freely decided to support a regime that kept him in bondage? Jose would probably say no-way.

This is not to declare that Mr. Marion's family should not either be proud of him or want his face, on a painting in the Capitol building, to have a name, for all to see.

But what is really going on here? We are equating being an exemplary slave with being a patriot worthy of presidential honor, and in doing so we ignore that undermining their masters was the highest, and perhaps most noble, form of battle slaves could undertake in their quest for freedom.

We should rightly recognized Blacks and Whites who gave their lives so that Blacks could be free to become true patriots, as the Massachusetts 54th Regiment and others so willingly displayed from the Civil War, up to the present. PC correctness aside, there were no good or bad slaves, just men women and children placed in very difficult circumstances, with little or no choices.

James C. Collier


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Monday, December 04, 2006

Court Hears Cases on Schools And Race

Court Hears Cases On Schools And Race - Washington Post

Desegregation of America's public school system, during the 1970's and 80's, was one of those promising experiments that failed so badly that few people bothered to figure out why. The court mandates were withdrawn, the buses idled, and the country quietly went back to the challenging tasks of teaching kids to read and write, in place.

So now the high court will debate the wisdom of the rare school systems, Louisville and Seattle, that continue to hold on to this updated vestige, under the diversity argument. Unfortunately, their decision, whatever it is, will be politicized, only to become fuel for continued challenge.

To be clear, desegregation did not fail because the students, or their parents, fought each other, or otherwise failed to get along. It failed because integration in the classroom did not bring about the parity of academic results its proponents promised.

The segregation that existed in neighborhoods, and still largely exist today, followed the kids off the buses and into the school buildings. Not only did the kids sit at different tables in the lunchroom, and socialize along racial lines, they split academically into advanced placement (AP), standard, and remedial study tracks. In fact, the accusation of 'acting white', in this context, is often precipitated by Black student participation in said AP classes, with a majority of White and Asian students.

While students can certainly pick up behaviors here and there from their mates, the overwhelming majority of both advancing and thwarting behaviors are the product of family, greater cultural and ethnic norms, which exert significant influence. These norms have Black kids rejecting advancing behaviors as though assimilation is being disloyal to the race.

In these days, engineering students of different races into the same school building and expecting to cure societal or group ills, while politically correct, is nothing more than a distraction. Let us hope the justices do not ignore this as they make their decision.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Word That Is The Very Definition Of Unspeakable et al

The Word That Is The Very Definition Of Unspeakable - Washington Post

Black Owner of LA Club Welcomes N-Word - AP

The most recent publicized response of the Black community to the Michael Richards stand-up tirade is illustrative of continued allegiance to outdated, ineffective strategies to advancement. Back by popular demand is the current moral and legislative approach that challenges the word itself, rather than the disparities that feed it.

Telling Blacks or Whites that they should not use the word ‘nigger’, or any variation, is an infringement on the first amendment right of free speech. This follows because use of the word does not automatically create any legally actionable course – no matter how much some dislike the term.

Making the utterance of the word a 'thought crime' only insures that it stays around even longer than it otherwise might, if we were to concentrate on addressing the disparities at the base of societal disharmony. It is this disharmony that encourages Blacks to co-op the word, in part, taking away its sting, while that very sting is what Whites, and Blacks, use to editorialize their disapproving assessment of challenging behavioral norms.

In the end, rules will not stop usage of the term, either by Whites or Blacks. It exists, with all of its power, for a reason. Whether to editorialize disparity, disenfranchisement, tension, and conflict, or the resulting raw emotions of fear and hate, the word has a job. No amount of moralizing, or rules, or legislation, can terminate it - as it really is just a reflection.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Meaning Of Work - Being A Black Man

The Meaning Of Work - Being A Black Man - Washington Post

The plight of Black men is about as complex or as simple as one cares to make it. Side one opts for complex because side two's simple answer just seems too simple for explaining a group perennially down and out - so it is with the Black man.

Young men, like Chris Dansby, make review more difficult as they are not drug dealers, or gang members, or 'bad kids', but are nonetheless unplugged from the opportunity this country has long-held, even for those it claimed not to want.

This day their plight plays simple. We nix the long thesis; offer no multi-generational cause and effect; just a straightforward call-it-like-it-seems today. Tomorrow we are back to graphs and charts, spreadsheets, case methods and Socratics.

Today we ponder simply, the way Black men walk. It tells their story. They strut, even while their pockets are empty, and sleeves burdened. They walk slow, with no where to go that demands a quick step, or so they think. Crossing the street their gait is slower still, a lone power move - make them wait I will.

Today it is the bling-bling of shooting stars - LeBron, Snoop, Usher, or Beyonce to model Black kids away from books and to MTV's 'Cribs', pimpin' rides, trash talk and the empty dreams of empty minds. But the plain question of this day is how to teach a grown Chris to appreciate his steps. To take those steps one at a time, and as an old man once said, 'like you have some place to go', instead of pretending to fly, or walk, first-class to bravado's dead-end.

James C. Collier


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Monday, November 20, 2006

Black Enrollment in AP Surges in Montgomery

Black Enrollment in AP Surges in Montgomery - Washington Post

We should applaud the Montgomery students for their Advanced Placement (AP) efforts, as this looks to be an example where pushing the 'envelope' in school is substantially within their realm of acting 'right', versus the often miss labeled 'acting White'.

The numbers from the article, however, give us a window into the up-coming challenges facing these aspiring college-bound kids - and that view contains more than a dark cloud. If the average AP pass rate was 79%, this means that White and Asian kids are significantly above this mark, indicating a performance gap of more than 22 percentage points. When the Black kids apply to college, affirmative action admissions programs will give them added points based on their race, erasing the gap - and herein hides the problem.

"Of the Montgomery students who take AP tests, 79 percent earn passing scores of 3 or higher -- a remarkably high rate, considering that participation has effectively doubled in five years. The passing rate for black students is 57 percent, lowest among all racial groups..."

