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Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

The End of an Era

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2010 at 8:16 am

The old guard can be displaced by replacing its members or by death; and the US Senate has lost two of its veterans in less than a year. Now, the longest serving US Senator, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia died earlier this morning. For over fifty years, Byrd was a noted “fiery orator versed in the classics and a hard-charging power broker who steered billions of federal dollars to the state of his Depression-era upbringing.”

Byrd was not ashamed of being referenced the “King of Pork,” noting that “I lost no opportunity to promote funding for programs and projects of benefit to the people back home.” Byrd’s love for West Virginia never wavered. Over his more than fifty years, arguably Byrd’s greatest regret came in his 20s as a member of the KKK. Byrd argued against the 1964 Civil Rights legislation, famously filibustering for one night, later to change his position on civil rights.

For all intents and purposes, Byrd was an institution; an institution that exhibited change with the times; an institution that was not afraid to stand by his position or even change positions. Undoubtedly, the losses of one Ted Kennedy and now Robert Byrd marks the end of an era.

One Year Later

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2010 at 9:38 am

So much can change in the twinkling of an eye, let alone twelve months. It’s been a year since Michael Jackson’s death. I remember where I was when I heard the news that afternoon–I was at work, and as soon as my good friend Marianna told me about it, I literally packed up and went home to watch the news.
Tomorrow this blog will be a year old. My first entry was about Michael’s life, and one year later:

we have oil in our gulf, a General-less command in Afghanistan (although all signs point to General Petraeus’ nomination as a sure thing), a Latina on the Supreme Court, a beer submit at the White House, Madoff goes to prison, the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, nationalized healthcare, President Obama wins the Nobel Prize, Tiger Woods’ scandal, attempted terrorist plots on Christmas day, the Fort Hood shooting, earthquakes, a Michael Jackson movie, and so many more noteworthy events that my mind is overwhelmed as of now.

So much, and the time seems to fly. Loved ones lost, friends lost, friends gained, changes, changes, changes…or another way of looking at it, growth. Growth can be painful and a learning experience. Since a year ago, this blog has undergone changes or growth. Thank you for growing with me and I hope this blog has been informative, inspirational, and/or entertaining.

Stay tuned…

The Plantation Revisited?

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2010 at 8:43 am

The avid sports fan that I am, the recent conference realignments caught more than my interest, I was engrossed in it–watching interviews, reading articles, etc. The PAC 10 now is the PAC 12. The Big 12 was on the verge of shuttering, but has survived as the new Big 10 with a rather interesting financial agreement that has Texas sharing the bulk of the revenues. The football gods are smiling on Texas–a proposed television deal, more revenue, what more can you ask for? Revenues. Revenues. Revenues. It seems the move to the mega conferences have one focus, how can we generate more revenues?

The focus of revenues and the NCAA, in this case March Madness (basketball), has been the focus for one University of Georgia professor. Professor Billy Hawkins’ recent release of a controversial book The New Plantation compares today’s college athletics to a plantation system. Professor Hawkins suggests that the NCAA exploits African American athletes. In an AOL Black Voices article, Hawkins says that “as we examine the structure of intercollegiate athletics, the athlete is not necessarily the property of the institutions, but the rights to athletes’ labor and the profit off of their labor makes the plantation model appropriate in examining the experiences of black male athletes.”

For Dr. Boyce Watkins of AOL Black Voices, “the dismal graduation numbers for the NCAA support Dr. Hawkins’ research, in which he argues and shows that black athletes at predominantly white institutions are being exploited while being neglected academically.”

Happy Father’s Day

In The Black Man on June 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Take time and enjoy the following from a college friend on this Father’s Day weekend.

“Whenever I’ve had something I needed to say to my brother but couldn’t verbalize, I wrote him a letter. There have been two letters, in particular, that have proven to be the most important.” Click here to continue reading Natalie Collier’s dedication to manhood.

Why HBCUs?: Part 2

In The Black Man on June 16, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Why are HBCUs important? As I referenced in the prior post, HBCUs generally serve an at-risk population; they are more willing to take a chance on the student who is on their second or third chance.

My brother Scottie (whom I took the liberty of adopting from my aunt when I was 5–drew up the papers and all with her signature, my signature, and my grandmother’s signature as the witness; so legally he is my brother even if he was not up for adoption) did just enough to get by, he always had, but he has passion for life and a dedication to helping others that is second to none. Well, one day he realized that he would be graduating high school very soon and wanted to “really get serious” about his future. With a GPA that was less than stellar and a low teen score on the ACT, he was at a loss as to what his next step would be.

He considered junior colleges, entering directly into the labor market, or enlisting in the military. Until one day an encouraging call from his Principal to the President of Lane College, an HBCU in Jackson, TN, forever changed my brother’s life and my family’s lives as well. Honestly, we saw Scottie’s potential, but were all concerned whether he would realize it or not.

In 2004 Scottie graduated high school searching for a place of belonging, but in the summer of 2009, he graduated as a Man, a Lane Man, determined to improving the lives of those around him. Unlike many his age, he is a community activist, a child’s advocate, an HIV/AIDS educator, a teacher, a coach—essentially; he is an inspiration to me. He is a man on a mission–a mission that may not have been formed if it were not for the investment that Lane College made in him.

Why HBCUs?: Part 1

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 12:03 pm

This past winter Governor Barbour ruffled feathers by saying he supported a consolidation of the state’s four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). While reading many message boards and opinion pieces, the overwhelming question was: What’s the need for such schools? And quickly many point to the advances we have made as a society, for instance, the election of Barack Obama as President. Additionally, others said that the existence of HBCUs only perpetuated segregation.

