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2022 NFL mock draft: New No. 1 pick is just one of many late changes to first round

Opinion by Nate Davis, USA TODAY – 12h ago

The 2022 NFL draft is one day way – ample time to cobble together one more mock draft and hope to hit first-round blackjack before the proceedings officially begin Thursday night in Las Vegas.

Yet even though teams’ draft boards are largely set, plot twists still await – some players perhaps getting a belated push, others dogged by newfound questions … not to mention the possibility a major trade (Deebo Samuel, anyone?) could significantly shake up Round 1’s outlook at the 11th hour.

But, based on what we think we know, here’s one more projection attempting to forecast how the opening night of the annual “Player Selection Meeting” unfolds:

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RANKINGS: Who are top 50 prospects in 2022 NFL draft?

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Travon Walker, Georgia: He completes his pre-draft rocket ride all the way to the top. The gulf between his potential and production (9½ career sacks for the Bulldogs) represents quite a gamble, but his ability to line up wide or go head up on centers and guards is an asset on passing downs. Yet his hustle and dedication to stopping the run are especially alluring in a division featuring Titans RB Derrick Henry and Colts RB Jonathan Taylor.

© Dale Zanine, USA TODAY SportsGeorgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Travon Walker (44) rushes Charleston Southern Buccaneers quarterback Jack Chambers (8) during the first half at Sanford Stadium.

2. Detroit Lions – DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan: The Wolverines star and Plymouth, Michigan, native seems like a perfect match for his local NFL team … though you wonder if the Jags might try to pry a pick out of the Lions to do a 1-2 flip first. But Hutchinson could be the needed face of a franchise that lacks one while juicing up a pass rush that produced just 30 sacks in 2021 and no longer has DE Trey Flowers.

3. Houston Texans – OT Ikem ‘Ickey’ Ekwonu, North Carolina State: Good luck finding an offensive line prospect this year with more upside. A devastating run blocker, he could start out at guard or right tackle – or settle in on QB Davis Mills’ blind side if the Texans decide to eventually move on from LT Laremy Tunsil as part of their ongoing rebuild. The 6-4, 310-pound Ekwonu ran a sub-5-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, one indicator of his elite athleticism.

4. New York Jets – CB Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, Cincinnati: A franchise that’s been looking for Darrelle Revis’ successor for the past half-decade would benefit greatly from the 6-3, 190-pounder Gardner, who never surrendered a TD pass for the Bearcats. The consensus All-American allowed only 20 receptions in 2021, picked off three passes and – evidence of his all-around game – posted 40 tackles and three sacks. He’s not going to sustain that kind of shutdown rep in a division now featuring WRs Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs, but he’d certainly upgrade the league’s worst defense, both in terms of points and yards allowed in 2021.

5. New York Giants – OT Evan Neal, Alabama: If Big Blue’s new regime wants to give QB Daniel Jones and RB Saquon Barkley a fighting chance at relevance in 2022, no better avenue than bolstering the offensive line with the 6-8, 337-pounder. Neal can play guard or either tackle spot and would help Jones remain much cleaner … Barkley, too, given the size of the running lanes Neal can create.

6. Carolina Panthers – OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State: Assuming GM Scott Fitterer – not scheduled to pick again until late in Round 4 – can’t find someone to take this selection off his hands, probably wiser and safer to address his gaping left tackle issue with arguably the draft’s premier pass blocker than roll the dice on a quarterback who may or may not be much better than Sam Darnold … especially if he has to drop back behind this line as currently constructed.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers [PROJECTED TRADE with Giants] – QB Malik Willis, Liberty: A win-win for both teams, as trades are intended to be. Spinning off the pick acquired from the Chicago Bears in last year’s Justin Fields deal, rookie New York GM Joe Schoen could pull down the Steelers’ 2023 first-rounder (in addition to No. 20 this year), giving him an insurance policy in next-year’s quarterback-rich draft if Jones doesn’t lock himself into the starting job in what could be his final year with the Giants. On the other side, the Steelers make the bold move they’ll almost certainly have to try at some point in order to bring in retired Ben Roethlisberger’s successor, jumping ahead of other teams with a QB quandary. Willis has the bazooka arm to expand coordinator Matt Canada’s offense and the powerful running ability coach Mike Tomlin covets in a contemporary quarterback. And Pittsburgh will almost certainly need a potentially elite passer in a division that now includes Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. But Willis wouldn’t have to be an immediate savior given the presence of optimal Steel City bridge Mitchell Trubisky.

8. Atlanta Falcons – WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State: Given the myriad holes on his roster and dearth of cap space this year, GM Terry Fontenot should want to deal out of this spot to begin collecting assets for an overdue rebuild. But if Willis is gone, might be a lot tougher to vacate this slot given the quality depth available at most other positions. If Fontenot sticks and picks, the 2021 trade of Julio Jones, 2022 suspension of Calvin Ridley and free agent departure of Russell Gage may move wideout right to the top of his wish list. After laying down a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the combine, the 6-foot, 183-pound Wilson bolstered the argument he might be the top pass-catching prospect in a very extensive class of them. He’s effective both outside and from the slot and is especially dangerous after the catch, scoring 13 TDs last season (one as a rusher). He would pair very nicely in the pass game – in whatever form it takes – with last year’s first-rounder, TE Kyle Pitts.

9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos) – CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU: His talents as a cover man are undeniable and were apparent for the 2019 national champions, for whom he had six interceptions, earning All-American honors for his efforts. But Lisfranc surgery limited him to three games in 2021 – a year after he was slowed by ankle issues. However a promising showing at LSU’s pro day seems to have allayed concerns about Stingley’s health and readiness to play. Coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider could certainly use a left tackle, pass rusher and, obviously, a quarterback. But Stingley could simply be too gifted to pass up, especially for a team that built its defense back to front during its heyday.

10. Jets (from Seahawks) – WR Jameson Williams, Alabama: With the final piece of the 2020 Jamal Adams trade, NYJ GM Joe Douglas needs a home run draft after failing to lure any blue-chip free agents this year and coming up short in the derby to pry Hill out of Kansas City. Williams could well become that caliber of playmaker for second-year QB Zach Wilson … once he fully recovers from the ACL tear suffered in the national championship game against Georgia. So the reward could be worth the risk for a 26th-ranked offense that didn’t stretch the field enough when Wilson was on it. Williams was remarkably productive in 2021, averaging 100 receiving yards and a TD catch per game.

11. Washington Commanders – S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame: He’s 6-4 and 220 pounds with sub-4.6 speed and can shore up deficiencies at the second and/or third levels. Hamilton can provide coverage, a box presence, blitzing ability and an intimidation factor – a varied skill set recently released S Landon Collins just couldn’t provide in D.C. Hamilton is widely regarded as a top-five talent in this draft who’s being undercut by the positional value of safeties.

