(CNN) – Our Congress sucks. This is truly one of the few things we agree on. In fact, a new CNN poll released earlier this week found that Congress has only a 10 percent approval rating.
When you think that 10 percent of Americans believe Congress is doing a good job, you have to ask yourself one question: Who are these people?! (Imagine this asked with true Jerry Seinfeld-esque exasperation.)
Congress is so dysfunctional that dictators in other countries are probably pointing at it as an example of why you should never have a democracy.
Yet, somehow, about 30 million Americans are looking at what Congress is doing and thinking: "I like what I see."
Arnetta is a 40-something African-American woman living in the nation's capital who's been working about seven years on what folks sometimes call "a good government job."
"I'm a project manager with a leading science agency," the single professional said, noting the excellent benefits and a "high pay grade," thanks to a college degree and experience.
But like so many federal workers across the country, she is understandably frustrated by the Congressional budget impasse that has led to America's first government shutdown in 17 years.
The latest gridlock on Capitol Hill stems from a small band of House and Senate Republicans who have used the latest budget process to try to defund the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, which launched Tuesday.
"I was suicidal in college," a Harry Potter-looking hipster recently told me. The young man's words stunned me. It wasn't his age or gender or style that took me by surprise. It was because he's black.
Even though suicide is the third leading cause of death for black males ages 10 to 24, I had no immediate image, no ready reference for a young black man hurting so bad he wanted to die or for a black man so sick he was driven to kill.
The recent mass shooting by Aaron Alexis at the Washington Navy Yard was horrific and tragic. It made me think about the interior lives of black men – about how little anyone knows how black men feel when they're in agony or depression.
For the last few weeks, America has been told to brace itself for what is being billed as one of the biggest threats to hit the country in years: the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
A brief overview of some recent fearmongering headlines: "Obamacare Is Really, Really Bad for You, Especially If You're Young," "Sorry, Mr. President, There Is 'Serious Evidence' Obamacare Is Bad for Economic Growth" and "Obamacare – What's Already Gone Wrong."
But despite the scary headlines, there are some serious benefits to the new law, particularly for those in communities of color. The effects that the Affordable Care Act will have on African-American women are particularly noteworthy. Below is a list of five ways Obamacare significantly benefits black women.
After the vote in the House of Representatives to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, I wrote a column against cutting food stamps. This column generated more than 5,200 online comments and hundreds of e-mails.
Comments reflected, not surprisingly, the tone and tenor of the political debate: a lot of partisan passion, some mutual understanding, animosity based on stereotypes and a lot of misinformation.
I would like to address some of the typical concerns that were expressed.
Watching an athlete's career slowly spiral out of control has become a familiar, and unfortunately rather common, story.
We remember the tragic cases of the great ones. Lawrence Taylor's battle with substance abuse (and to a larger extent, himself) is the standard example of watching an athlete fans revered, turn into a man fans revile. We never got to see the greatness of Len Bias, because a cocaine overdose robbed him of what should've been a Hall of Fame career.
These past three years, we've seen the slow and steady decline of the promising career of Lamar Odom. The news items around him have morphed from humorous, to perplexing, to simply depressing. After the latest Odom news – that he lashed out at his absentee father on Twitter for failing him as a child – it's fair to wonder if the next time we hear his name in the news, it'll be for an appearance in a courtroom, rather than on a basketball court. At 33 – ancient by NBA terms – Odom's professional basketball career is probably over.
We are in the middle of a fight to preserve the dignity and grace that makes all of us Americans. We have big hearts and great souls. I know. I have seen them, felt them and watched them in wonder when my family was lost and unreachable in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
I cried, worrying for those I loved, heartbroken by what happened to our beloved Louisiana. And in the middle of that tough moment, the decency of people shone through in e-mails, phone calls and in person. Everybody was saying the same thing: "How can I help?"
This is what we do in times of struggle. We offer our hand and our love to pull someone up who's been knocked down by hard times and despair. It's just a fundamental rule in life and in any fight; you don't kick people when they're down.