STAFF & GUEST BLOG
October 12th, 2010, by Staff
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In a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, Ron Chernow, biographer and author of Washington: A Life, takes on the Tea Party’s attempts at identifying with the nation’s founders.

Chernow states in the opinion piece, “…any movement that regularly summons the ghosts of the founders as a like-minded group of theorists ends up promoting an uncomfortably one-sided reading of history.”

After the interview with Chernow about his new book, which aired Tuesday, October 12, Tavis continued the conversation by asking Chernow to address the topic of the opinion piece. That two-minute Web-exclusive conversation is available below.

You might be surprised at what the biographer reveals in the Web-exclusive — not about the Tea Party, but about the founders.

If you missed the broadcast, click here to watch the video of to watch Tavis’ full conversation with Chernow, and check out our Web-exclusive below.

Read More »»

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
October 4th, 2010, by ROBERT PHILLIPS AND ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL

“America is hemorrhaging talent. We can no longer waste the skills and dreams of countless young men and boys of color.”

That truth was echoed throughout a two-day national town hall in Los Angeles to address the health disparities facing boys and young men of color across California and the nation.

Researchers and community leaders at the town hall looked at how communities either foster or limit the life chances that young people have. Communities can give you access to resources like transportation, good schools, parks, health services and jobs. But communities can also expose young people to stressors — like crime, environmental hazards, unemployment and inadequate housing.

While these issues touch every part of our communities, they are particularly tough for boys and young men. This is because the bad policies and practices that institutionalize disadvantage, disproportionately affect boys and young men of color.

In particular, America’s growing preoccupation with crime has toughened schoolhouse policies to what might have been labeled “boyish” mischief in the past. Making a mistake is often more costly for boys.

Rather than making our schools better places to learn, boys and young men of color are more likely to do worse. Studies have linked suspensions to an increased likelihood that a young man of color will drop out, which means that he will find it harder to get a job, be more likely to be connected to crime and prison and less likely to be connected to community.

Of course, we want our children to grow up with a strong sense of responsibility to themselves, their families and their communities. But we must also take responsibility to protect them from harm and provide them with an open door to opportunity.

The first step is to recognize that place — homes, schools and neighborhoods — matters. The second is to change the policies and practices that shape place.

To do this, The California Endowment in partnership with PolicyLink is supporting work in three communities — Oakland, Fresno and Los Angeles — to build the leadership needed to overcome challenges facing boys and young men of color.

We will measure our success at achieving four big goals, which we see as the strongest indicators of a healthy community. These include ensuring that everyone has a healthy home (or usual source of care), reducing childhood obesity, reducing youth violence and improving school attendance.

Doing so will have positive implications for California and the nation.

The good news that emerged from the town hall is that we know how to keep a child in school; we know how to help a young man become a productive community member.

Getting there will not only require new policies, but new politics — particularly the courage to declare that America cannot afford to ignore the challenges facing young men of color. From workload to tax revenues to gross domestic product, the future of the nation depends on the very people who are often least prepared by their current conditions to shoulder the burden.

We know what we need to do. If we take action now and do it right, we can help not just young men and boys of color but all of us. Let’s invest in them — and let’s invest in ourselves.

Robert Phillips is the Director of Health and Human Services for The California Endowment. As director of the Health and Human Services program, Phillips leads the foundation’s efforts to develop initiatives to reduce barriers to efficient, effective functioning health systems that promote the health of low-income communities and communities of color.

 

 

 

Angela Glover Blackwell, Chief Executive Officer of PolicyLink, founded the organization in 1999 and continues to drive its mission of advancing economic and social equity. Under Blackwell’s leadership, PolicyLink has become a leading voice in the movement to use public policy to improve access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education and infrastructure.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
September 30th, 2010, by LOUISA GLOGER
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I didn’t expect to get this disease. Although my mother was diagnosed
with breast cancer in her thirties, I felt that I had mitigated my risk
by following the general guidelines for risk reduction. Babies before
thirty, check. Breastfeeding, check. Organic food, check.

