There’s little doubt that there’s a huge wealth gap in the U.S. along racial lines. As noted by Bloomberg, Black Americans have, on average, one-sixth of the wealth held by their white counterparts. And the racial wealth gap is getting wider every year.
As noted by the Harvard Gazette, this disparity is the result of nearly 160 years of systematic racism in the wake of the end of the Civil War. After General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Special Field Order Number 15 gave freed slaves acreage of their own, there was a moment of hope that the newly-freed Black Americans would be given the resources to build wealth and achieve true equality — but after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the ascent of Andrew Johnson to the presidency, those efforts were reversed — and more than a century of Jim Crow laws and other racist policies essentially made it nearly impossible for most Black Americans to accumulate wealth.
Nearly impossible — but not totally impossible. A remarkable handful of brilliant Black Americans managed to become incredibly wealthy and successful despite these organized efforts to hold them down. Their stories are remarkable considering that Black Americans still face innumerable barriers to gaining wealth even in the modern day. (Of the 2,755 billionaires in the world as of 2022, only 15 are Black — and of the 724 billionaires in America, only nine are Black.) Here are America’s first Black millionaires.
As The Washington Post reports, America’s first Black millionaire was William Alexander Leidesdorff — a man Afro News notes is considered one of the founders of what would eventually be known as San Francisco. In 1845, President James Polk named him American Vice Consul to a Mexican outpost in California, making him the first Black American diplomat as well.
According to The Daily Beast, Leidesorff was mixed-race and claimed to have been born on St. Croix in the Danish West Indies — though there’s some speculation he might have been born in Hungary. Whatever the truth of his early life, Leidesdorff was incredibly successful. He worked in imports and made a tidy fortune, then moved to San Francisco and became one of its leading citizens, launching a general store, building ships, and running the city’s first hotel. When he died, the city flew its flags at half-mast. His estate was worth about $1.4 million at the time — or close to $60 million today.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Leidesdorff’s life is the fact that he lived openly as a biracial man in Antebellum America, which was not a time known for its racial tolerance. Legally, anyone with Black ethnicity in their background was considered Black, and as therefore subjected to racist policies and laws, even outside of the Southern states.
The New York Times reports that Mary Ellen Pleasant was born into slavery in 1814. In the 1820s, she moved to Nantucket, Massachusetts — and according to Investopedia, worked to assist the Underground Railroad, which helped those fleeing enslavement find their way to safe areas in the North of the country. She married a man named James Smith, and when he died, she inherited a small fortune.
In 1849, she moved to San Francisco, possibly due to the blowback she received for her work on the Underground Railroad. There she found work as a cook — and eavesdropped on her wealthy employers for investment tips. She soon became the richest woman in the city through a combination of smart loans and businesses, including a chain of boarding houses in a booming city. She was known as “Mammy Pleasant,” and designed and built a fine mansion in the city.
Despite the change of location and her growing fortune, Pleasant remained committed to the abolitionist cause, and secretly donated money — an incredible $30,000, nearly a million dollars in today’s money — to John Brown, whose raid on Harper’s Ferry was intended to spark an uprising and is a key moment in the lead-up to the American Civil War. When Brown was hanged, the authorities found a note in his pocket from Pleasant promising more money — but no one suspected she was the note’s author.
According to BlackPast, Robert Reed Church was born in 1839 to steamboat captain Charles B. Church, who was white, and a woman named Emmeline, who was enslaved by Charles. His father never legitimized Robert, but he trained him and hired him as a steward on his boat — the highest position a Black man could hold at the time.
Investopedia reports that Robert Church was forced to serve as a steward on board the steamboat Victona during the Civil War, but was emancipated after the war ended. He moved to Memphis, where he began to invest in real estate, quickly amassing a fortune and a business empire that included hotels and a bar, and co-founded the Solvent Savings Bank and Trust Company.
Church’s fortune rested on his personal resolve and bravery. During the 1866 race riots, Church was shot in his own bar and left for dead. Yet he refused to leave his adopted home. When Yellow Fever swept through the city, property values plummeted — and Church began buying land. By the time of his death, The Washington Post notes that Church was one of the largest landowners in all of Tennessee — possibly the largest. In 1879, Church was so rich that he led the charge in buying municipal bonds when the city of Memphis teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, helping to save the city, and in 1908 he personally paid the debts of the historic Beale Street Baptist Church to prevent its creditors from seizing the property.
According to Afro News, Hannah Elias was born in Philadelphia in 1865. Twenty years later, author Angus McLaren reports in his book “Sexual Blackmail,” she met the wealthy and highly respectable John R. Platt while working as a “courtesan” in San Francisco. Twelve years later, Platt met Elias again on the East Coast when she was working in a massage parlor — and the two began a relationship.
Platt helped Elias start a boardinghouse business in New York City, but the relationship soon soured, and Platt eventually accused Elias of extorting nearly $700,000 from him, threatening to reveal their sordid relationship to the world. Platt paid the blackmail for years, but in 1904 he’d finally had enough and had Elias charged. When the police arrived at her Central Park West home, she barricaded herself inside. Morbidly, her home then became a stop for early tour buses (pictured) for several days as she held the police at bay.
As noted by Investopedia, Platt’s lawsuit was eventually dismissed. Elias used the money she received from Platt and from her businesses to buy up real estate in Harlem, New York — quickly becoming one of the richest Black women in America at the time. The Atlanta Black Star reports her wealth at $1 million at its height. As noted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Elias is credited with helping to establish Harlem as an iconic Black neighborhood in New York City. She vanished in 1915; although rumored to have traveled to Europe, no one knows her final fate.
As noted by Vox, Annie Turnbo-Malone is an often overlooked figure in Black American history, but her achievements as one of the first Black American millionaires deserve more attention.
According to authors Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps in their book “Hair Story,” Turnbo-Malone was born in 1869 in Metropolis, Illinois, and was orphaned as a young child. Raised by her sister, Turnbo-Malone became interested in chemistry, specifically seeking solutions to the common hair problems Black women face, typically — even today — without much help from mainstream beauty companies. Self-taught in chemistry, she initially created a product called Wonderful Hair Grower and began going door to door in her hometown to sell it. It was an immediate success.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Turnbo-Malone later hit upon the idea of using lanolin ointment on damaged hair. She debuted her treatment at the 1904 World’s Fair, and by the end of World War I in 1918, she had a net worth of at least a million dollars, thanks to her Poro label of beauty products. The name “Poro” is a Mende (West African) word for “devotional society.” Turnbo-Malone soon had an international business that empowered other Black women, who could be trained to sell Poro products and even open their own hair salons under the Poro brand. The business was strong enough to withstand the Great Depression and was still going strong in the 1950s when Turnbo-Malone passed away.
