Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Black, Hispanic Pupils See School As Tough

Black, Hispanic Pupils See School As Tough - AP

The survey results revealing that Black and Hispanic kids view their school environments as ‘tough’ dovetails with the disparity between the social and cognitive preparation that these kids get outside and inside of school. This is further reason for educators and the public to emphasize pre-school education programs that would start kids out more on par.

To begin, we should understand, 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education, most schools in the US are still segregated, like our neighborhoods. While the administration and curriculums of schools are similar, if not identical, children enter with disparities in early childhood development and preparation that place minority kids at greater social and cognitive disadvantage, vis-à-vis status quo public education.

While top researchers have inventoried all the things that poor kids do not receive that hurts them, like books, computers, pre-natal care, healthy diets, and regular exercise, they are reticent to speak of what these kids do get that thwarts their performance prior to and once in school. This reticence comes, understandably, from the fear of accusations of racism.

It is not race that drives the difference, but rather the influence of the locations of our societies of origin. Those societies represent different states of technological advancement, dating back thousands of years, but whose influence is still with us today. This influence is most readily captured in modern terms by the United Nations Development Program’s technology achievement index (TAI) for countries. This index measures the evolution of societies, with respect to creation, assimilation, and diffusion of advancing methods and skills, or what we call technology.

Race has unfortunately been the divisive surrogate for geography-influenced behaviors, and good science still struggles to unburden us of the unscientific application of superficial genetics to our differences. When we understand and accept why kids, in this case, come to school with certain behaviors that either hinder or aid in their advancement, we will see the performance gaps begin to close. Without assignments of race to blind us, but rather geography-influenced progressions, we will undoubtedly figure out how to persuasively impart and accept advancing behaviors regardless of their ‘color’ of origin.

James C. Collier


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Progress on AIDS Is Focus of Assembly et al

Progress on AIDS Is Focus of Assembly - Washington Post

U.N. Says Promises Broken in AIDS Fight - AP

AIDS Activists Protest at U.N. Building - AP

New battle lines emerging in Asia anti-AIDS fight - Reuters

U.N. Says India Now Has Most AIDS Cases - AP

Fight AIDS at a Store Near You - Washington Post

U.N. Group Sets Compromise on AIDS Policy - Washington Post

Another $10 Billion - Washington Post

The other day I sent a note to a cycling friend of mine, Peter Dolan who also happens to be the CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), the 19 billion dollar US pharmaceutical company. The occasion was to offer him my personal thanks for a BMS initiative I had read about, whereby his company and Baylor Medical School were teaming up to send 250 doctors to Africa to provide AIDS/HIV treatment.

While thanking him, I also acknowledged the ‘cold-equation’ of the spread of the virus across Africa against the monumental tasks of combating it. Currently, only one in five Africans are slated to get treatment, leaving the other 80%, many of who are children, to surely perish. The world-wide donated monies, upwards of $10 billion this year, flowing to fight the disease are less than half of what is required and this difference is expected to get worse as the disease progresses at a faster pace than treatment.

Fighting AIDS/HIV is tremendously difficult because transmission is intertwined with behaviors that are difficult and slow to change, as we have seen here in the US. Furthermore, treatment programs that, at best, keep the disease in check, are substantially more expensive and complex to administer.

Nonetheless, Peter’s words gave me positive pause, and are worth repeating:

Thanks for the words of encouragement…This is only the latest and the tip of the iceberg in terms of what BMS has done regarding AIDS in Africa. Years ago we lowered the price to our manufactured costs, we aren't enforcing patents in Africa, we have built/are building 7 pediatric clinics that treat thousands and we are teaching generic companies who promise to keep the medicine in Africa and India how to make our newest and most innovative therapies while they are still early in their patent life. We've funded over 200 grants and have committed $150 million (second only to the Gates Foundation) since 1999. Our efforts are well known among the international AIDS community, much less so in the US. Check out Secure the Future on our website if you are interested in more.
Hope you are doing well. good luck with the book!

As the leaders and the faithful in the AIDS/HIV battle continue to find new ways to meet the challenges of the disease, both at home and round the world, I will look for more ways to get involved, while I offer these legions the same encouragement that I sent to Peter – thanks and keep up your good work.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

California Initiative Renews Preschool Debate et al

California Initiative Renews Preschool Debate - Washington Post

Study Backs Calif. Preschool Proposal - Washington Post

Calif. Preschool Measure Runs Into Trouble - AP

California Initiative Renews Preschool Debate - Washington Post

It is encouraging to see educators’ debating the merits of pre-school programs, as this is the time and place where leading research first recognizes the group disparities that are driving performance in school and into the workplace. The economic plight and disparities of Blacks and Hispanics is the direct result of our inattentiveness to early-age challenges.

While encouraging, there is also the danger that these programs will not survive because we are lacking an understanding of why they often times work and how to make their impact consistent and permanent. Those who are against the programs are voicing bona fide concern, regarding short and long-term program efficacy, which is not yet clear.

The positive impact of these programs is largely driven by the behavioral influence of pre-school on malleable young minds. Pre-school children are not so much taught academics, but more reasonably how to think about learning and their environment, often without the instructors specific knowing it. They are getting an invaluable pre-education in logic, structure, values and the discipline of thinking and doing, prior to the first academic layers of reading, writing and arithmetic.

To the degree that these programs are well thought out and executed, the positive results are significant. The issue is that they are not long lasting for most of the children because their home and later social environments are not re-enforcing. Counter-developmental and academic cultural norms assert themselves too often, resulting in the regression of advancing behaviors learned.

It is critical that our society invest in understanding how to provide every pre-school child with a solid learning foundation, and one that places social premiums on early age assimilation of advancing behaviors. When re-enforced at home, these programs deliver maximum leverage to elementary school success, the pivot to full and long-term participation in the opportunities of our country.