But it happened, and at the age of 31, with my two
small children in my arms, I found myself standing in a shower with my
hand against my breast, listening to the alarm bells sounding in my head.
I knew something was not right, and sure enough, after a multitude of tests and the weary looks and invasive pokes
of many doctors, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
When I was given the diagnosis of triple negative, I was confused and
dismayed.

(For more on this topic, check out Tavis’ conversation with Susan G. Komen for the Cure CEO Nancy Brinker.)

Never having heard of this type of breast cancer, my husband and I resorted to Google. A great idea when
you are doing research; not the best idea when you have the diagnosis
yourself. The first article my husband came across was about the high
rate of triple negative breast cancer in African-American women; the next article was about the aggressive nature
of the disease and the rate of recurrence and death among
African-American women.

I was horrified. Being a young African-American
woman, I was devastated to read these studies and find myself perfectly profiled. In those first few weeks following my
diagnosis, I felt like I was living in a tunnel, the world around me
darkened and the only way out was through a foreboding space with but a
glimmer of light at the end to lead me on.

But stumbling through the dark, I called upon the strength of my mother
and the strength of my people, and I reached out and asked for help; and
help arrived in droves. I told my doctors that I knew I could use my
connections and personal experience to aid other young women in their fight against triple negative breast
cancer. From those conversations and out of the darkness that had
encircled me, two flowers began to bloom, and I was strengthened by the
conviction that I would use my experience as a young woman of color battling the disease to reach out and provide
support and encouragement to others.

Exactly one year has passed since
my initial diagnosis, and now that the storm has died down, I can
reflect on my experience, and I feel a sense of calm. The flowers that bloomed out of the darkness are two women, who
happen to have the most lovely and symbolic last name I can imagine:
Lori and Carole Flowers. Lori and Carole lost their sister and daughter
Sheryl to triple negative breast cancer.

Together, Lori, Carole and I founded Triple Step for the Cure in memory
of Sheryl and my mother Pamela and in honor of all the women who have
battled this disease and those that continue the fight.

Triple Step for
the Cure is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our mission is to raise awareness of triple negative
breast cancer, to support ongoing research into the disease and to
provide emotional and financial support to women diagnosed with the
disease. We also strive to empower women at risk in underserved communities to be proactive about their health to ensure
optimal wellness.

Too many women feel alienated from the healthcare
system and from caring for themselves. We are advocates for these women,
and we are working to bring to the forefront the importance of overall wellness in underserved communities.

Sheryl
Flowers, was a woman whom I unfortunately never had the chance to meet.
But, I know that she has taken root and is blooming in my life. And my
mother is here too. With their strength, we carry on our mission at Triple Step for the Cure.

Louisa Gloger is a 32-year-old survivor of triple negative breast
cancer. Inspired to fight the disease on a larger scale, she co-founded
Triple Step for the Cure.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
September 27th, 2010, by Staff

Bedbugs are having a moment right now. Every day, it seems, brings another story about these hard-to-kill vermin infesting yet another, increasingly incredible place. Movie theaters, retail chains, office buildings. What’s next?

And, while experts agree that bedbugs are becoming a serious problem in this country, very little reportage on the phenomenon does more than instill panic in those of us with even a passing squeamishness about insect infestation.

This story, however, is different. Check out this interview with pest control expert Michael Potter, where he spoke to the bedbug menace in even-handed, informative terms. It’s required listening for anyone (like myself) with any concerns at all about coming into contact with bedbugs. After hearing the segment, you’ll probably still be concerned, but, more importantly, you’ll be informed. And probably a little less freaked out next time you check into a hotel.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
September 24th, 2010, by Staff
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Senior writer for Salon.com Rebecca Traister, whose first book Big Girls Don’t Cry traces the pivotal campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin in the 2008 presidential election cycle, talked to Tavis about how the political landscape has changed for women in America in the past two years.

But in a second conversation that continued beyond the show and is available only on the Web (see below), Traister explains why, in the upcoming midterm elections, big Democratic losses would mean net losses for women in Congress.

“This could be the first time since the 1970s that the total number of women in congress actually decreases, which is very scary, and we need to pay attention to that,” Traister says.

