Thursday, May 24, 2007

Call Me Mister

Received this through my day job, but it definitely applies to the Afrospear. We need more Black Male teachers at the elementary school level and this organization based at Clemson University is working to meet that need by providing full scholarships. Here's the Student Vision Statement ...

"I am a young, strong African American male, dedicated to perpetuating a sorely needed concept—men as role models in elementary schools. I am devoted to planting seeds of dignity and respect in children and inspiring them to cultivate those seeds producing a crop of unprecedented success. I will teach reading, writing and arithmetic and progress to self-esteem, imagination and determination. Because of my immeasurable promise, not only have I earned your respect, I demand it! A title is only important if ones' character and integrity dictate its use. When you address me, please verbalize my destiny….please do not call me by my first name….call me in reference to my great vision….CALL ME MISTER!"

Young? Black? Male? Wondering how you're going to pay for college? Think you have what it takes to help educate the next generation? Apply.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

When Only The Best Will Do

A quick poll, how many of you know anyone who used a relative or friends address so their kids could attend a better school? Chances are the number is quite high. The quality of schools and districts is anything but equal, and as long as that's the case, you're going to have situations like this.

Mom clear in school flap: Jury sides with woman who fought felony charges over whether kids belonged in Marietta schools.

Jeanine Echols says she wanted the best schools for her three kids. The city of Marietta says it wanted Echols to live in the city or pay the school system that educates her children. The clash led prosecutors to file 16 felony charges against Echols, alleging that she lied about where she lived so her children could attend Marietta schools. Echols faced up to 80 years in prison, but jurors in Cobb County found her not guilty of all charges Friday.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What's Really Going On?

I've been meaning to post on this subject for awhile. Has anyone else noticed that the insurgents in Iraq have began to seriously target bridges into (and out of) Baghdad lately? Almost like they have a strategy to cut off American forces from supply and reinforcement, and to make any withdrawal (tactical or strategic) a much more difficult process. The latest from about a week ago:

Iraq bridge attacks: Truck bombs exploded on three important bridges near Baghdad on Friday, killing 26 people and damaging two of the spans in an apparent attempt by insurgents to paralyse road links to the Iraqi capital.

And on the other side of the city: Iraqi police say suspected insurgents set off a bomb near a bridge in southeastern Baghdad today, killing at least two civilians. It's the second attack on the bridge within one week. On May 11, a large fuel truck drove toward a checkpoint at the new Diyala Bridge and the driver blew up his vehicle, killing about a dozen people.

From April:
A suicide truck bomb killed at least ten people on a major bridge in Baghdad this morning, wrecking the structure and sending several cars plunging into the river Tigris below.

And ...a car bomb exploded on the Jadriya bridge, which spans the Tigris River in southern Baghdad, killing at least 10 people and wounding 15 others, Iraqi police said. It was not immediately clear how badly the bridge was damaged. The Jadriya bridge attack came two days after a suicide car bomb detonated on the Sarafiya bridge, which crosses the Tigris in northern Baghdad, also killing 10 people. Eleven major bridges cross the Tigris River in Baghdad.

I'm just saying y'all, something to think about.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hey, I'll Take It.

Some Good News from TSU: Golfers make NCAA tourney for first time

TSU is just the second historically black university to make the NCAA field. (It was not until eight years ago that the SWAC began receiving an automatic bid.)

But not to be overlooked is the positive news generated for a school that has had more than its share of negative coverage in the past year with the ouster of its president, the dismantling of its board of regents and, most recently, the five letters of warning from the NCAA resulting from academic shortcomings in the athletic department.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Here's a bit of the history we all should know from over at the Electronic Village:

...The RED, BLACK and GREEN Flag was unveiled to the world by the Honorable Marcus Garvey and the members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League at it's first international convention on August 13, 1920.

...Today there are many African nations that have adopted the colors Red, Black and Green after the great Marcus Garvey and his program of African Redemption. Read more...

Friday, May 11, 2007

But, Uh, Do You Really Mean It?

From today's Houston Chronicle we learn that State Senator Rodney Ellis is trying to get a statement of 'profound regret' over slavery from the state of Texas. This seems to be part of a national trend of states apologizing (or coming close) for their role in slavery. Admirable, but I'm from the actions speak louder than words category. The damage wrought by slavery and its aftermath are definitely still with us to this day, and inform the actions of most people in some way or another.

Reparations anyone?

But hey, I give Sen. Ellis props for putting it out there, even in a watered down fashion...

