For-Profit Schools See “Subprime-Opportunity”

For-Profit Schools See “Subprime-Opportunity”
Julianne Hing, Colorlines, November 29, 2010

A new report out from the liberal education policy group EducationTrust says that the arc of the for-profit schools industry, and the disproportionate impact its had on the poor and people of color, mirrors another financial debacle that the country should be in no rush to relive: the subprime mortgage crisis.

The growth of the industry has been just as quick, the financial devastation similarly crushing. In the last decade, enrollment at for-profit schools has jumped 236 percent, even though public and not-for-profit private schools saw just 20 percent growth. The growth has come primarily for low-income students and students of color, which the industry proudly claims is a testament to their commitment to the nation’s neediest and most disenfranchised. According to the Ed Trust report, low-income students make up 50 percent of for-profit schools’ consumer base, students of color make up 37 percent; there’s likely a great deal of overlap between the two statistics. For-profit schools make their money off of students’ Pell Grants, the federal money that’s set aside for low-income students, and from everyone else’s federal student loans.

Students enroll in for-profit schools under bloated promises of future employment, often obtaining bogus certificates from unaccredited institutions, or taking credits that aren’t transferable to other schools. Along the way, they rack up tens of thousands in debt, which they often cannot repay.  (Read the full article)

Kickin' It Old School: The Roots Of "Sneaker Head" Culture

Ever since Spike Lee and Michael Jordan graced my television screen and told me to “just do it” back in the early 90’s, I’ve been following sneaker culture. As a youngster I can vividly remember having verbal spats with my fellow peers at lunchtime about whether the Bo Jackson Nike Air Trainers made you run faster and whether the Nike Air Max Penny Hardaway IIs made you jump higher. Not only did these various models of shoes help us live vicariously through our favorite athletes, they gave us confidence that we never knew we had before. 21 years and over 100 sneakers later, I’m still amazed at how sneakers still influence so much in hip-hop culture. What is even more astounding is how the subculture of underground sneaker collecting has grown to astronomical proportions. No longer is the assumption made that just little Black kids on the Southside of Chicago and West Philadelphia want to “be like Mike”. Middle aged White parents from suburbia are just as a part of the sneaker world as young kids of color.


Mumia Debate turns into a Epic Fail

Mumia Debate turns into a Epic Fail

On Monday November 8th, me and Paradise joined a caravan of Pittsburghers traveling to Philadelphia to support Mumia Abu Jamal. In January, the court vacated a 2008 decision throwing out Abu-Jamal’s death sentence and ordered a new hearing scheduled Tuesday, November 9th. The Philadelphia DA made it clear he wants Mumia dead and was seeking to have Mumia’s death sentence reinstated– regardless of the facts. So, we went to join an international crowd of Mumia supporters rallying outside of the courthouse for Mumia’s freedom.

But, the real fireworks took place Monday night at the premiere of the Tigre Hill’s new film, “The Barrel of a Gun” a “documentary” made to “prove” Mumia’s alleged guilt. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, the showing was meant to garner support for those misguided individuals that want to see Mumia executed. However, longtime Mumia supporter, Pam Africa arranged for a debate after the film specifically regarding the facts of the case. So, even though the police put on the event, Pam and the “Free Mumia” movement made sure the crowd was full of Mumia supporters. Being in the crowd of cops and activists was very surreal and the fact that both men debating for Mumia’s death were black made it even more so.

Yes, the filmmaker Tigre Hill, although obviously self hating, is black, as well as Philadelphia’s District Attorney Seth Williams. The two were debating Professor and Filmmaker Dr. Johanna Fernández (who coincidentally has a critically acclaimed documentary about Mumia’s case called Justice on Trial, but is having a hard time getting it shown in Philadelphia) and Criminal Defense Attorney and Activist Michael Coard. If this debate was a football game it would have been 100-0. Dr. Fernández and Attorney Coard time and time again brought up pertinent facts that were subsequently ignored by Williams and Hill. Not only did filmmaker Tigre Hill at one point walk off the stage, but the debate ended with him receiving a Cease and Desist order because he used parts of another film on police brutality in Philadelphia without getting the proper clearances.

All in all, the night was a complete failure for Tigre Hill and even a film critic who thinks Mumia is guilty called his “documentary” “DEEPLY, VISCERALLY BAD”. But, don’t take my word for it, watch the video for yourself. The footage also contains an interview with Attorney Coard, as well as, Tigre Hill’s reaction to “getting served”.

