Month: January 2021

SENATE REPUBLICANS & TWO DEMOCRATS MAY KILL THE $15 MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE  

After eight years protests by low wage workers and unions, Congress will decide on the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

 Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) sponsored the Raise the Wage Act in 2019. The Democrats passed it in the House. The Senate did just the opposite. The Republican-majority in the Senate tabled Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vermont) companion bill in committee.

This time around, the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 is a part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 over five years. Congress hasn’t increased the federal minimum wage in more than a decade. That’s the longest stretch since it was first established in 1938. It was raised under the Obama Administration to $7.25 per hour in 2009, and there it remains.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the $7.25 federal minimum wage was economically and morally indefensible. Now, the pandemic highlights the gross imbalance between the productivity of our nation’s workers and the wages they earn. Many of the essential workers have braved a public health crisis. They need to keep food on the table and care for our loved ones. Still they are not paid enough. They can not provide for themselves or their families. Today, a full-time worker cannot afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in any county in the U.S.,” said Rep. Scott, the Act’s sponsor and Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

“Around the country, Americans across the political spectrum have repeatedly supported raising the minimum wage The Raise the Wage Act is a critical step toward lifting hardworking people out of poverty, addressing income inequality, and building back a better economy where everyone can succeed,” Scott added in a Committee release.

                Raising the minimum wage would give 32 million Americans wage increases. Also one million would be lifted out of poverty, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report. The CBO also predicts job losses, initially, but investing in a green economy will add more jobs. Also, recent polls show 75% of Americans support raising the minimum wage.

Dems have the majority

               The Democrats have a narrow majority in the House and 50 percent of the Senate. A yes vote by Vice President Kamala Harris could see passage of Biden’s rescue plan. But two Democrats are on record joining Republicans opposing it on procedural grounds.

Biden doesn’t think the wage increase will pass.  He told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell that Senate rules would prevent the increase from going forward. “My guess is it will not be in it,” he said. “I don’t think it is going to survive.”

Republicans intend to block the minimum wage increase. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise urged Republicans in an email to vote “no” on what his office called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “Payoff to Progressives Act.” According to news reports, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced a nonbinding amendment that excludes a wage increase from the stimulus package.

Starvation Wages

“We need to end the crisis of starvation wages,” Senator Sanders recently told The New York Times. What most Democrats are not saying, though, is that the Act will not pass in the Senate if just one Democrat votes against it. Senator Joe Manchin, III (D-WV) is on record opposing the proposed wage increase. He told news reporters he prefers an $11 per hour wage hike.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), is the first democrat to win a U.S. Senate race in Arizona in 30 years. She opposes including the wage hike in the Biden’s COVID stimulus plan. The freshman senator told Politico, “The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And it shouldn’t be in there.”

Manchin and Sinema are “conservative democrats.” They have often sided with Republican and opposed their own party. According to Five Thirty Eight, Manchin has voted in line with Trump 60.7% percent of the time and Sinema, 62.6%.

They both seem to oppose their fellow Democrats’ position when the vote is crucial, like the wage increase vote. However, they may get primaried when they are up for reelection in 2024. The No Excuses PAC, which helped Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to win, is starting a search for candidates to challenge incumbent Democrats they say are standing in the way of ambitious action to end the coronavirus pandemic and revive the economy.

U.S. senators and representatives make a minimum of $174,000 annually.

Why are some opposed to a $15 per hour minimum wage hike? Americans earning $7.25 per hour or $14,500 per year can barely make ends meet.  Increasing the minimum wage $15 per hour, would equal an annual income of $31,200. That is still not enough income to comfortably afford to buy a house. However, it may be enough for an individual to save some money for emergencies.  

The current minimum wage is as outdated as the 2020 Federal Poverty Level. Neither adjusts for inflation or the rising cost of basic needs.

The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is a measurement of the minimum amount of annual income that is needed for individuals and families to pay for essentials, such as room and board, clothes, and transportation. According to FPL guidelines, an individual with an annual income of $12,760 is at 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. For two, it’s $17,240, for a family of three, $21,720, and family of four $26,200.

Looking at the numbers, how reasonable is it to think people can pay for essentials such as rent, clothes and transportation, let alone food? These measurements determine if an individual is eligible for federal benefits such as SNAP, SSI, and Disability Income.  