State Sen. Rodney Ellis is seeking a statement of "profound regret," rather than an apology, for the role Texas government played in the institution of slavery, hoping it will produce less resistance to the symbolic gesture.

"This is about putting the Legislature on record, making a direct moral judgment instead of an apology, which some people believe is an admission of personal responsibility," Ellis, D-Houston, said during testimony in the State Affairs Committee on Thursday.

"I'm sensitive to that concern, so, rather than have that serve as a barrier, I'm seeking an expression of regret for the role of government in establishing and maintaining the institution of slavery."

But this is Texas y'all, so you know the resistance will come fast and furious, including the old standby, this time delivered courtesy of Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville.

"As we look back on history there's a lot we can have regrets about. Slavery ended over 140 years ago. Why should Texas Legislature say something about it now?"

But politics makes for strange bedfellows, as evidenced by a companion bill presented in the House by State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, that was referred to committee but never received a hearing. That bill was cosponsored by:

Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, who earlier this session sought to preserve some Confederate statues on state property such as the University of Texas, signed on as a joint author to Thompson's measure.

Sounds like a quid pro quo; you acknowledge our history of being enslaved and oppressed, we'll acknowledge your traitorous, slave-holding ancestors. By any means necessary indeed. You can read the entire article here.

About That Food Supply

I'm a little late on this but still think it's very important. Turns out pets weren't the only animals eating melamine contaminated food imported from China.

A senior U.S. Department of Agriculture official confirms that as many as 20 million chickens may have eaten feed contaminated with melamine, the chemical added to protein shipments from China that has killed U.S. pets. The chickens are still on U.S. farms in several states. The USDA has ordered the birds to be held out of the human food supply until testing can be completed to confirm suspicions that the birds actually ate any of the tainted feed.

This is in addition to hogs from several states that were found to have consumed these food products. Though most have been quarantined and euthanised, several hundred entered the human food supply chain.

So how did this happen? According to the Chinese government;

...the contaminated vegetable protein slipped past customs because neither company declared them for use in pet food. Instead, the companies marked the shipments as products that did not need inspection.

I know I talk quite a bit about the quality of the foods we consume, but really, everyone should be on this bandwagon. At the turn of the 20th century the food processing, especially the meat packing industries were forced to place labels on their products detailing everything in the can. The call for regulation came about after tainted meats killed more American troops fighting overseas in the Spanish-American War than did enemy combatants; and with the release of Upton Sinclairs expose' of the meatpacking industry in his novel, The Jungle. This led to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which in turn led to the formation of the Food and Drug Administration.

An argument can be made that there are more potential dangers to the food supply now than then. With the industrialization of food production and globalization of the supply chain, we're seeing more and more incidents of this type, including Mad Cow's Disease, and Bird Flu. We're paying a lot closer attention to what we eat; buying organic vegetables and meat whenever possible. With this era of deregulation still without an end in sight, it might be something for all of us to think about.

21 Biggest Technology Flops

We talked about the Most Annoying Technology Products in an earlier post, but here, according to Computerworld, are the Most Hyped Technology Flops. Apple Newton; O/S2; Net PC; Sega Dreamcast, the Dot.Bombs. Were these the worst technology flops of all time? Can you think of others?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sometimes You Don't Need a Survey

The Boston Globe reports surveys have revealed that Black soldiers are not that enthusiastic about the current never-ending war in Iraq, and recruitment numbers are starting to reflect it.

Gregory Black, a retired Navy diver who last year started the website, said that... "African-Americans detest this war. Everybody kind of knows the truth behind this war. It's a cash cow for the military defense industry, when you look at the money these contractors are making. African-Americans saw this at the beginning of the war and now the rest of the country has figured it out. It's not benefiting us in the least."

"It's basically about oil, basically about money.

This of course has affected military recruiting.

...the enrollment of African-Americans in the military may be at its lowest point since the creation of the all-volunteer military in 1973. In 2000, 23.5 percent of Army recruits were African-American. By 2005, the percentage dropped to 13.9 percent. National Public Radio this week quoted a Pentagon statistic that said that African-American propensity to join the military had dropped to 9 percent.

Which is a reflection of the opinion of the war among African-Americans in general who; far lead the way in calling the war a mistake. According to Gallup, 85 percent of African Americans say it was a mistake, compared to 53 percent of white Americans. According to Pew, a plurality of white Americans, 49 percent, still say it was the right decision to invade Iraq, compared to 21 percent of African-Americans.