The extra points they get for the color of their skin, while making them 'competitive' on paper, will do nothing for their actual competitiveness in the college classroom. As a result, their performance in college will suffer. They will struggle in greater numbers than their classmates; their grades will be lower; their attrition will be much higher. The number of them that go on to graduate school will be lower, and the jobs and salaries they garner when they graduate will be lessened, reflecting their under performance and lesser abilities.

So what is happening to turn a program that was meant to help disadvantaged groups into one that actually hurts them? In admissions, affirmative action shifts these kids off their 'center of competence', or that place where they will perform at their best. In essence they trade the elite-ness of the school that affirmative action promotes them into, for the better grades and result that race-blind admissions would deliver, in schools that better match their true abilities. The phenomenon occurs at all tiers of schools, public and private. Research shows however, that it is better grades, not school brand or tier, which leads to more degrees, better paying jobs, graduate-level study, and greater career success.

In the debate of whether diverse learning environments are ideal, or whether affirmative action is unfair to Whites or not, we should add the direct harm that the program does to Black higher education progress, the very group it was meant to help! Affirmative actionomics, the objective study of the impact of this program, shows there to be a net loss of degreed Black professionals, when compared to race-blind admissions studies.

As difficult as this is to consider, it is imperative that we remove the emotion-fueled blinders of the past for the sake of our better future.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, November 18, 2006

O.J. Deal Leaves Sour Taste in Many Mouths et al

O.J. Deal Leaves Sour Taste in Many Mouths - Washington Post

Bad Blood - Washington Post

News Corp. Pulls Plug on O.J. Book and TV Show - AP

Like a bad penny, here comes O.J.

Let us hope city, state, and federal prosecutors spend significant tax monies reviewing everything he writes and says, on the off chance that his pseudo-confession can lead to prosecution.

Let us hope that Florida might be so incensed that their laws are an accomplice to his flaunting that they close the loophole that allows him to live wealthy and playing golf everyday, and dreaming up stupid stunts like "If I did it."

Let us hope that the people like Judith Regan and Fox, who would seek to profit from his crime, experience the wrath they so abundantly deserve, by virtue of providing him with even a nanosecond of exposure to spew more lies.

Let us hope that police everywhere will resist the temptation to 'help' the prosecutors by carrying out other than honest law enforcement, which aided the release of a double-murderer.

Let us hope that the money he receives will somehow benefit his abused children, through counseling, and airfare to places as far away as possible from this demented, egotistical lunatic.

But finally, let us hope that people everywhere, especially Black people, who looked at his race as a legitimate reason to free him, accept that he is proof that race or celebrity is no substitute for merit, because on merit he would be rotting in San Quentin on death-row, with others of his ilk, like Scott Peterson, and we would be spared this side-show.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, November 12, 2006

MI Affirmative Action - Not With A Bang, But A Whimper et al

Court Battle Likely on Affirmative Action - Washington Post

Michigan Rejects Affirmative Action, and Backers Sue - New York Times

New Focus on Affirmative Action - Washington Post

In all the excitement of the Republicans losing the control of congress and the senate, there has been nearly no mention of the passing of Proposition 2 in Michigan, that state's version of California's Prop 209, which eliminates the use of racial preferences in public universities and other state agencies.

Recall that the Supreme Court recently upheld the University of Michigan's narrow use of race as one component of the law school's admissions criteria, while also ruling that the university's undergraduate program's broad use of race in admissions went too far. The high court has thus far refused to weigh in on California's law, which has resulted in significant reduction of incoming Blacks at the state's top public schools, UC Berkeley and UCLA. Ironically, no one seemed to care that pre-209 graduation rates for Blacks at these schools was significantly less than Whites and Asians.

Perhaps the distraction of the Republican 'implosion' is not the only reason this vestige of the 1960's went out 'not with a bang, but a whimper', in Michigan. The most overlooked problem of affirmative action in college admissions is its placement of students in competitive academic spotlights, where a race premium cannot see them through to the graduation line. It is only adding insult to injury that when Blacks graduate at lower levels across the board, racism, not preparation, takes the blame.

Despite its promise, affirmative action could be no more than a temporary release to the pent-up demand of highly motivated Blacks, legally barred from educational opportunities since slavery. What it has not done, over the last 40 years, is erase disparities of behaviors and attitudes that have had Black students, on average, under perform Whites, from the much-studied time they first enter grade school. In fact, the proper study of the net effect of raced-based preference programs, under what I call 'affirmative actionomics', reveals a surprising and significant net loss of professional degreed Blacks as the actual result.

Simply put, the unrelenting adherence to the promise of this exhausted remedy is holding back Black progress. Pretending that affirmative action is still the cornerstone solution to Black plight denies Black kids the attention and resources they need, beginning with monies and programs for early age intervention in socialization, critical thinking, preparation, persuasion, and conflict management.

Reversing the effects of discrimination will take a lot more than giving any group extra points for the color of their skin and on the back-end of a compromised K-12 education. This is the same thinking, exhibited by the founding fathers, which initiated and has kept this country off-track from the start.

James C. Collier


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Friday, November 10, 2006

L.A. Police Case Gets FBI Probe et al

L.A. Police Case Gets FBI Probe - AP

Beating of L.A. Suspect Sparks Outcry - Washington Posts

Click here for Video...

William Cardenas is no Rodney King.

Shock is what any normal person experiences when they see a person strike another in the face. However, once we get past the visceral impact, we are left with trying to understand if the LAPD have run amok, ala Mr. King, or is this an example of police doing a difficult, dangerous, un-pretty job.

It is certainly reasonable to investigate police behavior, particular when the charge of resisting arrest is included, but it is also fair to consider more than the simple and obvious pummeling the suspect received during the course of the arrest. The law provides for standards of response that may challenge layperson sensibilities, but nonetheless protects the public, including the officers and suspects.

