Sunday, April 30, 2006

*Is School Too Much for Students?

Is School Too Much for Students? - Washington Post

Earlier this school year, a classmate of my 15-year-old daughter killed himself. He was, by all outward measures, an excellent student who was popular and adjusting well to the first year of high school. He even tutored my daughter in math as she worked to find her footing.

In my quest to be supportive, I asked her why she thought he did such a terrible thing. She said she could not understand it all, because he was nice and joked around just like all the other kids. But again, he was Asian, she said in passing, implying high expections. This was the first time I considered the downside of expecting too much.

After the tragedy, I took a harder look at the messages that I had been sending her. Study hard, get good grades - not C’s - go to a good college, get more good grades, have a good life. I also painted a very un-rosy picture of what poor grades can do to her future. Forget about buying this, or having that, or doing thus, I would often say. But wait a second - this is no Asian-thing, we are all guilty.

In those days before the funeral, I could only see myself in his parent’s place, asking why? My own parents had never planned on me going to Harvard, I thought, but I got there anyway. My dad even asked me one day, ‘what got into me’, to tackle such a challenging place. They always said they just wanted me to do my best.

My parent’s brand of pressure, I now understand, gave me room to fail, without becoming a failure. I realized that I was not passing this along. Of course, I could rationalize that the world is more competitive, and kids have to grow up faster. But what if there was no kid there to hear me?

It seems we are making a simple, but critical, parenting mistake. We are not communicating to our kids that doing their best is good enough. This leaves room for them to find their own path. The tragedy is that we never know which kid will die, but for hearing this simple instruction, from those who mean so much to them.

This is what I learned.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, April 29, 2006

50 Cent Sounds Off About Oprah Winfrey

50 Cent Sounds Off About Oprah Winfrey - AP

Ice Cube Joins Voices Against Oprah - AP

Rap music, to a large degree, encourages behaviors that are not advancing to anyone’s circumstance. So it is not surprising that Oprah Winfrey shies away from providing a supporting platform, through any of her enterprises.

There is very little that is constructive or uplifting about the misogyny, violence, and lawlessness that rap has made its hallmark. Rap music purports to be the voice of youth, while instead giving them an educational excursion into the dangerous world of a small number of extremely disconnected people.

The Black parents of the kids who are rap’s permanent audience are hard-working, law abiding citizens, who are rightly concerned that they represent the most likely victims of Black criminal behavior, espoused in rap lyrics. White parents simply try to patiently wait for their kids to tire of fantasizing the self-destructive approach to living that they hear.

Oprah’s contribution is clear, and the response of the public even more clear. She has not become one of country's most successful and wealthiest citizens because she panders to the negative, but rather because her media messages promotes the positive. Her inclusive endeavors, from the start, treat this country as a whole not as parts. Her ‘crossover’ appeal is so effortless; the word has practically disappeared from our lexicon.

James C. Collier


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Friday, April 28, 2006

Bush Says Anthem Should Be Sung in English et al

Bush Says Anthem Should Be Sung in English - Washington Post

President Wants Anthem Sung in English - Washington Post

Impatient Senators Target Borders, Anthem - Washington Post

Hispanic leadership has done a tremendous job marshalling support for immigration reform that recognizes the contribution this group is making to the on-going success of the country. The rallies of the past months have rightly pushed the critical issue to the forefront in Washington.

However, like all movements, it is important not only to make the right moves, when called upon, but also to recognize bad ones, and avoid them if possible. Singing the national anthem in Spanish is patently a bad move.

Hispanics must learn, as Blacks are still learning, that the quest for gaining equality of citizenship and opportunity is different than a ‘grab’ for majority influence. Suggesting to anyone how to sing the country’s song, via recording it differently, is making an end-run challenge to democracy for no good reason. If our anthem was ever to change, there is a constitutional process that dictates how this must occur, and that process must be respected.

From a practical standpoint, one language, in this case, English, is a unifying foundation for the country’s advancement. There are evolutionary rules of progress that time has proven are not easily rewritten. A quick trip to French-speaking Quebec is all anyone needs to see the divisive impact of a second language on Canada.

I attended an event earlier this year on the MLK holiday, where our popular Hispanic city council president and mayoral candidate recited a famous King speech, entirely in Spanish, to a largely Black and White audience. While King’s words sounded beautiful in Spanish, only the Hispanics in the audience had any idea what he was saying. Symbolism aside, it was a bad move.

I hope Hispanics do not let this become a big issue, thereby distracting their leadership toward responsive immigration policy.

James C. Collier


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*Conflict Stirs Up Confusion On Border of Chad, Sudan et al

Conflict Stirs Up Confusion On Border of Chad, Sudan - Washington Post
5 Truths About Darfur - Washington Post
Darfur rebels downbeat as push for peace intensifies - Washington Post
Sudanese government accepts Darfur peace deal - Washington Post
A Loss of Hope Inside Darfur Refugee Camps - Washington Post
Groups Plan Rally on Mall To Protest Darfur Violence - Washington Post
Thousands Gather in D.C. at Rally for Darfur - Washington Post
Sudanese Rebels Reject Peace Offer - Washington Post
Out of Diversity, a Unanimous Demand - Washington Post
In 'Darfur Is Dying,' The Game That's Anything But - Washington Post
New First Lady Captivates Chad - Washington Post
Sudan, Main Rebel Group Sign Peace Deal - Washington Post
Peace in Darfur? - Washington Post

Bush Pledges Aid for Darfur - Washington Post

Riot by Darfur Refugees Forces U.N. Official to Flee; One Killed - Washington Post

Being Secretary of State of the United States has to be the toughest job on the planet. The complexities of if, how, and when to intervene, in the affairs of other countries, is overwhelming. If you are ‘lead-dog’ of the free world, the calls for action, including ‘doing nothing’, come uninterrupted and from every global direction.

So what makes it so hard to do the right thing? It boils down to two issues. Each country is at a relatively unique stage in its societal development, which separates its problem set from the solutions of those countries that could help. Secondly, each country has its own selfish agenda, which it can only pretend to ignore, as a part of its own thinking and behavior.

The world-wide AIDS crisis has shown us how hard it is to influence behaviors that would stem the spread of the virus. However, when it comes to sovereignty, as we are seeing in Iraq, or Haiti, or Chad/Sudan, it is nearly impossible to accelerate people beyond their evolved state of advancement. After all, the US evolved to our own place over hundreds of years and bloody struggle, as well. It is, in part, our arrogance that makes us believe that others will simply follow our expert directives.

There is no clear-cut formula that tells us when we should intervene and when we should stay away. The pain and suffering of others, and our own national interest are both legitimate concerns for taking an active role in what goes on in the world. But we must weigh both of these interests, against our needs to advance our society, with limited resources.

