Monday, December 31, 2007

by Donisha Adams
(We must let our young people know that an education is
more important than chasing a fast dollar)
Have you seen the little boy who chases the dead?
Have you seen the little boy?
I said
Well, I have.
He only comes out at night
And wears a ghastly look.
--such a fright.
Something- has- h i m- shook.
Face shriveled up as if he has seen a ghost
Or maybe he just saw himself
Nothing but a reflection in a shadow (feeling of nothingness)
His own future cannot be seen
He is too consumed
In the superficial
No clarification here
Just a void
He feels null in void
I see him
Tired as if he just got out of bed,
But decked out from head to toe.
His mother asked, “Where did you get that money from?”
He replied: “I don’t know.”

But oh, BROTHER-I know-
That little boy chases the dead
I see his scars-
War marks from his many fights with the dead.
I saw him on the corner last night selling poison to Lost Souls.
He chases those DEAD PRESIDENTS
Like they are the answer to every question he has had before.

I heard him say, “Money never hurt anyone.”
Presidents who had slaves, blood money built on slave labor,
BIG BUSINESSES who oppress the poor
This is its origin.
Need I say more?
Full circle-now he is a slave to the dead
Creating more slaves in his wake.

The next day I read that the little boy was shot and killed.
And Ohhhh, how I CRIED for him and all that he could have been.
He chose to chase the dead when LIFE should have been his only choice.
How many more lives will it take?
If you know someone like this
We have lost too many young people to the dead
R.I.P Robert 04

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dr. Boyce Watkins on NPR - The State of Black Family Finances

As a finance professor, I see regular misconceptions in media about black people, black families and black wealth. America somehow has chosen to believe that the reason for wealth disparities in America is that African-Americans have simply chosen to be lazy and engage in the practice of bad money management. They also cite the fact that black families are not married as regularly and that this is a reason for poverty in the black community.

I could not disagree more.

The reason for the wealth disparity between blacks and whites is very simple: For 400 years (a very long time), America had a clear tradition of not allowing black people to pass wealth onto their children. As a result, all the big buildings in Manhattan, all the major media companies, and all the large corporations in America are owned, run and controlled by the white community. Period. Most wealth is inherited wealth and we were not allowed to inherit.

Black people choosing not to get married is no worse nor better than the fact that many families in America choose to get divorced. Honestly, I think divorce is far more devastating to the life of a child than not getting married. If one throws in the fact that non-custodial parents are obligated to pay child support, then the income gap, in a perfect world, should disappear. One can argue that two parents are better than one, but at the same time, 3 parents would be better than 2, and 4 parents would be better than 3. You could make this argument forever, and to use the one vs. two parent disparity as the fundamental basis to explain America's commitment to racial inequality is ridiculous.

Bottom line: Love is what matters, and if you look at the lives of Al Gore's son and kids in the suburbs who engage in just as much deviant behavior as kids in "the hood", you will see that a parent's decision to get married or not can be good for the child or bad, depending on the circumstances.

In other words: I get sick of people trying to say that black families are immoral or culturally inferior. Our culture is just fine thank you. Also, racial inequality and wealth gaps are due to one thing: historical discrimination. If you want to talk about creating a fair america, then you must first correct the huge imbalance created by racist ancestry. Trying to be fair from this point on (as Ward Connerly tries to argue) is like a lifelong crook stealing billions and then promising not to steal anymore. A fix must be applied to past wrongs before you can move forward in fairness.

I did this NPR interview on the topic not too long ago. It was done with Farai Chideya, a woman I had a huge crush on during my time in graduate school. Don't tell her I said that (haha!).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I don't like much...

A person that I know and that knows me really well recently told me “you don’t like much”. Their words stung, I mean really stung. They stung because I didn’t want it to be true. To me, a Blackman that doesn’t “like much” is only looking forward to a difficult life. But as I let my feelings come to the surface I had to accept her words but also define them. For me, not liking much has made me very tenacious about what I do like. It has made me pursue options were none appeared to exist. My mother once told me “if someone tells you no your talking to the wrong person.” This beliefe has served me well in academia. Inside academia I have been subtly told that I couldn’t go down certain roads. This was mainly due to my grade point average out of high school and later undergrad. What is so crazy, as I look back, is how no one every really explained to me the importance of grades and how bad ones have a tendency to follow you. To me and many of my college bound friends, getting a “C” grade was fine because it was passing. Sadly it wasn’t until graduate school that I grasped the whole concept-and it starts as early as junior high school. Follow me: 1) the math you take in elementary school impacts that math you take in junior high, that math sets the math you take in High school. Now if you haven’t hit a high enough math level by your senior year e.g. pre calculus, some colleges won’t even consider your application. Which leaves many uninformed minorities heading to community college and out of consideration for many Ivy League schools and in California you cannot get into any schools within the University of California system like UCLA or UC Berkeley.

Now this is where being tenacious has helped me. I spent several years in community colleges learning the ropes. Then I went to the first college that would look at me and my low grade point average. From there I went on to graduate school. Now to type all of that in one sentence makes its sound so simple. IT WASN’T! During undergrad I had to learn how to get my work done on what is called the quarter system. The quarter system is a course system that last 10 weeks instead of the traditional 18 week semester system. The quarter system moves fast and it can become sink or swim. Fortunately I swam, or shall I say at first-dog paddled. To share another moment that was a learning experience for me, I received a letter after my first quarter at school informing me that I was on the deans list. Now for me being on any list had only meant trouble. In this case it was a good thing. The Deans list was referring to my high grade point average from the previous grading period. I share that story to emphasis how we minorities are excluded from certain capital, social capital. Social capital being information that is exchanged among friends, family and those within certain institutions.

One of the things I learned through my social capital is that to get into graduate school you have to apply a year in advance. Again this was one of those things that I had no idea what the protocol was. Being tenacious made me apply to over 21 graduate schools and deal with stomaching over 20 rejection letters. The myth I grew up with was that only the smartest kids go to college and get those fancy letters behind their name. The reality is that anyone with drive and focus can get through school. Second, many of the smart people that I went to high school with have crumbled under the pressure.

I was recently reading this book called The Millionaire Mind –it’s funny how people without money are always reading books about people that have it- but this one I actually purchased for $2.50 at the thrift store. This book has some really good points, one of the main ones being that most millionaires didn’t get to were they are because of good grades, they made it due to their social skills and their ability to stay self motivated even in the face of doubt.

I share these stories because as a Blackman in America I have to accept not liking much and continue working to have the options to do what I do like. I have to keep grinding so that I am my own boss. Being tenacious had allowed me to see that it is going forward that gets you to your goals, standing still only gets you …….

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reflective Thoughts on Barry Bonds, The Record, and Steroids


Many years ago, I was a small child in Trenton, NJ. I was probably no more than 7 years old. I know that because my parents divorced when I was eight and I left that comfortable living room in Trenton, NJ never to return. I say this to say that I have a fond and precious memory as a child with his father and a lesson taught to me by my father.It was an evening like any other in New Jersey. This evening there was a baseball game on. I do not remember being a big fan of baseball, but I did like enjoying nights with my father when I could have them. My father was a truck driver and many nights he was on the road earning the family's money. This evening he was home and that was what really mattered for me.The team that was playing was the Atlanta Braves. I do not remember who the Braves were playing that night, but again, it did not really matter. My father was in his favorite chair, like Archie Bunker, and was enjoying some food, probably ice cream, daddy liked ice cream. While the game was on, he was talking to me about a certain player on the Braves, Hank Aaron. I knew who he was, but my dad was telling me things less about his baseball ability but more about who he was and why everybody was watching this particular game.Daddy began to state how he was going to hit a homerun and change everything. I knew what a homerun was. I did not know what dadddy meant by his homerun changing everything. Daddy continued his story by stating that he was about to hit more homeruns than Babe Ruth. I knew who Babe Ruth was. I also knew who other famous ball players were like Lou Gherig and Ted Williams. I thought Hank Aaron was just like the rest of them. Common thought for a little kid. Daddy kept telling me the story of how Hank Aaron, a black man, is about to break a record set by a white man that many thought could not be broken or should not be broken by a black man. He continued to tell the story about how black men weren't given the same fair shot as others going back to Jackie Robinson. In retrospect, it was probably sad for me not to know who he was or his importance. As daddy continuted to tell the story, the story became less about racial fairness but more about race based pride (my words, not daddy's).