“Those who oppose raising the minimum wage will highlight its costs, both in terms of impact on the federal budget and potential job losses,” Rev. Dr. William Barber, II wrote in a February 21, Op-Ed published by Time Magazine.

Trillions of Dollars While We Fight for $15

“Trillions of stimulus dollars have further enriched corporations, many of which do not pay their workers a living wage. Putting more money in the hands of poor and low-income people would increase spending and stimulate the economy far more than investments used to shore up corporate profits. And any jobs lost in the market due to corporate cutbacks could be offset by other commitments to green jobs, infrastructure development and a federal jobs guarantee. Now is the time to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

This year, 25 states are raising their minimum wage. Louisiana has no state minimum wage and uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Tipped employees in Louisiana earn $2.13 per hour and depend on tips to make a viable living.

No matter what happens in Congress, the Fight for $15 will continue. The protesters are focusing on raising minimum pay for fast-food workers, home health aides, childcare teachers, airport workers, adjunct professors, sanitation workers, tipped workers and retail employees. Today, the protests are in more than 300 cities and 40 countries.

https://edlabor.house.gov/media/press-releases/top-democrats-introduce-bill-raising-minimum-wage-to-15-by-2025

https://www.paycor.com/resource-center/minimum-wage-by-state

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-trump-score/kyrsten-sinema/

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-trump-score/joe-manchin-iii/                                                                                                                                                   

Where’d Bill Cassidy Get Dat Dere Conscience?

Sometimes people do courageous things. And sometimes people do things once thought normal and sensible, but when done in the context of the times appears not so normal, but all so courageous instead. Sen Bill Cassidy showed courage and consciousness.

Like the day when Big Bill Cassidy went stomping through the swamp with his conscience firmly in tow. People marveled. People were appalled. It was the first time in a long time that anybody had shown such a disregard for self preservation. And shown an inclination toward the long lost bipartisan way.

Sen Bill Cassidy Shows Courage and Conscious

The way had been all but snuffed out during the Obama years. Then President Trump came along. In 4 short years, President Trump drained what was left of the swamp’s soul, finally turning what was once a bustling cacophony of sound into a vast, hollow echo chamber. When Trump shouted the call, the response was automatic. So you can imagine that when Big Bill strolled up talking all out of tune, people were appalled. And people marveled.

“Where you going with dat dere conscience of yours, Big Bill Cassidy? Ain’t it supposed to be in President Trump’s pocket?” 

“I’ve taken mine back,” Big Bill said. “And I plan to use it for the important vote at the capitol tomorrow.”

“You mean the one the Democrats concocted to sell President Trump out?”

“No. I mean the one to finally hold him right for all his wrongs.”

Big Bill stopped and placed his foot firmly on a stump. “It’s been too long,” he said, “too long of pride swallowing and groveling. Too much kowtowing and voting in the opposite interest of those we’re supposed to represent. And for what? I don’t know if you noticed. But things haven’t been made all that great around here.” 

Big Bill Cassidy Shows Courage and Conscious

As Big Bill marched along word spread around the swamp. He wouldn’t do it. That when the time came there’d be a big no way, no how. In private, many people had vowed to stand up to President Trump once and for all, to finally take the swamp back. But those thoughts were never made public. It couldn’t possibly be that Big Bill was different, could it?

But just in case Bill had a little too much cayenne up his boots, a swamp full of lobbyist tempted him with promises of unlimited donations and funding. Compromising pictures were pulled from underneath lily pads. Intricate mazes of moss and pine were spun. Still, Big Bill marched on with resolve, swatting away distractions like mosquitoes on a June Louisiana night.

“Head as hard as unschucked oyster,” one person said as Bill walked by.

“Sellout,” yelled another.

Panic set in. “If Big Bill goes up there and does the do, Democrats could get control of dis here swamp. Then you know what’ll become of our beautiful bayous and marshes?”

“No. What?”

“Condos!”

Finally the day came. Legend has it that when Big Bill reached the capitol, he stood up and cast his vote with no sign of hesitation. Afterwards, he appeared on all the talk shows. Big Bill was lauded and held up as a man of principle, honor, and courage by most in media.