Expending lives, our most precious resource, must be more tightly measured against that which is possible, probable, and necessary to pursue our course as a nation, given global disparities.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, April 27, 2006

*Stepping Over the Color Line

Stepping Over the Color Line - Washington Post

When Whites assimilate a component of another culture, in this case Black culture, they are adding to the evolutionary and advancing fabric of American society. Inasmuch as they acquire knowledge and understanding sufficient to recreate and distribute the new acquisition, they own it, and are free to evolve it forward, in ways specific to their needs and tastes.

It is actually risky for any majority group to ignore enhancements to living that pass before them, regardless of the source, as they can never know which invention or discovery will shift the balance of power away from one group to another.

Blacks, however, do not generally view imitation as flattery, as much as they see it as exploitation. This is a zero-sum perspective where for one group to win, another must lose. For Blacks, not assimilating the behaviors of others, particular those whose ancestors originated from societies with technological advantage, comes with a high cost. It is the very technology Blacks avoid, that hurts them in the competition for opportunity.

An argument can be made that iconic-singer Elvis Presley stole Black culture and remade it into something for Whites, but this is not the case. He seems to have been, more simply, a singer who liked Black music, and felt that White audiences wanted to hear and see it. At the time, segregation did not allow Black entertainers like Little Richard and Chuck Berry to play White venues. Demand by White audiences required time to reach the point where Jim Crow segregation laws could be tested, with acquiescence. However, with Elvis’s popularity, demand accelerated and eventually overpowered segregated performances. Black artists ultimately began to deliver their more authentic creations directly, with compensation to match. This is why Little Richard refers to singer Pat Boone as 'the man who made me a millionaire'.

So the hope is that Blacks will begin to judge advancing behaviors, not by skin color, but by results. They will not only appropriate them from anyone, at any time, under all circumstances, but they will do this knowing that they did not compromise any part of themselves in the process.

James C. Collier


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Black Executives Seek Stake in Nats' Future

Black Executives Seek Stake in Nats' Future - Washington Post

Lerner Expected To Get Nationals - Washington Post

It is great that Blacks are competing to see who will own the Washington Nationals professional baseball franchise. It speaks volumes for the opportunities that this country holds, that Black men and women, of extraordinary contribution, can amass commensurate wealth to ‘play’ at this level.

But how representative are these accomplishments of the plight of 39 million Black Americans, as a whole. The answer is they are not very representative at all. According to the Urban League for the year 2004, the average Black person’s relative equality index, compared to Whites, is but 73%, on measures of progress, including earnings.

Some might consider this to be good news; against the old adage that a Black man must work ‘twice as hard’ as a White man, to gain the same reward. These figures more accurately state that he must work 27% harder. But is this adjusted number really reflective of racism or efficiency?

If Blacks come to the economy with educational preparation and skills that reflect this same 27% disparity with Whites, then the pay disparity we see is really a market-based response, and not racism. In fact, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research reports that in 2000 Blacks graduated from high school at a rate that was 27.6% less than Whites. This similarity is not coincidental.

What does this translate to in national impact? If we apply this 27% difference to Gross National Income (GNI), we get a difference of $9,359 between Blacks and Whites. If we then convert this to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the per person measure of all yearly goods and services of the country, this difference comes to $11,276. Finally, if we then multiply this GDP times 39 million Blacks, the total comes to $440 billion per year in GDP that Blacks do not contribute because of their skills deficit.

Whatever the cause, it is this deficit in contribution that is holding Blacks at the bottom of the country’s economic ‘totem pole’, just as it is a surplus in contribution that allows individuals of wealth to buy baseball teams. The potential purchasers of the Washington Nationals are an extreme minority of Blacks, and while we should cheer for their continued success, we should not be lulled into false confidence of Black progress.

The figures of the GDP deficit tell a more consistent, accurate and gloomy story about Black plight, and indicates the magnitude of the changes that need to occur.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Providing a Plaintive Voice For the World AIDS Epidemic et al

Providing a Plaintive Voice For the World AIDS Epidemic - Washington Post
AIDS Crisis Shapes Bishop's Stance - Washington Post
AIDS Conference Ends With Appeals - Washington Post
South African court urged to convict Zuma of rape - Washington Post
Ex-President of S. Africa Acquitted of Rape - Washington Post
Zuma Apologizes for Having Unprotected Sex - Washington Post
SAfrica's Zuma's apology not enough: UN AIDS envoy - Washington Post

Russia Said to Be on Edge of AIDS Crisis - AP

Researchers have expended extraordinary time and effort tracking down where they believe HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, first came to being. The first confirmed case traces back to the Belgian Congo in 1959. Yet it is 45 years later that the disease is ravaging Africa, having gained speed from all around the world.

So why has it taken so long for AIDS to ‘come back’ to Africa, and how long will it take to leave? While it was zoonosis, the process whereby the virus, carried by infected monkeys, was transmitted to West African hunters, transmission, by contaminated needles and unprotected sex, have taken much longer to become the dominant forms of infection.

The questions of its exit loom largest in the case of the continent’s leader, South Africa, where 5 million now carry HIV. Why are there so many infections now? Especially since we have known for 20 years that needles must be sterile and sex must be protected? Furthermore, ‘must it be this way?’

The factors that affect the introduction, rise, and fall of a disease within a society are different. The introduction and rise are largely governed by randomness and opportunity. However, the fall of a disease like AIDS, is driven by assimilation of required efficacious behaviors. This determines how quickly a society will control and ultimately eliminate the threat to itself.

The magnitude of the assimilation challenge can be roughly measured with common available indices. The United Nation’s Development Program measures each country according to a Technology Achievement Index (TAI) based upon the rate at which technology is created, applied and disseminated within their borders. The rate for South Africa stands at .34, compared to .73 in the US. Finland, at .74, tops the world list, and where a score of 1 reflects the maximum. Estimates for Russia place their score in the mid-forties.

When the cure or protective behavior against a disease emanates, as often is the case, from a society with a higher TAI, like the US, the difficulty in application via assimilation can be assessed relative to the difference in TAI scores. A smaller difference in score indicates ‘easier’ acceptance of the new behavior. Even a score of .34 for South Africa is misleading, inasmuch as the disparity between the average South African and Black South Africa, can be estimated to be as much as .15, which indicates and even greater magnitude of behavior change.

The behaviors and attitudes we hear and see, that keep diseases thriving, can and do sound, at times, ignorant, reckless, and even unconscionable, but we should remember that they represent the struggle of societies, at different stages of development, and in various states of ‘collision’ with their more or less advanced global neighbors.

It is nonetheless imperative that we keep working, as nations, to help each other eradicate both disease and disparity.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Enigmatic Man

The Enigmatic Man - Washington Post

Former White House Aide Pleads Guilty in Target Scam - Washington Post

Every Black American, at some time in their life, catches him or herself wondering how it must feel to be White. I will assume Whites have similar experiences. This phenomenon must occur in all races, but the focus here is on Black and White, because Claude Allen, presidential ‘advisor’, former aid to Jesse Helms, and now alleged felon, clearly had ‘whiteness’ on his mind.

