FROM The NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE

It’s Time to Unmask and Address America’s Racial Inequities

A NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

Racism in America is institutional. The nation’s legal, business, civic and social constructs and the policies, practices, programs that give them teeth were designed to disenfranchise, marginalize, and undermine Black Americans and other communities of color. 

The world’s latest crisis, COVID-19, has laid bare just how deep these disparities are and the ways they impact our communities. African Americans across the nation are overrepresented in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. They are hit harder by the economic impact of the pandemic as well.

Here in Louisiana, where Black folk are roughly 33 percent of the population, they are about 60 percent of the COVID-19 related deaths. 

We already knew that when White America catches a cold, we get the pneumonia. Now we know that when the rest of America battles COVID-19, we battle COVID-19 . . . on steroids—with the disease hitting and hurting us much harder.

We’re not sure how many times this needs to be repeated for it to resonate and propel action. But we are tired of talking about it. We want solutions. Here at The New Orleans Tribune, we are always looking for the silver lining. And in the case of COVID-19’s disastrous impact, the silver lining is the lesson that can be learned from the manner in which inequity has shown itself amid this pandemic and how those lessons can be used to reshape the institutions, policies and practices that shape our lives.

To that end, there are three key areas that we say government and business interests along with healthcare systems must give immediate attention and action. This is not an exhaustive list of inequities as there are many others, but these are a start—three of the most pressing issues that require critical attention:

Address healthcare disparities that result in negative outcomes for Black Americans 

Address economic disparities, wage disparities, living wages, and sick leave

Strengthen small and Black-owned businesses, by providing targeted assistance, contract opportunities and capacity building programs

Healthcare Disparities 

As the Centers for Disease Control notes in a report on COVID-19 and race, “The conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play contribute to their health. These conditions, over time, lead to different levels of health risks, needs, and outcomes among some people in certain racial and ethnic minority groups.”

In response to COVID-19, The CDC offers guidance on addressing healthcare disparities that impact outcomes for minority communities. That guidance must become a mandate and it ought to apply generally, not just to COVID-19 response, we say.

Healthcare systems and healthcare providers must implement protocols and quality improvement initiatives, especially in facilities that serve large minority populations, that identify and address the implicit biases that hinder patient-provider interactions and communication. 

They must work with communities and healthcare professional organizations to reduce cultural barriers to care. They must connect patients with community resources that can help older adults and people with underlying conditions adhere to care plans, such as assistance getting extra supplies and medications they need and reminders for them to take their medicines. Poor Americans should not have to choose between this month’s allocation of some needed medicine and this month’s food bill or electric bill. More importantly, the healthcare system is obligated to promote a trusting relationship by encouraging patients to call and ask questions and by teaching healthcare providers to listen to their patients’ concerns, to understand them and to address them professionally and compassionately.

Access to healthcare must be also increased. Cost cannot be a barrier. According to the CDC, compared to Whites, Hispanics are almost three times as likely to be uninsured, and African Americans are almost twice as likely to be uninsured.  In all age groups, Blacks were more likely than Whites to report not being able to see a doctor in the past year because of cost. Universal healthcare must be a top priority as the 2020 presidential election nears.

Moreover, the nation’s education system from pre-K to college, in conjunction with the entire healthcare system must do more to address the lack of Black doctors. Today, only four percent of the nation’s practicing physicians are African-American. Barriers such as the cost of medical school must be mitigated. And improving educational opportunities at both secondary education and in all institutions of higher learning to prepare African American students for success in medical school must be accomplished. That means that K-12 schools which serve the nation’s most disenfranchised communities must get more support and more resources. According to one study, only 57 percent of Black students have access to the full range of math and science courses necessary for college readiness, compared to 81 percent of Asian American students and 71 percent of white students. 

Additionally, HBCUs must also be strengthened and supported because while they make up only three percent of the country’s colleges and universities, they enroll 10 percent of all African American students and produce almost 20 percent of all African American graduates, according to the United Negro College Fund. These institutions have been and still are major players in the success of Black college students in America. The resources they receive must reflect their importance to our communities.  

Addressing Economic Inequity 

While essential workers are being lauded for their dedication amid the pandemic, their pay rarely reflects their true value to society. In additions to medical workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, fast food and other restaurant employees have remained on the frontlines.

Economic and wage inequity did not begin with COVID-19. The numbers are staggering and longstanding. For example, African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as Whites. In 2017 the Black unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, up from 6.7 percent in 1968, but it is still roughly twice the White unemployment rate. In 2016, the median African American family had only 10.2 percent of the wealth of the median White family ($17,409 versus $171,000). 

And the racial wealth gap is only fueled by wage inequity, with the biggest pay gap existing for Black women, who account for 30 percent of all female-headed families in the U.S. They have a median income of $18,244 annually, while families headed by white males (no wife present) have a median income of $39,240. And the data indicates that education is no cure-all when it comes to addressing wage gaps. Among full-time, year-round workers, Black women with bachelors’ degrees make only $1,545 more per year than white males who have only completed high school. 

In other words, this issue is systemic, but the answer is simple. Across industries and job classifications, all American workers regardless of race and gender must be paid equitably—the same money for the same job without exception.  

COVID-19 has exacerbated already inequitable wage conditions. Nearly a quarter of employed Hispanic and Black or African American workers are employed in service industry jobs compared to 16 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

Hispanic workers account for 17 percent of total employment but constitute 53 percent of agricultural workers; African Americans make up 12 percent of all employed workers, but account for 30 percent of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

All American workers need a paid sick leave. The CDC notes that workers without paid sick leave might be more likely to continue to work even when they are sick for any reason, increasing the chances that they can be exposed to or expose others to COVID-19 or the next pandemic disease. 

As businesses struggle, much is also being made of the soaring unemployment numbers. In the best of circumstance, Black America is disparately impacted by unemployment. 

But a new twist to the unemployment issue has emerged because of COVID. There is now concern that businesses may struggle to rehire workers as they reopen because they just will not be able to compete with the enhanced unemployment benefits, bolstered by the $600 per week pandemic unemployment compensation. Businesses lament that they just will not be able to compete with the current unemployment benefits. And state and federal governments have threatened that if businesses report that an employee refuses to return to work, those benefits will be discontinued.

To that we say that leaders should worry far less about whether employees will return to work while enhanced benefits are being paid and concentrate on why some Americans may be faring better on unemployment.