Often (incorrectly) called the first Black American millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker was mentored by another Black millionaire — beauty products legend Annie Turnbo-Malone. Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 to parents who had once been enslaved, Walker was the first person in her family to be born free. History reports that Walker became an orphan at the age of seven, was married at age 14 — and a widow at age 20.
She became interested in hair care after experiencing the trauma of hair loss. According to Vox, the treatments marketed to women suffering her condition were known to actually make things worse — something Walker learned from beauty legend Annie Turnbo-Malone when the two met in the early 1900s as Turnbo-Malone was getting her Poro beauty product empire off the ground. Walker followed Turnbo-Malone’s advice, and soon her hair was healthy and growing again — inspiring her to launch her own beauty and haircare business, modeled very closely on Poro.
As noted by authors Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps in their book “Hair Story,” Walker introduced the “Walker System” for straightening hair, which became the foundation of the Black beautician industry. By the time of her early death in 1919, at just 51 years of age, she was not only incredibly wealthy, but she had also eclipsed her mentor in terms of fame and cultural impact.
O. W. Gurley
According to Forbes, Ottowa W. Gurley was born in 1868 in Arkansas, where he dreamed of a future far away from the Jim Crow laws of the South. In 1893, when Gurley was 25, that dream took him to the Cherokee Outlet Opening, a land run that gave away acres of land on a first-come, first-serve basis in Oklahoma. According to Inc., Gurley lived there until 1905, when the discovery of oil near Tulsa lured Gurley and his family there.
Investopedia reports that Gurley bought 40 acres of land and built a grocery store. Over the next decade and a half, Gurley was instrumental in developing the area into what would become the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa — which was also known as Black Wall Street, an incredible success story for Black Americans during a period of hateful racial oppression elsewhere in the country. The residents of Greenwood were prosperous and lived comfortably, seemingly in community with their white neighbors. Gurley thrived as well, and at its peak, his net worth was about $150,000 — about $5 million in today’s money.
As noted by History, Black Wall Street was destroyed on May 30, 1921, when a race riot of incredibly violent proportions broke out in Tulsa. Black families were murdered, buildings were burned, and within days the whole neighborhood had been wiped off the map. Gurley left Tulsa and moved to Los Angeles, where he died in apparent poverty 14 years later in 1935.
OZY reports James Forten was born in Philadelphia in 1766 as a free man. He was strongly affected by the rhetoric of the American Revolution; despite the racial oppression that existed at the time, Forten didn’t hesitate to enlist to fight against the British Empire. Having worked in a sail loft since the age of eight, it made sense that Forten served in the nascent American Navy.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Forten was captured by the British while serving on board an American ship. The British captain had his own son on board, and paired Forten with him to act as a companion. When it came time for the ship to return to England, he offered to take Forten with him — but Forten would not betray his country, and refused the offer, winding up living on a prison ship for several months.
As reported by BlackPast, Forten was released in Philadelphia, where he resumed his job. After the war, Forten returned to sailmaking, and eventually took over the business from his employer. Forten grew incredibly wealthy — by 1832, his net worth was estimated at $100,000, which would be close to $3.5 million today. He remained both a patriot and an anti-slavery activist. When he passed away in 1842, his funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Philadelphia — and the crowd was decidedly multi-racial, as every aspect of society came out to pay their respects to a man who never betrayed his values.
According to author Loren Schweninger in the book “Black Property Owners in the South, 1790-1915,” John Stanly was born into slavery as the son of a merchant named John Wright Stanly and an Ebo woman born in Africa who had been transported to America by Wright. History Collection reports that Stanly was eventually enslaved by Alex and Lydia Carruthers, who allowed him to train as a barber. This, in turn, let Stanly earn enough money to purchase his freedom when he was 21 years old, and to purchase the freedom of his wife and two children a few years later.
Stanly’s business as a barber thrived, and he soon enslaved two Black men himself. He began purchasing property in North Carolina — and enslaving even more Black people. Despite knowing firsthand what it was like to be considered property, at the peak of his business empire, it’s estimated Stanly enslaved 163 people — according to Investopedia, Stanly was one of the richest men in his county at the time. At the same time, NCpedia notes that Stanly also helped many enslaved persons in North Carolina gain their emancipation, personally purchasing and freeing at least a dozen people.
In 1830, Stanly co-signed a loan for his half-brother, who promptly defaulted, forcing Stanly to mortgage all of his holdings — including those he held in bondage. By 1843, he’d sold off most of his property in order to pay his debts.
According to The Atlantic, when Jeremiah Hamilton died in 1875, he was the richest non-white man in America, with a net worth of about $2 million — more than $250 million in today’s money. Yet Hamilton is remembered as no one’s hero. In fact, BlackPast reports that Hamilton was known as “The Prince of Darkness.”
The first mention of Hamilton — which probably wasn’t his real name — comes when a counterfeiting scheme in Haiti fell apart, forcing Hamilton to flee to the United States. He became involved in Wall Street and padded his income by committing serious insurance fraud that involved buying ships, insuring them, and then purposefully sinking them in order to collect settlements. He lost his fortune at least once, but clawed his way back and eventually created what some believe was the prototypical hedge fund, pooling money from investors so he could borrow aggressively and dominate the market.
Hamilton was not well-liked, but in New York, respect for his financial acumen defied racism, and white New Yorkers happily sent him gifts and begged for his favor — in fact, Cornelius Vanderbilt (pictured), another man legendary for his ruthless approach to business, reportedly admitted that he respected Hamilton after the two tangled in court over control over a company.
Sarah Rector is one of the most unlikely millionaires, period, full stop. According to BlackPast, she was born in 1902 on Muscogee Creek land to a family that had been enslaved by the Creek Indians decades before. As reported by The Telegraph, an 1866 treaty granted all the former Creek slaves 160 acres of land, but by the time Rector’s family made their claim, there wasn’t much left, and according to The Washington Post, the land allotted specifically to Sarah was considered virtually worthless.
But the taxes had to be paid, so Sarah Rector’s father leased the land to the Devonian Oil Company — and in 1913, a miracle happened: The company struck oil on Sarah’s land. A lot of oil. In a matter of months, 10-year-old Sarah Rector was receiving roughly $300 a day from her oil lease — close to $9,000 today, or somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million per year in today’s money.