The philosophy of criminal law in this country is one of equal force. This means that the force used by the officers should match the threat of the suspect, no more. Once the officers began to grapple with the suspect in close quarters, the level of threat elevates to life threatening. Why? Because the lethal weapons they carry are now in reach of the suspect. Rodney King, rolling around on the ground, getting 50 baton strikes, was a limited threat to the officers who were hitting him. Mr. Cardenas, alternately, was indeed a lethal threat as the two officers lay on top of him attempting to handcuff him.

As for striking the suspect repeatedly in the face, or other vital locations for that matter, it would seem that this level of force, while distressing, is plausible considering that the suspect's continued resistance may result in a free hand that could acquire either officer's service weapon, potentially resulting in fatal injury, including to the nearby public. The video shows the suspects right hand as free at one point and near one officer's waist-belt, which holds his weapon.

Lastly, the suspect's plea that he could not breathe, while alarming, negates itself immediately. The audible plea, repeated more than once, evidences an unobstructed airway and the act of breathing. The suspect's breathing discomfort was consistent with having the body weight of two officers on top of him, and exacerbated by his struggle to evade their control.

With this said, Mr. Cardenas remains innocent of all crimes until proven guilty in a court of law, as are the officers, and review is definitely warranted. What is more difficult to see through our emotional lens is a struggle, arguably precipitated by Mr. Cardenas, where serious or fatal injuries were reasonably possible and where all manner of force would be acceptable to insure the paramount objective of the officers maintaining control of the suspect and their weapons in the close and combative quarters of an arrest.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Red State and Blue, Reflected in Black and White et al

Red State and Blue, Reflected in Black and White - Washington Post

Deval L. Patrick (D) Massachusetts - Washington Post

At first blush, the outcome of a rich, Harvard-educated Black man winning only the second governorship of its kind would not seem instructive to the plight of the average Black man-on-the-street in Roxbury, Boston's long-challenged Black community. However, upon review it is extremely revealing.

The campaign complexities of Massachusetts governor-elect, Deval Patrick, cannot be simplified, except to say that he won because White people, the voting majority, saw something they liked in his offer and they voted for him. His capture of the hearts and minds of the majority electorate shows us how a Black man transcends his beginnings on an island, a housing project in Chicago, only to come to lead the Bay State.

The difference between what Mr. Patrick presents as challenges and solutions to the greater electorate of the state, compared to that of traditional Black leaders and their electorate in places like Roxbury, are far too distant from each other. This disparity makes it nearly impossible for greater Massachusetts, as they are inclined, to help Boston's Black community, including that community seeking the type of help that will make a real difference.

Roxbury, like so many others, continues to try to solve its problems through legal and moral attitudes and strategies born of the civil rights era. While these approaches were indeed effective for ending segregation and other gross institutions of racism, they are equally ineffective for taking on the problems plaguing today's Black community, that being the assimilation of themselves and their problems into the whole solution set of society.

The struggling person in Roxbury who fails to assimilate the values, strategies, tactics of the striving poor majority is destined to remain disenfranchised from the inclusion which follows. The first rule of this assimilation is the promotion of education at all cost and manner of sacrifice. Patrick's mother, as challenged as she was at the time, was willing to send her son away to school at a tender age, in order to get him the best education. That beginning sacrifice, ultimately leading to Mr. Patrick's historic victory, says it all.

James C. Collier


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Friday, November 03, 2006

Outcome May Rest On Black Turnout

Outcome May Rest On Black Turnout - Washington Post

As we approach yet another election day, what is brought to mind is the disparity of approaches that Blacks take in exercising their hard-earned right to vote.

The Webb-Allen senate race in Virginia illuminates an important dynamic in Black voting that describes the marginal position, relative to their absolute voting potential, that Blacks hold. Regardless of what is in their hearts and minds, both men evoke concern about current and former positions on race, highlighting the often-ignored reality that racism can and does exist in virulent forms on both sides of the isle.

However, this concern translates ultimately into whether or not Black voters will 'show up' at the polling stations on election day. Are there not other issues which those voters should care about that would motivate their participation? Surely there are a host of Propositions and other contests that matter as well.

Virginia Democratic and Black leadership concerns of turnout tracks back to the empirically fed, and accurate, stereotype whereby Blacks tend to vote for people ahead of the issues. If something about the lead personalities of the election turns them off, they turnout in lower numbers, with the disastrous impact this can have on the host of other critical issues of their region and influencing the plight of the group.

History is not saying that Whites are not similarly influenced, but rather that the influence is greatest in the lower socio-economic levels where Blacks are disproportionately represented, reflecting the Catch-22 problem the group is caught in.

For Blacks, as with all citizens, if they believe in anything about their better future, they must show up and vote, even if they abstain, as is also their right, from particular contests and issues.

James C. Collier


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Monday, October 30, 2006

Cosby Criticizes Parents, Teachers

Cosby Criticizes Parents, Teachers - AP

In general, I am totally in support of the attention and concern Dr. Cosby brings to the plight of Blacks. Notions of self-responsibility and initiative have been far too absent from the discussions of the group's plight.

However, as I read the latest version of Cosby's on-going challenge to Blacks, a few additional thoughts came to mind. The title of the forum where he delivered his latest remarks was Education is a Civil Right. While this statement is certainly true, it distracts and hides the greater truth, taken from George Bernard Shaw, that what we want is a child in pursuit of education, rather than education in pursuit of the child.

To cast education as a civil right, in these days, is to wrongly place its benefit and impact in the context of the 1960's, when Blacks were barred, by race, from entering certain school buildings. This is not the problem of the day. Rather it is that Black kids enter K-12 buildings under-prepared and motivated to 'seize the day' (Carpe Diem), of their future.

