Open Mind


Open Mind


Offie Wortham


Trans-Cultural Awareness Institute

Telephone Counseling Nationwide

by appointment only

Offie C. Wortham, MA, PhD

is a certified member of the Associated Psychotherapists of Vermont

Previously faculty member at Rutgers, Antioch, Marist, Johnson State and Temple University teaching psychology, urban anthropology, career planning, and criminal justice.

Special Consultant for two years with the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy, Quantico, Va., designing curriculum for the first FBI classes in Psychological Profiling, Serial Murders, and Crime Scene Analysis, (Now called CSI).


Offie C. Wortham

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Does Lifestyle Matter more than Race?


          Is a person’s lifestyle more important than their ethnicity or race in determining how successful they will be in achieving some form of happiness and success in their life? Too many people are failing to consider this important question because they cannot see or understand society beyond racial terms.

There are certain standards and patterns of behavior in our society that are admired and respected. There are others that are not. These patterns cut across lines of socio-economic class and education. Even among the least educated and less affluent there is an awareness of when a person “has no class.” The lifestyle of an individual is a more accurate indicator of the values, morals, ethics of an individual than their race or ethnicity.

The past Obama phenomena can be understood better if we view his acceptance as an acceptance of a preferred lifestyle. Highly educated, financially successful, articulate, clean-cut and “nice looking,” moderate in his politics, somewhat religious, and a good family man. This is the perfect image America wants to project to the world, and to itself. Obama transcended the racial issue by having the perfect lifestyle that we all desire! This far over-shadowed his mixed ancestry.


Conforming to the lifestyle of the group in power usually assures individuals of more acceptance and less discrimination. People like to associate with people who are as much like them as possible. We feel more comfortable with those who share a common language, religion, culture, and worldview. On the one hand we preach diversity, but in reality, we want to be with people who are just like us. This could be intellectually, spiritually, or who dress as we do, like the same past-times or hobbies, sports, or music. 

          Adults in the past were miss-educated to believe that various ethnic groups were either inferior or superior intellectually and morally. This is what we call racism. Certain aspects of a group’s culture; their music, their diet, their religion, their speech, their dress, the way they walked, and even their art, were deemed inferior and sometimes almost sub-human. 

We reject or accept certain groups or individuals because of their speech, their mannerisms, their behavior, their interest in education, and their appearance. The amount of money they make does not move them up one notch in social acceptance, as long as they continue to act and look like immoral and ignorant clowns. We have always discriminated by lifestyle throughout history. Only recently have we become confused and introduced race or ethnicity as primary factors in determining acceptance of human behavior, and forgot that lifestyle is really much more important than race.

If we could look at race, lifestyle and class as completely separate factors, then that would make the subject of this article easier to understand. However, the reality is that there is no way to completely untangle the interrelationship between lifestyle, race and class.

Your personal perspective reflects your racial lens and bias. Consider this: all things being equal, the less-educated of all racial groups will naturally end up at the bottom of the economic totem pole. Whites being in the majority of the population should outnumber blacks and other minorities at that level, and they do. However, past generations of under-educated whites have benefited the most from the  discrimination/exclusion of blacks and other people-of-color which resulted in most of them getting and keeping jobs and other benefits that they did not merit. This artificially suppressed the progress and advancement potential of generations of bright and talented minorities that became ensnared in poverty and despair. The greatest obstacle to a class based struggle in the United States has always been the racism of poor and working class whites. They would much rather cling to the lie and myth of white supremacy, even at the expense of their own economic advantage. This helps one to better understand the victory of Donald Trump. Lower class whites are also ill-treated in such an economy as the recent financial recession proved, but they are continually invited to vote against their own economic interest and against those 'others' who are taking their jobs, their education, their neighborhoods, and their country.


Some people think that it is social class alone which is the single most important factor that determines how ready a child is to learn when they start kindergarten. According to Kay S. Hymowitz at the Manhattan Institute, she writes that poor white kids score considerably lower in reading and math skills than middle-class white kids. Add race to the mix, and class still remains the Great Divide when it comes to school readiness. The educational achievement gap is now almost two times higher between lower and higher income students than it is between black and white students. “Since 1970 the class gap has grown by 30 to 40 percent, and has become the most potent predictor of school success,” says Stanford University’s Sean Reardon.


While single parent families are far more common among African-Americans than whites, less educated whites — who also tend to be lower income — are seeing an unprecedented dissolution of their families. Seventy percent of whites without a high school degree were part of an intact nuclear family in 1972; that number plummeted to 36 percent by 2008. (The comparable numbers for blacks were 54 percent and 21 percent.) This bodes ill for both populations, as father absence and family breakdown are strongly associated with poor outcomes for children, especially for boys.


The high demand for adult use of narcotics today also tells a very sad story. Polemics around poverty being tied to race are being diluted by this fact and the situation is very dire for this underclass as well as the societal impact this will have over the next 50 years. The scope of the problem is expanding to very large proportions and it cuts across racial lines. We may indeed be moving toward equality between ethnic groups in this country, but not through raising people up, but by dropping more people into the cellar, because the majority of Americans regardless of race are falling behind.


 It is very clear that people at a higher socio-economic level can afford more of the comforts of life and can live better and therefore have fewer worries. They also associate with people with similar positive accomplishments. (Went to a dinner party last week where the educational level of the doctors, professors, lawyers and artists around the table averaged around seven years beyond high school.)

          The research on educational gap shows that the income gap is increasingly widening in last decades and the bigger income gap is related to bigger educational achievement gap. Ask any teacher who teaches in an elementary school with significant economic diversity and they will tell you that the children of wealthier families come to school not only better prepared; but also with higher IQs. Once a family has acquired a level of higher education, (regardless of race) they make sure they pass that asset on to their offspring. Social skills or the lack thereof presently account for a good part of class disparities. However, a working class background is not always the reason for poorer reading and math scores.  

But The Goalposts Keep Moving!

The new book, “Lower Ed” by Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ph.D., has increased interest again in the plight of the high school student who is attracted to for-profit Community Colleges in search of The American Dream, and what happens to the 70-90% who do not get their degree. I am also interested in what happens to the “drop-outs” who fail out of a not-for profit public program community college.

At Vermont Community College, of the first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students enrolled in fall 2013, 16% were still enrolled in fall 2015, 16% had graduated, and 37% had transferred on to another institution.

Statistics clearly show that the drop-out rate of non-white students is even higher at all Community Colleges. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, an office of the Department of Education, the 2016 graduation rates for Black and Hispanic youth from Public Community Colleges after three years is: 16.2% for Hispanic and 10.8% for Blacks.  

Many people forget that Community Colleges are primarily open-admission institutions, which means that any student with a high school diploma, or a GED, is admitted. One of the major problems with this “opportunity” is that many of the students admitted are severely undereducated and must spend up to a year or more taking non-credit remedial courses such as arithmetic, math, writing, and reading, all the time taking out expensive loans that are automatically deposited into the colleges bank account.  One math faculty member disclosed to this author that her department chair had explicitly instructed her and her colleagues to lower standards to achieve the student success rates needed at the institution to maintain or increase the current budget under the new performance funding formula.

Many of these students have “graduated” from high schools that are also under heavy pressure for “success” and some simply hand diplomas to many students who shouldn't graduate. Some students will tell the truth and say, as one girl did to this researcher, “I am that student who is not up to par for college.… I was the kid who never really tried in school, especially junior and senior year of high school, because I knew I was going to the local community college after high school.” The assumption of her counselors was; “Well you can go to the community college and they'll get you up to speed.” In practice, that means that many students aren't even ready for remedial courses, so the colleges must provide them with "pre-remediation,” where they often don't fare well, and many are commonly in developmental coursework for at least a year, paying for this with student loans, before they can begin to earn credits and take college-level courses.

The question here is what to do about the fact that so many students and their parents or guardians are not aware that these students are drastically underprepared for college, and probably shouldn't have graduated from high school! What is the point of sending them to college? Why should we stick with the current practice of simply walking them through high school and then burdening Community Colleges with increasing numbers of students who will probably fail? I am aware that regional practices differ tremendously. One community college in Florida, to its credit, tests applicants for reading proficiency and won't admit those who can't meet sixth grade proficiency standards. The others are referred to library-based learn-to-read programs with private, small-group, and computer-based remediation. Our most fragile citizens -- the ones to whom enrollment is granted with the most noble intent of helping them improve their lives -- are now frequently left worse for their encounter with a community college. Not everyone is college material and isn't that okay? Individuals can be very successful lifelong learners who are positive contributors to society without a college degree. When institutions focus on access for all they do a disservice to those students who are not prepared and who Leave College with substantial debt and no degree.

Many of the failure rates are not because the students can't do the work. It's because many are young parents working to support their own families or aged parents. Work hours crank up and they need to make money to pay their bills. Child care falls through and they can't come to class. (Often I find myself wishing that financial aid packages included childcare for toddlers.) Work and college are a potent mixture that the majority of them can't handle - you can't expect to miss a month of classes, come back and complete the course, although a fair number do. So they drop or fail. Remember that these students chose to try and come to school to better their lives rather than stay on welfare or find more lucrative ways to make a living, like selling drugs. Community college students are also more likely to work full time and be enrolled part time, which makes it difficult for them to complete their studies and earn credentials in what we used to call “a timely fashion.”

There are many students who show up ready to do college level studies. There are also more who need a great deal of help before they can do college level studies. There are also students who lack the emotional maturity, and the intellectual capacity, to do college level studies. Most frustrating of all are the students who are there because the financial aid that they receive exceeds tuition and book costs, which incentivizes them to sign up for classes, show up for two weeks (to get the financial aid for living expenses), and then never show up again, or show up to fail the final.

Most Community Colleges have addressed the arrival of students with lower basic skill and/or ability levels by designing and offering courses to meet their lower levels. Lengthy developmental education sequences have resulted, with credit-bearing coursework now being offered at some Community Colleges that is equal to standard kindergarten fare. Many see this as a phony opportunity that salves the conscience of the public, but does more harm than good to the recipient. It is a cruel hoax. It sets back social justice rather than advances it. If the colleges courses are at the elementary school level than the government should not be giving federal financial aid to these students, because that would be a violation of federal regulations. Developmental coursework must be taught at least at the secondary school level to qualify for federal aid. If they are teaching courses at the elementary school level than the students cannot legally qualify for federal financial aid for the semester. It would be better for the US Department of Education to give Community Colleges money for developmental courses so they can offer the courses for free and disallow students from receiving Title IV aid for these courses. Presently, students often rack up $30,000 in loan debt and only have non-credit remedial credits to show for it.

