Thursday, August 29, 2013

Young Black Genius Still Exists in US!


Wonder Focus: Illinois Prodigy Lives 'Life of Purpose' 

By Charlene Israel
CBN News Reporter
Thursday, August 29, 2013

GREAT LAKES, Ill. -- This fall kids across the country are heading back to school. But 14-year-old Thessalonika Arzu-Embry is the exception. She's preparing to graduate -- from college.

Like most 14-year-old girls, Thessalonika likes to have fun. She enjoys skating in her Great Lakes neighborhood as well as playing tennis.

Yet, while most girls her age are entering their freshman year of high school, complete with discussions about boys and all the latest fashions, Thessalonika has been focused on more important matters.

She has been attending college since she was 11.

"It's similar to any environment but this environment was full of learning, a learning experience for me," she told CBN News. "I looked forward to it."

An Early Passion for Learning
Thessalonika's mother, Wonder Embry, said she noticed her daughter's exceptional gift and passion for learning while home schooling her.

"I started reading to her my college books and she understood college material at 6 years old, 8 years old," she said.

"The first topic that I read about was consciousness in sleeping dreams and about the neurons in the brain and I thought that was very interesting to study," Thessalonika recalled.

Her mom said her daughter's quickness for learning encouraged her to enroll the then 11-year-old in classes at Lake County College.

"Academically and mentally she was prepared for it," her mom said. "And I didn't want to put a cap on it and hinder her and limit her if she was able to accomplish it. And I just went on and encouraged her to go ahead and make the most of it."

Many see Thessalonika's academic aptitude as extraordinary, but the girl genius sees her college experience as just the norm.

"I was treated normal in class and a lot of classes didn't bring attention to my age at all," she said. "I just completed the work like the rest of the students."

Thessalonika has a 199 I.Q. and she said she never once felt overwhelmed by college-level work.
"Some of the assignments had, like, two pages of work and stuff and that was very easy to complete," she said. "There were some assignments that required only five pages of work and I went like way over the amount."

The impressive teen has received numerous awards and certificates, is a member of her school's honor college, and served as a student senator. 

Starting the Day with God
As devout Christians, Thessalonika and her family begin each day with prayer and Bible study. She said her faith and family support are the keys to her academic success.

Her family attends Bill Winston Ministries in Forest Park, Ill., where she and her older brother, Jeremy, are part of the youth group.

"I thank God for that because he has given me the ability to learn like in Proverbs 28:5. It says 'They that seek the Lord understand all things.' And I'm very thankful for that," she said.

"We didn't plan on it but it's God's glory to give us the wisdom to even go through this," her mom said.

After completing classes at College of Lake County, Thessalonika went on to attend Chicago State University where she is set to receive a bachelor's degree in psychology with a 3.9 GPA. Once she receives her degree, she said she plans to continue her education.

"I also plan to go to graduate school to get a Psy.D in clinical psychology," she told CBN News.
But before grad school, she plans to get her learner's permit.

A Life of Purpose
Thessalonika hopes to one day open a clinic with her mother, who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in clinical psychology along with her 23-year-old brother Jeremy.
Jeremy is also a psychology major graduating this year.

Wonder Embry said both of her children are motivated about learning and hearing from God about their future.

"He put that in their heart to pursue clinical psychology to help people that are going through mental challenges, help the youth with esteem and all those issues that tend to come in on them. I feel very thankful to God," Wonder said.

Meanwhile, some might think this 14-year-old college graduate has missed out on just being a kid, but Thessalonika says she is living a very purposeful life.

Thessalonika Arzu-Embry
PHOTO CREDIT: The Daily Herald

While other girls her age are navigating their freshman year of high school, Thessalonika Arzu-Embry is only one month away from receiving her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Chicago State University, reports the Daily Herald.

