Friday, February 24, 2012

WP: Obama helps break ground on new Smithsonian’s black history museum on National Mall

In honor of Black History Month, I am very delighted that the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History is one step closer to construction in the National Mall. Future generations need to understand the African-American experience in this country, which goes back to the early 1600s. The Washington Post includes remarks from President Barack Obama:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama heralded a new national black history museum as “not just a record of tragedy, but a celebration of life” as he marked Wednesday’s groundbreaking of the long-sought-after museum on the National Mall.

During his brief remarks, Obama said the museum — the 19th in the Smithsonian Institution — would help future generations remember the sometimes difficult, often inspirational role, that African Americans have played in the nation’s history. And he said it was fitting that a museum telling the history of black life, art and culture would be located on the National Mall in the capital city.

“It was on this ground long ago that lives were once traded, where hundreds of thousands once marched for jobs and for freedom,” Obama said. “It was here that the pillars of democracy were built often by black hands.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

National Geographic: Rise and Shine, Detroit

The March/April 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler is dedicated to Detroit. It is a positive article, focusing on Detroit's comeback at the national level. This is following the success of Clint Eastwood's Super Bowl video of Detroit.
It's not called a “tug” of memory for nothing: I’m outside Detroit’s railroad station, and I instantly recall my mother’s gloved hand pulling mine as we rushed through the vast atrium that was inspired by the imperial baths of ancient Rome. We are in a hurry to get somewhere, and Detroit is, too. Even a little boy in the mid-1960s notices the tempo. The Motor City is in motion. We build America’s cars. Thanks to Berry Gordy’s Motown, the world hums our songs. The city, fifth largest in the U.S. by population, is at the top of its game.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

World Mourns the Loss of Legendary Icon, Whitney Houston

It's hard to believe that Whitney Houston is dead and gone. In my childhood (1990s), I had Whitney posters on my walls, listened to her numerous albums, and watched her films (The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale, and The Preacher's Wife). I would jam to "I'm Your Baby Tonight", "Greatest Love of All", "All the Man That I Need" and much more. She had the total package: beauty, talent, intelligence, and charisma. May she rest in peace and sing with the angels in heaven.

Whitney Houston wasn't any ordinary singer. She was an international superstar. The female version of Michael Jackson, breaking color barriers and introducing a new form of popular ballad music. In her lifetime, she won a career-high 415 awards (~75% of her nominations!). She was a huge crossover success in many musical genres-- pop, dance, gospel/Christian, r&b/soul, and (soft) rock. She was also an actress AND fashion model (she was one of the first black women to grace the covers of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Seventeen!). Her version of the "Star-Spangled Banner", the NATIONAL anthem, became a Billboard hit and is archived at the Smithsonian Museum! Tell me how many singers you know can do that today. Not even Madonna or Celine Dion can touch that.

She always stayed true to her church roots in New Jersey. Her songs were never about sex and violence. Her elocution of the lyrics were also superb! I think many pop stars could learn something from her legacy. That's why the people in New Jersey and the rest of the world are celebrating her life today. Her voice (in her prime) was magical, effortless, and inspirational. It's not a surprise that she's the #1 voice most young women want to emulate today. If you are truly a Whitney fan, please celebrate her legacy and stay tuned for the upcoming 1970s remake, Sparkle, which hits movie theaters this summer.

Kevin Costner's
eulogy was very touching at the funeral:
“Whitney, if you could hear me now, I would tell you, ‘You weren’t just good, you were great,’” Kevin said of Whitney’s “The Bodyguard” performance at her funeral at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, on Saturday. “You sang the whole damn song without a band. You made the picture what it was. A lot of leading men could’ve played my part, a lot of guys could’ve filled that role, but you, Whitney, I truly believe that you were the only one that could’ve played Rachel Marron at the time. You weren’t just pretty, you were as beautiful as a woman could be. And people didn’t just like you, Whitney, they loved you.

Clive Davis discusses Whitney's talent for interpreting lyrics below:
"Will there ever be? And then there came a time in 1998, because of the passing of years, for what they called a comeback album. As material accumulated, we would meet in my hotel bungalow, frankly in our pajamas at 1:00 a.m. She ordering the hamburger that she loved with French fries from room service. And I'll never forget the expression on her face when she first heard 'My Love is Your Love,' and 'It's Not Right But It's Okay.' She listened to each song carefully on the character. And we played each song over and over. And gradually, to my amazement, she already had learned the lyrics. And she started singing. With each playback, she started over and it wasn't -- it really wasn't long before she stood before me and totally owned each song. Finding meaning, I'm sure, the composers never even suspected was there. And that's the way it was. Song, videos, right from the beginning.

People, please ignore the haters out there who will rather demonize Whitney than celebrate her accomplishments. She was an angel with the golden voice. Thank you for sharing your gift to the world!

