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Gambling on gambling

William Reed-160Gambling and gambling-related problems are common among all racial and ethnic groups, but there's evidence that African Americans are more likely to experience more serious gambling-related troubles than White Americans. At the forefront of gambling's rise across America have been Black politicians. Recently Florida's first African-American lieutenant governor resigned her position because of a scandal involving a purported veterans' charity that authorities said was a front for a $300 million gambling operation. Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, a 53-year-old Republican was not among those charged.

But Carroll will hardy be the sole Black politician with a role in gambling in America. As gambling remains legally restricted in the United States, its availability and method of expansion is often based on actions by Black politicians. In 2007, U.S. gambling activities generated gross revenues (the difference between the total amounts wagered minus the funds or "winnings" returned to players) of $92.27 billion.


Are Blacks Concerned About Government Spying?

FBI J Edgar Hoover-600The current spying controversy at the National Security Agency has caught many Americans off guard and has conjured up images of Big Brother. The NSA has secretly collected the private phone calls and internet data of its citizens, allowing the federal agency to monitor people who were not suspected of any unlawful activity.

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked information on the secret surveillance programs, is now a fugitive in hiding in Hong Kong.

And yet, while civil liberties advocates may find this type of surveillance illegal, an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and even grounds to sue the government, African-Americans may not necessarily react with as much outrage.


There aren’t happy endings for teachers in the trenches

teacherInTrenches-400Walking around a high school campus at this time of year you will notice the air floats a little lighter and the sun reflects off smiles a little brighter. Everyone is looking forward to the last day, and the mood can aptly be described as celebratory. Seniors can't wait for graduation, teachers can't wait to sleep in, and even the students with straight Fs are showing up again just to tighten up their game for the summer.

You also cannot help but notice all of the end-of-year celebrations. Senior Awards Night, Hispanic Awards Night, Grad Night, AVID Banquets, Band and Choir concerts, Dance Shows, Leadership Rallies, and to top it all off Graduation. Everyone is getting awards and being recognized. Students are getting scholarships and teachers and counselors are being lauded for their work with these amazing students. The only people you don't see celebrating are, well, the students who aren't amazing and the teachers who teach those kids.


Could a tax credit fix the black jobs crisis?

Tax Credit Blacks-400The May jobs report didn't bring worse news than the April jobs report. But it was still bad news for African Americans, for whom unemployment remains in the double digits.

Although unemployment among whites is 6.7 percent, 13.5 percent of African Americans are unemployed. As America slowly recovers from the recession, Black America appears to be getting left behind. A 2005 study found that race plays a role in hiring decisions, noting that white applicants with criminal records were still statistically more likely to get callbacks for jobs than black applicants without one.

After a Senate roundtable on Thursday about the issue, The Root interviewed three senators about the effects of racial discrimination in the black unemployment crisis and whether or not drastic measures, such as tax incentives for diverse hiring, are needed to address the issue.


Strolling down the beauty aisles

cherylp mcneil-160When it comes to looking good, staying on top of your game, and making sure your pursuit of beauty is on point, you know the African-American community has that covered. Nielsen's latest insights highlight hair and skin beauty purchases and behavior, by the numbers among African-Americans and other ethnic groups in the U.S. and Canada in a recent NielsenWire Post titled, " Looking Good: Appealing to Ethnic Consumers in the Beauty Aisle."

Ladies, I'm talking to all of us here. Whether we wear our lovely tresses straight, in locks, curled or rock a natural, cute afro-puff – God-given or store-bought – we all want to make sure we look presentable and feel good about ourselves, and will spend our last dime to do so. And, no, even though we usually think of women when we talk about hair care and beauty, women don't corner the market on giving attention to good looks.


Drinking coconut water has its overall benefits

Chef Timothy Moore-160CHEF TIMOTHY: Coconut water is one of the most popular beverages available on tropical islands and resorts. It has been for hundreds of years. It is an all-natural, hydrating, nutrient-filled, clear fluid that is found on the inside of the fruit, which is encased in a hard brown shell. You'd need the proper tools to crack the shell and extract the liquid.

I'm often asked about the benefits of drinking coconut water and why it seems to be the drink of choice for a lot of people. Coconut water has been traditionally used to treat a variety of health problems, such heat strokes, digestive complications, constipation, dehydration, diarrhea, fatigue, hives, low libido, and urinary tract infections. It has been shown to improve one's overall health.


Is ‘Big Brother’ racially biased?