"African-Americans are always more sensitive to anything that smacks of neocolonialism, which this war did smack of," said Joint Center political analyst David Bositis.

Really, you knew this already, right? The military has provided an option for Blacks over the years to advance their careers and education, and throughout American history, our people have nobly served in all of this country's wars. But give us some credit for having both patriotism and good sense. With open-ended commitments to dubious war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, a certainty of being deployed to increasing more lethal combat zones, and the prospect of little to no support upon your return back home, is it really a surprise that many young Blacks have decided that joining the military at this time might not be such a good idea?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

TSU - What's Wrong With This Picture

From the number of posts I've made on the subject, you'd think this was a Texas Southern University blog. It's not. I have been very interested in the proceedings there due to the University's standing as the second-largest HBCU in the country, and its historical role helping to educate generations of Black leaders.

Having said that, I think that, despite the "financial mismanagement" of the Priscilla Slade era, TSU was in much better shape under her leadership than it had been for years prior, and certainly in better shape than it is now with the governor's power grab under way. With yesterdays sentencing of former CFO Quentin Wiggins to 10 years in prison for the misauthorization of $286,000 in funds used by Slade to furnish and landscape her home, I couldn't help but think that the sentence is quite a bit out of line for the crime. Especially considering that:

...Defense attorneys said Wiggins was a dedicated employee who had done nothing wrong because the university had previously approved similar furniture purchases for Slade. They said he did not try to hide the purchases. When it was discovered that TSU had mistakenly paid for Slade's landscaping, she gave the money back...

Knowing that we're held to a higher standard and that opponents seem to come out of the woodwork when the issue is educating black folks, I've decided to try and dig up some comparable cases and see how they were resolved, so here is the first example from George Washington University, in which the the University agreed on a $1.8 million settlement with the Justice Department to reimburse funds embezzled by former professor Nabih Bedewi.

...Bedewi allegedly used some of the funds to make payments on his home equity line of credit, buy Washington Redskins season tickets, pay annual fees for a Florida condominium, make three monthly payments on an automobile lease and pay down credit balances for family members.

...and arranged for his brother's wife to get more than $36,000 in improper stipend payments by falsely claiming she was a graduate assistant according to the complaint. Read more...

Pretty serious stuff that demands a stiff prison sentence right? Wrong, how about 3 years. I'm sure there are other examples out there, and if you know of any, please share.

And before anybody gets all bent out of shape, I know that Wiggins and Slade engaged in inproper actions but their punishments should fit the crime, or at least be in alignment with established precedence of similar situations. What we have here appears to be another example of the sentencing disparities so prevalent in this country when the defendants are Black.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Gas Price Woes (or Whoa!)

OK, I can understand (kinda) the price of gas going up when we invaded Iraq, or after Katrina struck, but I don't understand the twenty cents per gallon increase over the past two weeks. Is this the best explanation we can can get?

...the recent increases are due mostly to refinery problems.

...One of the nation’s largest refineries, a BP PLC plant in Indiana that processes more than 400,000 barrels of oil per day, will not be operating at full capacity for several months due to unexpected repairs.


...a 470,000 barrels-per-day plant in Texas City operating at less than half capacity. read more...

What? Half-capacity? Why? It seems like whether you have an "emergency" BP Alaska pipeline shutdown like last year; or last years high tensions with the Iranians, or anti-Terrorist activities in Saudi Arabia, or the latest crisis with the Iranians, the routine seems to be to use whatever reason that's handy to justify jacking up oil prices. Of course the price then "drops" to some point higher than it was selling before the latest crisis, and that becomes the benchmark for the next crisis/price increase. Now, with gas having settled in above $3.00 per gallon on average, we really haven't heard much of a peep from the American consumer.

My question is when are we going to call this what it is, price gouging. The excuses given for the increases have become flimsier and flimsier, to where I don't think they're really even trying to fool anyone anymore.

I saw an email a few weeks ago calling for a gas boycott of the two biggest oil companies (Exxon, Chevron?) on May 15th to try and force them to bring their prices down in hopes that the rest of the oil majors will follow suit. That seems like a good idea, but what would be better is to reduce consumption overall by a lot of people not driving for a sustained period of time, say 30 days or more unless absolutely necessary. Kinda like what this guy just did in Louisville, KY.

LEO staff writer Stephen George gave up his car for a month to prove getting around Louisville without your own ride isn't as hard as it seems.