Daddy began to talk about how black people can be proud tonight. I did not know how much pressure was on Hank. All the while he began approaching this record, the hate towards him and his family grew. He was receiving hate mail and death threats over this record in baseball. He was being threatened and so was his family. They used words like 'nigger' this and 'nigger' that. It reminded me of what I knew about King and his attempt to march and the signs would be saying 'nigger' go home and such. Every night Hank woudl get these threatning messages, it must have been difficult to play ball when you walk onto the field and any person in the stands could have a gun and they can make an attempt to kill you-back to daddy.

Daddy was saying that they did not want a black man to do this because it would tear away at what white folk thought we could not do. Daddy would always remind me of how the attitude that he learned growing up in Mississippi about how Black folk can't do things has not gone away in the 70's. Daddy spoke of the pride he will feel and many black folk at the barber shop, bar room, truck yard and everywhere will feel when Hank hits this homerun. He will show the world that Black men can do a lot. That was the lesson I took away from daddy's lecture. What Hank is doing and the way he is doing it is a testament to a people. We, as a people, share Hank's achievement as a part of our race based pride, he conquered the doubts, attitudes, death threats, and isolation to achieve a monumental athlectic achievement. Daddy and I watched as that ball cleared the (as I remember) left centerfield fence and the scoreboard flashed the number of homeruns. I saw it real time with my dad and saw the smile on his face and the screams that went out for this achievement-not just for Hank but for a people.

Daddy's gone now ('87) and I don't know what he would have to say about Bonds. He may say he should have not done steroids, but he could also see how race could play a role. It would be an interesting discussion to have with him, I wish I could have it no matter the outcome.As a forty year old African American man I can honestly say that I am not in the Bonds camp. I do not have the same feeling about what he will most likely do like I had for and still have for Hank. I see a stark contrast between Hank and Barry with regard to the race based feeling I had for Hank.I struggle with the fact that I don't get the sense that Barry's pursuit is for and a part of the people like Hank's journey seemed to be for me. Barry's journey could very well be that, but I can't connect with it.

I need to be clear, Barry owes me nor anyone else a thing. He is a free man which means he is free to choose his path based on where his conscience leads him. He may be connected to something that I do not possess the understanding to follow. But in view of this, I still don't take any joy into this record. I do not recognize the same cultural importance of this event like I did for Hank. Is it the steroids? Probably. Is it his manner? Possibly. Is it what I hear? Most likely. Is it that I see him and other Black athletes moving further and further away from the proud tradition that produced them? Most assuredly so.

Whether we are professors, writers, actors, athletes, business men or whatever, I cannot separate our occupations from our traditions. I want the reader to know that I am not referring to just the traditions of the civil rights movement, but what is good about tribal people from any land, that tradition being that the tribe must survive before any individual survives. That the young need to be the warriors to protect the old and the widows. That we are, as Cornel West personally taught me, from a wounded and scarred people and we can never forget that.I saw and still see Hank's pursuit to be about baseball and his people. I don't see that with Barry Bonds. I could be wrong, but I don't see it.

Perhaps it is hard to see it through the fog of the market culture of athletics, advertising dollars, multimillion dollar contracts to players who have not won any significant amount of games or championships and the bitterness and hatred that still permeate these kinds of endeavors.

Now we have steroids and a long list of names who have used drugs to get ahead. What do we do now, will everyone be viciously attacked as Barry was. Well, I guess that depends on their "likability" in the league. I guess we will have to see.

Will all the record books have an asterisk next to it. Will Lenny Dykstra's late inning homerun in '86 or so be taken away. It is a shame for all, but when you look at the almighty dollar that is invested, not in character building, but in dynasty building, are we all not a little tempted to engage in behavior we might normally avoid. We will have to see.

Peace and Blessings to all,
Dr. Cyrus M. Ellis

Monday, December 17, 2007

college rankings

For high school seniors across the country, this time of year does not just bring the joy of the holiday season, but also the anxiety of impending college application deadlines. And for many high achieving students, the yearly rankings provided by US News and World Report is the academic bible they swear on. Although these rankings can be very helpful, in turning a student on to a school they've never heard of or shedding light on their top choice; for the most part, the ranking system provided by this magazine is heavily biased. Stanford and MIT will always be on top. Furthermore, other academic power houses are left in the dark, overshadowed by eight universities in the Northeast (better known as the Ivy League, aka, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Penn, Brown and Dartmouth). The rankings have rankled many academics as well, and many schools have even elected to drop the system all together.

So where is the talented student of color to turn in search of a ranking system they can trust? Well the easy answer is: all ranking systems are biased and flawed and the only way to truly find a college that fits is to do a search based on one's needs and preferences. But if short on time and resources, the following should help...

The Black Enterprise list of top 50 Colleges for African-Americans
Not only does this magazine rank HBCU favorites, but also gives some shine to the overlooked liberal arts colleges.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranking of America's leading universities
Methodical and precise. The editors of this publication offer a wholistic approach to ranking universities with black students in mind and their interests at heart.

and while it isn't an academic ranking per se, the JBHE did another ranking on acceptance rates for black students at liberal arts colleges. (my plug for the liberal arts, lets do like DuBois and learn for edification and learnings sake).

And parting words to the wise - do not live and die by any ranking system, no matter who compiled it based on whatever data. College is college is college. Knowledge is the same everywhere, it all depends of what you make of it and where it takes you. That and loans

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kevin Blackistone from ESPN sets the Record Straight

After seeing the letter from one of our writers at YourBlackWorld, my man Kevin Blackistone wanted to set the record straight on his perceptions of the Sean Taylor case. Kevin is a sports guru for AOL and XM Satellite. He is also a regular on the popular ESPN show "Around the Horn".

Kev and I were on CNN together a few months ago trying to figure out why the NFL still has work to do when it comes to hiring black coaches. At the same time, I would argue that it is the NCAA that refuses to let go of it's racist traditions.

Without further ado, here is the article that Kevin wrote on Sean Taylor:

Sean Taylor and Timothy Spicer lived and worked in metropolitan D.C., Taylor as star safety for Washington’s famous pro football team and Spicer as a short-order cook for a famous Washington eatery, Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Eric Rivera, Jr., 17, shown in the preliminary court hearing, was identified by the grand jury as the gunman in the murder of NFL star Sean Taylor.

Both were young; Taylor 24 and Spicer 25. Both enjoyed nice cars that young men often do; Taylor had a Yukon Denali and Spicer drove a shiny ‘94 Caprice on big silvery rims. Both young men were black.

And both are dead now, murdered.

Taylor died in the wee hours Tuesday morning in Miami from a gunshot wound he suffered early Monday from what authorities said was an intruder in Taylor's Miami-area home.

Spicer died two Saturdays ago in Washington after he was found shot multiple times as the victim of a carjacking of his Caprice.

The only reason the country learned of Taylor's death is his celebrity. Spicer's death remained local news, the 169th murder in D.C. this year, or as many as occurred here last year.

But Taylor and Spicer are as linked in tragedy as they were as young black men working in D.C. trying to make it to another day. Gun violence is the No. 1 killer of black men like Taylor and Spicer.

According to most recent disseminated data by the Center for Disease Control, Taylor and Spicer will be two of roughly 4,000 black homicide victims in the country this year killed by guns. Most, of course, won't be a pro athlete like Taylor but an everyman like Spicer.