The teen scholar was home-schooled from 8-11 years-old by her mother, Wonder Embry, a veteran of the United States Navy, and credits her with her academic achievement.
“My mother is a strong inspiration to my success,” said Thessalonika.
The dynamic duo are schoolmates, with the elder Embry working on her graduate degree in Clinical Psychology, and spend their days working out, studying and praying together.
“My college experience is a traditional college experience for me — it is just that I have completed it faster,” Thessalonika said. “I am very excited about joining others in having the opportunity to contribute to society in a significant way.”
As if graduating at such a young age isn’t achievement enough, Thessalonika has maintained a 3.9 GPA and serves as student senator.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

From The Ramparts
Junious Ricardo Stanton

Say No To More US Wars!!

"The Creator has a working plan, peace and happiness for every man. The Creator has a master plan, peace and happiness for every man. The Creator makes but one demand peace and happiness throughout all the land." - Leon Thomas

The United States, its NATO and Israeli thug allies are ginning up yet another war based on lies and deceptions. This time these lying psychopaths are demonizing Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to trick us into acquiescing to another war on behalf of the usual warmongers: the international banking cartel, the military industrial complex, big oil, the corporate media and of course Israel. In recent months the US has been deploying naval vessels, covert operation forces and military assets into the Mediterranean Sea, Jordan, Turkey and embedding them in Syria itself. This is in addition to two years of funding arming and supporting mercenaries and "al-Qaeda" fanatics in a vein attempt to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But the Western Neo-colonial proxy war is not succeeding because Syrian forces loyal to al-Assad with Russian logistical support and Iran and Hezbollah fighters have stymied and beaten back the US/Western dupes and killers. In the US, brain dead yahoos are too distracted and prozaced out to ask this fundamental question: if al-Qaeda is supposed to be the mortal enemy of peace, freedom and sanity, and the West are the good guys why did the West pay al-Qaeda to attack Libya and help them murder Muammar Gaddafi and why are they using this same al-Qaeda to destabilize Syria? Because al-Qaeda is merely a boggey man front group made up of CIA, MI6, Saudi Arabian stooges and dupes used by the West to further the West's nefarious agenda.

Over and over we've experienced how the government lies to get what they want whether its fascistic policies or wars. Remember how they said NAFTA and GATT were going to be good for American workers? Remember how they said bombing Yugoslavia was a humanitarian mission? Remember how Colin Powell the most credible member of the Bu$h den of vipers and thieves lied to the whole world about Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction? Powell never batted an eye nor said he was sorry.

Think about this, no ruling elites or their minions ever go to jail. No matter how egregious their crimes against humanity no Western leaders ever get tried by the World Court. They are allowed to ride off in the sunset with their millions, their stock options and possessions no matter how much pain, suffering, devastation and death they have caused. Yet someone like Bradley Manning gets dogged out by the system and sentenced to thirty-five years in jail? Is this justice?

Don't fall for the mind control apparatus' okey-doke and flim-flam. Don't allow the talking heads and their corporate owners to turn you into a sucka or a chump! There are no such things as humanitarian interventions and wars. Smart bombs, surgical strikes and holy wars are cruel non-realities. These terms are an oxymoron, contradictions in essence designed to blur the lines between reality, truth and illusions and lies. All wars cause carnage, death and agony. There is nothing noble about senseless killing based on lies. It's one thing to mobilize to fight to defend your hearth and home; but illegal wars based upon lies have no redeeming virtues and bring bad KARMA! You reap what you sow.

War, what is it good for absolutely nothing sang Edwin Starr and we know he was correct. Roberta Flack sang a song entitled Business Goes on As Usual. In it she sang, "Business goes on as usual the corn and the profits are high and TVs boom in every living room, they tell us what deodorants to buy. Business goes on as usual except that my brother is dead. He was twenty-five and very much alive but the dreams have all been blasted from his head. In a far off land with a gun in his hand he died in a war he did not understand. While business goes on as usual, there is plenty to choose from on the rack. But the rumor goes that the latest thing in cloths will be black. Business goes on as usual, as usual." Asd but true business is going on as usual. Listen to Marvin Gaye's classic album What's Going On really listen to the lyrics and meditate on the profundity of what he is singing. "War is not the answer only love can conquer hate."

