Have you heard about the new iPhone 5S? One of Apple's two new phones, it contains a special feature called Touch ID, a fingerprint scanner built right into the home button. That means no more PIN or passcode number to unlock your phone, since your thumbprint will do the trick. How convenient, right?
But for African-Americans, who disproportionately own more smartphones than other groups – although blacks are less likely to use iPhones than devices such as Androids – the new iPhone fingerprint technology might rub some people the wrong way.
How much should we worry about this? Obviously, many have been unsettled by the recent revelations that the National Security Agency, or NSA, has been involved in a massive domestic spying program, working with major telecommunications companies to collect phone and Internet data from customers.
It is impossible for intelligent people to look at the situation faced by young urban men in America and not conclude that something is very wrong with the group. Whether it is self-inflicted or caused by sinister external forces, the fact remains that millions of black boys have been systematically excluded from the American mainstream.
Incarceration is the most visible evidence of their plight, but mental illness, poor health, educational deficiencies, chronic unemployment, illiteracy and immature decision-making are all personal characteristics of the six-million troubled souls who can not contribute anything to their race or culture, at least not in their present state.
Jamelle Bouie, writing at the Daily Beast, concludes that the perennial debate among some whites about so-called unconventional black names says more about white ethnocentrism and racial inequality than black culture.
Reddit (the website) isn't just a clearinghouse for interviews, animal pictures, and crazy stories. It's also a place where people ask questions and have discussions. Yesterday, one user wondered about "black" names, posing a question to the "Black American parents of Reddit," as he put it. "Before racism is called out, I have plenty of black friends," he noted, raising the question of why he didn't ask these alleged friends. "(I'm) just curious why you name your kids names like D'brickishaw, Barkevious D'quell and so on?" ...
In the name of "full disclosure" let me say that I have a bachelor's degree in Correctional Administration (School of Sociology, University of Wisconsin). During the summer of 1969, I did my required internship at the Wisconsin School for Girls located in Oregon, Wisconsin. These were underage offenders who were found guilty of petty crimes or "bad behavior".
My ambition was to change bad human behavior into honorable behavior. The curriculum I was reading promoted the best models of rehabilitation. I was so pumped but the internship showed me the reality of our system of corrections.
None, I really mean none, of the girls in the reform school were evil or bad. They all had a messed up family life. The overwhelming majority had no fathers and their mothers lacked a work ethic (welfare dependence). Role models were nowhere to be found. For those three months I basically became their father (whites, Hispanics and Blacks alike).
It's back-to-school time and students are faced with so many weighty challenges – what clothes to wear, food to eat, which hair style is best, who to hang out with and the perception of peers.
What happened to the good old days when a child could just be child? Back then a lot of these concerns really didn't matter as much because everyone tended to look and dress alike. People bought their clothes from the same five-and-dime store.
It was a rare occurrence that someone missed school or was sick. If that happened, someone went out the way and checked on them; and usually there was a health situation going on, but not for long.
I cannot let a football season open without raising the question of the names of sports teams generally and the Washington "Redskins" in particular. I continue to be absolutely amazed at the resistance on the part of team owners to changing the names of these teams, but also the tolerance by so many fans of these racist names.
I have to pick on the Washington Redskins both because I was once a fan of the team and also because I live in the D.C.-area and have watched this situation close-up. As I raised in a column a few months ago, a poll was released this spring that indicated that most fans wanted to leave the name of the team as it is, despite the fact that it insults Native Americans. For some this was seen as the end of the discussion because it appeared to vindicate the position taken by the team's owners.
The concept of patriotism is not readily associated with inner city black children. Modern-day images of patriotism that usually come to mind reflect the iconic look of Uncle Sam – suburban and rural whites clad in American flags. This traditional conception, coupled with prevalent depictions of inner city black youth as self-interested malcontents, complicates any attempt at putting a young, indigent, black face on patriotism.
But as many Americans know, though there are numerous challenges that face inner city youth, there is also a patriotism often overlooked in favor of a fixation on the tragedies.