In Louisiana, the full unemployment compensation is $247 a week. Without the $600 weekly boost, that is less than $1000 a month. No one can support a family, pay rent, utilities, buy groceries or meet other financial obligations with $988 a month. It’s nearly impossible to do so with even double that amount. Yet many hard working, low-wage earning families across our city, state and nation are expected to do that every day of the year. Note to Congress, if folk cannot survive off $1000 a month during a pandemic, then what makes you think they can survive off meager wages any other time. 

Too many Americans were not earning the money they needed to support themselves and their families before the crisis. In short, the time for a boost to the federal minimum wage and the need to implement a living wage for all Americans is long overdue.

Strengthening Black Businesses 

According to a report from the McKinsey Institute that was released in April, Black-owned businesses are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Some 40 percent of revenues from Black-owned businesses are in the top five most vulnerable sectors, including retail, leisure, and hospitality. Compared to other businesses nationwide, just 25 percent of revenues are affected, the report says.

To know that many small, Black-owned businesses have been shut out of the PPP program because they don’t have “relationships” with banks is disturbing. Such a scenario should have never been allowed to happen. Too much discretion was left in the hands of banks and bankers, when the program should have specifically targeted the businesses that were most in need of assistance. Since the initial round of PPP was released, a second round has been made available. And while funding targeted to these institutions have increased in the second round of PPP loan, they still pale in comparison to the total PPP dollars loaned to businesses across the country. 

By mid-May, more than 5500 financial institutions have made nearly 4.4 million loans for a total of more than $512 billion in PPP loans, with the average loan size of $166,604. But when the data for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions are examined, the inequity is evident. CDFIs and MDSs exist to economically empower America’s underserved and distressed communities—ostensibly the very communities hardest hit by COVID-19. Yet, as of mid-May barely 400 CDFIs and MDIs have dispersed 173,627 PPP loans for a total of about $15.5 billion. In other words, CDFIs and MDIs are only 7.2 percent of institutions making PPP loans. The $15.5 billion in PPP loans represents only three percent of all loans made

 Our leaders are elected to protect us, work for us, fight for us. Moreover, financial institutions must do more to encourage and build these relationships now and in ongoing efforts if they will use them as a requirement to disburse federal dollars meant to shore of these businesses. Without that effort, small Black-owned businesses will never be able to compete with multi-billion dollar corporations and other big businesses.

As New York-based journalist J. Cunningham noted in a recent column, Black business are concerned that they will be decimated without targeted assistance.

“They need grants and loans on a hyper-local level that will help Black business owners with their immediate bills and keep them from having to furlough, fire, or cut the pay of employees.

They also need access to local, state and federal government contracts – and specifically, a “master contract” where the government awards money to a nonprofit, community-based partner, and that entity, in turn, identifies Black businesses to fulfill the contract, according to a white paper from the Black Business Empowerment Committee, a group of business owners, houses of worship and community groups committed to growing and sustaining Black-owned businesses.

And again, these solutions must extend beyond COVID-19. It must become standard policy of government agencies and financial institutions to ensure that Black owned businesses receive targeted attention in programs designed to aid, low-interest loans, and contract opportunities. Government must be committed to administering programs that focus on helping Black-owned business build capacity and competing on a leveled playing field.

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Uma Naidoo, MD

Uma Naidoo, MD
Contributor

My patients these days are expressing more angst and fear, and looking to find ways to cope with the pandemic and the “new normal.” With children and entire families home together all day, and work and school schedules disrupted, loss of a daily routine can increase anxiety and disrupt healthy eating. One of the drivers for this increase in anxiety seems to be uncertainty, which can throw plans for healthy eating out the window.

Meal planning for a family, a challenge on its own, can be more so now with seclusion at home, more people to feed with different tastes, and more food stores with limited groceries and shopping times. There’s also the uncertainly of bare shelves, with normal staples of a nutritious diet unavailable, at least temporarily. It’s tempting to buy whatever is available, even if it’s not something that’s part of your normal diet.

It’s hard to cope with being quarantined and not reach for your favorite salty, crunchy snack because of boredom or feeling on edge. A few pretzels or chips are okay, but many people may not be able to step away from eating the entire bag once it’s open. Also, if you’re already feeling blue, the quick fix of cookies or cake will ultimately make you feel worse. Processed foods and shelf-stable items like baked goods contain a lot of simple carbohydrates that create a yo-yo effect on our blood sugar, which can drive anxiety and worsen mood.

How then can we mindfully make good food choices?

You might be surprised to learn that certain nutrients in foods have been shown to reduce anxiety or spur the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine — and we all want to feel as good as we can during these times of uncertainty. People are feeling a lot of stress right now, and the unfortunate reality is that stress worsens feelings of low mood or angst, and it also suppresses our immune systems. Therefore, targeting immune-boosting foods will have a dual effect — you may feel less anxious and boost your immunity.

I’d suggest incorporating these foods as a way to include healthier options into your nutrition during this unusual time of stress and uncertainty. We all have to eat, so attending to our nutrition is something we can all control, and then reap the benefits of an improved mood.

Reduce anxiety and boost immunity by choosing:

The bottom line:

Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for everyone, and the increased anxiety (and boredom) can cause people to abandon their healthy eating intentions and snack on whatever is around. But with a little thought and planning, you can continue to make good food choices and maybe even boost your mood and immunity.

From Our Friends at MYSLUMBERYARD

Nearly everyone has experienced insomnia, or the inability to sleep at some point. Occasionally, transient insomnia lasts for a night or two and may be caused by such factors as stress or changes in sleeping habits. But chronic insomnia can last for months or even years and can have a profound impact on daily life. Did you know that teens are at risk for both transient and chronic insomnia? Here’s what parents need to know.

How Much Sleep Should Teens Get?

You may be surprised to learn how common it is for teens to survive on less sleep than they actually need. While every kid is individual, and some require less sleep than others, researchers have identified some overall trends. Studies in the United States show that:

What’s Going On?

There are many contributing factors to teen sleep deprivation. It’s important to check with your child’s doctor to rule out medical issues that could be limiting their ability to sleep. Experts have identified some major trends that are common causes for teen sleep deprivation. Below are some possible factors to take into consideration when helping your teen get a more quality sleep.

Schedule structure

School schedules are at odds with the natural bodily rhythms of most teenagers. During and after puberty, kids naturally fall asleep later than either younger children or older adults. Sending teens to bed early doesn’t usually turn out as expected, as they will lie awake until midnight or later, despite their best efforts at sleep. Yet school rarely starts later than 8 a.m. in most of the United States.

Approximately 17% of school districts have begun to get the message, moving their start times to 8:30 a.m. or later for middle school and high school students. Experts note that these experiments have been successful, leading to more sleep, fewer car accidents, and even better graduation rates.