James C. Collier


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Monday, May 29, 2006

Ruthless at Last, Bonds Hits 715th et al

Ruthless at Last, Bonds Hits 715th - Washington Post

Five Reasons Why Babe Ruth is Better Than Barry Bonds - Washington Post

Beer Here! Thirsty Fan Gets Bonds' HR Ball - AP

The Call Not Heard 'Round The World - AP

Bonds Hits 714th Homer, Ties Ruth - Washington Post - Washington Post

It is poetic justice that the baseball fan that ended up with Barry Bond’s tie-busting home-run ball, had used the controversial player’s at-bat to grab a hot dog or such, wherein while in line the valuable ball fell literally into his lap. This guy, probably the smartest person in the park, cared as much about watching Bonds as Bonds seems to care about his team, not very much.

I happen to be at the Giants game the day before Bonds broke Ruth’s record, and through my binoculars, I was amazed at the hitter’s show of un-sportsmanship and selfishness. Baseball indeed suffers from racism, but Bond’s problem is not racism, but jerkism, his own. Should fans ignore his behavior to prove that they are not racist? Let us hope not.

Sure, I had heard the guy had problems, but I was also willing to let him slide because I also remember what racist brutality Hank Aaron went through when it became clear that he would become the greatest hitter of all time. But what I saw of Bonds literally turned my stomach, and made me glad my son had opted for a birthday party that day instead. Smart boy.

When one of the Giants scored early in the game the entire team, except for Bonds, greeted and congratulated him in the dugout. Strike one. Later in the game, on base from a walk, Bonds, along with a teammate, scored on a triple by a third teammate. Bonds did not wait at home base, as is customary, for his trailing teammate, to congratulate him and be received together into the dugout. Strike two.

On the day he broke the record, even as he has ignored them, his team and the Giants fans still showered him with affection. Nonetheless, I had the feeling that Barry’s race card was at-the-ready awaiting the slightest whiff of hesitation by anyone. He has used it often to explain why people treat him so poorly. Wrong. Strike three.

Notice that I have not said anything about steroids. Why? Because it is a complex issue, and much like racism, the view is not clear. But, after reaching 715, what is not complex is why people do not like Barry Bonds. I saw it with my own two eyes, the man is indeed a jerk, and an embarrassment.

James C. Collier


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Friday, May 26, 2006

Stop the Black-Only Treatment

Stop the Black-Only Treatment - Washington Post

Researchers have proven the efficacy of isolating groups for study. However, isolation as a remedy, unto itself, is laden with traps, the most obvious being the introduction of influence factors that distort and confuse potential findings in uncontrollable ways.

Black Male Initiatives (BMI) inherently postulate at least two errant macro-assumptions about Black males, and that which challenges them. The first is that their issues are more significantly external, and therefore controllable by isolation. The second is that once the target efficacy is achieved, that it can be sustained as the group re-integrates into society.

A second problem with BMI’s is in their unscientific approach. They attempt to re-engineer solutions by experimenting on an isolated, but uncontrolled population, with the goal of somehow ‘fixing’ them. This approach, at best, hopes to stumble across effective applications to the issues the group is facing. Even if improvement occurs, identification and assignment of factors across multiple interrelating variables is nearly impossible.

Lastly, the most significant Black male, as well as female, issue is school performance beginning in elementary school and leading up to high school, with atrocious graduation rates averaging just over 50%. While Black males also suffer low college graduation, so few get to college that we must wonder how studying them provides hope for the 'ground-zero' of early education where nearly half are disqualified.

Spending public monies on questionable programs aimed at gender and race sub-sets raises issues of relevance and equity, as well as legality. Are we doing the same for similarly challenged Hispanics, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders? No one is saying that Black males do not need attention, but when the problems show so prevalently in the first grade, as education research shows, we need to ask ourselves if college-level BMI’s programs are more distracting than potentially illuminating.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dropout Data Raise Questions on 2 Fronts et al

Dropout Data Raise Questions on 2 Fronts - Washington Post

Counting Diplomas and 9th-Graders - Washington Post

Tracking Students Over Time Using Surveys - Washington Post

A Clearer Picture Of Who Graduates - Washington Post

If we think things are confusing now, regarding the number of high school diplomas being handed out, just wait until the full impact of high school exit exams hits. These exams, partly the results of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and new state initiatives, are going to give new and better indicators of exactly what a high school diploma is worth, across the country.

California is currently in a battle for making the exit test, introduced since 1999, part of the requirement for graduation. While the state-to-state requirements may differ slightly, in California graduates must pass an 8th grade math, and 10th grade English exam. Given the years that schools have had to prepare for the requirement, it comes as no surprise that judgment day has, or nearly, arrived in many states.

It seems fair to expect students to pass these minimum requirements, even though civil attorneys are arguing just this point. However, it is painful to hear proponent educators say that the exit exams are part of helping kids go to college. Might they be speaking of Burger King U?

If going to college represents the ‘ceiling’ of high school attainment, reflected in Advanced Placement curriculums (AP), these exit exams are the ‘floor’, with the ultimate goal hopefully being to bring the two of them together. This togetherness will take more than the current efforts. The inevitable racial disparities in exam results, which we already see in California, will eventually become news nationwide.

The question of the drivers of the disparity will get more attention and focus, as it should. This attention will stop the behavior of simply passing kids on regardless of readiness, and letting the marketplace tell us the magnitude of their limited skill sets. This testing is a hopeful start, but we should not think it mitigates the full set of performance challenges. More accurately, it spotlights critical, but known, issues around current minimum results in educating our children.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Calculating Diplomas for Class of 2009 et al

Calculating Diplomas for Class of 2009 - Washington Post

Calif. Supreme Court Reinstates Exit Exam - AP

Reconnecting Young Black Men - Washington Post

Calif. Seniors Upset With Exit-Exam Ruling - AP

It is disturbingly ironic that the federal government, through No Child Left Behind (NCLB), is in the business of making sure that kids actually learn a minimum of something in school.

There was a time when parents and teachers thought it was their responsibility that their kids learned as much as possible. However, a cardinal rule of motivation was broken, mostly with good intent.

Blacks, who were disadvantaged because Whites were racists, found amends by a reversing of rules of the game. Skin color, which had been used to bar their entry, became the ‘ticket’, and we believed this was fair, until we began to question its efficacy.

Unbeknownst to us, and accompanying this fairness, parents and teachers also decided that they no longer mattered in the education equation. Each backed away from their earlier roles as the highest authority.

