Saturday, January 14, 2017
Looking back eight years later, I had a lot of high expectations in Obama. However, I should have known that Obama could not reverse three centuries of racial discrimination in just eight years. Yet, I cannot help that a lot of the optimism and admiration that black Americans entrusted in Obama went unfulfilled. While my family dismissed my pessimism, I cringed when Obama preferred incremental policies that did not address the root of the problems that still plague black Americans: higher unemployment rate regardless of educational attainment than whites, stubbornly high poverty rate, a mass incarceration crisis, under-resourced public schools, and a widening racial wealth gap.
William A. Darity, Jr. explained so eloquently in his must-read The Atlantic op-ed: "Leaders who look like you do not necessarily act in ways that benefit you." Obama did more for immigrants and the LGBT community than blacks who desperately looked up to him as a savior to their plight in the inner city. His successor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, focused her campaign on three issues--women's rights (e.g., equal pay for equal work, family paid leave, and reproductive rights), amnesty for undocumented immigrants, and support for LGBT rights (including same-sex marriage)--that had little to do with combatting institutional and structural racism.
Many of Obama's executive orders did not help working-class Americans suffering from wage stagnation and free trade policies. Sure, the cost of gasoline is lower now but the cost of housing and health care premiums continues to increase exponentially. In addition, Obama was no friend to organized labor, having never met with the union leaders during his entire presidency. The Democratic national leadership failed to understand that a campaign focused primarily on political correctness and identity liberalism (race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality) runs the risk of ignoring the widening income inequality between the rich and the poor. America was turning into a serfdom society with a shrinking middle class and expanding working poor.
Nonetheless, I was delighted that Obama broke the color barrier in the U.S. presidency. This symbolic moment inspired so many black Americans to not lose hope on their native land. But I wished that Obama had done more to reduce the poverty rate in black communities, especially in Chicago. His leadership failed to provide blacks in the Midwestern cities with decent-paying jobs. Let us hope that President-elect Donald Trump delivers on his proposed pledge, the New Deal for Black America.
Friday, December 23, 2016
The university is historically known for its student activism, popular stop for U.S. presidents and important figures, and its role in defending affirmative action at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 (though Michigan voters in 2006 approved restrictions on the use of race in college admissions in Proposal 2). As a proud U-M alumna, U-M also boasts the best graduate programs in my fields: higher education administration and social work. To my delight, the current U-M president, Mark S. Schlissel, has picked diversity, equity and inclusion as well as poverty solutions as two of his five areas of focus in his administration.
Browse the links below for more information about the U-M Bicentennial:
- PSA kicks off U-M bicentennial with a historic look back
- Welcome to the University of Michigan's Bicentennial (Office of the President)
- Office of the President's Message on the U-M Bicentennial
- Official Planned Celebrations in 2017 (University Record)
- News Coverage regarding the U-M Bicentennial (University Record)
- 200 Years and Counting (Michigan Today)
- U-M Bicentennial YouTube Channel
- The University of Michigan, 1817-2017 (Millennium Project)
Five Bicentennial Symposia
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Back in 2009, Rick Erickson was happy with his job as a teacher in one of the state’s northernmost school districts on the shores of Lake Superior. He made $35,770 a year teaching chemistry and physics, which wasn’t a lot of money, but then again, he received stellar healthcare and pension benefits, and could talk honestly with administrators about what he needed as a teacher every two years when his union sat down with the school district in collective bargaining sessions.See this related article, Severe Inequality Is Incompatible with the American Dream:
Then, five years ago, Wisconsin passed Act 10, also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, which dramatically limited the ability of teachers and other public employees to bargain with employers on wages, benefits, and working conditions. After Act 10,Erickson saw his take-home pay drop dramatically: He now makes $30,650. His wife is a teacher, too, and together they make 11 percent less than they did before Act 10. The local union he once led no longer exists, and so he can’t bargain with the school district for things like prep time and sick days. He pays more for health care and his pension, and he says both he and his wife may now not be able to retire until they are much older than they had planned.
The numbers are sobering: People born in the 1940s had a 92 percent chance of earning more than their parents did at age 30. For people born in the 1980s, by contrast, the chances were just 50-50.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
More than ever before, today’s students need to be prepared to succeed in a diverse, global workforce. Diversity benefits communities, schools, and students from all backgrounds, and research has shown that more diverse organizations make better decisions with better results. CEOs, university presidents, the military, and other leaders have accordingly expressed a strong interest in increasing diversity to ensure our nation enjoys a culturally competent workforce that capitalizes on the diverse backgrounds, talents, and perspectives that have helped America succeed.
“I applaud the commitments to creating diverse campus communities that so many colleges and universities have long sought to implement by attracting, admitting, and educating diverse students. But we must acknowledge that we have more work left to ensure that our campuses are safe, inclusive, and supportive environments that encourage student success and college completion for students from all backgrounds,” Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said.