Monday, October 30, 2006

Cosby Criticizes Parents, Teachers

Cosby Criticizes Parents, Teachers - AP

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

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

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

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

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

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Studies Look for Reasons Behind Racial Disparities in Health Care

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

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

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

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

James C. Collier


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Thursday, October 19, 2006

For Carless Kenyans, A Risky Way to Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

James C. Collier


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Monday, October 16, 2006

Race Gap Persists in Health Screening

Race Gap Persists in Health Screening - Washngton Post

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

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

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

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

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Rise of the Testing Culture

The Rise of the Testing Culture - Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

James C. Collier


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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Singled Out

Singled Out - Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

James C. Collier


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