Borderless News And Views
Are Young Black Men Broken?

Young Black MenHave we been brainwashed into believing there is a “black male problem” that needs to be fixed? What kind of message is this sending to young black men? Are they broken and in need of repair?

I’ve been asking myself these questions lately. For years we have been exposed to “plight of the black man” messaging. I question the psychological impact this has had on young black men. Let’s be clear: I’m not a psychiatrist and by no means inferring I’m qualified to offer any medical opinions. What I will say is I find it hard to believe that negative messaging has not had an effect on these young men.

If you do a Google search for “black male initiative programs” you will find a plethora of organizations committed to the development of black men. Even our federal government is involved with the launching of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Has it come this far that our president needs to step in and help “fix” young black men? In our zeal to help have we contributed to lowering their self esteem?


“President Obama is taking action to launch My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color.  But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success.”

I applaud all of these organizations for the great work they’re doing. They have been instrumental and necessary for many young men. Their efforts are the socially responsible thing to do given the circumstances.

I do not believe the issue nor the solution resides with fixing young black men. Firstly, let’s not be fooled into believing that all young black men are in need of repair. There are a lot of exceptional young men doing great things who are often overlooked by the mainstream media. Secondly, let’s understand why these programs are even necessary. Let’s not overlook our socio-economic landscape. Maybe instead of trying to “fix” these young men emphasis should be placed on fixing the conditions that created this situation to begin with.
My point is simple, I’m not opposed to any program that benefits and enhances the life of young black men.  That being said I believe we need to change the messaging. I’m here to say that our young African-American men are not broken. They are not objects in need of repair.  They are children in need of an opportunity to strive and thrive.
During an interview with a NY Times reporter Steve Bandura, pitching phenom Mo’Ne Davis’ coach, commented:

“What haunts me is that for every success we have, there are probably 100 other kids who could be successes but never had the opportunity,” ….”I hope this opened people’s eyes: Kids, given the chance, will excel, whatever their economic background, whatever their race.”

We may not be able to boil an ocean but we can take the first step by changing the way we talk about our young men.

It starts now, let’s get this thing done….

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Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility.

The Marketplace is an educational and charitable organization formed for the purpose of promoting and supporting programs, initiatives, and events that address the needs of culturally diverse and economically challenged youth. 

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Controversial Alabama Abortion Law Deemed Unconstitutional – Hope for Thousands

Federal CourthouseThe term abortion brings out an array of emotions from various quarters of society, raising pertinent issues about health, hygiene and the right to live. While critics argue that the unborn child has a right to live just like anyone else, there are certain situations that may force some women to consider abortion like the presence of multiple children already in the family, advanced maternal age, underlying medical conditions that could affect the unborn child or poor financial situation that dictate an inability to bring up a child. These are just a few situations that plague a woman when she opts for abortion and, according to some of the latest statistics, one in three American women would have undergone abortion by the time she turned 45 years of age. A considerable number indeed!

Pregnant WomanThe current abortion laws require the physician performing the abortions to have admitting rights in a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. This has brought in a lot of flak as clinics that function in rural areas do not have quick access to big hospitals. Moreover, as most of the clinics function with visiting doctors, the doctors would not have admitting rights at hospitals, requiring such clinics to close down. This would seriously disadvantage women who live in rural areas and who are unable to go to bigger hospitals as a result of financial constraints.

Complications that may arise from abortions can be handled by emergency staff and do not require hospitalisation; therefore doctors may not require admitting rights at hospitals. This has been the crux of the argument put forth by lawyers in order to get a stay on the law. The disturbing factor here is that out of the 5 abortion clinics that are present in the state, 3 would be forced to shut down resulting in just 2 functioning clinics.

The dearth of legal centres for abortion will result in the mushrooming of illegal shanties where hygiene and care may not be a priority. Alarming instances of poor care and hygiene have been identified by investigators at such makeshift moneymaking centres.

Therefore the statements of District Judge Myron Thomson describing the law as “an unconstitutional purpose of creating a substantial obstacle” were welcomed in many circles. A stay has been announced which would mean that the abortion clinics can function as they have been.

