Posts tagged ‘Obama’

A few words: White House Party Crashers

I’ll make this brief and get right to the point as it will sum up all that I feel we need to know about the White House Party Crashers:

They’re rich and white. Therefore, they looked the part and got away with being as close to the President as they are in the above pic. Ain’t nothin else on it.

Now I know I might get told I’m playing the race card here, and I’m prepared for that. But I absolutely believe that if this couple were working class and perhaps not white, if this couple looked more like me and my fairly-new partner–young Black people with natural hairstyles (another topic in its entirety)–they wouldn’t have even seen the inside of that State Dinner. Like, at all.

I’m not saying that the CIA is racist or that there was racially-charged intent in their actions–all they’ve admitted to so far is they “made a mistake” (no sh*t sherlock) and that’s all we can really accept for right now. What I am saying though, is that the Salahi’s ability to get away with crashing a White House dinner speaks to their class and their level of white privilege.

From Anovelista:

I am having major issues with the White House State Dinner crashers, Tareq and Michaele Salahi. The first description of Michaele Salahi referred to her as a “glittering blonde decked out in a red and gold sari” and I knew we were in trouble.  Even at the White House, the automatic assumption about a “glittering blonde” is why of course she belongs! She looks the part, right?

My point exactly. My friend Wise told me a great story that further illuminates this point. A few years ago, Wise went to a VIP party a professional colleague of his threw in the Hamptons. While he had every right to be at the party as anyone else, Wise was hassled by security because he doesn’t “look the part”: a tall brotha in a suit with a smallish afro. They questioned his being there, asked to see his ID, the whole nine, simply because he didn’t seem like he”belonged” there. What message does that send about how we feel about class and privilege and who gets to “own” high levels of such things?

In any case, the White House Dinner Crashers don’t tell us anything else, and it doesn’t get any more complicated than this. They were white, they were rich, and they got over on the CIA because they looked the part. Open and shut case of what is afforded to people who are at the top of the class ladder.

What to do about failing schools

The New York Times had some pretty solid advice for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan–make schools with the highest dropout rates a priority:

Mr. Duncan has said from the start that he wants the states to transform about 5,000 of the lowest-performing schools, not in a piecemeal fashion but with bold policies that have an impact right away. The argument in favor of a tightly focused effort aimed at these schools is compelling. We now know, for example, that about 12 percent of the nation’s high schools account for half the country’s dropouts generally — and almost three-quarters of minority dropouts. A plan that fixed these schools, raising high school graduation and college-going rates, would pay enormous dividends for the country as a whole.

Mr. Duncan can use his burgeoning discretionary budget to reward states that take the initiative in this area. But Congress could push the reform effort further and faster by granting the education department’s request for two changes in federal education law. The first would be to come up with new federal school improvement money and require the states to focus 40 percent of it on the lowest-performing middle and high schools. The second change would allow the secretary to directly finance charter-school operators that have already produced high-quality schools.

….

The secretary should focus intently on the dropout factories, the relatively small number of schools that produce so many of the nation’s dropouts. Efforts at especially difficult schools will need to include social service and community outreach programs, modeled on those already in place in the Harlem Children’s Zone in Upper Manhattan.

I certainly think that this could be a great start to improving education and also closing the achievement gap. Too often the poorest-performing schools are the ones whose population are largely Black and Latino.

More importantly, though, is the emphasis on the role of community organizations and social services. I believe it takes more than good schools to provide better opportunities and futures for our youth. We have to create safe spaces for youth as well, and a lot of social services that the last administration neglected would be one way to address that.

I can only hope that education remains a policy priority overall during the Obama administration. With so much talk about health care and green jobs, I am wondering how much attention can and will be given to education this year or even this term. When  you think about it, all three of these issues are very much connected to one another. Let’s see if this administration connects the dots successfully.

Viva La Gwen

As I write this on the morning following the Vice Presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, I realize that most people will be talking about how they duked it out, who came out on top, and whether it’s enough to put McCain over the edge in certain states. What I’m sure most people won’t be talking about, however, outside of the “Obama” book debacle, is that Gwen Ifill, a Black woman, did one of the most phenonmenal jobs as a debate moderator that we’ve ever seen.

I can’t really express my joy when I found out that Ifill would be moderating the much-anticipated Veep debate. Though my fellow black woman blogger Afrobella agreed with me, I’m pretty sure I was in the minority when I thought Gwen Ifill should have replaced Tim Russert on Meet the Press. I was so happy to see Gwen, in that fabulous turquoise suit, challenging our Vice Presidential candidates in every topic from climate change to the economy. She was poised, she was thoughtful, and, yes, she was impartial. It’s a shame more people won’t be talking about how wonderful of a job she was doing. Instead, they’ll be harping on the idea that a book she wrote about blacks in politics is somehow really about Obama.

I would be remiss to say that I was also so happy to see a dark-skinned black woman in this role. If you look at CNN or MSNBC, a lot of the black female commentators and reporters are also light skinned, such as Soledad O’Brien or Suzanne Malveaux. It is a step in the right direction to see African Americans of all shades represented on our news channels and shows. I love Soledad O’Brien–I might still have a crush on her–but as a dark-skinned female myself, I had a sense of pride in seeing Ms. Ifill do her thing.

Things like this make me believe that maybe some people are right–perhaps having a black man running for President is a catalyst for change in other facets of our society. It very well could be that Obamas’s candidacy has opened more doors for pundits of color as well.

Bottom line: I (heart) Gwen Ifill.