In fairness to Mr. Allen, his enigmatic label sticks well because of the unlikely combination of his ultra-conservative career pursuits and his alleged brazen fraudulent dealings on the side. If he was simply a criminal, no one would care. If he was just a tool of divisive politicians, like Senator Helms, we might not like him, but we would get over it too.

But this educated Black man, making $161,000 per year, seems to have swallowed a live hand-grenade of his own doing. What is going on here? What makes someone go and do something so - unexpected?

I recall watching a skit on Dave Chappelle Show about a blind anti-Black racist who did not know that he was actually Black. The sensitive-racist Whites around him, including his wife, did not have the heart to tell him that he was actually Black, even as he spewed racist venom against his real people. I do not remember how the skit ended, but I remember being both humored and disheartened – somewhat how I feel about Mr. Allen.

I am no psychologist, but it is reasonable that people can become self-destructive when they realize an emotional trauma, however delayed. For Mr. Allen, we could speculate, in all seriousness that he actually realized one day that he had made his career as a token, and what we now see is just a difficult adjustment period, while he gets over his dismay and moves on with his life.

I am also left to wonder, partisanship aside, if watching Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, performing extraordinary service based on true merit, may have had some influence on his realization.

James C. Collier


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Monday, April 24, 2006

*Kindergarten to Rose Garden

Kindergarten to Rose Garden - Washington Post

Md. Kindergarten Teacher Is Honored - Washington Post

Teaching school is a noble profession, if there ever was one, and I certainly would never want to take anything away from outstanding teachers, like the recently recognized Kimberly Oliver, in Silver Spring, MD. She sounds wonderful and just the kind of teacher I would want for my children.

However, I am being perfectly honest when I say that I have had an equal number of good and bad teachers in my previous nineteen years of school. This really should come as no surprise when you consider that the performance of teachers should reasonably fall on a normal distribution, insuring that for every exceptional teacher, somewhere there exists someone struggling to get through the day without smacking a kid.

Herein resides the problem. How can a noble profession reconcile underperformers? What’s more, how do you get rid of these underperformers when they are revealed? Anecdotally, I have seen abusive teachers shifted, transferred, and babysat by aids, principals, and concerned parents, until they could be moved to another school’s unsuspecting rolls. In no case have I ever seen a teacher fired for bad teaching, in a public school.

The reality is that there are no truly noble professions, just people who act nobly. Unfortunately the teacher’s union uses the noble profession ‘shield’ to protect too many teachers who really should be off doing something they like, instead of counter-balancing the impact of their above average peers.

If it is not too much of a stretch for us to accept that medical doctors and lawyers come in all forms of competence, deserving of scrutiny and occasional sanction, then maybe someday we will get to the point where we can accept that bad teachers do indeed exist, do more harm than their union representatives should ever defend, and that kids, society, and the profession each pay the price.

I offer congratulations, as a long-time student and parent, to the many tens of thousands of great teachers who gave Ms. Oliver competition for her award. Keep up the good work.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Immigrants Rely on Patchy English Teaching

Immigrants Rely on Patchy English Teaching - Washington Post AP

The language challenge of recent arrivals, such as these two Spanish-speaking Dominican women, is a good example of the paradox of why immigrant groups, including African immigrants, with severe obstacles, accelerate past American Blacks, in pursuit of this country’s opportunities.

As much as ill-informed Americans allege the refusal of immigrants to learn English, the reality is quite the opposite. The queues for English as a Second Language (ESL) are so full that the wait can easily be years.

However, as these groups struggle to learn the language of their future, many Blacks expend their energy maintaining, and further developing Black-English, insuring that they remain on the periphery of economic hope. This development is even claimed by some as a responsibility to Black culture.

The true responsibility is to do whatever it takes, within the law, to advance into the mainstream. This does not require anyone to forget who they are, but only to acknowledge capacity to add more of what is required to have choices.

To acknowledge this is not to ignore that Whites invented the accusation of ‘sounding White’, for which they labeled and punished industrious ‘uppity’ Blacks, during slavery and Jim Crow. But that was then, and this is now. Blacks need strong language skills as much as they need math and science, and anything that distracts this assimilation holds back advancement.

James C. Collier


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Friday, April 21, 2006

D.C. Public School Seeks Linkup With New Charter et al

D.C. Public School Seeks Linkup With New Charter - Washington Post

Educators Blend Divergent Schools of Thought - Washington Post

Learning on Their Own Terms - Washington Post

Tailor-Made Education - Washington Post

Everyday we engage over what is not working, what is broken, and how problems might be fixed. We do this oblivious to the amazing corrective phenomena of evolution. In reality, the question is not if there is a fix, but only how long before the inevitable fix appears, perhaps with the impatient question of, ‘will I be alive to see it’?

Our bodies have done this over millions of years. Genetic mutations happen, not because our physiology is smart, but because random disorder follows order. If the change is advancing, the host survives. If there is no advantage, it dies. Progress is at least one part luck.

Whether it is vouchers or charter schools, these qualified disruptions to the educational status quo spring up. They fight for a toehold to prove their worthiness. Some win, others lose – on their merits and despite the rhetoric.

The notion of a hybrid traditional/charter school, first crudely housed under one roof, but ultimately trading methods and curriculums, is inevitable. From this we will retain that which advances learning, and discard that which fails us. Our trial and error, frustrating as it is, is nothing more than evolution at work. Resistance may be futile, but it also is inevitable.

The biggest challenge of any advancement is that its introduction will always offend someone. But what is offense anyway – but feedback. However, evolution does not care about our preferences. It only cares about the increasing and efficient accumulation and transfer of information to the next generation, and so on. The immortality of knowledge. But for this, we would not exist.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tackling Truancy at the Source et al

Tackling Truancy at the Source - Washington Post

Black Farmers Rally Outside Ag. Dept. - AP

Everyone might not recognize it by name, but most people know of Black people’s penchant for lateness, highlighted in the article, and internally referred to as Colored People’s Time (“CPT”). Lateness is arguably the single most thwarting behavior Blacks exhibit.

Sure, there are other behaviors that gain greater notice; crime, drugs, and violence to start, but their influence pales relative to pervasive lateness. While it is seemingly harmless, it cuts across all lines, and all situations, with the impact of shifting the entire group signficantly downward from the average American.

Now to be fair, other groups have their own versions of CPT – including the Jews, Hispanics, and also Asians, but with an important distinction that Blacks have yet to embrace, that being tolerable social lateness and required business timeliness.

