28 Oct 2013
- Written by Pastor DeAndre Brown/Special to The New Tri-State Defender
As a pastor and longtime member of the Frayser community, I have a strong interest in seeing our children do well in school. And although I believe their success is driven by a range of factors such as class sizes and the availability of good texts and other materials, I also know that having a great teacher is the most important school-based factor in student achievement.
Research in a recent report by Shepherding the Next Generation shows that a student assigned to an excellent teacher may gain more than a full year's worth of additional academic growth compared to a student assigned to a weak teacher. Indeed, a highly effective teacher has a greater impact on achievement than any other factor within the school environment.
That report also examined a Tennessee study that found that an average student with three highly effective teachers scored in the top 10 percent of students after three years, while a similar student with ineffective teachers scored in the bottom 40 percent after the same period of time.
17 Oct 2013
- Written by Earnest Townes
All too often when media coverage speaks of an individual who has been formerly incarcerated, it is usually in a negative context (i.e. arrested again, person of interest, not new to the criminal justice system, lengthy arrest record).
Following this coverage, depending on the gravity of the crime, there may be public outcry as to "why was he/she released in the first place?" As a result, seemingly all offenders are then cast into that same category.
It would be asinine to even suggest every offender returns to society with positive goals and the desire to be a productive member of his/her community. I, too, cringe upon hearing the news of another ex-offender having committed the same or a more appalling crime. Yet, I do contend that amidst that population is a sector with aspirations and hopes of moving forward in their lives!
08 Oct 2013
- Written by Keith Norman/Special to The New Tri-State Defender
If every child in Shelby County is given a head start in life, there is a preponderance of evidence that that child would go on to become a productive member of society – which means skilled workers would be added to the workforce, crime and poverty would decrease, and the need for public assistance would be reduced.
We're at a crossroad where a decision has to be made to bring the aforementioned scenario into reality. But that decision would have to be made by the voters of Memphis via a referendum that will be on the ballot this fall to increase the sales tax by a half-cent. If approved, $47 million could be generated, with about $30 million earmarked for pre-K and $17 million to reduce property tax rates.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is not alone in its support of a half-cent sales tax increase for early childhood education. It is a civil rights issue and one of the NAACP's "5 Game Changers for the 21st Century." There are others in support of this initiative as well, including city officials and a number of education advocates who see the significance and critical need of supporting the education of children at the pre-K level.
08 Oct 2013
- Written by Tarrin McGhee/Special to The New Tri-State Defender
"I grew up poor, but I didn't know it."
Many of us have heard and been inspired by rags to riches stories told by adults who overcame risk factors in their childhood, and avoided becoming products of their environment.
Poor upbringing, single-parent family homes, resource-deprived neighborhoods and communities are all conditions that many young children confront, but still manage to excel and beat the odds stacked against them.
So what is it that separates the stories of triumph from those of defeat?
20 Sep 2013
- Written by Dr. Jason Johnson
There are few social ills in the African American community that can’t be solved by listening to a little bit of old Public Enemy. There’s a great song on the Apocalypse 91 album called “I Don’t Wanna be Called Yo Nigga” The song is pretty simple actually, it’s just Flava Flav (the pre - Flavor of Love version) rapping about how he and most black people don’t want to be called “Nigga” by anybody, under any circumstances.
How can you say to me, "Yo my nigga!"
Cursin' up a storm with your finger on a trigger
Feelin' all the girls like a big gold digger
Take a small problem
Make a small problem bigger
You say, "Yo; I ain't poor I got dough
You Don't consider me your brother no more?"
Goddamn kilogram, how do you figure
I don't want to be called yo nigga!
The point of the song is that no matter how common the term is amongst black people, and black culture it’s still stings and there are very, very few circumstances in which calling somebody “nigger,” or “nigga,” or “niggaz” is appropriate. Perhaps someone should have explained this to Robert Carmona, the head of the STRIVE work program. It might’ve saved him $30,000.
