TSD Memphis

Sun04202014

Opinion

Students should withdraw from some credit card programs

Charlene Crowell-160As 21st Century employers continue to seek a highly-trained workforce, the marketable value of a college education has never been higher. At the same time, the rising costs of a college education force growing numbers of families and students to seek federal financial aid.

In FY 2012, according to the Department of Education (DOE), federal student aid programs provided about $142 billion in grants and loans to 15 million students. Although a large portion of these funds are paid directly towards tuition, many students also receive a portion of their aid to cover the costs of textbooks or living expenses. To facilitate these direct student payments, many colleges have partnered with financial firms that provide debit cards and/or bank accounts.

These disbursement products can serve as a revenue opportunity for colleges; but they may not be the best deal for students.

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Is a sex tape key to a successful relationship?

Myron-Mays-160Big talk this week is the leaked sex tape between "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta" stars Mimi and Nikko. If you haven't heard about this or at least heard, seen or read a "shower rod" joke in the past few days, you must be living underneath a rock...a very large one.

Admittedly, I've been spending a little time under that rock myself. I have never watched an episode of the show. Before this week I couldn't have picked Mimi or Nikko out of a line up. However, I know them both quite well now. Possibly more than I'd really like.

OK, first off, it's not really a sex tape; it's a "DVD." A sex tape is a video between two people that is meant to be kept private. This was a production with a professional cameraman that was made for retail. Ever since Kim Kardashian made the spotlight for a "sex tape" there seems to be never-ending quests for 15 minutes of fame...or the extending of it, that is.

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Government as innovator? You bet!

randd 600Five years ago, the federal government spent $169 billion to fund basic research and development. This fiscal year, it's down to $134 billion.

People who believe in public belt-tightening applaud drops like that. I understand why: there are many reasons to reduce government spending. But in this case they're wrong. We need to boost the government's investment in R&D, not slash it.

Let's begin with the federal government's record, which is nothing short of impressive:

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Whitewashing Republican support of civil rights

raynard jacksonOne of the best-kept secrets over the past 50 years is that, proportionately, Republicans in Congress supported passage of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act by a much wider margin than Democrats.

As CNN.com reported, "The Guardian's Harry J. Enten broke down the vote, showing that more than 80 percent of Republicans in both houses voted in favor of the bill, compared with more than 60 percent of Democrats. When you account for geography, according to Enten's article, 90 percent of lawmakers from states that were in the union during the Civil War supported the bill compared with less than 10 percent of lawmakers from states that were in the Confederacy."

This is from a report from CNN, not FOX, the network despised by liberals.

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Memories of LBJ, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton

presidents 600Covering the three-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the University of Texas last week brought back a string of memories – some fond, some bitter. As a son of the South –Tuscaloosa, Ala., to be specific – I saw first-hand how the region was transformed from America's version of apartheid to one that is perhaps more genuinely accepting of African Americans than any other geographical section of the country.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – all white Southerners who grew up in the Jim Crow South – played a significant role in the region's transformation. But that didn't happen in a vacuum. Each was pushed and challenged by the modern civil rights movement, a multi-racial movement, with blacks serving as chief architects that prodded the U.S. to have its deeds mirror its professed ideals. (George W. Bush, a wealthy Texan, is omitted from this discussion because he did nothing significant to advance civil rights. In fact, his appointment of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court represented a setback to the cause of civil rights.)

While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); Whitney Young of the National Urban League; NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins; John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Roy Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) receive the lion's share of publicity about the movement, the true heroes were the everyday men and women of the South who risked their jobs and lives to be treated as equals.

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African-American women and paycheck fairness

Julianne-malveaux-160When John and Ann started working on Jan. 1, 2013, John had an immediate advantage. Because women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, it took Ann until last Friday (April 11, 2014) to earn the same amount of money that John earned in the calendar year of 2013.

The issue of unequal pay is so important that President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act 50 years ago. While we have come a long way, baby, the pay gap has remained stubborn. This is why President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act as soon as he assumed office.

This year, to commemorate National Equal Pay Day (that's the day Ann finally earns as much as John), the president signed an Executive Order protecting workers from retaliation when they speak of unequal pay in the workplace (one of the ways employers can maintain unequal pay is to make discussing pay grounds for firing). The president, through the Secretary of Labor, is also requiring federal contractors to provide data on pay, race, and gender to ensure that employers are fairly paid. Furthermore, the Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which may pass the Senate, but not the House of Representatives.

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‘Regular black’ vs. ‘ethnic black’: Why the divide?

black 600I first heard someone at a black student union party refer to herself – and to me, by extension – as a "regular black." The music had made a quick turn from the latest rap song to a Caribbean dancehall mix.

"Oh, I'm regular black; I don't dance to this music."

Well, this "regular black" continued dancing, but I was intrigued by the term.

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Who cares if Al Sharpton was an FBI informant 30 years ago?

aboutal 600Like many people living in New York, I saw the Rev. Al Sharpton's face plastered over copies of the New York Post and the New York Daily News, roasting him for being a "rat" and a "mob snitch." Apparently, Sharpton served a role as an FBI informant against mob bosses in the 1980s. That was around the time I was either wearing diapers or serving as nothing more than a figment of my mother's imagination.