Open admission, as many educators and social scientists know, is a destructive policy for poorly prepared students as well as for institutional integrity. One rational approach to resolve the problem of forcing Community Colleges to admit poorly performing students is for every college to have reasonable entrance standards, coupled with a more compassionate approach to advising and enrolling community college students. This will accomplish more genuine postsecondary student success and equity gains than any other combined set of policies without lowering academic standards. This approach, to introduce some sort of academic standards, maybe even a certain score on the SAT, will identify low academic performance, and will help our schools to slow down the inequity and socioeconomic stratification so evident across the nation. (It will also document the performance of graduates of each high school.) There is no inconsistency in wanting to restrict access to college to those students whom we reasonably judge to be a good risk, and then wishing that there were more people who qualify and are working work hard to get good grades and high scores. It often has less to do with preparation level and academic vocabulary and more about their interest in the topic and their willingness to do the work and go beyond what is in the textbook.

But who decides? If the college teaches courses to students who read and write at a second-grade level, and the college has only one remedial level, they count this as "secondary," and the students get financial aid. If the developmental courses were at the high school level this implies that the high schools had dummied down their courses.

Would it be better to find employment and vocational and technical training for some students? Vocational education doesn't work for students who have difficulty reading, writing or doing math, so it's really inappropriate to see that as a solution. Some current degree-seeking students would thrive more in apprenticeships and job-training programs than they would in traditional two- or four-year degree programs. Often, however, the massive loan endured after failing out might make the student ineligible for a work force training program.

Joining the armed forces also is not the solution for students who are “socially promoted.” In Camden, NJ the standard test to get into the Army (which is the easiest test of all the Armed Services) is on a 6th grade level. 80-85% of the applicants in Camden fails this test and cannot even get into the Army. Often, this happens to young people after failing out of a community college.

The student who doesn’t finish college is perhaps the most vulnerable of all students. She has massive debt, no degree, and all the burdens that had made her want to be the first in her family to finish high school, and the first in her family to finish college. Poorly prepared students are usually far worse emotionally after their brief college experience, and this a devastating indictment of our society. Worse, it is a squandering of public resources, it is unethical, and it is cruel. The bottom line is that it will do these students little good and waste a lot of time, effort and money if we push them into college programs that they can't possibly master. It's akin to taking someone who doesn't know how to swim and throwing him into the deep end of the pool. Low income and color aside, how does it help any poorly prepared student to incur massive debt, experience embarrassment and academic failure, and remain unemployable?

Most educators and employers clearly understand why so many students are failing in college. Unfortunately, it is not politically correct to tell the truth. The open-access policy is responsible for a great deal of secondary-student inertia, which compounds low college readiness and completion rates. Even so, as we search for ways to improve U.S. postsecondary outcomes, open access is almost never questioned as a policy that brings anything but opportunity and positivity to students’ lives.

That’s the central argument of a newly released book, Community Colleges and the Access Effect: Why Open Admissions Suppresses Achievement (Palgrave Macmillan). To help fix this problem, the book’s co-authors, Juliet Lilledahl Scherer, a professor of English at St. Louis Community College, and Mirra Leigh Anson, director of TRIO Upward Bound at the University of Iowa, propose raising the minimum requirements for college entry.

Therefore, demanding more of students before granting them access to financial aid-eligible college degree pathways represents a logical and benevolent element of any successful postsecondary completion solution. We are asking educators and policy makers to dispassionately inventory the negative impact on postsecondary student success of maintaining a laissez-faire open-door policy in the new century and also thoughtfully consider the myriad benefits that will result from requiring students to demonstrate a reasonable ability to benefit from the programs in which so many current enrollees are not remotely prepared to complete.

I to suspect that there are some skills that you either get fairly young, or the chances of real success are low later on. If you learn to read and enjoy it young, that skill is likely with you for life. But those for whom reading is a continual struggle will never really enjoy reading. Think of the homes these days where there is not a book in the house, except perhaps the Bible. One of the most disturbing statements I have ever heard was from a high school senior in Barre, Vermont who would soon receive a diploma because of “social Promotion” (he was already 19). “I’m so glad I will never have to read a book again for the rest of my life.” Other friends enrolled in the local community college the next Fall mainly to get the housing allowance from the financial aid package. I'd also note the increasing difficulty of maintaining discipline in the classroom, the larger number of unstable family circumstances of many students, especially in urban areas, extremely dubious pedagogical theories (self-esteem), the abdication of teaching grammar, and many, many others.

Prepare students as much as possible in K-12. Establish admissions standards in Community Colleges. Most social scientists and educators agree on both counts. There comes a point where you have to accept that if you don't fix these issues early, the costs may be prohibitive to fix them later. Just as Sisyphus was punished by the gods to roll a rock up a hill in the underworld, only to watch it immediately roll back down, hundreds of thousands of young people are experiencing a similar frustration. Not only are the goal posts moving, they are disappearing completely beyond the horizon. Somehow we must keep supporting these young people, because the alternative is far worse and more expensive for society.  


Dear Friends,

Our generation, like every generation, has the opportunity to help this country become a democratic one where our voices are listened to, and our votes actually count in electing officials on a local and national level. Both Sanders and Trump preached a form of populism that appealed to millions. Sanders populist solutions were more liberal and from the left. Trump used a conservative populist approach coming from the right.

Let me define populism for you from Wikipedia: "Populism is a political style of action that mobilizes a large alienated element of a population against a government which is seen as controlled by an out-of-touch closed elite that acts on behalf of its own interests. The underlying ideology of Populists can be left, right, or middle. Its goal is to unite the uncorrupt and the unsophisticated (the 'little man') against the corrupt dominant elites (usually the orthodox politicians) and their camp followers (usually the rich and the intellectuals). It is guided by the belief that political and social goals are best achieved by the direct actions of the masses. Although it comes into being where mainstream political institutions fail to deliver, there is no identifiable economic or social set of conditions that give rise to it, and it is not confined to any particular social class."

The above definition was long, but necessary. We who despise Trump must prepare ourselves for a very difficult battle. The voters who voted for him will continue to follow him until his narcissism becomes obvious to all. Meanwhile, we must continue to organize to win back those who put all their hopes and frustrations into believing that Trump would be the person to level the playing field by removing the lobbyists, introduce campaign financing (although he never mentioned it), and somehow redistribute the wealth down to the middle and lower classes.

Why don't more than 50% of the people vote in this country? Because they really believe that their vote doesn't count, and that the rich and powerful control everything from local politics to the office of the President of the United States. The problem here, is that they are right!

We must organize and work very hard in the months and years ahead to replace or control every member of our state legislatures and our Congress.

What Will Become Of The Trump Faithful?

Most of the material in this short article came from two books. One, Strangers in their own land, by Arlie Hichschild, and the other Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Both of these writers give similar explanations for the massive following of whites, predominantly working-class males, who have come to see Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders as their saviors. Because I feel that the messages coming from these two books is crucial in our understanding of the appeal of Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders, I have attempted to synthesize the two books down to a short article by paraphrasing and taking some literary license. I have tried to avoid plagiarizing or giving the reader the impression that most of these ideas are my own.

According to these authors, Obama looks like an alien to many working-class whites for reasons that have nothing to do with his skin color.  They admit that…”The president is brilliant, wealthy, and speaks like a constitutional law professor … He conducts himself with a confidence that comes from knowing that the modern American meritocracy was built for him. Even though some of them claim that Obama is a liar, a crypto-Muslim, an articulate, teleprompter-dependent affirmative action baby, they still know in their gut that, in this new world, he is better than they are. He is a good father while many of them are not. He wears suits to his job while they wear overalls, if they’re lucky enough to have a job at all. His wife tells them that they shouldn’t be feeding their children certain foods, and they hate her for it—not because they think she’s wrong, but because they know she’s right.”

Vance and Hochschild agree that the traditional American dream is getting harder to achieve “in an economy that failed to deliver the most basic promise of the dream—a steady wage.” Vance says, “In a world of physical segregation by class and subculture, there has never been so much opportunity to feel insulted by people one does not know, but who come to feel like intimate enemies.”

Vance believes that many of the working-class whites he knows have more or less given up on the system, and on themselves, in a moral failure that is a symptom of cultural failure. In them he sees, “… people whose clannishness, ready violence, and mistrust of outsiders ill prepared them for the modern world, and whose encounters with post-1960s licentiousness and 1980s consumerism have been catastrophic.” 

Hochschild has a powerful analogy which helps us to more clearly understand the current dilemma of the white working class. Speaking of this group, she says, “They see the American Dream as a line that they’re patiently waiting in. Newcomers are cutting in line, playing by their own rules to get ahead. Affirmative action, jobs for illegal immigrants, and (in some men’s view) women in the workforce, are all moving the goalposts further away, undercutting what these traditionalist Americans feel are lives of hard-working people. The line for advancement toward secure prosperity has grown very long. Sometimes it seems to have stopped moving. “Blacks, women, immigrants, refugees, brown pelicans — all have cut ahead …ahead of people like them who have made this country great. They feel uneasy. . . . They’ve heard the stories of oppressed blacks, dominated women, weary immigrants, closeted gays, desperate refugees, but at some point, they say, loud and clear…You have to close the borders to human sympathy.”

The authors say that many of these followers feel that the federal government, especially under Barack Obama, is on the side of the line-skippers who are getting ahead of them by changing the rules. They also feel affronted by people they see as having escaped from the line: not the wealthy (who were already at the front), but public-sector workers, whom they see as lazy and overpaid, and welfare recipients. Hochschild writes about the people she interviewed who believed that Obama’s Washington cares more for shirkers and cheaters than for hard-working people. These working-class whites didn’t have much love for Wall Street or multinational corporations either, and they saw them as the enemy, with the Democratic Party as their enemies’ best friend.