Rob Carmona, 61, is the founder and director of STRIVE an employment agency in East Harlem that focuses on helping convicted criminals find work and get back into the economy. Brandi Johnson, 38, was a STRIVE employee. Both are African American. It’s not hard to figure that the N-Word was going to come up eventually right?
Apparently on March 14 of 2012 Carmona went on a four-minute expletive and racial slur laden rant on Johnson about her workplace attire and professionalism. However this wasn’t the first time that Carmona had gone off on Johnson at work, and because her previous complaints had been ignored she secretly recorded the entire conversation. After the tirade, she claims she ran to the bathroom and cried for 45 minutes. On the stand in her workplace discrimination case she testified: "I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed," At this point this is still a simple discrimination suit, something that happens all of the time in America, just ask Paula Deen, or anybody who’s ever worked at Denny’s. But the reason ganered national attention is because Rob Carmona and his defense lawyers tried to argue that he was using the term “nigger” as a term of endearment, and since nigger has different meanings in different contexts that he in fact wasn’t really creating a hostile work environment for Brandi Johnson.
When asked to be more specific as to why he called her nigger eight times in the span of four minutes Carmona testified he was trying to tell Johnson that she was being "….too emotional, wrapped up in her[self], at least the negative aspects of human nature." You know…. being a nigger. Of course the jury didn’t buy his ridiculous story either, and Carmona will pay Johnson $25,000 in punitive damages and STRIVE will pay another $5,000 on top of that.
To be honest with you, if every black person in America got paid $30,000 every time we’ve been called ‘’nigger,’ collectively or individually I think I’d stop complaining about reparations, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. Already many press outlets are reporting this court ruling as some sort of major sea change in language, now that there is no longer this “double-standard” where black people can say “nigger” and white people can’t.
This is completely wrong of course and another example of the disingenuous double standard of race that we all still live under. The workplace is the workplace; you are not supposed to use foul language at any job, no matter what race you are, or who happens to be working there that day. If Carmona was a woman and had gone on a four-minute rant calling Brandi Johnson a “bitch” eight times and lost a discrimination suit, nobody would be calling this ruling a sea change in language or culture. Why? Because anyone with a lick of common sense and professionalism knows that words like bitch, faggot and especially nigger, may be okay when you’re joking with your friends and family, but those words never have, and never will have a place in a workplace that isn’t a recording studio or on the set of the newest Showtime drama.
Only white Americans who obsess over “not” being able to use the n-word and black people who don’t know any better, would view this court ruling as anything significant. The rest of us know better.
Of course Robert Carmona knew this from day one and simply got caught for being a verbally abusive boss. He could have saved himself $30,000 if he’d just listened to Flava Flav, nobody wants to be called “Yo nigger”.
Dr. Jason Johnson is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College and an analyst for CNN, HLN and Al Jazeera English.
He can be found at @Drjasonjohnson on Twitter and at www.drjasonjohnson.com
19 Sep 2013
- Written by Dr. Timothy Moore
Pants with expanding waistlines are sold in most stores now, and big and tall retail shops are popping up everywhere. More and more, society is moving toward the acceptance of being overweight and obese as "normal."
It's official that the United States is fat. According to the Centers for Disease Control, two thirds of Americans are obese. Even though some seem to be taking such news lightly and as if it's just a fad, it is no laughing matter. Millions of people die each year from overusing a fork, spoon and a latte.
I frequently talk with individuals who deny they even have a weight problem. They argue that God created them to eat and enjoy life to the fullest and not worry about the outcome. I've also found that overweight people often overlook their weight because they feel everyone looks like them.
17 Sep 2013
- Written by Tony Nichelson
It is impossible for intelligent people to look at the situation faced by young urban men in America and not conclude that something is very wrong with the group. Whether it is self-inflicted or caused by sinister external forces, the fact remains that millions of black boys have been systematically excluded from the American mainstream.