It didn't matter if they were rich or working-class, went to college or dropped out of high school, lived in a near million dollar home with a remote control gate or in mom's apartment in a tough quarter of town. It didn’t matter if one was strapping, strong and fast as the wind and the other was more like everyone else.

It didn't matter if they were famous or known to only a few. It didn't matter if they were living their dreams or still chasing them. They didn't escape the pathology.

On the face of it, as news of Taylor being shot rolled through the 24-hour news cycle, it sounded as if Taylor shouldn't have succumbed to such a menace. His father worked in law enforcement. Taylor went to a prep high school and a private college, Miami. He was a multi-million-dollar athlete and even his dalliance with lawbreaking and gun brandishing was said to be something of his recent past. He was a father now too. He had someone to live for forever besides himself. But what do we know?

"Sometimes we assume that because one is raised a certain way one is going to come out a certain way," the recently retired NFL star receiver Keyshawn Johnson, now ESPN football analyst, told me by phone on Tuesday. "Look at Andy Reid's kids. He's coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and they're (sons) selling drugs out of the house. You can't assume that because Sean's dad was a police chief that his life…would be different. It depends on how you approach it." Johnson knows all too well. He was reared in the toughest section of South Los Angeles. He survived being shot twice. He was stuck up outside of his favorite barbershop with his kids in tow.

"You just become an easy target," Johnson said of being an athlete or any well-known person of means.
Darrent Williams was a Denver Broncos' defensive back doing a responsible thing while out last New Year’s enjoying the night. He was in a limousine. A wrong word or misunderstanding in a club turned into bullets fired into his ride. He was killed. He was Taylor's age and another statistic in the deadly demographic.

In the wake of Williams' death, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expressed alarm at the senseless gun death of a league player and of run-ins with the law involving guns that other players were going through. Not long after came defensive back Pacman Jones' incident at a Las Vegas club that left one man shot and paralyzed.

But this isn't, unfortunately, just a problem of professional athletics, Johnson pointed out. It is bigger than one genre of livelihood.

"You have to be very cautious…about your surroundings and about the company you do keep. You can’t worry about feeling like people are going to look at you and say, 'He's made it now so he doesn't come around.' Well, isn't that the whole point? Secure your life and secure your family and move on? The point is to be able to be successful and make it."

Taylor appeared to have reached that point. Spicer was still working at it with a budding clothing business and dreams of – what else? – producing rap music.
Now both are in the same sad statistical pool. A Miami black neighborhood was planning this week to protest three recent fatal police shootings of young black men. It may want to protest the shooting of young black men by other young black men, which is far more prevalent, when it is through.

There was a lot of outpouring of support almost immediately for Taylor. A candlelight vigil was held. A funeral that will be covered by the national media is probably being planned.

Some athletes interviewed about Taylor's demise served up the trite words we're accustomed to after such a horrific event. They said it reminded that they just played a game and that other things were much more important. It put things in perspective, the choir sang. It shouldn’t have, of course. These things in sports never should. Other things are always more important.

Sports are not a separate thread in the fabric of society. They are no more than another spec of alloy in the mirror that reflects it all.

Sean Taylor as well as Timothy Spicer were the latest victims in what is a near epidemic among young black men. If anything good can come from Taylor's demise it will be that more of us pay as much attention to, and express as much outrage and sadness for, the Spicers where we live too.

Kevin B. Blackistone is a regular panelist on ESPN's Around the Horn, an XM Satellite Radio host and a frequent sports opinionist on other outlets like National Public Radio and The Politico. A former award-winning sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News, he currently lives in Hyattsville, Md.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Man Who Operated on Kanye West's Mother

by Andrea Johnson - A YourBlackHealth Exclusive Report

He’s been called the killer of Dr. Donda West, mother of Kanye West, who died after undergoing surgery at his private practice in California. The California Board of Medicine wants to revoke his license to practice as a result of DUI’s. He walked off on America’s favorite nighttime host.

He’s been labeled a quack, a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, and a negligent uncertified surgeon.l However, Dr. Jan Adams is also a graduate of Harvard College and the Ohio School of Medicine. He is an author, lecturer, television personality, and has developed a line of skin care products for women of color. In his general surgery residency at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, he served as chief surgical resident from 1989-1990. From 1991 to 1992, he also served as chief resident in plastic surgery during his plastic and reconstructive surgery training at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

But Dr. Adams is probably most well-known for hosting Discovery Health Channel’s, “Plastic Surgery: Before and After.” He has also appeared on Oprah, and as an expert on some major news shows. Although degrees and awards are impressive, his legal resume is peppered with malpractice suits, client complaints, and threats of a revoked license. His most recent press time has been spent defending himself against accusations of causing the death of Kanye West’s mother.

In the spotlight of tragedy, flaws in Dr. Adams’s background have been exposed. Is he truly a poor surgeon or simply the scapegoat for the unfortunate death of a celebrity?

How many people die from plastic surgery?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that death from cosmetic plastic surgeries remains rare, occurring in one of 57,000 cases. About 2 million such surgeries were done in the United States in 2005. Still, there are a large number of uncertified plastic surgeons in private practices that are not required to submit their numbers to ASPS. Experts believe that number is much higher.

What about Dr. Adams’ malpractice issues?
Dr. Adams legal record in recent years doesn’t speak well of his capabilities. In a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court on October 31, 2007, Rhonda McClain claims Dr. Adams and Euclid Outpatient Surgery Center were responsible for "mental, physical and nervous pain and suffering." McClain’s surgery was completed on March 10, 2007. She told TMZ that she was left with one implant and nearly bled to death.
In another lawsuit against Dr. Adams, McClain claimed to have been "negligently and carelessly examined, diagnosed, cared for, treated and performed surgery upon plaintiff, failing to follow the standard care …" The patient Terri Cage alleges she was "rendered sick, sore, lame and disabled" from her surgeries.

Bonita Hovey, another patient receiving a tummy tuck, filed a suit claiming Dr. Adams and other doctors "negligently failed to possess and exercise, in both diagnosis and treatment, that reasonable degree of knowledge and skill that is ordinarily possessed and exercised by other physicians and surgeons …” As a result of poor postoperative care she contracted an infection that led to two more surgeries to remove sutures and revise her scar.
In yet another malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Jan Adams, Jana Beighle claims no one mentioned the malpractice claims against the doctor. She felt deceived by Dr. Adams and Euclid Outpatient Surgery Center. After her surgery in August 2005, she suffered from fluid collection and had to have her implants removed.
Even experts make mistakes. How often does this happen?

Dr. Adams isn’t alone in his malpractice problems. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the 75 largest counties in the United States, almost 50 percent of all medical malpractice trials are against surgeons. Furthermore, in approximately 26 percent of those cases, the settlement was given to the plaintiff. A new study has shown that most settlement cases are tied directly to merit and the quality of care, which seems to be an obvious answer, but hasn’t always been the case. Some lawyers have claimed settlements in malpractice suits are a ‘lottery”, where fault and the settlement are not related. The stronger a case is in the lack of care the patient has received, the more likely that a settlement is offered.

Dr. DiSaia, a board certified surgeon in California diagnoses the problem rather concisely, “Here is a very simple malpractice synopsis: “Medical malpractice is not bad outcome or complication but is inadequate training (didn't know how to do it) inadequate informed consent (didn't tell you the risks) error in technique (did it wrong), error in care (didn't diligently follow test results, treat problems, etc). These things are hard to prove.” Both parties should have one main thing priority : the patient’s overall health . The patient’s best interests equal that of the surgeon’s, because if something goes wrong, then he or she is often to blame. That means keeping the patient informed or even saying no large amounts of money. The patient has to honestly digest the risks and decide what they are willing to do.

So who do we blame?

Adams told People Magazine that the 11 malpractice suits uncovered by TMZ don't represent his deficiencies as a surgeon, but instead, "represent a bad decision in terms of choice of patient."