The other comment of Dr. Cosby that struck me was the admonishment that teachers must prove relevancy of the subject matter to children, less the young ones use this as a reason to reject it out-of-hand. If ignorance is the void from the wake of education gone missing, then the ignorant mind can only comprehend nothingness, as it lacks the very tools of knowledge to do otherwise. Taken another way, much of what we learn in school only becomes relevant and applicable, well after our first opportunity to ignore it.

The reason for pursuing education can never compete with instant gratification appetites of children, but rather becoming educated, as taught by parents, must say something important about us, to ourselves and the world, that cannot be said another way.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Studies Look for Reasons Behind Racial Disparities in Health Care

Studies Look for Reasons Behind Racial Disparities in Health Care - Washington Post

On the surface, the disparities in health care and wellness between Black and Whites certainly should capture our attention. This disparity dovetails with the sensitivities that have grown up around the myriad of other disparities we experience with regard to race. However, with a little more thought, it would seem that a better question might be how and why we have come to expect that we should see parity within our diverse society, in wellness results and otherwise, and how this errant assumption leads us astray.

Attempting to understand the aggregated or particular plights of people from disparate geographies requires that we become disciplined students of the vast history of events that got us to where we are today. By analogy, if 7,000 years of humanity around the globe is what delivered us, then examining the last 400 years of Black residence in America is like examining the last 7 minutes of a two-hour movie. How much are we ever going to understand with such a limited slice?

Additionally, this errant assumption of parity immediately throws us into the good versus bad, who-is-to-blame syndrome, from which extraction is damn near impossible. Succinctly, in regard to Blacks, the disparities we witness today, while influenced by near-term events, are consistent with pre-colonial disparities of the natives of West Africa. The idea that this history is either unknown, ignored, or misrepresented in our failed attempts to bring about present-day politically correct parity is a critical piece to our review that is absent.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, October 19, 2006

For Carless Kenyans, A Risky Way to Ride

For Carless Kenyans, A Risky Way to Ride - Washington Post

No one with a leading critical mind would argue that taxi cab travel in Kenya, or anywhere else in Africa, is less dangerous, and therefore less effective as a means of transportation, than in Europe or North America. We certainly might get an argument from the Kenyans that their way is better, but this national bias is to be expected.

Kenya, as a country and according to the United Nations Development Program, has a technology achievement index of .13, against a perfect score of 1, and a near-the-bottom rank of 64 among industrial countries. The US, on the other hand, has an index of .73 and a ranking of 2, behind Finland at .74. This index and rank describes the degree and rate at which a country has and continues advancing, over time, with the aid of technology, however it comes by that technology.

This disparity of outcomes conjures up many notions of what is influencing the behavior that clearly makes a particular location less desirable, and vulnerable, to events and those who are more advanced. By far the leading notion has always been, and continues to be, that Africans are somehow inferior as a people, and low-technology scenarios of behavior are the result.

Despite the assertions of those who say the disparities are rooted in genetics, science has yet to identify the resulting cognitive and brain physiology differences between Africans and Europeans, or anyone else, that would begin to account for the differences we see. On the other hand, the 7,000-year history of the landscape tells a vivid and logical story of the impact that a dearth of resources and an abundance of distractions can have for advancing a society on par with other societies around the globe.

To deny disparities, or worse yet, to blame them errantly on convenient factors, including the politically revised deeds of others, is abhorrent to the only truth that will ultimately set us free. That truth being that after only 150,000 years as a species, on a 6 billion year-old planet, we are all still Africans under the skin, even while fate has made us lesser equals.

James C. Collier


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Monday, October 16, 2006

Race Gap Persists in Health Screening

Race Gap Persists in Health Screening - Washngton Post

Healthcare screening is important, without a doubt. That a gap exist between White and Black is also not surprising, given all the other gaps we experience. However, what is very surprising about this discussion is what was not said. A quick re-read confirmed this odd suspicion.

Not once were White people blamed for the fact that Black women get breast cancer, influenced by screening, at higher rates than Whites. They just do for some suspected but yet to be understood reasons. It was not slavery or Jim Crow, or segregation, or affirmative action. The researchers simply do not know, and that is OK for now. We can still talk about it.

White people did not have to be made to feel guilty, or immoral, or evil, about what they think today or what their ancestors did yesterday. Furthermore, Blacks did not have to be made to feel inferior about the gap, with speculation about some dark connection to a painful past better left behind, but rather that someone cares enough to notice and say 'hey, we think we found something worth mentioning, and we are not blaming anyone'.

It may be short-lived, but let us hope that readers of all hues hesitate over this important article, not only because the subject, healthcare screening, is important, but also because sometimes, at least for a moment, our differences can be something other than the starting point of a blame-game debate on race.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Rise of the Testing Culture

The Rise of the Testing Culture - Washington Post

It is irrelevant whether we like testing or not. The real discussion is around the advancing nature of competition and when this competition actually begins, as compared to when some of us think competition ought to begin.

Babies and toddlers begin competing as soon as they are put into a group. This is natural. Little boys and girls compete for positions on their little league teams. They compete in piano recitals, school plays and ballet. They compete for parental attention, and the budding affections of friends. The truth is that life is about competition for scarce resources at any age; however those resources are defined by the beholder.

Competition, inasmuch as it reflects scarcity, and rigged though it may sometimes be, is still the only self-correcting manner by which societies distribute limited opportunity. All other means have failed and will continue to fail.

The reality is that competition, like capitalism, is a naturally occurring and spontaneous phenomena that we no more can control, through ideology, than we can control who our parents are, what maladies we will inherit, how tall or short we will be, or whether our individual talents will blossom to their fullest and be recognized.

Likes and dislikes aside, we should recognize that when competition is polluted by reservation ideology, in the case of race-based preferences or America's brand of IQ misapplication, it ceases to be advancing, and humanity, in effect, takes a big step in reverse.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Singled Out

Singled Out - Washington Post

Throughout human history, the motivation and behavior of men has been dictated, in large part, by the competitiveness in attracting the women they desire. This drive reaches all the way back, at least 7,000 years, to our innate desire to procreate, which insures the continuation of the species.