The reaction of the white establishment was, of course, virulently racist. She was described as “an orphan, crude, Black and uneducated” in a local paper, and was often referred to using racial epithets. Rumors that Sarah was being mistreated by her federally-appointed guardian and her family began to circulate — but the truth was Sarah went to school and had control over her wealth. By the time she was 18, Sarah was officially a millionaire. She lived well until 1967, when she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away.
One of America’s first Black millionaires was also a driving force behind one of its most emotionally powerful holidays: Juneteenth, the day that celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. According to Forbes, a man named Charlie Brown was born into enslavement in Virginia and moved to Texas around 1865. It’s uncertain when Brown attained his freedom, but it’s known that he helped organize the first Juneteenth celebration in 1866.
As noted by the Houston Chronicle, despite his time in bondage and subsequent illiteracy, Brown was a shrewd businessman. Brown purchased land — including the plantation where he and his wife were once enslaved — and often saw opportunities no one else did. One of his first purchases was a plot of land no one saw much value in, but Brown cleared the land of trees and sold the lumber to a furniture company at a great profit. He quickly became one of the richest men in the country, dying a millionaire in 1920.
What makes Brown’s achievements more remarkable is the fact that Texas was not a friendly place for freedmen at that time. Very few emancipated Black people managed any sort of success, much less attaining incredible wealth, and Brown was himself kidnapped and beaten by members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) on several occasions. The fact that Brown died one of the first Black millionaires in the U.S. despite all that hatred and racial violence is incredible.
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
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
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.
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.
Young men engage in risky and violent behavior. Most of the men dying on our streets are
between the ages of 17-35.
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
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.
Unemployed or stuck in a low wage hard work job
where his contributions are unrecognized
Lives with his mother and has little control over
his home environment
Has a child but no custody and a bad relationship
with his baby mama
Been profiled and harassed by the police
Observes community members driving nice cars
Rejected for better jobs
Feels unable to change his life status and is
insignificant in the world
Seeks to overcome feelings of impotence
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.
Little life happiness
Thrill seeker often brags and talks about his toughness and ‘hood status.
Wants to make a real name for himself
Will recklessly escalate a situation or
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.
Too often black men suffer an inferiority
vilifies and criminalizes black men on a daily basis.
American culture is based upon the notion that
black people and specifically black men are less intelligent, completely
unpredictable, beast like, lazy etc., etc.
Black men internalize this notion and are
conditioned to see little value when they look in the mirror.
Beset by internal angst and torment.
Unresolved pain combined with poverty,
ignorance, oppression, violent police, violent neighborhoods, etc.
symptoms of an inferiority complex include a high sensitivity to criticism, perceiving
others as a threat, jealousy, a lack of dreams.
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.
From long sleeves to Y2K shimmer.
By Amber Rambharose
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Like the tide, swimwear trends come and go. Last year, we saw everything from Barbiecore bikinis to the sheerest of suits, and you’ll likely recognize some of the hottest swimsuit trends to try in 2023 from last year’s most-loved lineup. But that doesn’t mean each and every trending bikini style this year is recycled from swimwear seasons past. Swimwear designers are delivering fresh silhouettes in brand-new textures and prints that’ll have you itching to book a beach vacation.
Good news for those who take the adage “sun’s out, buns out” literally: A major current throughout the bikini trends to try in 2023 is skin. Across the board and with one long-sleeved exception, swimsuits this year are smaller than ever. Bottoms are cheekier, triangle tops have shrunken down to minute proportions, and underboob seems to have become an inevitability. Still, if you’re staunchly opposed to the itty bitty string bikini, there are ways to update your swimwear wardrobe by incorporating prints and design details that are having a moment, no waxing appointment required. Ahead, you’ll find a dozen swimsuit trends to try for 2023, no matter your swim style.
The days of rash guards being the exclusive domain of California surfer girls and sun-rash-prone pre-teens are over. Long-sleeve swimsuits have arrived for one and all this summer, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that at least one major swim moment this summer is offering up some coverage. From brightly colored one-piece suits to dramatically sheer sleeves over bikini tops, there are plenty of ways to rock this swimwear trend while still staying true to your personal aesthetic. Shop: Gabi Fresh Swim x ELOQUII Long Sleeve Knot Front Wrap Swimsuit, $160
You don’t have to have your scuba certification to get in on the athletic bikini trend. These sporty suits often feature asymmetrical straps and color blocking, plus more fabric than you’re likely to find in almost any other major 2023 bikini trend. This year, many athletic bikinis offer full-coverage tops and bottoms while still incorporating playful cutout details, in case you can’t resist. Shop Similar:Araks Helena Bikini Top, $220 and Araks Hyma Bikini Bottom, $140
Often found in vintage-inspired silhouettes, retro print bikinis serve up seaside romance. These suits tend to come with details on the softer side of sultry — ribbon closures, silky fabrics, ruffles, and bows will accompany a retro print bikini. If you’re a fan of florals, this bikini trend is definitely one you’ll want to try. Shop Similar:Boden Pleated Strap Bikini Top, $70 and Boden Classic Bikini Bottoms, $50
High-waisted bikinis are both a little bit old school and a little bit edgy. The silhouette of these bikinis has an inclination towards the athletic, making them a great choice for anyone who plans to join in activities that extend beyond laying out poolside while wearing a two-piece suit. And by definition, they also have more coverage, especially in the tummy area. Shop Similar:Daze Dayz Swan Brief, $89 and Daze Dayz Swan Bralette $89
A texture-forward look brought on by the Y2K fashion revival, a shimmery swimsuit is a surefire way to hop on the trend without sacrificing your favorite fit. Shop Similar:Oséree Layered High Waist Lamé Two-Piece Swimsuit, $183 (Originally $305)
Another swimsuit styling blast from the past, this year’s high-cut bikinis are shamelessly putting big Baywatch energy out into the universe. Picture hiking a pair of undies way up over your hips and prancing out into the surf — that’s the fit of this style. They also tend to be very cheek-forward, which makes them great if you want few-to-no tan lines (and are stocked up on sunscreen). Shop Similar:Ostra Brasil Hight Cut Bikini Bottom, $130 and Ostra Brasil Strapless Lastex Bikini Top, $163
If you’re a fan of a neutral color palette, this is your trend. The ’23 color-block swimwear graduating class offers a more subtle visual palette than, say, a bold tropical print, without skewing simply black and white. Instead, you’ll find an array of beige, brown, and tan tones contrasted with piping, cutouts, and closures. Shop Similar:Icon Swim Jodie Bikini, $32
Want a little extra glamour with your swimwear? Enter your new favorite 2023 bikini trend: the off-the-shoulder bikini. These tops tend to give off Old Hollywood starlet vibes and feature sweetheart, bandeau, or square necklines for a vintage feel without going full retro. Shop Similar:Bfyne Niniki Top, $140 and Byfne Niniki Bottom, $91
Perhaps the most decadent and least practical of the 2023 swimwear trends to try is the sequin-spangled bikini. Should you go body-surfing in this style of swimsuit? Not yes! Will this style of bikini get you many, many compliments and standout wherever you wear it? Absolutely, it will. Shop Similar:Oséree Sequin Microkini Two-Piece Swimsuit, $159 (Originally $265)
The ideology of white supremacy pervades culture in subtle yet pernicious ways.
