Category Archives: Podcast

Audio Podcast

Podcast Friendships-a theme for the new Denver chapter and the NA?

The new Denver chapter founder Robert brought to my attention a good blog (the Mustard Seed) which talked about a great concept that “..friends cultivate creativity, compassion and a sense of belonging. Studies indicate that if you have a best friend at work, you are seven times more likely to thrive in your job. Conversely, a lack of deep lasting friendships has shown negative effects on your health and well-being”.

 

Affirmative Action

This is another blog on the upcoming decision at SCOTUS the Supreme Court of the United States. This time on an attack on affirmative action as represented by the appeal on the University of Texas’s admission policies.

Based on reports by the New York Times*, “the affirmative action plan at the University of Texas seemed to be in trouble at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. By the end of an unusually long and tense argument, a majority of the justices appeared unpersuaded that the plan was constitutional”.

First some background. In 2003, the court said that public colleges and universities could not use a point system to increase minority enrollment but could take race into account in vaguer ways to ensure academic diversity. And there is rub so to speak, vague can be interpreted as almost anything!

Justice Scalia his usual conservative take and said:  “minority students with inferior academic credentials may be better off at “a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”

In addition he said: “Most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas,” he said. “They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”

And the usually liberal Justice Kennedy, spent almost all of his time exploring whether the university should be allowed to submit more evidence to justify its use of race in accepting students.

However, at UC Berkley, in a state that banned affirmative action in college admissions, fewer black and Hispanic freshmen were enrolled**. Thus, between 1990 and 2011 Hispanic enrollment went down from 23% to11%. This is despite the increase of California’s college aged residents from 35% to 49%. There is a similar trend in Black enrollment.

The case, Fisher v. University of Texas, No. 14-981, was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white student who says the University of Texas denied her admission in 2008 because of her race. She has since graduated from Louisiana State University. At that University during the same Hispanic and Blacks suffered the same enrollment stalling**.

Adding to the fuel on this fire is the so called “Top Ten” policy of Texas colleges that the State of Texas has such that “If you attend a public high school in Texas you must submit a transcript that indicates that you will graduate under the state’s Recommended or Distinguished/Advanced high school programs as defined in the state’s Uniform Admissions Policy or a transcript that shows you will graduate under the state’s Foundation high school program. Students graduating under the Foundation program must show proof of the distinguished level of achievement to be eligible for top 10 percent automatic admission”.***

This Texas admissions plan, which accounts for 75 percent of the student body, does not directly consider race but increases racial diversity largely because many high schools in the state are not diverse.

For the remaining students, the plan takes account of race as one factor among many, the approach used by many selective colleges and universities nationwide. Ms. Fisher sought admission under the second part of the plan.

And the champion of liberal jurisprudence Justice Ginsburg said  “It’s totally dependent upon having racially segregated neighborhoods, racially segregated schools, and it operates as a disincentive for a minority student to step out of that segregated community and attempt to get an integrated education.”

However on a breath of fresh air, Justice Breyer said, that the Supreme Court will “kill affirmative action through a death by a thousand cuts.”

I remain very concerned that this decision may railroad affirmative action after a 12-year-old compromise was granted.

More and more SCOTUS is acting on some laws where people at the margins in the US are losing ground in an era where income and race inequality are becoming more evident. This blog and a previous blog on SCOTUS and the vote**** are more reasons to vote in ALL elections that lead to consideration of candidates that favor diversity and human rights.

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Sources:

*http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/10/us/politics/supreme-court-to-revisit-case-that-may-alter-affirmative-action.html?_r=0
**http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/24/us/affirmative-action-bans.html
***http://www.uh.edu/admissions/apply/apply-freshman/admissions-criteria/
****http://www.nabwmt.org/all-people-or-eligible-people/

All People or Eligible People?

Today I want to update you on a matter of importance in terms of equal justice, and crucial for representation of us all and people at the margin.

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) hears arguments in Evenwel v. Abbott regarding according to SCOTUS blog “Whether the three-judge district court correctly held that the “one-person, one-vote” principle under the Equal Protection Clause allows States to use total population, and does not require States to use voter population, when apportioning state legislative districts”.

So what has this to do with NABWMT? Directly nothing, but indirectly a whole lot to our mission to fight racism.

First, some background. The US Constitution requires “counting the whole number of persons in each state” for apportioning seats in the House of Representatives among the states. In the US, according to the Atlantic blog*** “”The (population) difference is no longer about where people live, it’s about how people live: in spread-out, open, low-density privacy — or amid rough-and-tumble, in-your-face population density and diverse communities that enforce a lower-common denominator of tolerance among inhabitants”. Cities tend to vote Democrat which, arguable leads to more tolerant voters.

The US Census is the main vehicle to determine the Congress make up, and any other method may be hard to assemble and likely to discriminate against people of color. Hence it would be antithetical to the work the NA has done over the last 30 years or more.

These areas of tolerance have produced sex sex marriage initiatives, better opposition to discrimination of minorities in the justice system and much more. The Census showed a higher percentage of blacks than whites voted in a presidential election for the first time in history during the matchup between President Obama and Mitt Romney. If the black vote is diminished by legislation of SCOTUS it would not bode well for equal participation of people at the margins.

The opposite view is given by the Wall Street Journal**** citing concern on the effect of “illegal immigrants” on the votes. As a note you may want to read my blogs on the racism against undocumented workers (http://www.nabwmt.org/anti-immigrants-rhetoric/). But I digress, the Wall Street Journal suggests that this block of voters “dilutes” other peoples right to vote. They state “If Ms. Evenwel prevails, legislative districts will have to be reworked in Texas, and presumably in much of the U.S. too. The next legal challenge would be to Congressional districts, which could mean a re-allocation of seats in the House of Representatives. States like Florida, California, New York, Arizona and Texas, with large illegal populations, could lose House seats. We cannot agree more, this loss of seats would be detrimental to civil rights.