While some critics interpret this remark as a lack of responsibility or remorse, other experts agree with this viewpoint. Dr. DiSaia fromLocation: San Clemente, California, is a board certified plastic surgeon in San Clemente, Ca. His blogs are designed to help readers learn from the outcomes of other cosmetic surgery patients. DiSaia believes, “One of the most difficult things for people to understand in health care seems to be the fact that bad outcomes and malpractice suits do not always constitute poor or negligent care. Often the choice to operate upon an inappropriate patient is the surgeon's biggest mistake. Some people are in poor health, smoke and/or take poor care of themselves or simply have unrealistic expectations. These are often "no win propositions" for the surgeon.”
On his website,, Dr. DiSaia expounded on his view, stating “If you have a bad outcome or a wound healing problem, this is not necessarily malpractice. People don't understand that when things go wrong, it is not always because something was done incorrectly.”

He adds, “Sometimes people kinda "ask for problems." An example is the case in which a very small woman asks for really large breast implants. We all know that going beyond a certain volume for a given patient increases the possibility of a poor outcome. I turn these patients away. Other surgeons operate on them figuring that it is their problem. These rules are not carved in stone. They are all relative. So when the woman has problems later on down the line and complains about her surgeon, malpractice will probably not be found. I have had patients like this that I have turned away return after their surgery with Dr "X" blaming him for their ugly breasts. I had warned them of the problems of the really large implants …and refused to do the surgery. These women chose the doctor that would do as they asked and got that which I had predicted. Is that the other surgeon's fault?”

It could be that Jan Adams has poor judgment, trouble saying no, or even too much confidence in his ability to overcome risks. It could also be that his patients are ill-informed, unwilling to hear advice, or wanting the quickest fix so badly, they forget (refuse to acknowledge) that minor surgery still presents risks---especially if you are not currently in good health. Whatever the case, Dr. Adams has cost himself over $500,000 in settlement money and a solid reputation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The imposter...

This is for all my academics... Often times I feel like I am hiding inside of School. This is a two fold problem. Inside of school I feel like I don't belong and can't compete academically and as I approach the work force I fear not knowing what the hell I’m doing. Before I get into that, let me set a foundation. I am currently in the process of finishing my PhD program in Clinical Psychology. I am literally working on the last pages of my dissertation. Yet, as I close in on completion, I have noticed my anxiety rising and an old familiar feeling resurfacing. This feeling is like a whisper in my ear, a rumble in my stomach. The feeling is one of doubt, fear, and shame. All these feelings I now know are what is called "the imposter syndrome". Look it up, it's a real phenomenon, especially among minorities in higher education. The imposter syndrome makes me feel like I will be found out as incompetent by my classmates or future employers. I have been dealing with this feeling through out college and now graduate school. What makes it even worse for me is that family and friends just don’t believe it. To them I'm one of the lucky ones, “I made it". But like a good friend told me recently, trying to explain the pain and challenges of academia are like trying to describe riding on the back of the bus during segregation, you just had to be there! I am sharing these feelings because knowing that I am not alone has helped a lot. To all my folks that have and are having these feeling know this, your, my, ancestors fought for us, we are their dream in motion. We literally come from the best of the best. Seek out a mentor, and I am not limiting that to people that look like you. One of my greatest cheerleaders is a White woman at Stanford. I remember one day while working on my dissertation, she was helping me with something I felt I should have known how to do-which is a burden of the imposter syndrome, I constantly feel like I should know everything-she heard my pain as I sad I didn't know how to complete the task she asked me to do. She said to me "don't feel bad at all; I have had to help white graduate students at Stanford way more than I have had to help you” We both laughed. In closing I just want to say that you count, you are here, and your people need YOUR greatness!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Getting Stamps in Your Passport

What do you call someone who only speaks one language?
An American.

Although its only a joke it reveals something about the United States in the globalized 21st century. While many politicians agitated to make English our official language, waging wars of attrition against dual language classes, multiple languages on ballots and on other official forms, the rest of the world seems to have a level of proficiency in more than one language. Why is this? Well, geography has something to do with it, many nations in Europe, Africa and Asia are located close together, giving people the opportunity to learn the language of their neighbors. There is also the fact of a colonial past, for example someone from Senegal would most likely be fluent in French, the language of the former colonial government and Wolof, a major language native to the land. But where does that leave us, we're next door to Spanish speaking Mexico and French speaking Quebec, Canada, why haven't Americans become the masters of more than one tongue? Xenophobia and jingoism have something to do with it, but a bigger factor may be the fact that many Americans don't travel much out of the country.

Only about 20% of Americans own a passport, which means only a few of us are hoping on planes and landing in Paris, Rome, Johannesburg and Dakar. Yes, the costs of travel are often prohibitive it is imperative that we place a greater premium on travel, not only to successfully compete in the global economy, but also for our own edification. The gift of travel is especially rewarding for people of color, in visiting the nations of the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and Asia we can see people of various shades of brown running things. (We won't go into whether they can truly run things in post-colonial states that are economically tethered to the interests of their former colonizers just yet).

Instead of popping bottles for your 25st birthday, how about saving up for a trip to Brazil? Even if the only thing you'll be able to say is "Eu não falo o português" (or I don't speak Portuguese), you'll be on your way to being a citizen of the world.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Avoiding Paris-Hiltonitis with Your Money

There’s nothing wrong with a little shine in your life, especially since you have worked hard to get that degree. But shining too hard can have you rolling on 24s to bankruptcy court. Whether you earn 10 dollars per year or 10 Million, you are a financial slave if you are not saving, investing and letting your money grow. As I like to say, “To ‘floss’ at 23 is human, but to floss till you’re 90 is divine”.

As a Finance Professor and your personal Financial Physician, let me give you a list of rules to live by, so that your grandkids will be riding high on the hog after you have cooked up the pork chops. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and you are wasting your mind if you have not used it to build, invest and teach in your community:

Rule #1: The easiest way to stay poor is to never own anything. Renting an apartment will help your landlord get a house, not you. Buying cars helps the auto dealer get a new limo, not you. The candy apple paint on their new Mercedes is being peeled right off your black butt. Get on the other side of that deal! Buy a house as quick as you can, buy stocks, buy bonds, own ASSETS. Don’t believe the hype about having a high paycheck; It means nothing if you don’t own anything.

Rule #2: The quickest path to getting pimped is to always work for someone else. Don’t just try to find a job, put yourself in position to CREATE a job. Start your own business as soon as you can. Remember: when you are working for someone else, they are usually earning 10 dollars for every dollar they pay you. Now THAT’S pimpin. Get with the GRAND hustle, not the BLAND hustle by using the PLANNED hustle to start your own business.

Rule #3: Save at least 10% of your money every time you get paid, NO EXCUSES. You should pay yourself first by having the money come right out of your check. A person who saves $200 per week starting at the age of 22 and invests that money in the stock market for a 10% return every year will have roughly $43,000 by the time they are 32, $434,000 by the time they are 52, and $1.6 million when they are 65. That’s enough money to help Flava Flav get a new girlfriend.

Rule #4: Create multiple streams of income. Your salary should only be one. I don’t care if you sell comic books, Avon or rotten fish. Remember the words of the rapper TI: “If the grapes don’t sell, I dry em up and sell raisins.” Side hustles provide job security, in case your boss hands you the pink slip. If you are smart, you can hand the pink slip to your boss.

Rule #5: Love is creepy sometimes, so watch who you hook up with. Merging your money with someone is like having sex with them: it can be an amazing experience, or it can leave you burned and bitter. Whether it is marriage or starting a business together, only merge your money with someone who cares about your best interest. In other words, don’t waste your life with losers.

Read my lips and follow these tips, and your future will have so much shine that Stevie Wonder will need to put on his sunglasses. Now that’s pimpin.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Problems at Rutgers University?

