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George Curry

Republicans are Veteran Hypocrites on the VA

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(NNPA) If you let the Republicans tell it, President Obama is directly responsible for the fiasco at the Veterans Administration. But they don’t tell you that fresh off of Memorial Day parade appearances, they are responsible for scuttling legislation that would have expanded benefits for the nation’s 22 million veterans and their families.

A measure backed by Obama would have lengthened the period veterans are eligible to receive health care from the VA from five years to 10 years after deployment. The bill also would have allowed the VA to open 27 new health facilities, expand medical and dental care, make more veterans eligible for in-state tuition at public universities, repeal the recent cut in cost-of-living adjustments for new enlistees and extend a program that provides care for veterans with mild to severe brain injuries.

More than 20 military organizations – including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Wounded Warriors Project and Disabled American Veterans – supported the bill.

William A. Thien, commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, submitted a letter saying, “This legislation is the most comprehensive veterans’ legislation to be introduced in decades. It contains many of the VFW’s priority goals, which will implement, expand and improve both health care and benefit services to all generations of veterans and their families.”

Senate Bill S.1982, known as the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014, was favored on Feb. 27 in the Senate 56-41. But the measure fell four votes shy of the number needed to overcome a threatened GOP filibuster.

Every Democrat voted for the bill and only two Republican Senators – Jerry Moran of Kansas and Dean Heller of Nevada – voted for the measure.

Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the ranking Republican on the committee, said: “We have veterans dying from long waits for basic, necessary tests like colonoscopies. Veterans waiting for their disability claims to be processed know all about frustrations and delays at the VA, and adding more individuals to an already broken system doesn’t seem wise.”

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader from Kentucky, accused Democrats of engaging in election-year politics, a charge Senate Veterans’ Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), denied.

He told reporters after the vote: “The point of the matter is if we had won today…both parties could have gone out and said we finally overcame all of the partisanship we see here in Washington. This could have been a political winner, if you like, and certainly a public policy winner for both Democrats and Republicans.”

More than two dozen veterans groups had supported the measure. According to the Washington Post, Daniel M. Dellinger, national commander of the American Legion, said, “I don’t know how anyone who voted ‘no’ today can look a veteran in the eye and justify that vote. Our veterans deserve more than what they got today.”

According to MediaMatters, the watchdog group, the media failed miserably in letting the public know Republicans were blocking the legislation.

“While mainstream media coverage of the serious allegations of improper practices at certain Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health clinics has been extensive in recent weeks, a bill to expand health care for veterans that was blocked by Senate Republicans in February received little attention,” it noted.

“…Based on a LexisNexis search television transcripts from February 26 to 28, the veterans health bill was not covered by ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, or CBS Evening News,” the media monitoring group said. “Based on a LexisNexis search of news articles from February 26 to 28, neither the New York Times nor the Wall Street Journal reported on Senate Republicans’ obstruction of the legislation that would have allowed the VA to open 27 new health facilities.”

The media has also done a poor job describing how proposed budget cuts will impact veterans.

For example, the Republican-led cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, will hurt veterans as well other low-income families, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a Washington-based think tank.

“Nationwide, in any given month, a total of 900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP to provide food for their families in 2011, a previous analysis of Census data estimated,” a report by the CBPP noted. “…For low-income veterans, who may be unemployed, working in low-wage jobs, or disabled, SNAP provides an essential support that enables them to purchase nutritious food for their families.

“..While the overall unemployment rate for veterans is lower than the national average, the unemployment rate for recent veterans (serving in September 2001 to the present) remains high, at 10.1 percent in September 2013. About one-quarter of recent veterans reported service-connected disabilities in 2011, which can impact their ability to provide for their families: households with a veteran with a disability that prevents them from working are about twice as likely to lack access to adequate food than households without a disabled member.”

Republicans need to do more than simply wave the American flag.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

The Browning of Public Schools after 'Brown'

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(NNPA) This is the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision outlawing “separate but equal” schools. And like most major anniversaries, incorrect information surfaces as purported fact, doing a disservice to the accomplishment being celebrated as well as truth itself.

In this instance, some have asserted that because of re-segregation, public schools in the South, where most African Americans live, are more segregated now than when Brown was handed down. That is simply untrue and if you want to read a comprehensive account of what has truly happened in school desegregation over the past 60 years, there is no better source than “Brown at 60: Great Progress, a Long Retreat and an Uncertain Future,” published by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

First, let’s dispense with the nonsense.