12. Minnesota Vikings – OLB/DE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State: A guy who grew up in the shadow of the Vikes’ old training headquarters comes home. Pass rushers are always at a premium, but especially for a team apparently counting on Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter, who combined to miss 26 games in 2021 – this after Hunter was injured for the entire 2020 campaign. A Georgia transfer, Johnson comes off a productive senior season that included 11½ sacks and 17½ tackles for losses.

13. Texans (from Cleveland Browns) – DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon: This is where Houston officially begins its post-Deshaun Watson recovery, though it’s fairly apparent Mills is the man under center for the foreseeable future. But the Texans also need to regenerate their pass rush after years of relying on J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Thibodeaux, who will probably be under consideration by Houston GM Nick Caserio at No. 3, is so talented, he once seemed ticketed for the No. 1 pick. But he still has to prove his commitment to the game is as important as the commitment to his brand.

14. Baltimore Ravens – CB Trent McDuffie, Washington: The latest in a long line of quality Huskies corners, he has 4.4 speed, elite cover skills, smarts and the versatility to play in just about any scheme. The Ravens have historically stockpiled first-rate DBs yet have developed a need with Tavon Young moving to Chicago and Marcus Peters, who’s got a year left on his contract, trying to rebound from a torn ACL.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins) – WR Drake London, USC: Yes, this would mean a first-round wideout for a third straight year in Philly. But at 6-4, 219 pounds, London would bring a different element to a Smurf-ish group that hasn’t gotten enough from holdovers like Jalen Reagor or 2019 second-round bust J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who’s attempting a conversion to tight end. London’s size would be a plus for sometimes scattershot QB Jalen Hurts, who could use a Mike Evans-type target. London had 88 catches for 1,084 yards and seven scores in eight games in 2021 before a broken ankle cut his season short.

16. New Orleans Saints (from Indianapolis Colts via Eagles) – OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa: 

A talented, nasty player for the blind side, he’d remind Saints fans of Kyle Turley and hopefully help them forget about departed LT Terron Armstead.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – WR Chris Olave, Ohio State: A tantalizing team that seems content to sling it on offense behind budding superstar QB Justin Herbert may as well take a polished playmaker like Olave given there really isn’t a glaring deficiency to address. With sub-4.4 speed, he has the juice and smooth route running to beautifully supplement rebounding WR Mike Williams and technician counterpart Keenan Allen. Olave is also adept at putting the ball in the paint, that occurring 32 times in his last 33 games for the Buckeyes.

18. Eagles (from Saints) – DT Jordan Davis, Georgia: A 6-6, 341-pound All-American who somehow ran a 4.78 40 at the combine, he can crush a pocket and is also a valuable run stuffer. Philadelphia will need such an anchor with DTs Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave headed for free agency next year.

19. Saints (from Eagles) – WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State: 

The 5-11, 178-pounder with 4.4 speed and supple hands might be an ideal complement to big-bodied possession WR Michael Thomas and do-it-all RB Alvin Kamara. Dotson, who could also add pop as a returner, would definitely – in conjunction with Thomas’ return – elevate what was the league’s worst passing attack in Year 1 post-Brees.

20. Giants [PROJECTED TRADE with Steelers] – LB Devin Lloyd, Utah: They got a first-hand look at the impact a multi-talented ‘backer can have after seeing what Micah Parsons, whom New York could have drafted in 2021, did for Dallas last season. Lloyd had seven sacks ands 22 TFLs for last year’s Pac-12 champions but is also stellar in coverage and the kind of leader the G-Men’s D could use. The draft’s best prospect at his position is more compelling than dipping into the next tier of edge rushers.

21. New England Patriots – CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson: Georgia LB Nakobe Dean is tempting, and maybe the Pats can move up in Round 2 to get him. But a fourth-ranked defense badly needs to replenish at corner after losing J.C. Jackson in free agency. Booth is the type of versatile player – comfortable in any coverage technique or scheme – this organization tends to value.

22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas Raiders) – WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas: You wonder if a team that hasn’t taken a wideout in Round 1 since 2002 (Javon Walker) might try to bundle some of its early picks – the Pack have two firsts and two seconds – in a bid to get Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, London or Olave. But Burks might have to be the guy if the board falls this way, and that might be fine. Perhaps 4.55-second 40 speed is unremarkable for his position, but the momentum it generates for a 6-2, 225-pounder who’s been compared to Samuel could be distinctive. Like any rookie, Burks would have to earn QB Aaron Rodgers’ hard-to-gain trust, but that process could be facilitated by what he can do after the catch with some easy touches. Burks averaged more than 16 yards per reception in each of his three seasons with the Razorbacks, and he has 18 TDs among his past 117 grabs.

23. Arizona Cardinals – OL Zion Johnson, Boston College: Their O-line isn’t great and could be due for an overhaul anyway with several starters headed for free agency a year from now. Strong as an ox (combine-high 32 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press) but with light feet, Johnson can line up at guard or left tackle, valuable versatility for a team in this circumstance.

24. Dallas Cowboys – OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M: He played every O-line position but center for the Aggies in 2021 but took most of his college snaps at left guard. That kind of versatility – and a nice streak of nastiness – would be a boon to a once dominant unit that lost two starters (RT La’el Collins, LG Connor Williams) in free agency and had shown signs of slippage anyway.

25. Buffalo Bills – RB Breece Hall, Iowa State: It’s strongly worth considering. Buffalo hasn’t had a 900-yard rusher since QB Josh Allen was drafted in 2018, and he’s had to shoulder too much of the run game’s responsibilities. For a team that appears primed for a Super Bowl run, especially amid Kansas City’s loss of Hill, why not add one more difference maker? Hall (5-11, 217) could be an every-down option whose 4.39-second 40-yard-dash burst could bust many games open while limiting further wear and tear on Allen. Hall had 3,526 yards from scrimmage and 46 TDs during his last two seasons with the Cyclones.

26. Tennessee Titans – QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh: He might be the most NFL-ready passer in the draft … though Nashville isn’t a place Pickett would have to play immediately. However change may be necessary sooner than later as Ryan Tannehill’s playoff shortcomings continue to mount. A four-year starter for the Panthers, Pickett has poise, accuracy, a quick release, production (4,319 yards and 42 TDs passing in 2021) and solid athleticism – perhaps enough NFL traits that he could slide into the driver’s seat for a capable outfit like Tennessee, which wouldn’t need its offense to revolve around him in the short run.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DB Daxton Hill, Michigan: The Bucs are suddenly thin at safety and slot corner. Hill can kill two birds with one stone. His 4.38-second 40-yard-dash speed is an asset at nickel, the box or center field and would create more options for newly promoted head coach Todd Bowles, who will remain intimately involved with the defense.