“Social mobility isn’t just about money and economics, it’s about a lifestyle change,” Vance writes. “When you go from working class to professional class, almost everything about your old life becomes unfashionable at best or unhealthy at worst.” Once, he took a Yale friend to Cracker Barrel, his grandma’s favorite restaurant, the place he’d go for special occasions. “In my youth, it was the height of fine dining, with Yale friends; it was a greasy public health crisis.”

In contrast to other groups that also experience widespread poverty, Vance writes that “working class whites are the most pessimistic group in America.” He attributes that pessimism to their social isolation — and worse, he writes, “they pass that isolation to their children. They have a feeling that they have little control over their life and a willingness to blame everyone but themselves.” He believes that poor and working class whites are some of the toughest people on earth. “But are they tough enough to look themselves in the mirror and admit that their conduct often harms our own children? Public policy can help, but there is no government that can fix these problems for them.” Nobody seems to have all the answers, but some think progress will be made when this group stops blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and begins to ask ourselves what they can do to make things better.

When Hochschild attended a Trump rally in New Orleans, she felt like she was at a revival. “His supporters have been in mourning for a lost way of life. . . . Joined together with others like themselves, they now feel hopeful, joyous, elated. As if magically lifted, they were no longer strangers in their own land, but feeling at home in their common outrage. One can see Trump’s success as a response to the declining status of working-class, rural, and small-town whites in a demographically and culturally changing world where they feel they once belonged. His followers see him as a solution for the economic problems of blue-collar displacement and the bait-and-switch promises of the American dream. As they look for scapegoats, many of these people in their confusion are still having difficulty accepting a Black President.”

As Hochschild states in her book, “This economy offers no clear path toward making a secure and dignified life out of the ways many people are raised to live, to seek pleasure and respect. At the same time, it holds up the cultural habits of second- and third-generation liberal meritocrats as the keys to economic success and high moral status. Wouldn’t you feel you had been set up, too, if you realized too late that you were on the wrong side of this story? It may be imprecise or even irresponsible to say that such a system is “rigged,” but to say so is also natural.”

This short piece was an attempt to extract some very illuminating and thoughtful insights from two books that are currently gaining much recognition from not only scholars, but from those of us who are attempting to understand and follow the massive response to the speeches and actions of Donald Trump.

My primary worry and concern is the extreme negativity and violence that might occur in this country after Secretary Clinton wins the election. Just as Blacks revolted in many of our cities during the past 50 years because of a denial of opportunity, I see a similar explosion of frustration and rage from the millions of working-class and poor whites when they realize that there will be no Great White Hope that will move them up to the front of the line, or will bring back a lifestyle where they actually believed they were superior to people-of-color. Unless the new Democratic administration moves very fast to convince everyone that the playing field will be leveled, we might see the rise of a very real and dangerous form of racist fascism in the United States within the next year.

The power of “Instant” News in producing stress and anxiety.

About eight decades ago, around 1950, the primary way to find out what was happening in another state, or country, was from the radio or the newspapers. From the time of the event until you heard about it often took from a few hours, to a few days, a radio or newspaper reporter had to physically get to a scene to verify an event. And this often took a considerable amount of time. There was no such thing as reporting a story instantly, or within minutes, as there is now.

The current surge in fear and anxiety can be attributed in part to our revolution in communications technology, and can often lead to a pessimism and world-weariness that leads us to perceive the state of the world in an overly negative light — leading us to ignore and overshadow the many good things that are working.

Our great interest in mass killings and natural disasters may be driven partly by the human tendency toward a natural negativity bias, which leads us to pay more attention to things that are dangerous or threatening. According to some psychologists, continued exposure to negative and violent media may have serious and long-lasting psychological effects beyond simple feelings of pessimism or disapproval. The work of British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey, who specializes in the psychological effects of media violence, suggests that violent media exposure can exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Davey told The Huffington Post, “In particular... negative news can affect your own personal worries. Viewing negative news means that you’re likely to see your own personal worries as more threatening and severe, and when you do start worrying about them, you’re more likely to find your worry difficult to control and more distressing than it would normally be.”

For others, the almost daily delivery on television of potential and real disasters becomes overwhelming, leading to a distorted and paranoid vision of reality and the threats facing our world. If a threat has even a remote chance of materializing, it is treated as an imminent inevitability by television news. Such sensationalist speculation attracts eyeballs and sells advertising, because fear sells -- and it can sell everything from pharmaceuticals to handguns to duct tape to insurance policies. They lead people to believe that these existential threats come exclusively from events that are beyond their control and that await them in the future.

As I mentioned earlier, some research has even suggested that viewing traumatic images in the media can cause PTSD-like symptoms. A 2001 study found that watching the events of 9/11 on television was enough to trigger PTSD symptoms — such as worrying about future terrorist attacks and reduced self-confidence — in some viewers. Severity of symptoms, interestingly, was directly correlated with the amount of time the subjects spent watching television.

 As psychologist Steven Pinker and international studies professor Andrew Mack write in Slate Magazine, the world is not going to hell in a hand basket, despite what the headlines suggest. Violence has actually decreased, and quality of life has improved for millions of people. Journalism should reflect these truths instead of flooding the airwaves with negativity and gloom. But as we know, good news is not as popular as bad news. Our defense might be a good book or a meaningful conversation with an individual or a group.

Malcolm and Ali

This is going to be a short story for my autobiography about my brief relationships with two of the most influential men in American history, Malcolm X and Mohammed Ali.

I first met Malcolm at his temple in Harlem, NY. in 1958. I was a staff member with the Encampment for Citizenship at Fieldstone School in Riverdale for six weeks, we had voted to invite Malcolm X to come and speak with us before the camp ended in a month.

Two weeks went by and we had not heard from him. Since it was my idea, I was selected to go to Temple #7 in Harlem to get him to come visit with us. Without any appointment I went to the temple the next Sunday to meet Mr. X. We were all frisked at the door, and the men had to sit on the left, and the women on the right. The girl who was with me was from Israel and had gotten a great tan because no whites were allowed in the temple. We separated at the door.

I got a seat in the second row, and the low stage was only about 15 feet away. When Malcolm started his sermon we made eye contact almost at once. This was because I looked at him unemotionally while his followers showed great excitement as he spoke. His theme was that everything black was good, and everything white was evil. He said from black dirt we get the best foods, while from white dirt (sand) we get nothing worthwhile. He went on with these examples for around 30 minutes. When it came to the question and answer period he pointed right to me with my hand up. I rose slowly in the room of around 700 people and asked Malcolm very loudly why he was wiping his face with a white handkerchief and why all the Muslim sisters in the first two rows were dressed from head to toe in white gowns. He tried to make fun of my question, but I cut him off and asked him to answer it. He did not and went on to more friendly questions from his followers.

When the service finished I tried to get to him but was blocked by two of his bodyguards from The Fruit of Islam. He pushed them aside, reached out and grabbed my hand, and pulled me closer to the stage looking very serious. Meanwhile the girl who came with me passed behind me and said she would meet me outside. Malcolm looked serious, and asked, “What nationality is that young lady?” I leaned over and whispered to him that she was Jewish and had worked very hard for the dark tan. He smiled and asked who I was and why was I there. He never let go of my hand as I told him about the invitation we had sent that he had never answered. He asked what day we wanted him, and he checked with his appointment secretary right next to him. The date was clear, and he smiled at me and said he would be there around noon.

He was right on time and I introduced him to the girl who was with me at the temple. The Encampment consisted of around 100 student leaders from around the world. (Eleanor Roosevelt was the chairman of the board, and we spent a day with her also.) When we found out Malcolm was coming we received a briefing from a professor at Columbia U. who had just written a book on The Nation of Islam, the organization Malcolm was a spokesman for. The group had to be prepared for his brutal attack on white people, which usually caused many to be overcome with guilt, or despair. Our group was around 50% white. The students prepared ourselves with specific questions on how the Muslims were going to govern the three states they were demanding (North and South Dakota and Nebraska. As Malcolm and I sat on the stage after his brief message, the prepared question came at him one after the other: “With 3 land-locked states, how will you be able to trade with the rest of the world?” Answer…”It has not been revealed to me yet by Elijah Muhammed.” The same answer was given for the next 20 questions. “Will you make your own cars or use the white mans,” etc, etc, etc. After the encounter was over he told me, as we sat alone for dinner, that he had never encountered such an educated and well prepared audience before.

The two evenings with Mohammed Ali at his home in Cherry Hill, NJ came about because my 15 year-old nephew wanted to see the house Ali lived in, which we knew was less than 10 miles away from my home in Willingboro. Somebody at a pizza store in Cherry Hill gave us the exact address. We found it, and my nephew wanted to drive up the large circular driveway, past the five garages, and knock at the door to see if he was home. I said that was a bad idea, but he insisted. I got out of my car, knocked twice on the door, and started back to my car. The door flew open and Mohammed Ali was standing there asking us to come in. We met his wife and children and he took us on a tour of the mansion, with an indoor swimming pool, movie theater and work-out room. He asked us to stay for dinner, and I guess it was at least two hours before we left.

The second time I saw him I went to his house alone. He invited me in and I approached him about investing in one of my inventions. He was for it, but his financial adviser who was with us was not. I was working as the Director of Research for the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Task Force in Philadelphia and one of my friends who was an undercover agent knew of the adviser and said he was stealing thousands of dollars from Ali to buy apartments in Philadelphia. I never said anything to Ali or his wife because there was a Black Mafia in Philly who had killed the previous occupant of the Mansion, Major Coxen, and his entire family, right upstairs in the same house, and there was a rumor that Ali’s adviser might be a member of the organization.

Ali and Malcolm became close friends, and then enemies. I will always treasure the time I spent with both of them.

Can we bite the bullet until after November?

Does anyone remember how the Chinese stopped their civil war between the Communists and the Nationalist and agreed to fight together to defeat the Japanese invaders. As soon as they got rid of the common enemy, they immediately resumed their Civil War, and the Nationalist were driven out of China to Formosa, or Taiwan. The millions of Bernie voters should hold their noses and vote for Hillary just to make sure Trump cannot win. After the victory all Hell can break loose as the Bernie Revolution focuses its massive power on electing a new congress and institutes campaign financing. Can we endure a painful or otherwise unpleasant situation that is unavoidable and politically necessary? This is possibly the best way to bring about real and meaningful democracy to this country.