However, no one understood that affirmative action could not be forever. Skin color could not become a permanent motivator to who would promote, less it become the twin of the original unfairness.

So now we have state and federal testing to minimally force our motivation back into alignment. But like affirmative action, it should only be a start, as what we really require are engaged parents and teachers who take back the responsibility for how much, not how little, students must learn to become contributing adults.

James C. Collier


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Monday, May 22, 2006

In Germany, Concern Over Racial Violence at World Cup et al

In Germany, Concern Over Racial Violence at World Cup - Washington Post

Germany to Beef Up Patrols During World Cup - AP

A Transatlantic Conference Tackles Migration's Challenges - WashingtonPost

Britain's Goal: Hooligans Don't Get Past the Local Pub - WashingtonPost

German far-right in spotlight as World Cup looms - Reuters

It might initially seem reasonable for Blacks to look at the racism in Germany, revealed in the rise of neo-Nazi activities, and simply think of it as what happens with the unrestrained attitudes of Whites. After all, this view is consistent with 'Whites as racists' and the rest of a German history, which delivered two world wars and the holocaust.

However, before we become too attached to our superiority over the obvious hatred preparing to play it self out on dark-skinned world-cup fans in Germany, let us switch the ‘shoe’ to the other foot. What would happen if millions of, mostly White, soccer fans descended on California, or some other state-side host?

Instead of 'no-go' areas around Berlin, we would expect the warnings to extend to places like South Central Los Angeles, Compton, East Oakland and Richmond. Might we fear the version of our own violent dysfunction that we are now contemplating for Germany? After all, the violent crime rates in these parts of California, at times, feels like war.

We might also worry that our criminal element might too easily coax from their home turf, beckoned by the thought of so much ‘easy’ prey. Police departments would be on heightened alert. Civil liberties would certainly take a hit, in the name of keeping the lid on the ‘boiling pot’. These thoughts are not so far-fetched.

It is true that the street gangs of California would probably be more interested in profit from any crime they might commit, rather than the satisfaction a racist beating provides for a neo-Nazi skinhead, but that distinction is most likely unimportant, in either venue, to the recipient of the violence, or worse, their bereaved families.

So as we approach, with hope, the next month of world cup soccer in Germany, let’s remember that no place has a monopoly on problems or solutions, and that our ‘shoes’ are more interchangeable, in this world, than we sometimes first consider.

James C. Collier


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Principal's Demotion Roils Freedom High

Principal's Demotion Roils Freedom High - Washington Post

A Lesson in Arrogance - Washington Post

Do not be surprised if school districts and teacher’s unions begin providing and negotiating for ‘foot in mouth’ insurance in their roles as educators. As the performance pressure increase against persistent racial disparities around programs like No Child Left Behind (NCLB), as well as Advanced Placement (AP) curriculums, there will be a greater need for increased protection.

The bottom line is that educators have no explanation, along with any feeling of control, with respect to the performance of their students. They are educating as they were taught, but to dismal results for too many. Inasmuch as they are frustrated and clueless, they are bound to default to the historical racist context. It is inevitable and not completely their own fault.

The brightest minds in education have yet to connect the dots as to why Asian kids outperform Whites, who in turn outperform Blacks and Hispanics in predictable amounts. In the mean time, ‘best guess’ racism will continue to grow, as people, including educators, simply try to protect themselves and those they care about from becoming collateral damage in the thrashing that ensues.

While we are beginning to focus attention on discretionary behaviors that drive performance, our understanding of the modern influence of evolution dating back hundreds, and even thousands, of years, has a long way to go before it will ultimately shed its light on the subject. Even so, how societies developed, through the ages, is showing significant promise in explaining behaviors that we hold onto and, at times, let go, in the name of self-advancement.

Racism will be with us for a long time to come, and there will never be a good excuse for it, but understanding where it comes from is crucial to combating it in all its forms, be it malicious or born of ignorance.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Protests mount in India over college caste quotas et al

Protests mount in India over college caste quotas - Reuters

Doctors block roads in India caste quota protests - Reuters

Thousands of Doctors Strike in New Delphi - AP

Indian police beat students backing caste quota - AP

India Threatens to Fire Hundreds of Docs - AP

Taking a look at India’s ‘reservation’ program, that country’s analog to U.S. affirmative action, is independently illustrative of why over 40 years of this initiative, with all its promise, has done little to pull the whole of 39 million US Blacks from the economic doldrums.

India, a third-world nation of 1.1 billion people, is struggling against a historical backdrop of a caste system whereby five groups are roughly distributed across socio-economic strata determining jobs, housing, salary, and wealth. While it was officially abolished over 50 years ago, it remains in predominant force.

The lowest caste members, including the ‘untouchables’, must traverse countless barriers their entire lives to attain special consideration for a university education or government job. The ineffectiveness of challenging disparity by reserving spaces at the final developmental stop, before a group member enters the economy, is much studied and indisputable, but nonetheless the mainstay of their initiative.

Mitigating the caste system by legal means has proven impossible, just as civil rights laws in this country have failed to bring about true equal opportunity and parity. Laws do not make people do the right thing, but rather set limits on how much of the wrong thing they are allowed to dispense, before deserving sanction.

The right thing is paying attention to schools in poor neighborhoods with the same vigor as those in wealthy areas. The right thing is creating education programs that are optimized to preparing disadvantaged kids to go to college, not to pass a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) tests, that point the way to a spot behind the counter at McDonald’s.

Urban Advanced Placement (AP) programs are great for ferreting out the subset of Black high school kids, who like the ‘talented-tenth’ of lower caste India, are able to muster themselves to the front of the line, for their reserved spot. But what happens to the greater group of Black kids who do not fit AP curriculums originally designed for White kids? They simply disappear into the statistics.

India has the excuse that they are a poor country, simply unable to help their kids at the beginning of their journey to parity. This may be true, but what excuse does America have when we provide hundreds of billions of dollars of aid to the world, while our own children get so little of what they need.