Apparently, there is trouble at Rutgers University. I have, for the most part, only known the school for it's amazing football team, but it appears that there might be other issues going on as well. Here is an email that was forwarded to me after being written by one of their faculty:

Dear Ziva,
> After agonizing deliberation, I am tendering my resignation as chair of
> Africana Studies as a way of protesting the dismantling of our
> department.
> As I believe the Rutgers faculty, the Rutgers student body, and the
> people of New Jersey want a vibrant and robust Africana Studies
> discipline, I am making my resignation public so that the dismemberment
> cannot occur under the cloak of darkness.
> I am troubled by SAS's contention that setting up a tiny department for
> African, Middle Eastern and South Asian languages is so imperative that
> it legitimates the hasty razing of Africana Studies. The issue before us
> is not whether there is intellectual merit for the proposed department;
> there is intellectual merit for many kinds of academic reconfigurations.
> The question is whether the benefits of having such a new department
> make it worth decimating an older department that is central to the
> university's undergraduate mission. Since the benefits are not
> apparent, I have very reluctantly been forced to wonder whether SAS's
> plan is yet another attempt to dismantle our discipline. There is a mass
> of potent circumstantial evidence to support a gloomy conclusion.
> You are aware of the important background:
> * When the Africana Studies department was formed in 1969, it
> comprised
> three Africa-related curricula - 013 African Languages and Literature,
> 014 Africana Studies, 016 African Studies. This is the model of Africana
> Studies departments at many other first-class universities, including
> the one at Harvard. Moving away from this proven configuration
> constitutes a serious dismantling of the discipline.
> * In the 1980s, shrouded by a very active and successful program
> of
> diversifying the student body and faculty, FAS initiated the dismantling
> of Africana Studies. During that decade, scores of new lines were handed
> out and curricula decisions were made that took much of our subject
> matter and distributed it throughout other FAS departments. Although
> those were days of financial plenty, FAS deans ignored the department's
> requests for resources on the grounds that the available funds were only
> for departments that were underutilizing people of color. They were not
> persuaded by our argument that, like other units, Africana Studies
> wanted to expand intellectually, 'racially' and in terms of gender.
> Since then, our curricula proposals have often been rejected with the
> explanation that other departments are now teaching this material, or,
> as under your administration, simply ignored.
> * Though the posture of your more immediate predecessors has been
> a kind
> of 'benign neglect', one of them was so openly hostile to our discipline
> that he prevented the promotion of one our faculty by falsifying the
> record that was sent to the PRC. (There is a paper trail and a number of
> reputable faculty to confirm this. I hope doubters will request the
> documentation.)
> * In the late 1990s, FAS created the Center for African Studies by
> removing the 016/African Studies curriculum from our department. Due to
> the fact that this was a faculty-led initiative with which we agreed
> (perhaps naively), Africana Studies supported that change. Nonetheless,
> the Center for African Studies could have been incorporated into the
> Africana Studies department and removing African Studies from our
> portfolio constituted a further chipping away at our disciplinary
> subject matter.
> The substantive evidence of your administration's attempt to wipe out
> Africana Studies is:
> * Your immediate predecessor asked Africana Studies to develop a
> departmental master plan. She signed off on a plan that gave prominence
> to African Languages and Literature - an area in which we had been
> investing heavily. Given the normal continuity between SAS deans on
> matters of this kind, your administration's proposal to take away that
> curriculum is an act of unjustified dismemberment.
> * You are well aware that African Languages and Literature is
> Africana
> Studies' most promising growth area. We live in a world in which there
> is burgeoning interest in Arabs and Islam and in alternative sources to
> Middle East oil. Two-thirds of the world's Arabs are Africans; Islam is
> the largest religion in Africa; and, most of our planet's new sources of
> oil are in Africa. Our intention, as you well know, is to capitalize on
> the current political climate to pursue Title VI and other major grants
> that would further develop the African Languages and Literature
> curriculum. To strip the department of its most promising area for
> expansion at this uniquely propitious moment must also be understood as
> an act of dismemberment.
> * African Languages and Literature has been a distinguishing
> feature of
> Rutgers Africana Studies since 1969. The intellectual and curricula link
> between language, culture and other aspects of the black experience has
> been increasingly recognized and programs around the country, if they
> have not already done so, are modifying themselves accordingly. (It was
> only in 2003, for example, that the Harvard department inaugurated its
> African languages curriculum.) Taking African Languages and Literature
> out of Africana Studies would plunge our department into the ranks of
> the ordinary after we have always been ahead of the pack in this
> respect.
> * The SAS deans have surreptitiously called several of our tenured
> faculty
> members to one side and attempted to lure them away from the department
> by misdirecting their attention to the 'conceptual merit' of the SAS
> plan .
> Whether or not there is conceptual merit to the idea of a new
> department, deliberately fomenting rifts within a faculty is promoting
> dismemberment.
> * Your 'plan' only targets Africana Studies. Only Africana Studies
> will be
> required to surrender a long-standing, growing curriculum. Only Africana
> Studies is being asked to relinquish 40% of its full time faculty,
> including its last three hires. If there is a compelling need to have
> all the languages of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia together, as
> you have argued, why does your plan leave the teaching of Hebrew in the
> Department of Jewish Studies? Does this fact not obliterate your claim
> to having only intellectual and pedagogical motivations?
> * As you know, word gets around in academia. Knowing that
> successive
> Rutgers administrations have been slowly taking apart Africana Studies,
> how are we going to be able to attract outstanding Africana scholars in
> the future? Creating these difficult hiring conditions strongly suggests
> that SAS does not want an outstanding Africana department.
> * Finally, Africana Studies has always wanted to promote the
> interests of
> SAS and the university. Indeed, in response to your proposal, we have
> offered lengthy verbal and written explications of how Africana Studies
> would be destroyed by your plan and have suggested several alternative
> approaches through which SAS could pursue its purported objectives
> without destroying us. The decision to press ahead without modifications
> says a great deal about SAS's intent.
> The other evidence of SAS's dismantling objectives rests on the
> implausibility of your professed desire to create a new department and
> on the faulty procedures that have been followed. I disagree with the
> judgment that the benefits of a department of African, Middle Eastern
> and South Asian Languages outweigh the harm of disassembling Africana
> Studies.
> But, should this not be a faculty decision? And, even if it is an
> administrative decision, the procedure for forming a new department at
> our university bears little resemblance to the activities SAS has been
> undertaking.
> * Your administration quietly invited several SAS units to covet
> resources
> that have been vested for many decades in Africana Studies. It has also
> conspired with these other units to develop a strategy to strip Africana
> Studies of those resources. Hence, the 'plan' you are pursuing.
> * According to your presentation to our faculty, these covert
> activities
> had been underway for more than six months before the chair of Africana
> Studies was summoned. Moreover, he was called at the conclusion of the
> process to be informed that African Languages and Literatures was being
> taken from his department. Instead of involving Africana Studies from
> the very beginning, we were the last to know about the 'plan.' Was this
> a strategy to deprive the department of even a modicum of agency in
> matters that threaten its existence?
> * Even as you seek endorsement of the 'plan', there is no
> well-articulated
> basis for it. There is not a single document stating mission, structure,
> student demand, funding, intellectual rationale, etc. As it stands now,
> the 'plan' to be implemented just involves taking resources from
> Africana Studies.
> * Full and complete disclosure is essential to everyone's informed
> evaluation of the SAS proposal. Africana Studies requested copies of
> minutes of meetings, memos, emails and other correspondence pertaining
> to SAS's "deliberations." We have been told there are no records of the
> meetings with the faculty you say are 'supportive.' Having been
> separately summoned to 77 Hamilton Street, these three or four faculty
> members have only spoken with the deans individually. They have never
> met with each other, so, in the absence of a written record, there is no
> way of knowing what they agreed to and whether they agreed on the same
> things. In fact, my follow-up conversations indicate that creating a new
> department was not a faculty idea at all. It has been an administrative
> concoction that has other objectives and SAS has been overstating the
> nature and extent of faculty support for it.
> * There are emails and other correspondence at SAS having to do
> with the
> 'plan' but Africana Studies has been denied access to them. Despite the
> fact that the parties have been acting in their official capacities,
> have been discussing university matters, during business hours, you have
> curiously dubbed the relevant correspondence "private". Moreover, SAS
> has not acceded to our requests to seek permission from the
> participating parties to share the correspondence with us.
> * Obfuscation is everywhere. Since you will be leaving office soon
> and
> since these matters are of critical concern to our future, I asked to
> tape record the last meeting I had with the deans. That request was
> denied on the grounds that a written record would be sufficient. Upon
> receiving the draft minutes from SAS, I made some additions. Though
> agreeing that my revisions accurately reflected what had transpired in
> the meeting, SAS nevertheless said it did not want to include some of my
> additions in the permanent record and the vice dean gave me instructions
> not to circulate the corrected minutes. Consequently there is no record
> of that important meeting.
> * Then there is the timing. One must be suspicious of SAS's
> keenness to
> rush through such major changes as creating new departments and
> dismantling others, given the lame-duck status of the senior
> administrators. If SAS's plan is a good idea, it will be a good idea in
> six months, next year and the year after, when a permanent dean is in
> place and when other actions can prevent the sacrificing of Africana
> Studies. If it is a good one, the 'plan' does not have to be implemented
> by July 1, 2008 as you insist.
> * For me, your explications constitute a terrifying example of
> what
> psychiatrists call "relabeling" aggression. ("This isn't violence, it is
> education"; "It doesn't hurt you as much as you say"; "I'm doing it for
> your own good"; "I do it because you deserve it"; "I do it because I
> love you"; "You make me do it.") The relabeling of the attack on our
> department came together most succinctly in the vice dean's memo to the
> tenured Africana Studies faculty in which he argued that the SAS plan
> was actually a plan for "strengthening" the department.
> Many inside and outside the university will resist the implications of
> this evidence, as I have in fact done. This is because well-meaning
> people do not want reality to conflict with their deeply-held values and
> predispositions. A common response in this situation is to deny the
> reality. Sadly, Rutgers has some recent experience that emphasizes the
> fact that disquieting realities can be just as they seem to be.
> It was almost exactly thirteen years ago - November, 1994 - that Francis
> Lawrence uttered the infamous assertion that African American students
> do not have the "genetic hereditary background" to do as well as
> European American students on SAT exams. Even the president's supporters
> acknowledged that this claim raised questions about the legitimacy of
> African American participation at all levels of the university.
> To calm the storm that erupted, Dr. Lawrence played the contrition card.
> He explained it was a "slip of the tongue." He said he was amazed that
> anyone could believe that the misstatement reflected his true beliefs.
> "I don't know how it happened. It is not how I live my life."
> Well meaning people (including most of the faculty) gave Lawrence the
> benefit of the doubt. We eagerly yielded to portrayals of him as a
> 'champion of minorities'. We did not want to acknowledge the painful
> reality encoded in his remark. We rationalized that the issue was one of
> "fairness."
> But what happened? Without the rest of the university even being aware
> of it, through defunding or discontinuance, the Lawrence administration
> systematically dismantled every policy, unit, initiative and program to
> help promote a diverse Rutgers. This included the admissions procedure
> that found ways of admitting more students of color without quotas or
> differential standards. It included the Affirmative Action Office,
> Common Purposes, the Board of Governors' Minority Advisory Committee,
> the Minority Faculty Development Program, the annual affirmative action
> reports to the faculty, and affirmative action lines for
> "underutilizing"
> departments, not to mention the Multicultural Program the Board of
> Governors said he had to institute as a condition of being let off the
> hook. As a consequence of the Lawrence administration, there has been a
> precipitous decrease in African American, Latino and women faculty and
> Rutgers has lost its enviable position among AAU universities when it
> comes to "diversity."
> The point is that we know from our own tragic experience that sometimes
> reality can be exactly the way it seems to be. Senior Rutgers officers
> can act to undermine the university's progressive initiatives. You will
> appreciate, therefore, that it was not at all reassuring to hear that
> the SAS plan had the support of Vice President Furmanski and President
> McCormick.
> Your proposed actions seem like attempts to dismantle Africana Studies.
> Uneasily, I must assume your plan is exactly what it seems to be and
> resigning is the only way I can protest against it.
> In closing, let me once again reiterate Africana Studies' commitment to
> sharing African Languages and Literatures with other units in the
> university. Many of them have already benefited from our foresight. We
> have allowed substantial cross-listing, shared faculty and promoted
> joint programming. The centers for African Studies and Middle East
> Studies, in particular, would have had a much more difficult time
> establishing themselves were it not for the languages Africana Studies
> institutionalized into the curriculum decades ago. Additionally, as it
> has been a critical part of their preparation for Africa-based research,
> our ability to train graduate students in a variety of African languages
> has been a boon to graduate programs in many departments. We are a
> reasonable and responsible faculty. We will continue to seek additional,
> innovative ways to be of service to SAS. I do not think, however, that
> it would be in the university's interest for me to stand idly by while
> Africana Studies is taken apart.
> As these matters are of broad concern, I am going to ask the New
> Brunswick Faculty Council to thoroughly investigate the SAS plan and to
> prepare a full report for the faculty.
> Respectfully,
> Walton R. Johnson
> Professor