28. Packers – DE George Karlaftis, Purdue: He might not be that twitchy or nuanced as a pass rusher but is strong and relentless. He could do a lot of damage breaking in on passing downs and augmenting a rush led by OLBs Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. In two full seasons (2019, 2021) for the Boilermakers, Karlaftis compiled 13 sacks, 32 QB hits and 64 hurries.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (from San Francisco 49ers via Dolphins) – WR George Pickens, Georgia: He suffered an ACL tear in spring practice a year ago but made it back in time to participate in the Bulldogs’ 2021 championship drive, averaging 21.4 yards on five catches. But a 6-3, 195-pounder with sub-4.5 speed offers plenty of intrigue and has even been mentioned favorably in the same breath as former Dawgs legend A.J. Green. Imagine that kind of impact on a K.C. offense trying to move forward without its Cheetah.

30. Chiefs – DE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State: After transferring from Temple last season, he burst onto the scene in Happy Valley by posting 9½ sacks and 18 TFLs. He’s not the stoutest guy (6-2, 250) and might benefit by focusing early on what he does best – hunt quarterbacks – as a sub package stud alongside DE Frank Clark and DT Chris Jones. Maybe in a year, Ebiketie is ready to replace Clark and his $21 million salary for 2023.

31. Cincinnati Bengals – CB Kaiir Elam, Florida: The AFC champs can actually look to improve other areas of their roster after getting three new offensive linemen for Burrow in free agency. Elam is a big (6-2, 191), fast (4.39 40) corner who could immediately push to replace Eli Apple as a starter for Cincy’s defense … which couldn’t slow down the Rams’ passing game in the pivotal moments of Super Bowl 56. Elam was slowed by a knee injury last season but broke up 11 passes in 12 games in 2020.

32. Lions (from Los Angeles Rams) – DE/OLB David Ojabo, Michigan: What could be better than one Wolverines pass rusher in Detroit? Two, naturally. Ojabo and Hutchinson combined for 25 sacks in 2021, the former exploding for 11 while seeing significant snaps for the first time. A native of Nigeria who grew up in Scotland, he had one tackle as a sophomore in 2020, so a bit of an understatement to deem Ojabo raw. The 6-4, 250-pounder, who once seemed headed for the top half of Round 1, is also coming back from an Achilles injury suffered at his March pro day. But given he might have benefited from a limited role as a rookie anyway, why not invest in Ojabo here – ensuring you potentially have him for at least five seasons with the option year – and hope he and Hutchinson can recreate their Ann Arbor magic in Motown?

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It happens everyday in America!

By Jeff Thomas

Black men kill each other at alarming rates all across America every day. Nearly every city’s daily news casts reports, “Today in our city three (or thirty depending on the size of your city) men were shot and killed in three (or thirty) separate shootings.  Police have no suspects in any of the cases.”  And immediately and innately you know that the people killed were black and the killers were black.  This has been going on for the last 30-40 years and no end is in sight.  New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates nationally.  Why do black men kill each other?

First Let’s Dispel a Racist Myth

First thing you have to know is that 99.999% of black men do not commit murder ever in their lives.  That is a fact!  This is not a black man issue.  There is nothing genetically or intrinsically wrong with black men. But the fact remains that daily hundreds of black men across this country are murdered everyday by another black man.  Why does this happen with this subset?

Common factors to Black men murdering other black men

RACE

The first thing about murder is that people usually kill people who are similar to them in many ways, particularly race.  White men normally murder other white men and black men normally murder other black men. 

PROXIMITY

In the black community, these killings are normally city events.  Rarely do you hear of a drive by in the country.  Most of these daily killings occur on the city streets.  People kill others who they interact with.

AGE

Young men engage in risky and violent behavior.  Most of the men dying on our streets are between the ages of 17-35. 

EDUCATION

Nearly 95% have not graduated from college and 65% have not completed high school.   

Socioeconomic Status

100% were not upper class in America. The links between poverty and crime are well documented.  And black men have lived in depression level economic conditions for the last 50 years.

But these are often cited, unsurprising factors.  More salient is what goes into the psyche of a guy who can look into the eyes of another man and pull the trigger at close range or jab a knife with the intent to murder another man?  What are the other factors that contribute to becoming a murderer? Why do Black men kill each other

Habitually Hostile Men

The guy who ain’t never scared and always looking to escalate a situation.  Down for whatever.  Nothing to live for and anticipating the day he will either kill or be killed.  This mindset is cultivated in a limited option, few chances, success deprived life.  This guy has had a number of arguments and fist fights throughout his life.  He hates authority and frequently feels angry or resentful towards people.  He often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.  This guy is a walking heap of rage.  He is always nothing but a gun and an argument away from murder.

The Disrespected Man

A man who feels like everybody but him gets respect.

For this guy, respect is everything and options to express anger or refutation are often limited.   He often seeks to overcome a feeling of impotence. If another who seems unworthy of disseminating criticism or scorn or generally crosses the line of imagined respect, then a high level of response will be meted out.

The Wannabe

When challenged by a non-believing skeptic, this man often acts in unnecessarily violent ways in unnecessarily violent situations.  Often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.

Self-Hate

The daily feeling of isolation, powerlessness and impotence is like being a prisoner of war.  One reason black men grab their genitals is to stress their vitality.  Men who have been literally stripped of the ability to display their manhood – great jobs, big houses, educational attainment and all the other accoutrements of modern society- are literally killing to express their power in life.  Twisted but true.

Given the opportunity to take back control of Orleans Parish schools and assume the lead in giving our kids the best education that’ll keep them out of prison, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) thought about it and said, nah I think we’re good.

Actually, they didn’t just say it. They held a meeting. They put it in a formal resolution. So when it came time for the Senate to finally hear Sen. Joe Bouie’s bill (SB404), it failed. By 6 votes. The dissenting Senators were like, if the OPSB doesn’t want the responsibility, then why would we force it on them?

That raises a question: why doesn’t the OPSB want the responsibility? Maybe it has something to do with the present setup.

Charter schools are the gentrification of education

As it stands now, the OPSB is a conduit for state education dollars. It’s a golden setup. Any aspiring charter organization wanting to access state money and open a school has to get the OPSB’s approval. Once that happens, the OPSB plays a minimal role.

Once established, the charter gets to set its own salaries, hire its own teachers and principals, and establish its own curriculum. The OPSB then relegates itself to monitoring their performance via test scores. It also decides if the school will be reapproved when the contract is up. That’s called eliminating mostly anything to do with the day-to-day responsibility of educating our kids while still getting paid. Charter schools are the gentrification of education.

How much you might ask. Like $300,000 a year if you happen to be the incoming superintendent of the OPSB. That’s a raise of almost a $100,000 over the outgoing superintendent.  And $15,000 more than the Dept of Education superintendent who oversees the whole state. There’s also a $20,000 a year bonus if certain incentives are met. The OPSB cited cost of living increases to justify the salary.