Back at the Louisiana swamp, his constituents were fuming. “Big Bill,” one swamp man said, “what you went up dere and did stank like day old crawfish juice.” 

“All I did is what I should’ve been doing all along,” Big Bill said. “I followed my conscience.”

The head of the state swamp committee then pushed his way through the crowd and stepped forward. He had a sheet of Spanish Moss in his hand. “Bill Cassidy,” he shouted, “we are gathered here today to sternly wag a finger at you. It’s our formal statement of disapproval. In some parts, people call it a reprimand.” 

Big Bill took the paper and looked at it. “What is this, a spell?”

The head of the committee snatched the paper away. “Yeah, one that’ll be cast in six years when we primary you.”

That threat kind of got to Bill. He couldn’t deny it. Primaried. The curse of curses.

But for one day at least, Bill went home a hero. His kids tackled him at the door. His wife clapped and smiled. They all thought about commemorating the day. The day when Big Bill Cassidy came stomping through the swamp, his conscience firmly in tow.  Snakes trembled out of their scales. Alligators shook into sausages. Crawfish burrowed deep in the mud. For the first time in a long time a man had come walking through the swamp, trying to give it its old glow.

Joe Biden’s first 30 days

As we approach 30 days into the Biden presidency, Joe Biden is now discovering exactly what it’s like to finally be in charge. Unlike previous presidents, Biden inherited a presidency without a honeymoon period.  Instead, his first few weeks were consumed with the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.  Still, Biden’s first 30 days were disorganized and ineffective. He failed to  provide financial and medical relief to the most vulnerable Americans.

Unfulfilled Promises

Unable to deliver on his promises of direct cash payments and mass vaccinations, Biden continues to push a unicorn utopian ideology of bipartisanship. He seeks to unite a nation that does not want to be united. The ghost of Trump haunts the White House. Remarkably, the Republican minority has somehow stopped the Democratic majority. Biden’s vision to “Make America Whole Again” is on hold.

In this first 30 days we are discovering that President Biden is exactly who we thought he was . Biden is  a conservative Democrat which is a liberal Republican. Biden is against student loan forgiveness. He says individuals who attended Ivy League schools would also benefit.

This reasoning and rationale reflects the current state of mind of conservative Republicans. They have voiced opposition to income thresholds relating to direct cash payment to the citizens of America. This reasoning is flawed. It does not take into consideration the fact that only 2 percent of college graduates attend Ivy league schools. Or that the other  98 percent could really use the help. And don’t forget the 89 percent of African Americans college graduates who have student loans.

No Checks in Joe Biden’s first 30 days

So when it comes to the stimulus package the Republicans only want to place money in the hands of those individuals who are going to give it right back. Lowering the eligibility thresholds of families qualified to receive the stimulus will negatively impact America’s working class. And in reality the Republican proposal excludes those who are most likely to pay the most income tax, pay the most property taxes and fund Medicaid and Medicare. And let’s not forget Social Security.

Much of the relief promised and requested can be provided through executive orders and partisan politics. To the victor goes the spoils. Like many other African Americans, I believe that Biden’s loyalty should be to the people who elected him, the party that supports him and then the rest of America. As long as America engages in party politics there can never be “one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all”. Political parties are creations of the states. If the founding fathers thought political parties were essential to governing then I believe, given their intelligence and foresight, they would have included them in the Constitution.

Although Biden previously served in the senate for 36 years and 8 years as Vice President, at the end of the day everything starts and ends with the President. Given this experience, the Biden administration shaky start is surprising. Hopefully his experience will allow him to quickly course correct. Democrats will face tough opposition in the upcoming midterm elections.  They are in jeopardy of losing both the House and Senate if Biden fails to come through for the people that came through for him.

Professor Condoll can be heard weekday mornings from 6am til 10 am on WBOK1230.com

By Jeff Thomas

The New Orleans city council unanimously passed a resolution supporting local black owned media companies. International superstar actor, Wendell Pierce, made a presentation to the utility committee of the Council.  Pierce is a partner in Equity Media, which owns and operates WBOK 1230 am radio. During his presentation Pierce pointed out that local companies with monopolies are regulated by the City Council.  And these companies are guaranteed a profit from their business operations. 