America is a ‘monochronic’ society where, linearity dictates, and events move as trains on a single track. Much of the third world, including Africa, is ‘polychronic’, where events are seen as less interdependent, with many things happening at once.

Lateness, in America, regardless of personal preference, disrupts the efficient and effective flow upon which the country’s competitiveness is based. Inasmuch, the penalty meted out for it is severe - disenfranchisement. This penalty occurs much less frequently in polychronic countries.

Lastly, the association of timeliness and preparedness is unavoidable. It can be presented as, ‘how can a person be prepared, in full, if they are not prepared, in part, to arrive at the appointed time? This seemed to be what the DC Superior Court judge was thinking regarding the truants and their guardians, as he looked out into that empty room - their last chance.

James C. Collier

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Montgomery Woman Gets 7 Years in Domestic Slavery Case

Montgomery Woman Gets 7 Years in Domestic Slavery Case - Washington Post

In this day, it is painful for anyone of conscience to hear of another person being enslaved. After all, humankind made its moral leap nearly 200 years ago, after thousands of years of the practice with barely an utterance of protest.

Slavery has existed for eons, but it was never reasonable or the hallmark of any particular group. Its one redemption was that it represented an evolutionary advance from its predecessor, that of simply killing those we saw as competitors.

Some might say death was preferable, but the finality of death left no option for evolving to where we are today. Slavery still exists, but hopefully as a lessening artifact.

Many Blacks and Whites might read the story of this Nigerian girl-woman and secretly hope the perpetrator did not look like them. Why? Because we hold too dearly our notions from the past of who is bad and who is good - notions that are wrong.

What does it mean if Blacks are complicit? What does it remind us of if instead Whites commit these crimes? Absolutely nothing. The only predispositions we have are to be human, including behaving both admirably and despicably.

I appreciate that our country was able find some amount of justice for this more than deserving young woman.

James C. Collier


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A Campaign Gore Can't Lose

A Campaign Gore Can't Lose - Washington Post

Gore Says He's Focusing on Global Warming, Not '08 Presidential Run - AP

A chill just went up through me the other day as I saw Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen say, “We simply cannot afford for Al Gore to lose again.”

Two things come to mind - the ‘race card’, and my dad and 'hanging-chads'.

The race card appears because in 2000 Black people forgot, too easily I’d say, how Mr. Gore, a Tennessee democrat, used a Black face to scare the ‘votes’ out of Whites, in his challenge of fellow democrat Michael Dukakis, in the 1988 democratic presidential primary. Gore’s creation, later used most effectively by the senior Bush, was Willie Horton, furloughed Massachusetts’s prisoner turned rapist.

Gore also reminds me of the days of my father, via the democratic handling of ‘hanging-chad’ voting machines in Florida, which allegedly had hand in placing junior Bush into office. My Dad, a life-long democrat, always complained about the broken-down voting machines in our own Black neighborhood, until he found out who was responsible.

Dad’s short answer was that the democrats owned the ‘Negro’ vote, so unless they predicted a close race, it did not matter if those votes were poorly counted, or not counted at all. The good machines went to White democratic precincts where every vote always ‘counted’, as he said.

In 2004, the Florida democratic team was ‘hoisted by its own pitard’. It was not the republicans who stole the election, but rather the democrats who gave it away, due to their own marginalization of Black votes, whose importance they failed to predict, and capture, for accurate inclusion.

Before Gore attempts to run again, I hope voters regain their memories, including a better understanding of why both he and Senator Kerry earned their losses.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Screening Boom

Screening Boom - Washington Post

Four months ago my Doctor’s nurse practitioner informed me that my blood pressure was a ‘little’ high, 130/85. As a long-time endurance cyclist I had been accustomed to 120/80, as if I had a patent on it – I guess the patent expired.

I now became another Black male contemplating the high-blood pressure bandwagon – except I was not ready to climb aboard so quietly.

I remembered hearing about the ‘Slavery Hypothesis’, with its conjuring of Portuguese traders licking the faces of captured W. Africans to test for saltiness and with it endurance, for the arduous journey to America. What ‘super-sized’ myth, and, I should add, scientifically unsupported (J.Kaufman).

If those same Portuguese traders were here today and licked the breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates of most Black men, they too would have high-blood pressure, and all the accompanying health issues.

Truth is, I was not cycling as much and my diet was suffering from a lack of discipline. But what to do? Ride more; eat like I wanted to live. As a reminder, I bought a digital home blood pressure monitor for $80 - the cost of a nice dinner out, somewhere.

I do not use the monitor to plan my individual meals, as this does not make good health sense. Rather it is a reminder and a trend indicator; down is good, up is bad. After three months, my numbers are back.

Good science is not a telescope to look past the obvious. If you do not exercise and have a bad diet – the result is clear. We are 99.9% genetic copies, whatever the color. It is behaviors that drive our results. This is the 'salty' truth.

James C. Collier


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Competition Worries Graduate Programs et al

Competition Worries Graduate Programs - Washington Post

As Many Dropouts as Degrees - Washington Post

Bush Promotes Math, Science Education As Crucial for Jobs - Washington Post

Bush: U.S. Must Compete With India, China - Washington Post

Shrinking Opportunity on China's Campuses - Washington Post

It is hard to know whether this ‘reverse brain-drain’ is good or bad – or just fair turn-around.

For decades the US has been educating the world’s best minds, only to have them remain here and benefit US companies, investors, and, with priority, our public. Meanwhile, their home countries were left with the ‘trickle-down’ industrialization that our advancement generated.

Now, the world’s brightest have growing opportunities for alternative study, and fewer of those that do come are staying after graduation. It is an accomplishment of our educational system that it too has trickled-down around the globe.

Let us be clear, this is a good thing. Proverbially, our world brethren have learned to 'fish' on our shores and many have gone home to continue on their own, and to teach, as well.

The fact that the world’s advancement exposes a weakness in our own on-going quest, for internally driven competitive advantage, is even better. But we need to address the problem with more urgency. With 1.3 billion of the population, China plans to dominate world science by 2050, propelled by a nearly unquenchable need for the limited resources of growth.

The alarm is sounding. Winning is staying in the game. More of our kids, of all colors, need to want to be the brightest, as our long-term competitiveness and quality-of-living are the stakes.

James C. Collier


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Monday, April 17, 2006

High Court Weighs Retaliation at Work et al

High Court Weighs Retaliation at Work - Washington Post

Sex Bias Award Affirmed - Washington Post

Court Expands Right to Sue Over Retaliation on the Job - Washington Post

Laws limit us, by definition and philosophic origin. They define that which is minimally acceptable in society. There are no laws, for instance, that tell us how well we must treat each other – but rather they instruct us to just how poorly we may act before relief is granted.

This utilitarian-backed theory of law, and its influence on our constitution, is the backdrop our high court is again considering, this day, regarding employer retaliation in the workplace. Just how much may an employer injure you, in reprisal, before the law says enough?