As this very moment, the US and its Western allies are cranking out more lies and propaganda about al-Assad's chemical weapons. Think people, this is nothing but a redo of the WMD lies that justified the invasion of Iraq. You remember how that turned out, right? We'll remain there for the foreseeable future, sucking trillions from much needed programs here at home and the elites didn't even get dibbs on the Iraqi oil!!

Don't fall for the same line again. At least make them come up with something new and different! Say no to the global gangsters' New World Order and their newest push for war. The drones, cruise missiles and bombs are being assembled, prepped and are on standby as we speak. Obama is under immense pressure from the Neo-Cons, the international banking oligarchs, the military industrial complex and the Zionists to launch the attack against Syria; then it's on to Iran.

The rumor mill has it Obama is going to do like Bill Clinton did in Kosovo and order massive airstrikes rather than infantry and ground attacks. This way the US won't suffer as many casualties. But that's war room drawing board talk who knows what might happen and how many US lives will be lost? Remember they told us the Iraq invasion would be a cake walk? That's what they said about Vietnam too.

The shot callers and their puppets like Obama, Bu$h Jr and Clinton like killing people from afar, using remote controlled drones, missiles and bombs; it gets them closer to their science fiction ideal of soulless robot and zombie armies employing fully mechanized weaponry. Don't allow them to perpetuate another war in our name. Open your eyes and your mind, point out the obvious lies, contradictions and immorality of what they are doing.

As they commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Civil Rights, I fear the US leadership is about to repeat the very same errors they did in 1963, by escalating the war in Southeast Asia. And that imperialist blunder turned out to be a disaster. The US will be on the wrong side of history again if it attacks yet another country that has done us no harm nor posed a significant threat to us.

Leon Thomas wrote a song called The Creator has A Master Plan. We listened to it in the 70's. We need to go back and listen to it again and again so the message sinks in.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fired Walmart Workers Arrested at Rally Announcing Labor Day Deadline

Josh Eidelson
Workers hold a sit-in in front of a Walmart office in Washington, DC, on August 22, 2013. (Credit: Making Change at Walmart)

Nine fired workers and a current employee were arrested around 2:30 pm Thursday after locking arms and sitting in front of the entrance to a Washington, DC, Walmart office. The planned act of civil disobedience concluded a noon rally at which workers announced a Labor Day deadline for Walmart to raise wages and reinstate workers they allege were fired for their activism.

Twenty workers who joined a June strike by the labor group OUR Walmart have since been terminated; another fifty-some have been otherwise disciplined by Walmart.

“Hopefully it opens Walmart’s eyes and lets them know that this is just the beginning,” OUR Walmart activist Barbara Collins told The Nation prior to her arrest. If Walmart doesn’t meet the Labor Day deadline, she said yesterday, “then we’re going to give them a lot more actions, a lot stronger actions, a lot bolder ones. And it’ll be across the country.”

Collins was fired by Walmart in June, after protesting fellow strikers’ firings by participating in civil disobedience at the headquarters of Yahoo! CEO and Walmart Board Member Marissa Mayer. As The Nation first reported, this wave of alleged retaliation—the most serious to face OUR Walmart since its founding two years ago—began two weeks after workers concluded a weeklong work stoppage and caravan to the company’s Arkansas shareholder meeting. OUR Walmart is closely tied to the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
Organizers say hundreds of supporters joined this afternoon’s rally to demand Walmart cease retaliation and offer full-time jobs that pay a minimum of $25,000 a year. Chants included “Whose Walmart? OUR Walmart!” and “If we don’t get it, shut it down!” In live video posted online by the campaign, people in suits could be seen stepping over the human chain of seated ex-workers to enter the Walmart office. According to the campaign, arrests took place following three warnings issued over a bullhorn by police; participants in the civil disobedience were individually escorted to a nearby area where they were issued citations for a misdemeanor of blocking a passage, and then released.

