TSD Memphis

Thu04172014

Opinion

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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‘Head start’ for children merits pre-K sales tax

keith norman-160If 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.

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Positive parenting protects and pays

Tarrin McGhee-160"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?

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A Mississippi energy miracle

Harry-Alford-160These are very exciting times for the fuel industry in America. We are at the point of being totally oil independent. We are finding new reserves in various parts of our great nation. Natural gas is now abundant thanks to a new process known as fracturing or fracking.

In fact, we were once importers of natural gas but now, thanks to fracking, we are exporting it at attractive profits. No longer do we have to rely on nations that don't particularly like us for our energy needs. God blesses the child who has his own and we are certainly blessed.

The U.S. Department of Energy (George W. Bush administration) proposed putting a prototype coal energy plant in Florida. Environmentalists persuaded the voters that Florida didn't need another coal plant even if it were a clean prototype for the nation. My friend, former Mississippi Mississippi Gov., Haley Barbour, pounced on the opportunity.

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Yes, mental illness affects ‘us’

George Curry-160On Monday, Sept. 16, the news was shocking: A contract employee who worked at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., later identified as Aaron Alexis, killed 12 innocent people in the facility before he was killed by police.

For many African Americans, our first thought was: "I hope it wasn't one of us."

On Oct. 3, there was another disturbing incident in the nation's capital: An unarmed woman with her 1-year-old child in the car, drove her vehicle into barriers outside the White House and on Capitol Hill before being shot to death by police.

Again, we thought: "I hope it wasn't one of us."

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Can African-American women do better than Hillary

hillary black-women-400It might be appropriate to preface this with the fact that I'm a dude injecting myself into what boils down to a woman's decision at the polls. But it's still a peculiar and necessary question that we should keep asking from now through 2016: Why should African-American women support Hillary Clinton for president?

The answer probably depends on how the question is viewed. Some sisters might actually consider it pointless, given the power of the former secretary of state's political brand – and given that many still see her as Bill's wife. Recall that in 2007 – even after that young, less-grayed, charismatic black Illinois senator took to a Springfield stage – Hillary was their "girl." An October 2007 poll showed her easily surpassing Obama with 68 percent support from black female voters.

Who in their right black mind would believe that a brother with a name as bizarre and non-Anglicized as "Barack Obama" had even the fringe of a national poll's chance to win? Ferocious internal debates with family members ensued. It wasn't until that fateful, history-twisting Iowa caucus that black folks suddenly stopped viewing Obama as merely Dennis Haysbert's stunt double in 24.

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Please, stop assuming all blacks are Christian

Jenee Desmond-Harris-160"I'm so frustrated. Just because I'm black/African American doesn't mean I'm Christian. I was raised in a home where we attended church, but during college I decided to officially call myself an atheist. Yet other black people are constantly assuming that I have a 'church home' or saying they will pray for me or telling me to pray about something – it's like they have never met someone my color who isn't 'saved' before. It's such an assumption, and white people aren't treated the same way. How can I tell the world to stop making this assumption about me without offending and encourage people to think before they put their belief systems on others?'

– Annoyed Atheist

I'm not surprised to hear that you.re having this experience. After all, according to a Pew poll, black Americans are more likely than members of any other racial or ethnic group in the country to report a formal religious affiliation.

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Are the Walmart prices worth it?

William Reed-160If you don't know about it, there is an ongoing fight between Walmart and the union movement.

The political battle being played out in Washington, D.C. is over the "living wage bill." But that is just the latest ploy in a longer war in years to come between the retail giant and America's primarily-black, Democratic-and-union-controlled urban enclaves.

The retail behemoth won its game of chicken with the D.C. City Council over a living wage bill it had passed requiring large retailers operating in the District to pay its workers a "living wage" minimum of $12.50 an hour (minimum wage in D.C. is $8.25 an hour).

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10 percent of Americans like Congress: Are they nuts?

US Congressional seal-450(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."

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Black federal workers bear brunt of government shutdown

federal-worker-500Arnetta 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.

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Black men in pain need our help

Michaela Angela Davis-160"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.

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5 ways Obamacare benefits African-American women

obamacare black-women-400For 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.

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Donna Brazile takes on food stamp critics

Donna Brazile-160After 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.

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