Stress

Stress is also powerfully linked with insomnia, and most teens are under a lot of pressure. From exams to homework to social activities, the middle and high school years are fraught with tension. Research shows that 27% of teens report high-stress levels. The most commonly reported source of teen stress is school, at 83%, while 69% of teens are stressed out about getting into college or choosing a life path after high school.

Puberty and gender

Puberty throws the mind and body into chaos, and sleep cycles are not immune. In fact, the entire sleep-wake pattern tends to reorganize itself, delaying the natural sleep onset and rising times, and shortening the length of sleep. This leads to sleepiness during the day, as well as irregular sleep patterns in which kids attempt to catch up on sleep over the weekends.

Also, the growth spurts associated with puberty can cause physical discomfort. These “growing pains” tend to worsen around bedtime and may even cause teens to wake up in the middle of the night. Although they are not dangerous, these pains can contribute to poor sleep quality.

It also appears that gender also plays a role in teen sleep deprivation. Girls are more likely than boys to report short sleep duration. This could be due, in part, to sexually differentiated biological and social factors during puberty. For example, girls tend to have higher overall stress levels and greater reactivity to stress.

Other neurodevelopmental disorders

Research shows that teens with neurodevelopmental disorders may be at increased risk for sleep problems. Disorders such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and even fetal alcohol syndrome can increase anxiety and make it more difficult for kids to settle into sleep. They can also make it more difficult to maintain sleep throughout the night.

A note on COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the mental health of citizens across the globe, and teens are no exception. According to a June 2020 Harris Poll, approximately 70% of teens report that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the crisis. Stress, anxiety and depression, coupled with a collapse in daily school structure and increased screen time, can exacerbate the typical sleep issues that teenagers face. Parents need to carve out quality non-screen time with kids, as well as to help them build routines.

How does insomnia affect teens?

Although missing an occasional night’s sleep rarely has serious consequences, chronic insomnia can have a major impact on both physical and mental health in teenagers. Physically, researchers have found that poor sleep quality and insufficient sleep increase teens’ risk for diabetes, obesity and even injuries.

Psychologically, even sleep-deprived kids who do not meet any clinical definitions for mental health problems are likely to suffer from behavior problems and reduced performance in school. They are also at risk for anxiety, symptoms of depression and feelings of hopelessness. They are more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors like drinking and driving, not using seatbelts, and risky sexual practices.

Although people of all ages can experience negative cognitive impacts from a chronic lack of sleep, adolescents are at higher risk due to the profound developmental changes that occur during this time. They may have trouble with learning and retaining new information, performing well on tests and assignments, and regulating their emotions throughout the day. They also tend to be less motivated.

Although it is not yet clear if teens react in the same way, younger children who are sleep deprived tend to show a strong performance gap when compared to their peers. Losing just one hour of sleep per night can cause a child to perform in school similarly to a fully rested child two grades below.

Executive function is the ability to process and organize incoming data, focusing the mind and filtering out extraneous thoughts to prioritize tasks and accomplish each in an orderly way. It is an essential skill for success in all aspects of life. Executive functioning begins to develop in early childhood, and it becomes more sophisticated throughout the teen years. Yet, sleep problems can interfere with this developmental process, potentially setting kids up for future difficulties in their future from their careers to their relationships.

Teen insomnia and mental health

The impacts of insomnia on teenagers’ mental health are well worth a closer look. Keep an eye on your teen, especially if you know that they are struggling with sleep problems. If you notice signs of a potential mental health problem, consult a professional who specializes in teenagers as soon as possible.

Negative mental health outcomes associated with poor sleep

Although you might assume that a minor reduction in sleep carries minimal risks, this is not necessarily true. Even a single hour of lost sleep can have a major impact on kids, and as sleep problems worsen, so do the risks. Every hour of lost sleep raises the likelihood of feeling sad or hopeless by 38%. It also increases the risk of substance abuse by 23%, suicidal thoughts by 42% and suicide attempts by 58%.

Even after researchers accounted for demographics, substance abuse, suicidal ideation and symptoms of depression at the beginning, those who suffered from sleep problems for a year were 20% more likely to have thoughts of suicide, as well as more likely to actually make a suicide attempt.

Of course, not everyone who is sleep deprived becomes suicidal. But in tandem with all the changes of puberty and the intense pressures that many teens feel, a lack of sleep could be enough to heavily offset the balance in teenagers.

Insomnia and depression: a special case

Insomnia and depression are often linked in complicated ways. Depression may make it more likely for teens to grapple with insomnia, while those with insomnia are at increased risk for depression. Here is what you need to know about these linked disorders.

Insomnia and depression comorbidity

Comorbidity is a technical term for two or more disorders that occur at the same time. Depression is one of the most common mental health issues among teenagers, and depression and sleep problems often go hand in hand. Studies show that among children and teens diagnosed with depression, more than 70% have insomnia or another sleep disorder, and those kids tend to be more severely depressed than those without sleep difficulties. This indicates that the depression and the insomnia likely influence each other, worsening both problems.

Insomnia and depression risk

In addition, insomnia seems to be a risk factor for developing depression. Kids with chronic trouble sleeping are more likely than their peers who sleep normally to report symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Interestingly, depression does not seem to be a risk factor for insomnia. Kids who report trouble sleeping are more likely to develop depression and even attempt suicide in the future, but those with depression are not more likely to develop future insomnia.

Insomnia interferes with depression treatment

Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, is an extremely popular and highly effective treatment for many forms of depression. The idea behind it is that our thoughts create our reality, and distorted thought patterns are responsible for our moods. Cognitive behavior therapy focuses on changing both thoughts and behaviors, replacing them with healthier responses to the stresses of daily life.

Unfortunately, insomnia can make CBT less effective, possibly due to the impact of sleep disorders on logical thinking and executive function. Kids with chronic trouble sleeping are more likely than those who sleep normally to have their depression recur after treatment ends.

If your teenager has been diagnosed with depression, let her therapist know about any symptoms of insomnia. Mental health professionals are used to dealing with comorbid disorders and may be able to tweak the course of treatment to address both the depression and insomnia simultaneously. This can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Risk-taking behavior

Even the most logical and thoughtful teenager can fall victim to the effects of sleep loss. Kids who report sleeping seven hours or fewer on school nights are also more likely to report carrying weapons, using marijuana or tobacco, binge drinking, drunk driving, fighting or other potentially dangerous behaviors.

The reverse is also true. In school districts that have shifted to later morning start times, students tend to sleep more. They also have better rates of enrollment and attendance, are less likely to fall asleep in class, show fewer symptoms of depression, and even have fewer car accidents. When wide awake, teens tend to think more clearly and make better, more responsible decisions.