White supremacist ideology permeates many cultures through subtle biases built into society’s institutions.
From childhood, biases and stereotypes unconsciously shape thinking and can accumulate into racism.
Microaggressions and other forms of racist behaviors can have cumulative harmful effects.
Dismantling racist hierarchies rooted in white supremacy will require radical structural societal change.
We often dismiss white supremacists as extreme outliers, such as neo-Nazis or the KKK, but the ideology of white supremacy pervades mainstream culture in subtle yet pernicious ways. Examples include media that primarily feature white characters and reporters, work environments where ethnic hairstyles are seen as “unprofessional,” and curricula that fail to reflect the diversity of human experiences and achievements.
From early years, children unconsciously absorb subtle biases and stereotypes that permeate their thinking. The media frequently depict minorities as menacing or subordinate, exemplified by portrayals of Latino gang members or black “welfare queens.” Past research has highlighted significant racial biases in children’s animated films, where characters of color are not only underrepresented but also commonly depicted in a negative light (e.g., Towbin et al., 2004). Furthermore, within social circles, praising black individuals for “acting white” reveals entrenched inequalities and the ingrained notion of whiteness as the standard or ideal.
These “microaggressions” accumulate over time, affecting lives in both subtle and significant ways (Bettache, 2022). From a young age, black girls might be conditioned to view their natural hair as “unprofessional” or “distracting,” with the pressure to conform to white beauty standards persisting into adulthood. Children from other diverse backgrounds, including those with Arab or Muslim heritage, may also frequently face “othering” experiences, as they encounter questions about their citizenship, accents, or perceived “true” ethnicity (Haque et al., 2019; Sirin et al., 2021). A lifetime of such nuanced, yet dehumanizing experiences often profoundly shapes one’s sense of belonging and identity within society.
For black girls, discrimination based on hair texture is a common experience that reinforces their position as outsiders in some environments. Some schools have even prohibited natural hairstyles, considering them “unruly” or contrary to policies requiring a “professional” appearance (Macon, 2014). The message is that to succeed and be accepted, black women must conform to white norms rather than embrace their cultural heritage and identity. Such policies inflict psychological harm and perpetuate racist beliefs that natural black hair is somehow unkept or unclean.
Children with diverse cultural backgrounds, such as those of Middle Eastern descent, often experience relentless pressure to “assimilate” and demonstrate their loyalty. They may face ridicule for their accents, food, attire like the hijab, or names, and encounter persistent suspicion and distrust, particularly in the aftermath of events like 9/11 and the War on Terror (Sirin et al., 2021). Hearing demands to “go back to your country” is not uncommon.
For those from mixed heritage, questions like “What are you?” can make them feel that their very existence is peculiar or “other.” Even multigenerational citizens may still be confronted with doubts about their national belonging due to factors like skin tone or surname.
While microaggressions can seem minor when viewed in isolation, the cumulative effects of repeated slights, indignities, and insults can cause real harm over time. They send the message that you do not belong due to your race, religion, or ethnicity. For marginalized groups, this can result in anxiety, social exclusion, low self-esteem, depression, and even physical health issues over the lifespan. Microaggressions are not merely “subtle”—they inflict a thousand small cuts that, together, have the power to maim and oppress.
White Normativity: Unraveling Social Conditioning
Decades of research have unveiled unsettling societal patterns, demonstrating that children as young as 3 years old are highly attuned to racial cues and unconsciously perpetuate racism (Aboud, 2008; Hirschfeld, 2008; Patterson & Bigler, 2006; Van Ausdale & Feagin, 2001). This early sensitivity to race is not inherent at birth, but rather developed through social influences, emphasizing the social nature of such biases.
Preschoolers, for example, exhibit preferences for lighter skin and favor white-sounding names. These implicit biases often persist into adulthood, with one study revealing that job candidates with identical resumes but traditionally African American names received 50 percent fewer callbacks compared to applicants with white-sounding names (Bertrand et al., 2004).
In other words, the social machinery of white supremacy is operational before children can even articulate racial concepts or understand the meanings of stereotypes. Simply by observing the world around them, kids absorb the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that society values whiteness over black- or brownness. Their early associations of darker skin with more negative traits persist even when individuals reject explicit stereotyping and prejudice.
The racial preferences 3- and 4-year-olds display can extend into evaluations of identity, status, and competence, research shows. These may include describing light-skinned dolls as “nicer” or “smarter” than dark-skinned dolls, or associating more positive personality traits with arbitrarily assigned “white-sounding” names over “African American-sounding” names (Gopaul-Mc. Nicol, 1988) The attitudes formed in early childhood go on to influence perceptions and interactions throughout life in ways both profound and often invisible.
For those in the dominant racial group, the effects remain subtle yet considerable, as many develop blind spots to systemic racial inequities that nonetheless privilege them. This stems from willful ignorance of histories centered around whiteness. When faced with facts about racial injustice, some respond defensively rather than with empathy, unable to recognize that racial identity is an experience in and of itself, associated with unearned benefits and advantages not available to all (Liu et al., 2019).
The ideology of white supremacy has been systematically built into the foundation of society over centuries of racist policies and practices. Colonial myths of savagery were used to justify the subjugation and exploitation of groups classified as “non-white” (Horne, 2020). Slavery and the genocide of indigenous peoples established the legal precedent that those with darker skin could be violently oppressed with impunity.
Segregation laws then codified the belief in white dominance for generations. Racial minorities faced legally enforced discrimination and disadvantage in all areas of life, including housing, education, healthcare, and civic participation (e.g., Braveman et al., 2022). The civil rights movement dismantled racist laws, yet more subtle forms of systemic discrimination persist today through mass incarceration, voter suppression, and inequality in access to opportunity and wealth accumulation.
The media has been instrumental in perpetuating harmful racial stereotypes that further marginalize various groups. Depictions of minorities as dangerous threats to public safety coexist with portrayals of “model minorities” as foreigners who achieve success through non-threatening behavior. These representations have sometimes been exploited to rationalize state-sanctioned violence against certain groups, as well as to withhold support for others confronting racial obstacles (e.g., Jewel, 1993; Yu, 2006).