In February journalist Billy Maxwell considered HBCUs are “essential to the success of African-Americans since 1837.” In 2009 the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported that HBCUs have a 42 percent graduation rate. So again, why are HBCUs important? The answer may not be found in graduation statistics alone. For many who attend these schools, they are working on second and third chances before life can truly start. Yes, we would like to see an improved graduation rate, but for many, being accepted into college is success in its own right.

This point had not been so crystallized until I watched an episode of Judge Hatchett. A trouble minority teen was brought to court by his mother. He had dropped out of school and was content with living a life on the streets. I am convinced that we all have unique talents, and one of this young man’s talents was the gift of music. Judget Hatchett sent him to a band camp at Clark-Atlanta University. Here, the young man found mentorship and the ability to learn something about himself: that there’s more to life than a life on the streets. And so, he learned what it was truly like to be considered part of a family, striving positively toward the American Dream. This young man has walked through the door and Clark-Atlanta has agreed to be the welcoming institution.

The Wonderful Adventures of the Intern: Part 2

In The Black Man on June 4, 2010 at 7:28 am

Dexter McKinney is a man of many talents: a singer, artist, musician, budding politician, perhaps a Renaissance Man (???), but Dexter can do it all. Dexter is the Stennis Institute’s (SIG) most recent intern and we are very fortunate that he literally “fell” into a position in our organization.

See, Dexter is enrolled in the Master of Public Policy and Administration program at Mississippi State. But toward the end of his spring semester, Dexter did not have an internship lined up, as required before graduating. Like many, Dexter was being bruised in the wide world of internship seeking, which can be cutthroat in its own right. Although SIG does not have a minority (racial/ethnic minority and women) fellowship or internship program, Dante Lee acknowledges that “It is more and more common to see a company, organization or government agency that has an internship program that is specifically for women and minority students. Companies such as IBM, Nationwide Insurance, NASCAR, and even Google were amongst the first to do so. Such minority internships were created for two reasons: To help a company diversify their staff, and to offset the effects of years and years of racial and gender discrimination.”

Dexter is challenging the statistics, the status quo: unfortunately it is increasingly becoming the status quo that African American males are perhaps much more likely to have been arrested or in prison than on a college campus. In his book chapter “The Diminution of African American Males in Higher Education,” Michael Cuyjet finds that “while there is unfortunate attrition of all kinds of students–of different racial/ethnic groups and different genders–the percentages of the losses among African American males are higher than for other identifiable groups.”

The wonderful adventures for one Dexter McKinney (who is scheduled to graduate in December) involves defying the odds, but as he has often said to me, “the ultimate is to redefine, to educate, to inspire, and to reclaim many of my peers, one step at a time.”

Michael Cuyjet’s chapter appears in Diversity in Higher Education Vol. 6. “Black American Males in Higher Education: Diminishing Proportions.” Editors Henry T. Frierson et al. (2009).

The Wonderful Adventures of the Intern: Part 1

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Internships. Internships. Internships. Many college students competing for internships. For many organizations cutting the internship or fellowship program has been the first thing to go in budget crunch. But Melissa Benca of Marymount Manhattan College says the “Internships have become key in today’s economy. Graduating students with paid or unpaid internships on their résumé have a much better chance at landing a full-time position upon graduation. Students are doing internships as undergraduates, and it is now not unusual for recent grads to take an unpaid internship with hopes of turning it into a permanent position or at least making some contacts and building their résumé.”

One of the members of our student association, the Stennis-Montgomery Association (SMA), interning in DC has become somewhat of an adventure. Each time should sends me a text or email regarding her day on the Hill or analyzing information in the database she has access to, I can’t help but think of the doors she’s unlocking to a better career. These adventures to many undergraduates may seem pointless and even boring, yet these adventures are what makes them stand apart from the rest.

What many employers realize is that by trimming their fellowships or internships, they are essentially eliminating a fulltime position. These interns are valuable assets to the organization. Click here to view the complete list of benefits for the intern and the employer. Here are a few:

Benefits for the Student:
—The opportunity to “test drive” a career (Would I be happier in marketing or advertising? Am I more comfortable working with patients or in a lab?)

—Chances to network

—Possible college credit or certification

The “New” Modern Civil Rights Movement

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2010 at 9:26 am

While browsing this morning newspapers, I came across a rather interesting question from the Clarion Ledger’s Jerry Mitchell: Should jobs be a civil rights issue? Some time ago I wrote about the NAACP’s struggle to find its true identity following the freedom and equality movements. “The NAACP’s top two leaders said this weekend that education, immigration, and health care are the new front lines of today’s civil rights movement.”

To reinforce this point, Mitchell discussed the “hollowing out” of the Black middle class in Memphis; which according to a New York Times article is a city that “epitomizes something more grim: How rising unemployment and growing foreclosures in the recession have combined to destroy black wealth and income and erase two decades of slow progress.” The recession has hit all races hard, but particularly African Americans. The AARP conducted a survey earlier this year that essentially reiterated what analysts have been saying for quite some time. For AARP Vice President Edna Kane-Williams says “the recession has driven many African-Americans to make hard choices now that may lead to serious problems down the road. Raiding your nest egg or ending contributions, even in the short-term, will have long-term consequences because you will have less time to make up the losses.”