Sen. Bouie has been trying to break up this arrangement for years. The central theme of his many bills has been holding the elected school board members accountable for the schools in their districts. As it stands now, the public can’t really hold them accountable for our failing schools because the charters set and run their own shows.

Many people would probably say what difference would it make. When the OPSB ran the schools, they were just as bad, in general, as they are now. But the whole charter reform movement was supposed to be about improving schools.  This ain’t that!

Going forward, the goal shouldn’t just be returning the schools to the OPSB. There should also be public involvement to hold the OPSB accountable once that does happen. Our schools won’t improve with a management change alone. It needs an engaged public to go along with it.

Of course, this will all have to wait until next legislative session. With this session ending in about 2 weeks, there will probably be little support for reconsidering Sen. Bouie’s bills. Until then, watch the OPSB members of your districts. Attend a meeting. Let your voice be heard. That’s the first step towards invoking true reform. Because now, charter schools are the gentrification of education.

From preschoolers to high school, schools discipline Black children at extremely high rates. Discipline means lost instruction time. Children are frustrated because they don’t understand. So instead of providing a nurturing environment, schools create children who do not like school. We know that children who do well in school often do well at life. For black kids this is especially true. Educational success can lift families out of poverty. But schools today are putting black kids out of school. In fact, schools use discipline to discourage black children.

Have an open discussion about race and achievement gaps and disparities in America. Invariably the discussion will consolidate around two key generally accepted factors – parental involvement and education.  Most people say parents have to be parents and influence their children. And an emphasis on education can transform the life of children.

Despite the best efforts of parents, schools use discipline to discourage black kids.  The Civil Rights division of the Department of Education released the latest results of its data collection of nearly every public school in the country.  And the results were disturbing nationally and alarming in Louisiana.

See how schools use discipline to discourage blacks.

We expect schools to be vessels for success. So they must be nurturing supportive places that welcome children and educate them.  Schools have always dealt with learning differences amongst students.  Little Tyronne is better in math than little Johnny, but Johnny reads at a higher level.  The best schools are adept at developing the strengths and weaknesses of each student.

 Schools must see African American children as valuable and teachable. But teachers are humans with biases and preconceived notions. Teachers with different socioeconomic backgrounds from their students must be able to overcome their own limitations. One stereotype is that African Americans are less intelligent than other students. Another stereotype is that Black boys don’t care about education. Another is that black children are just bad. Inexperienced and culturally bereft teachers might see black children as unworthy. How else can you explain black preschool children being suspended from school? How else can you explain the widespread expulsion of black children. Let’s look at some facts. This is how schools use discipline to discourage blacks.

Related: NOLA Charter Schools are the gentrification of education

Some of the most glaring disparities are differences in discipline:

In Louisiana the stats are even more disturbing.

In New Orleans, many point to the charter movement as progress.  But most of the charter schools operators in New Orleans are run by out of state companies. And they operate the same across the country.  Most have inexperienced, Teach for America teachers who have no cultural familiarity with the students they must teach.  Hence we have high expulsions and constant teacher turnover.  Our children are left in the lurch.

The children who drug the old white lady are teenage high school students. The boy was suspended from school.


by Preeti Vani

Your answer may depend on how we ask the question.

KEY POINTS

Gladson Xavier/Pexels

Source: Gladson Xavier/Pexels

What do the gender wage gap, race relations in America, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have in common? They are all intergroup conflicts — that is, multiple groups that have a stake in the conflict and its outcomes. For example, both men and women are involved in the work needed to close the gender wage gap. Similarly, members of different racial groups are involved in debates around racial justice. People also tend to make moral judgments in all of these conflicts, sometimes believing that one side is “right” and another is “wrong.”

Importantly, different people assign blame to parties in different ways. A team of researchers from Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that altering the way in which parties are presented changes the amount of blame allocated to those parties — even for important and long-standing divides, like the examples above.

Oftentimes, these conflicts invigorate the battle for public opinion. We spend our time and energy convincing people that we are blaming the “right” parties. The weapons deployed on this battlefield range from new social media influencers and photogenic images of human suffering to simplified narratives filled with old stereotypes and prejudices.

How do you win the battle for public opinion? By convincing the world that the other side is to blame for decades of bloodshed and hatred. This seems difficult — surely people hold entrenched positions in such protracted, moralized conflicts, forged by national loyalties and fueled by media echo chambers.

Or do they?

Study: Who’s to blame?

We recently discovered that shifting public opinion in entrenched conflicts, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can be surprisingly easy. In our experiments, we asked research participants a simple question: “Who do you blame for the conflict?” Participants allocated 100 percent of the blame between the sides of the conflict (the Israelis and the Palestinians).

While outlining the parties that one can potentially blame, the larger groups can be “unpacked” into smaller subgroups, or they can be left “packed” as the larger group. For example, Israel has three major political blocs — the Right-Wing Bloc, the Center Bloc, and the Left-Wing Bloc. We can represent Israel in a “packed” way, by simply having “Israel” as an option in the choice set, or we can represent Israel in an “unpacked” way, by having Israel’s major political blocs as options. We can do the same for the Palestinians.

You probably have an opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And regardless of how we present the options, you probably think that your opinions on the conflict — and the extent to which different parties deserve blame — are unlikely to change much as a function of how the question is asked. Here’s the fascinating part. When we “unpacked” the Israeli side to three political subgroups, the proportion of blame assigned to Israel increased by 30 percentage points, from 38 percent to 68 percent, with the Palestinian side receiving 32 percent of the blame. When we unpacked the Palestinian side into three subgroups, the same thing happened, only in reverse — now most of the blame was assigned to the Palestinians, with only a small portion of the blame assigned to Israelis. In other words, a slight difference in the framing of choices shifted the public opinion from allocating the majority of the blame to the Israelis to allocating the majority of the blame to the Palestinians.

We didn’t stop at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We found similar effects when we asked different samples of participants who they blamed for the gender gap in wages in the U.S. (between men and women), and who they blamed for current racial tensions in the United States (between White Americans and Black Americans).

In the case of race relations, we either kept the groups “packed” as “White Americans” and “Black Americans,” or we “unpacked” the groups into political subgroups (e.g., “White Democrats,” “White Independents,” and “White Republicans”). When only the “Black Americans” group was unpacked, 58 percent of the blame for racial tensions was allocated to White Americans — but when only the “White Americans” group was unpacked, our participants now allocated 84 percent of the blame to White Americans.article continues after advertisement

This shockingly large shift in public opinion has important real-world implications. For example, if the U.S. president were to veto a bill related to racial justice, a two-thirds Congressional supermajority is required to override the veto. This benchmark is encapsulated within our 26 percentage point shift in the blame allocated to White Americans. A simple presentational change dramatically shifted public opinion on topics where people could reasonably be expected to have established views. What’s going on?