Many committed Bernie supporters vow that they will never vote for Hillary because of all the negative baggage she has in her closet. Many of her decisions as Secretary of State will go down in history as War Crimes. She is known to really be a part of Military-Industrial complex with the millions that she and her devious husband have made since he left office. Anyone who dislikes her because of her record working with dictators and oppressive governments assure us that she will probably help the same types if she became the President.

Still, the reason I urge everyone to vote for Hillary is very simple. If we enter this election with several choices on the ballot, even though they are all better than Hillary, they will simply be spoilers, and Trump is sure to win, and what will we have accomplished? We will have made the Republicans very happy. Can anyone comprehend what would happen in this country, and in the world, if Trump became President? Yes, it would move us closer to a real revolution in the country, where there could possibly be much violence and destruction. As much as we want and need drastic changes, few of us are really ready for getting into a shooting war with the most powerful army in the world urged on by millions of brain-washed Trump followers pushing their children into a military force trained to kill anyone they are told was a terrorist, socialist, or communist.

If we can hold back, until after November, we can begin in December the necessary cleansing of Congress and hundreds of local officials on the state and county level until. We will also have more time to plan, train, recruit, and organize for the momentous and difficult struggle beginning in 2017.  

If anyone has a better plan to get rid of Trump and bring about the changes that are necessary to make this country a more humane society and a positive force throughout the world, please tell us what we have to do.

Colleges where your child can earn a Degree for Free

You'll never have to take on a student loan at these schools.

Getting good grades and scoring well on the SAT or ACT can help you get a free ride at these schools:

Very highly selective universities with big endowments have acted in the last several years to make college TUITION FREE for students from families with lower incomes—MIT for families that earn $75,000 or less, Harvard and Yale $65,000 or less, and Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Brown, and Texas A&M $60,000 or less. Princeton offers every aid recipient a financial aid package to replaces loans with grant aid (scholarships) students do not need to repay. The average financial aid grant covers 100 percent of the tuition. In most of the colleges above for parents with an income below $100,000, the expected parent contribution is low enough to make sure all tuition charges receive coverage with need-based scholarships, state and federal grants, and/or outside scholarship funds. Vanderbilt University meets 100% of a family’s demonstrated financial need. Financial aid awards do not include loans; instead of offering loans to undergraduate students, Vanderbilt offers additional grant assistance. CUNY’s Teacher Academy gives a free education for education students who graduate and teach at least two years in the New York City public schools. If you get accepted to Stanford and your family earns less than $100,000, you can go to Stanford for free. Franklin & Marshall College meets 100 percent of students’ institutionally determined financial need for all four years on campus.

Here is a listing of more colleges with free tuition:

The University of Arizona: Provided that you have exceeded testing standards, you can receive a tuition waiver to attend the University of Arizona.

Union College: Union Colleges grants full tuition to all students who are National Merit Finalists.

Oregon Institute of Technology: National Merit Scholarship Finalists and those with otherwise excellent qualifications can receive full resident tuition and fees. 

Southeast Missouri State University: This Missouri School offers full tuition to those in the top 10% of their class with excellent test scores.

Alfred State College: In New York, this college offers free tuition, room, and board to students with excellent academic achievement.

Dallas Baptist University: National Merit Finalists can get free tuition from this university.

Lon Morris College: Students who graduate in the top two percent of their class, or those who have scored in the ninetieth percentile or above on the SAT or ACT will get full tuition at Lon Morris College.

CUNY Honors College: All students who are accepted to CUNY’s Honors College will receive tuition and many other expenses for free.

John Carroll University: Families making less than $40,000 per year can enroll incoming freshmen tuition-free.

Texas Tech University: You can get free tuition and fees from Texas Tech if your family’s income is $40,000 or below.

Claremont McKenna College: Claremont McKenna College will award students with 100% of their determined need. The college also matches full Army ROTC scholarships with a grant for full room and board.

Soka University: Soka University, a private college in California, offers free tuition to students whose families make less than $60,000 per year.

University of Texas: If your family earns less than $25,000 a year, you can attend the University of Texas for free.

Sacred Heart University: Families with an income of less than $50,000 can send their children to Sacred Heart University for free.

Dartmouth: This elite school will allow students whose families make less than $75,000 a year to attend school for free.

University of Pennsylvania: Students from families who have an income below $90,000 will not pay tuition at the University of Pennsylvania, and students with a family income below $40,000 will not have to pay room and board, either.

The Teacher Academy: At The City University of New York, exceptional students can receive free tuition, stipends for internships, as well as a guaranteed full time teaching position.

Call Me Mister: This program at Clemson University recruits black males to become teachers, and offers them free tuition.

The Curtis Institute of Music: The Curtis Institute provides merit based full tuition scholarships to the students who are chosen to attend the school.

Crossroad Bible Institute: This institute offers a free religious education to those who are in prison.

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering: Offers free tuition to all that are accepted.

Abilene Christian University: Abilene Christian University gives full tuition to students who have declared their major in computer science or technology.

Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine: Students accepted at the Cleveland Clinic of Case Western Reserve University will receive free tuition.

New Wine Bible College: This college operates as a non-profit ministry, offering free religious education to students.

If you are interested in learning more about how to improve your child’s success, please complete the attached form and mail it to: ITX, 125 Vermont Rt. 100C, Johnson, VT.

θI would attend a meeting with college representatives

θ I would like to receive information about local college options

θ I would like to be called by a college preparation professional

θ I need help getting my children to do their homework and to read more


Name: _______________________________________________ Date: _________________

Address: ____________________________________________________________________

Telephone: ____________________________ Email: _______________________________

Best Day and Time for a meeting at school: ________________________________________ 

We would like to encourage parents and students to become more involved in the process of preparing for college as early as possible.   We recommend parents and guardians assist students:

•Read more, stop the smart phone addiction, and watch television less

•Take challenging courses (especially math, science, and writing)

•Take pre-college testing (PSAT, DCC college placement tests)

•Work with guidance counselors often to explore options

When parents and children raise their expectations, students’ grades typically increase resulting in improved success and more accomplishments.

Who would Dr. King support in 2016?

Many of the presidential candidates, Republican and Democrat, tell their followers that if Dr. King were alive today he would be supporting them. However, it is more likely that he would be supporting only one person whose position on issues was more akin to his own. It would now not only be about civil rights for minorities, but economic rights for all Americans. This assumes that King would’ve stayed on the same trajectory he was following in 1968, as far as his activities and passions.

At the time of his death, Dr. King was planning another march for the poor. It was to be a march not just of African-Americans, but of Latinos, Native Americans, and whites, of all people in the country to march on Washington to demand fundamental changes in our national priorities. MLK would almost certainly still be considered a “race hustler” by today's right wing.

During his last year, Dr. King said frequently that the country’s economic problems was its major problem. “Probably the most critical problem in America is the economic problem, and he quoted Michael Harrington who wrote “The Other America.” “One America was the habitat of millions of people who had food and material necessities for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, freedom and human dignity for their spirits. In this America children grow up in the sunlight of opportunity. But there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this other America, thousands and thousands of people, men in particular, walk the streets in search for jobs that do not exist. In this other America, millions of people are forced to live in vermin-filled, distressing housing conditions where they do not have the privilege of having wall-to-wall carpeting, but all too often, they end up with wall-to-wall rats and roaches. In this other America, thousands of young people are deprived of an opportunity to get an adequate education. Every year thousands finish high school reading at a seventh, eighth and sometimes ninth grade level. Not because they’re dumb, not because they don’t have the native intelligence, but because the schools are so inadequate, so over-crowded, so devoid of quality, so segregated if you will, that the best in these minds can never come out.”

Where would Dr. King stand on our country’s present foreign policy? President Obama is again using massive amounts of violence to solve problems, to bring about the changes he wants? When asked the same questions about Vietnam, Dr. King said, “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government."

Dr. King would most likely be leading an anti-war protest today. Just like he was supporting a sanitation worker’s strike the day before his death. This was a part of a broader turn toward “economic justice” that King was making at the end of his life that surely enraged many Republicans. Which candidate would agree with his statement, that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Based on King’s vocal opposition to the Vietnam War and the United States’ perpetual state of war, he would definitely be critical when it comes to President Obama’s use of the military-industrial complex. ”War makes it infinitely more difficult to deal with these problems…It’s much more difficult to really arouse a conscience during a time of war.  There is something about a war like this that makes people insensitive.  It dulls the conscience, it strengthens the forces of reaction and it brings into being bitterness, and hatred and violence.” However, King would partially support the Obama administration on a whole host of domestic policy issues, including health care, women’s rights, and infrastructure spending.

Dr. King’s ‘dream’ remains deferred for many minorities and the poor in America. His outspoken opposition to military conflict rings true now more than ever.  With the federal government calling for cuts to food stamps and Social Security, but not to the bulk of the defense budget — President Obama demonstrates the structural limitations in fulfilling this vision in Dr. King’s legacy.

Hillary Clinton was a strong supporter of the invasion of Iraq. Here campaign is also very dependent on contributions from some of the most powerful corporations in the world. Donald Trump would be dismissed as an arrogant racist. Bush, Christie, Cruz and Rubio, support the military to send American troops to the Middle East.  

The only candidate that appears to be passionate in all the issues that King would be interested in is Bernie Sanders. A cornerstone of Sanders's campaign is to fight the decreasing income of the middle and lower classes.

Here are some of the political positions of Bernie Sanders, who focuses on economic issues such as income and wealth inequality:

•Raising the minimum wage

•Universal healthcare

•Reducing the burden of student debt

•Making public colleges and universities tuition-free

•Expanding social security benefits by eliminating the cap on the payroll tax on all income above $250,000

•Laws requiring companies to provide their workers parental leave, sick leave, and vacation time, noting that such laws have been adopted by almost every developed country

•Remove restrictions to make it easier for workers to join or form a union

•Has advocated for campaign finance reform

•He has denounced institutional racism and called for criminal justice reform to reduce the number of people in prison, with draconian sentences

•Advocates a crackdown on police brutality, and supports abolishing private for-profit prisons and the death penalty,

•He is also an advocate of comprehensive financial reforms and favors breaking up "too big to fail" financial institutions, and jailing executives

•Was a strong opponent of the US invasion of Iraq

•Has been critical of a number of policies instituted during the war on terror, particularly mass surveillance and the USA  patriot act,

•He is opposed to the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Sanders calls in his campaign for a ‘‘political revolution’’, which is very similar to the former aspirations of Dr. King.