Incarceration is the most visible evidence of their plight, but mental illness, poor health, educational deficiencies, chronic unemployment, illiteracy and immature decision-making are all personal characteristics of the six-million troubled souls who can not contribute anything to their race or culture, at least not in their present state.
12 Sep 2013
- Written by Dr. Timothy Moore
It's back-to-school time and students are faced with so many weighty challenges – what clothes to wear, food to eat, which hair style is best, who to hang out with and the perception of peers.
What happened to the good old days when a child could just be child? Back then a lot of these concerns really didn't matter as much because everyone tended to look and dress alike. People bought their clothes from the same five-and-dime store.
It was a rare occurrence that someone missed school or was sick. If that happened, someone went out the way and checked on them; and usually there was a health situation going on, but not for long.
03 Sep 2013
- Written by Dr. Timothy Moore
In the past 50 to 60 years our environment has become progressively more polluted, which has resulted in a larger human toxic burden than ever before. Chemicals are being produced, tested and introduced into our environment at a frightening rate. It doesn't matter where we are or in what part of the county we live, everyone will have some level of exposure to toxins.
These invisible toxins are in our prescription drugs, household cleaners, alcohol, tobacco, and over-the-counter drugs. It is virtually impossible to keep our bodies free of these substances, unless of course we live in a bubble.
Our bodies are composed of many organs, but our liver carries the greatest burden. The liver has the task of disposing of foreign substances, as well as body-produced hormones. We can assist in this process by providing our body with enough of the proper nutrients to help the liver function.
29 Aug 2013
- Written by Bernal E. Smith II
Fifty years, half a century, five decades – a milestone by any standard, and a sufficient passing of time to allow for deep reflection and measurement of one's relative position and progress with great expectation of significant growth and accomplishment.
One might simultaneously reflect in some disappointment with a lack of forward progress and achievement and even more so with a retardation of growth during a space of 600 months.
Understanding of both are necessary to answer the most urgent question of today: Where do we go from here?
22 Aug 2013
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
In African-American communities across the United States, young men are besieged by violence and their families struggle to overcome economic deprivation, which threatens their way of life. In those depressed enclaves, African Americans are often relegated to poor housing conditions, and escaping such conditions has been fruitless in some cases.
But there is another threat to the African-American community that looms overhead, and in the ground water, like a modern-day plague: residue from chemical and coal burning plants. That's because African-American neighborhoods are often located in close proximity to these "killing" plants. It's happening across the United States and it's happening in Memphis and Shelby County.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has consistently been concerned about the quality of air and water in the United States on a daily basis. Our poor African-American communities are routinely oppressed with the deadly residue from coal burning plants that is emitted in the air and found in the water supply. Memphis is not immune to this plague.
14 Aug 2013
- Written by Javier Bailey/Special to The New Tri-State Defender
The City of Memphis and its surrounding areas are faced with a real fiscal and social dilemma that promises to get worse before it gets better. Simply, that dilemma is this: how will local government address and serve the growing community of homeless citizens?
To properly address the issue, it is imperative that we first define "homeless." The traditional definition and the images that arise in the minds of most people when referring to the homeless is that of the man or woman living on the street, pan-handling for money, and digging through dumpsters for food. This image no longer fits the contemporary reality of homelessness.
Today's homeless often go to work but are unable to keep a roof over their heads. Many are victims of foreclosure and oftentimes are unable to keep the utilities on in their homes. Indeed the new homeless Memphian is one that awaits eviction at any moment and has no idea where the evening meal for the family will come from. Although this person I just described is not out in the streets, effectively, this is a "homeless" citizen.
09 Aug 2013
- Written by The Michigan Chronicle
There are some days when I just love #BLACKTWITTER. Only via this creative hodgepodge of bloggers, reporters and internet Benita Butrells can you find out who Whiz Kalifah is dating, what the Obama’s had for dinner and which political celebrities just got called out. In this case it’s the third category that caught my attention, as Mo’Kelly, autho...