“Our city can make a twenty-year commitment to them, but they can’t make a two-week commitment to us.”

Wendell Pierce – Speaking before the New Orleans City Council. 

New Orleans is over 60% African American. And New Orleans has a robust, active, and well-regarded group of black owned media companies. But these media companies get very little advertising dollars from locally regulated companies like the power, cable or cell phone companies. These companies have either  monopolies or must access public property in the course of their business operations. They also profit directly from the citizens of this city. Still they  do little to no advertising  with black owned media companies.

Consciousness Campaign

In fact, the media companies – WBOK 1230am, The La Weekly, The New Orleans Tribune, Data News Weekly and Think504.com – formed a coalition to address these oversights. The coalition launched the Consciousness Campaign to draw attention to the glaring bias against black owned media companies. 

Renette Dejoie Hall is the publisher of the 90-year-old La Weekly.  She continues the family tradition of publishing the paper every week.  “We get the requests for press releases from these companies, but they ignore our requests for ad dollars,” she said.  Beverly McKenna, publisher of the Tribune, said “Black media companies are the main source of thoughts and ideas for a large segment of the black community in New Orleans.”

For their part, every member of the city council spoke in support of the black owned media companies.  Council President Helena Moreno said she gets similar complaints from the Hispanic media companies.  “We have got to do a better job of utilizing our locally owned media companies,” she said during the committee meeting.

The following week, District B Councilman Jay H. Banks submitted the resolution for the full council consideration.  The unanimous vote to adopt is a clear indication that the council understands the importance of supporting our local businesses.  And though the resolution is an important fist step, more work needs to be done.  The resolution is broad and aspirational. 

Resolution Unanimously Adopted

Last week on WBOK the coalition held a forum. Troy Henry, another partner at WBOK gave more focus. “Regulated businesses are just the first step,” he said.  We expect other businesses who advertise to participate.  We are going to put out a score card ranking good corporate partners to our communities.”

Terry Jones, publisher of Data News, spoke of the historic and systemic issues at play.  “For decades these companies have exploited the black owned media companies. They are after the biggest consumer market in the world.”  The economic value of the African American community is the 10 biggest worldwide economy.  But dollars do not circulate in our community. 

Ending the exploitation of the African American community will make everybody safe.  As Wendell Pierce said during his presentation to the City Council, “People with jobs do not smash in car windows.”  Making our city a great place to live must include economic expansion in the black community.  Start with required spending by regulated companies and city agencies with black owned media companies. 

“I am optimistic!”

Jeff Thomas – Publisher and Editor Think504.com

New Orleans actor Wendell Pierce appeared before the New Orleans City Council and announced the formation of the Black Owned Media Coalition. The groups includes, WBOK 1230 am radio, The Louisiana Weekly, The New Orleans Tribune, Data News Weekly and Think504.com.

The coalition launched the Consciousness Campaign. The group seeks to get more of the ad dollars spent by local businesses. These businesses profit directly from the community. Yet they spend little or no money with black owned media in the community. And though they are regulated by local municipalities these businesses are not required to advertise with black owned media.

Pierce discusses the 21st century civil rights agenda on Roland Martin Unfiltered. Click below to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOazieoKNvc

Modern Times

See Part 1

Here we go again! This is the other half of an article I posted two weeks ago. New Orleans is my hometown, and one of the most diverse and beautiful places in America. New Orleans does get play in media, but it’s more illusive than your Chicago or your New York. And it’s always Mardi Gras. Seriously, there’s even a TV Tropes page about it. So, as an added condition to this list, I’m going to be highlighting pieces that don’t just use the Mardi Gras backdrop but actually incorporate the city, or it’s people or it’s culture. Last time I talked about Plays and Movies and Books and Comics. This time I’m going to go over Cartoons, Games and TV shows.

Television

I don’t think anyone is going to argue when I say that HBO’s Treme is the best there’s ever been when it comes to showing our culture. Treme is a TV show from 2010 that focuses on the lives of New Orleans natives in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I’m part of the diaspora, but watching this show left me next to the ground zero aftermath in intimate detail. More than that, it shows people that could be my family and neighbors as they pick up the soggy pieces of their lives in an emphatic and realistic way. Folks, you will never see a show that understands you and your culture better than this one. Check it out on HBO Max.

