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Thu04172014

Opinion

$50 million to save black and brown boys

prison investment-400Imagine that you walk into the newborn-nursery ward at an American hospital and you see 100 babies in their bassinets. You are then informed that 33 of these babies will spend time in jail or prison.

This is the reality today for African-American males born in our country. As a black husband, father and physician, I am sick of it.

So I asked the board of the private health foundation I lead for a three-month leave to investigate why opportunity and wellness elude so many of our black, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander sons. Their shades of brown may be different, but many of them face the same challenges: growing up fatherless, dropping out of school, going to jail or getting killed.

 

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No shame in this game

Harry-Alford-160There has never been a political climate like this in modern times. We are now in an era of constant chaos. Our elected officials are fighting with no end game in sight. The citizens of our nation are slowly going into a mental depression. Even a stenographer for the House of Representatives recently had a major meltdown right on national television.

Obamacare, national budget, debt ceiling, deficit, immigration and other issues are starting to take a toll on our patience and confidence in our leadership.

It seems that it is not going to get any better in the near future. We have a president who doesn't bother to write a budget for the federal government. The United States is the largest corporation in the world and we have been running it without a budget for the last five years. A shoeshine man has a budget!

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Republicans and the new ‘white flight’

lee-a-daniels-160Now that the GOP-manufactured economic crisis is over (for the next several months, anyway), one might say the lesson for the Republican Party is best expressed by that old warning: Be careful what you wish for.

Driven by its reactionary Tea Party faction and the Right's newest demagogue, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the GOP tried to use forcing a shutdown of the government and the debt-default threat to hijack the democratic process – to effectively repeal Obamacare and destroy the authority of the president.

However, wrapped in self-delusion, they misjudged President Obama and the Congressional Democrats – and, as the Republican Party's sinking to record lows in many polls show, the American public – just as they did in the 2012 national election. Not for nothing did conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, watching the battle unfold, label them Congress' "suicide caucus."

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Something blue is making our children green

Chef Timothy Moore-160We are producing a nation of unhealthy children and one major contributing category affecting our children's health is a type of food additives known as food dyes.

This rainbow of food coloring that comes in red, blue, green and yellow has its own special aisle in most grocery stores. When children – and their parents look at this beautiful bright array of appealing colors they have no idea that they contain a hidden poison.

In 2003, the dangers of blue dye #1 were highlighted when the Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory concerning its use in food. A 2013 study, published in the food and chemical toxicology report, contains some very scary facts about food dyes and the dangerous effects they may have when ingested, especially by our children.

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‘The key turns twice’

Earnest Townes-160All 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!

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Columnist rips Adrian Peterson’s decision to play after tragedy

adrian-peterson-son-500New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick strikes again.

This time, he is focusing on Adrian Peterson.

His latest column rips he Minnesota Vikings running back and reigning NFL MVP for his decision to play with his teammates in Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Peterson's Vikings lost 35-10.

Mushnick writes that it's "sickening" Peterson would make such a decision given the news of his dying son, who was allegedly murdered by a grown man.

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Why I’m saying goodbye to football

16noplay-400I fell in love on a Monday night. Now, many may say a teenage girl can't know about such things. But that night as I watched Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett roll downfield 99 yards for a touchdown, I fell head-over-heals in love with the NFL.

It was January 3, 1983 – "Monday Night Football," Dallas vs. Minnesota. I'd never seen anything so inspiring. Dorsett was so free, so graceful and so powerful to me. He was focused and determined. Watching him break free of his competitors, those who wanted to bring him down and stop him from reaching his goal, I was in awe. And I knew then that his run capsulized all that I wanted to accomplish in my life.

That football game is one of my most cherished childhood memories. I have been a passionate NFL fan since that moment – though I switched my loyalties to the Philadelphia Eagles, my hometown team. My family has never understood my love affair with the league. They have balked as play dates, family events, even church services have been rearranged or skipped to fit my football calendar. I ended up spending much of my career in sports journalism, a dream job if ever there was one.