Partition dependence and its effects

This phenomenon is known as “partition dependence.” It is the human tendency to allocate more attention to a category when it is unpacked into subcategories. Partition dependence is a natural cognitive process. Essentially, it means that when we think about groups, we don’t naturally think about every subgroup contained within that overall group. For example, when we think about “Americans,” we don’t ordinarily think about every subcategory of “Americans.” But when a large group is unpacked into its constituent subgroups, it commands more of our attention, which in this case results in a larger portion of the blame.

Importantly, the partition to subgroups can be along different consequential dimensions. When we asked about the gender wage gap, we unpacked “men” and “women” by race (i.e., “White Men,” “Asian Men,” “Hispanic Men,” and “Black Men”). When we asked about race relations, we unpacked “White Americans” and “Black Americans” by political orientation. Across multiple important social issues, we found that partition dependence can be used as a tool to persuade others and sway opinions by having people consider a more (or less) comprehensive set of potentially blameworthy parties.

Why should you care? We should all care because narratives of intergroup conflict can shape life-and-death decisions in institutions ranging from the United States Congress to the United Nations. Considering different sets of perpetrators changes how blame is allocated, which may matter quite a bit in the court of public opinion as well as in the International Court of Justice. The ease of using simple presentational tools to shift public opinion in complex and entrenched moral conflicts — such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the conflict between White Americans and Black Americans — should be a lesson to all of us. How we ask the question determines where the blame lies.

Kari Rusnak, MA, LPC,CMHC

Learn why you need to prioritize time for dates.

First of all, date nights don’t have to be at night. You can do them any day at any time; the most important thing is spending quality time while engaging in shared meaning. The Gottman Institute’s research shows that 2 hours a week devoted to dates are part of a happy healthy relationship. Here are some date night ideas that could take at least two hours:

Why are date nights so important?

Get more consistent about date nights

Talk to your partner about setting up a time each week when you can spend two hours together. This can be the same time every week or you can schedule the next one at the end of your most recent date night. It can be helpful to schedule date nights like you would a medical appointment or work meeting. This makes it feel more prioritized and harder to cancel or forget about.

RELATED: HOW TO STAY HAPPY

Currently New Orleans has a major teenage crime problem.  Far too many teenagers are committing crimes. Car jackings, murders, shoplifting – nothing seems shocking anymore.  Many assume because they are black, they are prone to crime.  Others think young minds are undeveloped and do not understand the reality of their choices.  Listen to WBOK 1230am radio, the voice of the black community, and invariably a caller of three will call in blaming bad parenting. Some cite a complete breakdown of the family unit. A bunch of callers will blame absent fathers. Rarely do you hear about the effects of past mass incarceration. Yet past mass incarceration causes crime today.

If you just believe black people are naturally bad, then you are a real part of the problem.  I mean if your heart skips a beat when a group of young black boys turn the corner and face you, then you are just being cautious. But if you automatically feel like your life is threatened then you are a brainwashed fool.  This limited and stupid thinking is racism based and rooted in greed and corruption.  And it produced centuries of bad policy.

The bad policy?  Mass Incarceration.  How did we get it there?  Blacks and whites commit crimes at about the same rate.  Yet black men fill jails and prisons across the country. Why?

Mass incarceration was the backlash to freeing the slaves.  The 13th Amendment has a unique exception for those interested in the continued exploitation of black labor.  Read it:

13th Amendment

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Incarceration jumped a whopping 20000% after the amendment became law.  In essence, black men went from being enslaved to incarcerated overnight.  Today, Louisiana is still a worldwide leader in mass incarceration.  Even after serious and significant reforms. 

What are the effects of mass incarceration and how does it contribute to crime:

Mass incarceration, born just after slavery and continuing today has a direct impact on the crimes we see now.  This year violence is at levels not seen since 2005. And children who are 15-18 today were born in, just before or right after 2005.  Two things about the year 2005.  Louisiana was the mass incarceration capital of the world by far.  Oh and this storm tore through the city.  The federal levees failed.  And today we see the double whammy of our state’s bad policy and poor planning.

Past Mass Incarceration Causes Crime Today

Where are the fathers?  In Jail.

Why are families not intact?  Father in jail.

Why did the family breakdown? Father in jail.

Why are kids in gangs and don’t have fatherly influence? Father in jail.

Why are so many black families in poverty? Father in jail.

On and on and on and……

Storms are bigger and more frequent.  Crimes are more brazen and frequent.  Only smart policy can fix both. 

Crunch Time At The Legislature

Let’s talk bills. Not the money kind, but the ones our state legislators are proposing and pouring over. Previously, we covered 3 in particular. Here’s what has happened to them since. We are tracking the Louisiana legislature

HB248removing Robert E. Lee Day and Confederate Memorial Day from the state roll.

Now is not a good time to be Robert E. Lee. Yes, he’s dead, I know. But his legacy is alive and taking some serious Ls. Actually, it’s been on a slow burning descent since 2017.

First, his statue was plucked from his very own Circle. Then he lost his Boulevard. After that, the aforementioned Circle was renamed. Now, he’s on the verge of losing one of his last remaining signs of relevancy – his state recognized holiday. Yes, there’s a Robert E Lee Day in Louisiana [insert face palm]. It’s January 19th. Sorry if you missed it. Because if Rep. Matthew Willard’s bill passes, this year could be the last year the state recognizes Lee Day.

A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Lee Circle in New Orleans.

As of now, Rep. Willard’s bill is still alive and kicking its way through the Senate. Surprisingly, it coasted out of the House with a 62-20 vote. And that was after a 12-0 romp through the House Judiciary Committee. It did all this with minimal headlines and fanfare.

You would’ve thought the bill would spark hyperbole of the highest order.  But the knives stayed in. And the red meat was left out. Instead of claims of attacking heritage and trying to erase history, members of the House treated us to efficiency and silence. Now it’s up to the Senate.

Over at the Senate, the bill is still waiting to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republicans hold a 4-3 advantage in that Committee. If it passes there, it’s on to the full Senate, then the governor’s desk.

HB209 – allowing Orleans Parish to go beyond state regulation of guns.

Just because you’re a chartered city it doesn’t mean you can chart your own path, at least when it comes to guns. That’s what the House Criminal Justice Committee concluded when they heard Rep Mandie Landry’s bill.  9 of the 10 members fired off nays and shot the bill down. That means in the midst of a carjacking, murder, and violent crime spree, a city like New Orleans can’t pass regulations to protect its citizens from people with guns.

If it’s not a good time to be Robert E. Lee, it is definitely a good time to be a gun owner. With this bill dead, it’s still legal for guns to be brought almost anywhere, like church, a kids soccer game, or a restaurant. And if you happen to lose your gun at one of these places or have it stolen, you don’t even have to report it to the police. That was another stipulation that went down with this bill.