What parents need to know

Now that you know the important links between sleep and both physical and mental health, you may be wondering what you can do to help. Here is what every parent needs to know about promoting high-quality sleep in teenagers.

Parents are the key

Even in adolescence, kids need their parents’ help to wind down for bed. Everyone is different, but the majority of middle school students require at least nine hours of sleep per night, while high school students need at least eight. Setting a bedtime for a high school student may be difficult, but the CDC reports that “adolescents whose parents set bedtimes are more likely to get enough sleep,” suggesting that parents can have an impact on their child’s sleep by lightly enforcing it. 

Even if a strict bedtime is not in the cards, you can help your child wind down and get ready for sleep in the evenings. Set a good example by reducing noise and lowering lights as the evening progresses. Try to avoid late-night battles over homework or chores, and instead promote a relaxed environment.

Childhood sleep problems become teen and adult sleep problems

Even if your child is not yet a teenager, it’s never too early to start promoting good sleep habits. Many kids develop chronic sleep problems early in childhood, which may continue throughout life. In fact, early childhood sleep issues may indicate more risk-taking behavior in adolescence, including early use of marijuana, which can in turn lead to insomnia as an adult. Likewise, adolescent sleep issues are linked with a higher risk of depression in adulthood.

There is a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum in the research. Are some people genetically predisposed to sleep problems, depression and substance use? Or does one lead to another? The answers are not yet clear, but the links between these three issues are strong and the message is clear: Parents should intervene early to help children overcome sleep problems.

Teach kids to cope with stress

Stress reactivity is a response pattern in which a person has a low threshold for what is perceived as a threat, and a strong stress reaction to any perceived threat. It makes it harder to think clearly, and switches the brain to self-preservation rather than higher-order emotions such as compassion or empathy. Stress reactivity can develop after traumatic events, but many kids show a natural predisposition to it early on.

Research shows that stress reactivity is highly correlated with insomnia, and some experts suggest having younger kids assessed for it. The theory is that both stress and insomnia become more pervasive in adolescence, so identifying and intervening early with stress reactive kids could head off sleep problems as they grow up.

Even in teens without stress reactivity, worrying right before falling asleep can impact the quality and quantity of sleep. Therefore, it only makes sense to help your kids learn to process stress and worry in healthier ways. Work with them to name their feelings and develop assertive, proactive responses. Encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities. Help them break large tasks into smaller chunks and teach them to reframe negative thoughts. Promote downtime and help them practice for intimidating events such as giving a speech.

Create the right environment for sleep

While some people are blessed with the ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime, the vast majority do better in an environment designed to promote sleep. You don’t need to invest a pile of money, just work with your teenager to make some intelligent tweaks.

Teach and model “good sleep hygiene”

Good sleep hygiene is a collection of healthy habits that encourage sleep. Kids watch what their parents do, so be sure to model these behaviors rather than just telling your teenager what to do. Examples of good sleep hygiene include, but are not limited to:

Make your child’s bedroom a comfortable and stress-free space

Help your child create a comfortable and relaxing bedroom oasis. From soothing paint colors to essential oil diffusers, the internet is filled with easy and inexpensive bedroom ideas — see our 101 Tips for Better Sleep for more ideas. One of the most important investments you can make, though, is a good mattress. Research shows that sleeping on a new, high-quality mattress can reduce nighttime pain, decrease stress and promote better sleep. Mattresses are available in a vast array of types and firmness levels, and comfort is highly subjective, so let your teen choose the mattress that feels right to her.

Get serious about screen time

Screen time is an inevitable part of modern life. An incredible 72% of teens use a cell phone before bed, 64% use an electronic music device, 60% use a laptop and 23% play video games. And 18% report being awakened several nights per week by their cell phone.

It’s vital to set limits, as nighttime screen usage can make it more difficult to sleep for several reasons. Exposure to the blue light emitted by these devices can suppress production of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Phones, game consoles and other interactive devices tend to increase arousal, making it difficult to drift off to sleep. The short sleep-wake cycles caused by incoming calls or messages can lead to chronic sleep deprivation, even in kids who otherwise sleep well.

Model responsible screen-related behavior by turning off your electronic devices before going to bed, and encourage your kids to do the same. Analog activities such as reading a book or drawing are much more conducive to falling asleep.

by Kala Hathorne

Have you ever failed at something in life not once but twice? You found yourself consumed, determined, and faithful towards a specific goal, but once again you came up short. As thoughts of discouragement consumed your mind, you started to entertain the idea of giving up. If you found yourself answering yes to the questions above you and I were once in the same boat.

What I have learned through experiencing failure is that failure is only final once you give up.

A couple of years ago, I found myself bound by the manifestation of failure in my life. It seemed as though my purpose in life was so far out of reach. And that the very thought of experiencing success was impossible. I failed my first year of college, and my finances were in a disarray. My personal relationships were hanging on by a thread. My overall quality of life declined drastically. The thought of picking up the pieces was too much to bear, so I became distracted and discouraged. I began to swim in the abyss of comparison.

How do you measure success or failure?

Success is Never Ending and Failure is Never Final

Somewhere deep down inside of myself I knew that God had a purpose for me, but it seemed so far out of reach. I knew that there had to be something greater underneath the blanket of failure that heavily rested upon me. So, I mustered up the little courage that I had left and continued to press forward. Deciding to move on in spite of my shortcomings was difficult indeed, but in the end I knew it was necessary.

On my journey to press on, I discovered that just because you may have a rough start doesn’t mean you have to have a rough finish. So, many  great leaders and game changers we recognize and celebrate today didn’t start out in the most ideal circumstances. Oprah Winfrey was not deemed fit for television by a producer on her first job, but that didn’t stop her from seeing her vision through. Michael Jordan, one of the most celebrated athletes in modern history was cut from his High School basketball team. Jordan’s persistence after he failed led to his setback becoming a setup for his greatest comeback.

So, remember that failure is the foundation to success. Failure is necessary, it is a teacher that we never stop learning from. Failure is a constant tool and reminder that we are on track towards something greater than ourselves.

As I conclude my message, I leave you with the words of the astute leader and motivator Les Brown in saying, “In life when you fall, fall on your back, because if you can look up then you can get up”. So, keep falling, keep rising, and in the midst of it all stay encouraged. Always remember that failure is never final.

by Love Dr. Rob

People Say We Can’t Be Friends Because We are Lovers?

For the life of me I don’t understand it. I have seen people of the opposite sex with the best friendships, and when someone tells them they make a cute couple the response is no we are too good as friends. Wait, what? Why would your friendship stop you having a relationship? Is there some kind of rule that says we can only be friends? Somebody help me, because I seriously need to know. 

