Why Is Black History Segregated?
3 months ago
Does a dedicated month stifle integration of our contributions in all aspects of U.S. society?
3 months ago
4 months ago
When it comes to food insecurity, schools across the country have been creating campus food pantries where students can get bag lunches and non-perishables, often anonymously. Michigan State University created what’s believed to be the first student-run pantry in 1993, and the school has helped students and administrators at other schools create their own versions of their program. UCLA and Auburn University have also created food pantries for hungry students.
[ALSO READ: Almost 30 Percent of Blacks in Poverty]
Of course there’s more work to be done.
“Schools should work with community agencies, so that they may make appropriate referrals for services," Duffield says. "It is also important to offer services on campus, such as clothing banks, food banks, and counseling. Helping students find housing during academic breaks, including opening up dormitories, is also critical. Establishing a single point of contact to assist students experiencing homelessness is a great strategy to offer support and guidance. And financial aid policies need to be revised to remove barriers to students who are homeless, and completely on their own. Better training about the unique needs of homeless students for financial aid offices, college access programs, and student support services is also needed.”
Tavis Smiley is continuing his crusade against the poverty that leads to unsupported students with the Vision for a New America: A Future Without Poverty symposium, which will be held next Thursday, January 17, at George Washington University. He has called on President Obama to convene a White House Conference on the Eradication of Poverty in America as the first official act of his second term.
“If poverty can be made a national priority, together we can create a plan to cut poverty in half in 10 years, and move closer to eradicating it in the richest nation in the world. This is not a skill problem; this is a will problem,” said Smiley in a press release for the program, which will be simulcast live on C-SPAN.
You can help, too. “Contact local homeless service organizations, as well as school district homeless liaisons, to ask where the greatest gaps lie—it might be in donations of food, clothing or gift cards,” Duffield advises.
And reach out to organizations in your area that are dedicated to helping impoverished students, like the College Success Foundation, which offers opportunities to donate to scholarships, volunteer in academic enrichment programs, mentor individual students and provide internships and jobs to struggling students.
These days, Williams is working an unpaid internship at a PBS affiliate and praying that he’ll find a job shooting and editing film after he claims his hard-won diploma in May. He is studying media arts, and dreams of working for the NFL Network after he graduates.
“I need to find something I love. I’ve been in poverty for too long,” he says. “My diploma is the thing that will sustain me in the future, so I won’t be going through this same stuff for the rest of my life.”
Did you know poverty was a problem on college campuses? Tell us in the comments.
4 months ago
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6 months ago
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History is littered with terrible “Where were you?” moments: There’s the moment you found out Tupac had been shot (in my room, listening to my boom box), when you watched O.J. flee the police in a white Bronco (in my auntie’s front room), and, of course, when the first tower was hit on 9/11 (in my dorm room at Howard University, getting ready for class). But we don’t get many positive ones.
So when, at 11:12 p.m. on Tuesday night, MSNBC called the election for my president, I was beside myself, much as I was four years ago. This time, I was blessed to share it with my 16-month-old daughter, who, like her mother, was too wound up to sleep.
[READ MORE: "The Best is Yet to Come"]
It wasn’t just that the guy I was rooting for won, or that the other guy lost. It’s the fact that, despite having voted in every presidential election since 2000, this president is the first one I’ve ever felt was mine. And it’s not, contrary to what conservatives will have you think, because of his skin color. Sure, I love that he’s black; I’d be a liar if I said any different. But the deeper truth of it is, I appreciate the significance of his ascendency in a country where, in my father’s lifetime, people who looked like us where unable to exercise the rights granted to them by the 15th Amendment.
The real reason I was screaming like a maniac is that I knew President Barack Obama would continue to fight for everyone, even those who were angriest about his reelection. There would be no 47 percent left to fend for itself, no class warfare waged to shut out those who didn’t support his candidacy. When he said, during his acceptance speech, “We are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people,” I felt it keenly. Whether or not you think of yourself as patriotic, it’s hard to argue with that notion when you only have to look around to see the impact of the recession.
