Tag Archives: Education

What’s Black? Things We Need to Watch in March 2022

March 5, 2022

Gary A. McAbee

Welcome to What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch by Gary A. McAbee. What’s Black is a monthly update about things of interest for black people to watch, discuss, and actively interpret. The time is now for all of us to get involved. These are conversations we need to have, and we will have these conversations. In this issue, there are some of the things we need to watch in March 2022

We have our first black female nominee for the Supreme Court. How will she be treated?

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been nominated for the Supreme Court by President Joe Biden. Her experience proves she is a qualified and worthy candidate for the Supreme Court. However, like all nominees Judge Brown Jackson will go through a rigorous confirmation process. Her record will be reviewed. Her court decisions will be analyzed. Her answered will be interpreted. This is typical. However we need to watch how her confirmation process goes. Will she receive fair or unfair treatment? We have already heard she was only nominated because she is black and that is not the only reason why she should be picked. We have also heard that her record will be viewed differently than it was when she was appointed as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2021. By the way, the same Senate who confirmed her in 2021 will accept or reject her nomination.

Not Kaepernicked yet! Did Coach Brian Flores avoid being blackballed?

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has been hired as a special assistant for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Remember, he is the coach who filed a discrimination lawsuit against the NFL. Once the lawsuit was filed, it was assumed that Flores would be blackballed for filing the suit. Doesn’t the NFL have a habit of “Kaepernicking” black men who take a knee instead of going along with the system? At first, it looked like this would happen to Flores as well, especially since he interviewed unsuccessfully for head coaching jobs recently. However, he got a job. But isn’t it ironic that the only black head coach (Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers) at the time in the NFL gave Flores a job? This lifeline temporarily keeps Flores in the game. Let’s see how long it lasts and let’s see what happens as his lawsuit is still under review.

Michigan’s head coach takes a swing. Is he too angry to be a leader of young men?

You may have missed the incident between black head coach Juwan Howard of Michigan and his white counterpart Greg Gard from Wisconsin. The college basketball game between Michigan and Wisconsin ended with controversy. As usual, the two teams walked to exchange handshakes post-game. This is when Coach Gard grabbed Coach Howard. An argument ensued, and Howard threw a punch at a Wisconsin assistant coach. Both teams scuffled. The result of the altercation was a five-game suspension and $40,000 fine for Howard and a $10,000 fine for Gard. Both were warranted. But only Howard was labeled as the villain. People questioned his temperament and ability to lead young men. We need to ask what would have happened if Howard was the instigator? My guess is he still would have been vilified and his reputation sullied, just like what is happening now. Either way, he would have been at fault. Let’s watch and listen to the response when he returns for tournament basketball.  

Why should we avoid teaching uncomfortable lessons in schools?

Throughout Black History Month, the backlash increased against Critical Race Theory and teaching topics that make people feel “uncomfortable” in schools. Let’s keep in mind that most people do not know what Critical Race Theory is about. I am a black man, and I don’t know! So how can people immediately reject it? It is dismissed because the perception is it will paint white people in a bad light for things they have done. Could it be that these transgressions throughout history have not been taught enough? This leads to the “uncomfortable” lessons that could increase in schools. The solution then is to simply ban these lessons so they can’t be taught. Isn’t having freedom a bitch? It’s all good when the things we are taught are favorable, but when the light of truth is shown, now we have to ban unfavorable parts of our history. I suppose some people want us to live in a state where the government gets to mandate what we are taught and not taught. Sounds a lot like Russia to me.

Racism rises again. Will black refugees receive equal treatment?

Speaking of Russia, their assault on Ukraine is a clear violation of international law. Ukrainian people are fleeing their homeland and the world is watching. Imagine my surprise when I noticed how many black people also tried to exit Ukraine. Then the pictures and commentary hit. Some black Ukrainians were not being allowed to cross borders. Others were being delayed while catching trains, as white Ukrainian citizens were allowed to board. At first, I thought this behavior was limited. Then more and more reports poured in from across Ukraine and neighboring Poland. Even during a war, racism doesn’t stop! My guess is the practice of slowing these black refugees will stop, but only because it has been exposed to the rest of the world. Isn’t it ironic that black oppression does get reduced when the world finally sees it. Let’s keep an eye on the plight of black Ukrainian refugees, while praying for peace and safety for all of the citizens of Ukraine.