Check out the clip here and share your comments below.

 

Read More »»

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
September 21st, 2010, by Staff

On August 31st, when President Obama announced the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom — the U.S. combat mission in Iraq — he was marking the end of a 7-year war that had taken the lives of more than 4,400 troops and cost U.S. taxpayers $750 billion.

While Iraq is still plagued with insurgent attacks, sectarian violence and political turmoil, most of the 144,000 U.S. troops that were in Iraq when Obama took office had already been withdrawn by the time he delivered his remarks from the Oval Office in August. 50,000 will remain to “advise and assist” Iraqi security forces until the end of 2011.

With reports that more than 35,000 Iraq vets have been seriously wounded during service and that a third of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are reporting symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression or traumatic brain injury, we are left to wonder, what are the real stories of the service personnel returning from Iraq?

So, we want to hear from you. To share your story and be a part of our “Iraq: Faces of the Returning Troops” project, please e-mail the following to returningtroops@gmail.com:

1. A photo of yourself. *
2. Name
3. Age
4. City and State of residence
5. Service/Rank
6. Dates of Deployment
7. Have you had any war injuries or needed medical treatment? If so, what has been your experience with treatment?
8. What have been the biggest challenges since you left Iraq?
9. Have you received adequate support?
10. What would you like your fellow Americans to know about life after serving in Iraq?

*By submitting your photo, you are granting us permission to use it on PBS.org and saying that you have the rights to do so. We can give credit if you supply us with the name of the person who took it. Please send as large a file as possible.

For more on the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, check out Tavis’ recent conversations with London bureau chief for The New York Times John Burns, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post David Finkel and (Ret.) U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
September 13th, 2010, by MAX LUCADO
MaxLucado-RS

Have you ever heard a question that caught you off guard? Really made you pause?

A few years back, three questions rocked my world. They came from different people in the span of a month. The first question: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler? Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism? The third question: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?

I didn’t mind the first two questions. They were hypothetical. I’d like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism. But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine. But the third question has kept me awake at night.

I do live today; so do you. And we are given a choice…an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope?

That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come out to talk to Tavis recently. Tavis is someone who believes we can all make a difference — whether you are a talk show host or a stay-at-home mom. And my message of outliving your life is a conversation I want to have with as many people as possible.

None of us can help everyone, but all of us can help someone.

Max Lucado is a renowned preacher, award-winning Christian writer and minister at San Antonio’s Oak Hills Church. His latest text is Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
August 26th, 2010, by LORI R. WEST
LoriWest-RS

It looks like the end of the beginning of the Gulf oil disaster is at hand. The well has been “killed,” and new oil no longer flows into the water and onto our shores. But this catastrophe is far from over. Entire communities have been deprived of reliable sources of income and production and distribution systems developed over decades have been fundamentally disrupted.

But hope emanates from an unlikely source: Hurricane Katrina. Or, more precisely, the response to that disaster. A number of relief and development groups, including ours, have been working in the region since 2005. Together with federal and state government agencies and private businesses, these groups have implemented successful programs that have made a real impact in the lives of Katrina survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi. The lessons these private groups have learned can and should be applied to those harmed by the oil spill.

Put Income First. A lack of income is a devastating blow and a main source of stress for people suffering from disaster. Timely claims payments and aggressive efforts by governments and private entities to provide alternative sources of income are the best way to avoid depression, substance abuse, and similar negative outcomes. As part of this, it is critical to recognize the large number of affected people who will never file claims because they cannot document their income due to their participation in the cash economy. These citizens must not be allowed to fall through the cracks. To reach and assist them requires aggressive outreach by community-based organizations. 

Help People Plan. BP will pay claims to affected individuals and businesses for a long time to come. Every claim center should include certified financial advisers with knowledge of the needs of the Gulf region. They can advise claimants on the best way to use the payments to not only survive, but to improve their condition. For instance, payments might be best used to start a new business, or receive training for a new job. Advisers who have worked in the region for years assisting Katrina survivors would be invaluable resources to help people use claims money productively.

