Saturday, August 16, 2008

60 Minutes Features Plumpy Nut!

Click the youtube clip below to view a portion of 60 Minutes' story on the use of Plumpy Nut as a nutrient to restore the health of malnourished children.

The Millenium Project

"The Millennium Project was commissioned by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2002 to develop a concrete action plan for the world to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and to reverse the grinding poverty, hunger and disease affecting billions of people." Click the above link to check out all of the many ways this worldwide project attempts to combat poverty.

Also, look closely at the website and you'll see a picture of our very own graduate students led by Dr. Karen Starks. A few years ago, they led a fundraising effort to purchase malaria nets!

Promise Keepers? The Leaders of the Freeworld Meet to Discuss What Ails the World

The G8 Summit is an annual meeting between the leaders of 8 major world leaders . . . those from: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States. Click the link to read more about the summit on CNN's website. Further, you can watch video clips of CNN's coverage. Below is a small clip of Tony Blair speaking about the promises that he and the other leaders made during their meeting.

In addition, I am posting a clip about the movie "The Girl in the Cafe" which was featured in the CNN special.

Illegal to be Poor? You Betcha!

A great deal of our conversation in class today centered around being poor . . . homeless . . . basic struggling of human beings . . . and how it is often ignored by the members of our capitalist society. One of our class members, (Holla at A.C.) brought to our attention a book dealing with these very topics.

Click the link to read about "The Rich Get Richer and The Poor Go to Prison" by Jeffery Reiman

Also, check out the socialistworker to get a slightly different, more acerbic, commentary on this issue

Wal-Mart Kicks It Nancy Reagan Style and "Suggests" Its Employees "Just Say No" to Democrats

The Raw Story has published an article which originated in the Wall Street Journal focusing on Wal-Mart's attempt to sway its employees to vote Republican . . . based on the idea that a Democratic President will be pro-union thus making it more likely for unions to form amongst their employees.

Click the link to read the story

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bowling For Columbine

I'm posting the first clip of Bowling For Columbine. This documentary by Michael Moore examines the phenomenon of school shootings, and focuses on the events surrounding the shootings at Columbine High School. Watch the first clip by clicking below, and go to youtube to watch the 12 clips that make up this documentary.

People Like Us: Tammy's Story

Tammy's Story gives us a brief glimpse into the world of poverty. When watching this video you become very aware of how multi-layered the phenomenon of poverty actually is . . .

What can we as social workers do to help pull people out of the quicksand that is poverty.

Hit the link to watch Tammy's Story

Equal Pay Act of 1963

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was an act of legislation which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act which aimed at abolishing wage differentials based on sex. The links above give a detailed account of this act, and the points on which Congress made the decision to ratify it . . . based on the harm that is caused by sex discrimination.

A question . . . Did the enacting of this piece of legislation actually accomplish what it intended . . . Just a question. . .

Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into legislation by President Lyndon Johnson. In an attempt to maintain the integrity of this key piece of legislation, I will let it speak for itself . . .

"Section 2 of the Act, which closely followed the language of the 15th amendment, applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on the literacy tests on a nationwide basis. Among its other provisions, the Act contained special enforcement provisions targeted at those areas of the country where Congress believed the potential for discrimination to be the greatest. Under Section 5, jurisdictions covered by these special provisions could not implement any change affecting voting until the Attorney General or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia determined that the change did not have a discriminatory purpose and would not have a discriminatory effect. In addition, the Attorney General could designate a county covered by these special provisions for the appointment of a federal examiner to review the qualifications of persons who wanted to register to vote. Further, in those counties where a federal examiner was serving, the Attorney General could request that federal observers monitor activities within the county's polling place."

Amendments to this act followed in 1970, 1975, and 1982.

Click the link to read about the entire Voting Rights Act . . .

Baby Havin Stats: Finally Some Good News!

In 2006, MSNBC reported the most recent statistics I could find report that 4 out of 10 babies are born out of wedlock in the United States. This 40 % rate of out of wedlock birth is an all time high. Interestingly, while that stat has risen, the number of teen pregnancies is falling and, in 2005, sat at "an all time low". The key to the rising unwed birth rate seems to have shifted from teenage girls to women in their 20's. This rise in births for this demographic is being attributed to an increase in the average when people get married, and the greater level of societal acceptance for women who choose to have a baby without being married.

Of note: The rise in out of wedlock pregnancies was consistent across race.

Click the link to read the story.

The Case of John McCain and the "Illegitimate Black Baby"

Meghan and Bridget are featured in the above photo . . .

The Nation ran a story in January of 2008 about the "smear" campaign that was orchestrated by George Bush's presidential campaign team during the 2000 election.

Picture it . . . South Carolina, 2000 . . . John McCain has just won the Republican primary in the state of New Hampshire, and was favored to win the upcoming South Carolina primary. Enter, Karl Rove . . . It has been reported that Karl Rove developed and implemented a phone survey that included the question, "Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain...if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?" Seriously, folks, this happened. Certainly, the inclusion of this question was not a coincidence as Senator McCain was, at the time, campaigning with his dark-skinned, adopted daughter, Bridget - from Bangladesh. The tactic worked . . . Bush won the primary . . . and the rest is history. Not to say that George Bush wouldn't have one the nomination and the eventual election anyway. . . but, we'll never know. The reason that we will never know is because people were swayed by fiction . . . but more to the point . . . they were swayed by racially charged fiction.

Of note . . . the article goes on to say that Senator McCain has hired Charlie Condon, former state attorney general of South Carolina, to work on his campaign . . . not too interesting . . . until you discover that Mr. Condon worked for the Bush campaign in 2000 and was a part of the aforementioned smear tactic . . . interesting stuff huh . . .

Click the link to read the whole story...

Profiling: Not Just A Racial Issue

Amnesty International has a section on their website devoted to racial profiling. They define racial profiling as anytime a law enforcement officer or private security official use race as the determing factor for suspecting an individual of some type of criminal activity.

Other sections of the website, refer to profiling in terms of different identifying factors such as, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or any other identifying factor.

In addition, they provide five facts about profiling that cause the world we live in to be less safe.

The site also provides a discussion board for individuals to tell their stories or react to others thoughts, feelings, and experiences about profiling.

Of note . . . it never occured to me, for whatever reason, that profiling is considered to be indigenous to the United States . . . they don't come out and make that statement on the website, but it is very obvious from most of the links that they are not referring to a worldwide phenomenon.

What are your thoughts?

What other identifying factors could lead someone to be profiled?

Do you have any experiences with this phenomenon?

Affirmative Action: Not Just A Racial Issue

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended and the affirmative action provisions (Section 4212) of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act, as amended provided for laws that ban discrimination and require Federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to ensure that all individuals have an equal opportunity for employment, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or status as a Vietnam era or special disabled veteran.
The website is very interesting because it reminds the reader that Affirmative Action legislation affects much more than just racial equality. The media most often presents Affirmative Action as solely a racial issue . . . It is good to be reminded that this legislation also calls for equality based on sex, ethnicity, disability and veteran statusClick the link to go to the Department of Labor's website to read more about this monumental piece of legislation.

Brown v. Board of Education

In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education became a landmark case as it laid the legal foundation for the end of de jure segregation in public schools and other public facilities. Click the link to visit a very informative website about this case.

Segregation: A Vocabulary Lesson

Most people are familiar with the term "segregation". Certainly, if you are from the Southeast United States, you are familiar with the term.

Segregation refers to forcibly separating people based on their race and/or ethnicity.

The state of Alabama is infamous for its efforts in the 1960's to maintain segregated schools.

However, other terms related to this concept may be a little less familiar.

De jure segregation relates to racial separation forced by specific laws. All such laws were eliminated in the U.S. by the mid-1960s. Because these laws were eliminated in the 1960's, de jure segregation is a concept that no longer exists . . . technically . . .

DeFacto segregation relates to "matter of fact" separation. Specifically, this type of segregation exists in terms of neighborhoods and school districts. It is not legally mandated for African-Americans and Caucasians to live in certain areas, but it is a fact that this phenomenon occurs.

I found these definitions at an interesting website . . . The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

Social Work Core Values

NASW lists social work's core values as the following: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. These principles set forth ideals to which all social workers should aspire. We have repeatedly discussed these core values in terms of social work practice and the enacting and implementation of social work policy. Click the link to read NASW's preamble and explanation of core values.

What's The Big Deal: Barack Obama And The "Bi" Racial Card

The "race" card is an issue that has been discussed at length within the context of 2008's Presidential election. Barack Obama is making history as the first African-American to be the presumptive nominee of either party. . . or is he . . . there has been much noise made recently about the fact that Mr. Obama has a white mother and grandmother . . . thus making him bi-racial . . . or does it . . . race is very much socially constructed, and therefore, how you, or others, identify you racially effects how they talk about you . . . and more importantly what preconceived notions they hold about you.

As much as the color of someone's skin should not matter in 2008, the reality is . . . it does. Therefore, the Obama campaign is beginning to talk about the "bi" racial card . . . Click the link to view a story about this issue.

Barack Obama Weighs In On Separation of Church And State

Below, I have posted a clip of Barack Obama giving a speech in which he weighs in on the issue of "Separation of Church and State". Hit the link to check it out.