As you can see, March 2022 promises to be a month where we will push our agenda, and meet opposition along the way. What else is new? This is why I started What’s Black: Things to Watch. We need to be aware of issues that affect us and our progress. We need to be more vigilant to protect our best interests. We need to be involved in the ongoing struggle for equality, exercising our fundamental rights, and our ability to live and be successful American citizens. As you can see, we are far from where we need to be. That’s why I will see you in April 2022…

Review…  What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for February 2022

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Hiding the Truth from Americans: I Wonder Why “They” Took Civics Out of the Curriculum

For those of you who don’t know, civics is the study of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the study of government and how it works (Dictionary.com). In our formal education, it is rare that students take a course in civics. Instead, they learn only sparse bits and pieces of information pertaining to how government works. This slice of education is usually buried in US History textbooks and only mentioned as it relates to certain episodes in our history. In other words, our students are not taught how our government works. They are not taught how politics work. They are not taught how laws are created. They are not taught civics.

Why should we learn civics?

Do you know how a bill becomes a law? Do you know who appoints federal judges? Do you know who your local representative in Congress is? If you don’t know the answers to these questions then you probably should learn civics, or at least engage in the political process. A civics course would have helped with the answers to these questions, while providing a basis for understanding the political discourse in our country. I know a lot of people will say this doesn’t interest them. That’s fine, but regardless of your interest level, politics and decisions made by our elected officials affects our everyday life.

If we had a better understanding of civics…

  • more people would vote in local, state and national elections
  • more people would demand action from our elected officials
  • more people would influence policy on a local level
  • more people would run for office

If civics affects our daily lives, then why did they take civics out of the classroom?

question mark

I do not necessarily believe in sweeping conspiracy theories, but I do believe in a slow, steady progress toward taking things away that are deemed unimportant or outdated. Civics is nether unimportant or outdated. So why have civics classes disappeared from our curriculum? I firmly believe civics is no longer taught in our schools because a certain percentage of the population must be kept in the dark about certain things. Another way of saying it is some people need to be uneducated. Uneducated people can be trained, molded, and pushed in a specific direction. They do not have the will or ability to resist.

As it relates the government and civics, many people do not know the basics of government and how it should work. Therefore (if) they vote they do so without having enough knowledge to make an educated decision about the people and policies that shape our cities, states, and nation. They do not even know the importance of their individual vote. They do not know their local politicians. They do not know local laws and statutes. On top of that, they do not have the will or ability to learn.

So here we are in 2018. The good news is a lot more people are waking up and learning more about politics and our elected officials. All of a sudden, people are aware of the President’s duty to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court. Those Justices interpret the legality of laws and can, in effect, overturn them if they are deemed unconstitutional. Don’t forget that these Justices have lifetime appointments, so their decisions could affect policy for 50 years!

Now we must take things a step further. Either we demand that our students are taught civics in schools again, or become interested enough to learn on our own. Without a few civics lessons, we will continue to see a slow, but steady growth of people unaware of the workings of our government and our elected officials. We will have more people unaware of how laws are created and passed. We will have more people unaware of who their representatives are. We will have more people unaware of how government and politics affect their daily lives.

I Wonder Why “They” Took Civics Out of the Curriculum? Is it to hide the truth?

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary is able to get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

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Identification: Who Said You are _______? Do You Believe Them?

 

The year is 2017 and we as people of color have more opportunities than ever. We have proven that we can compete in the classroom, newsroom, and the boardroom. We have a proven track-record of excellence across many disciplines. Many of these achievements are in fields of endeavor that our ancestors thought would never become open to us. In fact, they could only imagine living in a world full of opportunities like we have today. Ours is truly an amazing story, and an even more amazing journey.

Along the way there have always been obstacles put in our way for us to overcome. There have always been challenges for us to recognize and face. There have always been questions we needed to answer just to become qualified. I think we have overcome numerous obstacles, faced several challenges, and answered all of the questions correctly. Now we must take the next step by defining our true identity.

During our journey, we have been identified in many ways. We have been called many names. We have been given many titles. Our character and worth as a people has been defined for us, and often not in glorious terms. We have been told we are inferior, unworthy, incapable, unlovable, unredeemable, ungodly, unlawful, uneducated, unteachable, unreachable, lazy, and ugly.

Now I ask a simple question: Who said you are _______? Do you believe them?

If you believe them, then they have won. They have defined your character for you. I am here to refute everything they have said. I am here to break every stereotype they can find. I am here to correct every false opinion about us.

Question Mark

Now I ask a simple question: I say you are __________ . Do you believe me?

If you believe me, wake up and seize your victory. Use self-identification to define your true character. Live up to everything I am about to say. Break every stereotype about who you are. Correct every false opinion they have about you.

 

Who said you are inferior?                                         I say you are superior!

Who said you are unworthy?                                     I say you are worthy!