In times when women are in short supply, the competition among men can reach fierce heights. Inasmuch as men have traditionally offered women security, material goods, and status, in return for their attention, those same men have been motivated to advance themselves along with society, in this pursuit.

In times like today, with respect to Blacks in America, where women significantly outnumber men and have taken greater responsibility for their own well-being, the dynamic between the two has been upset.

The study of the myriad of influencers to this interaction could certainly support many doctoral studies and fill many books, but the conclusion is the same. The supply-demand scenario, however it occurs, must gain more balance. Black women must seek and become more available to a larger set of males in order to thwart the negative 'captive' dynamic that is at play.

With respect to the behavior where Black men date multiple Black women, unwilling to commit to a single woman, this will continue or get worse, unless the availability for this behavior diminishes. And 'guilting' Black men from this behavior will never be effective. The short-term nature of guilt only barely works when constantly reapplied, relative to laws of God, and there is no commandment about dating one woman at a time.

Black women, like other women, must consider and pursue attentions beyond their own group. In doing so, they will not only challenge the imbalance and gain greater control over how they are treated, but also realize their under-estimated attractiveness to the world.

James C. Collier


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Friday, September 29, 2006

Now, Even Allen's Apologies Are Getting Him in Trouble

Now, Even Allen's Apologies Are Getting Him in Trouble

People lie and polygraphs are inadmissible in court. With that backdrop, George Allen's problems are that he has a storied history, as the namesake of his famous father, which makes us wonder that even while some of his detractors may be lying, others are reasonably telling the truth. That truth, whatever it may be, only matters because he is trying to lead people somewhere and some of those people do not want a destination where racial taunts are in the trick bag.

But, enough on George. The emphasis we have on name-calling is fascinating. From macaca to nigger, we are getting a great lesson in the power of words, and one word in particular, to communicate so much. But why is it the 'gold-standard' of demeaning terms - the term by which all other demeaning terms are judged?

Whenever a demeaning act is committed by anyone, its relative severity is established against a standard of how Blacks have been viewed, portrayed, and treated in America. This does not mean the world has not treated others poorly, or worse, but rather that the relationship of America with its Blacks somehow exposes the un-reconciled moral beginnings of the most advanced, 'moral-high ground grabbing', and 'wannabe-leading' society on the planet.

Without an open pursuit and understanding of why Blacks, as a group, persist at the bottom of society, we will not only continue to create and support racist ideology, but also hold onto tactical and re-enforcing extensions, like racial taunting. The word will go away when its reason for being, the disparity, substantially goes away. However, words, even as the ugliest of reflections, do not make the person or plight - rather history shows repeatedly it is a person's choices.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Teens' T-Shirts Make Educators Squirm

Teens' T-Shirts Make Educators Squirm - Washington Post

During winter cold & flu season everybody gets sick, but the pertinent question is who dies? Statistically it is the very young and the very old. Their vulnerability lies in their compromised immune systems. The immune system of babies is underdeveloped, while advanced aging slowly weakens the elderly.

In an educational sense, the population of Black schoolchildren also represents a greater vulnerability that displays itself in academic performance, graduation rates, and reduced pursuit of higher education.

Perhaps we should consider teenage extra-curricular 'expressionism' in school the same way we think about germs and viruses. These seemingly harmless, if not annoying, distractions are not affordable for kids with graduation rates just over 50%, and even less for Black boys whose rates hover near 45%.

The impact of the greater list of teenage distractions, the proverbial sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll - now Rap/Hip-Hop, by nature, present a myriad of enticing challenges to all youth that is also part of their passage to adulthood. But for too many Black kids, the weight of these distractions, along with other challenges is simply too much, and they fail to make the 'grade'. All of society, beginning and ending with the child, is left with the burden.

So before we give in to the protest of the students who simply, in their words, need to express themselves, we should consider that just as good parents/caregivers protect their vulnerable loved ones from the flu and colds, the same commitment and diligence is due our students.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, September 16, 2006

California bans holding cell phones when driving

California bans holding cell phones when driving - Reuters

I have used a headset with my cell phone from the time they first became available. It seemed so logical to me. However, I realize that which is a ‘no-brainer’ to me does not have the same appeal to most driving cell-phone users. If this was the case they would all have headsets too.

This brings up a more interesting discussion point of how it is that people assimilate behaviors, especially those behaviors with nearly unassailable advantage. Seat belts and cycling helmets, bicycle and motorcycle, are two prime examples of curious human behavior of adoption.

We can certainly calculate the number of additional fatalities and serious injuries that will occur because people choose not to avail themselves of technological advances in safety, but those same individuals would chafe at the notion that they are somehow less intelligent because of their choices. After all, this is America, land of free choice. In fact, this free choice argument can sound very alluring right up until one of our loved ones lies in a hospital bed barely clinging to life.

Taking it a step farther, to question the inherent intelligence of such people, also seems ludicrous. But, this is exactly what we do when groups, such as Blacks and Latinos, exhibit behaviors that are disadvantageous to their standing in greater society. Less than all-out pursuit of education is perhaps the most poignant example of behavior and results that call into question the heredity influences that empirical data suggest might be at play. Why else would these groups scoff at something so obvious to their benefit?

The truth is that we know too little about assimilation and why some people, of any origin, accomplish it more readily than others. Blacks and Latinos under perform Whites and Asians because they assimilate less of what they need to compete in our society. But like discretionary adoption of cell-phone headsets, seat-belts, car seats, and helmets, these behaviors are extensions of risk profiles, anticipation indices, and other factors of methodologies for living which developed over hundreds, even thousands of years, and cannot be explained so handily by unidentified, uncorrelated genes - except by individuals looking for expedient short-cuts to selfish destinations.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

As Homework Grows, So Do Arguments Against It

As Homework Grows, So Do Arguments Against It - Washington Post

The issue with homework, relative to Blacks, is really simpler than pedagogical impact, as measured by experts. Like many things in life, the mere fact that certain people, in this case students and their parents, choose to tackle the workload challenge at all, reflects the most basic acceptance, desire and commitment to the value of education and a diploma. Mind you, in the case of Black kids, nearly 45% fail this hurdle to success in life.