[READ MORE: What to Expect if Barack Obama is Re-Elected Nov. 6]
That feeling of solidarity is the root of why I didn’t vote for He Who Must Not Be Named. To me, he represented an idea that’s scarier than any tax cut or global warming denial. It’s the notion that self-interest is everything, that taking care of each other is a bad thing, and taking away the rights of others is the American way (even if history shows us that it is).
While I’m realistic in my view of what the president can accomplish with a divided Congress and views that don’t always mesh exactly with mine (thumbs down on drilling and drones), I’m hopeful that we’ll be better off in 2016 than we are today. And as big a deal as this week’s win was to me, I hope that when I remind my daughter where she was during that moment one day, it will be old hat her. As a toddler, she has only lived in a world where it’s not just possible for a black man to run the show, but a reality, and that’s the very best thing of all.
Where were YOU when Barack Obama was reelected? How do you feel? Tell us in the comments.
6 months ago
“The opportunity to use a significant amount of money to reform our education system is a rare one, and the president wanted to use that opportunity to drive the kind of reform that he promised during the campaign, and that he believes is so essential to moving our education system in the right direction, so that it’s an excellent system for all of our kids,” Barnes says.
[READ MORE: OBAMA'S $400M SCHOOLS CONTEST]
Vaughn Adesina is a confident guy. After graduating from his Long Beach, Calif., high school, he knew he wanted to go to college, but he wasn't sure where. Then he happened to see the Arizona State University track team demolish the competition on television, and he thought he’d like to see the action in person. So he applied to area schools, packed up and headed to Mesa, Ariz., without a doubt that it would work out. “It seemed like a good idea,” he says with a laugh. Arbitrary? Maybe. But it turns out, he was right.
The 19-year-old second-year mathematics major is excelling in a dual program at Mesa Community College and Arizona State, maintaining a 3.73 GPA and a job. But while his confidence was enough to carry him over state lines, it wasn’t enough to pay for school. He credits the president’s expansion of the Pell grant program with that feat. Without it, he would likely have racked up thousands in loans; as it stands now, his $5,500-a-year grant covers the bulk of his expenses.
“I am nothing without my Pell grant! It pays for the majority of my education,” he explains. “With the availability of this program, I’m actually encouraged to pursue college; it shows that the government cares about my education.”
He’s not the only one. Forty-six percent of all African American undergraduate students depend on Pell grants to finance their education.
“The president did something that people said he couldn’t: he changed our lending system so that it would be more reliable for students, which not only created greater stability, but also created savings. He took part of that $68 billion in savings and strengthened the Pell grant system,” Barnes explains.
One result of that change is an additional 200,000 awards granted to black students.
The numbers tell the story: In the 2007-2008 school year, 19 percent of all community college students received Pell grants, with an average award of $2,423 (the national average for all colleges and universities is $2,648). For the 2010-2011 year, that number was 30 percent, with an average of $3,833 per community college student ($3,833 nationally). That’s an increase of 1.4 million grant awards in community colleges alone.
“The cost of college serves as a substantial barrier to college participation," says Norma G. Kent, senior vice president of communications and advancement for the American Association of Community Colleges. "The Pell grant is critically important to supporting both access to, and success in, college; it reduces the financial barrier by providing student aid that does not have to be repaid. It is important to note that the funding supports not only the direct tuition and fee costs, but books, supplies, room and board, and transportation, too.”
The president also extended the American Opportunity Tax Credit and established the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative and increased funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities—which produce future Ph.D.s at a greater rate than non-HBCUs—by $2.55 billion.
For his part, Adesina draws inspiration from the president himself.
“I admire his work ethic, his nobleness, his character, and his plan for my future. All that he’s done encourages me to stay in college and pursue more,” he says. “And it was very cool of him to increase the Pell grant. Now I can take on more classes and graduate a little earlier!”
Adesina plans to earn his Ph.D. in applied mathematics, and use his wealth to bolster his community financially. But he’s most interested in making his mother proud, and inspiring his 17-year-old brother and 30-year-old sister to follow in his footsteps.