In essence, the origins of white supremacy gave rise to racist institutions that were designed to concentrate power and resources in the hands of one group by denying humanity and equal rights to others. While the mechanisms of oppression have evolved over time, the impact remains the same—the privileging of whiteness through the systematic disenfranchisement and disadvantage of people of color.
Dismantling White Supremacist Cultures
To dismantle a system that has evolved over centuries, we must first acknowledge that racial inequality is neither the outcome of inherent flaws or inferiority within certain groups, nor solely the product of individual racist biases from a few “bad apples.” Instead, I argue that it is the unavoidable consequence of supremacy ingrained within the very foundation of society itself (Bettache, 2020).
We internalize insidious logics that rank human value by skin tone. Without examining the roots of our biases by recognizing the histories rendered invisible by power, injustice is unknowingly reproduced. Gaining awareness presents both peril and possibility. Confronting complicity demands relinquishing privilege and gratification tied to racial advantage.
But the first steps are, I believe, simple. They include things like calling out racist jokes and stereotypes; listening fully to experiences of racism; and supporting diverse authors, businesses, and creative work.
However, individual acts of awareness and allyship alone will not transform racist structures or lift the burden of racism from those marginalized by it daily. Dominant groups must find the courage to decenter themselves in society and actively make space for others. This means advocating and organizing for policy changes that remedy racial inequities, rather than superficial responses aimed at comfort.
Racial justice demands radical societal changes, not diversity workshops or cursory acknowledgments of privilege for those who benefit from supremacy. It requires reckoning with racist institutions and the concentration of power that allows some to rise by holding others down. At its heart, the system was not built in equity or fairness. Changing people’s hearts and minds means little without fundamentally changing the rules of the game itself.
Getting there will demand humility, sacrifice, and perseverance from those who have yet to face barriers due to skin tone. It will mean amplifying voices that challenge racist structures instead of centering comfort. It will require allowing the experiences of marginalized groups to shape policy and guide the way forward.
In conclusion, the crux of the matter lies in the choice society must make: to either sustain existing systems perpetuating inequality or to actively create new pathways that foster liberation and a sense of belonging for individuals of all ethnic backgrounds. To accomplish equitable outcomes, it is imperative to acknowledge that the notion of equal opportunity has been a mirage from the outset.
Genuine change stems from introspection, challenging the ingrained biases that have been shaped by a racially prejudiced culture. In our quest to dismantle systemic oppression, it is essential to radically transform the very framework that shapes the collective consciousness of society.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of machines or computer programs to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as speech recognition, computer vision, natural language processing, and decision making. AI has many benefits for society and humanity, as it can help us solve complex problems, improve productivity, enhance creativity, and provide new services and products. Some of the benefits of AI are:
– AI can help us save time and resources. AI can automate repetitive and tedious tasks, such as data entry, customer service, accounting, and quality control. AI can also optimize processes and systems, such as logistics, manufacturing, transportation, and energy. And AI can reduce human errors and increase efficiency and accuracy.
– AI can help us improve health and well-being. AI can assist doctors and nurses in diagnosing diseases, recommending treatments, monitoring patients, and conducting research. AI can also enable personalized medicine and preventive care, such as wearable devices, chatbots, and telemedicine. Also AI can improve access and affordability of health care for everyone.
The Benefits of Artificial Intelligence
– AI can help us foster innovation and creativity. AI can generate new ideas and insights from large amounts of data and information. AI can also collaborate with humans in co-creating novel products and solutions. AI can inspire us to explore new possibilities and domains.
– Also AI can help us enhance learning and education. AI can provide personalized and adaptive learning experiences for students of all ages and backgrounds. AI can also augment teachers and educators in creating engaging and interactive content, providing feedback, and assessing performance. And AI can facilitate lifelong learning and skill development for everyone.
– And AI can help us address global challenges and opportunities. AI can help us tackle some of the most pressing issues facing humanity, such as climate change, poverty, hunger, inequality, and security. AI can also help us seize some of the most exciting opportunities for humanity, such as space exploration, biotechnology, and social good.
AI has the potential to transform every aspect of our lives for the better. However, AI also poses risks and ethical issues that need to be carefully considered and addressed. Therefore, it is important to develop and use AI responsibly and wisely, with respect for human dignity, rights, values, and diversity.
by Dan Neuharth Ph.D., MFT
How to accept aging and embrace opportunities in later life.
Between the early 60s and mid-70s, some people may experience a developmental life transition.
This transition can bring strong feelings of regret, resentment, disillusionment, and grief.
Embracing change, adopting a growth mindset, and connecting with others can help navigate this period.
The “midlife crisis,” which can occur between our late 30s to mid-50s, is well-researched (though not universally agreed upon). There is also anecdotal evidence of a “quarter-life crisis” facing some in their mid-20s to early 30s.
Now, with the U.S. population over 65 projected to increase 50% in the next 15 years, and with over-60 becoming the fastest-growing age group worldwide, attention is being paid to whether a “three-quarter-life crisis” awaits some of us as we reach our early 60s into our mid-70s.
The concepts of these three crises — or transitions, as many researchers prefer to term them — draw from stage theories of adult development of Erikson, Levinson, and others. Stage theories posit that we move through predictable phases of cognitive, social, and physical development which can stimulate us to adjust our life structure and goals, sometimes with turmoil and upheaval.
Life transitions can arrive without warning and feel unnerving. For some, reaching the three-quarter mark of life expectancy can be associated with increased distress.
For example, one 2020 survey of more than 5,000 Australians found that a third had experienced a three-quarter-life transition. They reported feeling remorse, boredom, discouragement, and they questioned their legacies.
This transition may feel like a crisis when it includes pervasive feelings of:
Pessimism about the future
Resentment, irritability, or bitterness
Uncertainty about one’s priorities
Emptiness, grief, or loneliness
The challenges of a three-quarter-life crisis differ from those of midlife and quarter-life transitions.
In a midlife transition, key challenges may include:
Facing a dawning sense of mortality as we reach a halfway point
Questioning the dreams and choices that have guided our lives to the midpoint
Bewilderment at realizing we may have labored under illusions about life, others, and ourselves
Feeling a loss of youth
In a quarter-life transition, central issues can include:
Feeling left behind in comparison with peers
Difficulty making career, relationship, and other life decisions
Anxiety, tension, and uncertainty about one’s identity
Lack of clarity about what really matters in life
Feeling aimless or lacking motivation
Difficulty transitioning from one’s family of origin to an independent life structure
Unique factors spark a three-quarter-life transition. By our early 60s, concerns about health, safety, independence, and isolation can arise. These may feel more pressing than the questions of identity, purpose, or mortality which are characteristic of earlier life transitions.