Why Successful African American Women are Essential

- Submission from MyfoxDC:

By Brandon Whitney
Brandon is the creator of a blog that focuses on issues that affect the African American community. He is also a frequent guest on News and Notes’ Blogger Roundtable. Brandon has political experience as an outreach director for the Democratic party and is passionate about being a positive force in his community. African American issues. He is also a frequent guest on News and Notes’ Blogger Roundtable.

NBC ran a series on African American Women that referred to their status in America. Some of it was negative, African American have a very low marriage rate compared to other races and can be at more risk for some diseases than others, but they are doing exceptionally well in the work place and educationally. Their pursuit of education is probably one of the best things brought to light by the news series. This is a fantastic thing because it is a major step towards solidly placing the bulk of African Americans into the middle and upper classes. Educated women mean educated children and the success of our people.

Both parents are important to the development of their children. I hesitate to assign roles to parents strictly on the basis of sex, but there have been traditional attitudes and behaviors that have usually been handled by one sex or the other. Social scientist have observed that in terms of educational development, mothers are extremely influential. A child's educational success is very dependent on theirs mothers attitude towards schooling.

The importance of mothers in education is why African Americans pursuit of bachelors and higher degrees is so significant. Women who pursue their education are more likely to produce children who do the same, both male and female. As education tends to lead to higher income, we could see the growth of the African American middle class as more women join corporate America and start their own businesses.

African American women's success is not bad for our people nor is it detrimental to African American men. Success in America is not a zero-sum game, both men and women can do well in this country. As our mothers, sisters, and daughters strive for success so can we. Many of us already have, and those who have not yet begun to reach for a brighter future are soon to be surrounded by plenty of examples who prove that it can be done.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

black grad

Its finally official, I'm a college senior. I pre-registered for m spring semester classes, took the GRE (twice), struggling with a thesis and the overwhelming process of applying to graduate schools and jobs. As my time as an undergraduate at Amherst College comes to a close I sometimes wonder if it was all worth it - all the self doubt, late nights, stress, homesicknesses, etc... Moreover, being educated in an elite white institution has led me to imagine whether I would have been happier at an HBCU.
Then in my hour of doubt and despair, I came across a quote by an amazing if underappreciated Amherst alum, Charles Hamilton Houston. Known as "The man who killed Jim Crow" because of his integral role in numerous court cases that dismantled legislative segregation, including Brown v. Board once said, "Without education there is no hope for our people, and without hope our future is lost". He couldn't have been more right and his words could not have been more timeless.
I cannot redo my undergrad years, and I have to rest assured that I have been placed where I am for a reason (the lack of staggering student loans doesn't hurt either). Whether attained at a historically black college, majority white school, women's college or at any other type of school a college education is the key not only to black intellectual enlightenment a la Du Bois but should also be regarded as central to the economic viability of our people.

It should come as no surprise that educational attainment correlates closely with education levels. The numbers are stark 24.9% of African-Americans are living at or below the national poverty line and only about 15% of black Americans have a bachelors degree. The old saying that, "college isn't for everyone", shouldn't even be whispered in our households. We can no longer afford to remain undereducated. If so we will continued to be under-served, disenfranchised and impoverished. College or some variety of vocational training a la Booker T. Washington, should be the goal of black young people.Instead of lionizing a child simply for turning 16 and lavishing them with gifts or throwing an elaborate high school graduation party, save the accolades for when the same children earn their bachelors, masters, PhD.'s and beyond.

It would be easy to blame the lack of higher educational attainment amongst blacks on the notion that we don't properly value schooling. However, this view is not historically accurate as in the tumultuous Reconstruction south, former slaves established grammar and secondary schools and universities to educate themselves and future generations of blacks. This legacy continues today, with the majority of black college graduates earning their degrees from HBCUs. There are so many factors at work in this situation: the inhibiting tuition costs, lack of resources in our communities to prepare one for college, lack of knowledge of all the opportunities available to those that are young gifted and black, just to name a few. Then once one arrives on campus, they are bombarded with institutionalized racism, sexism, elitism and the other more pedestrian hurdles faced by every other college kid.

But aren't we a people of overcoming obstacles? In the 388 years after slavery we've managed to declare our humanity even as our fellow citizens vehemently sought to deny it. We owe it to our ancestors and ourselves to secure our future in this nation through making educational inroads.

Nigga Nation- Award winning film by Dorian Chandler

War of Words or Words of War?

This was posted by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, a buddy of mine and a regular analyst on CNN, FOX, ShowBiz Tonight and other shows. He's not only intelligent, but he is one of the great academic leaders of the 21st century.

After years of negotiation, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Orin Hatch were finally able to pass their anti-gang bill. In essence, the bill will make it easier to classify youth as members of gangs, and intensify the penalties for those who are charged with crimes. Despite its devastating implications, particularly for young people of color, the legislation was uncontested by Senate colleagues and publicly celebrated as a victory in the “War on Gangs.” As always, the language of war was used to sanitize a filthy set of politics.

For decades, politicians have used the rhetoric of war in order to draw public support for questionable domestic policy initiatives. In 1971, President Nixon launched a full scale “War on Drugs” that has heavily tipped the criminal justice scales against poor people, petty drug users, and small time dealers. More recently, after the September 11 tragedy, President Bush unleashed a War on Terror that has undermined any semblance of individual privacy and civil liberty for the entire nation.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a disturbingly consistent pattern here. First politicians create a common enemy. Not a real enemy, but an indefensible bogeyman –say, a suicide bomber or a crack rock-- that we all agree is bad for society. Then they tell us that we are facing an immediate threat because of this bad entity. Once everyone is sufficiently (and irrationally) scared of our “enemy,” the government then prosecutes a war in order to snuff it out. Given the bellicose nature of American society, this becomes a reasonable if not axiomatic conclusion. After all, if you don’t support a war against bad things then you must a supporter of bad things, right?

By playing these language games, we are able to ignore clear evidence that these faux-wars don’t work. Thirty-six years into the current drug war, drugs are easier to find, cheaper to buy, and more potent than ever. Since the beginning of the war on terror, Americans have lost layers of freedom with no indication, regardless of what Bush says, that we are any safer. With the current war on gangs, we are bolstering a prison industry without affecting the root causes of gang membership and youth crime.

My suggestion is that we rename our wars in more honest fashion. Imagine how the public would respond if they knew politicians were proposing a “War on the Constitution” or a “War on Mexican Teenagers.” Perhaps, after recognizing the real stakes, we could begin a much-needed “War on Wars.”

Marc Lamont Hill
Assistant Professor of Urban Education & American Studies
Temple University
1301 Cecil B Moore Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19122
"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" - Anais Nin

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Monday, December 3, 2007

The Return of the Nappy Headed Hoe

I did an interview this morning on American Urban Radio Networks about Don Imus. They'd heard that we have a petition to keep Imus off the air, and wanted me to talk about it. I agreed to do so, mainly because Bettie Lee, the woman who interviewed me, is a respected friend. I also like AURN because they allow black people to have a voice that is not muffled by the stupidity of mainstream media.

When it came to Don Imus, I made these simple points:

1) His return to the air after apologizing signals a fundamental disrespect for people of color and women. Had Tyra Banks referred to Rudy Giuliani as an "oily skinned cracker", she would never be put on the air again.

2) It seems that the networks could have found a woman of color to replace Imus, since they are non-existent from mainstream media. So, while Imus paid a 6 month price for degrading women of color, they have paid with a lifetime ban for doing nothing.

3) Don Imus, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly form the the New KKK in America. Without using the N-word, they engage in the perpetuation of policies and ideologies that have been hurtful to all of America.

4) Our plan for boycotting Imus and his supporters is not a short-term plan. I am asking, for at least 2 years, all people of color to do the following:

- Boycott the Imus Show and WABC Networks in New York.
- Consider boycotting all corporations that sponsor this network (we have a list of current sponsors below this post)
- Hold all dignitaries and political candidates who appear on their shows accountable for their actions. It's interesting that Republican Presidential candidates did not appear in the debate on HBCU campuses, but yet they find time to appear on racist conservative talk shows.

Gathered from YBW primary focal points are highlighted in red. You may choose to call the sponsors and express your concern, or refrain from purchasing their products. Email us if you have something to say

AT&T Wireless *

Geico *
J.C. Penney *

McDonalds **

Radio Shack

Sam's Club *

Sears *

Staples *


Tom Tom GPS *

Verizon WIreless **1-800-2-JOIN-IN

Here is an episode we did that refers to Don Imus:

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Why Universities are Fundamentally Racist

This was an interesting weekend. Two things happened that I was involved with that led to a tremendous amount of reflection on my part. I’ll start from the beginning, as the passion is so strong that my fingers are boiling on the keyboard. They say you shouldn’t try to think or write when you are angry, but I am a man of passion and passion brings out the strongest part of my intellect.

First, I went to visit my alma mater (or my “alma-mama” as I call it), The University of Kentucky. UK is an amazing school, beautiful in some ways, but sick and twisted in others. I saw our football team win an amazing game a couple of weeks ago, as they beat the #1 ranked team in the country for the first time in 43 years. I was with them the entire time, cheering and jumping up and down as they scored one touch down after another. Part of me bleeds blue, which happens to be one our school colors. But it is also my love for my “alma-mamma” that inspired my visit to the school this week. I gave a speech after being requested by the black students on campus to come in and comment on the series of racially-motivated incidents that took place on campus recently.

In one of the incidents, a black student had the words “Die Nigger” sliced into his door. The incident was in the media, and I was forwarded the article by one of my cousins. The reason I got the article: The student who had the words scratched into his door also happened to be my cousin. Before I could pick up the phone and “raise holy hayell”, I received a call from one of the black administrators, who wanted me to intervene. The answer was a resounding “yes”. Coming back home was an amazing experience, as I could literally look at every corner, street, building and sidewalk on that campus and have a fond memory of being in that particular spot. It could be the place where I first kissed my girlfriend, stood fuming over a bad grade in a class, played football with my friends, had a car accident or drank a milkshake. I consider that university to be my home. The energy in the auditorium was off the chain, as the house was totally packed. Apparently, the arrival of the “Dangerous Negro” had driven many people to come out, young and old, white and black. The students came ready for war, and I was ready to guide them down the war path.