New Orleans in Media

Another strong contender is American Horror Story: Coven.

This is the third season of AHS, and it comes out firing on all cylinders. It’s about a coven of witches descended from Salem as they fight tooth and nail to find out who’s going to be their leader- the Supreme. It takes place in and around New Orleans and draws heavily on its culture and especially it’s local mythology. I don’t want to spoil much, but standouts include Danny Huston as the horrifying and soulful Axeman of New Orleans and the pitch perfect casting choice of Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau herself! Binge it on Netflix as soon as you can.

Video Games

Probably the slimmest pickings on this list, video games do let you wander around the Big Easy from time to time, though they rarely refer to it by its actual name.

The Mafia series is exactly what it says on the tin. But the third game in the series took a departure from tommy guns and fedoras straight down to the dirty south. It’s called New Bordeaux, and it’s New Orleans in the year 1968. That makes it the only video game I can think of that lets me roleplay as my Dad. It’s about the best realized version of the city that you can kick around in games. And it’s about the only one I know that let’s you beat the snot out of the Klan. Get it for cheap on the PSN store.

Infamous 2 is a game where you play as an electrically charged superhero as he rail slides and lightning strikes all over the city of “New Marais.”  You unravel a plot to turn citizens into mutant monsters as part of a tangle of political intrigue.  It’s made by the good guys at Sucker Punch, who previously flirted with New Orleans culture by setting a Sly Cooper level in a Louisiana swamp. Infamous 2 gets special mention because it’s the closest thing I’ll ever get to a Static Shock simulator. And it takes place in my home town!

New Orleans in Media -Video Games

Cartoons

Cartoons don’t really get set in New Orleans. They tend to visit the city from time to time.  If you’re my age, you’re probably thinking about Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. It’s probably the first time you saw your home in a cartoon. And it’s a surprisingly subversive and dark take on the Mystery Gang formula that mostly takes place in a haunted plantation on fictional “Moon Scar Island”.

New Orleans in Media – Cartoons

The Boondocks Episode “Invasion of the Katrinians” is an honorable mention. In it, the Freeman family is imposed upon to house New Orleans refugees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Keep in mind that New Orleans media post Katrina pretty much always has the ghost of the disaster hanging over it.

The boondocks lambasts and dissects our people and our culture in the same way it does every corner of black culture, and it is damn funny about it the whole way through.

The Princess and the Frog also gets a mention, but it spends most of its time in the swamps around the city, and it frankly deserves a more thorough examination by a native like me.

I’d go on, but it looks like I’m out of time. When’s the last time you saw New Orleans on the page or the screen? Let me know in the comments below!

More common than you may think, but no way to know when they’ll get the call.

by Michelle Drouin Ph.D.

jeshoots.com/Pexels

Source: jeshoots.com/Pexels

Back burners—the relationship prospects you keep simmering on your back burner—have always existed in some form or another. You turn them on low and fan the flames at your whim, all the while keeping them separate from your main relationship flame. Computers, cell phones, and social media make it easier than ever to keep in touch with these appetizing relationship alternatives. 

You know who they are: They are the people who you keep waiting in the wings in case your current relationship stalls or fails. You might even keep them waiting in the wings in case singlehood fails. You text them. You email them. You send them pictures of your coffee. Keeping them just close enough that if you decide you want them, all you have to do is turn the dial a little higher.

Sounds like a great plan, right?

Perhaps not for the guy or gal on the back burner.

Some of you may already be aware that you’re someone else’s side dish simmering on low. And maybe you’re fine with it. Maybe you don’t really want to be that person’s main course.

Or you may be wondering whether someone is communicating with you with aims of a future relationship. Maybe it started with an email, followed by a Facebook message. A quick text here, a DM there, and suddenly you find yourself in a computer-mediated quasi-relationship. You know their work schedule, their plans for the weekend, and the book that’s on their nightstand. It’s a friendship, but it’s also kind of a relationship—just not an official relationship.

You might start to wonder: What is really going on here?