It’s crazy because I have heard men say they can’t be themselves around their wives or girlfriends. At the same time I have heard women feel they need to tone down when they are around their husbands and boyfriends. Who made these rules? Could this be one of the main reasons relationships aren’t friendships too? I would have to say unequivocally YES. 

Since many don’t view their mates as friends, they end up being together and apart at the same time. Most of them act one way at home and are someone completely different when they are away. Effectively they become nothing more than roommates who only discuss the bills and the kids. Eventually, they become complete strangers. 

Friends not Lovers

The irony is all of the things that make their friends so valuable, they choose not to share in their relationships. If they shared half as much with their mates as they did with their friends maybe the relationship could last. It’s sad that you can share your body and bed with someone you can’t be all of you with. Most times it’s because you don’t want them to stop loving you. But they can’t love you because they don’t even know you. 

If you want your relationship to last make sure your mate is truly your friend. That doesn’t mean you can’t have other friends, but your mate should be your best friend. I know that’s an abnormal concept for the most part. Just imagine all the things you and your friends made it through and y’all are still together. At the end of the day we can’t be anything if we can’t be friends. 

Can’t Count on them to Count.

by Jordan Rock

This is old news, but the President doesn’t like mail-in votes. Is this a type of voter suppression?
His “reasoning” is this; “Mail-In Ballot fraud found in many elections. People are just now seeing how bad, dishonest and slow it is. Election results could be delayed for months. No more big election night answers? 1% not even counted in 2016. Ridiculous! Just a formula for RIGGING an Election,” Trump tweeted. “Absentee Ballots are fine because you have to go through a precise process to get your voting privilege. Not so with Mail-Ins. Rigged Election!!! 20% fraudulent ballots?”

Stop laughing. He’s serious. But besides that, he’s seriously wrong. There is no difference between mail-in voting and absentee ballots because they are literally the same thing.

Long Voter Lines Could be Voter Suppression Tactic


The real reason Trump doesn’t want you to vote by mail is as simple as it gets; he knows that most people who can’t get to the polls are Democrats. Likewise, for those who simply prefer not to go the polls during a pandemic and crowd into a polling place. They tend to be Democrats.

And he knows that as well.  Considering his plummeting approval ratings, he doesn’t want your vote counted. It’s easier to sabotage your say in the election from the voting booth than it is through the mail, but that’s not for lack of trying.

Right now, the GOP is doing everything it can to challenge your right to a vote, especially by mail. Here are a few methods they’ve used just recently;



1. North Carolina Election Fraud (February 2018)


Mark Harris, a prominent Republican pastor, lost a bid for the Republican primary over North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District. In 2018, he went up against Democrat Dan McCready for the same Ninth District seat. He won by some nine-hundred and five votes, thanking God for Bladen County in his last words on the result of the election.
What was suspect was how he won.
That December, the North Carolina State Board of Elections
refused to certify the very stack of votes that had won Harris the election in Bladen County, citing irregularities with the mail-in ballots. And after interviewing the people of Bladen County, they filed a lawsuit the following February over the election results. The evidence discovered by the NCSBE and testimony from Harris’ own son revealed a scandal. Harris hired a republican operative named Leslie McCrae Dowless (now a felon) to forge thousands of mail-in ballots and collect legitimate ballots from the citizens of Bladen County via a troop of “friends, family members, and other associates to pose as election officials and collect them”. Democrat votes were predictably thrown out.


2. Republican Lawsuit against late mail-in votes in Minnesota (October 2020)


The GOP has been trying to axe Minnesota’s rule that mail-in ballots are acceptable up to a week after Election Day.
The reasoning of the two presidential electors that filed the suit is that the potential for voter fraud is rampant and is “human nature to commit voter fraud if given the opportunity”.  The evidence against this claim is simple.
The rate of voter fraud in Minnesota has been 0.000004% since 1979. This case has since been dropped, as Minnesota lawmakers refuse to sustain a claim that voter fraud might happen if they allow people to mail-in a bit late without any substantial evidence.



3. Trump Supporters Harass Early Voters in Fairfax Virginia (September 2020)


Because no talks about Republican disregard for the law would be complete without Donald Trumps’ ravenous cult-base. On September 19th, a crowd of flag-waving Trump fanatics decided to show their support for the President by trying to stop people from casting their votes. At first, they blocked the entrance to an early polling site in Fairfax Virginia before being pushed back by local law enforcement. Then they settled on screeching slogans at the folks waiting in line to vote until those people were moved inside, out of earshot. Because nothing says confidence in your candidate like trying to bully people out of voting at all.



4. Fake Republican Ballot Boxes in SoCal (October 2020)


This is probably the most cartoonish addition to the list.
Over the last couple of weeks, a host of drop boxes with a flyer taped to the front designating them as “official ballot boxes” had been popping up on street corners in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties respectively. If you’ve seen the pictures of these things, they look sketchy at first glance. But after a brief investigation by state officials, it turns out that these ballot boxes were deployed by the California Republican party.

 According to their spokesperson, Hector Barajas, these “unofficial drop boxes” were an opportunity for “friends, family, and patrons to drop off their ballot with someone they know and trust.” You can imagine where this is going, and so could the California state authorities. State law does not allow any kind of ballot drop box to exist without oversight from a county election official. A cease and desist order has since been put out after Republican party officials refused to remove these boxes from the streets.



Here’s the bottom line; the Republican Party don’t want your votes to count because they can see the writing on the wall. The whole of America has seen how President Donald Trump leads America. We’re all paying for it, and so are the President’s lungs after he caught the virus he’s been downplaying all year.
Don’t let them cheat their way through another election.
Vote, and don’t let anyone stop you.



   We Love You Saints, But Really, Baton Rouge?

…and it was then that the Saints found themselves in an existential situation. In the wake of the Coronavirus and Phase 3 regulations, the team tried to pull off a power move, threatening to pick up their footballs, pack up their pads, and take their talents to Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge for their remaining home games when the mayor up and said, Fine. Go ‘head. Ain’t nobody running behind you. At that point for the Saints organization, there was the door and the unknown that waited on the other side. They could either walk through it or turn around and apologize. Questions abounded. First and foremost:

Saints QB Aaron Brooks Playing in Tiger Stadium

The wind shear? Yes, the wind shear, and what would it do to Drew Brees’ deflating arm strength. Drew Brees, once their young and strapping, All-Pro QB known for precision passing and spreading the ball all over the field had now become a balding 40 year-old dink and donker who was having trouble pushing the ball more than 10 yards without throwing an incompletion or interception. And that was in the climate-controlled environment of the SuperDome. Placing him outside in the elements could be a detriment, a deflater to an already disappointing season. At 3-2 in his last hurrah and in what was dubbed a Superbowl or bust year, does the team really want to do that to their soon to be Hall of Fame QB?