When you control for the differences in industrial status between India and the US, their version of affirmative action, like in the US, helps a fortunate few, while leaving the masses to feel even less adequate and supported to the challenges of contributing citizenship. However well intentioned, affirmative action’s dismal results merit a complete overhaul of how this country challenges and supports minority progress.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mayor Says Pastor Should Apologize for Words on Gays et al

Mayor Says Pastor Should Apologize for Words on Gays - Washington Post

Bishop Owens Responds - Washington Post

Gays, God and Bishop Owens - Washington Post

Black Churches Renew Focus On AIDS Fight - Washington Post

Whether a sincere apology is offered or not by the Washington D.C. pastor, who referred, in a recent sermon, to homosexuals as 'faggots and sissies', this outburst reflects the carte blanche that clergy have wielded, down through the ages, to encourage the exercise of bad deeds in the name of God.

To equate the mayor’s request for an apology to religious censorship and, by inference, telling God what to say, is but an attempt to shield bigotry with the bible. By example, the bible instructs slaves to mind their masters, but we can be sure that clergy all over the world, especially in the District, would have no problem instructing their followers to revise their interpretation.

Let us not confuse the labeling of homosexuality as sin, with bigoted name-calling from the pulpit. The labeling of any particular behavior as sinful is an exercise of religious freedom and constitutionally guaranteed speech. Vulgar name-calling woven into scripture, alternatively, is the kind of miss-guided exhortation that encourages congregation members to go out and discriminate in vital services, and even feel justified in ‘bashing’ the alleged ‘sinners’.

Furthermore, this type of leadership encourages the prevalence of ‘down-low’, or clandestine, homosexual behavior in the Black community that helps to maintain the threat of HIV-AIDS, and its devastating toll. Too many Black men live in fear of just this type of response, keeping double lives that put innocent wives and partners at risk.

As victims of bigotry and discrimination, we would hope that Black people would have a heightened rejection of all its forms, but this is too often not the case. Clergy leadership needs to be held to the standards of no less than their ‘cloth’. We should not accept such un-Christian invocations, in God’s name, to contort the requirement of treating each other with care and dignity.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nagin Is Reelected In New Orleans et al

A City's Changing Face - Washington Post

Landrieus Have Firm Grip on La. Politics - AP

New Orleans Mayoral Candidates Debate - AP

New Orleans In a Tempest Over 'Deluge' - Washington Post

New Orleans Race For Mayor Is Tight - Washington Post

New Orleans Election Is Too Close to Call - AP

Nagin Is Reelected In New Orleans - Washington Post

Nagin's Optimism Meets Realism - Washington Post

While it may serve both candidates in the short-run, vowing to keep race out of the New Orleans mayoral challenge does not serve the interest of the people. Are the candidates offering that they cannot have a constructive dialog about issues of race without baiting, and race-politics? Let us hope this is not true.

Regardless of what the candidates say over the next few days, the ‘elephant’ of race is definitely sitting in the living room. Indeed, once the discussion goes beyond hurricanes and levees, race will hopefully come out of the shadows.

Like most southern dialogs involving race, whether governed by old or new tradition, the partition remains of what is talked about openly, and what is discussed behind closed doors. The open discussion pertains to who will become mayor of the city’s revitalization. The backroom discussion, however named, is about avoiding the ‘Black problem’, the crisis of Black plight in America.

To call it the ‘Black problem’ is neither to blame Blacks, nor relieve Whites of their responsibility, but instead to place the ultimate burden of the challenge where the pain squarely falls, on Black people. This burden has existed since the emancipation of slaves, nearly 143 years ago. It is time that the group said to themselves, we have had enough!

Saying enough means demanding an accounting of the lives of New Orleans Blacks, and their counterparts throughout the South and urban America, who are not nearly doing as well as the country wants to believe. It is time the polite covers came off the discussion.

The restoration of New Orleans harkens back to post civil war reconstruction, where there was maximum attention on the land, buildings, and plight of southern Whites, with much less attention given to the people who were, in part, the subject of the battle.

Today’s flood-ravaged city is an open view port into the ‘The Black Belt’, 623 counties stretching from Texas to Virginia, housing approximately half of the nation’s Blacks. This region has a stranglehold on the country’s highest poverty and unemployment, and lowest education. Add to this poor health care, higher infant mortality, and social dependence, and the word crisis begins to sound inadequate.

Tending to the needs of New Orleans’s economy is a status quo approach, particularly when what they are missing is proper bricks and mortar. Blacks, on the other hand, are missing the opportunity for lives they and their ancestors earned through sweat and suffering. But the critical part of the missing ingredients is honest self-assessment.

When leaders and their hopeful challengers, promise to solve problems, which our experience tells us they do not understand, by avoiding the discussion, we should be alarmed. We are deceiving ourselves again, and our desperation is complicit. This Katrina ‘neutron-relief’ strategy is sure to have buildings re-standing, while Black people continue to fall.

Now let us talk honestly. Yes racism exists, but it does not come close to explaining why 39 million Black Americans, in aggregate, are ensconced to America’s economic bottom. One undeniable factor, however, is the contiguous education and skills gap Blacks bring to the US economy, from an early age.

Curiously, this is the same education and abilities that African immigrants, barely ashore, are able to acquire, with the same skin color, with the additional language and cultural barriers, and with racism. In fact, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reports that 28% of foreign-born Black men earn four-year college degrees, nearly on par with native-born White men. So what are these men, predominantly from Africa, thinking and doing, which has them on par with White men, in earning college degrees, so soon after they arrive?

Now less we believe these figures are a fluke, consider that while speaking to Black alumni in 2004, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Chairman of Harvard’s African-American Studies Department, said up to two-thirds of the school’s 530 Black undergraduates are immigrants or progeny of foreign-born Blacks, mostly African and West Indian.

The success of foreign-born Blacks may or may not hold answers for curing the plight of African-Americans, but it looks like an extremely good place for the country to begin a dialog, and who better to start than the two men who say they want a chance to deliver for the whole of New Orleans, beginning May 21, 2006.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Is Teen Sex Bad? et al

Is Teen Sex Bad? - Washington Post

In the United States - Washington Post

In Western Europe - Washington Post

Virginity Pledges Can't Be Taken on Faith - Washington Post

The discussion about whether or not teen sex is bad, when it comes to Black kids, is missing a critical dynamic that exist in higher amounts protecting White kids. That dynamic is the priority White kids learn and accept about education and its long-term impact on the quality of their lives. The promise of education competes head-to-head with early-age sex, and inasmuch as a group has higher casualties in education, we would expect a commensurate prevalence in early-age sex.