We face retirement and an empty nest. We may need to learn to live with less. Our parents may have passed on or be in steep decline. Changes in cognition, hormones, appearance, and fitness, once subtle, seem to accelerate. As the torch passes to younger generations, older adults may feel less visible or held in less regard.
Our peers increasingly face health challenges. Prior to age 40, fewer than 4 in 10 people have a serious health condition. By age 60, three-quarters of us face at least one serious health challenge. By the mid-70s, more than four out of five will have one or more serious health conditions.
While these shifts can be challenging, life after 65 also brings opportunities.
By several measures, life satisfaction and subjective well-being increase through our 60s well into our 80s, reaching levels higher than in our 40s. We tend to become more resilient. By age 80, a higher percentage of people report feeling prepared for the inevitability of death than at any time earlier in life, according to a 2022 survey by AARP and National Geographic.
Many pass through the 60s and 70s embracing and accepting the changes of aging. In the study cited earlier of Australian seniors, two-thirds of those who reported having a three-quarter-life crisis said it ultimately turned out to be a healthy process.
Life transitions tend to have three phases:
An initial period of loss. External events or internal processes can plunge us into recognizing that what we have taken for granted may be changing or vanishing for good. This can initially spark unease, denial, and a reluctance to change.
A middle period of disorientation. Having lost our bearings, we may seek distractions, withdraw, or act impulsively. In time, however, this turmoil can provide an impetus for newfound self-exploration.
A final period of consolidation and new beginnings. We come to accept what we have lost and focus more on who we want to become.
This model can be useful to those facing a three-quarter-life crisis. If you are experiencing some of the seven signs listed above, it may help to view these signs as messages from within. It may be that a deeper, wiser part of you is trying to get your attention.
In any transition, we have the opportunity to move beyond what we have outgrown. If we do so, our lives can continue evolving. To the extent we fail to adapt, we may be constrained by a life structure that no longer fits us.
For those in their 60s and 70s, adapting may include:
Reaching out. Talk to trusted friends. Seek therapy. Search for support groups for seniors facing transitions. Now is not the time to go it alone.
Engaging with what is changing. Keep a journal. Read. Watch videos or listen to podcasts about life transitions, re-inventing yourself, coping with change, or aging positively.
Adopting a growth mindset. Ask yourself what really matters. How do you want to spend your time? What feels like a life well-lived? Focus on quality experiences, not quantity.
Embracing change and novelty.
Of course, debilitating emptiness, regret, loneliness, and apathy may signal depression, not just a life transition. Depression is best treated actively with psychotherapy, medication, and other forms of support.
To date, there is primarily anecdotal evidence of a three-quarter-life crisis. This area offers fertile ground for new research, particularly given the increasing number of people reaching this age.
In New Orleans, we need strong Black businesses. Black owned business growth is the key to New Orleans’ success. New Orleans has a crime problem. The solution is not more police. The solution is more and better jobs. In New Orleans, that means more and better black owned businesses. Black businesses create better jobs for African Americans. And that is because black businesses hire African Americans at a higher rate and pay them more money. Our community needs more black jobs. Those are jobs for us by us.
We Need Strong Black Businesses
Black jobs by definition are offered by African American businesses to African American people. Black companies hiring black people. Strong African American companies create generational wealth. People with good jobs are good tax paying citizens. Our city council must create meaningful pathways to black jobs. Creating access to contracts and the capital to fulfill them is the proper role of our city council. Some states offer free land or no taxes to attract businesses. The New Orleans City Council must offer contracts and capital. That creates Black jobs – African American companies hiring African Americans people to do work.
Black jobs are the key to our city’s future. Growing an African American business class provides long-term stability for our families. Hiring African Americans and providing good paying jobs has immediate impacts. People with good jobs are much less likely to engage in crime. If you got a good job – paying all your bills and have some left over – you don’t need to be on the corners involved in street crime. If you have a good paying job, you will not be angry all the time. You will have something to live for. And you won’t shoot the guy next door over “disrespect!” And having an African American company to offer the jobs means better jobs.
The best employers for young African American men are African American businesses. A reason white owned companies hire more white employees is because people like to work with people who are like them. Cohesive happy environments foster creativity, productivity and profitability. Yes diversity is very important. But we just do not have enough successful African American businesses. This dearth contributes to the troubled neighborhoods. We must do better in New Orleans. We must develop, support an grow more African American businesses. Creating business opportunities in our communities strengthens our communities. Good jobs help young men develop into good citizens. And growing Black businesses promote other ancillary Black businesses. Those will also hire African Americans. Black jobs are the best jobs.
For our existing African American owned businesses, we need to support and protect them. Bigger companies want their valuable contracts. But the city council must protect these contracts. We need successful African American companies to support our communities. The profits stay here and are multiplied when the companies are New Orleans based. New Orleans based African American companies help reduce crime, grow the tax base and create more business opportunities. More black jobs make New Orleans a better city.
We Need Strong Black Businesses
We must support our local businesses. Our political leaders must contribute to their success. If they need help, that is precisely the role of government. Instead of tax breaks to attract big businesses, we need tax incentives that support local businesses. Support our local African American owned businesses. They create black jobs. Black jobs are the best jobs.
Belonging: A Daughter’s Search for Identity Through Loss and Love by Michelle Miller
I never expected Michelle Miller’s new book Belongingto affect me so deeply. On the day of Michelle’s birth, her mother, a Chicana who looks white, handed Michelle to the Black married physician she was having an affair with. Raised mostly by her paternal grandmother, her very existence was a carefully guarded secret kept by her mother. Her mother clings tenaciously to that secret to this day.
Growing up without a mother, or even a story about a mother – the Black side of the family kept that secret – left this brilliant, inquisitive child with incessant questions and insecurities about her place in a family. Indeed, her light brown skin and sharp features left her insecure for many years about her place just about anywhere.
Michelle tells her story in an intimate, descriptive way. You feel like you are in the room with the rambunctious 5-year-old. Like you are eavesdropping on the conversation of the out-spoken 9-year-old. Or are reading the diary of the teenager with its embarrassing confessions, are experiencing the rush of her first crush. I breathe a sigh of relief as Michelle slides successfully into adulthood. She creates a stellar career as a journalist, marriage, and motherhood. She shares her mistakes and missteps with honesty and forgiveness. The book is the kind of loving lesson that I would want a best friend to confide in me.
