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Opinion

Post-Mandela South Africa is a nation on edge

Post-Mandela South Africa is a nation on edge

That an embattled African National Congress won the latest round of South African elections was not at all surprising. However, this particular election was a curious inflection point in the post-Mandela era, presenting a number of alarming transitions for what was, up until very recently, Africa's most powerful and stable democracy.

In the wistful wake of legend Nelson Mandela's passing, South Africa reveals troubling signs. The country is not really the relative oasis of continental modernity and democratic self-control that it's hyped itself to be since his historic 1994 presidential win. The elections, in which an entrenched ANC machine barely avoided a split government, injected gloomy uncertainty into South Africa's future, and refractured what little sense of reconciliation there was in the postapartheid era. Such unease threatens to push a fragile country deeper into poverty and resets questions on whether or not its black majority will recover and eventually prosper from years of brutal segregation.

The once hopeful post-colonialist story of South Africa is now battered by crime, poverty and HIV/AIDS, forcing an uncomfortable re-examination. Contemporary South Africa isn't playing out like a feel-good Invictus group hug. Rampant corruption—South African ranks 72 out of 177 on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index—has always been a tell-us-something-we-don't-know fact of life in the nation of 50 million, as has bribery and laughingstock leadership in the form of current President Jacob Zuma.

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We can care about Solange and the Nigerian girls at the same time

We can care about Solange and the Nigerian girls at the same time

I'm so tired and weary of the people who are currently guilting anyone who is sharing light news and celebrity scandal in the place of constant posts about #BringBackOurGirls.

Some people are all on Facebook and Twitter saying "WHY DO YOU CARE ABOUT SOLANGE WHEN 200 GIRLS ARE STILL MISSING IN NIGERIA?" and I am here to tell them to relax and go have a seat somewhere. It's spring. Park benches are now available so people can go #OccupyaSeat.

Are we all so simple and basic that we only have the brain capacity to care about one thing at a time? We are not. Our brains are not Windows 95. We can keep more than one program going at once, and the assumption that our interest in the gist and gossip of Elevator-Gate makes us care less about the 300 girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria is pretty disrespectful.

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Time to end predatory career college loans

Time to end predatory career college loans

Are you tired of complaining to family and friends about things you feel powerless to change? Or, as college costs continue to climb and student loan debts increase, do you or someone you know feel helpless that your opinion could make a positive change?

If you answered yes, know that the federal government is giving you a chance – now through May 27 – to speak up during an important public comment period. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) wants to learn more about the quality of career education programs. These programs, offered by a variety of for-profit colleges, have raised concerns about greater student debt and poor employment outcomes. These schools are also large beneficiaries of federal student loan dollars.

If enough collective voices – organizations, educators, consumers and others – speak in support of consumer protections, for-profit colleges' 'rules of the road' can and will change for the better.

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A new tool to improve Memphis neighborhoods

A new tool to improve Memphis neighborhoods

As state lawmakers, the issues we talk about at the Capitol in Nashville tend to tackle statewide problems, with ideas for all of Tennessee, from Memphis to Kingsport.
But this year, we passed a different kind of law, one that will lead to some positive changes right in your own neighborhood.

Unfortunately, some of our neighborhoods in Memphis aren't as great as they can be. The Neighborhood Preservation Act gives older, established neighborhoods here in Memphis a way to reinvest and revitalize.

What this law does is adapts an idea that's common in newer neighborhoods but hasn't been available in older and more established areas. If you've ever been in a homeowner's association, you'll know what I'm talking about.

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What Donald Sterling got right about African Americans

What Donald Sterling got right about African Americans

In life, much like in the NBA, playing a reactionary defense can often result in overplaying your position and ultimately losing the game itself.

As we continue to wonder at the media train wreck that Donald Sterling's life has become, too many will lose sight of the possibility that some truth may be buried in the morass of his most recent comments and his direct attack on Magic Johnson.

To be clear, Donald Sterling is, by multiple definitions, a racist.

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The nauseating ‘side effect’ of medical care

The nauseating ‘side effect’ of medical care

As millions of Americans celebrate their newfound status as medically "insured" through the Affordable Care Act, they may still join the ranks of financially strapped patients facing the rising cost of medical services.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans reported foregoing or delaying medical care in the past year because, even with insurance, they could not afford the portion of the bill that they were expected to pay. And while many are familiar with the vague concepts of costly prescriptions and expensive tests, the reality can be found in $300 tooth extractions, $200 office visit fees because deductibles had yet to be met, and insured patients who lose their homes attempting to pay the out-of-pocket portion of medical expenses.

The New England Journal of Medicine announced in 2013 that physicians should be obligated to discuss out-of-pocket costs as a "side effect" to treatment when they make decisions about their patients' care. The journal considered this discussion as imperative to reigning in the costs of care. The concern was that healthcare providers often neglected to discuss potential costs before ordering diagnostic tests, saddling the patient with "daunting and potentially avoidable healthcare bills," wrote journal author Peter A. Ubel, M.D., a professor of business administration and medicine and public policy at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

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Who do Republicans like Rand Paul actually represent?

Who do Republicans like Rand Paul actually represent?

(G.A. Hardaway, a Democrat, represents the 93rd District in the Tennessee General Assembly, including part of Shelby County and the City of Memphis. He is currently the Secretary of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators. On Friday, he released this commentary.)

Today, in my beloved Memphis, the Republican National Committee is continuing their spring meeting. Among the various decisions being made and events taking place is one of particular interest to me: a luncheon featuring a keynote speech from Kentucky Tea Party senator Rand Paul.

That Sen. Paul is speaking at a GOP luncheon is not at all notable; what is notable is that he is doing it here in Memphis, not one mile from the place where, on April 4, 1968, our city and our country was forever changed.

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