November 22, 2010 – November 28, 2010

Student drove classmates to donate
Staff Writer, Hickory Daily Record, November 28, 2010

Wrong message on black offenders
Robert Glenn, The Washinton Post, November 27, 2010

Youth’s promise gave way to life on the streets, an awful death
Joe Tevlin, Star Tribune, November 27, 2010

Me 1st Youth Initiative Program
Staff Writer, 33 WYTV, November 27, 2010

Youth drive road safety message
Roger Moroney, Hawke’s Bay, November 27, 2010

Youth advocate delivers annual update
Kris McDavid, Times & Transcript, November 26, 2010

Two Blacks Chosen for Prestigious Rhodes Scholarship
Staff Writer, AFRO News, November 26, 2010

The Student’s Guide to Black Friday
Matthew C. Keegan, Say Campus Life, November 26, 2010

New prison scheme helping to keep young offenders out of jail
Trudy Simpson, Voice Online, November 26, 2010

Anti-gun rappers’ aim to curb violence off target
David Codrea, Daily Examiner, November 26, 2010

The Anti-violent Vision From Youths
Staff Writer, News Belize, November 25, 2010

Strong role models needed to inspire youth
Lisa Denea, Post-Tribune, November 25, 2010

Youth Poetry Slam: Winding Down With a Little Prose…
Lawrence Baldus, Daily Examiner, November 25, 2010

A terrible toll: Young, black and dead
Chris Doucette, Toronto Sun, November 25, 2010

The Structural Forces Behind Black Youth Joblessness
Kai Wright, Colorlines, November 24, 2010

Anti-homophobia, Youth, AIDS Day programs planned
Staff Writer, Windy City Times, November 24, 2010

Is It Where You’re From or Where You’re At? Black Demographics and Creative Economies
R. Asmerom, The Atlanta Post, November 23, 2010

Black, African, or African American?
Pat Traver, Daily Campus, November 22, 2010

Students eager to spend Saturdays in this classroom
Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2010

Student essay contest to honor Va. black leaders
Randy Hallman, Richmond Times-Dispatch, November 21, 2010

Group Of Black Harvard Students Mistaken For “Local Gang Bangers”
James Johnson, Indy Posted, November 21, 2010

Fa la la la #Fail

I’ve been nursing a lemon pound cake jones by going to Starbucks a bit more often than I’d like.  I know it is not a business that I should patronize with my graduate student funds, but a craving is a craving.  Anyway, I’m standing at the counter listening to the Starbucks employee recite my order for clarity because 1. N’s order is always complicated and leaves me tongue-tied, and 2. I refuse to employ Starbucks’ asinine ordering language.  I say “small,” “medium,” and “large.”  As much as I pay for tea at Starbucks, I pay for that right–or perhaps Starbucks justifies their prices because they have fancy names for sizes on their board.  But I digress.  As I was standing at the counter waiting for the employee to hand me my luscious and fresh slice of pound cake, I look down and notice that the first mate has its holiday gift cards on display.  And, what do you know, but Starbucks has Kwanzaa gift cards.

At that moment precisely, I heard Maulana Karenga say, “Brooklyn, we did it!” all the way from Floss Angeles, California.

An Open Letter of “Support” for Karrine Steffans and Domestic Violence Survivors

This month Vibe Magazine featured an open letter from Karrine Steffans telling of her struggle to leave an abusive relationship. What Karrine Steffans is known for is her truth-telling first about the gender and sexual violence of being a “video vixen”in the rap industry and now she is known for her truth telling about her struggle to end her domestically violent relationship with her ex-husband. Of course, both forms of truth telling provoked great backlash from both men and women who believe that “a real woman keeps her mouth shut.” However, Ms. Karrine continues to speak her truth irrespective of how people interpret it.

After reading Ms. Steffans’ open letter to Vibe Magazine, my heart grieved for her and the countless women who struggle for various reasons to leave their abusive relationships. Overall, Ms. Steffans’ plea illumines the visceral complexities of domestic violence, love, trauma, and escape. Her letter reminded me of my mother and grandmother’s story of spousal abuse. In particular, how my mother continued to love a man who would beat her and other women senselessly. Yes, the open letter made my heart weep, but it was the depredating comments about Ms. Karrine Steffans on various websites that really pissed me off made me angry. So, in solidarity with Ms. Karrine Steffans, I have decided to write an open letter to all the people who responded negatively about her struggle to leave an abusive relationship.

Dear Negative Comment Writers,

The Four Loko Epidemic

Four Loko has been in the news a lot lately, bringing attention to the current craze over alcoholic caffeinated beverages. I’ve only ever had one personal experience with a similar drink. One of my cousins bought a can of “Joose” for me because I was too tired to go out and party. “This will get you amped up,” he promised. The large, colorful can looks like a benign mix between Monster and Arizona Tea so I began to drink it without asking questions.