There’s history in it, too. Her father was the first physician to kneel at Robert F. Kennedy’s side as he lay mortally wounded. Michelle rode a school buss to integrate wealthy white schools. During her decades as a journalist she weaves our nation’s ongoing and imperfect racial reckoning into her struggle to understand her own racial identity. She covers Rodney King’s beating, George Floyd’s death, and the Black Lives Matter movement. She attends a state dinner at the Obama White House. And she marries a handsome and charismatic New Orleans mayor.
The gift of the book for me is that it connects me – very belatedly – with my own grief of motherlessness. As a teenager I lost my mother to a mental illness that made me decide, at the time, that I didn’t really need her or miss her. But I did, of course. And now, as a grandmother, I finally realize that I still do. Michelle, in her longing for and search for her mother, gave me the courage to acknowledge my own grief and longing.
Book Review- Michelle Miller’s Belonging
By an accident of birth, I was spared Michelle’s racial identity quandaries. But what impressed me mightily in this book is how precious and fragile is this thing called family, and how vulnerable it is to accidents of birth, to social position, to health and disease, to history, to cultural norms of beauty, and to the hue of the skin. Vulnerable, yes. But not completely at the mercy of. Michelle has demonstrated how we can create and re-create our families as we grow into a knowledge of how to love and trust and move confidently in the world. With humility and an adventurous spirit, not to mention fear and trembling, all of us can figure out where and to whom we belong.
Book Review- Michelle Miller’s Belonging
Orissa Arend is author of Showdown in Desire: The Black Panthers Take a Stand in New Orleans
Meet State Treasurer John Schroder. He’s very conservative. In case you forgot, you were reminded on WBOK last Friday. Wait, who’s John Schroder? A candidate for governor, no less. He’s seeking your support, your vote specifically. And he treated you to a reality check on WBOK’s The Reality Check, ironically.
About 30 minutes into the interview, attorney Suzette Bagneris asked Schroder the blackest question in the country at the moment. And he proceeded to give the whitest of answers. The question went: Mr. Schroder, as governor will you support the anti-CRT bills that are banning the teaching of black history in schools across the country?
Loaded question? Absolutely! But there were all kinds of placating answers Schroder could’ve given, like: There are aspects of CRT that I disagree with, but the fact remains that black history is American history. And as governor I can’t imagine signing a bill that excludes it from our text books.
But that is not what he said. Instead, after much hemming and hawing, Schroder said this: “This is a divisive issue…but we have much bigger issues to deal with than these divisive issues. I’m for putting those aside, alright, and let’s get back to the basic things we’re doing.” Those basic things being reading, writing, and rithmetic. After a commercial break, he then proceeded to say, “Look, CRT is just something we’ll have to agree to disagree about.”
If Fred Sanford was around, that answer would’ve garnered a “you big dummy.” George Jefferson would’ve called him something more crass.
Schroder Had A You Big Dummy Moment
Imagine it. A CRT bill is put on his desk. What would he do? Put it aside? Say “hey look this bill will have to be something we just agree to disagree about”?
If you deemed his answer a cop-out, you are not wrong. If you deemed his answer, a nonchalant way of saying yes I sure will, then you are also not wrong.
Maybe Schroder didn’t think he’d be asked that question. Or maybe he thought black people would appreciate his honesty. I imagine his campaign manager would’ve appreciated that he’d been a lil less honest. After all, what was his point of being on the show, if it wasn’t courting black voters? Clearly, that wasn’t the way to go about it. “You big dummy.”
Schroder has some decisions to make, though, mainly what direction is he going. Clearly, he’s not going to out-MAGA Jeff Landry, our Attorney General, who’s not only the front runner for governor, but who’s also got the endorsement of Captain MAGA, Trump.
Schroder Had A You Big Dummy Moment
So if Schroder went on WBOK thinking he’d make a name among black voters, he had to leave disappointed. Besides the CRT flop, he seemed to forget his own position on crime. When asked about crime, he said, “If you think the governor of the state is going to fix crime in New Orleans, then you just don’t know the law.” But he’s already on record with a crime plan — longer prison sentences, which is lock’em up and throw away the key. As governor of the state, what is he intending to fix? If you are confused, you are not alone.
Another real possibility is Schroder’s whole purpose of going on WBOK is to show his base that he could flex on black people on their own turf. A true champion. But nope. This was just another example of a politician not reading the room. As a result, he took the initial step into not hearing his name when we announce Louisiana’s next governor.
But they Do not Oppose Funding Corporations
By Pat Bryant*
Floridians are shocked. Americans are shocked. Youth are shocked. Gays and transgender are shocked. Christians are shocked. Labor Unions are shocked. Teachers are shocked. There is general shock and awe at quick changes that have become law in one short year in Florida. The Florida Chamber of Commerce led its members. companies you spend money with daily, like Amazon, Publix Super Markets, Sun Trust Bank, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, State Farm Insurance Company, Florida Power and Light, Allstate, Duke Energy, Coca Cola, AT&T and the list includes more than 100 companies used by most Americans daily.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce through its Secure Florida’s Future Inc invested more than $8.5 million. Their money helped Republican candidates to achieve a super majority. They now control the Florida legislature. With that super majority and a willing Governor Ron DeSantis dramatic shifts occurred
, abortions after 6 weeks were banned,
what public school teachers can teach has been curtailed,
diversity inclusion and equity in colleges banned,
books banned in schools and libraries,
guns are legally carried concealed by all,
and Disney’s perks that allow a self-governing district was taken back when Disney got out of line with the program. They criticized the “Don’t Say Gay Law” passed to curtail discussion of gender in public schools.
Unlimited funding by corporations has exploded in Florida since Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission case in 2012. In the case, the US Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional for corporations to make unlimited political contributions. And those contributions are shielded by third parties.
Floridians Shocked, Unhappy with DeSantis
The Nazification of Florida, is almost complete. Now anyone can can arm themselves and shoot an “undesirable”. Three white men are accused of doing that two weeks ago in the Jacksonville killing of a Black man in the wee hours of the morning. And with radical Republican well-funded legislators, this Florida Nazification may be hard to turn around.
Governor Ron DeSantis gets the notoriety for these changes. In fact these are the most in any period of Florida history, including period ending the first Reconstruction around 1900. But these changes could not have been made without the money. And citizens gave McDonald Corporation, Burger King, Publix Super Market and other members of the Florida Chamber of Commerce millions.