The high court’s consideration is a fresh example of why laws we place our faith in leave us so short in the end. The founding fathers never meant to coax virtuosity from us, but rather compliance to minimum standards, for maximizing the greater good.

So then why did Blacks, and so many Whites, believe that civil rights legislation would bring a parity that we have yet to experience? How did they not see a legal system that at best defined the limits of poor treatment and could never lift a people from despair?

So regardless of what the Supreme Court decides in these coming months, about how poorly employers can behave, employees should better understand that our founders, via the constitution, had a different intention – far below our capacity and need.

James C. Collier


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Kenyan Man and Woman Win Boston Marathon

Kenyan Man and Woman Win Boston Marathon - Washington Post

We are all Africans, under the skin - but perhaps not Kenyan.

Science continues to learn that the genetic code between the races is practically identical – 99.9% the same, even while societies clearly have advanced at significantly different rates.

In fact, humans have so few genetic differences that some believe that we may have come from a single family 200,000 years ago. However, genetic differences between humans show a much greater variation within races than between races (Barbujani et al., 1997). One benefit of this is lower birth defects.

We also know that genetic mutations, rare as they are, more rarely survive, or ‘stick’. Compromising mutations like Tay-Sach’s and Sickle Cell, lead us to consider that beneficial mutations must also occur, despite racist concerns. But how might these advantages really look?

The Kenyans overall are fast, winning 50% of all the world’s distance running medals. But an isolated Kenyan tribe, the Kalenjin, is so disproportionately represented that scientist can only conclude that they have a genetically induced advantage in a key, yet discovered, physiology factor in running. Men from this one tribe earn three-fourths of all Kenyan medals, while representing .0005% of the world’s population.

The punch line? If we gain perspective on what good science claims as genetic advantage, in all its rarity, perhaps we will come to better consider and address the real, non-genetic, drivers of disparities among us.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Allegations of Grade Tampering Spur Inquiry at NE Campus et al

Allegations of Grade Tampering Spur Inquiry at NE Campus - Washington Post

Principals Face Review in Education Overhaul - New York Times

Atypical Payments to Trustee Detailed - Washington Post

Principal Loses Job for Assisting Students on Test - Washington Post

For all the politicians and administrators who think they have the means to command educators to teach students, there are teachers and principals ready to outsmart them, even if they have to cheat – and more will succeed in the near-term than fail.

Not just for students anymore, cheating has gone ‘prime-time’ into the front office. The stakes are holding onto jobs, promotions, mortgages, college tuition, and pensions.

This is no indictment of all educators; anymore then the act indicts all students, athletes, or business people. However, as the stakes rise, human nature dictates that more will cheat and the pursuit will intensify.

It is surprising how easy it is to catch a cheating teacher – much easier than students. Simply put, performance is normally distributed around random patterns of test results. ‘Macro-cheating’ disturbs these random patterns in ways quite visible to curious software programs.

Today’s measurement schemes identify and punish failure in educators and students, only encouraging the gaming we see. Motivating success is the only means to a real solution.

James C. Collier


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Asians Decry Adidas Shoe as a Misstep et al

Asians Decry Adidas Shoe as a Misstep - Washington Post

Adidas Signs 11-Year Deal With NBA - Washington Post

New Shoe Is a Racial Misstep - Washington Post

At first blush, a caricature of a Chinese face on a German shoe appears to be just stupidity piling upon itself, regardless of the artist’s heritage.

Now juxtapose this event with the announcement, days ago, that “Adidas Signs 11 Year Deal with NBA”, including the company selling NBA products in 2,000 stores in China. What is going on in Frankfurt?

Imagine an artistic rendering of a Little Black Sambo-like face on a shoe, presented to a market of nearly 40 million African-Americans. Adidas, with or without the NBA, would have to immediately close up shop in this country, losing hundreds of millions in the process.

While I admire the immigrant character of unperturbed focus and effort, I appreciate and support their public outrage to this racism – just as I support the voice of our Hispanic communities on immigration reform.

The NBA and their Players Association needs to be vocal on this, not only because of Houston super-star Yao Ming, or the 1.3 billion Chinese market, but because the shoe appears to be on their foot.

James C. Collier


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Friday, April 14, 2006

Law to Segregate Omaha Schools Divides Nebraska et al

Law to Segregate Omaha Schools Divides Nebraska - New York Times

Omaha Schools Split Along Ethnic Lines - Washington Post

NAACP Sues to Block Omaha Redistricting - AP

The revised districting of schools in Omaha along racial lines begs scrutiny. The discomfort of favorite son-billionaire Warren Buffet gives us a clue of where to start.

The national airing of pervasive segregation in his hometown embarrasses him, and other prominent citizens. But what is the cause of this segregation?

Are Omaha’s leaders simply bigots who never got the word, forty years ago, that red-lining is immoral, and illegal? Or is it that people of the same race simply prefer to live near each other, and we should not paint the city as a 1950’s backwater?

Furthermore, are the education needs of these communities such that localized control might significantly aide them? Black and Hispanic students are consistently underperforming White students, in amounts that insure lifelong subordination. Doing nothing is not an option.

Behaviors, not neighbors, drives performance. If local educators understand this, their kids should not be saddled with a perception problem, which may or may not be caused by racism.

James C. Collier


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Fairfax Success Masks Gap for Black Students et al

Fairfax Success Masks Gap for Black Students - Washington Post

'No Child' Law Raises Segregation Fear - Associated Press

States Omitting Minorities' Test Scores - Associated Press

Right and Rote Ways to 'Teach to the Test' - Washington Post

For Contractors, Education Law Means Money - Washington Post

Poll: Parents Confident About 'No Child' - Washington Post

A Celebration Of Excellence In Education - Washington Post

It is not surprising that Black students in wealthy Fairfax County underperform their counterparts in poorer school districts. The subtlety of the behavioral culprit shows both the pros and cons of ‘No Child Left Behind’ (NCLB).

NCLB has forced schools to focus on test results, and behavior. While instruction to minimum compliance may insure that more Black kids meet literacy requirements, this is not educating to span the Black White performance ‘gap’.

Just as vocational schools of earlier decades were optimized to produce blue-collar workers, troubled predominantly Black schools are optimizing for higher test scores. Wealthy districts, with traditional curriculums, remain focused on preparing students for higher education, leaving larger numbers of Black students to struggle.

There is no malice here. Schools are simply optimizing their predominant needs. Unfortunately, districts like Fairfax struggle to simultaneously serve disparate Black needs and show immediate results too.

The challenge is to capture and transfer the advancing attitude and behavioral gains that improve scores, to all students, including those in college-bound curriculums.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests

Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests - New York Times

We cannot understate the impact of finally discovering a useful benefit of our minuscule genetic differences. Who would have guessed that ‘out-foxing’ college applications with ancestral DNA would signal the death of ‘race science’?