Who said you are incapable?                                      I say you are capable!

Who said you are unlovable?                                     I say you are lovable!

Who said you are unredeemable?                             I say you are redeemed!

Who said you are ungodly?                                         I say you are God-fearing!

 

Who said you are unlawful?                                       I say you are law-abiding!

Who said you are uneducated?                                  I say you are educated!

Who said you are unteachable?                                 I say you can be taught!

Who said you are unreachable?                                I say you are reachable!

Who said you are lazy?                                                I say you are energized!

Who said you are ugly?                                                I say you are beautiful!

 

Now that you have been correctly identified, rise up and find success! The year is 2017 and we as people of color have more opportunities than ever. We have proven that we can compete in the classroom, newsroom, and the boardroom. We have a proven track-record of excellence across many disciplines. Many of these achievements are in fields of endeavor that our ancestors thought would never become open to us. In fact, they could only imagine living in a world full of opportunities like we have today. Ours is truly an amazing story, and an even more amazing journey.

 

 

Mass Incarceration: Maybe the Last of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

jail-bars-and-cuffs

Mass incarceration has affected millions of people across all races, and the result is many of these people become a part of a permanent underclass who will struggle to live a normal life. Of course, many of the people who are incarcerated committed heinous crimes that need to be punished. These are not the people this is meant to address. Instead, we must take a closer look at people who were sentenced for minor crimes and misdemeanors, either justly or unjustly. In these cases, incarceration causes an enduring legacy that disqualifies millions of American citizens from returning to a normal life. Far too often, these people are poor, uneducated, and minorities. This is why along with  credit, education, and voting rights, mass incarceration might be the last of the remaining great disqualifiers.

Mass incarceration is a great disqualifier because a criminal record will follow and ex-offender even though they may have paid their debt to society. Although prison is supposed to rehabilitate its offenders, we know it does not do a good job of rehabilitation. Upon release, “reformed” criminals who try to straighten up their lives have a hard time erasing the stain of their criminal record. It follows them as they seek employment, housing, and voting rights. This is due to the requirement to disclose prior convictions on applications to “determine” eligibility. We know the deal here: this disclosure is more likely to disqualify people from a proper evaluation and consideration. Who gets caught in this trap: primarily minorities, immigrants, and poor people who get incarcerated.

Recently I had to look for a job, and I was surprised at the new levels of questions that ex-offenders have to answer. Basically, these questions ask if a person has been convicted of a crime. Depending on the organization or company, a “yes” answer leads to a series of additional questions. The most important of these questions is probably whether the crime was a felony or misdemeanor. I do not have statistics, but I am willing to bet that people who disclose their felony conviction are far less likely to be considered for employment than those who commit misdemeanors. Factor in those who have not committed crimes, and you can see how far behind ex-offenders are when looking for employment post-incarceration. When seeking employment, ex-offenders can easily be disqualified. Mass incarceration is one of the last remaining disqualifiers for them even though they have paid their debt to society.

Ex-offenders are also left way behind when seeking housing opportunities. Once again, an application will probably ask if a person has been convicted of a crime. This time, a potential landlord has the power to determine whether or not the answer to this question will disqualify a person from obtaining housing. I do not have statistics, but I am willing to bet that people who disclose their felony conviction are far less likely to be considered for housing than those who commit misdemeanors. Factor in those who have not committed crimes, and you can see how far behind ex-offenders are when looking for housing post-incarceration. When seeking employment and housing, ex-offenders can easily be disqualified. Mass incarceration is one of the last remaining disqualifiers for them even though they have paid their debt to society.

We have seen wave after wave of challenges to voting rights in America. Perhaps nowhere is this challenge stronger than establishing, or reestablishing the right to vote for ex-convicts. Some states allow ex-felons to return to voting rolls once they are released from prison. Other states do not allow them to vote. The recent trend is to either prevent ex-offenders from voting, or to strike them from voting lists. Once again, ex-offenders are required to disclose their convictions upon reapplying for the right to vote. I do not have statistics, but I am willing to bet that people who disclose their felony conviction are far less likely to be considered for voting than those who commit misdemeanors. Factor in those who have not committed crimes, and you can see how far behind ex-offenders are when looking to reestablish their voting rights post-incarceration. When seeking employment, housing and voting rights, ex-offenders can easily be disqualified. Mass incarceration is one of the last remaining disqualifiers for them even though they have paid their debt to society.