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Why flipping classrooms is ‘flipping ridiculous’

flippedClassroom-400I took my 9th grade English class to the Tech Lab this week to type up Autobiographical Narratives. In today's world of computers and smartphones, one would think this activity would be, for my students, like coming home. This is the generation of information and technology.

Here in the Bay Area, these students should be the next coders for Google and Facebook. In fact, one would think that by now, I should hardly have to help them, as they probably know more about computers than a man in his thirties.

Anyone who thinks like that hasn't visited a low-income public school recently. Here is a list of things my students don't know how to do on a computer:

 

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Are up-and-coming rappers getting a fair break?

kendrick-lamar-control-600In the world of hip hop, it seems you need someone to validate you in order to be successful.

Most of us have heard of the controversial Kendrick Lamar "Control" verse and the hype associated with it. He was validated on so many levels by his peers, by his elders, and by his fans. His ambitious lyrics ignited a fire that was desperately needed and gave him the confidence to claim he is the best rapper alive. Many laughed in amusement, some rushed to the studio to refute his claims and many were honored they were mentioned in his tirade.

More importantly, fellow Compton native, co-owner of Built Frum Scratch and Most Hated Entertainment CEO, B.J. Hill, feels Kendrick Lamar is not as authentic as his new audience thinks.

 

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Miscalculating Multiculturalism in America

lee-a-daniels-160Given the political gridlock in Washington that's pushed the country to the brink of economic calamity and caused needless distress to millions, one might think America has rarely been more polarized, more "dis-united." Actually, the opposite is true. American society – in terms of expanding democracy to all of its citizens – has never been more unified. That's why the country seems so dis-united.

That assertion seems contradictory – unless you view the current scene through the prism of that adage and basic principal of chemistry: every action provokes a reaction.

Accordingly, the budget and debt-ceiling crisis the Republican Party engineered this fall is just the latest expression of the conservative movement's virulent reaction to Barack Obama's presidency and the changes in American society that emerged and coalesced to make that extraordinary breakthrough happen.

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Dr. Ben Carson: ‘Gifted Hands,’ foot in mouth

George Curry-160Dr. Ben Carson became the darling of conservatives earlier this year by stridently attacking the Affordable Care Act with President Obama sitting just a few feet away.

Carson, who was serving as the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast at the White House, said, "Here's my solution: When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed – pretax – from the time you're born 'til the time you die. When you die, you can pass it on to your family members, so that when you're 85 years old and you got six diseases, you're not trying to spend up everything. You're happy to pass it on and there's nobody talking about death panels.

"Number one. And also, for the people who were indigent who don't have any money we can make contributions to their HSA (Health Savings Account) each month because we already have this huge pot of money. Instead of sending it to some bureaucracy, let's put it in their HSAs. Now they have some control over their own health care."

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Obama is right about ‘Redskins’

obama-redskins-500The audience was tense. Tempers were heated. Tears were seen and blows were nearly thrown. We needed a referee.

This was not the pre-fight press conference weigh-in for a Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao boxing match. It was a panel discussion between African-American and Native American journalists from across the country to consider whether the Washington Redskins name was racist. But the conversation at the Unity Journalists of Color convention, which included more than 6,000 media professionals, got nowhere.

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A Comeback for Lauryn Hill: Too late for this diehard fan

lauryn-hill-comeback-400From 1994 to around 2005, I was Lauryn Hill's biggest fan. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have laid claim to that title and would challenge my statement. I'm happy to battle it out by quoting lyrics and dueling with an encyclopedic knowledge of every quote Hill's ever given, interview ever done, acceptance speech ever made and concert ever performed.

I was a student during most of those years, and I applied an interest to all things Lauryn Hill that was equal to what I gave my undergraduate and graduate courses.

Note the dates above. They are past tense. Last week Hill was released from jail after serving time for tax evasion. She was sentenced to months of home detention for the remainder of her sentence. According to TMZ, however, she has decided to go on tour instead, and the judge has approved it. And that made me wonder something I never thought I would: "Are people actually going to go see Lauryn Hill?"

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