“The claims that black students in the South are no better off than they were before Brown, in terms of segregation, are obviously wrong,” the report stated. “They are ten times as likely to be in majority-white schools as they were when the Civil Rights Act passed.”

The 42-page report is packed with illuminating facts about progress made in the wake of Brown and the subsequent retrenchment. But to appreciate the significance of Brown, it is necessary to understand what our schools looked like before the court decision.

“Nine years after Brown, when President John Kennedy called for the first major civil rights act of the 20th century, 99% of blacks in the South were still in totally segregated schools,” the report recounted. “Virtually no whites were in historically black schools, nor were black teachers and administrators in white schools. For all practical purposes, it was segregation as usual or ‘segregation forever,’ as some of the South’s politicians promised. In the great majority of the several thousand southern districts nothing had been done.”

Actually, there were two Brown decisions. The first, issued in 1954, outlawed segregated public schools masquerading as “separate but equal.” The court ruled that “segregation is inherently unequal” and ordered the desegregation of schools. With no progress after a year, the court ordered in 1955, in a ruling sometimes called Brown II, that desegregation had to be carried out “with all deliberate speed.”

But racial segregation was deliberate and speed was missing in action. In fact, nine years after Brown, 99 percent of Blacks in the South were still in segregated schools.

“President Lyndon Johnson powered the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act through Congress with bipartisan support, and he proceeded to enforce civil rights law more forcefully than an Administration before or since,” the report stated. “After he also led the battle for the largest federal education aid program in American history, the Southern schools changed. Faced with the dual prospect of losing federal funds if they remained segregated, as well as the threat of a Justice Department lawsuit as a result of the Civil Rights Act, almost all the districts began to desegregate. Strongly backed by the federal courts, federal civil rights officials raised desegregation requirements each year. In 1968 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that desegregation in the historically segregated states must be comprehensive and immediate. By 1970 Southern schools became the nation’s most integrated.”

Nationwide, the percent of Blacks attending majority White schools has declined from a high of 43.5 percent in 1988 to 23.2 percent in 2011, about the same level it was 1968. This did not happen by accident.

“Throughout the l980s there was a strong legal attack on desegregation orders, led by the Reagan and Bush administrations’ Justice Departments and, in l991, the Supreme Court authorized the termination of desegregation plans in the Oklahoma City (Dowell) decision. The decline in black student access has been continuous since l991,” the report observed.

The report documents the strong connection between segregated schools and concentrated poverty.

“In schools that are 81-100% black & Latino, over three-quarters of the students are also enrolled in schools where more than 70% of the students live in poverty,” it stated. “In fact, half of students in 91-100% black & Latino schools are in schools that also have more than 90% low-income students. This means that these students face almost total isolation not only from white and Asian students but also from middle class peers as well.”

In its recommendations section, the report observes that while education is primarily a state responsibility, the federal government also has an important role to play. Sadly, the report points out, there has not been a major national study on school desegregation, its costs and solutions since Racial Isolation in Public Schools, a report requested in 1967 by President Johnson.

Non-government organizations also have a role to play.

The report stated, “Civil rights organizations need to develop new strategies and legal theories to end the reversal and restart the movement toward a successfully integrated, truly multiracial society, as was done by the NAACP and Howard University in the campaign that led to Brown.”

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

A Better Way to Compensate College Athletes

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(NNPA) Athletes at Northwestern University shocked the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of college sports, by taking steps to unionize student/athletes. Surprisingly, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, former NFL great Jim Brown and Harry Edwards, who organized a human rights protest at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City that culminated in Tommy Smith and John Carlos giving a clenched fist salute when they mounted the winners platform, do not support the idea.

It’s not that Bill Russell, Jim Brown or Harry Edwards have mellowed – they have not. Rather, they think there’s a better way to help athletes who generate $500 billion a year to major universities, athletic vendors and others.

“I am totally against the unions in college,” Brown said. “I don’t like the NCAA. I think it’s a greedy organization, a dictatorial organization, an organization that’s totally unfair to the players…But on the other hand, I think we have all gotten away from the value of an education.”

Russell and Brown made their comments recently as part of a sports panel moderated by Edwards at the University of Texas. The discussion was part of 3-day summit at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Russell said the NCAA’s money machine should be viewed within the context of other successful U.S. businesses.