Monday, February 13, 2012

NYTimes: Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor

The New York Times recently pushed an article stating that income inequality is the leading factor in the widening educational gap between the rich and the poor. While race is still a contributing factor, poverty has more detrimental effects on the educational opportunities of children. I am delighted that policymakers and researchers are studying this issue. Poverty is also the leading cause of illiteracy, poor health outcomes, single-parent households, and high crime and delinquency.
It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.

Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.

“We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist.

Related Articles:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Careers for Caring People and Other Sensitive Types (2003)

Careers for Caring People and Other Sensitive Types (2003), by Adriana Paradis, is a vocational guidebook about care-giving careers. It presents a general overview of care-giving, the required personal qualifications, such as a general liking for people and intellectual curiosity, job availability, and personal and professional rewards as a care-giver. The primary focus of this book is job positions that call for shorter training periods, more practical for those with limited financial resources who need to start earning money as soon as possible.

This book is written for college students, recent graduates, and career changers who want to help others in care-giving roles. It contains information on salaries, working conditions, educational options, and opportunities for professional advancement. There are eight chapters that focus on care-giving careers in hospitals, nursing homes, senior day-care centers, child day-care centers, hospices, home health services, and social services.

Clinical and direct-practice social workers would find this book an excellent resource in their personal library collection. Macro practice social workers who work in the emerging fields of gerontology, public health, and child and family policy should also consider this book. College students and recent graduates will find this introductory resource easy to read with a directory of organizations in the appendix.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CSMonitor: Why Detroit Loves Clint Eastwood Chrysler Commercial

If you didn't watch Super Bowl XVLI, one commercial is stirring up praise and controversy. Chrysler Group, LLC featured its commercial, "It's Halftime in America," with legendary American icon and actor, Clint Eastwood, reflecting on the current economic climate and how the automobile bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors by the U.S. government were good for the nation. Chrysler CEO, Sergio Macchione, previously stated that the commercial would be "unconventional." I never imagined the commercial would pay tribute to Detroit, highlighting its rich automobile-industrial history as well as its resurrection.

If you don't understand the meaning of the commercial, I will explain it for you. Detroit used to symbolize the American dream: growth of the middle-class, hard-working people, and American values. In particular, Detroit residents like this commercial because it focuses on the flaws and hopes of ordinary, proud people. The Motor City is coming back, folks! You can watch the video below:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Petition Sallie Mae's $50 Unemployment Forbearance Fee

Sallie Mae's unemployment fee ($50 for every three-month payment period!) is receiving widespread criticism in the news. Stef Gray started an online petition to stop the "unemployment tax" practice that allows Sallie Mae to prey (and gain a profit) on college graduates with financial hardships. For instance, if you are unemployed for an entire year, Sallie Mae can still collect $200 from you while your loans are in forbearance (loan continues to accrue interest)! Many unemployed and low-income college grads would rather use the money for job-searching and living expenses. If you have private loans with Sallie Mae, the company does not accept public assistance documentation, such as food stamps (SNAP) or unemployment insurance.

Students who cannot pay the extra fees find themselves in danger of defaulting on their loans. Defaulting on loans can result in lawsuits, court appearances, and poor credit.I think this predatory practice is wrong, and Sallie Mae should eliminate the fee. Please help the cause and sign the petition.
Over 50,000 college grads across the country have joined a campaign on urging student loan giant Sallie Mae to stop charging unemployed borrowers a $50 fee for forbearance on their loans, according to PRWeb.

The campaign was launched by Stef Gray, a recent college graduate who took out private loans through the company and was hit with the $50 fee when she requested a delay on the repayment of her loan due to unemployment. After graduating, Gray found herself without a fullt-time job and with no co-signers for her loan, since her parents had passed away. As a result she was forced to go into forbearance, or suspend the repayment of her loans.

Gray told PRWeb, “For Sallie Mae to tack on these extra fees just to pad their profits is to kick people like me when we’re already down. Charging a forbearance fee is wrong, and more than 50,000 people who agree are standing with me.”

The campaign is gaining strength as millions of student loan borrowers could be seeing the interest rates on their loans rise significantly unless Congress extends a rate reduction passed in 2007 and set to expire this July. While the current interest rate, based on the 2007 reduction, is 3.4 percent, the rate could double to 6.8 percent, adding more fuel to the fire of protests against student loans.

As of Friday afternoon, nearly 70,000 people had signed the petition.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Accepted to Penn GSE!

I received an acceptance letter from Penn GSE! Woo-hoo! I also earned a merit scholarship award and graduate assistantship to cover a portion of my tuition and fees. I am so excited because this opportunity will give me a chance to expand my knowledge of higher education management at another university. I am still young (mid-20s) to move around and explore my options before I permanently settle down in the near future. Since the program is nine months, I won't incur a lot of student loan debt, and I can return to the workforce with new (and advanced) skills and experiences. Upon graduation, I hope to obtain a mid-level administrative position in the nonprofit and public sectors.

The next step is submitting my enrollment deposit and saving enough money for the move to Philadelphia. This summer, I will also make a trip to the City of Brotherly Love. I'll have more updates about Penn GSE later this year. Happy Black History Month!