TSD Memphis



What’s behind Rand Paul’s blunt talk on race?

RanOnRace 600Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul speaks about racial issues both more often and in blunter terms than almost any prominent white Republican politician in the country, building a unique brand for himself that could help in his likely 2016 presidential run but also taking stands that are more controversial than his fellow conservatives.

Other Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc,) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), speak regularly about income inequality and tout familiar conservative policies to appeal to black Americans, such as school vouchers. And Paul is not alone in urging the GOP to expand its base beyond conservative, white voters: the Republican National Committee released an entire report on this issue last year.

But Paul's approach is unique. He avoids euphemisms often used by GOP politicians like "inner city" or "low-income" to speak in direct terms about blacks, both as a group Paul says his policies will help and a segment of the population he wants to get to vote for Republicans. He has joined in traditionally-Democratic causes, like urging the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons, while at the same time annoying African-Americans with such a self-confidence on racial issues that last year he detailed the history of the Republican Party and race to a group of students at Howard University who then angrily told the senator they knew those facts as well as he does.



Is Ted Nugent Teflon or are the GOP’s chicken’s coming home to roost?

teflon 600Ted Nugent must be made of Teflon.

There is nothing too controversial the rocker and NRA board member can say about President Obama or people of color that would make him off limits to elected Republicans.

Nugent whose racialized language about the nation's first black president should alienate him from Republicans who are not on the fringe, but with the news of his joint appearance with Republican gubernatorial candidate Gregg Abbott, it seems Teflon Ted is still beloved by many in the Republican ranks.


Is Don Lemon the new Clarence Thomas?

don 600Don Lemon's unsolicited social commentary this year on the things holding back the black community and the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy earned him a level of contempt typically directed at the Supreme Court's lone black justice.

Lemon's critics, much like Thomas', question his understanding of the issues facing African-Americans. The CNN anchor's focus on sagging pants and littering was as disturbing to them as Justice Thomas comparing affirmative action to Jim Crow or siding with the majority in striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. Lemon could have focused on mass incarceration, urban school closures, or one of the other important issues facing communities of color. His decision not to do so earned him a stern rebuke from Russell Simmons, theGrio's Goldie Taylor and others who questioned his motives and found his analysis to be woefully inadequate.

Despite the criticism he received, Don Lemon isn't alone in his analysis of the things holding African-Americans back. A 2010 Pew report found that 52 percent of African-Americans believe blacks who cannot get ahead are mainly responsible for their situation, while only 34 percent cited racial discrimination as the main reason. The study found that this view was markedly different fifteen years prior, when almost 60 percent of blacks saw discrimination as the main factor holding African-Americans back.



About Pope Francis and the ‘Joy of the Gospel’

jj 600Pope Francis is displaying an extraordinary style and passion that demands our attention. He addresses the needs of the poor, embraces the outcasts, and loves those on the margins of society. In this recent "apostolic exhortation," The Joy of the Gospel, he raises a moral challenge to both his church and his world.

Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope Francis calls upon people of faith to "go forth" to preach and practice their faith. "I prefer a church," he writes, "which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy for being confined and from clinging to its own security."

Pope Francis raises a profound moral voice against "trickle-down theories," which put a "crud and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power." We have created "new idols," he warns, in the worship of money and markets. The result is that "human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded." We have witnessed "a globalization of indifference," in which the poor are dehumanized and ignored.


How ‘knockout game’ hysteria hurts Black America

knockout 600The hashtag '#knockoutgame' tells the story.

Social media is buzzing with fear and hysteria and the spread of anti-black sentiment. The proxy war for a host of racial agendas has a new rallying call. It is "the knockout game."

For those who followed the so called "Central Park Jogger" case, an incident in April of 1989 when one Hispanic and four black teens from Harlem were said to be "wilding," this 'knockout game' development is very troubling.


‘Power leaks’ are self-imposed

LucyShaw-160Dear Lucy: There are some people who make me feel so small when I am around them. I don't know why but I just want to disappear. I never feel like I could ever be as smart or successful as them and I just lose my power when I am around them. I really need to get over this because it makes me feel like I am weak! Any advice? – Power Leak

Dear Power Leak: I just love that description. If we all told the truth, we would admit that no matter how cool we think we are, there is some situation or person that causes us to leak our power.

Some people actually live with people for whom they consistently leak away their power. It can be done with a certain look, a word or a gesture. When I was a child and would misbehave in church, my mother could give me that special look and I would not only go weak in the knees but immediately sit up straight and behave.


Braves’ move is the latest blow to blacks in baseball

atlanta-braves-black-players 600My grandmother, with skin as dark and smooth as molasses and no formal education, never had a will. She didn't need one. She left this earth with a little under $100 in her savings account. But Alice Cole Robinson gave me some things good money cannot buy: an enduring faith in God, her banana pudding recipe, and a devotion to the St. Louis baseball Cardinals.