I know, that's real hard to do, but my point is that a 1 day boycott of the largest producers won't influence their price gouging ways, but a sustained reduction of automobile usage by a lot of people likely would help drive prices down and may have an impact on energy policy decisions as well. That might just be worth it, even in a place as sprawled out as Houston. I'm just saying...

2007 TSU Grads - Hold Your Heads Up!

My man J. Molock holds undergrad and graduate degrees from TSU, so as you can imagine, he has a lot to say about the current issues over there, and if anyone has the right to say anything, it's him. You've got to appreciate the positive message to the upcoming graduating class.

Alumni From UT (Univ. of Texas) And UH (Univ. of Houston) Are Main Contributors To TSU’s Plight

TSU’s graduating class of 2007 should hold their degrees up high and be very proud; Troubled TSU administrators received their degrees from schools other then TSU.

Let me begin by stating the following: My nephews graduated from Montana State. My uncle is a graduate of Angelo State. The majority of my relatives who are college graduates attended predominately white Universities. They all are law-abiding productive individuals. We know that UT and the UH produce great alumni who contribute to our society, but so does TSU. TSU’s faculty and staff are law-abiding people who come from around the world to teach our students.

With that said, as a TSU alumnus, I want those who would condemn TSU for the acts of a few to know the following: The TSU administrators who misused TSU funds are not TSU graduates. Dr. Slade received her Doctorate in accounting from UT (should the state shutdown UT’s accounting department?). Former TSU Chief Financial Officer Quintin Wiggins was recently convicted of misapplication of fiduciary property. Wiggins received his undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and his MBA in Finance and Investment Banking from St. Thomas University. Alois Blackwell TSU’s Athletic Director for the past six years and a UH graduate received the most warning letters of any “Division I” school. Five sports failed to meet the minimum requirements outlined by Academic Progress Report, which measures eligibility and retention of student-athletes. (Should we call for the closing of U of H?) Should I mention Governor Perry, Texas A&M alumnus, selected the board that he just fired. Perry was considering putting TSU into conservatorship. He and his degreed staff did not even know that the move would jeopardize TSU’s accreditation.

It was TSU students and alumni that exposed the corrupt administrators. Three TSU students (known on campus as “The TSU 3”) tried to expose the mismanagement of the Slade Administration a year prior to the Board becoming aware of Slade’s mismanagement. Slade and the gang retaliated by getting the students indicted on trump up charges and kicking them out of school. Board Chairman and Alumna, Belinda Griffin, was the regent who first questioned Slade’s use of funds and started the internal investigation. (Griffin gets rewarded by being kicked off the Board).

We are tired of others negatively commenting on TSU when many of their fellow alumni are the criminals among us. If now, you want to blame it on their skin color and not the institution where they received their degrees, then what about the Enron’s and WorldCom’s and so on. This negative publicity implies that TSU is doing a poor job of educating students and the students are just a bunch of hip-hoppers wasting tax payers money.

For the sake of our current and future graduating classes TSU’s alumni and friends must go on the offensive and publicly expose those who are hurting the second largest predominantly black University in the country. We CANNOT sit idly by and let others destroy an institution that educates more black professionals than any other in the state. (Over 80% of our pharmacist and 50% of our lawyers and so on)

(Molock: 84,87)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Do Something, Anything

Bronze Trinity has 17 Action Plans to Help the African Diaspora. I think this Sista is on top of it and here are a few that resonated with me.

4) Convict Workforce. Hire ex-cons who no one else will hire and have them fix up Black communities in return for food, shelter, clothing, recommendation letters, and help finding another job. Employ them as security guards and construction and maintenance workers. Make it so that those who want to change can find rewarding work that can help our communities.

6) Marry Your Baby Daddy. This is a campaign started by author Maryanne Reid. Encourage people to get married and raise children as families. Its not cool to raise kids in broken homes or to have children when you do not have the means to support them. Visit the site HERE.

8) Why Are You Wasting Your Money Campaign. Make ads showing how much money we waste in a year on booze, cigarettes, designer clothes, and other crap and compare it to the cost of a house, university education, tutor for a year, company shares, and other expenditures that would actually improve the African Diaspora. Those who want you to waste your money benefit from keeping you poor and they don't care about you. They only care about what you can do for them.

9) Stop Using the N-Word. Stop saying it, tolerating it, and purchasing music that uses it. You have been fooled into thinking that using an insult in a friendly manner takes the power away from the word. You were tricked into habitually insulting yourselves and making racists smile.

