Nielsen reports shine light on women’s choices and buying power

Cheryl Pearson McNeil-160As I write, Chaka Khan's empowering "I'm Every Woman" loops in my head – like a soundtrack. (By the way, have you seen her lately? All slim, trim and more fabulous than ever). It's Women's History Month and the lyrics to that iconic anthem should be resonating with all women, and those who love us, as we celebrate ourselves and the countless contributions we make everyday – both large and small – that keep the world turning.

No matter how small or far-reaching the radius of your world is every choice you make is important. Nielsen shines the light on women's choices and our dynamic impact as consumers with two new global reports: Does Gender Matter and 10 Things to Know About Today's Female Consumer.


‘Being White in Philly’ and the follow-up talk

LSW-160On Monday night, at the National Constitution Center, the solemn place where President Obama gave his powerful address on race, Philadelphians will gather for a follow-up dialog: Being White in Philly.

This, of course, refers to the recent magazine cover story by Philadelphia Magazine, which quoted unnamed European Americans about racial fears and beliefs. In it, we learn some whites fear crime, are skeptical that minorities are doing the right things to get ahead, and are unaware that in Philadelphia – a gateway to prosperity – the door is locked for many.

Really, did this come as a surprise to anyone?


For African Americans, no change in unemployment

When unemployment numbers were released last Friday (March 8), commentators reacted joyfully. Alan Krueger, who heads the White House Council of Economic Advisors, described the creation of 247,000 jobs as a victory because the predictions were that the economy would only generate 170,000 jobs. Unemployment rates went down to 7.7 percent, while predictions were that they would drop to 7.8 percent.

Some might call this good news, but many might wonder who is affected by this good news.

A deeper examination of the unemployment data shows the disappointing reality that African-American unemployment rates remained level, at 13.8 percent. Meanwhile, white unemployment rates fell to 6.8 percent and the rate for white men dropped to 6.3 percent. The racial disparities in unemployment rates are not new, but it is hypocritical to celebrate a drop in white unemployment rages, without noticing or mentioning the stagnation in black unemployment rates.


College: is it still a part of building wealth?

Charlene Crowell-160As long as most of us can remember, African-American communities have taught and believed that a college education is the key to social and economic advancement. But according to a new research and policy brief by Brandeis University scholars, that long-held belief is only one of several factors affecting Black America's ability to build wealth.

After Brandeis University's Institute on Assets and Policies traced 1,700 working Americans households over 25 years, the researchers found that the wealth gap between white and African-American families nearly tripled, increasing from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009. For each dollar in income increase during these years, white wealth grew $5.19 while African-American wealth growth amounted to 69 cents.


Healthy Church Challenge: A good start to a healthier lifestyle

Chef Timothy Moore-160The following are truths that I find hard to ignore: Fifteen percent of Americans go to a gym every year. Only 8 percent of those who have purchased contracts use their gym memberships. Yet Americans spend $2.6 billion a year in gym-related fees.

BlueCross® BlueShield® of Tennessee Inc. (BCBST), an independent, not-for-profit, health benefit plan company based in Chattanooga, is keenly aware that Tennessee has a health problem. And Memphis, recently dubbed the fattest city in America, could be considered the poster child for obesity.

With Memphis and other American cities sliding rapidly toward an epidemic, BCBST is standing in the gap, hoping to reduce the obesity rate with its sponsorship of the Healthy Church Challenge 100-day weight loss competition, which launched Feb. 2. This is the second year for the Challenge.


In Detroit, jury’s verdict brings Kwame Kilpatrick era to an end

kkilpatrick-400COMMENTARY – I recall almost a decade ago when former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick at the height of his powers walked up to me at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and asked, "Can a brother get a good word from you?"

My response was, "Mr. Mayor, give me something good to write about."

Apparently, the mayor was concerned that he wasn't getting favorable press from the media and that journalists like myself and others were too critical of his administration, and thus he needed a break. Yesterday morning, standing in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit waiting for the historic verdict in Kilpatrick's corruption trial, I could not help but recall all of my interactions with the man who once wielded so much power that anyone close to him was to be avoided.