The 9 -1 vote was a testament of principle over priorities. Or maybe it was a testament to Louisiana’s priorities. The state dubbed the sportsman’s paradise continues to support gun laws that make its citizens easy prey. And we will keep tracking bills in the Louisiana legislature.

HB798 – ensuring that neither BESE nor school boards can water down present social study standards for African American history. THIS IS NOT A CRITCAL RACE THEORY BILL.

This is also a bill that hasn’t been heard yet. The House Education Committee has left Rep. Royce Duplessis’ bill sitting on the shelf since early March when it was submitted. This is a bill you would expect to not be controversial. It simply says BESE and local school boards must abide by the social study standards BESE just approved for African American history.

The point is to prevent some rogue teacher or school board or even BESE itself from disregarding state law. If the law says such and such aspect of African American history has to be taught, then that’s what has to be done. Boom. That’s it.

You’d think this bill would already be bouncing from the Senate to the governor’s desk. But instead, it’s just languishing on the calendar as the legislative session counts down.

June 6th – legislative session adjourns

Speaking of counting down, there’s a little over 3 weeks to go before the session ends on June 6th. There’s much for legislators to go over, including the remaining 2 of these 3 bills. We will keep tracking these bills in the Louisiana legislature. And we’ll keep you informed on how it goes.

A Black truck driver on TikTok known as Gideon reveals in a viral video what he witnessed last week while traveling through a “sundown town.”

The video, which has been viewed nearly 800,000 times since posting, details the man’s experience while visiting the notorious town of Vidor, Texas.

Vidor was once considered a haven for the Ku Klux Klan and has long been seen as a “sundown town,” a predominately white area that is considered unsafe for Black people after sunset due to racial violence. Although city officials have claimed that the town has undergone significant changes in recent decades, Gideon’s experience reveals that some things still haven’t changed.

“Pretty much everybody I know in Texas that’s Black tells me, ‘Do not go to Vidor, Texas,'” Gideon says. “I’m like ‘OK’ but here I was in Vidor, Texas.”

The TikToker goes on to state that while driving to his destination to drop off his load, he came across numerous trailer parks with Confederate flags and even a doll of a Black man hanging from a tree by its neck.

Upon reaching his destination, Gideon says that he was approached by a security guard who immediately alerted his fellow workers that they were experiencing a “code red.” The security guard expressed that he did not want to be responsible for the truck driver’s safety by allowing him to drive further into the business to drop off his delivery.

Gideon says another man eventually appeared about 15 minutes later to quickly help him unload his truck before urging him to leave the area.

“He said, ‘Dude, you might want to get up out of here as soon as possible. We’re at sundown. You want to leave now.'”

After asking the man if he could rely on the police, Gideon was allegedly told that local law enforcement would “turn a blind eye” to any potential incident. The TikToker says he drove until he reached the next town over where he fell asleep in his truck with an AR-15 rifle. His account of the visit was made the following day after he felt he was safe.

The Daily Dot reached out to Gideon to inquire further about the video but did not immediately receive a reply.

Comments under the video were filled with remarks from other residents of Texas who were similarly aware of the town’s reputation.

“POV: You’re from TX and knew he was talking about Vidor before he said it,” one user wrote.

“I’ve always been told don’t even stop for gas in Vidor, Tx,” another added.

Some users even argued that a new “Green Book” was needed, a reference to the annual guidebook designated safe destinations across the country for Black Americans between 1936 and 1966.

“We need an updated Green Book,” one viewer commented.

Many were simply shocked to hear that such areas still existed in the country.

“Wow,” one commenter added. “I hate that there are places in our nation that are still this racist.”

At least one alleged resident of Vidor even left a comment regarding the town’s poor image.

“Not everyone in the town is like that… but it is the ones who are like that that ruin everyone else’s reputation… I live in Vidor myself,” the user wrote.

The experience came as an unpleasant surprise to many, but countless others have long been aware that such dangers remain ever present.

The post ‘We need an updated green book’: Black truck driver shares his harrowing experience in Texas sundown town appeared first on The Daily Dot.


by Gary Wenk Ph.D.

What you should eat, and stop eating, to avoid cognitive decline.

KEY POINTS

The New York Times recently published an interesting article by Amelia Nierenberg that asked about the effects of specific foods on the mental decline that comes with aging. Since publishing my book Your Brain on Food, I have been asked that question more often than any other: What can I eat to make myself mentally healthy and become smarter? The Times article was accurate but missed two critical issues that contribute to determining whether our diet can cause cognitive decline. First, dementia is a lifestyle phenomenon. Eating lots of leafy greens today for lunch sounds comforting but will not negate a decade of poor diet choices. Second, obesity is a significant risk factor for dementia. No specific food item can make you lose weight.

People generally have poor diets by almost any definition of the term. We eat too much fat, salt, and sugar. We consume too much alcohol and nicotine and exercise too little. Most of America, regardless of age or socioeconomic status, is overweight or obese. Our bodies are storing too much fat; this fat produces a harmful environment of inflammation, oxidative stress, and physiological imbalance that often leads to metabolic syndrome. Simply stated, our lousy diet generates an environment in our body that ages us too quickly and impairs our thinking.

Thus, your question should be the following…

What should I stop eating to avoid becoming unhealthy and demented?

A diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, combined with reduced caloric intake, is ideal (and the one universally recommended) because it compensates for the numerous negative effects of your current diet. Dieticians, physicians, and all other health care providers beg their patients to change their diet; patients rarely do.

Poor diets cause some mental health disorders. The most common mental health disorder is depression. Obesity and the presence of too much body fat underlie our vulnerability to depression. People who lose body fat, via exercise or liposuction, experience improved mood and cognitive function. Thus, excessive body fat can make you both depressed and stupid and also make it less likely that you will respond to anti-depressant therapy. Today, an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence obtained across a wide spectrum of medical disciplines strongly argues that obesity accelerates brain aging, impairs overall cognitive function, and, ultimately, is responsible for the numerous processes that kill us.

vegetables and fruits

A little sugar is not harmful to your brain or body. From your brain’s perspective, dietary sugar is indispensable. Without a constant uninterrupted supply, you will quickly lose the ability to think and slip into a coma. However, diets high in sugar lead to metabolic diseases which have significant negative effects on cognition. Diabetes is a significant risk factor for dementia.

A small percentage of the general population is vulnerable to the lack of specific nutrients in their poor diet. This category of nutrients often includes vitamins and some minerals. Adding those nutrients back to their diet is often beneficial. However, numerous studies have now conclusively shown that for the overwhelming majority of us, supplements with vitamins and nutrients are a waste of money.