So who do you think Dr. King would support for the presidency?

The New Israel

For the past ten years the countries of Mexico and Israel have been in secret negotiations concerning the establishment of The New Israel in the state of Tabasco in Mexico. Hundreds of meetings have been held with local and national officials discussing the possibility of moving the state of Israel to Mexico.

            Tabasco, which is one of the 31 states in Mexico, has been chosen as the desired location for a variety of reasons. It has a coastline to the north with the Gulf of Mexico, and most of the state is covered in rainforest, unlike most other areas of Mexico, it has plentiful rainfall year round.

The recent oil boom has helped to bring the state out of complete poverty, but there are still areas that have serious problems. In the city areas coverage of running water, sewerage and electricity is over ninety percent; however, in the rural areas, only forty percent have running water, and only seventy percent have sewerage. The state lacks any major industry.

Tabasco is just a little larger than Israel: 9,549 sq. miles, versus 8,019 sq. miles for Israel. The state has about 150,000 families or about half a million people living in poverty, mostly due to lack of employment. Meetings have been underway for over 2 years with thousands of these citizens to discuss the possibility of having the 6.1 million Jews in Israel move to their country.

            To help the local residents accept this move, the country of Israel has drawn up plans for hundreds of schools, new homes, and thousands of jobs to help the residents increase their level of education and their standard of living. There has been overwhelming support for these plans from the vast majority of the citizens of Tabasco.

            Mexico will grant Israel a 200 year lease of the entire state for a payment of $10,000,000,000 per year for the next 200 years. Israel will also agreed to immediately deploy 1,000 troops from the Kidon, within the Mossad, to eliminate the drug cartels and drug dealers from Mexico within 6 months.  

            It is obvious why Israel has made these arrangements with Mexico. This new location will provide a safe and secure home for the Jews who are hated so much in the Middle East. Religious monuments and sites will be moved and resurrected in the new state, and the present residents and the new residents will work together to build a new nation within a nation here in the Western Hemisphere. If all goes well, the New Israel will be in existence within one year.

Some Serious Advice for Poor Students

Taking Loans to go to college

This will be a very short and serious message. It explains why over 90% of the Black males, and 70% of Black females, fail out of community colleges nationwide every year. Community colleges are “Open Admission” which means they are unselective and non-competitive; the only criteria for admission are that the student has a high school diploma or GED certificate. What does this mean? Unsurprisingly, research shows that young adults entering college with basic skill levels far below what are required to succeed in college-level courses usually fail out. If you want to go to college and graduate you must be prepared to handle college level courses. This preparation begins before high school.

Open access to a community college with easy loans now extends false promise to many. Most poor and minority students wind up dropping out of college with great debt! The average amount of student loan debt for the Class of 2013, was $30,000, according to a new report from the Institute for College Access and Success. Most of this debt is incurred by dropouts from community colleges!

Poor students with good grades are often discouraged by poor counseling and do not know that the chances are high that they could be admitted to some of the best four year colleges in the country with all tuition paid and no loans. In a recent study of community colleges in California only 24% of all community college students were eventually able to transfer to a four-year school or obtain an associate degree or a certificate within a six-year period. Be honest with yourself before you become another college dropout who has gotten themselves over their head in debt. Take placement tests before you enter college to find out if you will need remedial help. Once admitted to the college you will have to pay for all remedial classes, which are non-credit.

Weapons and Violence in America

Summer has just begun and already the outbreak of violence in America is staggering and disturbing.   In some communities it seems as though the last 50 years of efforts and progress in community relations haven't happened yet.  At such a time, one looks everywhere on earth for reasons and solutions.  


As an example, Switzerland has one of the highest percentages of gun ownership in the world. Every household is part of their country's national militia. Machine guns and instructions for their use are available to all adults in their homes. There is hardly any crime and very few murders in Switzerland.  


So I ask, is gun ownership the cause of violence in our communities?  In the United States the major cause of extreme violence and murders is poverty and lack of education, resulting in a lack of hope in families and communities.  This is nothing new.  Racial, class, gender and ethnic discrimination contribute to further diminishing vision and ambition.  Consumerism brainwashes the struggling population in our capitalistic system.  


Among the culprits of skewered ambition are the ridiculous salaries and earnings of sports and entertainment stars who serve as role models for millions of the poor and their children.  It is popular among these populations to ask "Why go to school for all those years when you can make up a rap “song” and become a millionaire overnight?' They believe that five hours a day practicing basketball, instead of learning how to read and write, will get them into the NBA. 


If we can look to the country of Switzerland for some guidance, we cannot blame the weapon for committing the crime. The cause lies much deeper within our system of brainwashed consumers, programmed BY ADVERTISING to buy things that are unnecessary and beyond our budgets. Unless the hopelessness of millions of people can be replaced by realistic goals and achievements, this nation is doomed to become just another empire that has destroyed itself from within.

How The Slickest Prison Break In A Century Was Planned

How Did They Do It?

(Some Possible Thoughts On What May Have Happened.)

The first mistake the authorities made at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, was to have two of their most dangerous murderers locked up in cells right next to each other. Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34 were each facing life in prison, and they had nothing to lose by attempting to escape from the prison. Dannemora occupies just over 1 square mile within the northern reaches of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and is surrounded by forest and farmland. The stark white perimeter wall of the prison, topped with guard towers, borders a main street in the village's business district. The facility, in the sparsely populated northeast corner of New York, is the state's largest prison with a population of 2,689 inmates. Clinton Correctional Facility's nickname is "Little Siberia," because of its remote location, in a region where wintry weather can persist for more than half the year.

Richard Matt, 48, had been convicted on three counts of murder, three counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery after he kidnapped, dismembered, and beat his boss to death in December 1997. Matt was returned to the U.S. from Mexico where he had fled and had been arrested in the stabbing death of another American outside a bar in a robbery attempt. He was convicted in 2008 of his boss’s death, and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Matt is white, 6 feet tall and 210 pounds, has black hair, hazel eyes and several tattoos: "Mexico Forever" on his back, a heart on his chest and left shoulder, and a Marine Corps insignia on his right shoulder. Matt has a history of escape, having broken out of the Erie County Jail in 1986 by scaling a fence. He was captured after four days. 

David Sweat, 34, was serving a life without parole sentence after his conviction of first-degree murder in the death of a sheriff's deputy in July 2002. Deputy Tarsia was the first member of the Sheriff's office to be killed in the line of duty since it was formed in 1906. He had been with the office for 13 years. Sweat and another man fired 15 rounds into the policeman shortly after using a pickup truck to break into a Pennsylvania woman's house, to steal rifles and handguns. Sweat is also white, 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs around 165 pounds. He has brown hair, green eyes and tattoos on his left bicep and his right fingers.

The idea for the escape actually came from David Sweat after he had been working on a clean-up detail in the prison library. While moving some large boxes, one fell over and a large pile of old maps and building specifications tumbled to the floor. Although Sweat was not an educated man and had never gotten beyond the tenth grade, he could read the maps because he had worked with an uncle for a few years building a rather large building in Albany when he was in his early twenties.

He recognized right away that the maps and drawings were for the prison he was being held in. The plans showed the pipes for the sewer system and all the places where electrical wiring was in the prison. He studied the maps for a while, and hid them under some boxes that would be assessable if he just came to the library to look at magazines or to use the computer.

Sweat started to ask his cellmate next door if he would be interested in planning a prison break. Matt, who was also facing a possible life sentence, quickly agreed to help in any way he could. He was working in the tool shop, and maybe he could find some discarded tool that they could use.

Over the next 6 months Sweat managed to steal from the library over 20 pages of maps and diagrams that were of the building he and Matt were held in. They drew out a very detailed escape route through the walls, pipes, corridors, and tunnels all the way out to a sewer outlet in the street far outside the prison grounds. They decided that they would have to cut out an opening between their cells, and another opening down into the walkways and tunnels that lead out to the outlet.

This was where Matt would come in to steal an old sheet metal saw from the machine shop. He did this over a period of two weeks by taking the parts from the shop, and carrying out one small piece at a time under his shirt, or in his trousers. The pieces were slipped under their mattresses until they needed to be put together to make the opening between their cell, and finally to make the hole in Matt’s floor down into the interior of the building. Eventually the two men cut through a steel wall and followed a series of tunnels until they emerged from the manhole outside the prison walls.

Over a period of a month there was a hole cut out into the floor of the cell through which they eventually escaped. Once through the hole out of Matt’s cell they went onto a catwalk which is about six stories high. As they climbed down they kept their power tools and were able to get out to the facility through a number of tunnels, cutting away at several spots. There were a number of contractors working in the facility, and the escapees used the noise from them to drown out the sounds they were making for a period of months with their small saws and drills as they cut through the walls and pipes.

They followed the catwalk down an elaborate maze of pipes and exited a series of tunnels and burrowed their way more than a city block away before emerging from a manhole on the other side of the prison’s 30-foot-tall walls. Waiting several feet away from the manhole, was a small green Volvo owned by one of the sons of one of the men. The exact time and date of the emergence from the sewer opening had been sent out via a series of text messages only 2 days before. The two men quickly got into the trunk of the car and headed toward the Canadian border, only 20 miles away.

Matt and Sweat apparently were last seen at 10:30 p.m. June 5th during a standing count. Head counts are performed every two hours throughout the night when guards visually check to see whether inmates are in their bunks, Clinton Correctional Facility Supervisor Steven Racette said.

The escapees tricked the guards by arranging things in the bunks to look like people were sleeping, with sweatshirt hoodies on. The two men's adjoining cells were found empty during the 5:30 a.m. morning check, said Anthony Annucci, the acting state corrections commissioner. On one pipe cut in the escape, investigators found a note with a crude Asian caricature along with the words, "Have a nice day."

By the time their disappearance was discovered the next morning, they were already aboard a plane out of Montreal to London with new identities and fake passports.