Wrong move. That night, I was wired in the worst way. My heart and mind were racing but my body wanted to move in slow motion. I felt trapped. That night, I swore off of those drinks. It couldn’t be safe, I thought.

The Emerging Minds Project


Last night I had a provoking conversation with a recent college graduate in Chicago. The conversation was based on our lives and mostly our differences in opinions when it comes to politics, economics, and most importantly social issues. While I am always excited about and welcome dissenting thoughts, by the end of this conversation it was clear the difference in our praxis. My recent job was working with at-risk youth in the inner city encouraging them to get involved in the political systems in which they live. His most recent job was at an advertisement firm and in his words “working 12 hour days to make sure the companies bottom-line is continuously better.” I challenged him to exist in the business world not only with an individualistic-capitalist paradigm, but to invest in people just as much as stock. He challenged me to watch a documentary on Netflix “Babies” that explored the international differences in socio-economic upbringings.

This multifaceted yet casual conversation is a symbol of the interactions that should take place more often, both within the University but also in atmospheres that go beyond the academy. This is in essence an articulation of minds emerging, thoughts clashing against each other, and theory being forced to walk among practice. These conversations do not occur in the name of deliberate friction, but in the firm belief that understanding and tolerance is more than necessary. Especially if we are going to navigate to find solutions to the social issues that many would rather sweep under the rug than confront head-on. To disrupt the habit of avoiding the subjects that are most “touchy” we felt the need to create a space where these topics are tackled, interrogated, and dissected.

Can A Lame Duck Give Birth To An American D.R.E.A.M.?

The struggle for immigration reform in the United States has been a long, tumultuous battle that has been marked by legislative deadlock and caustic rhetorical skirmishes. This salient issue is polarizing for a plethora of reasons, much of which deals directly with politics. The sparring that has taken place on the congressional floor is just as related to policy as it is to varied interests of the politicians themselves. However, it seems like both the Democrats and Republicans are on their way to claiming a ceasefire (the World War I type where they halt the squawking to observe the holidays) to mobilize around giving undocumented citizens of “good moral character” a path to citizenship. Finally Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner will be able to sing kumbaya while they drink tequila on Cinco De Mayo. Isn’t it a lovely picture? Barring the cultural stereotypes of that image, I am excited! Maybe this lameduck session won’t be so lame after all.

Marco Rubio, winner of the U.S. Senate race in Florida, ran on the theme of living the American Dream. Whenever Rubio stood at a podium to deny structural inequalities discuss personal responsibility, he always referenced the story of his Cuban parents that were exiled. Not only did his narrative pull at the heartstrings of Florida voters, it also spoke to a greater issue. Although the Republican Party hasn’t traditionally stood in favor of liberalizing the path to citizenship for immigrants, in order to woo the rapidly growing Latino voting bloc back to their side, they needed to actually cater to their interests.


November 15, 2010 – November 21, 2010

Hope where others see none
Ira Porter, The News Journal, 11/21/10

African-centered education has a strong backer
Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/21/10

Diverse in the Heart
Eric Hoover, The Chronicle, 11/21/10

Staff Writer, PR-USA News, 11/21/10

Students eager to spend Saturdays in this classroom
Gale Holland, LA Times, 11/21/10

Williamstown Debates Elementary School Playground
Andy McKeever, Berkshires News, 11/20/10

Washington’s minimum wage is on the rise and hurting young people’s prospects
Carl Gipson, The Seattle Times, 11/19/10

Report: Fast food ads target youth
Caitlin Yoshiko Buysse, The Bay State Banner, 11/18/10

Save Our Schools: Black Men at Penn Reach Out to South Philly High
Aaron Case, Philly Now, 11/17/10

Mentoring Our Youth
Gregory Middleton, Altandena Patch, 11/17/10

NY youth makes $130k selling real(-ish) white iPhone 4s
Drew Cullen, Hardware News, 11/17/10

Militant youth lead march to defend Mumia
Staff Writer, Workers World News, 11/17/10

Baltimore Dropouts, Youth Crime Down As Agencies Cooperate
Staff Writer, The Crime Report, 11/16/10

Social costs of school success are highest for blacks, U-M study shows
Diane Swanbrow, Eurek Alert, 11/16/10

Heart disease threatens youth group
Noelle Mashburn, The Examiner, 11/16/10

Nontraditional CV risk factors common in overweight black youth
Staff Writer, Endocrine Today, 11/15/10

Youth hold mirror to society
Phumla Matjila, Times Live, 11/15/10

Parental responsibility touches nerve
Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/15/10