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Voter Suppression: It’s Mobilization Time

Voter Suppression: It’s Mobilization Time

Written by Peter Grear

With this article we will start detailing the ingredients of a revisable action plan that needs comments and revisions as we move toward the Tuesday, November 4, 2014 General Election.  

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Las Vegas Comedian James Bean's Candid Account Of His Struggle With Suicide

Las Vegas Comedian James Bean's Candid Account Of His Struggle With Suicide

WHEN THE HUMOR IS GONE

James Bean has shown insight and understanding of the darkest moments of many people’s lives as well as ideas on how one could begin to create a life worth living even out of the depths of despair.” -– Rhonda Duncombe, LMFT, LADC

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Voter Suppression: NC Black Republican Advisory Board

Voter Suppression: NC Black Republican Advisory Board

Written by Peter Grear

Educate, Organize and Mobilize: I confess that I’m amazed. The Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of North Carolina announced last week that they have launched theNorth Carolina Black Advisory Board (BRAB) 

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Tips for Managing Stress in Your Life

Tips for Managing Stress in Your Life

Written by State Point

Stress is not only unpleasant; it can be overwhelming, ultimately preventing you from solving the problems that caused the stress in the first place. But getting focused can help you feel happier and be more successful professionally, financially and in your relationships, say experts.

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Voter Suppression: Defeating it requires two massive efforts

Voter Suppression: Defeating it requires two massive efforts

Written by Peter Grear

For black voters, Benjamin Jealous expressed what I believe to be the critical message for black voters when he said that the best way to overcome massive voter suppression is through a massive wave of voter registration.  Thankfully, the NAACP is putting this theory into action through the Youth Organizing…

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Black Women are Taking Care of Business

Black Women are Taking Care of Business

Written by Freddie Allen

Instead of breaking the glass ceiling, Black women have increasingly started making their own. According to the Center for American Progress, an independent, nonpartisan progressive institute, Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the country.

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Voter Suppression: Is it partisan?

Voter Suppression: Is it partisan?

Written by Peter Grear

Educate, Organize and Mobilize: I’ve been doing commentaries on our Campaign to Defeat Voter Suppression since November, 2013.  Because the right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, I’ve tried to promote a non-partisan theory of voter enfranchisement. 

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Why vote? ALEC and the Doctrine of Exclusion

Why vote? ALEC and the Doctrine of Exclusion

By Peter Grear

Educate, Organize and Mobilize: Frequently, in going forward it is imperative to examine your history.  In 1638 the Maryland Colony issued a public edict encouraging the separation of the races that became the public policy of America. 

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Download Greater Diversity News Digital PDF Edition for FREE

Download Greater Diversity News Digital PDF Edition for FREE

FREE Full PDF Edition includes stories not featured on the website

The FREE Full PDF Edition includes stories not featured on the website. No paper, no hasel, read on your laptop or mobile devices. 

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Blaming the Victims in Their Own Voices: Phi Delta Kappan Does Disservice to Blacks

Written by Amy Wilkins on 19 March 2012.

WASHINGTON—Tracey and Abby Sparrow, one a teacher and the other a nonprofit’s vice president, both white, recently took to the pages of Phi Delta Kappan, a magazine for educators, to explain what stands between black males and academic success. The writers’ methodology is questionable. They selected 10 black young men and boys as their storytelling devices. The end product is powerful, with bursts of compelling, almost tabloidesque narrative, accompanied by riveting photographic portraits. But the probable impact is devastating. 

 

The Sparrows’ version of these young men’s voices resurrects and refreshes centuries-old stereotypes about black males, black families and black communities. Instead of providing educators who read Phi Delta Kappan with fresh insights or, better still, new tools and strategies to help black boys and young men succeed in often-dismal circumstances, the authors practically hang “abandon all hope” signs around their subjects’ necks.

Co-opting the excerpted words of these young men, the authors attribute their academic failures to music, peer groups, absent fathers and mothers “more into street life” than mothering. Their characterization of black mothers is disturbing. Many black women must balance nurturing and educating their children with work and keeping households functioning. Why is it that imperfections of white mothers are rarely used as an excuse to shortchange white boys or blame the boys or their moms for low achievement?

My research comes from personal experiences with my son and interviews with seven other mothers of African-American boys. We know a very different story, one that educators need to hear about how schools systemically undercut, rather than nurture, the academic promise of black males.

According to the Sparrows, the boys don’t mention anything about schools. What the Sparrows don’t mention is that, as a rule, schools spend less on educating black children than on white children. They don’t mention that students in schools with large proportions of students of color are almost twice as likely as students in mostly white schools to be taught science by someone who neither majored nor minored in science. Or that, even when black students score at the same levels in math as their white peers, they are only half as likely to be placed in an algebra class.

The Sparrows neglect to note that in middle and high schools, black male students are five times more likely to be suspended and 17 times more likely to be expelled than white males. Or that African-American kids are consistently steered toward less rigorous courses and less demanding college choices, while their white counterparts are encouraged to stretch.

We don’t know why the boys quoted by the Sparrows didn’t mention the numbingly dull classes, the frequently absent teachers, the nonfunctioning science labs and all the other ways in which schools cheat them out of strong educations. We can’t say that the boys didn’t because we don’t know what the Sparrows edited out. Sadder still for too many of our children, dysfunctional schools are so much the norm that they and their parents can’t imagine that school could ever be different or better. Therefore, substandard schools are hardly worth mentioning.

Finally, these boys, like the rest of our culture, are served a steady diet of media stories about dysfunctional African-American families and communities. Only on the rarest occasions are they delivered an honest critique of the deeply unjust policies and practices of American education.

It’s clever to use students hardened to all the ways our school systems abuse them to tell educators a “ripped-from-the-headlines” tale that avoids the very issues over which educators actually have control. But it’s also sleazy and neither new nor imaginative.

For generations, educators have passed the buck for the academic struggles of African-Americans. Instead of reinforcing negative preconceptions about our boys, the writers and Phi Delta Kappan could and should have challenged readers to acknowledge the ways schools systemically undercut and stifle the academic promise of so many of our sons and brothers.

Amy Wilkins is vice president for government affairs and communications at The Education Trust in Washington, D.C. America’s Wire is an independent, nonprofit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. For more information, visitwww.americaswire.org or contact Michael K. Frisby at mike@frisbyassociates.com.

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