Meanwhile, back at the prison, floodlights filled the street around the facility, whose thick walls loomed high over the north side of the town’s main street, which was closed to most traffic. Dozens of law enforcement officials stood guard in a nearby neighborhood where the two escapees had emerged from the manhole. More than 200 law enforcement officers were scouring the area for the escapees, with troopers setting up road blocks and checkpoints on nearby highways, and bloodhounds and helicopters were being used to track down the men. Canadian broadcaster CTV News reported that officials were concerned the men may attempt to enter Canada through Ontario or Quebec, and safety alerts have been broadcast to police officers in the Greater Toronto Area.

In a news conference two days after the escape, officials said investigators were sifting through more than 150 leads. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state was offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the inmates, or $50,000 for tips leading to each one. "It was a sophisticated plan," Cuomo said. "It took a period of time, no doubt, to execute." The governor marveled at the particulars of the escape, in which the two inmates had cut through a steel wall of their adjacent cells, shinnied down a series of internal catwalks, and burrowed their way more than a city block away before emerging from a manhole. Mr. Cuomo said that there had been a number of contractors working in the facility, and that the escapees’ work may have been safeguarded by the silence of other prisoners. Officials said it was the first escape from the maximum-security portion of the Clinton Correctional Facility, which was built in 1865 and undergoes regular maintenance, and they mistakenly thought the tools came from the workers who are often inside the facility.

“With the sophistication they have shown,” Mr. Cuomo said, “I would not rule out that they may have acquired an automobile and planned to rendezvous with someone.” Little does the governor know that this is what really happened.

Why I am supporting Senator Bernie Sanders

I do not know Senator Sanders, or Bernie as he likes to be called, and I’m sure he does not know me. But after a great deal of soul-searching, I realized that my views on national and international issues are identical to his. Doesn’t it make sense to vote for a person who represents much of what you have been fighting for all of your adult life? Isn’t the purpose of our form of government to elect people who represent our interests and concerns? Is there another candidate in the Presidential race that really fights for the working or affluent poor? Who else in the race represents the interests of people like me, a member of the struggling middle class? Who will do something about our poor schools, the lack of jobs, the shortage of decent housing, safer neighborhoods, and the economic survival of our country?

Our views are also identical on stopping the military and the weapon manufacturers from controlling our politicians to get us into endless wars that we cannot win. And we are both for government campaign financing.

Because of his actions and beliefs, he has been rated 100% by SANE, indicating a pro-peace voting record. He was also one of the only senators to vote against the invasion of Iraq. He realizes that when you get involved in a civil war you have to kill off half the civilian population. If your side wins, the other half of the country will hate you. But Bernie is still a friend of the troops in our military, and he won the 2014 Col. Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award from the Military Officers Association of America for his leadership in support of veterans even though he gets an F from the NRA.

Our views are the same on supporting universal health, opposing the building of a fence along the Mexican border, and believing that student loans and the whole system of debt-financed education is a scam. And finally, we both believe that this is a rigged economy which works for the rich and the powerful, and is not working for ordinary Americans. Not unlike Jimmy Carter was was told he didn’t have a chance, Bernie can win this election and change this system, with his ideas and programs which will attract new people into Congress who will pass legislation that will help to narrow the growing gap between the rich and powerful, and the middle-class and working poor……… Who really represents your interests?

Increase Taxes on Liquor and Tobacco

As the Vermont legislature considers its budget deficit a viable alternative is to increase the sales tax on liquor and tobacco. Vermont presently has the lowest sales tax on liquor in the nation. With these increased taxes Vermont can close its budget gap, save money in social services, and improve the health and welfare of thousands of children and adults in the state. Many studies investigating such a relationship found that alcohol prices were a major factor influencing alcohol consumption among youth and young adults and lowering the frequency of diseases, injuries, and death, violence and crime. Taxes on alcohol and tobacco have been enacted mainly with the intent of increasing revenues, rather than discouraging negative health effects.

Presently, the major policy element of U.S. programs to deter teenage and young adult drinking has been to increase State minimum legal drinking ages (MLDAs). (It is ironic to hear important officials in the Shumlin administration requesting that the age limit for buying beer, wine, and alcohol be lowered from 21 to 18.)

Some Facts from the Center for Science in the Public Interest

•Fatal motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of people under the age of 35, and alcohol is involved in more than one-half of these fatal crashes. 75 to 90 percent of drivers killed between 12:00 a.m. and 3:59 a.m. were estimated to have been drinking.

•A National Health Interview Survey estimated that a 10-percent increase in the price of alcoholic beverages would reduce the probability of drinking and driving by about 7.4 percent for men and 8.1 percent for women.

•A 25-cent increase in the beer tax could reduce work-loss days from nonfatal workplace injuries by 4.6 million, reducing the costs of lost productivity by $491 million nationwide.

•Increases in the price of alcoholic beverages would reduce suicides and deaths from diseases for which alcohol is a contributing factor. There would also be significant reductions in rapes, robberies, child abuse and wife abuse.

A ten percent price increase on alcohol and beer would: 

•Lower the number of students who get into trouble with the police and college authorities

•Lower the number of students involved in property damage

•Lower the number of students who get into verbal or physical fights

•Lower the number of students involved in sexual misconduct

•Raise the likelihood of high school graduation and lead to higher grade point averages

•Increase the probability of attending and graduating from a four year college or university

•Improve high school and college student study habits; reduce frequency of missing classes and the likelihood of falling behind in school.

Tobacco Facts

•A 10% increase in price reduces smoking prevalence among youth by nearly 7%.

•Tobacco smoke is harmful to smokers and nonsmokers.

•Cigarette smoking causes many types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.

•Quitting smoking reduces the health risks caused by exposure to tobacco smoke.

•Money not spent on tobacco will be spent on other goods and services, creating gains in employment as tobacco consumption falls.

Instead of eliminating items that improved the quality of life in our state, this proposal aims to increase the taxation of liquor and tobacco, thereby improving the quality of life, health and happiness of thousands of citizens in Vermont.

Why Do Some Of Our Brightest Fail In High School?

“I believe that any kid that is having a hard time with life will have trouble in school.”

                                                                  16 year old boy

There are many reasons why teenagers who have the ability and intelligence do poorly in school. This is nothing new, but will always continue to be a problem for educators and family members even as times change. I would like to focus on underachieving boys who have just entered high school, and offer a few reasons for their poor performance, and some possible solutions.

Many boys feel that high school is too hard and getting harder, as standards are raised, and pretty boring, and therefore they don't like school all that much and can't see how it is related to their future. As other parts of their young lives become more interesting, such as girls, and being cool, they may seem to develop an allergy to the high school environment, even if we knew them to be smart and good students in elementary school.

They may do enough homework to get by, but they dislike the physical experience of being in a class all day, the psychological experience of having a teacher controlling everything, the frustrations of having to sit still, and the humiliation of low grades are simply intolerable to a some students. He will need teachers who understand and can work with boys like him without taking his lack of engagement personally. Otherwise, he is going to struggle just to keep going until he graduates.

Over thirty-five percent of American boys are being raised in a home without both of their biological parents. Many have no male role model and research shows that boys from single-parent homes are statistically at risk. However, even in homes where a boy has a dad, he may not have a father who helps with homework, reads with him, or ever comes to a PTA meeting. The only time some boys see their father is when he is watching sports on TV or playing a violent video game. If these are the only thing the father cares about, well… boys aren't stupid. They are going to focus on the things that win them their father's love, respect and partnership in their own lives.

Unfortunately, the students doing poorly or the ones that are the biggest behavior problems are the ones whose teachers get the least support from the student's home. Many students refuse to do any work, even refusing to take any tests, but are still allowed to have cell phones and cars. Our culture today has washed away most childhood expectations from our society, to the point that being lazy, rude, or a jerk is considered funny by their peers, or even sometimes by their parents. While video games are often cited as the main cause of the decline in a boy's performing in school, it is the parent's responsibility to oversee how their child manages their time.

Some Suggestions to parents and guardians

A major way to motivate a lazy boy is to continue to hold high expeditions for him, and express your ideals and some sense of disappointment when they do not make any effort to do their school work. A parent can use incentives to induce their child to change their priorities. Perhaps he must maintain a B average to keep his smart phone or drive a car. Some parents react negatively to the idea of ''bribes,'' but many prefer to call them incentives; they work in business, they can also work for many teenagers.

lf you have a boy who is just “cruising,'' there are at least three things that may help him. One is a passionate and caring teacher who lights a fire under him. When teachers do their jobs by making school both interesting and challenging, students develop into problem-solvers; when schools create a moral environment and have high expectations for behavior, students turn into leaders and good citizens.

Second, an ambition or interest which motivates him. When a child is engaged by a concept or an idea, a project or a form of service, his parents’ encouragement engages the child to follow their dreams. Third, likewise, when devices or privileges are threatened, such as not being able to use the smart phone or drive the car if he didn't keep up his grade average, the child learns to live the lessons of cause and effect and the importance of planning.

A parent's job is to hold their children accountable for their behavior and show them why it is good and smart to be an educated person. I hope you read with him AND read on your own; I hope you take him to plays and museums; I hope you venture with him into the out-of-doors and let him tackle the challenges there. A boy who paddles a canoe or fixes a car or truck engine feels empowered. Practical skills outside of school can help performance in school. Enjoyable, recreational reading can be the key to a successful, educated boy.

Parents must take the responsibility of instilling the proper values in our children, instead of blaming the school or the culture for their children's behavior. We should expect that our schools will support us in teaching a work ethic, quality, and manners from our children, but the children need to learn this at home, practice it at school, and then get it reinforced again at home.

A child's experience of his home should include eating together. Even the simplest meal, eaten together, with a simple conversation about ''What happened today at school and at work” with everyone participating, speaks volumes to a child about team work and the importance of what he does every day. After dinner and dishes, there should be a “study hall” time at night. Clear the table and everyone, mom and/or dad included, should sit quietly reading, writing or doing their homework, paying their bills together and other necessary activities. The TV shouldn't be on in the background. You can't ask a boy to read if his dad or guardian is watching television or playing on their electronic device all the time. How many books are in your living or dining room? How often does the child see their parents or guardians engage in intellectual pursuits beyond watching television?