RELATED: Socially Distanced Football

Built Dome Tough

Then there was the team design to consider. Under head coach Sean Payton, the Saints have always been regarded as a finesse team – sorta gimmicky. Or as Bill Parcels once said about Payton’s play calling, “a lil too cute at times.”  Sure, they were fine if you put them on turf in the finely tuned conditions of the SuperDome in front of 70,000 screaming fans. In that environment the team sets offensive records. But take it outside on grass, throw a lil dirt and mud on them, extend those cleats, and what do you know. The offense is less efficient, and the Saints often find themselves in nail biters with teams they would blow-out at home.

Now, except for one away game in Atlanta, the Saints were faced with living the outdoor life for the rest of the season. Payton tried to put on a good face. Yeah, he said, the thought of playing in front of fans at Tiger Stadium would be exciting. Ok, sure it would. There were 83 million reasons why Payton would say that, and none of them had anything to do with how the team would perform.

$83 million, that’s what the Saints tend to average in ticket revenue, and what they stand to lose by having no fans in the Dome. That’s not counting the other millions they stand to lose in sponsorships and concessions (think $11 beers, $14 doubles, and $7 popcorn). All in all, according to Forbes, the 2020 season could end up costing the Saints over $400 million. Ouch. That’s a lot of money.

Money Talks

…and it was then you maybe started to see things from their perspective. Football is just as much a business as it is entertainment. Yes, there’s a lot of team profit, but that also trickles down and spreads to not just a lot of profit and employing people in the Dome, but to a lot of people making money off of parking, a lot of bars making money off of pre and post game food and drinks, a lot of grocery stores profiting off the tailgate rush for food, a lot of hotels missing out on booked rooms. Without fans the downtown scene dries up on Sundays and a portion the city budget suffers because of it.

But Baton Rouge? Who in New Orleans benefits from that move except the Saints? Maybe it’s a bluff, but if so, then the Saints need to give it up because the mayor ain’t bluffing when it comes to the Coronavirus. And who knows, allowing a ¼ of fans in the Dome may be more trouble than it’s worth, revenue and virus wise. So knock it off, Saints. Think of Drew Brees and his arm. Think of the team’s design. And think of the city you’d be abandoning and leaving behind. We miss you too. And hopefully we’ll all get together soon for $11 beers and $7 popcorn. Until then, do what’s right by us and stay your ass in the Dome.

LOUISIANA REPUBLICANS ALL IN ON TRUMP’S SCHEMES TO STAY IN POWER

By C.C. Campbell-Rock

 

Louisiana Secretary of State Pulls Voter Suppression Tricks to Help Trump

The New Orleans City Council’s lawsuit against Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin is just the latest legal action taken against the state and Ardoin over voter suppression tricks.

Councilwoman-at-Large Helen Moreno last week said the Council was disappointed to learn that Ardoin had limited the number of drop-off locations for absentee ballots, ignoring the number of locations Registrar of Voters Sandra Wilson had initially cited. 

“We were incredibly disappointed to find out that the secretary of state would not be allowing our Orleans Registrar Of Voters to have multiple locations around the city, that she would only be able to have these curbside drop-off locations at her office and also possibly at the Algiers satellite office and that’s it,” Moreno told reporters.

Councilmembers said Ardoin was misinterpreting the law regarding such locations and engaging in voter suppression. Shortly after the announcement, a civil court judge  issued a temporary restraining order blocking Ardoin from limiting the drop-off locations.

Ardoin, whose office is responsible for elections in Louisiana, recently told WWL-TV has no choice in the matter. “The law requires the ballots be dropped off at the registrar’s office, so those curbside locations have to be at a registrar’s office,” he said on Oct. 8.

“The law is clearly being interpreted incorrectly by the secretary of state,” Moreno added.  “The word ‘office’ is never mentioned in state law.”

“This is voter suppression in its purest form,” District B Councilman Jay Banks said. “That is why this is being done, to discourage people from going.” A preliminary injunction hearing will be held Oct. 21.

Absentee ballot collection in person begins Oct. 28 and ends Nov. 2.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin speaks the House and Governmental Affairs Committee about his proposed emergency plan for the fall Louisiana elections (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

The City Council’s October 14th filing marked the second time in less than a month that Ardoin has been sued for pulling voter suppression schemes. 

Bowing to pressure from Louisiana’s Republican dominated legislature, Ardoin in August, watered down the Emergency COVID-19 Voting Plan for the November election, which would have relaxed restrictions around who could vote by absentee ballot.

The plan changed from an emergency voting plan in which anyone concerned about COVID-19 could request an absentee ballot, to only people who are disabled, away from Louisiana, over 65, and those who are ill could request the mail-in ballot. 

“Louisiana is one of only eight states that require an excuse for voters to access mail-in ballots,” The New York Times reported. “Another 33 states, representing 55% of voters, have absentee voting allowed for all voters, and another nine states mail ballots to all voters.”

In tabling Ardoin’s initial plan, Republican legislators were forcing people to go out and risk their lives to vote.

LEGAL BATTLE

Jennifer Harding and Jasmine Pogue of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice last month filed suit against Governor John Bel Edwards, Kyle Ardoin, and state Attorney Jeff Landry over Ardoin’s mail-in ballot restrictions. 

Ardoin told the media in September that he wouldn’t appeal federal trial court’s decision that requires expanded availability to absentee mail ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election. He said he may appeal the underlying law the judge used in her ruling. In doing so, Ardoin tipped his hand about ongoing plans to suppress the vote.

The judge also added more days for early voting. A 10-day early voting period begins Oct. 16 and continues through Oct. 27 (except Sundays)

Also, Ardoin indicated his office would not release unofficial election results on election night, writing in the plan that no results will be reported until the scanning and tabulation of all mail-in ballots is complete, “not longer than two weeks after election day.” Ardoin’s statement adds fuel to Trump’s declaration that if he doesn’t see results on election night, he’ll say the election was rigged.

The Secretary of State is a staunch Trump supporter as are his fellow Republican elected officials. Yet, when Trump campaigned in Monroe, Louisiana for gubernatorial Republican candidate Eddie Rispone, Ardoin shared a video of his campaign efforts at the Trump rally. 