According to our recent research (Dibble and Drouin, 2014; Dibble, Drouin, Aune and Boller, 2015), there might be some ways to figure this out. In our studies, we defined the term “back burner” for 376 young adults:

“Back burners are people we are romantically and/or sexually interested in, who we’re not currently involved with, and with whom we keep in contact in the possibility that we might someday connect romantically and/or sexually. People can have back burners even if they’re already in a romantic relationship with someone else. Also, a former romantic and/or sexual partner can still count as a back burner so long as we still desire a romantic and/or sexual connection with them.” (Dibble et al., 2015, p. 226)

We then asked participants to report on the nature of their own potential back burner relationships as well as the characteristics of their current romantic relationship, if applicable. Our findings revealed five interesting trends:

1. You’re probably not the only one. 

Among young adults who have back burners, it is not uncommon for them to have more than one: In our sample, participants reported an average of 5.6 back burners (men reported an average of 8.3, and women an average of 3.8). And although single people reported having more back burners than those in committed relationships (6.7 vs. 4.5), this difference was not significant.

2. You keep in touch about once a week, on average, but probably not every day.

Of those in our sample who had at least one back burner, 49% reported communicating with at least one of their back burners at least once per week, but only 7% communicated with a back burner every day.

3. Your communication is most likely platonic.

People were almost twice as likely to report that they communicated with their back burner in a platonic way, rather than in a romantic or sexual way. Among those in our entire sample, young adults reported an average of 3.6 platonic back burners and two romantic or sexual back burners. And although men reported more back burners in each category than did women—5.4 and 2.9, respectively, vs. 2.4 and 1.4—both men and women reported significantly more platonic communication than romantic communication with their back burner.article continues after advertisement

4. Their current partner probably doesn’t know that they are communicating with you. 

About a third of our sample (32%) reported that their current partner didn’t know that they were communicating with any back burners; 41% did know about some of them. However, it was very rare (16%) for relationship partners to know about all of their partner’s back burners.

5. They might still be committed to their current partner

Surprisingly, the number of back burners a person had, and even the number they communicated with in a romantic or sexual way, was not related to their level of commitment with their current partner. In other words, just because they have back burners does not mean they have plans to leave their current relationship.

Still not sure if you’re someone’s back burner? This is not surprising, because as you may have figured out, it is only the admirer who can affirm your back burner status. Only they know whether they are communicating with you out of simple friendship or whether they are keeping up with you because they think that there might be some future romantic connection. The only way to know for sure is to ask them. 

Meanwhile, savor those pictures of their coffee.

Psychological Reactance:

How one of the most underrated, underappreciated concepts in psychology is holding you back.

by Nir Eyal

When researchers make a joke in the title of an academic paper, you know what’s inside is going to be good.

Here’s the title I’m referencing: “A 50-year review of psychological reactance theory: Do not read this article.”

How did you feel when you read the phrase “Do not read this article”?

If you thought “now I’m definitely going to read the article,” then you got the joke and experienced the phenomenon described in the paper: psychological reactance.

Psychological reactance is our knee-jerk negative reaction to being told what to do.

It’s why when you were a teenager and your mom told you to put on your jacket before going out, you’d probably not put on your jacket — just ’cause. Only later did you realize you should have taken your mom’s advice as you hear your teeth chattering in the cold.

It’s the reason you bristle when your manager asks you to do a task and you grumble to yourself about being micromanaged. Later you realize the task was critical to winning that big project and you promoting your career.

We hate the feeling of being bossed around, even when doing as we’re told is good for us.

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According to researchers, almost everyone has this mental reflex against being told what to do. It kicks in whenever we feel that our freedom or autonomy is threatened.

We often do things against our best interests because we want to protect our freedom to behave the way we want.

Psychological reactance isn’t inherently bad. If people are too compliant, they’re vulnerable to manipulation. But psychological reactance can, at times, prevent us from doing things that we should do, sometimes even things we want to do — like be helpful to others.

Recently, as I was clearing the dishes from the dinner table, I asked my daughter if she could wash the dishes. “I was going to, dad!” She said. “But now that you asked me to, I don’t want to anymore.” Ahh, reactance strikes again! I should have known better.

Psychological reactance can sabotage you in bizarre, even ironic ways. For example, that knee-jerk impulse of “don’t tell me what to do!” can kick in even when it’s you telling yourself what to do.