And if the child is under ten don't forget to read to them at bedtime. They need to love stories and reading, and parents can do that for them every day. Recreational reading and some really good stories might turn out to be more important than homework in helping your children stay engaged in school.

I offer these thoughts from both a professional and a personal point of view. As an educator, one of the profession's greatest failures is in not getting through to all the students, particularly the disengaged students. At times, it seems like a disengaged child's family is building walls around the child, creating every possible obstruction to his education and future. As a father and grandfather, I accept full responsibility for the atmosphere and attitudes l create and display for my children and grandchildren. Though my daughters are adults, l encourage their curiosity, their engagement with the world, and their continuing education. While most of my grandchildren live far away, I communicate with them through books and educational games and puzzle. The role of the family in a child's education can never be underestimated, and their engagement is as much evident in a report card, as it is in the child's success or failure in life.

In What Direction Would Dr. King

Be Leading His Followers Today?

In the fall of 1981 the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Social Change opened in Atlanta. Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, asked me to conduct the first workshop. She wanted me to talk about where “Martin” would be leading the movement if he were alive. This was such a tremendous responsibility. The world had undergone enormous cultural and social change since 1968, and I was expected to do my own research, make a major speech, and then answer questions.

In preparing for the workshop I read the last few speeches of Dr. King, and I also read the two last speeches of Malcolm X, with whom I had spent some private time. Dr. King and Malcolm X were coming closer together in their world views. Malcolm was becoming less radical, while Dr. King was becoming more critical of the foreign and domestic policies of the country.

I had also recently read The Third Wave, by Alvin Toffler, where he put forth the assertion that Industrialism was the greatest threat to mankind, not racism.  I was sure that not only would Dr. King have read Toffler’s book and shared his thinking, but also that Dr. King would have identified and preached against the implications of the evils of consumerism and materialism, which are dangers Pope Francis now preaches against world-wide.

His message was similar to voices today that say that the present government is wasting billions abroad while cutting domestic programs in every state and county nationwide.

Anyone who opposed the foreign policy of the government was considered unpatriotic and a disloyal citizen …

I believed after my research that Dr. King would have shifted his energies away from social integration, and towards promoting systemic change in our economic system, where lifestyle and class are more important.

Today thirty-three years have transpired since the opening of the King Center and 46 years - two generations -since the death of Martin Luther King Jr., and without belaboring the point, it is a very different world in which we are considering the question, In What Direction Would Dr. King Be Leading His Followers Today? 

Before one can even ask in what direction, or who Dr. King would be leading, we must first ask, would there even be a movement for him to lead? The old Civil Rights Movement is no longer in existence because most of its goals and objectives appear to have been realized. Racist laws have been removed; blacks now freely vote and hold elected office; schools and neighborhoods are seemingly desegregated; people-of-color are now used extensively in segmented advertising, commercials, and marketing; people-of-color are the presidents of Ivy League colleges and major corporations: racial and ethnic integration has been achieved in motion pictures and television, and we even have a Black Justice on the Supreme Court and a president who is not White.


Undoubtedly, Dr. King would be intrigued by the results of a study on discrimination in hiring done jointly by the MBA programs of the University of Chicago and MIT a few years ago. They sent out thousands of fake resumes in response to real jobs being advertised nationwide. All the applicants were Phi Beta Kappa and had close to a 4.0 GPA. The only difference in the fictitious young MBA’s was their names. Half had clearly African American sounding-names like Shaquille Jackson or Latoya Jones, and the other half were Jack, Mary, or Tiffany O’Connor. The white-sounding names received 50% more invitations for a job interview!

Is there enough discontent and frustration still left in America rise up and follow a dynamic leader? The now affluent Black Middle Class, many of whom are only one step out of poverty, quickly forgets. This relatively privileged group often feels threatened by the demands of others who are still powerless, regardless of their color or ethnicity. But we and Dr. King would still have a few unsolved problems:

•That there are more students attending segregated schools in America today than in 1954.

•He would note the dropout rate in high schools located in lower-income neighborhoods is near 50%.

•What would he do for the countless thousands of unemployable, semi-literate youth being pushed out of our inefficient high schools?

•The dropout rate in many community colleges nation-wide is over 90% for black males and over 70% for black females! The rate is almost as high for Native Americans and Hispanics.

•The unemployment rate on some Indian reservations and inner-city neighborhoods is over 75%!

•There are now over 2,000,000 people in prison, mainly because of an ill-conceived “War on Drugs” and its imprisonment of a generation of under-educated poor and mainly non-white youth drug users.

•Dr. King would be dramatically opposed to our costly needless invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

•He would be shocked and depressed at the $40-$60,000 being offered to the youth of today to fight and die in these wars.

•He would be accused of treason for his pacifism, and threatened with aiding terrorists and arrested under the new Draconian Homeland Security laws.

•What would have been Dr. King’s reaction to the $700,000,000,000 bailout to the banks, car companies, and insurance companies?

•Perhaps he would organize demonstrations for the 42,000,000 without health insurance

•Or the 16,000,000 unemployed

•Or the millions of over-educated underemployed professionals

•Or the hundreds of thousands of college students who are being burdened for decades with $30,000 to $300,000 student loans that have replaced grants and scholarships.

•What would he say of a relationship between the collapse of the worldwide economy and the increase in profits of the oil companies and corporate executives?

•How much would Dr. King support or oppose the military policies of President Obama? Indeed, would Dr. King be a frequent guest at the White House?

•What would he say to our Congress about the 662 military bases abroad?

•Today, the traditional civil rights organizations seem more concerned about political correctness (PC) than getting out and fighting to help the poor and the hopeless, regardless of their ethnicity or color.

And how would Dr. King have reacted to the events in Ferguson? Would he be out there marching in the streets with Al Sharpton, or would he have taken a different approach? My guess is that he would have given a speech from his old church in Atlanta, Ebenezer, within a few days of the incident to urge everyone to react in a non-violent manner and try to find out all the facts before assuming that the police officer had willfully killed Michael Brown. His words would have helped a great deal to calm down those who were seeking revenge for the killing. After the verdict, he might have gone to Furgeson to further instill feelings of hope and trust in the criminal justice system. As unpopular as his message might have been, he would still be trying to bring people together across ethnic and class lines.

Just as all social movements need a powerful force to oppose, Dr. King today would still be fighting against the powerful forces that are oppressing and exploiting the poor today. He would be championing the plight of the homeless whose numbers keep growing, while programs to assist them shrink. Perhaps he would have become a leader in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, which today has no leader.

Let me share with you some prophetic words from Dr. King’s speech at Riverside Church:

“We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.”

We will always have a choice to become involved in efforts to help others who are less fortunate than ourselves, or to do nothing. 

Today, we live in an atmosphere of apprehension about employment and financial insecurity, coupled with the Omni-presence of a national surveillance system that can track a person to within a quarter of an inch, to a device we willingly carry with us everywhere, the GPS chip in every cell phone. (Some even work when the phone is shut off!) Big Brother would be envious of the hypnotic power of the wall-sized high-definition television screen, soon to be 3D, now being used to condition our children and adults to worship Materialism and Consumption, instead of any spiritual, moral, or religious values.

Dr. King would be greatly challenged today to ignite the passion of indignation and concern that he awakened 40 years ago. Would he succeed? Would love and non-violence triumph again over greed and ignorance?

We are the only ones who can answer these questions. We always have a choice on which road to follow. Will we rise up, acknowledge and practice our beliefs, or will we remain silent and think only of ourselves. If Dr. King were here today he would be pleading for you to do what is right, and follow him again in an essential new struggle to uplift humanity, and to defeat the International masters of greed!

The Absurdity of “The One-Drop Rule”

Pie chart of my 7th grandchild, Sidney Ray Girard

The individual above will be called an African American, or Black, by many people in America. Why is this the case? Because of the One-Drop Rule!

This paper is calling for a national discussion on how to remove the practice of utilizing the racist One-Drop Rule to identify individuals or groups as Negroes, Blacks or African Americans. As difficult and challenging as it may be, it is time to become rational and logical and stop labeling individuals and entire populations with classifications and so-called “races” that are meaningless and at times ludicrous.

The One-Drop Rule is an historical, colloquial term in the United States that holds that a person with any trace of sub-Saharan ancestry, however small or invisible, cannot be considered White,  and unless said person has an alternative non-White ancestry they can claim, such as Native American, Asian, Arab, Australian aboriginal, they must be considered Black.

The Rule is an antiquated example of hypodescent, the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union between different socioeconomic or ethnic groups to the group with the lower status. Only by recognizing and changing instituted discrimination like the one-drop rule can we eventually live in the America so many of us have worked for during the past 50 years. We've got to start looking at this subject logically, and get rid of the old racial mythologies that have been holding our country back for so long. The legal notion of hypodescent has been upheld as recently as 1985, when a Louisiana court ruled that a woman with a black great-great-great-great-grandmother could not identify herself as “white” on her passport.

At first, the main purpose of the one-drop rule was to prevent interracial relationships, and thus keep Whites "pure." It was believed that the blood of Black people, or of other races than White, was “tainted.” It was also a way for slave owners to maintain ownership over descendents of former slaves. 

Tennessee adopted a one-drop statute in 1910. It was followed by Louisiana the same year, Texas and Arkansas in 1911, Mississippi in 1917, North Carolina in 1923, Virginia in 1924, Alabama and Georgia in 1927, and Oklahoma in 1931. During this same time, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Utah retained their old racial blood fraction statutes, but amended these fractions, such as one-eighth or one-sixteenth etc., to be equivalent to simply one drop of Negro blood, de facto. By 1925, almost every state had some form of a one-drop law on the books.

Walter Plecker was a physician and public health advocate who was the first registrar of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics, serving from 1912-1946. He was a leader of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, a white supremacist organization founded in Richmond, Virginia in 1822. He drafted and lobbied for the passage of the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 by the Virginia legislature; it institutionalized the one-drop rule. In the new law he wrote, "Two races as materially divergent as the White and Negro, in morals, mental powers, and cultural fitness, cannot live in close contact without injury to the higher." In line with this concept was also the assumption that Blacks would somehow be "improved" through White inter-mixing.