Engage the Community. There are numerous local, state, federal, and private services available for those impacted by the spill. Having never used them, most people have no idea how to access these services. South Mississippi Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (SMVOAD) has helped thousands of Katrina survivors obtain housing, job training, and other assistance. Volunteers go out into neighborhoods and provide people with lists of service providers, types of services available, and eligibility requirements. At the same time, through their conversations, they obtain data on community needs to inform public and private decision makers as they fashion relief and development programs.

Another example of a successful post-Katrina community-based initiative is YouthBuild. Managed by the U.S. Department of Labor and state agencies, this is a comprehensive program for vocational development, workforce training, and career counseling for Gulf Coast youth. At-risk high school students are trained on how to assist in rebuilding homes. At the same time, trainers assist them to obtain their GED. Thousands of young people have received constructions skills and a high school diploma that makes them attractive to potential employers. This kind of training, geared to the needs and potential of particular Gulf communities, should be a key part of any long-term post-spill strategy.

The Gulf Coast has been pummeled by disasters of natural and human provenance. The response to Katrina was never what it could or should have been. But there are success stories. These community-based initiatives, combined with real resources from the federal government to help rebuild the Gulf, can help residents maintain and even improve a way of life we cherish.

Lori R. West is Gulf Region Director for International Relief & Development, which runs U.S. Gulf Coast Community Resource Centers in Mississippi and Louisiana.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
August 23rd, 2010, by Staff

If you missed the recent “week of rock” with John Mellencamp, when the rock legend debuted tracks from his latest album “No Better Than This,” or if you just want to watch the performances all over again, then you’ve come to the right place.

Check out video of “No Better Than This,” “Pink Houses” and “Save Some Time To Dream” below. To watch performances of “West End,” “Thinking About You” and “Don’t Forget About Me,” click here.

Read More »»

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
August 17th, 2010, by Staff
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When legendary rocker John Mellencamp recorded his latest (and 25th) album, “No Better Than This,” he decided to keep it simple.

(To see Mellencamp perform live, click here.)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and his producer, T-Bone Burnett, recorded in mono, went straight to tape with a 1950s Ampex reel-to-reel recorder and used one microphone.

They also set up the recording sessions at three historic locations: Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, TX, where Robert Johnson recorded his blues album in November 1936; Sun Studio in Memphis, TN, where a host of music legends (read: Elvis) have recorded; and First African Baptist Church in Savannah, GA, one of the oldest African American Baptist churches in the country and a part of the Underground Railroad.

In his recent conversation with Tavis, Mellencamp shared the backstory of the decision:

Bob Dylan and I were on tour together and I had written this song called ‘Save Some Time to Dream,’ and I thought, well, this is an awfully good song for me; I’ll just play it live. But I played it, and I thought, I’m going to be in this location and that location, and I started looking geographically that I’m going to be in Savannah, Georgia, where the First African Baptist Church is, where the Underground Railroad started and people went through.

I’m going to be in Memphis, where Sun Studios is located and where Sam Phillips recorded “Howling Wolf” and Johnny Cash, and I’m also going to be close to San Antonio, which is where Robert Johnson recorded back in the ’30s at the Gunter Hotel.

So I started thinking, and things get on your back. So I thought, well, if we’re going to record in these historic locations then we should use that type of gear. Now, those guys, like Johnson, when they recorded him, they recorded straight to disc, straight to the record, so I thought that’s what we’ll do.

But that turned out to be really problematic in this day since nobody does it anymore, so then we went with I think it’s a 1954 mono Ampex field recording machine and an RCA microphone, and recorded in those three locations with the band the old fashioned way — set a microphone up, everybody kind of gathers around it, and you play…the minute we started playing, it was just like well, this sounds like the Sun sessions. It sounds just like Johnny Cash.

And those production choices made for a 13-song album that was released today, but could have been released 50 or 60 years ago. From “Don’t Forget About Me” to “Pink Houses,” the sound is timeless.

But don’t take our word for it!

Watch performances online and tune in each night this week; Mellencamp closes each show with an exclusive, live performance of tracks from the album.

We’re calling it the “week of rock” with John Mellencamp. We know. We know. It truly gets no better than this.

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