This is particularly common when you’re trying to make commitments and follow through on them by building a schedule, a technique I recommend in my book, Indistractable.

You may have scheduled time for something that you legitimately want to do — say, working out or reading a nonfiction book. But when it comes time to start exercising or sit down to read per your schedule, you might feel a bit of reactance.

Even though you yourself are the one who’s telling you what to do, you may still react against being told what to do. Crazy, right?

This occurs because, at the moment, it doesn’t feel like you telling yourself what to do. Rather, it’s you from the past, when you made your schedule, telling yourself what to do right now.

Psychologists tell us this paradox is why we’re often hypocrites — saying we’ll do something, but when the time comes, we don’t.

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But there’s hope!

Now that you understand psychological reactance, you have the power to recognize and disarm it. Instead of flaking on commitments because of a knee-jerk feeling, you can change your perspective on the situation.

To disarm psychological reactance, you need to change the way you talk to yourself. Instead of thinking you “have to” do something, tell yourself you “get to” do it.

By changing the dialogue, you empower yourself. Now you’re in charge. You’re not being told what to do; you’re choosing to make time for something that matters to you.

Your freedom isn’t being threatened; it’s being exercised.

Disarming psychological reactance takes practice, but it’s worth learning how to deal with this uncomfortable feeling that all too often leads us off track.

Try changing the way you deal with reactance and until then — whatever you do, don’t share this article!

by C.C. Campbell-Rock

Tuesday is Mardi Gras.  The greatest free show on earth isn’t cancelled but it will be very different, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

 On Mardi Gras day, all bars on Bourbon and Frenchmen Streets will be closed. And parades, second lines, and massive partying are prohibited, indoors or outdoors.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell could have canceled the entire 2021 Carnival Season and Mardi Gras. Given the super spreader event that Mardi Gras 2020 turned out to be, no one should have been surprised if she did. But she didn’t. There are virtual events with entertainment – Floats in the Oaks, House of Floats and other ways to celebrate Fat Tuesday.

In the wake of last year’s Mardi Gras, Cantrell’s administration spent eight months handling active outbreaks and dealing with severely ill citizens. Still, hundreds died from the coronavirus. Simultaneously, the city set up a massive testing regime and advocated for enough vaccines to cover all of the city’s communities.

Her work has paid dividends. The number of new cases and deaths are declining. The spread is slowing, and the positivity rate is falling.  But Orleans Parish is still at risk for a major outbreak due to Mardi Gras.

So, we should applaud Mayor Cantrell for having the courage to make the tough, albeit unpopular, decision to tamp down the festivities.  

The mayor has saved us from ourselves…from choosing between risking our lives to party on Mardi Gras or celebrating safely in small numbers.

Here’s a fun fact. Mardi Gras has been canceled a few times.  In 1919, the Spanish Flu cancelled Mardi Gras. In 1979, the NOPD went on strike a few days before Mardi Gras. The Police Union claimed to be out due to a contract dispute with the mayor and some resented the fact that the mayor hired a police chief from outside of the city.

NOPD officers on strike in 1979

Others believed that the predominately white police department had an issue with having to take orders from Mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial, the city’s first black mayor.

Today, the same underlying resentment is emanating from Mayor Cantrell’s most ardent critics, who use every opportunity to attack her. Business owners, good government groups, and others have pounced on her when she has tried to level the playing field.

Haters gonna hate

They attacked her when she went to Baton Rouge to petition the Republican-led state legislature for a fair share of the tourism dollars that are spent in New Orleans; when she put a millage on the ballot to re-allocate excessive library funds for much needed childcare grants, and now they are attacking her for restricting Mardi Gras.

Did they not learn anything from Mardi Gras 2020, the super-spreader event that sickened more than 27,000 New Orleanians and killed 745? Are her critics not willing to make sacrifices to save their fellow New Orleanians?

Mardi Gras could lead to a major spike in the spread of the coronavirus, which increases the likelihood that black people, who are disproportionately affected, will die.

Cantrell’s  critics’ callous call for fewer restrictions is a call for more deaths in our community. Thus far, of 745 who have died from the virus, 545 were Black New Orleanians.

It’s interesting that her critics, many of whom are white, speak the loudest when money is involved. It’s as if they think putting Cantrell on blast will make her do as they choose.  But she’s not the one.

