Race-Neutral College Admissions Ignore the Importance of Diversity

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

In The New York Times last week, there was a piece about college admissions and diversity in the wake of the Fisher v. University of Texas case, and the lawyer, Edward Blum who made the whole thing possible.

Blum, a glorified ambulance chaser, represented Abigail Fisher in the case in 2008 after she was rejected from the University of Texas as a potential member of the incoming freshman class. He sought her out to use her story as the case to push the issue to the high court.

Seeking people out is what Blum does as a professional race baiter.

For background’s sake, Fisher was a decent, though average, student with an 1180 on her SATs and a 3.59 GPA. Ninety-two percent of UT’s freshman class that year graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. Evidence suggests that Fisher fell short of the academic standard the university chose to impose, not a racial or ethnic one.

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The #CancelColbert Controversy: Should Racial Insensitivity Be a Fireable Offense?

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Twitter is one of those places where there is always outrage, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which part of the outrage war really has legs.

Last week, Stephen Colbert found himself in the middle of crossfire for a tweet from the Colbert Report deemed offensive to Asians.

Quickly, a #CancelColbert hashtag gained momentum in protest. Colbert has since acknowledged the tweet (which came from the show’s account, not his) in the same brand of schtick and satire, satisfying few:

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Five Ways Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Could Help Philly

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

By now, you’ve probably heard about President Obama’s new “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. The collaboration between foundations, policy makers, and private businesses wants to better understand the obstacles facing black and Latino boys and young men and then eliminate barriers to success.

The initiative’s Task Force is a made up of executive departments and federal agencies that will examine policies and programs across the nation that best serve black and Latino males. The Task Force will also recommend “incentives for adoption of policy by state, local, and private decision makers in order to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.”

But perhaps you’re wondering why this this needed. According to a statement released by the White House, “As recently as 2013, only 14 percent of black boys and 18 percent of Hispanic boys scored proficient or above on the 4th grade reading component of the National Assessment of Educational Progress compared to 42 percent of white boys and 21 percent of black and Hispanic girls. Youth who cannot read ‘proficiently, by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school by 19.”

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Can Philly Afford its Fight Against Gentrification?

Photo | Laura Kicey

Photo | Laura Kicey

One of the cruel things about gentrification is that it can be like wanting someone who doesn’t want you back. Those who face the impact of gentrification have an unrequited love with a neighborhood that changes right before their eyes, only to do tell them that things are different now.

It’s not you, it’s me.

The building uncertainty, insecurity, change and devastation involved in gentrification is like a real estate break up that leaves former partners, who once grew together, standing on opposite sides as the other moves on to become a bigger, better (and probably greener) pasture.

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On Spike Lee’s Gentrification Speech, or Why Won’t They Build a Fancy New Grocery Store in Mantua?

Photo | shutterstock.com

Photo | shutterstock.com

There has been considerable ink dedicated to chronicling the ongoing battle between culture and capital as Brooklyn becomes the epicenter of hipster chic.  Of all the things that I’ve read, this and this are easily the most demonstrative of the high cost of “neighborhood revitalization.”

Brooklyn native and architect of Brooklyn Boheme Cool, Spike Lee, has been vocal on the issues surrounding neighborhood turnover, especially as it has directly impacted his parents. “We been here!” was his refrain as he spoke honestly, candidly and truthfully about the erasures of peoples and cultures that happens when someone else decides to make an “investment.”

“Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed,” he said at Pratt Institute for a lecture in celebration of Black History Month. “And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherf*ckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294 [...] So, why did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? Why’s there more police protection in Bed Stuy and Harlem now? Why’s the garbage getting picked up more regularly? We been here!”

What’s frustrating is that Lee’s words were characterized as a “rant,” casting his ideas as unintelligible, unfounded or otherwise easily dismissible. What Lee said about Brooklyn can be said of many newfound “business corridors” that see an influx of typically younger, monied folks that cause the displacement of existing, long-term residents.

There are some who call that progress.

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Racist New Jersey Wrestling Photo Proves Post-Racial America Is a Fantasy

racist-wrestling-photo-new-jerseyThis is tired.

This photo, which features students from a Phillipsburg High School in New Jersey, is only a snapshot in time, but when I see something this stupid, I always wonder what set the ball in motion. Whose idea was it? Did anyone object? Who suggested the poses? How arrogant do you have to be to take a picture of something like this? Who’s raising these people?

Noose tying doesn’t spring immediately to my mind when I think about how one might want to celebrate a sporting event. Neither does fashioning my sweatshirt into a Klan hood.

These are the types of hoodies that signal violence and make people feel threatened.

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Shirley Temple Was a Celebrity. George Zimmerman Is Not.

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Following the passing of film icon Shirley Temple on Monday, a common refrain in the pieces that commemorated her life and work was that she she didn’t make an embarrassment of herself once the bright lights of the Fox studio lot no longer cared to capture her image.

It is noteworthy that someone of Temple’s stature could fade into a polished second act so seamlessly. Especially someone as iconic and profitable as she. She was Lindsay Lohan… Mary-Kate and Ashley… Miley… Britney… all rolled into one and beyond, peaking somewhere around her 16th birthday. She left celebrity behind. She served others. She lived her life. A rare feat in today’s Coming Attractions celebrity atmosphere. We should all be so fortunate.

Already, too much has been said about this “celebrity boxing match” between child killer George Zimmerman and nostalgically beloved, albeit deeply troubled rapper DMX.

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In Triple Package, Do Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld Actually Believe What They’re Saying?

amy-chua-facebook-940x540Amy Chua is the self-proclaimed “Tiger Mom” who came into the collective consciousness in 2011 when the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt of her book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother under the headline “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”

As you read her work, Chua blasts holes into her own arguments, one minute decrying stereotyping and the next relying heavily on them to make her points. Within the first line of the piece Chua concedes (although I don’t think this was her intention) that the image of “successful kids” of Chinese parents is rooted in stereotype. She goes on to clean up the mess she’s created in using broad terms with the following:

“I’m using the term ‘Chinese mother’ loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term ‘Western parents’ loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.”

She then goes on to retract her concession, and pivots again to acknowledge that we are “squeamish” about cultural stereotyping.

Recently, in a piece for the New York Times titled “What Defines Success?” Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, pen an essay in advance of their new book, The Triple Package, that is beyond nauseating.

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State of the Union: Is Obama Failing Millennials?

AP-barack-obama-millennials-state-of-the-union-SOTU-larry-downing-940x540

Twitter was aflutter with thoughts and quippy one-liners in response to the president’s State of the Union Address last night. Most reactions seemed to be from the Millennial set, who are roundly dismissed as aimless and entitled, despite their heavy engagement in political and social issues.

What resonated most on social media was his verbalized focus on action and his readiness to flex on congress to get things done before the end of his term.  It’s the change many have been waiting for. President Obama delivered his address during the most economically stable period of his two terms, while at his lowest approval rating (43 percent) since taking office.

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Why MLK Day Should Be a Day of Atonement, Not a Day of Service

As I’m typing this column, there’s fury on Twitter about a ridiculous tweet from animal-rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), that attempts to be topical by coalescing the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with its own agenda.

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