Bayou Briefs called Ardoin’s participation in Rispone’s campaign event “illegal.” “According to La. R.S. 18:18.2, the Secretary of State is prohibited from publicly campaigning or participating in any activity in support of any candidate other than himself.”  

Add to Ardoin’s and Republican legislators’ efforts to block the black vote, the recent news about Trump’s shenanigans with the United States Postal Service, and you have a recipe for voter suppression.

“Leroy Chapman, president of the American Postal Workers Union’s New Orleans local, said mail delivery in New Orleans has slackened because postal officials have removed five of the 14 high-speed mail processing machines at the Loyola Avenue hub.”

Louisiana’s Long History of Voter Suppression

“I don’t trust Ardoin,” says Carl Galmon, a civil rights activist who has been sounding the alarm about voter suppression and a lack of polling places in Pontchartrain Park and the state’s overseeing of early voting in New Orleans.

In Voter Suppression in Louisiana, a 2019 report, Galmon, a board member of the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute and Ted Quant, a former staff member of the Voter Education Project, Inc., documented the history of voter suppression in Louisiana.

“In 1898, Louisiana held a state convention. The purpose of the convention was to come up with laws to systematically exclude African-Americans from the electoral process. The marching order for the convention was to whitewash the voter rolls as far as possible without running afoul of federal law. Our purpose is “to exclude every Negro from the electoral process,” said delegate L.J. Dossman.

Grandfather Clause

They adopted the 3-9 non-unanimous verdict, which was amended in the 1970s to a 2-10 verdict for felony convictions. Not until 2018 was it abolished in the legislature and in a statewide referendum that passed by a 2-1 popular vote. The second law passed was the Section 5 law of the Grandfather Clause, which mandated that no man eligible to vote on January 1, 1867, nor his grandson would be required to meet literacy or property-ownership requirements. Since black men were not granted the right to vote until the 15th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1870, they were excluded from the exemption.

However, when Oklahoma’s grandfather clause was deemed unconstitutional in 1915, the following year, New Orleans officials created a voter registration form just for blacks.

“Voter suppression in New Orleans in 2019 includes the placement of polling places outside the precinct where people live,” they wrote. Galmon and Quant say New Orleans is violating the Louisiana Constitution, which mandates a polling place for each precinct.

“The reality is that each precinct does not have a polling place and voters must travel miles to a location where polling machines from many precincts are packed. This is a tactic to shave black votes.”

“By any measure, attempts to dilute Africa n-American voting strength in Louisiana have been widespread,” Debgo P. Adegbile, the former director of litigation for the NAACP-Legal Defense and Education Fund wrote in a 2006 report calling for the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. “Louisiana violated the VRA 146 times” he wrote.

The Louisiana Legislature Does Not Reflect the State’s Diverse Population

Although Louisiana’s governor is a democrat, Louisiana is considered to be a  “red state” because of its Republican led state legislature. Both the state senate and state house are dominated by Republicans. The lopsided advantage in the state legislature speaks volumes about the amount of racial and partisan gerrymandering the Republican caucus has done to stay in power. The Republicans draw districts lines that either pack blacks into a single district or draw lines around predominately black areas to create predominately white districts.

 “Louisiana is the most gerrymandered state in the deep south,” Galmon explains. The use of gerrymandering during redistricting after the 2010 Census has led to the white Republican-domination Louisiana legislature. State Senator Hewitt’s district is a prime example of a racially gerrymandered district. Hewitt represents portions of Orleans Parish(white neighborhoods), and predominately white St. Tammany, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines Parishes.

State’s Population vs Elected Officials

“Elected officials in Louisiana do not reflect the state’s diversity,” Galmon affirms. Louisiana’s population is 58.5% white and 44% minority (32.2% African Americans).

Of 39 state senators, blacks make up 25.64% (10) and whites are 74.35% (29). Republicans in the Senate 69.23% (27) Democrats in the Senate 30.77% (12). In the House, Republican are 64.7% (68) of representatives, Democrats are 33.3% (35). Whites hold 74.2% (78) of the seats; Blacks hold 25.7% (27) of the seats.                   

Although many of Louisiana’s Republican officeholders seem to be aligned with Trump’s coronavirus denial;  his “Herd Mentality” (Trump made a Freudian slip while references Herd Immunity); white superiority views (Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry fought to retain the non-unanimous jury law and against allowing ex-felons to vote), and holding on to power at any cost, it’s clear that unless people of color in Louisiana form a voting bloc, Louisiana’s Republican state legislators will once again draw district lines that dilute the votes of people of color.

By Jeremy Stahl

Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week has largely consisted of her refusing to answer any question of substance because, she argues, it wouldn’t be proper for a prospective justice to do so. This has made her appearance an epic performance of deflection even compared with past Supreme Court confirmation hearings. As I noted on Tuesday, being Donald Trump’s nominee means you have to refuse to answer even the most basic questions lest you defend the indefensible or criticize the man elevating you to the court. Those deflections have included Barrett’s refusal to say whether presidents should commit to a peaceful transfer of power (Trump hasn’t), whether they should be able to pardon themselves (Trump has suggested he might), whether voter intimidation is illegal (it is).

On Wednesday, though, Barrett’s failure to respond reached a new height when she refused to discuss whether removing children from their parents at the border as a deterrent, as the Trump administration illegally did in 2018, is wrong. The moment came when Sen. Cory Booker asked Barrett if she believed it is “wrong to separate children from their parents to deter immigrants from coming to the United States.” Barrett responded that she couldn’t weigh in on government-sanctioned kidnapping, as it is “a matter of policy debate” that she can’t “be drawn into as a judge.”

Here is the video of the exchange: https://www.youtube.com/embed/nr5k0zRR8B4?rel=0&enablejsapi=1

And here is the full text:

Booker: Do you think it’s wrong to separate children from their parents to deter immigrants from coming to the United States?

Barrett: Sen. Booker, that’s been a matter of policy debate and obviously that’s a matter of hot political debate in which I can’t express a view or be drawn into as a judge.

Booker: I respect that a lot, but I think the underlying question is actually not hotly debated. And just maybe I’ll ask it one more time. Do you think it’s wrong to separate a child from their parent, not for the safety of the child or parent, but to send a message? As a human being, do you believe that’s wrong?

Barrett: Senator, I think that you are trying to engage me on the administration’s border separation policies, and I can’t express a view on that. So I’m not expressing assent or dissent with the morality of that position. I just can’t be drawn to a debate about the administration’s immigration policy.

Booker: Of course, the question does have implications, but a very simple—as I stated yesterday, that we’re debating things that to me are basic questions of human rights, human decency, and human dignity. I’m sorry that we can’t have a simple affirmation of what I think most Americans would agree on.