Doing homework requires the basic parental assimilation of its worth, passed on to the child, toward becoming educated and productive in society. The attempt alone, to satisfy the homework demand, requires a level of parental guidance, some might call it intervention, that sets school night curfews, turns off televisions, gameboys, x-boxes, and cell phones, so that kids can get down to making the reasonable attempt to become educated.

The challenge, for Black kids, is not how effective, on the margin, homework is in particular amounts, formats, or even focuses. Rather, the challenge for these kids and their parents is that nearly half of them, inferred in graduation rates, complete little or no homework at all. This revelation compliments a greater list of non-advancing behaviors that evidence a rejection of education as the road to a better life.

Indeed, the efficacy of homework needs to be constantly challenged, but the advancing benefit derived from the commitment to complete it, in its evolving status, is paramount and cannot be served by eliminating or watering it down.

James C. Collier


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Wide Gaps Found In Mortality Rates Among U.S. Groups

Wide Gaps Found In Mortality Rates Among U.S. Groups - Washington Post

One interesting aspect of the discussion of the gap in mortality among groups relates to the similarity of risks between US Black inner-city men and that of their West African counterparts, once they reach their forties.

If this similarity occurs in part, due to factors of origin, as implied, one wonders if there is something to be learned from analyzing the locations of ethnic origin (LEO) related to the whole of members in the ‘eight’ Americas - Asians; rural whites; white Middle America; low-income whites; Western Indians; black Middle America; low-income rural Southern blacks; and high-risk urban blacks.

It could be enlightening to correlate the technology achievement indexes of countries, a United Nations modern-day measure of historical advancement, against the various plights of groups hailing from different geographies of the globe, over the last 1-2,000 years.

Our automatic instinct is to consider attributing the correlations to heredity, although the test of genetic linkage, due to mixing and a lack of isolation, makes it a tough one. However, the test of behaviors of ethnic origin that aggregate to the plights we see and represent is not nearly as difficult, once we understand that societies around the world advanced at slow, distinguishable, and different rates over many thousands of years.

In fact, the LEO of any given person tells an illuminating story of the challenges they will experience when the behaviors, or 'ways', of their ancestral home ‘collide’ with behaviors of groups originating from societies of different technology bases.

But lets not be confused about the benefit of difference. Europe advanced most steadily of the continents, ahead of the rest of the world, due in part to the diversity of its societies, even while that same diversity had them fighting like proverbial 'cats and dogs'.

James C. Collier


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Friday, September 08, 2006

Schwarzenegger's Ethnic Commentary Caught on Tape

Schwarzenegger's Ethnic Commentary Caught on Tape - Washington Post

Stereotypes are a touchy subject for sure, but having them fall under the axe of political correctness exacerbates the problem. Like other taboos in our society they get touched on a lot in private, but people seldom ‘cop’ to them in public. California’s ‘Govenator’, Arnold Schwarzeneggar put his pumped-up foot in his mouth in a ‘good way’ on this one. While his descriptions are crude, at best, he is more or less accurate, as backed up by the self-described ‘hot-blooded’ Latina Assemblywoman, Bonnie Garcia. The only real question is what point Arnold was attempting to make with his assessment – but is this not generally the question with politicians?

Stereotypes come in two forms, naturally occurring and ideological. Natural stereotypes evolve over long periods of time as combinations of autostereotypes, products of in-groups, and heterostereotypes, products of out-groups. The in-groups are people exhibiting the stereotype attribute, while the out-groups are those witnesses to the stereotype. When in-group and out-group stereotyping matches, the ‘kernel of truth’ test is passed, giving life-blood to this valuable short cut in communication.

In contrast, when the stereotype is ideological, it is not really a stereotype at all, but rather an imposter, designed to trick us into some nefarious action. Racist stereotypes fall into this category as race is an arbitrary construct, but indeed, not all differences are arbitrary.

Society needs to get much better at understanding stereotypes, in order that we all benefit from what they accurately tell us, as well as to better protect ourselves from the imposters that do significant damage. But understanding will come only with foregoing our ‘knee-jerk’ reactions, removing the chips from our shoulders, and developing critical minds on the subject.

James C. Collier


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Monday, August 28, 2006

In Defense of Andrew Young

In Defense of Andrew Young - Washington Post

John McWhorter understands the game of baseball too well – especially pitching. To combine his argument of over-reaction around civil rights legend Andrew Young and Virginian Republican George “Macaca” Allen is masterful. Satchel Paige would applaud such an un-hittable pitch aimed at Blacks.

Mr. McWhorter is practicing the ‘Appeal to Emotion’ fallacy of argument so openly, one can only question the disdain he has for the intelligence of his audience. This fallacy, simply stated, occurs when someone manipulates peoples' emotions in order to get them to accept an otherwise false claim as being true.

The use of the country’s desire to look past Mr. Young’s race-baiting comments, to sneak in the claim that Senator Allen (R) meant no racist insult to young Mr. Sidharth, of Indian descent, is incredible. Mr. Allen may claim that he did not know the derogatory meaning of the term, but, as shown in the video, he clearly knew he was not offering a compliment among the ‘good ole boys’ at his rally.

As a linguist, Mr. McWhorter should be the first to recognize that regional familiarity is not what makes a term acceptable, in a global world. If a British politician called a Black man holding a camera, “Sam Spade”, after the serial detective, the insult might be largely lost on a British audience, but insulting and racist nonetheless.

Mr. McWhorter follows up the Allen defense with the open-and-shut description of a bat-wielding New Yorker. Who would not look innocent next to this person?