Julianne-malveaux-160When George Orwell wrote the novel "1984," he envisioned a character, real or imagined "Big Brother" who was a know-all, see-all, omnipotent and elusive presence that intruded into lives because he could. Those who knew about "him" were told that they did not exist, but in many ways, Big Brother may not have existed, either. The omnipotence had taken on a life of its own.

Orwell's book was a book ahead of its time. At a different time, his book could have been dismissed as psychedelic fantasy. Today, he is just a step behind the reality in which we live. Verizon is sharing telephone records. The Department of Justice is monitoring journalists, and the IRS is playing games with those who seek nonprofit status. People pulled over for a minor traffic violation will have to submit fingerprints to find out if they have broken other laws. Big Brother is alive and well in too many layers of our lives,


Touch my hair? That will never be cool

youcantouchmyhair-400I'm still not entirely sure what to make of "You Can Touch My Hair," an interactive public art exhibit put together by Un'ruly, which actually encouraged people to touch the hair of black women and ask questions about it.

Basically, three black women with fabulous hair – a poofy 'fro, long locks and what appeared to be a lengthy straight weave – stood in New York City's Union Square Park over the weekend and held signs that announced, "You Can Touch My Hair" to perfect strangers. It was an attempt to create a teachable moment from a very offensive aspect of black girl life, especially for ladies who are natural.

The model with the poofy hair, Malliha Ahmad, ultimately described the experience of allowing strangers to fondle her mane as "amazing" and "empowering."


Bill Cosby Op-Ed gets cold reception

bill-cosby-400He's at it again! Bill Cosby would really like you young whippersnappers to stop it with the sagging pants and the rap music and the being poor. Also, get off his lawn.

In a rather rambling op-ed he wrote for the New York Post, Cosby says that the problem plaguing our communities isn't racism or oppression or anything big like that -- it's apathy. "There is this situation where people tend to think that we are all victims," he writes. "Victim meaning somebody else is doing this to us. That's not true." He goes on to shake his finger at people who smoke and drink soda and kids who curse and disrespect people on subways. He concludes that if we "behave better, eat better, we will feel better, think clearly," and ta-daa! Problems solved.

Bill Cosby has been lecturing blacks on what they're doing wrong in life for some time now, and he's still trying to kill a tree by snipping at its leaves rather than going for the root. Coming from a white person, his "stop being a victim and pick yourself up by your bootstraps" rhetoric would be decried as racist just as soon as it reached our ears. But, since it's Bill Cosby, beloved TV father and fellow black man, I'm assuming this is just "tough love."


3 questions for Clarence Thomas

clarence thomas-400He wore a black beret and army fatigues, warned people that a revolution was coming and memorized the speeches of Malcolm X.

"I now believed that the whole of American culture was irretrievably tainted by racism," he once said, describing his reaction to the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Soon, that same man is expected to help the U.S. Supreme Court bury two pillars of the civil rights movement: the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action.


Why Mrs. Obama got heckled

LZ granderson-160(CNN) – I'm a big fan of Michelle Obama's, but if she's going to be hitting the circuit to raise money for Democrats, she has to be prepared for heckling. Especially heckling from gay rights activists like the one who interrupted her speech Tuesday night.

"Lesbian looking for federal equality before I die." That's how Ellen Sturtz, the woman identified as the heckler, identified herself.

Apparently the first lady's husband said something about signing an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


Women as breadwinners: new study stirs debate

womenbreadwinners-400A couple of weeks ago, a frustrated single woman wrote into "Ask Demetria," the other column I write for The Root each Thursday, to, well, ask if she should only date men who made as much as, or more money than, she does. She has been open to entertaining men whose income is lower than hers, but she's noticed friction. I suggested that it wasn't the money that was the issue; it was the self-confidence – or, rather, the lack of self-confidence – of the guys she had encountered.

The good news is that there are plenty of men who don't care if a woman makes more money. The bad news? According to a 2013 Pew Research study, 28 percent of adults said they agreed it's generally better for a marriage if the husband earns more money than his wife. Eighteen percent of college-educated adults felt the same.


Cornel West: They say I’m un-American

cornel-west-obama-400In an interview with The Guardian that covered everything from Britain's future, to the ways in which he says white supremacy operates in America, Cornel West was characteristically blunt in his criticism of the Obama administration, announcing that he and "Team Obama" no longer speak because "They say I'm un-American."

Despite having campaigned for Obama, West said he'd now rather have a "white president fundamentally dedicated to eradicating poverty and enhancing the plight of working people than a black president tied to Wall Street and drones."

A few excerpts: