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William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008), Remembering a Respected Adversary February 27, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in Affirmative Action, race, William F. Buckley.
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As I type this blog entry, major media outlets around the nation are responding to the breaking news that William F. Buckley, the 82 year-old conservative thinker, pundit, television host, and founder of the bi-weekly National Review, was found dead this morning by his cook, at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. May he rest in peace.

While I never met Mr. Buckley, I followed his career with great interest. Rarely did I share his conservative perspectives, especially when it came to issues of race. Still, I found in Mr. Buckley’s articulation of his ideas two elements that are missing from so much of today’s right-wing political commentary — critical thinking and intellectual rigor.

This brief biography, excerpted from an obituary by Associated Press reporter Hillel Italie,  charts Buckley’s rise to the rank of conservative icon:

Buckley founded the biweekly magazine National Review in 1955, declaring that he proposed to stand “athwart history, yelling `Stop’ at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who urge it.” Not only did he help revive conservative ideology, especially unbending anti-Communism and free market economics, his persona was a dynamic break from such dour right-wing predecessors as Sen. Robert Taft.

Although it perpetually lost money, the National Review built its circulation from 16,000 in 1957 to 125,000 in 1964, the year conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater was the Republican presidential candidate. The magazine claimed a circulation of 155,000 when Buckley relinquished control in 2004, citing concerns about his mortality, and over the years the National Review attracted numerous young writers, some who remained conservative (George Will, David Brooks), and some who didn’t (Joan Didion, Garry Wills).

“I was very fond of him,” Didion said Wednesday. “Everyone was, even if they didn’t agree with him.”

Born Nov. 24, 1925, in New York City, William Frank Buckley Jr. was the sixth of 10 children of a a multimillionaire with oil holdings in seven countries. The son spent his early childhood in France and England, in exclusive Roman Catholic schools.

His prominent family also included his brother James, who became a one-term senator from New York in the 1970s; his socialite wife, Pat, who died in April 2007; and their son, Christopher, a noted author and satirist (“Thank You for Smoking“).

In memory of William F. Buckley, Jr. and his ever articulate, always provocative ideas, I give you this excerpt from the August 1, 2000 edition of “On the Right,” a regular Buckley column. In it he critiques General Colin Powell’s stance on affirmative action, an issue of great interest to this blogger:

 Gen. Colin Powell is a formidable asset of the GOP and indeed the nation. That he is himself black is providential. If he were a Scandinavian, one likes to think that he’d have risen as fast as he has. But a dirty little doubt in the matter would probably nestle in the closet of suspicion. His gifts are manifest, indeed radiant, so much so that anyone inclined to cultivate suspicion that his ascendancy depended on white patronization is quickly reassured by mere exposure to his strengths.

Now these aren’t always quite sufficient to keep him out of rhetorical difficulty. The New York Times wasted only three introductory paragraphs before showcasing Gen. Powell’s reference to affirmative action. “We must understand the cynicism that exists in the black community. The kind of cynicism that is created when, for example, some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action that helped a few thousand black kids get an education. But hardly a whimper is heard from them over affirmative action for lobbyists who load our federal tax codes with preferences for special interests.”

That is a paralogism of the first order. (1) The case against affirmative action is the same as the case for equal treatment under the law. (2) The purpose of lobbies is to engage legislative or regulatory attention in behalf of an entity. That might be a corporation, or it might be a class, or it might be a minority. Lobbies are sometimes pleading for equal treatment, sometimes for special treatment. If yours is a sugar lobby pleading for higher tariffs, you are engaged in the traditional exercise of special pleading, and the pain is borne by the consumers, who pay more for sugar.

(3) Affirmative action, of the kind opposed by public officials from Sen. Hubert Humphrey to Ward Connerly, targets individual victims, the non-black, non-Hispanic, non-Asian turned down for reasons other than competitive disqualification. There should be as many voices raised up against sugar tariffs as against racial discrimination, but the two contests are at entirely different moral levels. In the 1850s, the Yankees argued in favor of high tariffs and against human slavery. They’d have been disappointed to hear themselves indicted for cynicism.

Gen. Powell, so clear in his vision on so many matters, gets swallowed up every now and again when the matter touches on race and discrimination. Thus he mourns that there are 2 million convicts and that “most of them are men and the majority of those men are minorities.” That is a conceptual tongue-twister, the business of majorities being minorities. And Gen. Powell was less than satisfying in his failure to plumb the question: Why should this be so? Why are there more blacks and Hispanics in jail?

On the other hand he was telling the Republican Convention and the American people at large that a successful approach to the problem has been made in Texas, under Gov. George Bush. Bush “expanded the charter school movement. Seventeen thousand Texas kids are now in charter schools. Seventy-eight percent of those kids are minorities. Their parents had a choice, and they decided what was best for their kids. The results in Texas have been dramatic. The number of students passing all parts of the standardized tests since 1994 has increased by 51 percent. Even more exciting, the number of minority students passing the tests has increased by 89 percent.”

Along that narrow road, avoiding the abyss of affirmative action on the one side, neglect on the other, Gov. Bush came out with a formula that Gen. Powell has embraced. “Governor Bush has guaranteed acceptance at public universities for the top 10 percent of every high school graduating class in the state.” If the cynicism Gen. Powell so much deplores is to be avoided, the world needs to know that some schools in Texas don’t become de facto conduits for noncompetitive minorities.

 Posted by Ajuan Mance


Prairie View Students March to Restore Voting Rights February 25, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, African American Students, Black Colleges, Black Students, Primary Elections, race, racism, Student Voters, Waller County.
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Prairie View Marchers

Down in Waller County, Texas it’s started to look an awful lot like the bad old days of poll taxes, grandfather clauses, and literacy tests. Back in the bad old days, the white folks could brag that “their Blacks” knew their place, and that place did not include the voting booth.

At a time when unprecedented young people are flocking to the polls to cast their vote for two candidates whose very presence as Democratic front runners encourages us toward “the audacity of hope” in a new future, Waller County voting officials have chosen not to support students involvement in the political process, but — instead — to audaciously and shamelessly resurrect a racist politics of disenfrancishement that should have been buried along with blackface minstrelsy and Jim Crow.

In my blog post of January 7, 2008, I wrote of the current backlash against the growing participation of student voters in the the various state primaries. My roster of these efforts includes proposed legislation from the GOP side of the aisle and derisive comments about college voters form select and high profile Democrat. Now I must add to that list the more hands-on approach of Waller County’s voting officials, whose inexplicable decision to “cut early-voting sites from a half dozen throughout the county to one in Hempstead,” about 7 milse from the historically Black Prairie View A&M University, home to approximately 3000 registered voters (source: The Houston Chronicle), has prompted a surge of student activism.

On Tuesday, February 21, more than 2000 Prairie View students (according to police estimates) and their supports held a 7 mile march to the polls in order to protest the lack of a polling place on the 7000-student campus. Just last week the U.S. Department of Justice intervened and Waller county added three temporary polling places for early voting.

Students protested the absence of an early voting location on or near the campus, a problem which — strictly speaking — was not immediately solved by the county’s promise to add additional temporary polling sites. The Texas presidential primary is on March 4, but the county’s temporary pollings sites only opened on February 22, three days after on-site early voting had already begun throughout the state. Tuesday’s march coincided with the opening of poll sites for early voting across Texas.

Viewed in the context of other recent efforts to discourage student voting, it might appear that the actions of Waller County officials are unrelated to the fact that Prairie View A&M has an overwhelmingly Black student body. Given that most students, reglardles of race, vote for Democrats, this could be seen as an effort to suppress the Democratic vote in this region. In Texas, however, primary voters only vote within their party; and so the desire suppress the student vote in Waller County can be nothing but race-based. To limit the A&M student vote at the primary stage is to disenfranchise substantial numbers of likely Black voters.

In short, then, the net effect of Waller County’s suspicious actions would be to limit polling access for African American voters who, like most young voters this primary season,  are likely to vote for Obama, the African American presidential candidate. If Waller County officials are not willing to acknowledge that this was their main goal (to undercut Black voters’ ability to cast votes for a Black candidate), then they should at least concede that it was viewed as a desirable side-effect of their polling site maneuverings.

To read more on this story, see the following coverage:

Black Milestones in Higher Education: Navy Edition February 23, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, Annapolis, Black Faculty, Black Students, Bruce Grooms, Higher Education, Janie L. Mines, John Henry Conyers, John McCain, Samuel Massie, U.S. Naval Academy, Wesley Brown.
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Naval Academy Letter and Star

In honor of primary season I’ve decided — at least momentarily — to focus my Black Milestones in Higher Education series on the undergraduate alma maters of the major presidential candidates up for nomination.

The series begins with the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis), the undergraduate alma mater of Republican front runner John McCain.

History and Overview: The United States Naval Academy was founded in 1845 by then Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft. Called the Naval School and located on ten acres of land in Annapolis, Maryland, it enrolled 50 students, taught by 7 professors. In 1850, the institution changed its name to the U.S. Naval Academy and added hands-on maritime training to its curriculum.

Between 1872 and 1949, six Black male students enrolled at the academy, but it was not until the latter year that the Academy saw its first African American graduate. The academy enrolled its first women students in 1976, and saw its first Black female graduate in 1981.

Today the U.S. Naval Academy enrolls over 4000 students. Out of the 1227 students who matriculated in the fall of 2007, only 69 were African American.

Black Milestones at the U.S. Naval Academy:

  • 1872 — John Henry Conyers becomes the first African American to enroll in the U.S. Naval Academy. Conyers experiences shunning from the other cadets and leaves the academy the following year due to academic difficulties.
  • 1941 — Black Harvard University lacrosse player Lucien V. Alexis, Jr. is forced to sit on the sidelines during at game against Navy because the academy does not permit Black people on its playing fields.
  • 1949 — Wesley A. Brown becomes the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • 1966 — Professor Samuel P. Massie, Jr joins the Department of Chemistry to become the first African American faculty member at the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • 1976 — Janie L. Mines becomes the first African American woman to enter the U.S. Naval Academy. She is the sole African American out of 81 women admitted during this, the first year that the Academy opens its doors to women.
  • 1981 — Janie L. Mines becomes the first African American woman to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • 2005 — Rear Admiral Bruce Grooms, a 1980 Annapolis graduate, becomes the first African American Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy, and the highest ranking African American in the history of the institution. At the time that he became Commandant, Rear Admiral Grooms held the rank of Captain.
  • 2006 — The U.S. Naval Academy breaks ground on the Wesley Brown Field House, named in honor its first African American graduate. The field house is a 140,000 square foot atheltic facility.

Then Captain Bruce Grooms, the first African American Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy, and Wesley A. Brown, the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, break ground on the Wesley Brown Field House.

Grooms and Brown

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Black Academics Weigh in on Hillary Clinton February 22, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, Black Faculty, Cornel West, Gender, Hillary Clinton, Obama, race, Shelby Steele.

The Clinton campaign, like the Obama campaign, is paving new political terrain, simply by virtue of the fact that the candidate is something other that a white male; and while bloggers, columnists, and pundits from all over the political spectrum are actively encouraging voters to look past race and gender and, instead, to vote based on the candidates’ records and ideas, there is no doubt that in this nation — one in which race and gender have far too long been the primary measures by which rights and wealth and granted — race and gender politics do and will continue to inform how Clinton and Obama, their parties, their advisors, and the electorate engage with both of these leading Democratic and their ideas.

Below are some of the most compelling and provocative statements by Black academics on the election and its link to the racial and sexual politics of this nation:

There’s been a lot of talk about women and their choices since Super Tuesday, when African American women overwhelmingly voted for Sen. Barack Obama, while white women picked Sen. Hillary Clinton. Some pundits automatically concluded that “race trumped gender” among black women. I hate this analysis because it relegates black women to junior-partner status in political struggles. It is not that simple. A lot of people have tried to gently explain the divide, so I’m just going to put this out there: Sister voters have a beef with white women like Clinton that is both racial and gendered. It is not about choosing race; it is about rejecting Hillary’s Scarlett O’Hara act.

Black women voters are rejecting Hillary Clinton because her ascendance is not a liberating symbol. Her tears are not moving. Her voice does not resonate. Throughout history, privileged white women, attached at the hip to their husband’s power and influence, have been complicit in black women’s oppression. Many African American women are simply refusing to play Mammy to Hillary.

Media have cast the choice in the current election as a simple binary between race and gender. But those who claim that black women are ignoring gender issues by voting for Barack just don’t get it. Hillary cannot have black women’s allegiance for free. Black women will not be relegated to the status of supportive Mammy, easing the way for privileged white women to enter the halls of power.

Black feminist politics is not simple identity politics. It is not about letting brothers handle the race stuff, or about letting white women dominate the gender stuff. The black woman’s fight is on all fronts. Sisters resist the ways that black male leaders try to silence women’s issues and squash female leadership. At the same time, black women challenge white women who want to claim black women’s allegiance without acknowledging the realities of racism. They will not be drawn into any simple allegiance that refuses to account for their full humanity and citizenship.

Now that Obama has regained his momentum, the Clintons seem prepared to return to the strategy of promoting Hillary as an experienced politician with more than a matrimonial connection to the White House. Although this approach may win Hillary the presidency, it will do little to destroy controlling images of women as extensions of male desire and ambition.

Contrary to what Hillary has said, this is the real glass ceiling that women must crack.

 …I think Hillary Clinton has a long way to go, because she’s carrying a baggage, as it were, of the kind of neoliberalist—the neoliberal project of her husband.

  • Shelby Steele on MSNBC’s Hardball, December 7, 2007. Click here to listen to an audio clip. Shelby Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

…she’s doing very well with the Black vote because she identifies with people like Al Sharpton. She identifies with people who African Americans are very comfortable with. In many ways she’s Blacker that Barack Obama is. His primary appeal is still with whites.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

In Higher Ed, There’s More than One Kind of Diversity February 20, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, African American Students, Black Faculty, Black PhDs, Black Students, Business School, Education, Graduate School, Higher Education, race.

2007 may be remembered as the year that intra-racial diversity finally hit the news. From college dailies to academic weeklies to mainstream newspapers, reporters rushed to Harvard and other selective college campuses to address what has been portrayed as the overrepresentation at such schools of the children of Black immigrants and the underrepresentation at those same institutions of the descendants of U.S. Blacks. In so doing, they exposed the failure of college and university admission offices to understand the vast diversity that exists within Blackness, noting that, at Ivy League institutions in particular, outreach and recruitment efforts created in response to the lasting effects of slavery and Jim Crow upon Blacks of U.S. were disproportionately benefitting students of African descent whose parents were born outside of the U.S.

The downside of this reporting is that it could fan the flames of intra-diasporic competition and dissension. The upside is that it underscores the wide range of nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures that constitute the Black population of the United States. As diverse our ethnicities may be, however, we — the Black people of the U.S. — seem to be of one mind (or maybe two) when it comes to choosing a graduate program.

A recent report in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (JBHE Weekly Bulletin for 12/17/07) revealed that more than 50 percent of all Black graduate students are enrolled in either business or education programs. This follow passage from the JBHE Bulletin explains the current trend:

A new report from the Graduate Record Examinations Board and the Council of Graduate Schools finds that among all black graduate students, 31 percent were enrolled in graduate education degree programs. Another 22 percent were enrolled in graduate business programs. No other graduate field had more than 10 percent of black graduate students.

These statistics reveal a key tension in Black students’ pursuit of higher education. It is the tension between Black America’s belief in the value of education and Black America’s general ambivalence toward the notion of learning for learning’s sake.

Do not misunderstand where I am going with this assertion. I do not believe that Black people are resistant to or opposed to higher education. In fact, I vehemently reject the accusation by John McWhorter, Bill Cosby, and other prominent Black voices that African Americans somehow associate good grades and the pursuit of education with “acting white.” Indeed, people who pay attention to what African Americans express about their beliefs (as opposed to the insults that angry teens might hurl at their schoolmates) understand that U.S. Black people believe deeply in education — as a ticket to upward mobility, as a stamp of legitimacy necessary for success in a white-dominated workplace, and as a profound rejection of the subordinated status that Euro-dominant mainstream has encouraged us to occupy for so long.

When I say, then, that many Black Americans feel a general ambivalence toward the notion of learning for learning’s sake — toward the acquisition of knowledge undertaken solely for the purpose of knowing and, similiarly, toward undertaking the pursuit of a line of scholarly inquiry as one’s life work — I mean that for many U.S. Blacks the pursuit of higher education is tantamount to upgrading life’s toolkit for success. Education is undertaken pragmatically, and it is embraced as the key which will open the door to post-graduate stability and prosperity.

At the undergraduate level this means that Black business and economics majors outnumber Black science and math majors; Black journalism and communications majors outnumber Black English majors; and history, philosophy, language, music, and art majors are rare or even non-existent.

At the graduate level, business and education are the fields of choice; and thus the cycle is perpetuated. As long as African American graduate students flock to business and education, and as long as they underenroll in other disciplines, there will continue to be a dearth of Black professors in medicine, in law, and in most academic fields. Black students need Black mentors in all fields, to inform them of the possibilities for post-graduate study in those fields, and to help them understand the important links between undergraduate disciplinary studies in English, history, philosophy, and modern languages and success in careers like advertising, law enforcement, politics, and public policy, or to advise them in some of the important ways that majoring not only in the sciences and social sciences, but in the humanities and arts as well can lay a strong foundation for graduate study in medicine, law and — yes — even business.

In my life, it was my direct classroom contact with African American English professors Dorothy Denniston and Michael Harper that made real to me the possibility that my passion for this subject could become a viable career. On the other hand, the absence at my undergraduate institution of Black art professors conveyed to me a completely different message about my other great love, the visual arts. As far as I could see, unless I was wealthy and white, there would be no real work for me as an artmaker; there was no point in even enrolling in a course in that department. Since that time I have, of course, learned differently; and even though I am very happy in my career as a literature professor, I cannot help but wonder how different my life might have been if I had had personal contact with even one Black art professional.

I was lucky. Although I was turned off from pursuing one of my great pleasures, I have found great satisfaction and joy in the pursuit of another of my fields of choice. But how many budding painters, engineers, surgeons, archivists, and legal scholars of African descent will be turned off by the absence of Black mentors and role models in their areas of interest? How many great Black artists or physicists, philosophers or historians put these passions aside in favor of those career paths that appear to be more welcoming to Black people?

Until Black students enroll in medical, law, and Ph.D. programs with the same enthusiasm that they undertake studies toward the M.B.A. and the Ed.D., institutions will have to develop innovative strategies for introducing Black students to the possibilities that exist for success, fulfillment, and career satisfaction beyond the fields of business and education.

As I close this post, I cannot help but think of how much it meant to me to encounter real live Black professors of English. The experience of studying with people of African descent who shared my passion for reading, writing, and thinking about literature was transforming. More than any diploma, award, or academic honor, their reflection of my academic interests and passions validated my pursuit of literature study, during my undergraduate years and for many years after.

I feel great sadness for those Black students who will never have a similar experience. I trust in their capacity to find validation for their interests and affirmation of the possibilities available to them as scholars without the benefit same-race role models; but I still look ahead to the day when no African, African American, or Afro-Caribbean student at any institution will have to wonder whether or not Black folks can succeed. I look ahead to the time when the presence of Black men and women, as full-time, tenure-track faculty in all disciplines, at all institutions will make such questions obsolete.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Sub-prime Crisis Threatens Black College Access February 17, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in African American Students, African Americans, Bethune Cookman, Black Students, Edward Waters College, FAMU, Florida, Foreclosures, Higher Education, Subprime.
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Wealth-building is the cornerstone of true upward mobility in the United States. When I speak of true upward mobility, I mean the type of financial security that can be transferred to future generations. When I speak of true upward mobility, I mean the type of upward mobility that is characterized by the transmission of the parents’ economic gains to their children  and their children’s children. When I speak of true upward mobility, I mean the type of financial security that has, for the most part, been elusive to African Americans.

The 2/7/08 edition of the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education weekly news bulletin has confirmed one of my main concerns regarding the fallout of the subprime lending crisis, that the epidemic of foreclosures that has plagued the U.S. over the past year, one that has disproportionately impacted African Americans and Latinos, may jeopardize African Americans’ access to higher education. JBHE bulletin describes a recent study that explores the impact of the subprime crisis on African American wealthbuilding:

Now a new report from the United for a Fair Economy, a Boston-based nonprofit organization dealing with the issue of economic inequality, estimates that the subprime mortgage crisis [will] result in a loss of wealth for black families of between $71 billion and $122 billion. According to the report, titled Foreclosed: State of the Dream 2008, the subprime mortgage crisis will cause the largest loss of African-American wealth in the history of the United States. The authors of the report state that 40 percent of the losses accrued by blacks are a result of aggressive and unethical mortgage practices by subprime lenders.

JBHE concludes that, “This vast loss of wealth by black families will make it more difficult in the years to come for many African-American students to afford the cost of higher education.”

Which Black families will be hardest hit, and where? And what is the potential effect of this crisis on the future of Black higher education in those areas?

The disproportionate impact of the current mortgage crisis on Black families has influenced the geography of this trend. Consider the following. Forbes magazine recently identified the following as the 10 housing markets hit hardest by the current mortgage crisis. In order of ascending order, based on the severity of the impact on housing prices, they are:

Atlanta, GA (prices down 7.1%)

Detroit, MI (prices down 7.7%)

Jacksonville, FL (prices down 8.7%)

Phoenix, AZ (prices down 9.5%)

Miami, FL (prices down 10.6%)

Los Angeles, CA (prices down 10.7%)

Tampa, FL (prices down 11.7%)

San Diego, CA (prices down 17.1%)

Las Vegas, NV (prices down 17.2%)

Sacramento, CA (prices down 18.5%)

Most of the cities hit hardest by the subprime crises have considerable African American populations; and cities like Atlanta, Jacksonville, Detroit, and Sacramento count among their citizens Black families most whose net worth is concentrated in a single real estate holding, the family home. The loss of that home has the capacity not only to destabilize the immediately financial health of a household, but to derail short- and long-term plans for upward mobility and increased economic prospects. Among those long-term strategies jeopardized by the loss of a family’s primary investment (the family home) is college education for the children.

Consider the state of Florida, for example, the location of three of the cities hit hardest by the current forclosure crisis. Each of those cities has a considerable Black populations. According to the U.S. Census, African Americans make up 26.1 percent of the population of Tampa (about 79,000 people), 29 percent of the population of Jacksonville (about 227,000), and 20.2% of the population of Miami (about 485,000). The number of Florida families impacted by this crisis is unclear, as is the specific number of Black families. It is reasonable, however, to imagine that Black college students and Black college bound high school students will be (and already are) disproportionately hurt by the current economic conditions.

It has already been established that the subprime and foreclosure crisis is having a disproportionate impact of families of color. Given that home equity is one of the more common funding options available to familites seeking to finance a college education (like federal student loans, the interest is deductible, but unlike a student loan, there is no income ceiling; students from middle and even upper middle class families have access to this type of financing), we can expect to see greater and greater numbers of Black students either postponing college or opting to begin their post-secondary educations at their local community college. Similarly, we are likely to see greater attrition rates among students from the Black middle class, the demographic most likely to rely on home equity funding for college expenses.

A number of sources have reported that children born into the Black middle class are considerably less likely to reach their parents’ level of prosperity than are their white counterparts. Reports on Black downward mobility have appeared in USA Today, AlterNet, The Washington Post, and a number of other mainstream and alternative news sources. “The American Dream, or a Nightmare for Black Americans,” a recent article by AlterNet’s Joshua Holland, makes explicit the relationship between Black upward mobility, Black net worth, and higher education. He explains that when comparing Black and white families, “[t]he differences in accumulated wealth — in net worth — are far greater than the differences in income, and that impacts black families’ prospects of moving up in a big way.” Holland continues:

In Being Black, Living in the Red, Dalton Conley, director of NYU’s Center for Advanced Social Science Research, showed that white families, on average, had eight times the accumulated wealth of black families who earned the same, and that remained true even when you adjust for education levels and savings rates. It is, as Conley told me in an interview last year, “the legacy of racial inequality from generations past.”

Crucial to understanding how that impacts economic mobility is the concept of “intergenerational assistance.” That’s just a fancy way of saying that your chances to advance economically are very much impacted by whether your family can help with tuition payments, a down payment on a house or seed money to start a business. Conley compares two hypothetical kids — one from a family with some money and the other without. Both are born with the same level of intelligence, both are ambitious and both work hard in school. In a true meritocracy, the two would enjoy the same opportunity to get ahead. But the fact that one might graduate from college free and clear while the other is burdened with $50,000 in debt makes a huge difference in terms of their long-term earnings prospects.

Home equity allows parents to take on their children’s debt as part of a forward-thinking, tax-exempt strategy for upward mobility, one that considers the college education of a family’s children a key component in building intergenerational economic growth and financial security.

The current mortgage crisis will only increase this gap between white parents’ capacity to transmit wealth to their children through the funding of their college educations and Black parents’ capacity to do the same. In the case of Florida, I will be keeping an eye out for any initiatives that the state’s colleges and universities adopt to respond to the changing economic fortunes of those students impacted by their families’ short sales and foreclosures. I am especially interested in seeing how the state’s HBCUs –Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M University, Edward Waters College, and Florida Memorial College– deal with the impact of this statewide financial crisis on their applicants and enrolled students.

Stay tuned.

Click here to read the full text of the 2/7/08 edition of the JBHE bulletin.

Click here to read the full text of the Forbes article, “America’s Free – Falling Housing Markets.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

What Black College Papers are Saying About The Candidates February 7, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in African American Students, Black Colleges, Current Events, Super Tuesday.
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From “Obama Wins Mock Election,” by Vanessa Rozier, The Hilltop, Howard University, 2/6/08

Howard University College Democrats President Debauch Ward believes Obama is the right choice for college students
“I generally thought that the Howard University support would be with Barack Obama because I feel that he represents a lot of the ideals that we embrace here,” he said. “We live by Leadership for America and the global community, and Sen. Obama exemplifies that motto.”

Chigozie Onyema, a senior African studies major, supports Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).

“Kucinich was my candidate and still is my candidate,” Onyema said. “But if I had to pick, I would certainly pick Obama before Clinton. Her stand on the war was a bit more conservative. I’m a bit more optimistic about what Obama represents because Clinton is a more polarized figure.”

From “Vote on Issues, Not Race, Gender,” by The Editorial Board, The Famuan, Florida A&M University

This year’s presidential race is sure to make history, with democratic front-runners Clinton and Obama.

We shouldn’t focus on the race or gender of the two candidates, but instead on what political issues he or she stands for.

Americans have to be educated on the political status of our country and keep abreast on which candidate could possibly best turn the nation around.

The race shouldn’t be about blacks sticking with whom they know and therefore voting for Obama. And it shouldn’t be about whites or women voting Clinton.

A different type of president will be in the White House when everything plays out, but instead decisions should be made based on issues and facts.

From “Politics Begins at Home,” by Layla Brown, Campus Echo, North Carolina Central University

Remember, our political potential is much greater than voting once every four years.

Our power is based in community activism, starting with your local and then state elections.

Those who choose to only engage in politics on a national scale, without paying attention to local issues, are simply underachievers who seldom realize their potential.

From “Why Can’t I Vote for Hillary Clinton?” by Randol G. Davis, The Maroon Tiger, Morehouse College

Why can I not say that without sparking an argument with one of my friends from Morehouse? Why is not acceptable for me, a black woman, to support the Senator from New York in her increasingly successful presidential campaign? Why does the fact that I share the same race with Barack Obama obligate me to vote for him?

Now, Obama often calls for change, but can he really bring true change? Male leaders tend to think of everything in terms of their ego and domination, while women think of think of things in regard to logistics. A prime example of this male personality complex is George Bush. After 9/11, he wanted to show everyone what a powerful man he was and now we’ve ended up in Iraq.

Electing Hillary Clinton, a woman, can take us away from a policy dominated by the inclination towards military action instead of diplomacy. Now, some may start yelling that Hillary helped put us in Iraq by voting for the war. If we want to be honest, Hillary likely voted for the war because she-like everyone else in the country-wrongly thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Posted by Ajuan Mance