This dubious pursuit of competitive advantage can only encourage us to re-evaluate why history has taken its course, rewarding some, forsaking others. Yes, we are different, but not for the reasons we have been taught.

World societies have advanced at varying rates for thousands of years, only to collide later with frightening results, including America’s indigenous decimation, and its enslavement of Africans. Evolutionary factors relative to food production, domestications, metallurgy, and critical thinking will speak their influence.

Geographical disadvantages of Africa will replace errant characterizing of its inhabitants, who are 99.9% originals of every other people. Europe will have to admit how its advantages and dominance arrived by nothing other than location, location, location.

But be warned, tired excuses, from all sides, are the casualties of progress.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Legislating While Black

Legislating While Black - Washington Post

My neighbor in Boston, a retired editor who happened to be a woman, had a word for columnist Marcus’ accommodation of Representative McKinney’s “outrageous” racial profiling accusation against a Capital officer, when he prevented her unidentified entry. Balderdash!

Such ‘strong’ New England language is well deserved in this case. Ms. McKinney does an unforgivable disservice to recipients of real racism, who merit serious attention when they put out the ‘call’ for help.

Playing of the race card, excepting if your name is Johnnie Cochran and the law demands it, should be a badge of shame, not one of honor, as McKinney seems to believe. Her ‘watered-down’ use of the charge is flat-out inexcusable, particularly in her public servant role and in the wake of 9/11.

Columnist Marcus’ creative reach into race and gender for an excuse, completely ignores the cognitive science pertaining to Cross Race Effect (CRE), describing the measurable reduced ability of people to recall accurate physical characteristics of those outside of their own racial group.

I assume, for now, that Representative McKinney ‘delivers’ for her district, despite her antics, and for this alone she deserves her seat. But let us not kid ourselves that her ill-conceived ‘hothead’ behavior accomplishes anything, other than a reduction of her contribution and influence to her office, along with desensitizing our responses to alerts of abuse.

James C. Collier


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A Hispanic Civil Rights Movement et al

A Hispanic Civil Rights Movement - Washington Post

Crossing the Line - Washington Post

Minutemen Aim to Build Ariz. Border Fences - Washington Post

Juan William’s article on 'A Hispanic Civil Rights Movement' conjures up California, 1944, and 8 year old Silvia Mendez. Long before Brown v. Board of Education, this little Mexican American girl led the way to end segregation.

Mendez v. Westminster, never went to the Supreme Court, because it was won in state court in 1945. The case ended segregation in California and set the precedent for Brown, and two of the central figures in the eventual 1954 case cut their teeth in her fight.

Future justice, Thurgood Marshall, submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the NAACP, with arguments he would later use in Brown. The case happened under the governorship of Earl Warren, who, by 1954, was chief justice.

In no previous time have two destinies, those of Blacks and Hispanics, together one quarter of the US population, been so aligned, even with the economic frustrations of both groups.

Each fights to achieve a level of education for it’s under performing young people, that will make them competitive. Each reels from the rejection of advancing behaviors and ‘acting White’ confusion.

But as Mr. Williams writes, Blacks hesitate to join the Hispanic fight, motivated by a zero-sum attitude that sees a cost to Blacks. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Making our society effective for one is good for all – a long tradition of civil rights.

When Williams’ ‘tongue-tied’ Blacks, and Whites, see patrolling ‘Minutemen’, they should consider how San Antonio, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, San Diego, LA, and SF came by their names, and just how our model of democracy came to possess these Mexican treasures.

James C. Collier


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Monday, April 10, 2006

Book Synopsis: Acting White (AW)

Author's Note: Below is my revised 'inside jacket cover' description for this book project. Hopefully, it will shed light on my motives and intentions. /JC

Blacks earned $0.73 for every dollar paid to whites. Black life span is, on average, nearly 8 years less than whites. Blacks are 6 times more likely to die from violence, as whites, and almost exclusively at the hands of other blacks. Blacks, while near-genetically identical to whites, under-perform those same whites on every standard intellectual measure, by an average of 27%. This disparity in performance extends to the workplace and cost the American economy over $440 billion a year in loss GNP, including more than $300 billion dollars per year in loss income to blacks.

Despite what you see and hear on the subject, today’s racial disparities were planted, not during America’s slavery, but thousands of years ago, in humanity’s birthplace, Africa. No, its not genetic inferiority, but rather the cold irony of human evolution, where generations of ancient black Africans fled a hostile continent on foot only to stumble upon the food and domesticate-able animal treasures of Eurasia’s Fertile Crescent, and begin the advances we live today. Their dark skin whitened over time and in adaptive response to staying alive with less sunlight. They returned home to Africa thousands of years later to capture and colonize their remaining Black-skinned brothers, not knowing their own origins, or caring why they were mightier. They reasoned that their dominance must be because they were white, but they were so wrong.

How did the decision to walk out of Africa, thousands of years ago, give the newly-minted Afro-Europeans and Afro-Asians the tools and methods of dominion, and how has this led, in part, to today’s outcomes where African-Americans are on the bottom? While we fixate on skin-color, a malleable trait of vitamin D production, we ignore the immigrant character of the curious among us who persist in finding and making a better way for themselves. Who could imagine that the real ‘Bell-Shaped Curve’ of intelligence reflects the distinctions of an all-African community of those who stayed home versus those who fled north for ‘greener’ pastures?

Unraveling the migration from Africa revises the roles of African chiefs who delivered tribesman and their families, in mass, to the Atlantic Slave Trade and the Americas. It revises the role of brutish European slave ship captains and trading company backers who profited from the sale of Africans to the new world. It also revises the context of African-slavery where, in the earlier times, inhabitants would have simply been killed in the tribal competition for survival. Finally it unearths the role of malaria, perhaps the oldest human disease, in creating a one-way doorway out of Africa, that persist even today.

But what about the influence of 400 years in America? Where is the real power? How might black consumption of technology not be the same as creating it? Today’s American Blacks earn less that 3% of the type of science and engineering degrees required to create technology and claim an ownership stake. How does this disparity keep the downtrodden on the outside, looking in?

Acting White (AW) confronts the most difficult and taboo subjects influencing racism, black under-performance, and the plight of blacks. The author’s own journey from the working-class to Harvard Business School and the high-tech executive domains of Lotus/IBM, H-P and Apple, has pushed him to piece together a critical analysis where, culture, heredity, geography and evolution explain themselves, as if lives depend on it – and they do.

The battleground for solutions is presented as having at least two fronts, the first being to rescue future generations through early-age programs of fetal-newborn nutrition, parenting, and infant/child socialization toward, not away from, advancing behaviors centered on education. The second front is ‘reclaiming-through-retraining’ troubled youth/young adults, via a national relief corps, as an alternative to remanding youth into the ‘revolving door’ vocational-prison industry.