The dialog around good and bad is too easily converted to whether sex is fun or not, and we all know that it is very fun. The better question is about reasons, education being the traditional leader, that give kids pause, and therefore reduces the chance of unwanted pregnancy, with all the problems this brings.

Abstinence on moral grounds has always been a distant second to staking a future, as a motivator, even though religious teachings continue to present it as number one. The role of penance and forgiveness transactions simply makes it too easy to navigate the path of media-fueled physical desire, and congregations have never been sufficient role models to mitigate this weakness.

The inclusion of European kids and their culture further confuses the discussion, as early-age sex and sex education, including contraception and abortion, are all viewed and practiced through a different lens. White kids in Europe are significantly different than White kids in America, and even more different than Black kids, when we inventory influence factors.

So the question comes back to education, and how we make it a stronger competitor to early-age sex, and other distractions as well. First we must accept that education is an intellectual competition that each child needs to want to engage, no different from little league sports. However, their engagement is predicated on believing that they have a real chance to win, which means that we must seize the first example of unexplained loss and become relentless on answering why. For Black kids, the crucial losses begin to show in first grade, so this is where we must start.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Most Blacks in Low-Rung School Jobs

Most Blacks in Low-Rung School Jobs - Washington Post

Education and civil rights leaders are outraged to hear of the disproportion of employment of Blacks and Hispanics in Anne Arundel's public school workforce, but it really should come as no surprise that lower-level minority employees, like custodians, outnumber minority teachers. Market-driven employment numbers are the final repository of the challenges and failures of our attitudes, behaviors, in concert with our education system.

While “No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) is forcing school systems around the country to optimize their curriculums to helping kids pass tests, this minimum function approach to education insures that the disproportion of Anne Arundel and other systems continues. Teachers are not likely to come from curriculums where the focus is on reading and math proficiency significantly below that required to gain entry into college.

There is no doubt that those parents of public school kids are desperate, and NCLB certainly beats doing nothing, but not by much, if the goal is to have minority teachers matching the population. NCLB only insures that kids will be able meet minimum standards for low-level service employment. It is not an avenue for Blacks and Hispanics to eliminate disparities in school performance, graduation rates, and professional careers.

Black and Hispanic kids underperform in school from an early age, and graduate from high school with just over a 55%, and slowly improving, probability, compared to 75% and 77% probability for Whites and Asians. Curriculums, as well as parenting, have yet to accept and adapt to the challenges each group has in resisting assimilation of the required advancing behaviors.

While we continue to teach kids reading and math skills, we should also teach them how to think, instead of assuming what educators know is false, that good thinking comes naturally. Preparation, persuasion, and conflict management are key missing skills that children must have, on top of a critical thinking base, from the start, to navigate to a high school diploma that means something other than qualification to work in the fast food industry.

James C. Collier


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Friday, May 12, 2006

A Made-Up Story? et al

Costly Words: 'I Don't Like President Bush' - Washington Post

Inspector General Probes HUD Chief Comment - AP

Bush stands by housing chief - Reuters

A Made-Up Story? - Washington Post

As much as some might want to give the HUD Secretary the benefit of the doubt, it is hard to think he deserves to keep his job. He basically admitted to either partisan bias in awarding contracts or lying, as the Washington Post points out, about what happens to people who express their ‘dislike’ for the president.

There is one other potential reason, albeit a long shot, for the discrepancy of behavior and interpretation this situation presents. Researchers, Black and White, have long-since recognized the different ‘styles’ of communication Blacks and Whites can bring to their engagements. Perhaps the secretary’s miss-statement was simply a regression to an earlier cultural artifact that he forgot, during his tenure on the ‘blue’ side of the aisle.

The research roughly summarizes our different engagement tendencies as, ‘Whites debate ideas’, while ‘Blacks debate the person’. As it goes, Whites can disagree vehemently and still ‘like’ each other, or at least behave in cloaked manners. Blacks on the other hand, extend disparities in viewpoints into the personal realm, whereby if they do not like your ideas or actions, they visibly do not like you.

The distinction is important, inasmuch as connecting ideas and personalities places the engagement on a more personal level and interjects a level of emotion that is sure to make agreement of purpose and action more difficult. It seems that the exchange between the two men went in this direction.

In the end, when the secretary recounted the story of the contractor to the Texas audience, he was speaking as a government servant regarding the discharge of his duties. It was not a ‘brotherly’ exchange with some colloquial rule set that begs interpretation. The inference and impact of such a disturbing message deserves sharp rebuke, up to and including replacement.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dissonant Voices Inside the Border et al

Dissonant Voices Inside the Border - Washington Post

Minutemen Assail Amnesty Idea - Washington Post

Bush May Widen National Guard Patrols at Border - Washington Post

Bush Set To Send Guard to Border - Washington Post

On Immigration, Bush Seeks 'Middle Ground' - Washington Post

It may dishearten some, but it is not surprising to hear of immigrants who made it to citizenship, on the heels of legal or illegal entry, offering their support for closing the door behind them. This immigrant ‘gaming’ has occurred with every wave of new entry Lady Liberty has beckoned.

Some argue the unfairness of the negative impact and speak to their newfound responsibility to their fellow citizens, as dictating their revised 'full-stomach' position. This gaming for favor and advantage is no different than Blacks who benefited from affirmative action, only to denounce it as valueless.

While there certainly is a cost to having immigrants, there are also tremendous benefits. American business has long required labor that was ready, willing and able to contribute the low cost/skilled effort required. Each wave of newcomers has propelled the country to greater heights. As long as those benefits exceed the cost, the country’s labor capital needs will continue to propel them past fences and pseudo-minutemen.

