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Russell Simmons, Harriett Tubman and the history of myopia

Every time I hear the voice of Russell Simmons, I hear a cool, clean, clear meditative voice, especially on Twitter where he drops his yoga knowledge in a reflective way. I guess he wasn’t folding his legs and saying a centered “Om” when he decided to ridicule an African woman. How did his voice distort itself to decide that he would post a YouTube video on a space where everybody could watch “Harriet Tubma ...

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Put the blame on me

More distressing news arrived weeks ago when it was reported that the usually secure pension fund was in jeopardy. Suddenly, there was a gaping doughnut hole in the fund, stretching to $3.5 billion. According to a story by Mary Williams Walsh in the New York Times, the city has promised its workers “more than they can reasonably expect to deliver.” “The problem,” she continued, “has nothing to do with the u ...

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Detroit: Death certificate or rebirth?

Will the largest city in history to file bankruptcy receive a death certificate? Or will this action result in a new birth certificate for the Motor City? Of course, a city as large and well-situated as Detroit will not die. Already, there are plans for a $400 million hockey stadium, despite all the tales of woe and danger put forth by various media outlets. All things considered, will Detroit’s majority po ...

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Making history … again

Remember the March on Washington? Aug. 28, 1963. Tens of thousands of activists on the National Mall. A preacher’s son from Atlanta talking about his dream for the country. We don’t need a history lesson. Even if we weren’t at the March itself — even for those like me, who were not yet born — Dr. King’s words are etched into our minds as deeply as they are inscribed in stone at the base of his memorial. The ...

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Dropping the baton

Research shows this generation of young people, regardless of race, are likely to do less well than their parents. Shackled by a trillion dollars worth of student loans and a flat labor market, the New York-based Demos organization says the student loan burden prevents young people from buying homes and amassing wealth. While there are some racial gaps, many young people enter the labor market already behin ...

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Court turns control of the Detroit Public Library to ‘emergency’ manager

Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry issued a decision that turns control of the Detroit Public Library over to the “emergency” manager by allowing the EM unprecedented authority “to remove, replace, appoint or confirm appointments to the Library Commission.” The Detroit Library Commission is the governing body over the Detroit Public Library, an independent municipal corporation. It is, or was, ...

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From Mexico to Detroit: Austerity, its victims and its patrons

While traveling in Mexico during the political moment of the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement, I was swept up in the national protests. There were millions of people protesting daily, shutting down intersections and living in encampments in the Zocalo, the plaza in the center of Mexico City. PEMEX workers of the national oil companies (petroleros) were waging a hunger strike in the plaza. T ...

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Detroit is better than that

The recent comments made by Detroit’s Emergency Manger Kevyn Orr in an interview with the Wall Street Journal strike at the very heart and soul of that which clearly demonstrates two different world views of the same condition. Orr’s comments were callous, insensitive, disrespectful, stereotypical and most disdainful of not only the African American citizens in the city of Detroit, but in particular, those ...

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Labor unions at another crossroad

Next month, the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of labor unions in the United States, will hold its convention in Los Angeles. Breaking with tradition, the AFL-CIO will be opening its doors to community-based organizations, limiting the number of plenary speakers and seeking to focus its resolutions on “action items” such as proposals that aim to produce a specific outcome rather than general statements. ...

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What is a living wage?

Workers at fast food restaurants recently demonstrated outside their places of work, highlighting the low wages they receive and demanding more. They say twice as much, or $15 an hour, will provide them with a living wage. In Washington, D.C., the City Council has sent legislation to Mayor Vincent Gray, requiring “big box” stores like Walmart and Best Buy to pay $12.50, more than the D.C. minimum wage of $8 ...

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