Insight News

Oct 04th


Letters to the editor: Unions have done much for people of color

In response to: Article by William English published May 17 - May 23, 2010 entitled, A Minneapolis School Board without Black participation?

As someone who has dedicated her life to the children of the north side both as a teacher and neighbor in the Hawthorne area,  I am anxious to tell a different story and correct the assumptions floating around the community about the union.  What I find interesting, is that unions have done much for people of color over the years regarding fair treatment on the job, use of due process for employee issues, improved hiring practices, improved wages/working conditions, and so on, and, yet now seem to be considered the enemy.  We fought for social justice for all workers for decades. Now, we are also fighting for educational justice for students. 

Supreme court paroles juveniles

The U.S. Supreme Court, which has in recent years been overwhelming conservative in its decisions, showed signs of humanity when it ruled that juvenile offenders under 17 could no longer be sentenced to life without parole for crimes that didn’t result in a death.

Calling such sentences cruel and unusual punishment, and in violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, the Justices ruled 6-3 in favor of putting an end to judicial punishments that give offenders no hope of a life after prison. Even Chief Justice John Roberts, a notorious conservative appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled on the side of what’s fair and decent.

At the heart of the decision was the case of Terrance Graham who, at 17, was already on parole when he broke into a home and robbed the owners by gunpoint. To be fair, it seems that Graham, now in his early 20s, didn’t learn from his first crime and stint in jail. However, a life sentence without the possibility of parole for someone so young in a case where no one was killed seems especially harsh.

What is the Black brand?

Who do you think you are?  Are you a post-racial advocate that feels race is no longer significant or important in American society?   How did you answer the US 2010 Census Form Question No. 9: "What is Person 1's race?”  The race question’s choices are: "White; Black, African-American, or Negro; American Indian or Alaska Native.”

Maybe a better question in how African Americans/Blacks/Negroes identify is consideration of: “Just how White is we”?  When the first United States Census was taken in 1790, Africans (including slaves and free people) numbered about 760,000 and were 19.3 percent of the population.  During the first 200 years of their “sojourn” in the US, our forefathers referred to themselves as Africans.  In Africa, people primarily identified themselves by ethnic group (closely aligned with language) and not by skin color.  Over the years, Africans in Americas were forced to give up their ethnic affiliations.  This resulted in intermingling of the different ethnic groups and by the early 1800s, the majority of Black people were U.S.-born, so use of the term "African" became problematic.  In their quest for status as Americans, by 1835 our leaders of the period were calling for removal of title of "African" from their institutions and replacement with "Negro" or "Colored American".  “Black Power” pride and militancy played a significant role in the successes of the civil rights movement.   In 1988 Jesse Jackson urged Americans to use the term African American because it shows a historical cultural base.  Since then African American and Black have essentially a co-equal status.

Malcolm X and Haitian Flag Days - Building bonds of unity between Haitians and African Americans

Malcolm X and Haitian Flag Days - Building bonds of unity between Haitians and African AmericansMay 18 marks the 207th anniversary of the creation of the Haitian Flag by freedom fighters determined to defeat the formidable invading army of Napoleon Bonaparte to achieve independence, and declare Haiti the world's first Black Republic. May 19 is the 85 birthday or Kuzaliwa of El Hajji Malik El Shabazz, Malcolm X, one of the most fierce, feared and revolutionary freedom fighters the African world has ever known. As the first Black Republic seeks to build a new nation out of the ashes of one of the most devastating earthquakes ever experienced in the Caribbean, it occurs to me that the proximity of these commemorations offers an excellent opportunity to promote unity between Haitians and African Americans.



Thurgood Marshall protégé?

Solicitor General of the United States Elena Kagan has been, thanks to her recent nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, thrust into the spotlight. The media wants to learn more about her while Congress is unearthing her background to see if she’s fit to serve on the nation’s highest court. While Kagan waits - and politics - to see if she’ll secure the spot, many are left wondering if her time serving as a clerk to former Supreme Court Justice  and civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall has in any way shaped her legal and world views. To conservatives, any influence Marshall may have had would be a bad thing. Champions of justice, however, hope Kagan has retained some of Marshall’s perspectives.

Critics are quick to point out that Kagan, who clerked for the justice in 1988, is no Thurgood Marshall. No one expects her to be.  Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice and former Chief Counsel of the NAACP, won an impressive 29 Supreme Court victories as a litigator, including Brown vs. Board of Education, the landmark case that found separate and unequal schools unconstitutional.

Dr. Elliott "Dad" Mason, Sr.: A great prayer warrior

Dr. Elliott At Dr. Elliott Mason, Sr.’s infant dedication in 1922, the pastor at his family’s New Orleans church prophesied he would grow up to be a preacher. How true that vision turned out to be! Dr. Mason preached his first sermon at age 16—the same year he entered Dillard University, where he was honored three years in a row as the top student in religion and philosophy. He received a second bachelor’s degree in divinity from the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, where he also ranked first in his class. He then earned a master’s degree in Sacred Theology from Oberlin and, later, a doctorate in New Testament Theology from the University of Southern California. After serving as a pastor in Toledo, OH, for 15 years, in 1959 he was called as Assistant Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Three years later he became Trinity’s pastor, a post he held until his retirement in 1985.

Continue rebuilding New Orleans

On Monday May 3, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was succeeded by Mitch Landrieu. New Orleans’ mayors are, by city law, only allowed to serve two terms and Nagin has done that; much of his tenure was spent dealing with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

Nagin left office with a mixed legacy – many criticized his ability to handle the evacuation, recovery and subsequent rebuilding efforts in the city. He’s fired back at his critics and calls out FEMA for the lag in redevelopment efforts. Where the blame lies is open to debate but one thing is clear: progress has been made but things are moving far too slowly.
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