In exchange, the newcomers received opportunities to ‘grab the brass-ring’ of America. This begins primarily with paying their way, via taxes. As long as newcomers are willing and able to provide their fair share, unbiased logic would argue their positive value add. Since 1996, the IRS has, in fact, issued 9.6 million identification numbers for the purpose of allowing illegal immigrants to pay their taxes, without INS interference.

The issue with affirmative action and its continued status is different, in that sometime in its 42 years of implementation this temporary redress stopped working. While it kept sending Blacks through doors previous locked, it was not helping or motivating the group to perform to their competitive best, but rather creating an unhealthy dependence, and with it, resentment and conflict. Inasmuch, it is circumventing the fundamental reward system upon which the country’s success was built. The plight of Blacks calls for continued attention, without a doubt, but attention that produces affirming results, not dependency.

Unless it can be shown that immigrants cannot or will not pay their way, via the taxes their lawful work generates, or pledge themselves as full citizens, they deserve the same welcoming consideration afforded their predecessors. To do anything less is un-American, and weakens our future. For their part, the recipe of successful membership is allegiance to one flag, one language, one vote, in exchange for one more rich patch to the country's 'quilt'.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Heavy Burden of Stereotyping et al

The Heavy Burden of Stereotyping - Washington Post

'Fat Man' Finishes Walking Trek in NYC - AP

Man Crosses U.S. to Walk Off Pounds, Past - AP

Fat Attitudes - Washington Post

Cross-Country, Baggage & All - Washington Post

The ‘appeal to belief’ fallacy states that because many people believe a claim does not, in general, provide proof that the claim is true. Such is the case for the validity of the stereotype that people who are overweight are more lazy than are people of average weight.

While it is good for us to confront our biases, the first bias we must face is about stereotypes themselves, and the false notion that they are always inaccurate and bad. This simply is not true.

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.

If we can avoid the use of loaded terms like laziness, the real question that hardly ever gets asked is if sedentary ness correlates with reduced motivation. If we are speaking of motivation for physical activity, the answer is yes. We all have our empirical knowledge and experience as back up to this observation. Alternately, the motivation for cognitive activity, as we would expect, is unaffected by obesity.

In general, a healthy person of average weight who increases their sedentary behavior, in proportion to their active behavior, will gain weight, all other factors held constant. If they decrease their sedentary behavior their weight gain will reverse itself.

Regarding the Pygmalion effect, whereby people perform to expectations, their own and those of others, we should not confuse this with empirical observation of overweight people as more sedentary. The fact that people respond to errant images does not change the physical cause and effect of obesity.

Unfortunately, the stereotype of obese people as more sedentary and a greater risk for heath-related issues, is proven accurate, and presents a credibility challenge in the healthcare industry. Adjusting for health-issue distraction, the characterization of obese people as less-contributing to society, and therefore worthy of discrimination in opportunity is a stereotype 'imposter', unsubstantiated, and wrong-headed.

While subject to manipulation, stereotyping is an empirically backed, naturally occurring tool of human evolution, and advancement. Inasmuch, its study and understanding deserve our better attention.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, May 07, 2006

*Rape Case Is Seen as Symbol at Black College in N.C. et al

Rape Case Is Seen as Symbol at Black College in N.C. - Washington Post

3rd Member of Duke Lacrosse Team Indicted - Washington Post

Trying to Break A 'Culture of Silence' on Rape - Washington Post

2nd Duke Party Dancer Faces Charges - AP

Duke to Bring Back Lacrosse Team - AP

Rape Charges Dropped In Duke Lacrosse Case - Washington Post

With all that is being said about the Duke Lacrosse rape case, and the obvious trauma the authorities believe the young woman experienced that night, the discussion is not fully on track. This case is not just about the alleged rape of a struggling single mom, from a troubled past, trying to make ends meet and better her family’s life. Rather, it is also about the unresolved rape of a whole people.

The argument of this case as a symbol of the disparity between Black and White, Durham or otherwise, is fallacious. More accurately, it is a reminder of a specific type of violation that occurred, by White moral discretion, during and after slavery.

When we look into the faces of Black America, with all the shades that exist, most times we see an amazingly talented group, fighting for their rightful place of contribution to the fabric of society. But at times like this, the shades of distinction are but sobering proof of rape.

While interracial births, by consent, dominate the last fifty years, the degrees of Caucasian features Blacks exhibit today emanate largely from White-on-Black institutionalized rape, which occurred during hundreds of years slavery and Jim Crow.

No one, Black or White, wants to be reminded of this part of our history, nonetheless it is there. The Duke incident stirs up emotion because it replays White men raping Black women. Blacks, during these times look at each other and themselves, in part, hating the ‘whiteness’ in them that was uninvited.

Regardless of the outcome at Duke, it will be hollow for everyone, as the full measure of the complicity of Whites relates to a stolen people, not simply rape. This guilt is not for Blacks to manipulate or absolve, as it is part of the ‘White man’s burden’. As well, it should not become any form of badge that thwarts self-review, advancing behaviors and Black progress.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Great Republican Rebranding et al

The Great Republican Rebranding - Washington Post

The Year of the Black Republican? - Washington Post

The GOP's Bankruptcy of Ideas - Washington Post

Democrats Are Fractured Over Strategy, Funds - Washington Post

Prozac for Republicans? - Washington Post

Divide Is Sharpening Among Republicans - Washington Post

If an outsider were to look in on US politics, with the overwhelming support Blacks provide to the Democrats, they could only conclude that Republicans are all racists and Democrats represent the ‘rainbow’. But even if this were true, and it is not, determining who is real to their respective political party is increasingly difficult, as the lines distinguishing the two are blurred and always on the move.

When Democrats believe the conservative hard-line is winning they pull a switch. When Republicans see the liberal ‘brother’s keeper’ approach appealing to voters, they too switch. So in the end, who are these people? More importantly, why is it that Black people are so confident, by reason of their voting, that the Democrats are always the ‘good guys’?

Conservatives are no greater or lesser racists than liberals and vice versa. Inasmuch as they are people first, they each see the same Black under performance that all of America sees, with no credible explanation, and they default to the same racist conclusions, spoken or not. While they obviously practice their conclusions differently, the result is the same, Black people remain on the margins of influence, with a plight to match.