Separation of Church and State: McCain vs. Obama

The separation of church and state is one of many key issues being debated by our presumptive presidential candidates - John McCain and Barack Obama. The following link outlines what each candidate has stated about this issue. Further, the summary brings up a few quotes that each candidate has issued in the past, and compares them to their current stance.

What do you think? Is the separation of church and state a key issue in the current election? If so, how do you think each candidate could use this topic to bolster their campaigns?

Olympic Opening Ceremonies

One of the first things we talked about in class today was the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. In celebration of the AMAZING job the Chinese did with the festivities, I thought I would post a brief clip . . . Go to youtube to see more of the event!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Billy Jack Gaither

In February, 1999 Billy Jack Gaither was murdered. He was picked up at a bar by two young men. They stated that he began talking "queer stuff". They did not know him before the evening they killed him. They took Billy Jack into the woods, beat him with an axe handle, slit is throat, threw his body on top of a stack of tires, and set him on fire. The men who admitted to the murder were Steven Mullins and Charles Butler. The two were found guilty and received life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Click the link to be taken to PBS' website dedicated to this story. On the site, you will find a written description of the events leading up to and surrounding the murder of Billy Jack Gaither. In addition, you can listen to and view clips of interviews pertaining to this hate crime.

Matthew Shepard

Below, I am posting the first of nine clips that come from "The Matthew Shepard Story". This movie is not a documentary, but a dramatic interpretation of the events leading up to and surrounding the death of Matthew Shepard. I believe his mother cooperated with the production of this film.

In addition, I am attaching a link to the website for the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

RC v Walley Consent Decree

RC v Walley was a case filed in U.S. District Court against the Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources. The case is based on a child, RC, who was in foster care in the state of Alabama. RC was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and it was alleged that inadequate services were offered to help this child deal with that diagnosis. As a result the RC Decree was handed down in an effort to reform the foster care system in Alabama. It established guidelines for the Department of Human Resources, and an accountability plan to ensure that all counties in Alabama were abiding by these guidelines.

Click the link to read the actual decree.

Wyatt v. Stickney

The case of Wyatt v. Stickney was a landmark case that helped establish minimum standards for the care and rehabilitation of individuals living with mental health issues and mental retardation.

In addition, this case paved the way for the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1970's. I am linking this post to an article about the case. This article is posted on a website called The Treatment Advocacy Center. This site appears to be a wealth of information regarding topics that affect us as social workers and our clients. Click the link to check out the home page of the site.

The Disappearance of Caylee Anthony

Caylee Anthony is a two year old little girl who is missing from her Florida home. This missing persons case has featured many twists and turns . . . none of which is more strange than the fact that her mother waited approximately one month after her disappearance to file an official missing persons report. Both of her parents are currently being held in relation to the case. Click the link to read a recent update on this case.

In addition, I am posting the link that will take you to Nancy Grace's website. As some of you may know, Ms. Grace's nightly, CNN, talk show focuses on criminally related headlines, and specifically tends to focus on missing persons cases. Click the link to explore her site. Specifically, the front page of the site features many articles and video clips relating to this case.

Click below to view a press conference that was held about this case.

Unnatural Causes

Today in class, we viewed a portion of a PBS mini series entitled, "Unnatural Causes". This video explores the effects of race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status on overall health. Click the link to go to PBS' website on the miniseries. On this site, you can read other people's stories and share your own. Click the link to explore the site. I am also posting the trailer to the video below.

P.S. I found another website devoted to this miniseries. Click the link to explore the site.

P.S.S. I also found several articles that discuss the issues explored in "Unnatural Causes". These articles explore the effects of ethnicity/race/socioeconomic status on the health of children, pregnant women, and adolescents.

Community Entrepreneurship Institute

I am attaching a link to Dr. Starks' non-profit organziation. The Community Entrepreneurship Institute is a non-profit organization "dedicated to advancing social and economic well-being in urban communities through entrepreneurship". Click the link to browse the website and read more about this organization.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

To Execute Or Not To Execute

I was at work today, and a lawyer friend of mine informed me about a gentleman on Death Row in Alabama. She told me that a certain inmate on Death Row was about to be executed this evening. Further, she informed me that another person had admitted to the crime for which he was going to be executed. I read a little more into the story . . . I was horrified. Upfront, I will admit that I am not a supporter of the death penalty. I think that no matter what someone's crime, that we, as a society, have no right to impose death on a human being. To give you some context, I think of the death penalty kind of like a parent who punishes their child for fighting by hitting them . . . JUST MY OPINION . . .

What I want from you guys, is some opinions on advocacy . . . if you believe that this the above act is wrong, OR, that anything you hear in the news is wrong, what can you, as social workers, do to affect change . . . more to the point, what do you think is a social worker's responsibility when they see injustice in action?
Click the link to view the story.