We know that the Carnival Season and Mardi Gras infuses at least $1 billion into the economy and that the proceeds are 2% of the city’s GDP.

Economic impact

The odds are that the city will suffer a loss of revenue. However, the mayor knows that some tourists and locals will be in the French Quarter partying the day after Mardi Gras, and other places, if the weather permits.

The economic impact is expected to be diminished but Cantrell can take comfort in the fact that she did the right thing. She tried to save lives.

As for her critics, we understand where they are coming from….We get it.

People are suffering financially! Businesses are hanging by a thread, some may even have to shut down or file bankruptcy. Rents and mortgages are unpaid. And keeping food on the table is daunting. Not to mention, everyone has COVID fatigue.

Mardi Gras masks

New Orleans is no different than any other American city that is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s true that we, New Orleanians love Mardi Gras and all its traditions. This is our culture.

We will find a way to celebrate our favorite holiday. In our communities, uptown and downtown, we roll with the flow. We will eat, drink, and be merry, safely. We’ll have an indoor picnic. Or we’ll second line in our houses to  “carnival music,” made by our music legends. We’ll save our Mardi Gras Indian costumes and Second-line regalia for another time.

To Mayor Cantrell, we offer our sincerest thanks. To her critics, we say, lighten up or suck it up. It’s Carnival Time in the Crescent City.

  Hey, Brother, What Do You Want With My Car?

by Kenneth Cooper

I could shoot him in the back of the head if I wanted to. One shot. That’s all. And Bam! Next thing you know, his brains are splattered all over the front seat of my car. When the police arrive, the neighbors will say it served his ass right. But as the handcuffs are placed around my wrists, one thing will become clear: I was not justified.

We’ve all seen him before. He comes in many shapes, but usually the same form: young, black,  male. In waves, he terrorizes our neighborhoods. One week it’s mine, the next week it’s yours. Then there’s a lull before the cycle resumes. It’s always the same MO — the jiggling on the handles of car doors, busting out windows, leaving whatever he doesn’t take thrown all over the seats and floor. It is indiscriminate.  

He targets Keisha with the same disregard as Karen. We are left unified in outrage. Bad enough you gotta worry about electric bills going up, and  streets spontaneously flooding. Now topping the list is some kid running through your car hoping to find what? A gun? Loose change? A credit card?

If I shoot him, there will be praise from neighbors yet outrage from some activists and analysts.

He was a victim, they’ll say. Not just a victim of my gunshot but a victim of the system. Stuck trying to make money in a pandemic ridden city that never fully invested in him or his neighborhood.  He turned out to be just another casualty of the American dream gone wrong.

Disillusioned

 Disillusioned is the most appropriate word. How can you value hard work, when there are only a few decent paying  jobs in this town? Can you take pride in where you live when it’s surrounded by broken-down houses, raggedy streets. Living in a food desert with only corner stores that don’t even sell fresh fruit? In this city, black kids are nurtured in a rotten womb. Where are the black success stories? Not on the news. Their coverage is short on positivity but saturated in crime. The message is clear: stay black, stay poor, stay patient and grind out a living while your plight goes ignored.

I look both ways before walking to my car these days. My head is on a swivel, even in my own backyard. The NOPD can’t protect me. If he wants what I have, there is no black solidarity. Just be the two of us in a stand-off, unified by skin color, but segregated by conditions. I have a job that pays well. He has the potential come-up of my wallet and car. Any confliction I have over his plight will be over-ridden by the gall. It’s a strange place to be as black men. This predicament is degrading to both of us.

Real Problem

On the news we watched a white lady hang onto the door of her SUV as a black kid pulled away in it. It was broad daylight. He just jumped right out of one car and into hers. In the video, she hangs onto the door with tenacity. Looked like she had the strength to rip it off the hinges. You could say she was trying to hang onto more than just a door. Maybe something bigger. Probably it was the idea of  civility being pulled away from her. It appeared to have left him long ago. He likely would’ve dragged her if she didn’t let go. Eventually she did. And he just sped off, with no hesitation at all, quickly disappearing out of the frame. A problem we can neither leave untended nor ignored.

Jobs stop car break ins.