I have provided just a few examples of how mass incarceration is one of the remaining great disqualifiers for minorities, immigrants, and poor people. Simply put, being incarcerated can disqualify a person for life because their rights post-incarceration are never fully restored. These people will find it difficult to get employment. They will find it difficult to find decent housing. They will find it difficult to vote. It is not a pretty picture, especially for those people who get entangled in the criminal justice system for “minor” offenses. For these people and millions of others, mass incarceration will remain one of the last remaining great disqualifiers. We need to ask some questions…

Is there something sinister at work that is designed to ensnare certain group of people into the web of the criminal justice system?

Is there a secret “system” in place to create a permanent underclass based on mass incarceration?

Is mass incarceration another disqualifier on the same level as credit mismanagement, a lack of education, and denial of voting rights?

 

We need to find answers. What do you think is the cause of mass incarceration: the last remaining great disqualifier?

 

This is a follow-up to my original posts:

Credit: One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Education: Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Voting Rights: Yet Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

 

Voting Rights: Yet Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Voting: Yet Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Vote

There are still a few barriers that tend to disqualify certain groups of people from participating in our democracy. Restrictions to voting and voting rights are one of these remaining great disqualifiers that negatively affect far too many people. The interesting part of this issue is the fact that voting rights are established for all citizens as a birthright. The only restriction that should prevent American citizens from voting is age, and once that barrier is passed the right to vote should no longer be an issue. However, even though it is 2016,  the fundamental right to vote is still not guaranteed for all American citizens. It is one of the remaining great disqualifiers.

To effectively make the point that voting has always been a disqualifier, we must look back through the course of our history. When our nation was founded, voting was an exercise that only white male wealthy landowners could do. Over time, voting rights were gradually extended to other segments of the population thanks to adding amendment after amendment to the US Constitution. Take a look at the timeline that nearly ended voting as a remaining great disqualifier. Then think about the continuation of the discrimination that remained despite of the amendments created to prevent it…

  • Fifteenth Amendment (15th) 1870: non-white males, regardless of property ownership received right to vote
  • Nineteenth Amendment (19th) 1920: women received right to vote
  • Twenty-fourth Amendment (24th) 1964: ended poll tax as a disqualifier from voting
  • Twenty-sixth Amendment (26th) 1971: reduced voting age to 18

Despite the ratification of these amendments, major pockets of resistance to voting rights remained. These included denying the rights of freed male black former slaves from voting, even though the 15th Amendment allowed it. Females of all races could not until after the 19th Amendment allowed women to vote. Poll taxes, which were a pay-to-vote scheme, prevented many people from voting until the 24th Amendment made the practice illegal. Finally, the age barrier was reduced by the 26th Amendment, thanks in large part to opposition to the Vietnam War.

One must ask why these pockets of resistance to voting, otherwise known as remaining great disqualifiers, existed even after laws were put in place to abolish them. Something more sinister was taking place, and history has a way of documenting injustices for the record. At various parts of our history, the following groups of people were not allowed to vote: women, poor white men, slaves and free blacks, Native Americans, and in some cities, Jews and even Catholics. It would take two sweeping pieces of legislation to “end” voting inequalities: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both of these laws included various parts which, in theory, should have ended all forms of voting discrimination.

After the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, we must ask ourselves why court cases and laws created by individual states still to this day challenge the voting rights of so many groups of people. The door that closed on voting inequalities in the 1960s was opened by the Supreme Court in 2013 when it struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act. The Court determined that many of the safeguards put in place to protect voting rights for African Americans in the South were outdated and unnecessary. You would think that would be the case in 2013. However, soon after this ruling several states in the South and others controlled by Republican legislatures enacted laws that make it more difficult for some people to vote in 2016!

In 2016, many people face barriers such as reduced early voting times, new ID laws, and stricter registration dates and rules. Voting is still one of the remaining great disqualifiers. The recent headlines from the past week prove this is true. The good news is courts around the country are knocking down laws that put unreasonable restrictions on voting. For example, on July 29, 2016 a federal court struck down a North Carolina Law that included strict identification guidelines for voting. Other states, such as Texas, Ohio, and Wisconsin have similar laws that are currently being litigated.

As we complete this brief examination of voting in America, we must ask again why so many restrictions have been placed on the voting rights of so many people. The truth is that some people simply do not want others in our society to vote. This crosses over issues of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, and political affiliation. Therefore, the only way to finally end challenges to voting is to adopt common-sense measures that can be applied equally and fairly for all American citizens. The following list is a good start:

  • Create a national voter ID, offered free of charge, that could also be used in state and local elections for identification.
  • Distribute free voter IDs at driver’s license centers as an option for those who cannot obtain a driver’s license for various reasons
  • Switch the national voting day to a Saturday so less people would have to make arrangements to get off work to vote, or keep Election day on Tuesday, and allow all workers to have two hours of paid time to vote.
  • Allow national early voting days to be uniform in all states.
  • Give voter registration cards to all high school graduates  so they can start the registration process immediately.
  • Develop a better system similar to airline screening that eliminates voting fraud.