11) Make Education Cool. Stop paying attention and promoting ignorant behaviour and people. Make educated involved citizens our heroes by writing about positive Black Role models and flooding the media with stories about them and demanding that they are aired.

Please visit her site to see the rest.

I would also add #18; Learn Another Language. If we as Blacks could all speak English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Swahili, or some combination thereof, we could communicate with basically every other Black person on Earth. Imagine the power of that.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

But They're Just Bees.

Do you ever wonder what would happen if the food supply or distribution of that supply were disrupted? Yeah, I don't really want to think about it either, but the articles like this remind of how fragile things really are.

...Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of the nation's honeybees could have a devastating effect on America's dinner plate...

...In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, we could end up being "stuck with grains and water," said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program.

"This is the biggest general threat to our food supply," Hackett said. read more...

Retrenchment Anyone?

I've been meaning to post this very interesting article from the Economist for the past week. Can't remember where I found it originally, but a hat tip to that anonymous source, whoever you are.

Five decades after the Supreme Court struck down school segregation, black and white children continue to learn in different worlds. And it could get worse.

Now this, for any of us who are involved in the least with urban districts, we already know. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that schools inside most cities have to be as segregated now as they were during the Civil Rights era. Here in Houston you can visit schools that are more than 90% Black or Hispanic on one side of town, and mostly Caucasian (and Asian) on the other. The corresponding disparities in resources basically fall correspond to the racial dividing lines. This after 50 years of integration. But now there's a new twist.

...The question facing many school boards now is whether to keep focusing intently on the racial mix of each school, or to pour their energy instead into offsetting the disadvantages faced by any child, regardless of colour, whose parents are poor, uneducated or just hopeless.

... at the core of that debate lie competing theories about what disadvantaged students need most. Voucher advocates argue that they need their own money to spend, so that schools will compete over them.

...voucher opponents, by contrast, believe that what poor (or black) children need most is access to rich (or white) children every day in the classroom, along with all the advantages that affluent and involved parents bring to their children's schools.

What we need are public schools that work. And I'm in no ways disparaging the thousands of hardworking teachers and administrators out there doing their best with what they have to work with, but rather the politicians who continue to play games with our children's educations while dressing their shameless attacks in the guise of guarding the interests of the middle class. Or as it was stated even better in the article:

...Both arguments, however, have a debatable premise in common. They assume that the main educational goal of America's voters and policymakers is to improve the lot of children from low-income families, who tend to be the slowest learners. Many pressure-groups pay lip-service to this notion only to win support for schemes which they prefer for other reasons. In America's current political environment, pandering to middle-class gripes appears far more popular than really helping the poor. So the odds that any education reform with voters' support will genuinely be aimed at poor children seems depressingly low these days—whatever the Supreme Court rules, and however many years have elapsed since Brown. read more...

There seem to be a number of people who pine for the days of "separate but equal," as attested to by the ever more aggressive "voucher-based" attacks on the public education system. Personally, I think it's good for students to be exposed to others from different backgrounds, both racially and economically. But for the vast majority of students, that is not the case and likely will never be. They are instead caught up in a world of experimential education, where standardized tests and outsourced schools are acceptable regardless of the affect on student achievement.

So in that respect, the onus falls upon us as parents to help ensure that the schools our children do attend are the absolute best they can be. That means that we have to be more involved with the education of our own children AND actively work against the politics, politicians and corporate interests that, if they weren't worth a vote on election day or a dollar amount based upon a daily attendance allotment, could care less about us or our kids.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

So, Uh, Now What Mr. Governor?

Props to those who fought (and are fighting still) the good fight on behalf of TSU. The ball is in Gov. Perry's court and I'll be real curious to see how he plays it.

TSU regents chairwoman resigns

...The embattled chairwoman of Texas Southern University's governing board resigned today before a scheduled vote by the state Senate to remove her from the post.

Belinda Griffin submitted her resignation to Gov. Rick Perry who appointed her to the board in 2003 but asked for her and other regents to step aside last month amid financial problems at the historically black university.

...Perry moved to impeach Griffin after she refused to resign immediately and defiantly scheduled a meeting of regents for Monday. She later cancelled the meeting after failing to gather a quorum, but reiterated that she would serve until the governor appointed her replacement, citing the Texas Constitution.

Griffin previously said she would not resign because Perry's plan for a lone conservator could jeopardize TSU's accreditation.