So far there has been a reluctance of Florida’s progressive leaders to challenge DeSantis funders. DeSantis is readying a run for president of the United States as Republican Party nominee or from a third party. Many are protesting though. There have been several marches to the legislature, demonstrations, arrests at DeSantis office. Even our youth had a coordinated walkout of high school and college students for anti-DeSantis and anti-legislature rallies. But not a peep at the businesses that gave the money that made Nazification of Florida possible.
Floridians Shocked, Unhappy with DeSantis
Florida branches of the NAACP recommended that it National Organization ask its members not to come to Florida. Tourism is it major industry in the state. The Florida Immigrant Coalition, and Equality Florida, that represents LBGTQ have called for a national travel boycott of Florida. But none of these organizations target directly the companies that have created Nazification of Florida. This shift is spreading across the nation through affiliates of the United States Chamber of Commerce.
This writer texted several Florida leaders with the following text: “The crying shame is there is opposition to DeSantis, but very little opposition to the corporations that fund him and Trump”. Only one elected leader Senator Shevrin Jones, Democrat of Broward County that includes Fort Lauderdale, replied. “I actually agree with you.”
*Pat Bryant is a southern journalist who covers the Southern Freedom Movement
By David Soublet, Sr.
Starbucks operates a retail store in the Pan Am building on Poydras Street in New Orleans with 20 or so non-management workers (referred to as “partners”). The employees at this location, and several around the country, have recently filed to unionize with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Per Forbes magazine the Starbucks movement began in late 2021 when a Buffalo, NY store voted to unionize.
The website for Starbucks Workers United lists 15 so called “non-economic proposals” to ownership. They claim to already have 6,500 nationally organized workers. Most of the demands are common and realistic (e.g. guaranteed schedules, better benefits for full- and part-time workers). Others are, perhaps, indicative of hostile work environments at Starbucks. One proposal is a work environment “free of unlawful discrimination, harassment and bullying” and a “zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment and abuse”. Are these policies not already documented and posted prominently in the work sites? The workers also seek the right to defend themselves against customer aggression without retaliation. Seems pretty reasonable based on the multitude of videos circulating showing customers going bonkers in retail establishments.
Union members pay dues. Louisiana is a “right-to-work” state which presents disincentives to unionizing not found in other states. In right-to-work states, employees in unionized workplaces may refuse to join the union. But they still may enjoy the benefits of union membership, including the compensation negotiated by union officers. So, at a unionized Starbucks in Louisiana, one dues-paying barista could be preparing a $ 5 cinnamon dolce latte right next to a non-dues paying one whipping up a $ 5 iced caramel macchiato.
Last August 2022, Starbucks reportedly raised the minimum hiring wage in all U.S. stores to a $15/hour. Later last year they also implemented credit card / debit card tipping technology. That enables customers to further recognize their favorite coffee makers.
Daily retail coffee drinkers are amongst the most loyal customer base in the beverage industry. Starbucks reportedly grosses more than $ 32 billion in world-wide revenue, and boasts a 37% share of the U.S. market. Starbucks owns and operates about 9,300 in the U.S. Louisiana has 84, with 46 in the metro New Orleans area. Its big business by any measure, but its not an irreplaceable product. Those who must have it would probably make their own and bring it to work with them if they can’t buy it retail. Well, maybe not a macchiato.
Paying union dues while working in coffee retail at minimum wages doesn’t seem like the best move you could make to enhance your career. The path to decent wages in retail generally involves taking on managerial responsibilities. But, aren’t managers normally charged with many of the complaints lodged by the people they supervise? They must manage things like poor work schedules, inadequate staffing, discrimination and harassment. Perhaps lower-level employees at places like Starbucks would be better served by viewing their jobs more like short-term employment, and not worthy of paycheck deductions for union dues.
And now a word from our candidates for governor:
Black people, crime, crime, black people, enough is enough, lock’em up, throw away the key, hold everybody accountable, take back our streets. What about the T word? Can we break it out? Is it too early? Thug that is. Their dog-whistled name. Not yet? Okay. Let’s wait until election day gets closer.
Even Shawn Wilson (former Secretary of Transportation And Development Shawn Wilson, a democrat) has gotten in on the act, though in more holistic terms. Besides being tough on crime, he talks of working together with police, judges, social workers, psychologists, kids, and parents “to help solve the problems in communities where the crime actually exists.”
Apparently, going hard on crime has become the cost to get into the game. State Attorney General Jeff Landry has set the tone. “I’m holding everybody and I mean everybody accountable,” says Landry. State Treasurer John Schroder says, “We cannot allow criminals to cripple our communities.” And soon expect the rest of the field to ante up with their own stale rhetoric. Who’d want to be known as a softee on crime? Tough on crime gets people elected in the South.
Luckily, besides Landry and Schroder there’s no other major Republican contenders with stakes in the game. Otherwise, when it became apparent that some candidate was on the verge of wasting millions of dollars of other people’s money, this mild mannered lock’em up and throw away the key might’ve escalated into desperate heaves of bring back the firing squad or electric chair.
Governor’s Race Is Off to A Stereotypical Start
But unluckily for us, there’s no other major Republican contenders in the game to stake an alternate or nuanced approach to crime. Louisiana, the on-again-off-again capitol of incarceration, has thrown away a whole generation of keys, and yet crime still remains. Maybe, just maybe, the criminals aren’t getting the message. Or they aren’t responding to it in the way the Lock’em ups would like.
Cue in the definition of insanity. Maybe, just maybe, the approach shouldn’t be to keep doing the same thing over and over again. The last time Lock’em up we saw the state realize that it couldn’t afford to house an endless amount of people in jail. Any candidate vowing to go forth as governor with the same failed approach should be appropriately judged as archaic, or uumm insane?
Some would say that the candidates are just echoing public sentiment. And that’s probably true. But how did that sentiment come about? Is that how we naturally respond to people who commit crimes or is that the way politicians have conditioned us to feel? Does it matter, though, if either way that approach, lock’em up and throw away the key, has turned out to be completely ineffective?
Governor’s Race Is Off to A Stereotypical Start
Ironically, this race would be better for citizens if current Governor, John Bel Edwards, was doing a terrible job. Then the candidates could focus on budgets, coastal erosion, insurance, and diversifying our economy. But besides the Ronald Greene calamity, Edwards has been pretty hum-drum throughout his term. That has caused this race to initially devolve into which Republicans love to spout – tough on crime.
Expect that to continue. Expect candidates to go hard on drag queens and transgenders. Also expect vows to wage a war on woke, CRT, and all other types of pandering. Just don’t expect them to show a shred of originality. And by all means don’t expect them to veer from the crowd and do something courageous like lead.