“I want to show them that it can be done,” he says.
[READ MORE OF OUR SPECIAL ON OBAMA'S HISTORIC FIRST TERM: PRESIDENT OBAMA, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?]
6 months ago
Vaccine mandates take a one-size-fits-all approach to vaccination, which does not acknowledge the fact that some children are more vulnerable to harm from vaccination. The legal right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to vaccination is a very important one to protect in America because Congress gave pediatricians legal protection from vaccine injury lawsuits in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and, in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court declared vaccines “unavoidably unsafe” in order to completely shield vaccine manufacturers from product liability for the harm caused by vaccines.
The National Vaccine Information Center defends the human right of all citizens to exercise informed consent to medical risk taking, including the legal right of parents to make voluntary vaccination decisions for their children. NVIC advocates for the inclusion of flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions to vaccination in all health policies and state public health laws.
Loop 21: Why do you think vaccination is such a divisive issue?
Snyder (PRO): Clearly, parents want to do what is best for their children. Today, they must do so with an ever-enlarging volume of information coming at them from a huge number of sources. Often, emotional responses to scary information result in hesitancy or outright fear of vaccines, regardless of whether the information is scientifically sound. These messages, disseminated by anti-vaccine groups and sometimes by misinformed clinicians, can easily impart enough fear in a parent who is already confused by the multitude of information to hold off or delay giving their child a vaccine. The media perpetuates these myths by creating “false balance.” In other words, while there may be no scientific controversy on an issue like the MMR-autism linkage, the media will often present the issue as a controversy, as two equal and opposing viewpoints.
Many anti-vaccine proponents state that they are not anti-vaccine, but pro-safe vaccines, and that they are just trying to inform parents and protect children. Of course, this implies that vaccines are not safe, and that the CDC and doctors have other interests in mind. Many will state that the position of so-called mainstream medicine is closed-minded when, in fact, it is the anti-vaccine groups that are closed-minded. Their position never changes, no matter how much evidence contradicts their point of view or beliefs. They often claim that they have science on their side, though what they are really doing is misrepresenting the science or cherry-picking data from poorly conducted studies to support their firmly held beliefs. Those who use science to make truly informed decisions and recommendations are constantly open to the changes in knowledge that come from new scientific information. Science is all about openness to new information and change when indicated by the evidence. Ideologically driven movements, like the anti-vaccine movement, are all about belief and dogma and are unmoved by the evidence, no matter how elegant and robust. Unfortunately the real victims of all of this are the children, who are left vulnerable to easily preventable disease.
[ALSO READ: Spanking Causes Mental Illness?]
Fisher (CON): The great divide in the vaccine debate today is between those who want the freedom to make informed, conscious vaccine choices, and those who believe that everyone should be forced to follow the doctor’s orders and adhere to one-size-fits all vaccine mandates. Mandatory vaccination proponents tend to downplay vaccine risks and maintain that unvaccinated children threaten “herd or community immunity” and transmit infections, which cause disease outbreaks. Voluntary vaccination proponents tend to emphasize vaccine risks and maintain that vaccine acquired immunity fails to provide long lasting immunity, pointing to disease outbreaks among fully vaccinated children. Both sides are sharply divided about whether enforcement of public health policy should trump the right of individuals to exercise voluntary, informed consent to medical risk-taking.
However, at the core of the heated and divisive debate about vaccination is fear of being harmed, either by an infectious disease or by vaccination. When health care debates involve choices that carry a risk of injury or death for us or our children, those debates are going to provoke strong intellectual and emotional responses based on our personal experience, knowledge, beliefs, and values.
The vaccine debate in the 21st century has also been influenced by the electronic communications revolution. Educated health care consumers, including young parents, are proactively doing their own research on the web today and what they learn prompts them to ask doctors more questions about vaccination and health. Many doctors are uncomfortable with this dialogue because they do not like the challenge to their previously unquestioned authority.
[ALSO READ: More Blacks Needed in STEM Jobs]
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