In contrast, a small percentage of the general population is vulnerable to the presence of specific nutrients in their poor diets. A good example of such a nutrient is gluten. If you are sensitive to gluten, do not eat it. If you are not gluten-sensitive, then avoiding gluten is a bad idea, according to the results of a study involving over 15,000 participants who were followed for 30 years. The American College of Cardiology now strongly recommends against the adoption of gluten-free diets for people without a medical necessity.

We are often told that our diet affects our health and mood.

That’s not quite the way it works: In reality, a healthier diet can only compensate for your current lousy diet. Fruits and vegetables and whole grains cannot help to boost mental health; they can only undo the damage that you are already causing.

No diet, no nutrients, and no drugs (do not believe the nonsense you have read about nootropics, a 21st-century brain placebo) have ever been proven scientifically to enhance health or brain function. The advice you hear about so often is designed to convince you to stop your poor diet in order to avoid becoming unhealthier and cognitively impaired. Therefore, choose your diet wisely—your longevity and memories depend upon it.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — If you are Black or Hispanic in a conservative state that already limits access to abortions, you are far more likely than a white person to have one.

And if the U.S. Supreme court allows states to further restrict or even ban abortions, minorities will bear the brunt of it, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press.

WATCH: What a Supreme Court ruling ending Roe v. Wade would mean for reproductive rights

The potential impact on minorities became all the more clear on Monday with the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggesting the court’s conservative majority is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion. The draft decision is not yet final but it sent shockwaves through the country. Overturning the Roe v. Wade decision would give states authority to decide abortion’s legality. Roughly half, largely in the South and Midwest, are likely to quickly ban abortion.

When it comes to the effect on minorities, the numbers are unambiguous. In Mississippi, people of color comprise 44 percent of the population but 81 percent of women receiving abortions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health statistics.

In Texas, they’re 59 percent of the population and 74 percent of those receiving abortions. The numbers in Alabama are 35 percent and 69 percent. In Louisiana, minorities represent 42 percent of the population, according to the state Health Department, and about 72 percent of those receiving abortions.

“Abortion restrictions are racist,” said Cathy Torres, an organizing manager with Frontera Fund, a Texas organization that helps pay for abortions. “They directly impact people of color, Black, brown, Indigenous people … people who are trying to make ends meet.”

Why the great disparities? Laurie Bertram Roberts, executive director of the Alabama-based Yellowhammer Fund, which provides financial support for abortions, said women of color in states with restrictive abortion laws often have limited access to health care and a lack of choices for effective birth control. Schools often have ineffective or inadequate sex education.

If abortions are outlawed, those same women — often poor — will likely have the hardest time traveling to distant parts of the country to terminate pregnancies or raising children they might struggle to afford, said Roberts, who is Black and once volunteered at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic.

“We’re talking about folks who are already marginalized,” Roberts said.

Amanda Furdge, who is Black, was one of those women. She was a single, unemployed college student already raising one baby in 2014 when she found out she was pregnant with another. She said she didn’t know how she could afford another child.

She’d had two abortions in Chicago. Getting access to an abortion provider there was no problem, Furdge said. But now she was in Mississippi, having moved home to escape an abusive relationship. Misled by advertising, she first went to a crisis pregnancy center that tried to talk her out of an abortion. By the time she found the abortion clinic, she was too far along to have the procedure.

She’s not surprised by the latest news on the Supreme Court’s likely decision. Most people who aren’t affected don’t consider the stakes.

“People are going to have to vote,” said Furdge, 34, who is happily raising her now 7-year-old son but continues to advocate for women having the right to choose. “People are going to have to put the people in place to make the decisions that align with their values. When they don’t, things like this happen.”

READ MORE: What is Roe v. Wade?

Torres said historically, anti-abortion laws have been crafted in ways that hurt low-income women. She pointed to the Hyde Amendment, a 1980 law that prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in rare cases.

She also cited the 2021 Texas law that bans abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy. Where she lives, near the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, women are forced to travel to obtain abortions and must pass in-state border patrol checkpoints where they have to disclose their citizenship status, she said.

Regardless of what legislators say, Torres insisted, the intent is to target women of color, to control their bodies: “They know who these restrictions are going to affect. They know that, but they don’t care.”

But Andy Gipson, a former member of the Mississippi Legislature who is now the state’s agriculture and commerce commissioner, said race had nothing to do with passage of Mississippi’s law against abortion after the 15th week. That law is the one now before the Supreme Court in a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Gipson, a Baptist minister who is white, said he believes all people are created in the image of God and have an “innate value” that starts at conception. Mississippi legislators were trying to protect women and babies by putting limits on abortion, he said.

“I absolutely disagree with the concept that it’s racist or about anything other than saving babies’ lives,” said Gipson, a Republican. “It’s about saving lives of the unborn and the lives and health of the mother, regardless of what color they are.”

To those who say that forcing women to have babies will subject them to hardships, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a white Republican, said it is “easier for working mothers to balance professional success and family life” than it was 49 years ago when Roe was decided.

Fitch, who is divorced, often points to her own experience of working outside the home while raising three children. But Fitch grew up in an affluent family and has worked in the legal profession — both factors that can give working women the means and the flexibility to get help raising children.

That’s not the case for many minority women in Mississippi or elsewhere. Advocates say in many places where abortion services are being curtailed, there’s little support for people who carry a baby to term.

Mississippi is one of the poorest states, and people in low-wage jobs often don’t receive health insurance. Women can enroll in Medicaid during pregnancy, but that coverage disappears soon after they give birth.

Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black infants were about twice as likely as white infants to die during the first year of life in Mississippi, according to the March of Dimes.

Across the country, U.S. Census Bureau information analyzed by The Associated Press shows fewer Black and Hispanic women have health insurance, especially in states with tight abortion restrictions. For example, in Texas, Mississippi and Georgia, at least 16 percent of Black women and 36 percent of Latinas were uninsured in 2019, some of the highest such rates in the country.

Problems are compounded in states without effective education programs about reproduction. Mississippi law says sex education in public schools must emphasize abstinence to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Discussion of abortion is forbidden, and instructors may not demonstrate how to use condoms or other contraception.

The Mississippi director for Planned Parenthood Southeast, Tyler Harden, is a 26-year-old Black woman who had an abortion about five years ago, an experience that drove her to a career supporting pregnant women and preserving abortion rights.

She said when she was attending public school in rural Mississippi, she didn’t learn about birth control. Instead, a teacher stuck clear tape on students’ arms. The girls were told to put it on another classmate’s arm, and another, and watch how it lost the ability to form a bond.

“They’d tell you, ‘If you have sex, this is who you are now: You’re just like this piece of tape — all used up and washed up and nobody would want it,’” Harden said.

When she became pregnant at 21, she knew she wanted an abortion. Her mother was battling cancer and Harden was in her last semester of college without a job or a place to live after graduation.