“All great fortunes are amassed on cheap or slave labor,” he explained. “The NCAA – the one group everybody is focusing on – has this money machine. To keep it this way, the labor force has to be free or paid low wages.”

As Everett Glenn, a former sports agent, pointed out in a 3-part series for the NNPA News Service: “College sports is big business – for everyone except the athletes who make it possible. College basketball and football have long operated as quasi-farm systems for professional teams by discovering talent, training players, and highlighting performance.”

For example, Glenn noted, “Black athletes represent 52.9 percent of Ohio State University’s basketball and football rosters and dominate among its star players, fueling a nearly $130 million athletic department budget on a campus where Black males represent only 2.7 percent of the student body. The disparity between the graduation rate for OSU’s Black football players, at 38 percent, and all student-athletes, at 71 percent, represent the highest disparity in the Big-10.”

If colleges are serving as farm teams for the pros, players are spending less and less time on the farm.

This year, for example, Kentucky freshmen basketball stars Julius Randle and James Young have announced that they will enter the 2014 NBA draft. It’s one-and-done for the Wildcats. Randle is projected to be among the top five picks, which means he may earn $6.1 to $7.5 million over two years.

But many pro athletes have received a truckload of money, only to squander it. Terrell Owens, Allen Iverson, Antoine Walker are just a few who come to mind.

Sports Illustrated reported that by the time former NFL players have been retired for two years, 78 percent of them “have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.” Within five years of retirement, approximately 60 percent of former NBA players are broke. Athletes have to cope with other issues as well, said Harry Edwards

“Fifteen percent of the athletes who show up for the combine having already been in concussion situations before they even get to the NFL – and concussions are not something that you get over. That’s something the unions can’t address.”

Instead of unions, Edwards said, the emphasis should be put on making sure athletes get an education so that even if they end up broke, they will have other skills with which to support themselves.

“When we talk about young students, I think there are other considerations that take priority over the monetary aspect,” Edwards told me after a press conference in Austin, Texas. “Money shifts the focus even more than already is the case and away from the education imperative that these institutions are obligated and should be committed to delivering on.”

Edwards said rather than rushing into the pros. Student/athletes should have scholarships that allow them to complete college within six years. For those who complete their education in four years, they should be given another two years for graduate study.

“Ninety-eight percent of athletes who play college football will never be on a professional roster,” Edwards explained. “They are going to have to go with what they achieve educationally.”

He should know. Edwards has a Ph.D in sociology from Cornell University and has been a longtime professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

The Question No One is Asking Donald Sterling

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Why would a White racist have sex with a person of color?

That’s the question that few people in the media want to raise, let alone address. But it is an age-old contradiction not limited to Donald Sterling, the hate spewing soon-to-be former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Beginning with slavery in the original colonies – even earlier in Africa with the arrival of European colonizers – White men have forced themselves on Black women. Caucasian men from Thomas Jefferson on the left to South Carolina Senator and longtime arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond on the right have projected one image in public while having sex – even children – with Black women under the cover of darkness. They were talking White (superiority ) while sleeping Black.

I don’t for a moment pretend to know how to explain this obvious contraction. But in the case of Thomas Jefferson, the chief author of the Declaration of Independence, contradictions became a way of life long before he bedded and had children with Sally Hemings, a Black woman.

Jefferson will forever be inextricably linked to these words in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

At the time our Founding Fathers were proclaiming unalienable rights from God, most of them were enslaving God’s dark-skin creations. Jefferson enslaved nearly 200 African Americans.

As Columbia University history professor Eric Foner wrote, “Slaves, of course, experienced the institution of politics and law quite differently from white Americans. Before the law, slaves were property who had virtually no legal rights. They could be bought, sold, leased and seized to satisfy an owner’s debt, their family ties had no legal standing, and they could not leave the plantation or hold meetings without permission from their owner.”

And White owners did not need anyone’s permission to violate Black women.

Jefferson began having sex with Sally Hemings, one of his domestic servants, when she was a teenager. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation acknowledges that it “and most historians believe that, years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the six children of Sally Hemings mentioned in Jefferson’s records, including Beverly, Harriet, Madison and Eston Hemings.”

South Carolina, like Virginia, had laws prohibiting both interracial marriage and intercourse between Blacks and Whites. If a free Black man had sex with a White woman in South Carolina during the Colonial period, he would automatically lose his freedom, according to Judge A. Leon Higginbothan, Jr.’s book, In the Matter of Color.