With this new perspective from AW, the reader is taken on a journey of ‘ah-ha moments’. Ever-present racism is repositioned from being the primary driver of what motivates whites and thwarts blacks. AW smashes the paradigm of race as the leading influence, as we have come to know it. Beginning with the hows and whys of our biological differences in skin, eyes, and hair color, AW illuminates an instructive path of race from Africa to America – and where we go from here.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Dyson vs Cosby vs Collier

Cosby: Blacks Should Fix Own Communities - AP

The Injustice Bill Cosby Won't See - Washington Post

Talking Points
Bill Cosby vs. Michael Eric Dyson vs. James C. Collier

Michael Eric Dyson takes Bill Cosby on head-to-head with each issue that he brings up in his now infamous NAACP speech from May 17, 2004. Here are some highlights:

Cosby: "Just forget telling your child to join the Peace Corps. It's right around the corner. (laughter) It's standing on the corner. It can't speak English. It doesn't want to learn English. I can't even talk the way these people talk."
Dyson: "Cosby's poisonous view of young folks who speak a language he can barely parse [Ebonics] simmers with hostility and resentment." And "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Cosby's lauded '70s television cartoon series, won greater acceptance for a new cast of black identities and vernacular language styles. Cosby has made money and gained further influence from using forms of black English he now violently detests."
Collier: “I think Mr. Cosby’s point is that today’s Black kids are not bi-lingual, in the sense that Black English is unique and ubiquitous, nor are they, to a greater extent, bi-cultural, to the requirements of society. The ability to move ‘seamlessly’ between the ‘standard English’ requirements of school and work and the informal language of the street is a prerequisite both for advancement and maintaining uniqueness.”

Cosby: "People with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack. Isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up (laughter and clapping)."
Dyson: "Baggy clothes express identity among black youth, and not just beginning with hip-hop culture. Moreover, young black entrepreneurs like Sean 'P. Diddy' Colms and Russell Simmons have made millions from their clothing lines."
Collier: “Emulating styles is one thing; emulating prison-inspired dress is another. When style of dress implies a mindset and behavior that includes the rejection of education, and other advancing assimilations, including lawful behavior, those styles should be recognized as not mere expressions of identity, but rather as counter-productive behavior. The fact the Mister’s Combs and Simmons have made millions commercializing prison-inspired styles does not make it acceptable.

Cosby: "Those people are not Africans, they don't know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail."
Dyson: "Names like Shaniqua and Taliqua are meaningful cultural expressions of self-determination.I think that it does have something to do with African roots of black identity, and perhaps with Cosby's ignorance and discomfort with those roots.Cosby's ornery, ill-informed diatribe against black-naming is a snapshot of his assault on poor black identity." And "Given the vicious way blacks have been targeted for incarceration, Cosby's comments about poor blacks who end up in jail are dangerously naïve and empirically wrong."
Collier: “Black knowledge of Africa and Black naming conventions have little to do with each other, or the disproportional incarceration rate of young Black men. The frustration of the elder Cosby, with Black lawlessness, is reflected as impatience with superfluous naming behaviors. While his editorial argument is fallacious, his frustration with high and rising rates of Black incarceration is more than legitimate.

Cosby: "The city and all these people have to pick up the tab on them [poor African Americans] because they don't want to accept that they have to study to get an education."
Dyson: "If the rigidly segregated education system continues to fail poor blacks by failing to prepare their children for the world of work, then admonitions to 'stay in school' may ring hollow.In suburban neighborhoods, there are $60-million schools with state-of-the-art technology, while inner city schools desperately fight for funding for their students."
Collier: “Mr. Cosby is correct that there is a tab for the under performance of Blacks - $440 billion dollars per year in loss GDP to be exact. While Blacks pay the greatest price, all of America pays as well. Inequities in school funding certainly exist, but it is the consistent failure of Blacks to mitigate whatever gaps exist in resources, however small or large, with self-determination and commitment to their better futures, via assimilation, that in turn places them on the bottom.

Cosby: "I'm talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was two? (clapping) Where were you when he was twelve? (clapping) Where were you when he was eighteen, and how come you don't know he had a pistol? (clapping)"
Dyson: "And then there are the problems of the working poor: folk who rise up early every day and often work more than forty hours a week, and yet barely, if ever, make it above the poverty level. We must acknowledge the plight of both poor black (single) mothers and poor black fathers, and the lack of social support they confront. Hence, it is incredibly difficult to spend as much time with children as poor black parents might like, especially since they will be demonized if they fail to provide for their children's basic needs."
Collier: “Growing up poor is difficult, no matter who a person is or where they live – but it can never be a codified excuse for failure in the midst of opportunity, however imperfect that opportunity. Rising above the status handed to us at birth is a personal endeavor that we must ultimately take as an individual responsibility, not because others are not contributors, but rather because the question ‘am I my brother’s keeper?’ speaks to an ideal, not the reality.

Cosby: "All this child knows is 'gimme, gimme, gimme.' These people want to buy the friendship of a child.and the child couldn't care less.and these people are not parenting. They're buying things for the kid. $500 sneakers, for what? And they won't spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics. (clapping)"
Dyson: "And yet, some of the engaged critique he [Cosby] seeks to make of black folk—of their materialism, their consumptive desires, their personal choices their moral aspirations, their social conscience—is broadcast with much more imagination and insight in certain quarters of hip-hop culture. (Think of Kanye West's track, "All Falls Down," which displays a self-critical approach to the link between consumption and the effort to ward off racial degradation.)"
Collier: “Black consumption reflects both a willingness to trade short-term comfort and enjoyment for long-term gains, as well as a vulnerability, similar to that of the rest of America, to the ‘take no prisoners’ marketing of material goods. Hip/hop and Rap music, contrary to Mr. Dyson, largely glorifies this short-term strategy and tactic for living.

Cosby: "I don't know who these people [poor African Americans] are."
Dyson: "The poor folk Cosby has hit the hardest are most vulnerable to the decisions of the powerful groups of which he has demanded the least: public policy makers, the business and social elite and political activists. Poor black folk cannot gain asylum from the potentially negative effects of Cosby's words on public policy makers and politicians who decide to put into play measures that support Cosby's narrow beliefs."
Collier: “Our constitution should be amended to say citizens are guaranteed ‘life, liberty, and the competitive pursuit of happiness...” The poor people Mr. Cosby is saying he does not understand, suffer disproportionately from their choices, ahead of the rest of us. The passage of laws cannot offer the promise of not becoming someone else’s victim, but rather the opportunity of not becoming a victim, through the protection of available choices.