Monday, July 28, 2008

You Say Its Your Birthday

Hey Bitches,

So, this week is my birthday week. Now, mind you, I don't ever say that to the friends or anything. I'm not one of those who is all about their birthday week and doing this and doing that . . . in fact, I end up being quite the opposite. For the past few years, I have taken my birthday off from work, and just spent the day with myself. I do whatever fancies me that day, and then, during the evening I hang out with my peeps. This year, several of my nearest and dearest are wanting to know what I would like to do for the birthday, and, I don't know why, but I can't seem to wrap my brain around the idea that my birthday will be here soon. I just can't seem to think about it long enough to understand what it is that I would want to do.

Probably, the fact that my brain is continuously moving in eleventy thousand different directions would explain my inability to concentrate on any one thing for any length of time. I need to determine if this is birthday specific or a more generalized issue with me concentrating on myself. I wonder . . . I just don't know.

My horoscopes for the past few days have been focusing on not getting caught up in "disappointments" or "a feeling of having missed the boat" in the past, and moving forward towards good things in the future. I like these scopes, but, like a lot of things, it seems that these actions are easier said than done.

So, I may not know what activities I want to engage in on my birthday, BUT, I think I know what I'm going to spend my week thinking about . . . I'm going to focus on looking forward to the next door that is opening rather than looking back on those that have already closed. In fact, I think I'm going to put padlocks on those closed doors so that my brain won't have the ability to re-open them again. Lofty goals for a week, I know, but, at least I finally have some thoughts of what I want to accomplish this week!

I'll check back in throughout the week to let y'all know how its going . . .

Saturday, July 26, 2008

23 Year Old Pilot Builds A Plane And Flies Around The World

In 2007, a 23 year old, African-American male, Barrington Irving, built a plane from donated parts and flew around the world. He stated that he completed this massive task to give hope to inner city minorities. "I want to show them they can do more with their lives than resort to violence!" Click the link to read the entire story.

Also, click on the link for a website called Earthrounders. This website tracks round the world airplane excursions, and has a record of his flight.

In addition, Mr. Irving has created a program for juveniles entitled, "Experience Aviation". "Experience Aviation inspires young people to identify and pursue their dreams through dynamic aviation education programs designed to build math, science, and reading skills."
Click on the link to go to the website and read a full account of the program. Also featured on this website are clips of national media interviews with Mr. Irving.

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices

I am posting the link to Part One of the documentary, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices". The documentary asserts that Wal-Mart has spent years perpetrating an assault on the families who have come to depend on their "low prices" and "convenience". Click the link to read more detail about the film makers and the documentary itself.

All eleven clips of the entire documentary are available to be viewed on youtube.

How Much Does Medicare Actually Cover?

Individuals often assume that when they reach the age of 65, Medicare will kick in and cover all of their healthcare needs. . . Not so much . . . Medicare provides partial coverage for most healthcare needs, however unless another policy or policies are purchased, out of pocket costs can still be astronomical (particularly for those on a fixed income). I am attaching a link to a story about Medicare and out of pocket costs . Click on the link to read the article

Poverty USA

I am posting the youtube clip for the video, Poverty USA.

Who do these statistics include?

Who do they not include?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What Does It Mean To Be Black In America?

I was scanning through CNN's website today and found the link to there documentary series "What It Means To Be Black In America". I read the article and the supporting links, and it made me think, "What DOES It Mean To Be Black In America?" . . . I know I'm being redundant here, but I thought the phrase was worth repeating.

I complete an exercise when I teach Human Behavior where I have everyone in the room provide a stereotype associated with something they are . . . no white people have no rhythm . . . all black men smoke weed . . . all gay people are permiscuous. . . you get the point. The purpose of this exercise is to speak out loud all of the completely ridiculous labels that are attached to people because of their color, sex, sexual orientation, etc. No matter how much time and social awareness seemingly progress, these stereotypes, silly as they may seem, continue to exist.

I'm anxious to view this documentary to see how CNN represents this topic. However, I would also love to see documentaries that address, for example, "How White People View Black People In Today's Society" . . . OR, "How Black Women View Black Men In Today's Society" OR "How Heterosexual Black People View Homosexual Black People In Today's Society".

Now, none of these documentaries will probably ever be filmed, but they are very real topics that affect everyone's everyday existence. These opinions and attitudes particularly affect how we, as social workers, interact with clients and help form policy. Think about how welfare policies are shaped vs. how public education policies are formed vs. how "war on drugs" policies are formed. The attitudes, opinions, and prejudices of those who are in charge of forming and inacting policies directly affect how they are written and who they benefit . . . or don't benefit.

How can we, as social workers, become more in tune with our own prejudices?

How can we affect change in policy formation before more covert and overt prejudicially based policies are implemented?