The DC protest comes as the city’s mayor mulls a veto of a retail living wage bill fiercely opposed by the retail giant. Some marched to the rally from the offices of the federal National Labor Relations Board, the agency charged with investigating the workers’ claims of widespread illegal discipline against activists. OUR Walmart has urged the NLRB to seek a federal injunction to more quickly address the alleged retaliation; the NLRB did not respond to a Wednesday request for comment on the case.

In a Wednesday e-mail, Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg said, “No associates were disciplined for participating in any specific protests.” Rather, he said, “we applied the time and attendance policy to the individual absences in the same way we do for other associates.” He noted that some protesting workers “did not receive any discipline because their absences in their individual circumstances did not trigger the no-fault attendance rules.” Lundberg previously told The Nation that “as a general rule, the law does not protect hit-and-run intermittent work stoppages that are part of a coordinated union plan.”

Asked in June about Walmart claims that workers were fired for threatening customer service by violating attendance rules, former Obama-appointed NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman said that “the case law doesn’t sustain that as a valid defense” against the charge of illegally punishing strikers. As for the lack of legal protection for “intermittent strikes,” Liebman told The Nation, “I think it would be hard on the facts so far to say that the conduct constitutes intermittent striking.”
The fired workers were on Capitol Hill yesterday to meet with congressional staffers and seek sponsors for a bill introduced by Congressman Alan Grayson that would dramatically strengthen the legal remedies available to workers fired for workplace activism. In an August 5 letter, sixteen congressional Democrats criticized the Walmart discipline, urging CEO Mike Duke “to stop all retaliatory actions against employees engaged in protests regarding Walmart’s labor policies.” Walmart’s “tense labour relations” were also cited by the major Dutch pension administrator PGGM in its July 1 announcement that, like some peers, it would cease investing in the company.

While fired Walmart workers were rallying against the company in DC, US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was delivering remarks and participating in a panel at an afternoon US Manufacturing Summit in Orlando hosted by Walmart. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment this morning on the alleged retaliation or the administration’s participation in the summit, and has not responded to inquiries from The Nation over the past nine months regarding labor strife at the retail giant.

Asked this month whether the Obama administration should stop praising and appearing with Walmart, Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry, whose union has backed organizing efforts against the company, told The Nation she “would rather, instead of dealing with the specific tactics of the president’s behavior with individual companies, keep calling on the president to say we have to have both a tax policy and an ability for workers to bargain again as a way to get off this low-wage road that the economy’s on. And I’d like to keep pressing on him to lead on the sort of bigger concern [rather] than grievance publicly about what he’s doing on individual things.”

Another of the fired workers arrested today, Brandon Garrett, yesterday told The Nation that his termination had taken a toll in his Baker, Louisiana, store: “When we came back from striking and we wasn’t fired right away, even more associates wanted to join the organization. But I guess Walmart got a sense of that, and when they terminated me, they kind of scared a lot of them off.” Now, said Garrett, “they’re still behind us,” but “a lot of them are scared to be retaliated against. So that’s another reason I’m standing up like I am.”
OUR Walmart Field Director Andrea Dehlendorf said that in some stores where activists were fired, “there’s really been a chill that’s created, which is clearly why Walmart does this.”

However, she said, “We have some stores where people have gotten so angry and so frustrated about it that they’re really stepping up and getting more involved…. And not one person who’ve been fired or disciplined has backed off.”

Barbara Collins said that since being fired, she hasn’t had as much contact with workers at her Placerville, California, store because managers “are putting that fear back into the workers.”

“But some of them,” she added, “they really do know that it’s all a bunch of lies.” Collins said OUR Walmart members in her store are “definitely standing stronger, even though management’s intimidating them. They still know that if we stand together and strong, hopefully it will stop.”

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Baltimore College-Bound, Elijah Miles, Passionately Speaks of Education for Liberation Beyond Self

A summer intern at Teach For America Baltimore, Elijah Miles delivered this inspiring speech to a group of incoming teachers at institute. Wise well beyond his years, we think Elijah's words are a great reminder about why we do the work that we do.

Elijah will begin college at Morgan State in the fall.
Teach For America- not by design, but by mere statistical odds only -has a few politically and racially conscious teachers sprinkled thruout their programs. Obviously Elijah Miles came across one or two during his sojourn thru Baltimore's high school system. Clearly, if TfA replicated these teachers' pedagogical skills, they would lose a ton of their corporate money and would be distanced from the Obama Education-Industrial Cabal.

Public education in today's US is not supposed to produce Elijah Miles-type young Black males who are unwilling to just think selfishly and ignore poverty and racism.

Our struggle is to help all the Elijah Mileses get thru college still believing in the need to uplift Community as one uplift's self and family.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rachel Maddow Exposes North Carolina's In-Your-Face Massive Voter Suppression
Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Spy Photo That Fooled NPR, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, and Me

A story of a mistaken identity reveals a lot about the history of Black women in America, the challenges of understanding the past, and who we are today. 
Wikimedia Commons

It's a blurry image. But in some ways that makes it the perfect portrait of Mary Bowser, an African American woman who became a Union spy during the Civil War by posing as a slave in the Confederate White House. What better representation of a spy who hid in plain sight than a photograph whose subject stares straight at the viewer yet whose features remain largely indecipherable? Small wonder the photograph has been circulated by NPR, Wikipedia, libraries, history projects, and in my book, The Secrets of Mary Bowser. There's only one problem: The woman in the photograph was no Union spy. How did we get it so wrong?

Mary Bowser left behind a sparse historical trail. One early clue comes from a 1900, Richmond, Virginia, newspaper story about a white Union spy named Elizabeth Van Lew. In the story, the reporter included the tantalizing detail that before the war, Van Lew freed one of her family's slaves and sent her North to be educated. The young woman later returned to Richmond and was placed in the Confederate White House as part of Van Lew's spy ring. Van Lew's own Civil War-era diary describes her reliance on an African American referred to only as Mary, who was a key source for Van Lew's intelligence network. Nearly half a century after the war, Van Lew's niece identified the black woman as Mary Bowser, a revelation included in a June 1911 article in Harper's Monthly.

Numerous books and articles repeated the tale of Bowser's espionage, often embellished and without any verifiable sources. The advent of the Internet made it especially easy for the story to circulate, and a growing interest in black history and women's history provided a steady audience for pieces about Bowser. Online pieces about Bowser could easily include an illustration -- if one could be found.

As far as I can determine, the photograph began circulating in 2002, when Morning Edition ran a story about Bowser, and NPR included the photograph on their website, with a caption crediting it to "James A. Chambers, U.S. Army Deputy, Office of the Chief, Military Intelligence." A radio network might seem an unlikely venue for circulating a photograph, but NPR webpages are rife with images supporting each radio story, a fact that exemplifies the extent to which the Internet has made accessing and distributing visual content not only easy but seemingly necessary. (Try to find a popular, public-facing web page without any visuals.)

When my publisher, HarperCollins, asked for images to include in my novel, I dutifully sent the picture purportedly of Bowser. With photographs of Van Lew, Jefferson Davis, and other Civil War figures easy to find, it seemed only fair to feature a picture of Bowser herself. Cautiously, I captioned the image as "rumored to be of Mary Bowser." Ultimately, I couldn't resist the urge to show what Bowser looked like, even though elements of the photograph had always troubled me.

As historian and expert on internet hoaxes T. Mills Kelly warns, we should be skeptical about any Internet source that fills a gap in the historical record too neatly. What was the likelihood that a woman for whom we have no birth or death dates, who used several aliases throughout her life, and who lived during the earliest decades of photography, happened to leave a clearly documented studio portrait?

My doubts about the image grew when I unearthed several post-war sources corroborating Bowser's participation in the Richmond espionage ring. One of these documents indicates that in June of 1867, the slave-turned-spy, then using the surname Garvin, left the U.S. for the West Indies; after that date, she disappears from the historical record. But both the dress the figure in the photograph wears and the chair next to which she stands appear to be from a much later period. Could the only surviving portrait of Bowser really have been taken years, perhaps decades, after the woman herself otherwise seems to have vanished?

Diligence, doubt, and dumb luck -- the great triumvirate of historical research -- finally led me to an answer. In 2011, I'd contacted both NPR librarian Kee Malesky and the military office listed in NPR's original caption for the photograph, but neither could provide any information about the image. Despite this seeming dead end, I kept seeking the original, and in January of 2013, I mentioned the mysterious provenance of the photograph to Paul Grasmehr, reference coordinator at the Pritzker Military Library. He put me in touch with Lori S. Tagg, command historian for the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, which inducted Bowser in 1995. Tagg searched their records and determined that "the Bowser photo most likely came from ... the Virginia State Library Pictures Collection."

This lead didn't initially seem promising. Now known as the Library of Virginia, this institution contains no reference in its catalog to an image of Bowser. But when I contacted Dana Puga in their Prints and Photographs Collection, she confirmed that the famed photograph was indeed on file in the library, "in the form of a cabinet card from the Petersburg Studio [of] C. R. Rees."

Quick research (on the Internet, I confess!) revealed that C. R. Rees took his first picture -- a daguerreotype -- around 1850. Cabinet cards began to be produced in the 1860s, suggesting a slim possibility that Mary Bowser might have posed for one. But C.R. Rees didn't open a studio in Petersburg, Virginia, until around 1880, making it unlikely any image captured there was of my spy. Luckily, a few months later a speaking engagement at the Museum of the Confederacy brought me to Richmond, Virginia, where I could at last view the elusive original.

This is the moment a historian lives for -- cradling a rare primary source in hand. And it was just as informative as I'd hoped. On the back of the cabinet card was written the name Mary Bowser, and the name was repeated on the attached mailing envelope, along with a street address in Petersburg.
Image courtesy of the Library of Virginia

So could this be my spy after all? The answer became clear when I turned the cabinet card over:
Image courtesy of the Library of Virginia

There, staring straight at the camera, was Mary Bowser, her features easily recognizable -- unlike the blurry version found online. Just as clear was the date the image was created: 1900. A better match for the clothing and furniture, but not for the spy, who by the turn into the twentieth century would have been about sixty years old. The image is of Mary Bowser ... just not the Mary Bowser we've been claiming her to be.

Having my suspicions about the photograph's authenticity confirmed left me more frustrated than vindicated. It doesn't take any advanced training to look at a clearly dated artifact and ascertain whether it could reasonably relate to a figure whose active moment in history occurred decades earlier. Whoever cropped the image to the form in which it recurs online removed a critical piece of historical evidence. But the ease with which NPR, US Army Intelligence, and I have all participated in the mistaken circulation of this image also reveals how much our expectations of history are products of the way we live in the 21st century.

As a current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art reminds us, the Civil War was more or less contemporaneous with the advent of photography, resulting in an unprecedentedly visual experience of the conflict, even for Americans who never ventured anywhere near a battlefield. The subsequent century and a half of technological advances in capturing and reproducing images have so substantially increased our expectation -- our demand -- for reliable, historic visual sources that it can be difficult for us to understand how ahistoric this desire is. But in Mary Bowser's own era, individuals didn't have our expectations of visual certainty. They were far less likely to know what someone, even a public figure, looked like, as contemporary descriptions of Bowser reveal.

A reporter for the Brooklyn Eagle who attended a lecture the former spy gave in September of 1865 described her as so "strongly resembling" the prominent abolitionist speaker Anna Dickinson that "they might, indeed, easily be mistaken for twin sisters." Given that Anna Dickinson was white, this description suggests that the speaker was light enough to pass. Yet when Mary first returned to Richmond in 1860, she was arrested for going out without a pass, indicating that she was visually recognizable as "colored" and therefore assumed on sight either to be a slave in need of a pass or a free black in need of proof of her legal status. And when she happened to meet Charles Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1867, Beecher described her as "a Juno, done in somber marble ... Her complexion was a deep brunette, her features regular, and expressive, her eyes exceedingly bright and sharp."

How are we to understand these contradictory sources? In an era in which photography was still in its infancy, it was rare to have a detailed sense of what someone beyond your immediate acquaintance looked like. The allusion to Anna Dickinson likely made sense to readers of the Eagle not as a specific physical description of the former intelligence agent but simply as a marker for the still unusual spectacle of a female speaker addressing an audience on political issues of the day. Although by our standards it might be regarded as an inaccurate comparison, the Eagle's description filled an expectation specific to its era, just as the photo purportedly of Bowser filled an expectation specific to our own era.

Bowser's story evidences the wonderful truth that Americans of all backgrounds contributed to our history. But the enormous holes in what we have of her biography remind us that gender, race, and class also shaped how millions of Americans went unrecorded in what we rely on as the historical record, because they were restricted from holding property, voting, leaving wills, or being accurately recorded in censuses. Wanting to commemorate an African American woman who played such a dramatic part in the Civil War is laudable. Expecting to have a photograph of her was borderline ludicrous. (Consider that even what seems to most Americans today like basic information about the Civil War, the number of military deaths during the conflict, remains a matter of estimation and conjecture.)

The story of the mistaken Mary Bowser reveals how an interest in history, especially women's history and black history, can blind us to how much about the past remains unknowable. The paradox of the information age is that our unprecedented access to information feeds an expectation that every search will yield plentiful -- and accurate -- results. But the type of evidence that our 21st-century sensibilities most desire may be the least likely to exist.

Uncovering the past is arduous work: Compare the ease with which an Internet search turns up the falsely labeled, cropped image of Mary Bowser with the number of sources I persistently contacted over a period of several years before locating the original cabinet card. Alas, in the age of the Internet, it may prove nearly impossible to curtail the use of that image as an avatar for the elusive slave-turned-spy, despite the definitive proof that it isn't her.

Probing how our own desires shape our understanding of history can be revelatory. If a genie granted me the ability to learn any three things about Bowser, I wouldn't choose what she looked like -- it's not nearly as important as understanding the choices she made that led to her extraordinary espionage, the dangers she faced in that position, or how she understood her own role in the struggle to end chattel slavery. But in telling her story, I admit I still find it hard not to want to offer a visual image, to present her in the way that is so quick, and so ubiquitous, today.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Interviewing Around Race In Black & White

Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee convene two panels to discuss the state of race relations in America. 

Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Common Core State Standards 
and Its Negative Impact Upon Black Education
by Drs Donald H Smith & Sam Anderson 
(for the National Black Education Agenda)

As we start a new school year in the Age of Privatization and Massive Testing, let us be armed with information and analysis that will help us beat back this racist and classist miseducation onslaught by the white megarich minority currently ruling the world. 

Our Struggle for Black Educational and Cultural Excellence is a Struggle for POWER!

The National Black Education Agenda (NBEA) is here to help us gain that POWER! 

Join US! Write to us at:
Visit our website: 

Thursday, August 01, 2013

July 31, 2013-

U.S. Higher Education System Perpetuates White Privilege, Report Says

By Casey McDermott

Colleges and universities have succeeded in attracting more underrepresented-minority students, but that increased access for black and Hispanic students has been accompanied by increasing campus polarization on the basis of race and ethnicity, says a report released on Wednesday by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.

The result, it says, is a system in which elite selective colleges enroll predominantly white students while black and Hispanic students, even high-achieving ones, largely attend open-access institutions. Because the latter group of colleges spends less on instruction and sees lower shares of students through to graduation, higher education has thus become a "passive agent" in perpetuating white privilege, says the report, "Separate and Unequal: How Higher Education Reinforces the Intergenerational Reproduction of White Racial Privilege."

"The postsecondary system mimics and magnifies the racial and ethnic inequality in educational preparation it inherits from the K-12 system and then projects this inequality into the labor market," the report says.

From 1995 to 2009, freshman enrollments increased for African-American students by 73 percent, for Hispanic students by 107 percent, and for white students by 15 percent, according to the report.

But among white freshmen during that time, 82 percent of new enrollments were at the most selective four-year institutions, whereas most of the new freshman enrollments for Hispanic and African-American students—72 percent and 68 percent, respectively—were at open-access two- and four-year institutions.

The implications of those enrollment patterns are profound, the report argues. Students who attend open-access institutions are less likely to complete their degrees on time and less likely to go on to earn graduate degrees, it says. Meanwhile, when African-American and Hispanic students do attend more-selective institutions, the results are dramatic, the report says: The students' earnings advantage, for instance, increases by 21 percent. Beyond Preparedness

Disparities in college attendance and outcomes by race are not explained away by differences in college preparation, the report argues. Each year, it notes, 111,000 African-American and Hispanic students graduate in the upper half of their high-school classes but don't finish college in the next eight years.

"Many African-Americans and Hispanics are unprepared for college," the report says, "but whites who are equally unprepared still get more postsecondary opportunities."

When high-achieving minority students go to open-access colleges, they are about half as likely to graduate as those who attend more-selective institutions, according to the report.

Students' college outcomes are often linked to socioeconomic factors, but those are not the whole picture, Anthony P. Carnevale, the Georgetown center's director and a co-author of the report, said in an interview. "Race is an added vulnerability that makes low income and low parental education and other variables more powerful," he said.

The report brings more attention to the "widening chasm" between elite colleges and underrepresented-minority students who are qualified but ultimately do not apply to or enroll in such institutions, said Brian K. Bridges, executive director of the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute at UNCF, formerly the United Negro College Fund. He cited the Gates Millennium Scholars program, which awards grants to high-achieving minority students with significant financial need, as one model for opening up access to elite institutions. 'Cool Off the Arms Race' for Prestige

Researchers in economics and other fields have recently experimented with more outreach to low-income students, many of whom are members of minority groups. Interventions such as sending students text messages about tasks necessary to prepare for college or providing them with customized college information have been found to affect their choice of whether and where to enroll.

In terms of institutional strategies, elite colleges could take a cue from their open-access peers, said Deborah A. Santiago, co-founder and vice president for policy and research at Excelencia in Education, an advocacy group for Latino students. Instead of just relying on admissions events at local high schools and other venues, Ms. Santiago said, selective colleges could establish partnerships with "promotoras" in predominantly Hispanic communities or work more with churches and other organizations.

The report does not make policy recommendations, and Mr. Carnevale said he is not optimistic about a realistic short-term solution to stratification. Still, he offered a few suggestions, including greater rewards to "striving institutions and individuals."

Colleges need financial incentives to attract and graduate low-income minority students, and those students need more financial support, he said. Institutions, he said, should recognize those priorities and "cool off the arms race" for prestige.

Stratification has been apparent for decades and has only gotten worse, said Michael A. Olivas, director of the Institute of Higher Education Law and Governance at the University of Houston. He called for more examination of legislative and legal solutions, and greater attention to the plight of immigrant students.

At this point, Mr. Olivas said, "I don't think simply describing the problem is going to help."
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