When John and Ann started working on Jan. 1, 2013, John had an immediate advantage. Because women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, it took Ann until last Friday (April 11, 2014) to earn the same amount of money that John earned in the calendar year of 2013.
The issue of unequal pay is so important that President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act 50 years ago. While we have come a long way, baby, the pay gap has remained stubborn. This is why President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act as soon as he assumed office.
This year, to commemorate National Equal Pay Day (that's the day Ann finally earns as much as John), the president signed an Executive Order protecting workers from retaliation when they speak of unequal pay in the workplace (one of the ways employers can maintain unequal pay is to make discussing pay grounds for firing). The president, through the Secretary of Labor, is also requiring federal contractors to provide data on pay, race, and gender to ensure that employers are fairly paid. Furthermore, the Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which may pass the Senate, but not the House of Representatives.
I first heard someone at a black student union party refer to herself – and to me, by extension – as a "regular black." The music had made a quick turn from the latest rap song to a Caribbean dancehall mix.
"Oh, I'm regular black; I don't dance to this music."
Well, this "regular black" continued dancing, but I was intrigued by the term.
Like many people living in New York, I saw the Rev. Al Sharpton's face plastered over copies of the New York Post and the New York Daily News, roasting him for being a "rat" and a "mob snitch." Apparently, Sharpton served a role as an FBI informant against mob bosses in the 1980s. That was around the time I was either wearing diapers or serving as nothing more than a figment of my mother's imagination.
In response to the reports, Sharpton hastily organized a press conference at the National Action Network's headquarters in Harlem to address the reports. Sharpton, very much a black preacher, cleverly refuted the stories by noting, "Rats are usually people that were with other rats. I was not and am not a rat, because I wasn't with the rats. I'm a cat. I chase rats."
Let me repeat that for the folks in the back pews. Reverend Sharpton isn't Master Splinter, he's Heathcliff, ya dig? Can I get an amen?
The tenuousness of making comparisons between President Lyndon B. Johnson's vaunted vote-wrangling prowess and the allegedly ineffectual legislative skills of President Barack Obama was nicely summed up on Wednesday with this tweet:
In 30 years, the left will be asking why current Democrats don't get things done like Obama did & the right will say Obama was a Tea Partier
Although it's meant to get a laugh – and it's hard to imagine a future where Obama's remembered as a Tea Partier – the upshot – that perceptions change over time – actually holds up pretty well.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama joined other dignitaries at a civil rights summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's signature accomplishment as president – passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And in a nod to the shoulders that he stands on, Obama said, "I have lived out the promise of LBJ's efforts."
But some Americans, particularly those who lived through LBJ's presidency, wish that President Obama not only reaped the rewards of President Johnson's leadership but also led more like him. And to that point, I recently attended the critically acclaimed Broadway play All the Way, in which "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston portrays the president during the year in which he struggled and eventually triumphed in his efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act.
Seeing the production, two things became obvious: Cranston will get a Tony Award nomination for his performance, and the president he portrays is very different from the president we have today. After I saw the production with a family member who lived through the civil rights movement, she couldn't help remarking about how different Johnson – one of the presidents she admires most—is from the current president, whom she also admires greatly.
Love him or deride him, comedian, relationship expert and talk show host Steve Harvey nailed his advice to a newlywed black couple who recently appeared on his show for the segment "I Love My Man, But ..."
The wife, whose name is Love, recently decided to change her hair from the long, straight weave she'd worn "since I had my first tooth" to a well-coiffed Afro puff. Her husband, McClea, hated it. How much did he hate it? He ran out of the house in horror at the sight of his wife's actual hair, and when he returned, he asked whether she was wearing a wig and, if so, would she take it off. Love has stopped wearing her natural hair "often" because her husband "prefers" her weaves.
Not surprisingly, the husband's reaction didn't go over well with Harvey or viewers of the video that's been making the rounds on social media. Harvey clowned the husband about as bad as actor Samuel L. Jackson did to an entertainment reporter who mistook him for Laurence Fishburne. After the husband repeatedly disparaged his wife's hair—much to the audience's chagrin—Harvey quipped to him, "You about to get your skull opened up." Then Harvey got serious, pointing out the obvious to McClea: "You can't be any more wrong with your approach ... You got to find another way to express yourself." And the kicker: "It ain't your damn head."
I love voting. Every time I go into the booth, I see little girl me, pigtails and all, plaid skirt, white blouse and green sweater, part of my Catholic school uniform. Most of my relatives were Democrats, though my grandmother voted Republican a time or two because "Lincoln freed the slaves." In 1960, I had the privilege of pulling the lever to elect John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the candidate that the nuns at Immaculate Conception Elementary School rhapsodized over.
On the way back from the polls, my mom told me that Negroes (as we were called then) didn't always get to vote, and she shared facts about grandfather clauses and poll taxes. I'll never forget that moment, which may have sown the seeds of my activism. Indeed, when I went to school the next day, and the nun asked if everyone's parent had voted, I took the opportunity to share that Negroes did not always get to vote. I was sent home with a note at the end of the day, and got an admonition from my mom about keeping my big mouth shut. I guess I didn't learn my lesson.