President Obama

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My Brother’s Keeper destroys Black male mentoring movement

By Phillip Jackson
Guest Commentator

The White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative is destroying the Black male mentoring movement in America — decades-long work to save Black boys. Virtually all of the small, community-based agencies that comprise this substantial, historic effort to mentor Black boys have been left out of the overall conversation, the planning, and the funding essential to save Black boys and to chart a new course for their continued survival. Many of these groups provided mentoring for Black boys long before President Barack Obama became president and they will be working to save Black boys when he leaves the office. The White House made a strange decision to allow The University of Chicago to be its lead academic partner in the mentoring of Black boys although no visible plan exists to increase that school’s dastardly low Black male student population, which has hovered at about two percent for the past 15 years. The Black males on campus at the University of Chicago have to deal with severe racial profiling from their own campus police, and one Black male student was even put in a choke-hold and “arrested for not properly using the library.”

Funding the elite, well-heeled University of Chicago as the leadership organization for Black male mentoring, while ignoring grassroots organizations that have facilitated Black male mentoring programs for decades, guarantees that his initiative will fail. Continue Reading →

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Has Obama failed?

By Don Allen
Guest Commentator

 

As a card-carrying member of the Republican Party, I have to honestly say President Obama has not really failed. There are powers greater than him that still follow the political White-patriarchal system of checks and balances that he cannot interfere with. (One of them would be talking to Black Americans directly.)

 

Barack Obama won the votes of a majority of Americans. The re-election of the first Black president has made the history books and water cooler conversations. And now is the time for Black Americans to ask how we fit into the ephemeral vision called the American Dream. Continue Reading →

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New MPS programs to focus on Black male student achievement

Unified office, more instruction, more teachers planned
 

This story concludes our report on new MPS initiatives to address disparities that began with last week’s story, “Mpls Public Schools to assess impact of all policies, procedures on race equity.”

 

Second in a two-part  story 
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

A new Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) department “aimed at accelerating academic strategies and reducing the achievement gap” has been established. The primary reason for the office is that there are multiple programs within MPS Central Office “that are doing similar work and as long as these [five] departments are in a silo and not connected together, we are not going to have a comprehensive, unified vision on how we allocate and be more thoughtful [on a] strategic way to deliver services,” explains CEO Michael Goar, who adds that a search for someone to head the new office is currently underway. “We want to make sure that all of our students of color will be just as successful as our White students,” pledges James Burroughs, MPS equality and diversity director. MPS serves approximately 36,000-plus students “and we’re growing,” reiterates Goar. “When you look at our student population, you are talking about the majority of our kids are kids of color. Continue Reading →

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My Brother’s Keeper: Trauma must be part of conversation on helping Black males

Black History Month has come and gone once again. I hope that folks learned something useful and constructive during this period. Oftentimes, I believe as Black people we forget that everything we do today is making Black history. Sadly, we think about what would be in the history books 50 years from now based on current events — the major events would be the election of President Obama, the murder of Trayvon Martin, and maybe even the first openly gay professional athletes being Black as well. However, I do not think these things encompass what we know Black history is about today. Continue Reading →

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The great divide of income inequality: a domestic crisis on the world’s stage

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Marc H. Morial

Guest Commentator

 

“Income inequality” has become the political buzzword of 2014. President Obama, most recently in last week’s State of the Union Address, has made it a central theme of his second term. Both progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans in Congress are making it a focus of this year’s mid-term elections, and leading voices for human rights have called on government and business leaders to take immediate action to close the income gap for the sake of long-term economic and social stability. Two weeks ago, as the world’s elite — leaders from government, business and NGO sectors — gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting, the issue of inequality was atop the agenda. WEF’s Global Risks 2014 report recently revealed that the “chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest citizens is seen as the risk that is most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade.”

Another voice was added to the chorus when the British-based anti-poverty organization, Oxfam International, released a report in advance of the Davos gathering, revealing that the richest 85 people in the world control as much wealth as the bottom half of the global population – about 3.5 billion people. Continue Reading →

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Local civil rights leader Matthew Little passes

 

 

By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer

Matt Little is gone, leaving a legendary legacy. He was widely renowned and will be well remembered as a Civil Rights Era icon who held a soul-deep commitment to empowering the African American community. Graduating North Carolina A&T State University in 1948, he relocated to the Twin Cities and, in 1954 became a board member of the Minneapolis NAACP, beginning a lifelong dedication to the organization. During his career, he was president of that chapter as well as president of the Minnesota state NAACP. Far from being a figurehead, Little was hands-on and counted among his most prized memories filing a federal lawsuit to integrate the Minneapolis Fire Department. Continue Reading →

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America’s Great Outdoors initiative connects kids and vets to environmental jobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum in April 2010 establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and reconnect Americans to the outdoors. The memorandum calls for collaboration among the Departments of Interior and Agriculture as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House’s own Council on Environmental Quality in leading the initiative. Eight other federal agencies play a supporting role, and literally thousands of other partners from state, local and tribal governments, nonprofits and the private sector are involved as well. Getting young people, especially city kids, into the outdoors to experience our country’s unique natural heritage is a top priority of America’s Great Outdoors. Before pursuing any specific strategies, initiative leaders solicited feedback from everyday Americans as to what mattered most to them regarding conservation and access to the outdoors. Continue Reading →

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Robin Roberts loosens the grip of Black homophobia

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I will continue to argue that the African American community doesn’t have a patent on homophobia, it does, however, have a problem with it. Black homophobia still has a deadly hold on African American life. And while I would like to say its oppressive grip only impacts lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people of African descent, in truth, Black homophobia maims the entire community. For example, to date more than a quarter of a million African Americans have died of AIDS — both straight and gay. There are many persistent social and economic factors contributing to the high rates of the epidemic in the African American community —racism, poverty, healthcare disparity, violence, to name just a few — but the biggest attitudinal factor still contributing to the epidemic and showing no sign of abating is homophobia. Continue Reading →

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Looking at 2013, through real eyes

We wish to convey to all of our readers and the staff at the Spokesman Recorder all the best for a bright future. Our last column of 2013 ended with “We just celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela, a man who proved a Black man can be a success as president of a country with both Blacks and Whites.”

In this first column of 2014, we celebrate another Black man, Barack Obama, who has moved beyond proving that a Black man can be a success as president of a country with both Blacks and Whites; he proves that a Black man can be president of the most powerful country in history. Although some say President Barack Obama is a lame duck president, a failure with no legacy, we disagree. “Lame duck” is shorthand by ivory tower public policy academics who don’t get out from behind their lecterns but still think they should be in charge. For example, President Obama has succeeded with health care where all, beginning with Teddy Roosevelt, failed (Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter each wrote in their last books that Ted, for his own purposes killed health care under both Nixon and Carter). Continue Reading →

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Is President Obama a ‘lame duck’?

You be the judge
 
In the last 20 days, discussion on both the left and the right has been about the failures of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the real name of what both sides call “Obamacare,” long a term of pride for Democrats and one of derision for Republicans, and now one of confusion for both. With the elections of 2014 and 2016 looming, both parties are nervous, with the most scared trying to summarize it all in the term “lame duck.” This is another way for both sides to not address the problems they fear: health care, education, housing, immigration, foreign affairs, entitlement programs, etc. “Lame duck” won’t work. Obama has the courage and determination to persevere. One of two things will happen to the ACA: (1) repealed and replaced, or (2) kept but greatly modified. Continue Reading →

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