It was the trial of Kermit B. Gosnell that resulted in the law. Kermit, along with his wife, ran an abortion facility which was seen as a hugely profitable centre. However, a staff introduced high levels of anaesthesia that led to the death of a woman after she gave birth to healthy twins. Subsequently, the infants were killed by cutting their spinal cords. Further, investigators found various body parts of foetuses in different parts of the clinic. This shocking crime instigated the law to protect women who seek abortion, however, the current law seems to edge them quite in the opposite direction.

Laws are meant to uphold the rights of every citizen of our country and changes to the current abortion law will only further this vision.

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Author Jeremy S. is a graduate in corporate law whose primary areas of expertise are mortgages and taxes.



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Is Health Insurance Ever Going to Be Perfect?

Hearing the words “Obamacare” and “Affordable Care Act” strikes confusion into the minds of many Americans as the quest for the best health insurance plan continues for many.

People hear these terms and how health care and health insurance will be affected, but often times the outlook and options are misunderstood. The public wonders if health insurance will ever be perfect and what their coverage will look like in a few years.

Health insurance has become a challenging thing for many individuals and families.

As the following article wonders, are “Health insurance premiums likely to rise in 2015?”

Do we know what’s coming? What exactly is the Affordable Care Act and who is covered?

We see many news articles regarding the ACA and changes to look out for. Some of it can be quite confusing.

Affordable Care Act

Obamacare and the ACA (Affordable Care Act) are one in the same.

It is all about government laws on health care reform in an attempt to try to provide more Americans with affordable health care.

Healthcare So that this plan can reach all Americans, some of the initiatives cover preventive services and immunizations at no out of pocket costs, covering dependents up to age 26 (this gives young adults more time to find jobs, get post-secondary education and their own coverage while staying under their parents’ coverage), and providing assistance to those with preexisting conditions that are having trouble finding insurers. Out of pocket expenses will have a cap on them as well.

Changes are still happening with these programs, though many of them became instilled in 2014.

For instance, in 2015, small businesses will have to provide coverage to full-time workers if they employ a certain amount.

Will Everyone Really Be Covered?

Amongst the latest news of the world, the public often hears of the high numbers of Americans still struggling with health care.

According to a report from thinkprogress.org, more than 9 million people who were previously uninsured have received coverage through Obamacare.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans are still left uncovered, including many poor blacks, low wage workers and single mothers, mostly in Southern states.

According to a New York Times piece, these people live in states “largely controlled by Republicans that have declined to participate in a vast expansion of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for the poor, they are among the eight million Americans who are impoverished, uninsured and ineligible for help.”

Because states have chosen not to expand Medicare coverage, the subsidies are not reaching the huge numbers of people with low or no incomes are being left out of the health care system and the ACA.

Unfortunately, the real issue is that many of those who need the most help are those being left out.

Statistics in the above article are showing that it’s even more than the 8 million cited, but closer to 14 million people who live in poverty and still have no health care.

About the Author: Heather Legg is an independent writer covering topics on health care, education and small businesses.



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The State of the Mortgage

Looking to buy a home? Believe it or not, it might be easier than it’s been during the last two decades to secure a mortgage from financial institutions.

home-priceAccording to a survey of senior loan officers commissioned by the Federal Reserve, at negative 18.3 percent, the net percentage for prime mortgages was the lowest it’s been since the central bank started tracking it in 2007. The number was also higher than comparable numbers in the 1990s and 2000s, according to Bloomberg.

But have no fear; we’re not in for another bubble-bursting scenario, at least according to analysts at JP Morgan Chase.

“The magnitude of the tightening during the crisis was so extreme that it dwarfs recent changes,” the analysts wrote in a report. “Just because a large percentage of survey respondents said that they were loosening standards doesn’t mean that they were loosening them by a large amount.”

I Saw You – With a Mortgage in Your Hand

On top of the bank’s loosening their standards, here’s another gem for those looking to secure mortgages: Freddie Mac recently announced that the average rate of a 30-year mortgage dropped slightly from 4.14 to 4.12 percent, while the rate of a 15-year mortgage declined from 3.27 percent to 3.24 percent. Both of those rates are lower than they were at this time last year.

While all of this news appears great for those who are looking to buy homes, it appears as though the millennial generation – typical defined as those born between 1980 and 2000 – are not yet showing a fervor when it comes to buying a home.

