Removing the punch bowl too fast

FEDS 600Last week the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee announced it will ease back on its "pedal to the metal" monetary easing policy. The Fed will remain in an expansionary mode, just slower.

To an optimist, this is a sign from an independent authority that the economy is stabilized and on a sustained path forward. Unemployment rates are falling, job creation over the last few months is averaging more than 200,000 net new jobs a month, the Gross Domestic Product (the value of all goods and services made in America in a year) rose 4.1 percent last quarter, led by investment, and housing starts increased to a five-year high in November. Those are good signs. President Obama could take a bow. Republicans, who have conceded nothing to the president on economic policy, would be left with more whining. But it may be too early to remove the punch bowl.

The Fed believes the good signs in the economy prove its policy is moving the economy forward. It is obviously true that with Congress locking the president into endless debates on shrinking the government and slowing the economy that the Fed is the only economic policymaker trying to expand the economy. Clearly, if the Fed did not take action, things would be worse. But that is different than whether the policy actually is moving the economy. Here the story is more difficult.


The biggest stories of 2013 in Black America

zimmerman 600Although the economy showed improvement, the setbacks of Obamacare and the government shutdown overshadowed the post-2012 election euphoria.

There were some promising developments in pop culture, with African Americans making great strides in film and music.

We also recognized some important milestones: the anniversaries of 'I Have a Dream' and the death of Medgar Evers.



White teacher to black student: ‘We don’t need another black president’

obamachin 600A white Cincinnati-area teacher has been suspended for allegedly telling an African-American student that "we do not need another black president" after the student said he would like to become president, the Cincinnati Inquirer reports.

The Fairfield Board of Education suspended Fairfield Freshman School science teacher Gil Voigt after he allegedly made the comments with several students present earlier this month, according to a report from Assistant Superintendent Roger Martin, who conducted a disciplinary hearing on the matter, the Inquirer reports.

Voigt, who has been teaching at the school since 2000, has 10 days to request a hearing before the school board, but this isn't the first time he has been disciplined.


’Tis the season for African-American nonprofits to suffer

aa 600For Thembi Duncan, it seemed like the kind of opportunity best described as golden.

A popular Washington, D.C., radio talk show wanted Duncan – the new producing artistic director of the African Continuum Theatre Company – for an interview on the air. As recently as 2011, the African Continuum, once billed as D.C.'s only professional black theater company, had a six-figure production budget. Then, leadership changes and a general malaise around donations hit. Production stopped. Now, Duncan is working to rebuild, and the radio show was needed visibility at a critical time of year for giving.

But some of the radio callers offered biting commentary. The African Continuum might break even, perhaps even turn a "profit," if it would move away from snooty plays written by long-dead African-American literary giants. Put a Tyler Perry play on the stage, a caller said. And a good show about a woman wronged or a man scorned and then saved by the blood of Jesus always sells tickets, several callers suggested.



Remains of African-American soldier in Korean War returned

soldier 600NEW YORK – Clara Gantt, 94, has waited more than 60 years for her husband to come home from Korea, and last Friday his remains were returned in a flag-draped casket to the Los Angeles International Airport.

Her husband, Sgt. First Class Joseph E. Gantt, was a field medic with the 2nD Infantry Division when he was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950 after his unit was overwhelmed by Chinese forces near the town of Kunu-ri, North Korea.

"He told me if anything happened to him he wanted me to remarry," Gantt told reporters at the airport. "I told him no, no. Here I am, still his wife." She said just receiving his remains was a blessing. "I am so happy that I'm living to accept them," she said.


Fast food industry, wage neglect and state of jobs

hudson 600You may have heard about the fast food strikes happening across the country in advocacy of raising minimum wage to $15 an hour. Workers here in Memphis even protested in early December. An estimated one in four Memphis workers is paid less than a living wage, according to Workers Interfaith Network.

Why would anyone ever think about paying fast food workers that much?

Well, everyone should be thinking about it! Why? Because more than half of fast food workers are also dependent on us, the taxpayer, for some form of public assistance to make ends meet, according to a recent study – Fast Food, Public Cost – conducted by Sylvia A. Allegretto.


2016 dream ticket: Hillary and Michelle

clintonobama 600The 2016 national elections are not that far away. It is timely and important that we not wait until then to begin having constructive discussions about who should be given the opportunity and responsibility to succeed President Barack Obama.

The questions of the future of politics, economics and equal justice should never be avoided. Especially given all the voter suppression enactments in many states over the last two years, we should be more vigilant about being politically conscious and civically active. My motive, therefore, is to stimulate a proactive dialogue now about the possibilities for viable candidates for the next national elections.

Even with three more years in office, I believe that President Obama will be judged by history as one of the most effective presidents ever. He will be credited for leading the recovery and revival of the U.S. economy by encouraging the passage of the $787 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with Wall Street reaching its highest investment level, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, getting the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress, rebooting the U.S auto industry, signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act ensuring equal pay for women, signing into law the Fair Sentencing Act that significantly reduced the sentencing disparities in drug laws that have been devastating for African Americans and Latino Americans, and appointing the first African Americans as Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security.


