Saturday, November 30, 2013

"catch an illegal immigrant" contest backfires

A recent attempt by a campus club, the Young Conservatives of Texas, to generate discussion about the issue of undocumented immigration was called off after UT Austin administrators stated that it would violate the school's "honor code." However, publicity about the contest did spark a counter demonstration on campus, which included a pro-immigrant statement by actress America Ferrera (see this newstory for information relevant to the organization's rationale for the event and reasons for cancelling it).   

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

black bruin

Sy Stokes provides a spoken-word protest statement about the minimal presence of black students at UCLA, most of whom, men at least, are athletes. A recent article by Antonio Moore in the Huffington Post puts the protest in perspective, criticizing "individual merit," the rationale typically used to justify low minority enrollment at flag-ship universities like UCLA. As Moore concludes, this argument totally ignores the relevance of external resources such as cultural and social capital that commonly lie behind individual attainment: 
"The problem with the merit based analysis is that merit is never truly individual; it is a composite of ability, effort, opportunity and in addition access that comes from family and community. Thus, when you do expensive computer camp at UCLA while in junior high school, live in a neighborhood of lawyers & doctors, have a grandfather that leaves a large inheritance or just have family that have relationships at the University, your personal achievement comes on the shoulders of those around you that support your success. I believe merit is very real, but the individuality of it not so much so. While we all sit down to take the test as a single person, some sit down with the unknown weight of a history of loss, while others are placed in position to as young Sy Stokes said, hit a "triple while born on third base"."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

viral homeless vet video

This timelapse of Jim Wolf, homeless Army veteran, has had over 7 million YouTube hits since Nov 6. It was placed on the Internet as a fundraising vehicle by Degage Ministries and has already generated more than $15,000 of its $20,000 goal. The Grand Rapids, Michigan charity claims that Wolf's participation in the project has also transformed his life in other ways as he is now involved with AA. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

self-sufficiency standard

Critics have long held that the federal poverty line underestimates the real level of economic hardship in our society. Based largely on the market-basket price of groceries for households of various sizes, the official poverty measure has been criticized for failing to reflect the rising cost of other basic necessities, as well as changed consumption patterns over the past 50 years. A more realistic measure, the Self-Sufficiency Standard, is now being touted as superior as it takes into consideration how much income is minimally necessary to meet a list of key expenses for households of varying size and composition across diverse U.S. places, such that households would not have to receive welfare assistance. In this recent PBS NewsHour story, Dana Pearce of the University of Washington School of Social Work, discusses the measure she developed and how it is being used.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

the most unequal place in America

This short documentary, which explores Lake Providence, LA, presumably the "most unequal place in America," is part of a recent CNN series on economic inequality in America, which in turn is a part of a larger series entitled "Change the List," a project addressing the 5 most extreme-case problems as defined by CNN viewers .