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Investing in black males: Why pro sports gets it and everyone else doesn’t

AAGrads 600Recently, I started thinking of pragmatic ways to bridge the gaps of opportunity for black males. Seeing that this is a free-market-based economy, with everything having value, I looked at it in terms of what our value really is to this country. That led me to wondering how much is invested in us to begin with.

It's a question I never got an answer to, but I learned a lot while trying to answer it, and when I looked at it from an investment standpoint, things began to look different to me.

For example, a stockbroker who lives in Montclair, N.J., would see quite a different quality of life than a bus driver in Baltimore. They might work equally hard at their jobs, but because so much was invested in the stockbroker when he was 13, he gets to live a better life at 45. However the bus driver didn't get that same investment as a kid and now his options are fewer. Not that there's anything wrong with being a bus driver, but the likelihood is that he did not have as many options as the stockbroker leading up to this point.

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Downbeat diplomacy for African-American musicians at International Jazz Day

IJDay 600During the grand finale of the third annual International Jazz Day concert held in Osaka, Japan (April 30th), more than 35 jazz musicians stretched across an elaborate stage in Osaka Castle Park and performed John Lennon's 1971 anthem, "Imagine." Most of them hailed from the U.S., but the lineup also included the South African guitarist and singer Jonathan Butler, the Malian songstress Oumou Sangaré, and Japanese virtuosos: pianists Toshiko Akiyoshi and Makoto Ozone and trumpeters Terumasa Hino and Takuya Kuroda.

With their bracing harmonies and deft musicianship underneath pianist Herbie Hancock's joyous South African-flavored arrangement, the ensemble looked like a miniature United Nations—and that comparison came as no surprise, considering that UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz produced the two-hour concert.

Although Osaka was host city for this year, cities in 195 other countries joined in a worldwide celebration of International Jazz Day on April 30 by staging jazz concerts and educational seminars.

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‘White dudes say the darndest things’

Sirius XM_600A quote similar to the one in this commentary's headline was coined and made popular 62 years ago (the year one of us was born) by Art Linkletter, the popular pioneer daytime talk show host in the early years of television. But Art said, "Kids say the darndest things."

There are big differences between the things white dudes say and the things kids say. The things white dudes say are not as cute and the things kids say are not as predictable. The prevailing similarity to kids, however, among more and more high profile white dudes is the lack of a filter so what comes up, comes out...especially regarding race.

The latest example is Chris "Mad Dog" Russo's declaration on his Sirius XM show that there are no black hosts whom he would deem "worthy" of doing a national sports radio show on a subscription radio service such as Sirius XM. And, if they could find one with the right resume, of course they would hire him.

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Nigerian government fails our missing girls – and our country

Goodluck Jonathan_600The cold facts stare us in our face:

Fact 1: More than 300 girls were abducted from the rural northeast region of Nigeria on April 15 while attending secondary school; 276 are still believed to be held captive.

Fact 2: The federal government has yet to forcibly intervene to get our girls back.

The issue isn't just that the government hasn't fully addressed this atrocity, the deeper questions are: What decisive action is necessary to put a stop to what is becoming a normal occurrence? Does the Nigerian government have what it takes and what it needs to make this happen?

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Global citizens are driving the search for Nigeria’s abducted girls

ObamaBringBack 600With the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls dominating the headlines, what has gone largely unnoticed is that some of the world's most powerful women in fields such as media, business, fashion and politics recently convened in Nigeria for a conference intended to empower global leaders.

Attendees and speakers at the third annual WIE Africa Symposium ("WIE" stands for Women, Inspiration and Enterprise), held on May 3, included movers and shakers such as CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. Desiree Rogers and CNN anchor Isha Sesay, as well as African powerhouses like business tycoon and billionaire Folorunsho Alakija and business executive Jennifer Obayuwana.

In addition to these prominent leaders, the conference could well have included women from the town where the girls' abduction took place, Chibok, given the Herculean efforts and proven leadership skills that these local women displayed in raising global awareness about the hostage crisis created by the terror group Boko Haram. These women worked tirelessly, and many did so without first world resources like the Internet.

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