China and the race problem

China-1-600BEIJING – In absolute numbers, China probably has more beautiful women than any other country in the world. But one could never tell that by looking at the squeaky-clean glass display windows in upscale stores in this capital city or in Shanghai, whose architecture has been often compared to London, Paris and Rio.

The classic image of beauty in those stores and elsewhere across China are modeled after the American and European standard of beauty – white, blue-eyed and blond.

That's remarkable in a country that has long considered itself the center of the universe.


Ending violence against women

Bill-Fletcher-Jr-160March is the official month to "discuss" women and it could not arrive too soon. What is sad about both Black History Month (February) and International Women's Month (March) is that too many of us think that those are the only legitimate times of the year to discuss the issues affecting these respective groups. In either case, attention to the plight of women, in March or any other month, is warranted.

Last year seemed to be the year to attack women. The language of many on the political Right during election season was so phenomenally backward that in a different context you would have wondered whether it was all an act. Suggesting that there are acceptable and unacceptable forms of rape, for instance, once again puts the burden on women for the violence that they experience.


It’s time to man up – I was wrong about Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

R Jackson-160First, some background. I wrote a column in 2008 under the title, "Winners and Losers from Election '08" in which I listed Jesse Jackson Sr. as one of the biggest losers of that year.

Here is what I said:

"His past contributions to America are undeniable, but his future place is uncertain. Every time he opened his mouth in the past year, he said something negative about Obama. First, Jackson criticized Obama for 'acting white' because he was not as forceful as Jesse wanted regarding the Jena 6 case in Louisiana. Then there was the infamous Fox News open mic incident where Jackson is heard saying, 'See, Barack has been talking down to black people...telling niggers how to behave...I wanna cut his nuts out.'


Choosing Judge Higgs’ successor

bill-haslam-200Among the many items on Gov. Bill Haslam's plate is an opportunity to demonstrate his political acumen and savvy relative to an appointee to serve out the remaining term of the late Shelby County Criminal Court Judge W. Otis Higgs Jr.

Higgs died unexpectedly on Feb. 15, leaving a tremendous legacy of service on the bench and to the City of Memphis and Shelby County.

This is an important appointment for many reasons.


Slamming the NRA’s racial doublespeak

colion-noir-500Slamming the NRA's racial doublespeak

The NRA pushes inaccurate and harmful messages about the black men and boys who are disproportionately impacted by gun violence, using race-baiting language that plays to deep-seated stereotypes of black males as criminals. By continually repeating the mantra of "drug dealers, gang members, felons," the NRA hopes we won't ask questions about how crime guns get into the wrong hands in the first place.

It's through relentless, profit-driven arm-twisting of state and federal elected officials – resulting in both the no-paperwork-required private seller loophole and toothless interstate trafficking provisions – that the NRA ensures communities struggling to reduce high levels of gun violence remain awash in guns.


Don’t be a sleep scrimper!

Chef Timothy Moore-160If you're suffering from insomnia, or just can't get enough rest, you should avoid getting behind the steering wheel. Your instincts may not be as sharp as you think they are. And then, too, there may be other drivers on the road who're just as drowsy, or even asleep, behind the wheel. Either way, a collision is waiting to happen.

We spend a third of our lives asleep, which our body needs in order to function properly. Imagine how long you would be able to survive without the right amount of oxygen. If oxygen is essential for survival, then a lack of sleep can be just as deadly.


White in Philly? What could be wrong with that?

LindaSWallace-160Robert Huber recently penned a piece for Philadelphia Magazine with this memorable headline: "Being White in Philadelphia."

He covers many streets on the complex map that is race relations, yet this particular graph summed it up best for me:

"I've shared my view of North Broad Street with people – white friends and colleagues – who see something else there: New buildings. Progress. Gentrification. They're sunny about the area around Temple. I think they're blind, that they've stopped looking. Indeed, I've begun to think that most white people stopped looking around at large segments of our city, at our poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, a long time ago. One of the reasons, plainly put, is queasiness over race. Many of those neighborhoods are predominantly African-American. And if you're white, you don't merely avoid them – you do your best to erase them from your thoughts."