As such, the private mortgage market is currently valued at $1 trillion, about half of what it would be in a standard economic climate, according to Anthony Hsieh, CEO of loanDepot, a company that offers mortgage services

“Private capital is not back into the mortgage marketplaces, and this is seven years after the crisis,” explains Hsieh. “Credit has not been widened or deepened, and there isn’t enough product innovation to offer loans to this generation. The only programs are still regulated very tightly by the government.”

To Buy or Not To Buy? That is the Question

New home sales have suffered lately, falling 8.1 percent in the month of June. Obviously, as the housing market goes, so too goes the rest of the economy. As such, it’s important that financiers consider making the barriers for first-time homebuyers fewer and fewer.

Facing a difficult job market, the prospect of seemingly insurmountable student loan debt and wages that generally don’t keep up with inflation, millennials certainly have their work cut out for them when it comes to finding the means to become a homeowner, thus fulfilling the American dream.

If the millennials don’t end up becoming major players in the housing market, what does that bode for the future of the country? It doesn’t take a Nobel laureate or distinguished economist to understand how such a scenario could adversely impact the entirety of the economy.

So what? If you’re in the market to buy a home for the first time, you should take it as a good sign that mortgage rates are slipping to lows. But how much further will those rates go down?

To protect their livelihood, financiers need millennials to take out loans. The main question about mortgage rates is slowly becoming evident: How long can they go?



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Texas’ School Marshals Program the First of Its Kind

In a move that will almost certainly be divisive, the state of Texas has just finished training its first class of armed school marshals. The goal is to do for the nation’s public schools what air marshals did for airlines in the wake of the September 11th attacks.

Like air marshals, school marshals are meant to remain anonymous, with only school personnel aware of their identities. Each one is either a teacher or a member of the school’s administrative staff.

The Lesser Evil

For some time now, schools across the country have been investing in tougher measures to prevent life-threatening situations or, should the worst come to pass, ways to ensure that the situation can be dealt with quickly. These have typically included perimeter fences, bulletproof glass, and more advanced security cameras.

In addition, 18 states now allow adults to carry concealed guns on school grounds. But unlike a general concealed carry permit, Texas’ school marshal program is a great deal more structured, with a dedicated – and apparently “rigorous” – training course. In addition, each marshal’s gun is to remain locked up until it’s needed – accessible, but comfortably out of sight. A deterrent, but never a distraction.

The initiative is a product of 2013’s Protection of Texas Children Act, which gives schools the authority to designate their own marshals – as many as one for every 400 students.

Make no mistake: this training is a serious business. Each would-be school marshal must already be a member of the school’s faculty, must possess a concealed carry permit, must pass a psychological evaluation, and is required to attend an 80-hour training program at a certified police academy.

The ideal solution would have been to station a police officer at each school, but such a solution would have been “prohibitively expensive,” said Texas state representative Jason Villalba.

Voice of Dissent

School classroomThere’s no denying that the initiative is a complicated and controversial one. This fact is underscored by the fact that one of the men who wrote the marshal training curriculum, Police Chief Craig Miller, has strong reservations about introducing concealed weapons.

He acknowledges that school shootings, while devastating, are actually exceptionally rare, despite the inevitable media circus and hysteria that follows. Miller says that, following the Sandy Hook shooting, the emphasis was placed on installing more robust physical security devices such as cameras, intercoms, and card readers.

Nevertheless, the marshal training program is not the first of its kind; the 2007 Texas Guardian Plan also allowed school faculty to carry concealed firearms, but placed no restrictions on how many adults could be armed at a given time.

The “Gun-Free” Fallacy

Some people won’t be at all surprised that Texas was first out of the gate with efforts to arm teachers and administrators, while others will question the wisdom of introducing loaded firearms into heretofore “gun-free” zones.

Here’s the thing: if gun-free zones actually worked, we’d never have to deal with mass shootings. Has there ever been a mass shooting that didn’t occur in a gun-free zone?

And, yes, there’s something about this story that brings to mind the phrase “fighting fire with fire,” but let’s try to remember that guns are tools: neither intrinsically good nor evil. They’re implements that you hope you never need, but you’ll be glad to have if the worst should happen.

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Image Credit: Flickr (via Creative Commons)



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