Remember when Black people were counted as one-fifth vote, under this plan Blacks and Native Americans under 18 would perhaps be on-third votes, Asian Americans would be 45% and Hispanics 55%.

Let’s not let this fly under the radar. Talk to your chapters, communities and legislators and campaign against this latest round of attacks on minorities and voters.
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Sources:
* http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/evenwel-v-abbott/
** http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/us/politics/supreme-court-to-hear-arguments-on-one-person-one-vote.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0
*** http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/red-state-blue-city-how-the-urban-rural-divide-is-splitting-america/265686/
**** http://www.wsj.com/articles/one-person-but-only-2-3of-a-vote-1449534404

Bullying

As we all know there are youths that are being bullied in school and society, and for sure in the LGBT community. How to deal with it effectively requires the skills to understand and manage their feelings, and overcome.

As an educator I hear the expression “computers will soon be able to do many of the cognitive tasks in many jobs”. Life skills are mostly relational and being part of a team. Also empathy becomes a more important workplace skill, the ability to sense what another human being is feeling or thinkings.

In addition, the ability to function in a group also becomes more important — to know how to tell stories that convey the important points, how to mix people together. Amazingly, there is an app for that to

use technology to better articulate, understand and control ones emotions. So far so good. Research shows that people communicate more often with family and friends because of technology, but the quality of that communication may be weaker.

However, kids who spend more time engaging with a screen than with other kids or adults can struggle to understand emotion, create strong relationships or become more dependent on others. If all you’re doing is using Facebook, you’re not getting the interpersonal connection that you need.

For adults, reliance on the quick text or Facebook message is mostly about saving time. But for children, the overuse of technology to communicate affects the brain as we show below. Technology can be a big hindrance on interpersonal relationships, and can rewrite a child’s brain pathways in a very different way than how they would normally develop.

The problem is that the more people and children interact with a person or the real world through a screen rather than in real life, the less emotion is attached to the exchange. The way we talk, our body language and tone are all fundamental to establishing human relationships. And they’re all missing with most forms of modern technology.

Back to LGBT bullyingIn a study, 85% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40% reported being physically harassed, and 19% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual identity. To counteract this we need to

– Debunk misperceptions about digital behavior;

– Build empathy and understanding;

– Teach online safety skills;

– Equip young people (and some adults) with strategies to reject digital abuse in their lives.

October was the national bullying prevention month. There is no federal cyberbullying law in the U.S.

and efforts at creating the culture of empathy, on the other hand, receive far less public attention. One bright light is The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s partnership with with Facebook aimed at helping the company to foster empathy among its users.

While public attention seems to be overwhelmingly focused on punishment, education on cultural values to  foster a different pattern of social relations and concern for others is just as important. Framing online behavior as symptomatic of larger cultural narratives is a much neglected view in the public debate around cyberbullying.

So why do i perseverate on this when the average age of the NABWMT is 52 (or so)? The answer is we need to realize that the current traits of young adults in empathy can become (at least in part) ours. We need to balance our online and offline persona.

After all the NA has a proud history of emphasizing people skills especially at the margins of society. So, after you have friended one of our thousands on our Facebook, practice being their and friend someone face to face.

Thankyou San Francisco

podcastThis city was once called the “Paris of the West” for its corruption and wildness but I am proud of the recent past and current history that San Francisco brings to the HIV/AIDS community and doing much in these issues to write the rules. And let’s not forget San Francisco is the birthplace of our NABWMT.

Today an HIV infected person can go to a San Francisco clinic, get tested quickly, see a doctor, get 5 pills and a prescription and, if needed, file for public health insurance. This program is called Rapid and is a great success.

Health survey of Blacks shows surprises

podcastThis is a podcast of a health survey showing African Americans may have some better health outcomes

On most health measures, blacks fare much worse than whites — differences that have largely been attributed to socioeconomic factors, access to healthcare and discrimination by doctors in the treatments they prescribe.

But if there were a health system in which all patients basically got the same care, would the disparities still exist?

It turns out there is such a system: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. And a new analysis of nearly 3.1 million patients in the VA system has found a different kind of racial divide: Blacks do significantly better than whites.

Over a nine-year period, researchers found that the adjusted mortality rate of African Americans was 24% lower than that of whites, according to a published this month in the journal Circulation.

The results suggest that blacks may have genetic or other biological advantages that make them healthier than whites in some ways, but that those advantages are canceled out by other factors in society at large, the study authors wrote.

Source LA Times

Podcast LGBT Poet

podcastThis is a podcast highlighting the works of LGBT poet Danez Smith

Danez Smith was born St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of  Boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Lambda Literary Award, and the chapbook hands on ya knees (Penmanship Books, 2013). Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, Voices of Our Nation (VONA) and elsewhere. He is a founding member of the multigenre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. His writing has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, Kinfolks and elsewhere. In poetry slam, he is a 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam finalist and the reigning two-time Rustbelt Individual Champion, and was on the 2014 championship team Sad Boy Supper Club. In 2014 he was the festival director for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam, and he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was a First Wave Urban Arts Scholar.

Podcast Election Fever

podcast

Ken  collects comments and ideas on the GOP debate season with the caveat that the NABWMT cannot endorse candidates for office but can and must discuss issues on human rights and how the 2016 election could impact people at ther margins
GOP presidential candidates had six prime-time hours on the national stage on Wednesday to tell the American people why they should lead the country and its scary.

There was a strong vein of xenophobia, fear mongering and lies.