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Toyota’s James Colon nets top honor from Grambling State University

Toyota’s James Colon nets top honor from Grambling State University

Grambling State University has awarded James Colon, vice president of African American Business Strategy at Toyota Motor Sales, Inc., an honorary doctorate degree – the most prestigious degree the historically black university offers.

Colon netted the honor at the 2014 Spring Commencement ceremony (May 9th). Grambling recognized Colon for his commitment to diversity in the automobile industry and long-term support of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and the academic achievement of young African Americans.

At Toyota, Colon is responsible for engaging Hispanic and African-American businesses and media, and optimizing relationships with important external Hispanic and African American groups. Under his leadership, the automaker implemented the Toyota Green Initiative designed to educate and encourage students on HBCUs to live environmentally conscious lifestyles. Nearly 5,000 people have made the Promise Pledge to live green, and 28 HBCUs have participated in the Green Campus Contest.

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Billion dollar debt buying and collection abuses

Billion dollar debt buying and collection abuses

Are you or someone you know being pursued or harassed late into the evenings and on weekends by debt collectors? If so, research shows that you are among one in seven Americans being pursued by debt collection agencies.

In a newly-released chapter in its State of Lending series, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) found that debt buying and debt collection is big, big business. Among publicly-traded debt buyers' income grew from $582 million in 2009 to more than $1 billion in 2012.

And amid these billion dollar deals, scant regulation allows profiteers to take advantage of financially-distressed consumers, often securing court judgments for debts that may not even be owed. A 2009 Federal Trade Commission analysis of 3.9 million consumer accounts, found only 6 percent of the accounts came with any documentation.

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‘Thugs in the desert’ at the Bundy Ranch

‘Thugs in the desert’ at the Bundy Ranch

One can be forgiven for thinking the contest for the most outrageous, publicly-exposed racist behavior of recent weeks was between Cliven Bundy, the chiseling Nevada rancher, and Donald Sterling, the despicable billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

As New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote recently of Sterling's now-famous taped rant, both men's words offer "a rare and vivid exposition of the historical themes and loopy logic of the racist mind: possessed of derangement, detached from reason, bereft of morality." Further, Blow's column is a must-read for its sharp-eyed analysis that the race-driven pathology of both Sterling and his mistress, V. Stiviano, provides "a disturbing peek at the intersection of racism, misogyny and privilege."

In one sense, that tips the scale between the two toward Sterling. He's so deeply mired in the psychosexual muck of the slave-master mentality – of being attracted to a woman of African-American and Mexican-American parentage while deluding himself that he's dominating Black men because he's so personally powerful and attractive.

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Brown v Board of Education’s uncertain legacy on teacher diversity

Brown v Board of Education’s uncertain legacy on teacher diversity

There's a growing racial gap between students and their teachers. On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision on May 18, the Center for American Progress and the National Education Association released data from the National Center of Education Statistics, which found that 82 percent of the teachers are white, while 48 percent of the students are non-white.

The racial gap among teachers will grow according to experts. Woodrow Wilson reports that if current trends hold, the percentage of teachers of color will fall to an all-time low of 5 percent of the total teacher workforce by 2020. At the same time the percentage of students of color will likely exceed 50 percent in the fall of 2014.

Most people look at these numbers and singularly point to a teacher pipeline issue. We assume that people of color need to be recruited into the profession. But, let's not fall in the trap of blaming people of color for these numbers. Ask, "Why aren't people of color being hired as teachers?"

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Emory’s business school wins competition for implementing Common Core

Emory’s business school wins competition for implementing Common Core

(PRNewswire-USNewswire) – The MBA team from Emory University's Goizueta Business School in Atlanta delivered the best case for promoting the implementation of Common Core State Standards during The Executive Leadership Foundation's (ELF's) 2014 Business Case Competition.

Goizueta was one of three finalist teams competing for $70,000 in scholarships. Sponsored for the fifth year by Exxon Mobil Corporation, ELF's annual competition invited MBA/MA teams from 70 business schools to analyze a compelling business issue that challenged their critical thinking, analytical, and communications skills. The 2014 winners were selected by a panel of judges including leaders from corporations and non-profits such as BAE Systems, Comcast Corporation, DuPont, UNCF, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, and The Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering and JEA.

"This has been such a rewarding experience and has helped me know, with confidence, that there are great things that I can aspire to achieve in my career," said Onix Ramirez, a member of the same Goizueta team that competed in 2012. "This second time, we said, 'We've been here before,' so we decided to use our experience to try again. We have grown, and now, we're so happy to have taken first place just days before graduating."

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Investing in black males: Why pro sports gets it and everyone else doesn’t

Investing in black males: Why pro sports gets it and everyone else doesn’t

Recently, I started thinking of pragmatic ways to bridge the gaps of opportunity for black males. Seeing that this is a free-market-based economy, with everything having value, I looked at it in terms of what our value really is to this country. That led me to wondering how much is invested in us to begin with.

It's a question I never got an answer to, but I learned a lot while trying to answer it, and when I looked at it from an investment standpoint, things began to look different to me.

For example, a stockbroker who lives in Montclair, N.J., would see quite a different quality of life than a bus driver in Baltimore. They might work equally hard at their jobs, but because so much was invested in the stockbroker when he was 13, he gets to live a better life at 45. However the bus driver didn't get that same investment as a kid and now his options are fewer. Not that there's anything wrong with being a bus driver, but the likelihood is that he did not have as many options as the stockbroker leading up to this point.

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Downbeat diplomacy for African-American musicians at International Jazz Day

Downbeat diplomacy for African-American musicians at International Jazz Day

During the grand finale of the third annual International Jazz Day concert held in Osaka, Japan (April 30th), more than 35 jazz musicians stretched across an elaborate stage in Osaka Castle Park and performed John Lennon's 1971 anthem, "Imagine." Most of them hailed from the U.S., but the lineup also included the South African guitarist and singer Jonathan Butler, the Malian songstress Oumou Sangaré, and Japanese virtuosos: pianists Toshiko Akiyoshi and Makoto Ozone and trumpeters Terumasa Hino and Takuya Kuroda.

With their bracing harmonies and deft musicianship underneath pianist Herbie Hancock's joyous South African-flavored arrangement, the ensemble looked like a miniature United Nations—and that comparison came as no surprise, considering that UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz produced the two-hour concert.

Although Osaka was host city for this year, cities in 195 other countries joined in a worldwide celebration of International Jazz Day on April 30 by staging jazz concerts and educational seminars.

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