She said she was made to feel fear and shame, just as she had during sex ed classes. When she went to the clinic, she said protesters told her she was “‘killing the most precious gift’” from God and that she was ”‘killing a Black baby, playing into what white supremacists want.’”

Harden’s experience is not uncommon. The anti-abortion movement has often portrayed the abortion fight in racial terms.

Outside the only abortion clinic operating in Mississippi, protesters hand out brochures that refer to abortion as Black “genocide” and say the late Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and a proponent of eugenics, “desired to eradicate minorities.” The brochures compare Sanger to Adolf Hitler and proclaim: “Black lives did not matter to Margaret Sanger!”

The Mississippi clinic is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood itself denounces Sanger’s belief in eugenics.

READ MORE: How Congress could wield its power to affect abortion law nationally

White people are not alone in making this argument. Alveda King, an evangelist who is a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is among the Black opponents of abortion who, for years, have been portraying abortion as a way to wipe out people of their race.

Tanya Britton, a former president of Pro-Life Mississippi, often drives three hours from her home in the northern part of the state to pray outside the abortion clinic in Jackson. Britton is Black, and she said it’s a tragedy that the number of Black babies aborted since Roe would equal the population of several large cities. She also said people are too casual about terminating pregnancies.

“You just can’t take the life of someone because this is not convenient — ‘I want to finish my education,’” Britton said. “You wouldn’t kill your 2-year-old because you were in graduate school.”

But state Rep. Zakiya Summers of Jackson, who is Black and a mother, suggested there’s nothing casual about what poor women are doing. Receiving little support in Mississippi — for example, the Legislature killed a proposal to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage in 2021 — they are sometimes forced to make hard decisions.

“Women are just out here trying to survive, you know?” she said. “And Mississippi doesn’t make it any easier.”

Associated Press reporters Noreen Nasir in Jackson, Mississippi, and Jasen Lo in Chicago contributed to this report.

by Orissa Arend

            Historically, we have thought of reparations for African Americans in terms of land or money. But a recent forum of Justice and Beyond (J&B April 25) focused on energy reparations in New Orleans. “Petro-racial capitalism” is a term used by Nikki Luke and Nik Heymen in a scholarly paper. They were panelists on the J&B forum. Delving into the history of both reparations and the exploitative practices of the energy sector, they noted the “racialized accumulation [of wealth and property] enacted through processes of slavery, patriarchy, imperialism, and genocide.” For an in depth analysis, see “Community Solar as Energy Reparations: Abolishing Petro-Racial Capitalism in New Orleans,” American Quarterly, Volume 72, Number 3, September 2020. 

            Luke and Heyman hold out the real possibility of a renewable and reparative energy system. It would require changing the norms about property, profit, power, and privilege. Maybe the seeds of energy reparations were there all along. In 1865 the Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman issued Special Order 15 on the recommendation of some Black clergymen. From this Order came the language of “40 acres and a mule.” It strikes me that the mule, that humble, over-worked beast of burden, was the energy part of the formula.

A LOOK AT THE HARMS

            The energy sector in Louisiana has created ecological and economic vulnerability through generations of dispossession and reckless disregard for the damage that industries are causing to our climate. The agricultural plantation culture was replaced in the early twentieth century with the oil and gas plantation culture to make Louisiana “America’s very own petro-state,” in the words of Michael Watts, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Vast profits by energy producers have been realized through regressive taxes and utility rates, regulatory benefits, state subsidies, and tax evasion for extractive industries. Taxpayer money is given as subsidies to the oil and gas companies thus depriving the state’s residents of much needed funds for social services. 

            One result of these practices for African Americans in New Orleans is the fact that 30 percent more whites own homes in our city than do people of color. The gap has widened by 10 percent since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This gap is a result of racist policies in many sectors and state-supported asset stripping. In New Orleans Black households are six times more likely to live in poverty than white households. Lamar Gardere, Executive Director of the Data Center, was also a panelist. He provided much needed information from the Data Center’s “Prosperity Index” for Justice and Beyond’s call for a Reparations Task Force and Community Fund.

DATA CENTER

             After Hurricane Katrina, substantial property credits were given to HOMEOWNERS for renovation and also for residential solar energy. Renters were left on their own. Six percent of household income is considered an affordable amount to spend on utilities. In New Orleans, low-income residents pay 10 percent. Luke and Heynen recommend “continued organizing against the corrupt practices of utilities like Entergy, which advance petro-racial capitalism without concern for the planet or people.” They stress “continued organizing” because they want New Orleanians to be aware of bold efforts yielding  valuable lessons from the past.

A HISTORY OF RESISTANCE

            New Orleans has a history of reparations organizing and politics. A few examples: On February 27, 1865 the New Orleans Freedman’s Aid Association bought land from the government to lease to collectively organized groups of Black farmers. The cooperative economic model included self-help banks. That endeavor came to a screeching halt when President Andrew Johnson decided to give the land back to the former Confederates and plantation owners.

            Another example: Five days after Katrina, former Black Panthers Malik Rahim, Robert King, and a small band of revolutionaries, pooled their resources and started the Common Ground Collective. These revolutionaries resurrected the survival programs of the Black Panthers from the 1960s and early 1970s and taught their collective organizing principles to an immense cadre of young, mostly white volunteers from all over the country and around the world. They gutted houses, set up health clinics, planted trees and gardens, and showed what could be done with hardly any money and little or no government help. Malik was a Green Party candidate for New Orleans City Council in 2002 and for Congress in 2006.   Environmental Justice was central to his platform.

            Perhaps there is a historical thru-line and an opportunity to revisit some of the unfinished goals of emancipation. In 2018 New Orleans initiated the first community solar program in the southern U.S.  The City Council advanced the Community Solar Rule. Council President Helena Moreno says that by making solar panels available by subscription in communal areas   the new Rule would “allow individuals to benefit from the power and bill credits that independent solar projects produce without installing panels on their own homes. This helps all New Orleanians, especially low-income ratepayers, benefit from solar energy production without outsized installation costs.”

             Logan Burke of the Alliance for Affordable Energy explained our energy situation at the Justice and Beyond forum in this way:  “While Louisiana’s economic story is often told as ‘energy rich,’ the extractive nature of traditional energy economies have left most residents out of the riches. The power of renewable, distributed, and efficient energy is that it can be democratized, put in community hands, and benefit more than just corporations. The key will be whether policies are enabled that support individual rights, and whether the communities that have been so harmed by extractive practices, especially Black and Indigenous communities, will receive the first fruits of energy democracy.”

            “The first fruits of energy democracy.” Wouldn’t it be glorious if the institutional innovations currently being undertaken by the New Orleans City Council bore just such a bounty? But we know from experience that vigilance and continued anti-racist organizing will be required to accomplish this kind of repair.