In response to the reports, Sharpton hastily organized a press conference at the National Action Network's headquarters in Harlem to address the reports. Sharpton, very much a black preacher, cleverly refuted the stories by noting, "Rats are usually people that were with other rats. I was not and am not a rat, because I wasn't with the rats. I'm a cat. I chase rats."

Let me repeat that for the folks in the back pews. Reverend Sharpton isn't Master Splinter, he's Heathcliff, ya dig? Can I get an amen?

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Actually, Obama’s record compares just fine with LBJ’s

obamasrecord 600The tenuousness of making comparisons between President Lyndon B. Johnson's vaunted vote-wrangling prowess and the allegedly ineffectual legislative skills of President Barack Obama was nicely summed up on Wednesday with this tweet:

LOLGOP @LOLGOP
In 30 years, the left will be asking why current Democrats don't get things done like Obama did & the right will say Obama was a Tea Partier

Although it's meant to get a laugh – and it's hard to imagine a future where Obama's remembered as a Tea Partier – the upshot – that perceptions change over time – actually holds up pretty well.

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Obama could stand to be a little more like LBJ

LBJ 600On Thursday, President Barack Obama joined other dignitaries at a civil rights summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's signature accomplishment as president – passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And in a nod to the shoulders that he stands on, Obama said, "I have lived out the promise of LBJ's efforts."

But some Americans, particularly those who lived through LBJ's presidency, wish that President Obama not only reaped the rewards of President Johnson's leadership but also led more like him. And to that point, I recently attended the critically acclaimed Broadway play All the Way, in which "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston portrays the president during the year in which he struggled and eventually triumphed in his efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act.

Seeing the production, two things became obvious: Cranston will get a Tony Award nomination for his performance, and the president he portrays is very different from the president we have today. After I saw the production with a family member who lived through the civil rights movement, she couldn't help remarking about how different Johnson – one of the presidents she admires most—is from the current president, whom she also admires greatly.

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Man who hates wife’s natural hair: cut him some slack

naturalhairproblems 600Love him or deride him, comedian, relationship expert and talk show host Steve Harvey nailed his advice to a newlywed black couple who recently appeared on his show for the segment "I Love My Man, But ..."

The wife, whose name is Love, recently decided to change her hair from the long, straight weave she'd worn "since I had my first tooth" to a well-coiffed Afro puff. Her husband, McClea, hated it. How much did he hate it? He ran out of the house in horror at the sight of his wife's actual hair, and when he returned, he asked whether she was wearing a wig and, if so, would she take it off. Love has stopped wearing her natural hair "often" because her husband "prefers" her weaves.

Not surprisingly, the husband's reaction didn't go over well with Harvey or viewers of the video that's been making the rounds on social media. Harvey clowned the husband about as bad as actor Samuel L. Jackson did to an entertainment reporter who mistook him for Laurence Fishburne. After the husband repeatedly disparaged his wife's hair—much to the audience's chagrin—Harvey quipped to him, "You about to get your skull opened up." Then Harvey got serious, pointing out the obvious to McClea: "You can't be any more wrong with your approach ... You got to find another way to express yourself." And the kicker: "It ain't your damn head."

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The audacity of voting

Julianne-malveaux-160I love voting. Every time I go into the booth, I see little girl me, pigtails and all, plaid skirt, white blouse and green sweater, part of my Catholic school uniform. Most of my relatives were Democrats, though my grandmother voted Republican a time or two because "Lincoln freed the slaves." In 1960, I had the privilege of pulling the lever to elect John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the candidate that the nuns at Immaculate Conception Elementary School rhapsodized over.

On the way back from the polls, my mom told me that Negroes (as we were called then) didn't always get to vote, and she shared facts about grandfather clauses and poll taxes. I'll never forget that moment, which may have sown the seeds of my activism. Indeed, when I went to school the next day, and the nun asked if everyone's parent had voted, I took the opportunity to share that Negroes did not always get to vote. I was sent home with a note at the end of the day, and got an admonition from my mom about keeping my big mouth shut. I guess I didn't learn my lesson.

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Memphian seeks to lead as Morehouse College student body president

mgatewood 600When I stepped onto the campus of Morehouse College at the end of my junior year of high school in Memphis, I was faced with many of the challenges that plague the typical teenager seeking guidance on their post-secondary destination: nervousness, excitement and an insatiable sense of curiosity.

I wanted to go to a place that not only fed my mind, but also developed me into a whole person; a man who would leave with a heightened awareness of the world and with a burning desire to change it for the better. In high school, I was exposed to Morehouse Men who were doing great things in the community. They stood for something larger than themselves and they embodied the term "servant-leader".

I entered Morehouse as a freshman in the fall of 2011. During the week of New Student Orientation "NSO" – a week-long orientation for incoming freshmen – I realized that Morehouse was the place for me and that by the end of this journey, I would be a changed man.

 

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