The idea that the White majority works to stay in disproportionate control, to its own advantage, is not new, or even devious. However, the verbal and behavioral concert that the parties deliver, while seeming to represent opposing philosophies and values, is an increasingly adept slight-of-hand, repeatedly consumed by Blacks. This consumption needs to stop.

By example, Black clergy need to stop inviting White politicians into their church homes one week before elections, knowing that they will not see them again until the next election. Blacks need to treat all politicians, including Blacks, with the same suspicion of who and what they really represent, and what they have done, not promised, to earn anyone's vote.

The entrenched state of Black America calls for none other than the total revocation of all existing ‘free passes’, or votes, into office. A captive vote is a wasted vote.

James C. Collier


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Friday, May 05, 2006

Dark-Skinned Foreigners in Russia Blighted et al

Dark-Skinned Foreigners in Russia Blighted - AP

Russian Police Detain 8 for Racist Murders - AP

St. Petersburg Struggles to Dispel Image - AP

We should all be saddened to know that dark-skinned immigrants, including Africans, are experiencing violent racism in Russia. However, it is worth noting that these minorities are clearly out performing the standards of their adopted society, even though they come from very disadvantaged backgrounds.

We are seeing, in lesser volumes, African immigrants perform well in the US, if we examined college matriculation data, although the difficulties of entry and the cost of US education are prohibitive. These accomplishments, however, are over shadowed by the under performance and resulting plight of Black Americans.

Similar to Asians coming to study, work and live in America, Africans in Russia are a self-selected group, with the immigrant character, reflecting the will that finds a way. Accepting for outright refusal of access and services, they stay focused and committed to the goals of education and making better lives for themselves.

These modern-day descendants of Black America’s ancestors show no genetic predisposition, as real science would predict, to score even close to a standard deviation below the mean of Russian society, as Black Americans do with US Whites, on standard test. They quickly overcome the technological disadvantages of their homelands to become professionals of note in their new, but hostile, environment.

These examples of accomplishment and perseverance should serve as indication that advancing behaviors, once applied, cause nearly instantaneous accelerations in contribution and reward. Hundreds of years of disenfranchised living in America should not dash the promise of drastically improved Black lives, just around the bend of commitment to education.

James C. Collier


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For Some Kids, a Book To Call Their Own

For Some Kids, a Book To Call Their Own

No one would ever argue with the idea of giving poor children books to read. It is a great idea and we should do it. However, we should also know how meaningful it is, as a gesture, and as a factor in the performance of kids in school, and therefore later in life.

If we are saying that the main hurdle is the cost of books, and giving a free book to a kid is the best way to get their parent(s) to read to them every night, then by all means, give out books. All research shows that when reading is important to the parent, by demonstration, it becomes important to the child.

On the other hand, regardless of the availability cheap or free books – and this is indeed the case, if parents chooses to watch television or videos, over reading, the child’s development suffers tremendously.

Giving away books makes everyone feel like they are doing something, even if the real impact is minimal. This is the case with too much of our approach to solving education disparity, and the long-term economic impact this brings. Book give-away’s sound great, but the effort is often not one of really helping children, but rather PR events and moving over-run inventories from publishers, to schools, to homes, with little impact.

Make no mistake, we need to keep giving away books, but perhaps we also need to include persuasive parenting books, and videos as well, that tell the full story of the positive impact of reading to children. The real issue is not free books, but rather parenting with books, accepting that books take us places we value, starting with the 'storytime' seat on the couch next to mom or dad.

James C. Collier


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Growing Unease for Some Blacks on Immigration et al

Growing Unease for Some Blacks on Immigration - New York Times

U.S. Immigration Debate Is a Road Well Traveled - Washington Post

Of U.S. Children Under 5, Nearly Half Are Minorities - Washington Post

The uneasiness that many Blacks feel about immigration and Hispanics taking the lead in the push for civil rights is understandable. This shifting of leadership and focus has implications, for both groups, that reasonably have Blacks wondering if the flickering light on their group’s progress is about to end, entirely.

Forty-two years have passed since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, yet Blacks are clearly holding onto their place on the bottom. The group’s lack of progress, compared to the gains of Hispanics, especially in the southwest, begs the question of whether they, upon the removal of physical barriers on immigration, will zip past Blacks on their way towards economic parity with Whites.

The focus that the immigration struggle brings to the plight of Hispanics allows Blacks to divert their attention away from the self-denial that their own struggle has long since been one of civil rights, but rather an internal struggle of exercising those hard-won rights. Hispanics are at the crossroad of gaining rights they do not have, by whatever tactics they choose to utilize. Only time will tell of what they do with those rights, once they have been achieved. This is the real Black fear – being left behind.

Indeed, Hispanics have a built-in advantage over Blacks, in that they carry a higher degree of immigrant mindset than do Blacks. It is not as high as those who travel across oceans, but it is present nonetheless, because each of them still had to make a decision to leave their birthplaces and come here. The larger percentages of Blacks are still searching for the inner motivation that the Atlantic slave trade did not select for, in West Africa, when it took their ancestors by force.

The overarching challenge of Blacks in America is one, not of making up the gap in test scores, or wages, or jobs, but rather how the group accounts for the fact that, unique to how they arrived, the immigrant drive of too many Blacks is dormant and untrained in reaching out to opportunity. Once this drive is trained, the disparities will begin to erode, not only as they have eroded for W.E.B.Dubois’s ‘talented-tenth', but for the talented ‘all’.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

High School Wins National Award et al

High School Wins National Award - Washington Post

Why AP Matters - Newsweek

A Celebration Of Excellence In Education - Washington Post

Shared Excellence, and a Singular Honor - Washington Post

Eleanor Roosevelt On Challenge List - Washington Post

Congratulations to Arlington’s Wakefield High. Showing that minority students can be drawn to AP-focused curriculums, with successful results, is very meaningful. It is also a good place to scrutinize for just what is and is not driving their success, against the difficulties of urban and rural education programs across the country.

The high percentage of immigrant students involved speaks to the influence of the ‘immigrant’ character of assimilating advancing behavior, with a very low threshold of cultural resistance. But, what is driving non-immigrant students to higher interest and achievement? This understanding is required to replicate or adapt their success nation-wide.