Years later, Strom Thurmond’s interracial dalliances would represent the height of hypocrisy.

Running for president in 1948 on the Dixiecrat ticket he said: “I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and accept the Negro into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.”

Fifty years ago, Thurmond led the filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, still the longest debate in Senate history.

Thurmond referred to Negroes as “nigras.” But while publically despising Blacks, he had a different attitude in the bedroom, impregnating his parents’16-year-old maid. The daughter of that encounter, Essie Washington-Williams, wrote in her autobiography, “As much as I wanted to belong to him, I never felt like a daughter, only an accident.”

Armstrong Williams, a Black conservative who began working Thurmond in 1978, recalled the senator confirming he was Washington-Williams’ biological father.

“The subject came up again while the senator and I were attending a South Carolina State football game in Orangeburg. He mentioned how he had arranged for Mrs. Williams to attend the college while he was governor…,” Williams wrote. “‘When a man brings a child in the world, he should take care of that child,’ he told me, and added, “‘She’ll never say anything and neither will you. Not while I’m alive.’”

And neither did – until after Thurmond’s death.

Considering the history of Thomas Jefferson and Strom Thurmond, no one should have been surprised when Donald Sterling told his mistress, who described herself has part Mexican and part Black:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?…You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games…

“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people…Don’t put him (Magic Johnson) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

Donald Sterling, far from being a rarity, simply added another link to the long, scandalous U.S. history of hypocrisy.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Racist NBA Owner has Fouled Out

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New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to spend several days “investigating” the clearly racist remarks of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. There’s no need to waste a scintilla of another second on this foul-mouth bigot. Escort him to the closest exit and say good bye – for good.

Record fines or a long suspension won’t do in this case if – and that’s a big if – the NBA is serious about addressing raw racism in a sport dominated by African Americans. Sterling, 81, has fouled out with his own words and the decision to permanently throw him out of the game doesn’t require a huddle around the scorer’s table to review his odious behavior.

Unless you’ve been under a rock or just landed from mars, you should know by now that Sterling, who has a long and acrimonious history with people of color, exposed his true feelings about African Americans in a conversation with his mistress, Vanessa Stiviano, who is almost 50 years his junior. The conversation was apparently taped surreptitiously in Sterling’s home by Stiviano, who describes herself as part Mexican and part Black. A 9-mintute segment of the conversation was posted Saturday to celebrity website TMZ. A 15-minute excerpt was later posted by Deadspin.

There was this exchange in one segment:

V: I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.

DS: Well then, if you don’t feel—don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.

V: Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?

DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?

At one point, Sterling said:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?…”

“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games…”

“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

“Don’t put him (Magic Johnson) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

Finally, there was the following exchange:

DS: You think I’m a racist, and wouldn’t—

V: I don’t think you’re a racist.

DS: Yes you do. Yes you do.

V: I think you, you—

DS: Evil heart.

DS: It’s the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.

V: So do you have to treat them like that too?

DS: The white Jews, there’s white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?

V: And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?

DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent.

V: And is that right?

DS: It isn’t a question—we don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.

V: But shouldn’t we take a stand for what’s wrong? And be the change and the difference?

DS: I don’t want to change the culture, because I can’t. It’s too big and too [unknown].

V: But you can change yourself.

DS: I don’t want to change. If my girl can’t do what I want, I don’t want the girl. I’ll find a girl that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that girl—because I tried to do what you want. But you’re not that girl.

Sterling, 81, has a long history of antagonizing Blacks.

In 2009, he paid $2.7 million to settle a suit accusing him of discriminating against Blacks, Latinos and families with children at an apartment building he owned in Los Angeles.

In addition, NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, who spent 22 years with the Clippers, filed a suit against Sterling in 2009 for wrongful termination. According to the Los Angeles Times, “In his deposition, Baylor spoke about what he called Sterling’s ’plantation mentality,’ alleging the owner in the late 1990s rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because of race. Baylor quoted Sterling as saying: ‘Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players.’ Baylor said he was shocked. ‘And he [Sterling] looked at me and said, ‘Do you think that’s a racist statement?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. That’s plantation mentality.’ ”

Donald Sterling is the Paula Deen of professional basketball. Accordingly, the NBA should stick a fork in him and tell him he’s done.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

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