Amy Comey Barrett and President Trump

Early in the president’s term, the Trump administration was warned repeatedly that any “policy” of ripping babies, infants, and other children from their parents at the border in order to deter immigration would not only be illegal but would traumatize many of those children for the rest of their lives. The White House went ahead with the “policy” anyway and only abandoned it after widespread horror when details of the practice emerged to the public. Thousands of children were separated from their parents, including at least one nursing 4-month old.

A George W. Bush–appointed District Court judge in California, Dana Sabraw, ruled in 2018 that the separation policy was “brutal, offensive, and fail[ed] to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency” as well as a blatant violation of the due process clause of the Constitution. He ordered that separated children must be returned to their families, which became a Herculean task for the government because, as multiple inspectors general later found, there was no plan in place to ever return the children when they were taken. The ACLU, which brought the lawsuit, still hasn’t been able to confirm whether hundreds of separated children who were discharged from government custody were ever able to reunite with their parents.

In other words, what Barrett described as a “policy debate” is really an unconstitutional case of government-run kidnapping whose impacts on individual children will reverberate for generations. It has been roundly rejected in court without the Trump administration even attempting to appeal. The question of its legality is also not the subject of active litigation, which means it is not a pending controversy she is liable to face as a member of the court.

In 2018 when Brett Kavanaugh was asked about the legality of child separation by Sen. Kamala Harris, he declined to answer because at the time, it was a matter of pending active litigation before the courts. Barrett faces no similar dilemma. She was asked a question about her opinion on the morality of this administration’s horrific efforts to subvert the rule of law, not about any pending legal case, and she refused to answer because, apparently, this policy is still something that is up for debate in her mind.

Children in countries like South Korea and Russia are more obedient, while American kids tend to be more self-indulgent.

Read when you’ve got time to spare.file-20181127-76743-vw5ir1.jpg

In some societies, kids are taught that they’re in control of their own happiness – which makes them more indulgent. Photo from Oleksii Synelnykov / Shutterstock.com.

As early as the fifth century, the Greek historian Thucydides contrasted the self-control and stoicism of Spartans with the more indulgent and free-thinking citizens of Athens.

Today, unique behaviors and characteristics seem ingrained in certain cultures.

Italians wildly gesticulate when they talk. Dutch children are notably easygoing and less fussy. Russians rarely smile in public.

As developmental psychologists, we’re fascinated by these differences, how they take shape and how they get passed along from one generation to the next.

Our book, “Toddlers, Parents and Culture,” explores the way a society’s values influences the choices parents make – and how this, in turn, influences who their kids become.

The Enduring Influence of Cultural Values

Although genetics certainly matter, the way you behave isn’t hardwired.

Over the past two decades, researchers have shown how culture can shape your personality.

In 2005, psychologist Robert McCrae and his colleagues were able to document pronounced differences in the personalities of people living in different parts of the world. For example, adults from European cultures tended to be more outgoing and open to new experiences than those from Asian cultures. Within Europe, they found that people from Northern Europe were more conscientious than their peers in Southern Europe.

Recently, we were able to trace some of these differences to early childhood.

Parenting – perhaps not surprisingly – played a role.

To conduct the research for our book, we worked with colleagues from 14 different countries. Our goal was to explore the way broad societal values influenced how parents raise their children. We then studied how these different parenting styles shaped the behavior and personality of kids.

We did this primarily by administering questionnaires to parents around the world, asking them to describe their daily routines, hopes for their kids and methods of discipline. We then asked them to detail the behaviors of their children.

We also relied on the work of Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede, who, in the 1970s, asked IBM employees around the world about factors that led to work satisfaction.

We were able to compare his findings to ours, and we were surprised to see that his results correlated with our own. The cultural values that were revealed through work preferences in the 1970s could be seen in parenting practices and child temperament 40 years later.

This is important: It shows cultural values are relatively enduring, and seem to have an effect on how kids develop over time.

To Think About Yourself, or to Think of Others?

Perhaps the most well-known of these broad cultural values are individualism and collectivism.

In some societies, such as the U.S. and Netherlands, people are largely driven by pursuits that benefit themselves. They’re expected to seek personal recognition and boost their own social or financial status.

In more collectivist societies, such as South Korea and Chile, high value is placed on the well-being of the larger group – typically their family, but also their workplace or country.

We found that the way parents discipline their children is strongly influenced by these social values, and likely serves to perpetuate these values from one generation to the next.

For example, compared to parents in individualist cultures, collectivist parents are much more likely, when reprimanding their kids, to direct them to “think about” their misbehavior, and how it might negatively impact those around them.

This seems to promote group harmony and prepare a child to thrive in a collectivist society. At the same time, if you’re constantly being told to think about how your actions impact others, you might also be more likely to feel anxiety, guilt and shame.

Indeed, we’ve found that kids in collectivist cultures tend to express higher levels of sadness, fear and discomfort than children growing up in individualist societies.

Free to Pursue Happiness?

A second set of values we studied was indulgence versus restraint.

Some cultures, such as the U.S., Mexico and Chile, tend to permit and promote self-gratification. Others – like South Korea, Belgium and Russia – encourage restraint in the face of temptation.

These values seem to be connected to a specific set of parenting goals.

In particular, parents in indulgent societies tend to emphasize the importance of developing self-esteem and independence. For example, they expect children to entertain themselves and fall asleep on their own. When one of their kids misbehaves, they’ll often suggest ways he or she can make amends and try to repair the damage.

The message kids may get from this kind of treatment is that they’re the ones in control of their happiness, and that they should be able to fix their own mistakes. At the same time, when kids are expected to pursue gratification, they may be more likely to impulsively seek immediate rewards – whether it’s eating candy before dinner or grabbing a toy off a shelf at a store – before getting permission.

Meanwhile, in societies that prioritize restraint, parents were more likely to shout or swear when disciplining their children.

This might make them more obedient. But it might also cause children to be less optimistic and less likely to enjoy themselves.

Is Individualism the Future?

Parents seem to be motivated to best prepare their kids for the world they’re likely to inhabit, and what works in one culture might not necessarily work well in another.

But as our world becomes more interconnected, this diversity of parenting approaches may dwindle. In fact, most countries have become more individualistic over the last 50 years – a shift that’s most pronounced in countries that have experienced the most economic development.

Nonetheless, there’s still a huge difference in parenting styles and childhood development across cultures – a testament to the enduring influence of societal values.

Samuel Putnam is Professor of Psychology at Bowdoin College.

Masha A. Gartstein is Professor of Psychology at Washington State University.

A Collection of Political Cartoons by John Slade









































See the video below