Cosby: "They're [poor African Americans] just hanging out in the same place, five or six generations sitting in the projects when you're just supposed to stay there long enough to get a job and move out."
Dyson: "Cosby completely ignores shifts in the economy that give value to some work while other work, in the words of William Julius Wilson 'disappears.' In our high-tech, high-skilled economy where low-skilled work is being scaled back, phased out, exported, or severely under-compensated, all the right behavior in the world won't create better jobs with more pay."
Collier: “I think Mr. Cosby is proposing that there is no substitute for the competitive response of the individual that converts social program support into economic change, with a high degree of urgency. Macro-economic shifts are going to occur, but it is a choice as to whether any group is disproportionately affected, as a function of their reaction to the change(s).

Cosby: "God is tired of you."
Dyson: "No matter how you judge Cosby's comments, you can't help but believe that a great deal of his consternation with the poor stems from his desire to remove the shame he feels in their presence and about their activity in the world. There's nothing like a formerly poor black multimillionaire bashing poor blacks to lend credence to the ancient assaults they've endured from the dominant culture."
Collier: “We all feel shame. However, the position of Black’s at the head of the line at America’s ‘complaint window’ has worn thin, including victim mentalities. This statement of frustration sums up what everyone, looking across the debate at their counterparts, feels with the issues of Black plight. The fact that Mr. Cosby utters these words is a function and combination of his celebrity status and dramatic wit.

Cosby: "You can't land a plane with 'why you ain't.' You Can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.where did these people get the idea that they're moving ahead on this."
Dyson: "Cosby's overemphasis on personal responsibility, not structural features, wrongly locates the source of poor black suffering—and by implication its remedy—in the lives of the poor."
Collier: “Mr. Cosby represents his personal reality – one of starting poor and ending up rich, largely because of choices and actions he took significantly of his own volition. This is what worked for him, as well as many others. Mr. Dyson’s ‘structure’ or system will never relocate Black people to parity with Whites, as it has no motive or opportunity, or DNA, to accomplish this. Personal responsibility is the final frontier, whether we like it or not.

James C. Collier


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Condoleezza Rice on Piano et al

Condoleezza Rice on Piano - New York Times,

Rice to visit Europe -- and maybe beyond - Washington Post

Condoleezza Rice's Favorite Songs - Washington Post

While I am not a fan of many of Condoleezza Rice's biddings as Secretary of State, I applaud her accomplishments nonetheless, something many African-Americans have too hard a time doing.

Much of the satire out of the Black community pokes mean-spirited fun at her for 'acting White', whether it is her hairstyle, clothes, speech, musical taste, as featured in your article, or Republican views.

What Black people are failing to capitalize on is her example of how far education, hard work, and perseverance can take a person-of-color these days.

Partisanship should not deny Black kids the showcase of the path to her position as Secretary of State, and advisor to the President.

As a Black woman, she has clearly overcome many obstacles in her life. Unlike Justice Thomas, there seems to be no 'race card' in her repertoire. Black people should show Ms. Rice, and the potential she demonstrates, more respect.

James C. Collier


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Blacks Turn to Internet Highway, And Digital Divide Starts to Close

Blacks Turn to Internet Highway, And Digital Divide Starts to Close - The New York Times

The progress Marriott speaks of merits caveat emptor 'let the buyer beware'. Consuming technology is not the same as creating it.

The article mostly describes the Internet as a consumption vehicle. Connected Blacks do gain, but not from contributing to this advancing technology.

Contributing comes from participating in its creation and diffusion, including the acquisition of underlying engineering and science skills.

The National Science Foundation reports that from 1992-2001, Blacks earned only 3% of PhDs in engineering science. This under performance is a sobering and continuing indication of Black inability to span the digital divide.

The number of PhDs is critical because results at the top of the technology waterfall indicate progress in the early education of Black kids. Using the Internet to bolster advancing skills, rather than consumption, should be the focus.

When the pittance of Black PhDs in engineering sciences increases, then we celebrate.

James C. Collier


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Plight Deepens For Black Men, Studies Warn

Plight Deepens For Black Men, Studies Warn - The New York Times


Indeed, young Black men are experiencing terrible times, as states the article in the New York Times, on March 20, 2006, by Eric Eckholm. Why would they not? They are at the front of the line of both representing and witnessing the catastrophic failure of their performance in society, beginning in elementary school, with all the unspoken conclusions about Blacks that this brings. No one feels more inferior than do Black men when they look at themselves and the plight of their group. After all, they are suppose to be the leaders and providers for their families, but as the statistics clearly show, they are failing to take care of themselves, not to mention their loved ones.

I disagree, however, with Professor Ronald Mincy, that we are ignoring Black men. More accurately, we are paying them and the rest of our understanding the poorest of watchful attention. Attention that fails to acknowledge the 'elephant in the living room'. The self-image and behavior of Black men is wholly consistent with everyone elses view of them, that of a group that cannot cut it in these competitive United States. But less we fall into a familiar lament, Black men do not hate themselves, rather and in the words of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, they simply hate being losers, albeit in a dysfunctional manner that would certainly distress the Hall of Famer. Like the rest of society, they have no plausible explanation for why they are in their predicament. Telling them to stop hanging on street corners and making babies, while understandable, is not in any way persuasive guidance, against the tide of self-destructiveness. The behaviors we see, by the time Black men become statistics of news articles, are manifestations of frustration from life-long under performance, minus a bankable explanation. White people looking for a place to begin their understanding need only ask themselves how they would feel, and act, if they believed about themselves what Whites and Blacks honestly believe about Blacks.

Now to be fair to all sides, the problem with our beliefs is that they are not malicious, just wrong, only representing society's poor guess at the cause of the problem. Without a doubt, we all see the same thing, with the same conclusion, including our different reactions. The raising of Black male frustration to the art form of self-destructive, prison-inspired, rap culture is only one paradoxical example of what the mix of creativity and utter frustration can bring, while the rest of us busy ourselves chasing the American Dream, and buffering ourselves from these boyz/men-in-the-hood.

What Black men need is what we all need - good answers. Answers that persuade us to stop the wholesale mis-labeling of right, or advancing behaviors, as White. Who died and made rightness the providence of Whites? Answers, that convince us that, while Black and White genes are 99.9% exact duplicates, our willingness to assimilate winning behaviors from anyone, regardless of color, at anytime, is not. Answers that convince Blacks to stop waiting for an invitation that came a long time ago, not as a smile, not as a handshake, not scented with a dinner menu, and certainly not as an apology, but simply as a unlocked door awaiting any earnest turn of the knob, and sometimes a stout shoulder.

For now, Blacks will continue to suffer the high cost of their refusal to play the opportunity game to win, first as kids in school, and finally as adults in a society with power over them. Jackie Robinson, was a student of the game and of winning, with the cards he was dealt, knowing the future would get better, and it did. The start is simple - study the game, play to win, and never be a good loser.

James C. Collier


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