We couldn't afford to go to more than a few games a season. And even then, only when nose-bleed seats went on sale. My cousin Bookie and I used to crawl into the backseat of my uncle's old white Buick for the short drive to Busch Stadium. Grandma Alice never went. She preferred to sit in her upper room and listen on her transistor radio perched on the windowsill. She could see the brightly lit stadium from her armchair as she listened to Jack Buck call the game.

I was raised on big league ball. The 1982 World Series was like Christmas in our house. I will never forget pitchers like Joaquin Andujar and Bruce Sutter. Coming up, I had heroes like Oberkfell, McGree, Hernandez, and the Smiths—Lonnie and Ozzie. Manager Whitey Herzog and Cardinal legend Lou Brock were nothing short of gods in our house.



If you love it, stop calling it ‘Obamacare’

obamacare 600Here's a fairly simple concept for supporters of that persistently troubled health care law with the glitchy website that runs as slow as a NetZero connection: Stop calling it "Obamacare."

For sure, that's a tough pill for fan girls and boys to swallow. There are legions of stubborn partisan Democrats who want the law to work—an admirable goal, given the realities of the uninsured landscape. We get that. But in casually adopting or accepting one of the more derisive political-messaging terms in recent memory, faithful surrogates (including the namesake himself) are refusing to put it to rest.

In that sense, it's worth wondering whether supporters are actually interested in making certain the Affordable Care Act actually does what it says or if they're more interested in preserving its creator's political legacy. These are two vastly different goals—the latter as politically impolitic as the incessant Republican effort to repeal it.


Is it men only at the top of civil rights organizations?

earl ofari hutchinson-160In a petition circulated online, Change.org minces no words – "NAACP: Hire the First Woman President in the NAACP's 104 year History."

Seventy percent of the respondents agreed it is time that NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) elect the first permanent woman president in its history.

The petition and the clamor for a woman to lead the organization came almost within moments after current NAACP President/ CEO Ben Jealous announced he was stepping down at the end of the year. This is hardly the first time there's been a clamor and an even louder criticism of the dearth of female leaders at the top of the nation's major civil rights organizations.



Multiple screen viewing & you

Cheryl Pearson McNeil-160Today, of course, when we talk about what we watch, that doesn't necessarily mean just television or the big screen. We have the choice of watching content (e.g. movies, TV, shows and videos) on a number of our cool devices whenever we feel like it.

We have the choice of watching this content on a number of cool devices whenever and at times wherever we choose. We have our computers (African Americans are 10 percent more likely to spend time on the Internet searching for information on electronics than the total population); smartphones (71 percent of us own smartphones compared to 62 percent of the total population); and television of course (African Americans watch 37 percent more television that the total population, which is the most of any other group).

Although how we watch continues to evolve, what we watch remains consistent, as Nielsen's latest report on African-American consumers, Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African-American Consumer 2013 Report, details. We prefer shows and movies that star or feature people who look like us – even though they might not always act like the average African-American person (When was the last time you threw a drink in someone's face or tried to pull someone's wig off?). Marketers who want to reach African-American audiences and a piece of our $1 trillion buying power should be paying close attention.


Bullying does not lead to suicide

R Jackson-160Hardly a week goes by when there is not a tragic story of a teenager committing suicide. Tragic as these deaths are, there is absolutely no causation between bullying and suicide. The media's simplistic and sensational coverage of these teenage deaths are very problematic in this regard.

Suicide is never, let me repeat, suicide is never the result of one cause. Suicide is always the result of a culmination of events that triggers the deadly act; any one event could be the tips the scales.

Every kid is teased, picked on, or bullied growing up. I can guarantee that most people born in the '60s and '0s do not know anyone who committed suicide as a kid. So, why in today's times, does it seem to be so prevalent?


Coping with student loan repayment

Charlene Crowell-160A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that many of the same types of loan servicing problems that affected consumers in the mortgage market are now affecting student loan borrowers.

Just as troubled homeowners were often unable to pay their mortgages, refinance their loans, or receive timely assistance from loan servicers, many student loan borrowers are now experiencing many of the same difficulties. Although the report focuses on private student loans, some of the servicing problems identified also affect federal student loan borrows.

"Unfortunately, with few refinancing options, many student loan borrowers tell us they feel stuck in loans with high rates, well after they've graduated and landed a job," said Rohit Chopra, CFPB's Student Loan Ombudsman.


Teachers are key to our children’s success

As a pastor and longtime member of the Frayser community, I have a strong interest in seeing our children do well in school. And although I believe their success is driven by a range of factors such as class sizes and the availability of good texts and other materials, I also know that having a great teacher is the most important school-based factor in student achievement.

Research in a recent report by Shepherding the Next Generation shows that a student assigned to an excellent teacher may gain more than a full year's worth of additional academic growth compared to a student assigned to a weak teacher. Indeed, a highly effective teacher has a greater impact on achievement than any other factor within the school environment.

That report also examined a Tennessee study that found that an average student with three highly effective teachers scored in the top 10 percent of students after three years, while a similar student with ineffective teachers scored in the bottom 40 percent after the same period of time.