Finally, he tops off his slight-of-hand with the distracting ‘Red Herring’ argument of describing ‘dueling races’ on reality television. Who cares about some Hollywood bomb? I guess Mr. McWhorter understands that we do. To his credit, his linguistic slight-of-hand seems to be working. The passes from the Black community have been flowing like water.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, August 24, 2006

La. Mom: Black Kids Sent to Back of Bus

La. Mom: Black Kids Sent to Back of Bus - AP

One of the most common mistakes we make in combating racism is not understanding or accepting that it comes to us in two very different forms, even though it looks the same to the recipient. Some might even say that this difference does not matter, as the damage is the same. However, the distinction is critical in making the choice of how best to combat it, and how to make progress even while it still exists.

Racism from malice, or hatred, is ‘causative’ behavior that contorts whatever arguments of truth and knowledge exist, with the objective of exploiting others or situations for personal or group advantage. The behavior of the malice-hearted racist is driven by wickedness, in the face of explanatory information known and available. Alternately, racism from ignorance is a ‘resulting’ behavior, is ubiquitous, and does not have exploitation as a goal, although is causes harm, nonetheless.

The behavior of the ignorant racist is driven by their best available, albeit questionable, explanation of why things are the way they appear. These individuals believe that they are doing the fair and right thing for themselves, their loved ones, and society, by taking the positions, whose objective generally is some form of protection, or so they believe. While they do not share the views of the malice-hearted racist, their own actions, which they have difficulty openly defending, do not allow them to confront, or even recognize, behavior they know to be malicious.

For the record, the La. school bus driver, who made the Black kids sit in the back of the bus, is displaying exceptional malice. This is not an example of how all White people secretly feel about Blacks, nor is it an example of how all Black people are treated in this country. Rather it is an instance of racial malice, not ignorance, that deserves serious rebuttal, and without exaggeration or minimization.

James C. Collier


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Monday, August 14, 2006

Black Leaders Urge Fight Against AIDS et al

Black Leaders Urge Fight Against AIDS - AP

Why the U.S. Has Not Stemmed HIV - Washington Post

Black America Must Confront AIDS - Washington Post

Julian Bond, the NAACP, and other Black leadership are finally taking to the stage to collect their ‘better late than never’ awards for calling overdue attention to the AIDS epidemic. Sadly, and with the scourge of the disease firmly resident in the Black community, the highest-level Black leaders have finally found their voices.

But it will take more than a few words to move Black clergy and their congregations from the homophobic sermonizing that has been a hallmark and distracting gauntlet, over the past 25 years. Yes, twenty-five years!

Now that AIDS has completely jumped to the heterosexual community, one fear is that Black church leaders will figure out how to partition Black gay men out of their initiatives for battling the disease. This continuing blame-game would only compound the tragedy, and further the spread.

Is there hope that Black clergy, across the nation, might experience a level of divine inspiration that will allow them to set aside judgments and tend to the whole ‘flock’? Perhaps, but homophobia runs deep in the Black community, driving gay men even deeper into their closeted lives.

Only time will reveal if therapies to treat and prevent AIDS, which have gained significant footing, will continue to face their biggest challenge, in part, from the pulpit.

James C. Collier


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Friday, August 11, 2006

Kindergarten Boot Camp

Kindergarten Boot Camp - Washington Post

Excerpt from The Myth of Acting White, by James C. Collier.

"A sense of novelty rules the start of school. It is similar to how adults feel when they visit a foreign country on vacation. The language is different, the food is different, the customs are different, everything is different and we are very ‘game’ to experience it – after all, this is what we are paying to experience. Children in school are no different. However, what happens when the novelty wears off after a few days, a week, or a month? Adults pack up and go home, usually muttering under our breath how we can’t wait to get back to that which is familiar – and to us, better. This is natural. However, what if we cannot leave? If we remain, to the degree we accept and adapt, we can begin to reach our capacity to contribute to our new environment. If our mindset stays with our former home, our ability to contribute, and gain reward in our new environment, will be limited. We will be non-optimized.

Famed economist Adam Smith wrote about this same dynamic in Theory of Moral Sentiments, published in 1759. In this work, he described a child's transition from home to school as the time where the child enters the 'great school of self-command'. In the new school environment, the child is no longer protected from others by caregivers, whose attention is too often indulgent towards the child's self-focus. Furthermore, the child's classmates are less accomodating, requiring the child to compromise themselves. The wants and needs of the other children, and the greater learning environment establish a stature of importance and influence. Those that accept this need for ‘d├ętente’, do better at school."

James C. Collier


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Sunday, August 06, 2006

The New Face of Summer School et al

The New Face of Summer School - Washington Post

Students Double Up on Math and English - AP

It is interesting to see that the new face of summer school in 2006, despite this title, still looks like the old face of summer school circa. 1970. It was then that classmate Herman Robinson and I, as impending catholic school seventh-graders, took pre-Algebra in public summer school, with the kids who had not fared so well that previous school year. Our goal was to get the ‘jump’ on the coming year, as well as to hangout at East High School where classes were taught.

With this background, it came as no surprise when my impending tenth-grade daughter suggested, this past May, that she could go to summer school to attempt to better her ninth-grade Algebra grade. I made a deal with her that she could go on a ‘movie-date’ if she managed an ‘A’. She missed her early first date by 3 points and settled for a B+ and an iPod instead – whew, that was close for poppa!

The willingness to put forth extra effort in the process of learning has always been the hallmark of ‘striving’ in America. I was proud that my daughter was willing to work hard for something she wanted, even while working as a lifeguard and fulfilling swim team workouts.

While parents and educators should indeed be concerned about their kids becoming early-stage workaholics, this is not my worry. Too many Black kids suffer from not having the educational work ethic that matches their professional dreams. This disparity is the greatest challenge to their future, not working too hard.

James C. Collier


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Friday, August 04, 2006

Grand Jury to Probe La. Bridge Blockade

Grand Jury to Probe La. Bridge Blockade - AP

La. Police Who Turned Away Katrina Victims Face Inquiry - AP

Feds Probe Post-Katrina Bridge Blockade - AP

There is no excuse for authorities turning back evacuees fleeing New Orleans and the results of hurricane Katrina. For a country to turn its back on its citizens is to turn our backs on our future, a future guided by a constitution that binds and protects the common good of us all.

Those Southerners, who recently displayed such righteous indignation at having to re-digest the Voting Rights Act they so richly earned, need look no further for explanation than their continued behavior, as on the bridges connecting them to New Orleans.

Hopefully, the grand jury will recognize the behavior of the law enforcement officers as unconstitutional and sanction them with the full power of the law they so selfishly ignored during this difficult time.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mel Gibson's Statement

Mel Gibson's Statement - AP

A Moment Mel Would Understand - Washington Post

Booze and Bigotry - Washington Post

Only a portion of one sentence of Mel Gibson’s scripted mea culpa is relevant, in response to his Malibu drunken anti-Semitic tirade of recent days. “I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display,…”

People are racists. Actors are people. Therefore actors are racist, or can be – just like everybody else. This racism exists generally behind alert ‘mental bodyguards’, but sometimes circumstances dismiss that guard and the ugly truths come out, as in Mr. Gibson’s case.

As an aside, this is why the ‘one drink’ rule is so important. It says that all interaction should cease after one alcoholic beverage. Nurse that drink, water it down, do whatever you must, but when it is gone, you should be too.

In any event, anti-Semitism is a good place to focus our need for understanding, because it is perhaps the oldest known form of racism. Jewish lineage and travails have made the group noteworthy at the same time as the beginning of recorded history. What we learn about our history of hatred for Jews informs all other hatreds and solutions as well. By all means, let us talk.

Now to be fair, Jews like actors, are also racist. I recall a Jewish co-worker once chiding a White co-worker on how anti-Semitism forced Jews to create their own country clubs. But what was loss on my Jewish colleague was that those same Jews, in turn, excluded Blacks from their club for similar reasons of race and religion. The same applies to Blacks, and so on.

When Whites, Jews, Blacks, Arabs, et al reach the point where they can openly acknowledge that we are all racists, bigots, anti-Semites, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian, and anti-you-name-it as a by-product of our humanity, only then will we be at the point of real examination, and potential progress - that point where Mr. Gibson has so dramatically placed himself.

James C. Collier


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Monday, July 31, 2006

How the Brain Helps Partisans Admit No Gray

How the Brain Helps Partisans Admit No Gray - Washington Post

It is slightly interesting that psychologists have ‘recently’ learned that “people are not evenhanded when they process information, even though they believe they are”. The Greek spirits of Socrates and Plato, the patrons of critical thinking, must be having a big laugh now that their contribution of 2,500 years ago has been re-discovered, again.

Nevertheless, the discussion certainly begs acknowledgment of the correlation of human tendencies and resulting societal collisions, particularly when it come to issues of race. The distinction between malicious and ignorant racism falls out of this understanding of human foibles and serves us, if we allow it.

When I listen to a group of Blacks discussing issues of White behaviors, I am not so surprised by the amount of bias I hear, but rather how exceptional I feel that I seem to be in the minority that my brain discerns it. More often than not, I keep silent and thank the stars that I 'took a liking' to philosophy in college. I imagine my White counterparts, in critical thinking, experiencing something similar, as they listen to their ‘folk’ discuss behaviors.

Unlike the ignorant variety of bias, as described above, malicious racism is less a common thing to hear and see, but it does happen, and in all directions. Interestingly, the facilitator of malicious racism is largely the camouflage provided by typical, non-critical thinking. By inference, if we attack weak thinking in general, beginning with early education, we better expose and challenge the lurking efforts of those with malicious agendas. Herein resides the case for adding critical thinking courseware in K-12 curriculums.

Stepping back, what might be interesting to the Greek Skeptics is researcher ability to pinpoint just what portion of the brain is doing what, as our thinking goes wrong. But then again, the Greeks might reasonably conclude that the physiology of errant thinking is superfluous evidence to what we already know and experience as societal illness.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Is Racism Behind Treatment of Haitians?

Is Racism Behind Treatment of Haitians? - AP

Are Haitians treated differently simply because they are black? It may seem so, but the answer upon review is no, and there is nothing simple, as the question suggest, about what has lead up to the way that would-be Haitian immigrants are treated by this country. To present the question this way begs a polarized conversation, with America’s treatment of its own Blacks as an emotional context, in place of one that recognizes the history and challenges of each country and the challenges of immigration.

The US can never deny its racist past and the fact of its continuing momentum that, while changing for the better, is yet complete. It is also undeniable that Haiti exists as the most challenged country of modern western history, separate from America, and by virtue of a history dating back to slavery, French rule, and a set of arduous development challenges.

“Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and among the poorest countries in the world. Two thirds of Haiti's eight million citizens live in poverty. Half of its adult population is illiterate. Only a quarter of its children attend school.” United States Institute of Peace (2006)

All causative arguments aside, the failure of US Blacks, 40 million in number, to fully assimilate the education and skills required by the US economy, cost this country’s economy, including Blacks, nearly $440 billion per year in loss gross domestic product (GDP) needed to help propel us. If we consider that the average Haitian, from a population 20% the size of America’s Black population, is significantly less prepared to transistion and contribute to our society and economy, the idea of immigration conjures devastating impact on the US.

The US would certainly do better to tackle the pressing problems with the existing Black underclass, regarding education, crime, and yes, racism and victim mentalities too. This needs to happen before assuming the challenges, through immigration policy, of the destitute Haiti.

Putting the complex question in simple terms of black and white is not helpful or fair to anyone, and 'stirs the wrong pot'.

James C. Collier


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