The descendants of former slaves are one of the few groups to come to this country without 100% immigrant mindsets. They did not select themselves, from their greater ‘home’ population, for the journey. Rather their people were selected by slave traders, facilitated by their vulnerable status in the harsh lands of West Africa. Only a minority of Blacks, as we would expect, have the naturally occurring immigrant mindset, but this does not have to mean banishment to America’s economic basement, for the greater group.

While immigrant mindsets push subsets of Blacks to seek out advantage with little or no assistance, K-12 curriculums of schools must adapt to what the majority of Black kids are missing and unable to capture. At the base, they are being educated while relying on inadequate preparation and instruction in critical thinking, or thinking about thinking. They are also missing preparation, persuasion, and conflict management skills that build upon a logical thinking base.

Extraordinary pockets of education will always spring up because there is a pent-up demand, as represented by the children of immigrants, and like mindsets. This demand has those kids, with the aid of their parents and teachers, finding, largely on their own, that which they are missing. However, where there is not a demand, thoughtful educators must follow their own findings, which point to critical skills, and provide those kids with what they need to succeed.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

*Va. Principal Issues Apology for Remarks

Va. Principal Issues Apology for Remarks - Washington Post

I believe that smart people, like Principal Elizabeth V. Lodal, make mistakes, but not innocent ones. If she did make a mistake, it was in saying what she believes, to the public, in a moment of honesty, even if it was not explainable or politically correct.

Rather than a mistake, it would seem that her lack of confidence and frustration got the better of her. After all, she heads the top high school in Fairfax County and should understand why Asians students outperform Whites, who in turn outperform Blacks and Hispanics. However, she does not know the answer, and this perhaps is why she resorted to racist associations and explanations that place her in ‘hot water’.

In her defense, educators far more learned than her do not know why students perform the way they do. No one does, and certainly not the students. But if we could measure, and we can, the degree to which individuals rigorously assimilate and apply the most advancing thinking methods and behaviors, we could reasonably predict who would come out on top.

In the battle for the top academic spots, the competition has Asians more often in the coveted places for a simple reason. All other factors being equal, ‘immigrant’ character, regardless of race, reflects a willingness to assimilate advancing behaviors with the least amount of culture-influenced resistance, and this is the determining factor of advantage.

In contrast, American-born Blacks and Hispanics assimilate the behaviors of advantage at a slightly, but consistently, lesser rate than the mean, resulting in the disparity to Whites and Asians in test performance. The difference is not genetic, but rather behavioral.

To be clear, herein we are scratching the surface of a new framework of understanding that looks to the array of factors that drive behavior and resulting performance. Those factors reach back in time, thousands of years, across the vast geographies, and histories, which resulted in the different societies that evolved the people and students we see today.

The issues raised here are much greater than Ms. Lodal, who seems to have contributed much, and hopefully with more to come. I prefer to take her innocent mistake, not as a put down of Asians, but rather as an invitation, albeit inadvertent, for all of us to put new eyes on issues of disparity and answering the challenges of advancing all students.

James C. Collier


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France to Shine a Light on Its Notorious Camp et al

France to Shine a Light on Its Notorious Camp - Washington Post

Never Again? - Washington Post

It is important that Black Americans recognize and study events in history that occurred, even while time was recording the group's own mistreatment. The insights are critical to enhancing perspective, strategy, and tactics for advancement.

The Holocaust and America’s slavery share a unique sibling relationship, in that each coincided with, and defined, a moral awakening to the darkest sides of humanity. Prior to these tragic events, both had been questioned, but only on exception.

The genocide happening in Sudan, sparking recent protest, is linked to the memories of Nazi-era France and Germany. The moral reflexes of the world audience would not be so keen, had any part of the Holocaust remained hidden to us. This is why memorials are so important – because we are forgetful.

Jews take nothing for granted, because all was nearly lost. Blacks should be so vigilant. They believed that White guilt was forever, it was not. Or even if it was lasting, that it could cure disparity, it has not. Or finally, that laws that kept them down could also lift them up, indeed they have not. These and other lessons have existed for a long time, but Blacks must search them out.

Black America should care about immigration, slavery, exploitation of indigenous labor, sexism, classism, homophobia, and all other forms of discrimination, and not predominatly when they are feeling the sting themselves, less they isolate their progress.

James C. Collier


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Monday, May 01, 2006

Impunity on Trial in Africa et al

Impunity on Trial in Africa - Washington Post

College's Ex-President Pleads Guilty to Fraud - Washington Post

Ex-College Chief Pleads Guilty to Stealing - Washington Post

I remember being told by Whites, as a kid, to go back to Africa. I always thought that if White people forced Blacks to come here against their will, I would certainly make sure I stayed put, if only to spite them. In any case, Africa remained a place to be 'from'.

Nonetheless, as multiple African leaders, including Liberian president Charles Taylor, face society-advancing prosecution for crimes against their people, I cannot help but rejoice for the continent, and at the same time shake my head at the similarities of third-world African kleptocracies, weighed against events in the Black community here.

In particular, my attention is drawn to the sameness, in a relative sense, between Mr. Taylor and the ex-president Delores Cross of Morris Brown College, a historically Black College in Atlanta. Ms. Cross recently plead guilty to embezzlement and saddling individual students with $3.4 million in fraudulent debt, while dealing a near-death blow to the 126 year old institution.

Many young Black people who barely set foot on the Morris Brown campus now carry the burden of repaying loans against non-existent educations. It is hard to understand how our justice system would allow a reduced plea in her case. As an educator she assaulted the futures of young people, and surely killed some. The comparison with Taylor is harsh, but knowledge via education is indeed life-giving.

As Africa struggles to progress from advanced chiefdoms to full-fledged states, including adherence to the rule of law, Blacks should not ignore the sobering social artifacts they hold onto that keep them back. We will always be able to point to others as perpetrators of frauds, but much of our plight is about what we ‘do unto ourselves’, on the way to ever getting the opportunity to properly ‘do unto others’, in biblical style.

James C. Collier


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