These are only some ideas that may be developed in the future. For now, we have to rely on the court systems, as well as our elected officials, and everyday citizens to help ensure the voting rights of all Americans. Hopefully someday soon, this will be  this will no longer be an issue for any American citizen over the age of 18.Voting has been one of the remaining great disqualifiers for far too long.

This is a follow-up to my original posts:

Credit: One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Education: Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers.

Be on the lookout for my next post… Mass Incarceration: Maybe the Last of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Education: Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Knowledge is Power

Education: Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

In the Unites States, we have an antiquated education system. It is another great disqualifier for far too many students. Our current system is still based on the outdated calendar cycle of when crops were planted and harvested. This is because in the past children were needed to harvest crops alongside their parents. The school calendar was created with this in mind. Children would be available to plant crops in the late summer months, and then be available again at the beginning of the next summer to harvest them. As a result, generally speaking the school calendar starts in September and ends in June. Today, although there are plenty of farmers who may still benefit from this setup, the overwhelming majority of American parents do not require their kids to harvest crops. It takes away from the time some students need just to avoid being disqualified because of their lack of a quality education.

In theory, American children could go to school for an extra month during the summer, or the school calendar could be adjusted throughout the year to allow for an extra month for education. Adding an extra month to the school calendar seems like a radical idea because we have all been conditioned to accept the current setup. However, when we look at the steady decline of our educational system as a whole, most people agree that something must be done. Studies show American students are slowly falling behind their counterparts in other countries around the world. This can be traced to the amount of time spent in the classroom. Some countries like Japan require their students to attend school longer than we do in our country. The result is the students in these countries outpace American students in various educational disciplines.

When we look closer at the demographic studies about the American education system, we see that rural and suburban schools generally have better results than urban and inner-city schools. This is called the education (or achievement) gap. Think about it, students who are in urban and inner-city schools are more likely to be behind their counterparts in rural and suburban schools. Because the world is now a global marketplace, this means urban and inner-city schools produce students who are even farther behind their counterparts in many foreign countries. This disparity becomes another great disqualifier, both at home, and in competition against students around the world.

For the sake of analysis, we want to focus on the education gap that exists in America and how it becomes a great disqualifier. If you go to an overcrowded school with limited resources and funding, you are at an educational disadvantage. If you go to a lower-rated school with underachieving students and teachers, you are at an educational disadvantage. If you go to an underperforming school with discipline and behavioral issues, you are at an educational disadvantage. The amazing thing about all of these situations is that many students overcome these challenges. However, far too many students do not. They are disqualified because of their lack of a quality education.

Now let’s look at higher education. Competition for slots at colleges and universities across the nation is fierce. The difference between getting accepted and getting passed over still boils down to academic performance. If a student from an urban or inner-city school does not perform as well as their suburban counterparts, the probability increases that they will be left behind when it is time to apply for college. The inferior education disadvantaged students receive can disqualify them for college, or at least hinder their chances to go to an elite school. Their education also hampers their ability to keep pace should they get accepted into a college or university. Once, again, education can serve as a disqualifier for these students.

We, not government leaders, educators, or school officials must ask why we allow our educational system to disqualify so many students. It is up to the people, not the school bureaucracy or elected officials to ask these questions and start to find solutions. While I am on a roll, I believe we must ask the following questions about the education most of our children receive…

Why was home economics taken out of the curriculum?

Why isn’t a mandatory personal finance and credit course taught in every high school?

Why are schools taking the arts and music out of their course electives?

Why do we make kids take higher level mathematics when few of us ever use those concepts in real life?

Why don’t we add civics back into the curriculum for all students so they can understand how government SHOULD work?

As a final thought, at no point in this post did I mention race. For those who see race in everything, you can rest assured that this is more about education as a disqualifier based on class, not race. Poor people who are educationally disadvantaged come in all colors and ethnicities. Therefore, they are all in the same boat. When they realize this, I think they can come together and influence change. Maybe this change will be at the ballot box. Perhaps it will occur at the PTA meeting. Either way, top-down solutions from our government and educational leaders have not helped enough.I believe that the change our educational system needs will have to come from the bottom-up; parents and students must lead the charge.

Education should not be another one of the remaining great disqualifiers…

 

 

This is a follow-up to my original post: Credit: One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

 

Be on the lookout for my next post… Voting Rights: Yet Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers