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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 55,432

About Me

I'm still living... Twitter: @glitchy_ashburn

Journal Archives

A ‘black agenda’ is an American agenda

The African American media round table hosted by the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee of the U.S. Senate yesterday was the perfect opportunity to ask the gathered senators (11 in total) to validate or knock down something I have been saying for a while now. If President Obama sent Congress a definable “black agenda,” I asked, “how dead-on-arrival would such a piece of legislation be?”

There were murmurs and a bit of nervous laughter, But Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) stepped up with the short answer. “It would not be dead on arrival in the Senate” she said. “It would be dead-on-arrival in the House.” She means the Republican-controlled House that has so lost touch with the concept of governing that it can’t get anything done.

But Sen. William “Mo” Cowan (Mass.), one of only two blacks in the Senate — the other is Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) — gave the long answer. One I wish the president’s critics would listen to if not appreciate.

“What is a definable black agenda? I mean the president wasn’t elected to be president of black America. He’s the president of all Americans,” Cowan responded. “Frankly, there are some significant issues in black America, the black community, that are issues that are endemic in other parts of the nation. I think with respect to those who raise that issue, I think it’s short-sighted to say these are challenges unique to black America.” He added, “The issues that black Americans are concerned about frankly are the same issues I hear about when I talk to my white constituents. It’s the same challenges. There may be differing degrees, but I think if you’re going to govern you have to govern for everybody.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) agreed, spelling out some specifics. “An inherently African American, black agenda, is inherently an agenda that lifts low-income people into the middle class. That’s what the agenda ought to be,” he said. “The president ought to have an agenda that focuses on educational disparities, that focuses on housing disparities, focuses on wage-gap disparities, like raising the minimum wage significantly, especially for tip workers which hasn’t been for, what, 25 years, I think. [An agenda] which focuses on job creation for people that have lost their jobs in the old economy and need [a] new one. For me, that’s the kind of agenda the president ought to be focused on. It’s an agenda that speaks to the people that have really been left out.”


International adoption: I was stolen from my family

Editor's note: Tarikuwa Lemma, 19, was "adopted" from Ethiopia seven years ago by a U.S. family along with her two younger sisters after being deceived that they were headed to America on a study trip. She now lives in Maine and has just entered college with the goal of becoming a human rights advocate.

(CNN) -- When I was 13, I was sold.

Friends of my father worked for a corrupt adoption agency operating in my homeland of Ethiopia -- friends my father trusted. In 2006 they coerced him into believing he was sending my younger sisters and me to America for an educational program during which we would come home every summer and on school breaks.

Little did my father know that his "friends" were being paid to recruit children for an American adoption agency. In fact, he didn't even know what "adoption" meant. Instead of an educational program, we found ourselves caught up in an international adoption scandal.

We weren't the only ones lied to. The family who adopted us, who lived in the southwestern United States, were told that they were taking into their family three AIDS orphans, the oldest of whom was nine years old. The truth was that our mother had died from complications during childbirth, and our father was alive and well. Instead of nine, I was 13 years old; my sisters were 11 and six.

Our new "parents" changed our names and told us we could no longer speak to each other in our own languages; we were punished if we disobeyed. Eventually, we forgot how to speak our native languages, Amarigna and Wolaytta.

I was so young and naïve. I actually believed that if I ran away, I could walk back to Ethiopia. I wanted to escape from the people I felt had kidnapped us from our homeland, our culture, and our family. I was angry, hurt and grieving.


Overseas adoptions rise -- for black American children

Editor's note: In this series, CNN investigates international adoption, hearing from families, children and key experts on its decline, and whether the trend could -- or should -- be reversed.

(CNN) -- Elisa van Meurs grew up with a Polish au pair, speaks fluent Dutch and English and loves horseback riding -- her favorite horse is called Kiki but she also rides Pippi Longstocking, James Bond, and Robin Hood.

She plays tennis and ice hockey, and in the summer likes visiting her grandmother in the Swiss Alps.

"It's really nice to go there because you can walk in the mountains and you can mountain bike ... you can see Edelweiss sometimes," said the 13-year-old, referring to the famous mountain flower that blooms above the tree line.

It's a privileged life unlike that of her birth mother, a woman of African American descent from Indianapolis who had her first child at age 15. Her American family is "really nice but they don't have a lot of money to do stuff," said Elisa, who met her birth mother, and two siblings in 2011. "They were not so rich."

While the number of international adoptions is plummeting -- largely over questions surrounding the origin of children put up for adoption in developing countries -- there is one nation from which parents abroad can adopt a healthy infant in a relatively short time whose family history and medical background is unclouded by doubt: The United States.

"I thought it was so strange. I'm here in Holland and they're telling me I can get a baby" from the U.S., recalled Elisa's father, Bart van Meurs, who originally planned to adopt from China or Colombia but held little hope of receiving an infant. "This can't be true." But less than 18 months later, van Meurs and his wife Heleene were at an Indiana hospital holding four-day-old Elisa.


Kwame Kilpatrick, ex-Detroit mayor, sentenced to 28 years in jail

ETROIT (AP) — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in prison for corruption, the apparent last step after a series of scandals destroyed his political career and helped steer a crisis-laden city even deeper into trouble.

Kilpatrick, who served as mayor from 2002 until fall 2008, fattened his bank account by tens of thousands of dollars, traveled the country in private planes and even strong-armed his campaign fundraiser for stacks of cash hidden in her bra, according to evidence at trial.

“I’m ready to go so the city can move on,” Kilpatrick told the judge. “The people here are suffering, they’re hurting. A great deal of that hurt I accept responsibility for.”

In March, Kilpatrick, 43, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion and tax crimes. The government called it the “Kilpatrick enterprise,” a yearslong scheme to shake down contractors and reward allies. He was doomed by his own text messages, which revealed efforts to fix deals for a pal, Bobby Ferguson, an excavator who got millions of dollars in city work through the water department.

Contractors said they were forced to take on Ferguson as a partner or risk losing lucrative deals. The government alleged that he in turn shared cash with Kilpatrick.

Agents who pored over bank accounts and credit cards said Kilpatrick spent $840,000 beyond his salary during his time as mayor. Defense attorneys tried to portray the money as generous gifts from political supporters who opened their wallets for birthdays or holidays.

The government said Kilpatrick also tapped a nonprofit fund, which was created to help distressed Detroit residents, to pay for yoga, camps for his kids, golf clubs and travel.


Native American roots in Black America run deep

o you have Indian in your family? That’s a common question asked in the black community. Many African-Americans lay claim to Native American ancestry, and yet very few blacks have taken the steps to research this part of their history, to learn about their Native American roots and embrace the culture.

Thanksgiving is known as a time for American families to reunite, partake in feast and be grateful. And yet for Native Americans it is a time for mourning, a reflection on the arrival of European settlers that ultimately led to their displacement and elimination by the millions. Blacks in America are intertwined with that history, and yet the evidence they possess is mostly anecdotal, such as the grandmother who had long, straight black hair, high cheekbones or a red tint to her skin.

While most African-Americans would likely say they have Indian blood flowing in their veins, DNA testing suggests that fewer than 10 percent of black people are of Native American ancestry. To be exact, 5 percent of African-Americans have at least 12.5 percent Native American ancestry, meaning at least one great-grand parent. In contrast, 58 percent of black Americans have at least 12.5 percent white ancestry.

Many of the notable African Americans who participated in the PBS documentary miniseries African American Lives, including Oprah Winfrey, believed they were part Native American until the facts proved them wrong. The program, hosted by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, used DNA testing and genealogical and historical research to help blacks connect with their previously unknown ancestors.

Meanwhile, actor Don Cheadle learned his ancestors were enslaved by the Chickasaw Nation.

Nevertheless, Black Indians—a longstanding topic of black oral history—are real. As a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution reveals, the two cultures have blended since the arrival of Columbus. The exhibition—IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas— tells the story of two groups united by enslavement, genocide and a legacy of being uprooted from the land of their ancestors.

It is a complicated history filled with the good and the unpleasant. African slaves were known to escape from the plantations and find refuge among Indian tribes. Native people were involved in the Underground Railroad, and Indian trails provided a pathway to freedom for runaway slaves. They fought together in uprisings against their oppressive conditions and the white man’s incursion, and they married and had children.


African-American Students May Improve Grades if Teachers Convey High Standards

WASHINGTON — African-American students who need to improve their academic performance may do better in school and feel less stereotyped as underachievers if teachers convey high standards and their belief that students can meet them, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

In three studies conducted at suburban or inner-city schools, African-American students improved their grades after receiving a simple, one-sentence note from their teachers or an online pep talk. The exercises were designed to dispel students’ fears that criticism of their academic work could be caused by different treatment of African-American students rather than their teachers’ high standards. The study was published online in August in APA’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

The findings contradict a common trend in education of praising students for mediocre work to help raise self-esteem before delivering critical remarks. That method may seem patronizing and could backfire and lower self-esteem, especially when white teachers praise African-American students, said lead researcher David Scott Yeager, PhD, an assistant professor of developmental psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

“We’ve learned that self-esteem isn’t the key reason why African-American students fail to utilize critical feedback from their teachers. They may not always trust the person who is criticizing them,” Yeager said. “Our studies are the first test of whether this approach can increase students’ motivation in the real world.”

In the first study at a suburban public middle school in Connecticut, 44 seventh-grade students (22 African-American and 22 white) wrote an essay about a personal hero that was critiqued by their teachers for improvements in a second draft. The students were randomly assigned to two groups with the experimental group receiving a hand-written note with their critiqued essay that stated, “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations, and I know that you can reach them.” The control group got a note that stated, “I’m giving you these comments so that you’ll have feedback on your paper.”

For African-American students who received the high-expectations note, 71 percent revised their essays, compared to 17 percent in the control group. The findings were even more pronounced for African-American students who had reported low trust in their teachers in surveys, with 82 percent revising their essays in the high-expectations group, compared to none in the control group. White students who received the high-expectations note also were more likely to revise their essays, but the difference wasn’t statistically significant compared to the control group.


African-American Heritage Day Parade set for today

African-American heritage will be celebrated with a parade in Downtown Pittsburgh today, starting at 11 a.m.

The African-American Heritage Day Parade, which will be held rain or shine, is being organized by the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania. Organizers, however, announced only that the parade would take place Downtown and could not be reached Friday for details regarding the start location and specific route.

Pittsburgh police also said they had not been informed of any street closures before and during the parade.

Nationally acclaimed sculptor Thaddeus G. Mosley will serve as the parade's grand marshal.

First Published October 5, 2013 1:02 am


Students’ mural depicting African American history to reappear after 20 years

A piece of UCLA’s history will soon be shared — for the second time — with the campus community. Efforts are currently underway to bring "The Black Experience," a detailed mural created and displayed by seven African American art students in 1970, back into public view.

The mural, which measures 10 feet high by 27 feet wide, is located on a wall next to Panda Express on the first floor of Ackerman Union. A false wall erected in front of it during some renovations in 1992 has kept it hidden for 20 years.

"It was important in 1970, as it is today, to address issues of racial disparity on the UCLA campus, the entire University of California and on campuses across the United States," said Helen Singleton, one of the artists who helped design and create the art piece over an intensive three-week period in the spring of 1970. At that time, said Singleton, UCLA had taken several steps to increase campus diversity, including hiring qualified professors and administrators, and admitting qualified students of color.  

"Our mission in creating ‘The Black Experience’ mural was to expand and enhance that effort with a visual representation of the history and experience of African Americans in the United States," said Singleton, who graduated from UCLA in 1974.

Each of the seven art students, including Singleton, Marian Brown, Neville Garrick, Andrea Hill, Jane Staulz, Joanne Stewart and Michael Taylor, is depicted in the mural, along with a young man on the far left who was not a student, said Singleton. Their heads, necks and shoulders are overlaid with myriad silk-screened graphics showing, among other images, a poster advertising the sale of slaves and pictures of African American leaders, including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Angela Davis...


Nashville Mayor Karl Dean to host fundraiser for African-American music museum

The planned National Museum of African American Music, which has long struggled to raise money, will get a boost from Mayor Karl Dean and some other Nashville movers and shakers this month.

Dean will host a $250-per-ticket fundraiser for the museum at his Green Hills home on Oct. 21. Councilwoman Megan Barry, who hopes to succeed Dean, and a few other people who could join her in the 2015 mayor’s race, such as businessman Bill Freeman, Sheriff Daron Hall and councilmen Jerry Maynard and Ronnie Steine, also are on the list of hosts. So are former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George and Ryman Hospitality Properties CEO Colin Reed.

The news comes in the same week that the museum shook up its day-to-day management and board leadership. H. Beecher Hicks III, who had been serving as the organization’s board chairman, was named the new president and CEO, and banker Kevin Lavender took Hicks’ spot as chairman.

The city set aside $10 million for the museum more than six years ago. Earlier this year, Dean agreed to give the museum space in the city’s old convention center, and his administration said any proposals to redevelop the facility must include the museum.

“The National Museum of African American Music will be an important attraction in our city and a fitting tribute to Nashville’s musical history,” Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said Wednesday. “Mayor Dean is supportive and appreciative of the work being done, and the city is a supportive partner as the project moves forward.”

Johnson said the city’s $10 million commitment to the project has not changed, even though the museum will no longer need to build a new facility.


Duke honors first African-American students

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Duke University celebrated five trailblazers who changed the course of the school's history Saturday.

Fifty years ago, they became Duke's first African-American undergraduate students, and on Saturday, a special town hall meeting was held to honor them.

The town hall meeting commemorated the integration of Duke University in 1963 and gave past and present students a chance to hear about a campus without racial diversity.

"For many years, Duke was a school that did not admit black students, did not recruit black faculty. It had black workers but did not open its more prestigious ranks to black people," said Duke University President Richard Brodhead.

Half a century later, those restrictions are a memory.

Pioneers who broke Duke's color line talked about support they found from the community in the early years of social change at the university.

"People on the ground in Durham, people who worked on the campus, who were just like the people who raised us at home, took us in, embraced us and prayed for us. And there's a whole list of those names," said Reverend Dr. William Turner, Class of 1970.

"We got the signal from the cafeteria workers, from the maids at the time. We did have maids, which was unusual for us! But always silently encouraging us, and not so silently, to be and to do, and you can and you will," added Nathaniel "Nat" White, Class of 1967.

Those five students paved the way for all African-Americans and can now provide inspiration for today's students earning degrees at Duke. It is still a tough and competitive university, but it is now open to all who have what it takes to make it there.


Ironically Duke Power was a party to this famous USSC case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griggs_v._Duke_Power_Company
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