I didn’t want the students to be filled with hate. I just wanted them to have understanding, purpose and direction. I reminded them that the same things that happened in 2007 were also happening in 1997, 1987 and 1977. I told them about how the administration had made promises 20 years earlier to substantially increase the presence of black faculty on campus, and that none of these promises were kept or acknowledged. I reminded them that if they acted firmly and strongly, 2007 would be the year when the shit was going to stop. I then asked the students how many of them have had more than one black professor. Almost none of them raised their hands, I don’t think there were more than one or two hands in the air. The fact that there were hundreds of people in the room, yet only a couple of them have had more than one black professor (after taking a multitude of classes) made my point immediately and clearly. I told them that they should be ANGRY about the fact that people like them have been systemically cut out of academia and not allowed to stand in front of the classroom. This is NOT FAIR and highly indicative of the fact that their university does not consider the hiring or tenure of black professors to be a high priority.

The excuses universities use for not hiring or tenuring black professors usually fit into (but are not limited to) a few neat categories: 1) “We can’t find them, they don’t exist” – Bullshit. They do exist. I know a lot of them. They apply for the jobs and are told that they aren’t qualified for the position. Most of them are not even interviewed, even by universities that have positions that have never been held by a person of color. I have many friends RIGHT NOW who are highly qualified to teach at the top universities, but they aren’t getting a second look when they send in their applications. 2) “They are not qualified for hiring or tenure” – There is not a more insulting statement in the world, nor one that is more indicative of the mentality that embraces white supremacy. The idea that you can have a job that hundreds of people have done, mostly white men, in which THERE IS NOT A PERSON OF COLOR ON EARTH QUALIFIED TO DO THAT JOB implies that you are in serious denial. Given America’s history of racism and exclusion, it is far more likely that this history of exclusion plays a role in the fact that many people are being systematically shut out of these opportunities. The environment was built by racists to promote and support the success of one ethnic group over another. So, even when racism leaves the hearts and minds of the individuals affiliated with that institution, their commitment to the standards created and embraced by the institution (created on an undeniably racist foundation) allow racism to fester and have an impact in the hiring and promotion processes. This does not even consider the fact that many Americans still embrace racist ideals when it comes to how they evaluate the significance and importance of work being done in black communities. Being a black scholar who does work in the black community, it is clear that while many people of color deem my work to be important, most of my non-black colleagues do not. This leads to the another important question: “Who is deciding if an applicant is qualified?” If a group/committee created and sustained by an historically racist institution is making decisions on who is qualified and who is not, then their criteria for choosing those who are most qualified is again likely to support the advancement of one group over another.

For example, in academia, we have the so-called “elite” journals: mostly controlled by white males or those who think like them. When I have submitted work relevant to the black community to these journals, that work is then rejected. At which point, I am criticized for not having my work published in the so-called “premiere journals”. That’s like me forcing Garth Brooks to perform in the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and saying “From the crowd’s reaction, it’s clear that you’re a shitty singer”. Now, the third standard excuse: 3) “We made offers to them, but they won’t take the job” – Easy racist tactic: offer the minority candidate an embarrassing and lowball salary and then let them walk away. That’s what the Yankees did to Joe Torre- they made an offer, but the offer was so insulting that they knew he would not take it. That’s like urinating on your girlfriend’s $3 engagement ring and then saying “B*&^%, will you marry me?” What’s interesting is that when UK, Syracuse and other universities want to get a top quality basketball coach or player, they will dig deep in their pockets to make it happen. They don’t do the same when it comes to creating diversity, primarily because it just isn’t on their priority list.

I explained to the U. Kentucky students that their university is a modern day plantation. Black people have 4 dominant roles: To dribble basketballs, throw footballs, cook the food and take out the trash. One does not have to explicitly tell students that they feel that whites are superior to blacks…..they teach it every day with their actions and choices.....actions speak louder than words. When every person you see at the front of the classroom is white, you are being implicitly told that you are not meant to be in that position. Also, there are almost no mentors in place who can identify with you.

I once saw two pictures of the law school professionals at U. Kentucky, placed side by side. One was a picture of the faculty, the other a picture of the janitorial staff. The first picture was 100% white, the other 100% black. There’s not much else to say beyond that. I then told the students that my own university and many others are not much different in their racism. Syracuse University has SCORES of academic departments that have NEVER tenured a person of color.

Rather than considering the possibility that this reality is an artifact and result of institutionalized racism, many allegedly intelligent individuals would rather presume that the disparity is due to the fact that no qualified black people have applied for the job. Again, I must clear my throat and respond with a resounding “Bullshit”. I have seen many qualified black professors come through my university either as applicants or assistant professors attempting to obtain tenure. In every single case, they were told by individuals at this university that they were not qualified for the job. These were hard working professors who have gone to the best schools. Some of them went on to have tremendous success at other universities or at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, where they were not going to be forced to endure this sort of discrimination. It is shameful, ignorant and absolutely ridiculous. It is 2007 and you have some departments that have NEVER EVEN HIRED a person of color (even though many have applied for the job). I find that both sad and pathetic. The horrific denial is even more embarrassing, and future generations are going to judge our so-called intellectuals as harshly as we judge those in the 1960s who felt that black kids should not attend the same schools as whites, or who spent their time attempting to prove the genetic inferiority of people of color.

I myself have been told consistently, recently by a committee of peers, many of whom don’t have an academic record as strong as my own, that I am a “substandard professor”. I was told that my work in the black community adds no value to my reputation as a scholar and that I am not good enough to make tenure at this university. I took the immediate step of letting people know that I UNCONDITIONALLY REJECT this assessment of my academic capability. I have (to my knowledge) more solo authored research publications than any other person on my faculty. I graduated as one of the top students at one of the top 10 finance programs in the world (the acceptance rates for these programs can be as low as 1 out of 100 applicants) I have, through my work on CNN, ESPN, CBS, NBC and other networks, contributed substantially to national debates on issues related to people of color, and to America as a whole. I probably achieved more by the age of 32 than many of those judging me will achieve in a lifetime. Yet, I am considered clearly unqualified to make tenure at Syracuse University. I can't help but laugh.

Someone has to fight this, so I guess I am going to have to be that guy. I am prepared to fight alone, and die alone on the professional battlefield to challenge this kind of injustice, for it is harmful to millions of youth everywhere and the reason that black kids are mis-educated in American systems. It is the same reason that I was told by high school teachers that I was not qualified for college. It is the same reason that my sister, who is studying medicine at the Mayo Clinic, was told that she too was not qualified for college. All the while, idiots like George W. Bush are being funneled to the top of major corporations, Harvard Business School, Yale University and the White House. The same is true of academia, where individuals wear crowns made of discriminatory entitlement and arrogantly sprinkle scorn on those of color who've been exposed to such clearly flawed assessments. Not me homeboy, I'm not that brotha.

Another one of my outstanding black colleagues, Martin Nunlee, just left the university in a shadow of shame. He too was told that he was not good enough to be here. The problem? Every single one of the many departments of our business school has consistently denied tenure to EVERY SINGLE black man or woman who has applied for the past 120 years. Rather than analyzing the system, priorities, psychological constructs, procedures and legacies, many would rather say that black people are just not trying hard enough…..bullshit. I saw Harvard University do the same to Cornel West, who will go down in history as one of the great minds of the 20th century. Countless other black professors have endured the same injustice.

The notion that so-called intellectuals are immune to the disease of racism is incorrect. Sometimes those with the worst infections are the ones who are most confident that they have been cured. So, if you’ve ever gone to college and wondered why none of your professors are black….it is not, as many will have you believe, because we are dumb, lazy or unqualified. It is because even when we work our butts off and give 110%, we are still told that we are not cut out for the job…. “black boy you don’t belong here” is the message sent to me on a regular basis – it became especially true once I spoke openly about racism in America in national media (leading the university to officially disassociate itself from my words, something that has not been done to any other faculty member in recent memory). I have some colleagues who don’t even speak to me, they just look at me as if I am a common criminal…..just a big, dumb nigger. That is what it means to have an institution built on a racist foundation. So, while I might have been hard on The University of Kentucky for their racism, the brand of racism at Syracuse is not much different. Racial inequality took 400 years to build, but for some reason, people are asinine enough to think it should take just 20 years to fix it. Sorry my friend, it's not that simple.