4 questions with a ‘Black Santa’

santa 600Say the words "Santa Claus" and a general image usually comes to mind: a jolly, rosy-cheeked, overweight white guy with a white beard in a red velvet suit. And why would it be any different? After all, it's the image that many have been raised on since they were old enough to crawl.

But what if the image of the modern-day Santa Claus is a fallacy that's based on a charitable third-century-born monk, St. Nicholas, who was dark-skinned (sans any chimney soot) and had a bushy, woolly beard? This St. Nicholas, who has been referred to as a Moor from Africa by some accounts, reportedly lived between 270 and 343 A.D.

Atlanta resident Santa Dee (he declined to give his full name), who works as Santa Claus during the holiday season, believes St. Nicholas did indeed have a dark olive complexion. He often refers to a December 2002 Turkish Times article, "Santa Claus: How a Bearded Black Bishop Born in Turkey Became America's Favorite White Saint," that describes St. Nicholas as "very dark-skinned" as evidence of his belief.


Q&A: Common Core an education ‘re-set’ for African-American students

common 600(Louisiana adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, joining 44 other states and the District of Columbia. For BAEO (Black Alliance for Educational Options) President Kenneth Campbell, the move marks a step in the right direction for the state's African American student population. He says the new standards will help "push the envelope for everybody," ensuring that schools prepare all students for a world that is "getting more complex." He spoke with New America Media's Khalil Abdullah.)

Khalil Abdullah: What is the conversation you're hearing within the African American community around Common Core?
Kenneth Campbell: We find very few people interested in educating the black community, black families, and black parents about the Common Core. So we're partnering with schools and states to get the word out because we're not talking about this in our community. We don't have enough of these conversations.

The NAEP (National Assessment on Education Progress) report came out a few weeks ago, once again describing the large and persistent achievement gaps for black children. I didn't see a black publication or a black news program talk about it. I didn't hear about it on the Tom Joyner Show. We've got to get in this game and start talking about education reform in ways that lead to us having an impact on education for our children.


You’re 25 and think you’re immune from racism? You’re not alone

blackrace 600What does it mean if you believe that sexism and racism are real, but you don't feel that they have an impact on your day-to-day life?

Does it mean that you're like the Grand Old Party and think we all overcame by virtue of Rosa Parks' sitting where she wasn't supposed to sit oh so many years ago? Or does it mean that you know these things are real, but deep down you want to believe you're too special to be held back by the invisible hand of rampant discrimination?

Or is it something else?


African-American woman wins $648,000,000 jackpot

jackpotA Bronx, N.Y., native and current Stone Mountain, Ga., resident is flush after confirming that she is one of the two winners of the $648 million Mega Millions jackpot.

Ira Curry, 56, came forward to reveal that she was a winner and is expected to take in a cool $120 million after taxes, Georgia Lottery Corporation president and CEO Debbie Alford said at a press conference from Atlanta, the New York Daily News reports.

Curry, an insurance company underwriter and married mom, used a series of family birthdays and the family's lucky number, seven, as the numbers on the winning ticket. She was driving when the winning numbers were announced, so she only caught part of the sequence on her car radio. She phoned her daughter to hear the rest of the digits, Alford told the Daily News.


Looking for a job? Congress doesn’t seem to care

jobsandcongress 600Lawmakers are in a knot over everything from the Affordable Care Act to finding a rare congressional kumbaya moment for a budget deal. But perhaps you haven't noticed – it seems as if the last thing anyone in Washington, D.C. wants to talk about is employment.

That's fairly strange, considering it's still rather rough out there as far as job markets go. The general public feels the same way. Not that this should be a preferred pathway to quality living, but one suspects that if given a choice, most individuals would naturally gravitate to being employed over having health care. The latter typically gets prioritized once you make sure you have the ability to clothe, feed and house yourself.

A recent United Technologies-National Journal poll discovered the obvious: Most Americans, 3-to-1, would rather Congress get to the business of boosting job growth. A majority in a later UT-NJ poll engaged in a bit of wishful thinking, with 56 percent confident that Washington would pass a jobs creation bill.


George Zimmerman, the next Picasso?

zimmermanpaint 600The art world has a new contemporary to add to its list of budding artists: George Zimmerman. That's right, the acquitted shooter of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen, is leveraging his "celebrity" to hock one of his original works on eBay.

According to the Los Angeles Times, an eBay user with the alias "therealgeorgez" appeared earlier this week on the auction site and listed the painting under the "direct from the artist" category. While no news site has confirmed whether Zimmerman is the actual owner of said eBay account, the user posted a photo of Zimmerman holding the created work.

The opening bid for the "art" was priced at 99 cents, and as of Wednesday morning, bidding for the painting of the American flag with the words, "God One Nation With Liberty and Justice For All" on the stripes has already pushed past the $100,000 mark.