One of the major reasons for the endurance of the One-Drop Rule has been the actions of the Black leaders during the Black pride era of the Civil Rights Movement. Black race-based groups claimed all people of any African ancestry as black in a reverse way, to establish political power. The stigma once associated with sub-Saharan ancestry was claimed as a socio-political advantage. The "one drop rule” might have diminished by today except that it is still politically advantageous for some people to identify themselves by race. Many black academics, who were ethnocentric, criticized ideals of integration and assimilation and this led to the unfortunate development of academic ethnic studies programs instead of improving the current academic curriculum, as a way to counteract the neglect of contributions by racial minorities in classrooms.  The persistence of a hypodescent mentality among African Americans and many liberals serves to reinforce racial boundaries, rather than moving us toward a race-neutral society

Another reason the Rule has endured is Multiculturalism. The multiculturalists hold that ethnic identity should be a central factor in educational and other policy decisions. This is also the opposite of integration, where ethnic and racial differences are secondary to similarities in lifestyle. Harvard professor of political science Robert D. Putnam conducted a nearly decade long study how multiculturalism affects social trust. He surveyed 26,200 people in 40 American communities, finding that when the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, the more racially diverse a community is, the greater the loss of trust. People in diverse communities "don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions. When is the last time someone used the term "integration" in public discourse. The civil rights movement in the 60s seemed to strive toward a society that one day wouldn't care about race. The idea of a society where race wouldn't be an issue seems to have died with Dr. King.

In the case of Native American admixture with Whites, the one-drop rule was extended only as far as to those with one-fourth Native American blood. This was due to what was known as the "Pocahontas exception." The "Pocahontas exception" existed because many influential Virginian families claimed to be descendants of Pocahontas. To avoid classifying them as non-White, the Virginia General Assembly declared that a person could be considered White as long as they had no more than one-sixteenth Native American blood.

In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its ruling in the case of Loving v. Virginia, conclusively invalidated Plecker's Virginia Racial Integrity Act. That meant the Court was reversing the one-drop rule, calling it unconstitutional. But despite this holding, the one-drop theory is still influential in U.S. society. Despite the one-drop rule being deemed unconstitutional in 1967, as recently as 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the one-drop rule to stand by refusing to hear a case against the state of Louisiana’s racial classification procedures as were applied to Susie Phipps.

An interesting anecdote to consider was that during this whole period, Puerto Rico had laws like the Regla del Sacar or Gracias al Sacar where a person of black ancestry could be considered legally white so long as they could prove that at least one person per generation in the last four generations had also been legally white. Therefore people of black ancestry with known white lineage were classified as white, the opposite of the "one-drop rule" in the rest of the United States.

Multiracial individuals with visibly mixed European and African and/or Native American ancestry are often still considered non-White, unless they explicitly declare themselves White or Anglo. They are typically identified instead as mixed-race, mulatto, Black or American Indian, for example. By contrast, these standards are widely rejected by people of the Latino community, the majority of who are of mixed ancestry, but to them, their Latino cultural heritage is more important to their ethnic identities than "race." Therein, they are Hispanic or Latino first, and Black, White etc., second. So, the one-drop rule is generally not applied to Latinos of mixed origin or to Arab-Americans.

Just as a person with physically recognizable sub-Saharan ancestry can claim to be black in the United States, someone with recognizable Caucasian ancestry may be considered white in Brazil, even if mixed race. According to Jose Neinstein, a native white Brazilian and executive director of the Brazilian-American Cultural Institute in Washington, in the United States, "If you are not quite white, then you are black." However, in Brazil, "If you are not quite black, then you are white."

"In most countries of the Caribbean, Colin Powell would be described as a Creole, reflecting his mixed heritage. In Belize, he might further be described as a 'High Creole', because of his extremely light complexion." This shows that the perception of race, particularly concerning people of African heritage, is relative to different societies and individuals.

The real question is why are we still labeling each other along racial lines? And why do census forms and educational forms also ask to check a race or ethnic group?

Kwanza, Is It A Class or a Race Thing?

Kwanza, which was created in 1966 in California, has gained recognition by governments and world leaders at a rapid pace. Why is this holiday, which is mainly rejected by educated people-of-color, now on a postage stamp, and almost on its way to becoming a national holiday in England and the United States? What was on President Clinton’s mind when he suggested that Kwanza was a holiday for all Americans?

Many Blacks, and Whites, reject Kwanza because it is anti-Christian and based on atheism. Others say it is racist and calls for a separate black state in North America. Christian leaders who have studied Kwanza are becoming alarmed because they see it as just another attempt to get people to leave the Christian faith. As Prince Ntumba Azab stated in an article in 2004, “Kwanza is silent on and ignores the most important aspect of African culture and history. This is our belief in and worship of GOD, … Any cultural celebration which ignores the foundation of our culture is non-African in scope and orientation and is either a conscious or unconscious attempt to divert us away from the path back to our culture and the system of values which underpin our glorious African culture.” He went on to say that the “…seven principles of Blackness is a mishmash, a hybrid of ideas drawn out of context from different sources. Kwanza is contrary to nature and does the opposite. It is only in America that a first fruits or agricultural festival can be held in the middle of winter.”

Many White Americans and others honestly believe that most people-of-color celebrate Kwanza. This is not true. Only a small percentage of Blacks actually pay any attention to Kwanza. The holiday has no attraction to middle and upper class Blacks because it is seen as racist, lower class, and anti-God. It also requires one to wear African dress and use a lot of so-called African words. This again is too much for the affluent Black. They have worked hard and long to distance themselves from anyone, or anything, that looks like something from Africa, (which reminds them of slavery) or that uses language that is not strictly Standard English.

White leaders who are using Kwanza for political purposes in an attempt to attract Black voters are making a big mistake. They should go out and ask the people what they really think of this holiday created by a man many professionals have considered crazy, and others still consider a sadistic criminal who has spent several years in prison for torturing two black women. Does Kwanza help bring people of different religions and ethnic groups together, or does it promote a form of separatism that weakens attempts to find areas where we have things in common, and where we minimize our differences?

Being Present is The Only Good Option for True Mental Health

An effective and holistic approach in psychotherapy is to help individuals reduce their anxiety and depression by focusing their attention on the present instead of on the past or the future. The wisdom of encouraging individuals to live in the present has been a major part of all of the living spiritual traditions for the past 3,000 years. Spiritual traditions and religions generally have a central unity of purpose … taking people along different paths all leading to the same goal, to live in the present. Spirituality knows there are many paths to the same goal. Spirituality embraces all the worlds’ spiritual traditions, but at the same time, is not constrained by any religious dogmas or forms. It is my goal in this paper to show that we can exercise this same wisdom to help our clients cope with their depression, anxiety and distress by learning to live more in the present. For some the ebb and flow of one’s personality may not fundamentally change. What may change instead is in how one responds to their emotions. Then over time this can lead to change, to emotional growth. But focusing on this in the here and now rather in forward-looking, goal-oriented context is a challenge.

I believe that to obtain liberation from our fears and concerns we must live in the present where we can achieve peace of mind by concentrating on doing the right thing right now.  Along with effort to shift a person to live in the present, instead of the past or the present, is the equally important goal of changing a dysfunctional lifestyle of mindless consumerism. The financial strains, and the neglect of spending quality time with a spouse or the children is a major cause of free-floating anger, child neglect, and domestic violence. As Eckhart Tolle has pointed out, “Dissolving the idea of possessiveness frees one's spirituality to grow into new awareness of your true nature which is ultimately love, joy, and peace regardless of what people own or their situation in life.”

A search of the teachings from various spiritual traditions reveals the following information to support this idea:—

Thich Nhat Hanh: “Nothing remains the same for two consecutive moments. The Buddha implored us not just to talk about impermanence, but to use it as an instrument to help us penetrate deeply into reality and obtain liberating insight. We may be tempted to say that because things are impermanent, there is suffering. But the Buddha encouraged us to look again. Without impermanence, life is not possible. How can we transform our suffering if things are not impermanent? How can our son or daughter grow up into a beautiful young child? How can the situation in the world improve? We need impermanence for social justice and for hope. If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent. It is because you believe things are permanent. When a flower dies, you don't suffer much, because you understand that flowers are impermanent. But you cannot accept the impermanence of your beloved one, and you suffer deeply when she or he passes away. If you look deeply into impermanence, you will do your best to make them happy right now. Aware of impermanence, you become positive, loving and wise. Impermanence is good news. Without impermanence, nothing would be possible. With impermanence, every door is open for change. Impermanence is an instrument for our liberation.”

Native American - Indians are very oriented to living in the present. There is a tendency toward an immediate rather than postponed gratification of desires. Living each day as it comes is emphasized. This value is closely tied to the philosophy that one should be more interested in being than in becoming. One result of the disparity between the Indian's present orientation and the European's future orientation is that frustration often results when Indian students are pressured to forgo present needs for future vague rewards. Goals are necessary to accomplish anything that needs focused attention. Goals change a hope for something into a plan to make it happen.

From Hinduism – What really matters however is to be here now. To live in the present moment fully. Generally speaking, the things of the previous lifetimes that one needs are written on our consciousness, as inner knowledge, common sense, personal morality, and so on.” “There is only the eternal present and living in this present moment is living for all time.”

Quakers – “Begin where you are. Obey now. Use what little obedience you are capable of, even if it be like a grain of mustard seed. Begin where you are. Live this present moment, this present hour as you now sit in your seats, in utter, utter submission and openness toward Him. Listen outwardly to these words, but within, behind the scenes, in the deeper levels of your lives where you are all alone with God the Loving Eternal One, keep up a silent prayer..."

From Christianity – “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absence is awareness. Little do we realize that God is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another it means that God is choosing us now and now and now.”

From Buddha - The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

Islam - Muslims do not live life with complete disregard for God or religious matters, but nor do they neglect the world to devote themselves solely to worship and prayer. Muslims strike a balance by fulfilling the obligations of and enjoying this life, while always mindful of their duties to Allah and to others.

From Confucianism – “People should focus more on this life than the supernatural.”

From Judaism – “The message the Talmud teaches us that Judaism is a here and now way of life. It teaches that though honoring our history is important, it is in the present that we fully conduct our lives as Jews. Living in the present is how we become better people, through daily interactions with others in our community.”

From Humanism – “We have but one life to lead and we should make the most of it in terms of creative work and happiness. There is no God.” (Corliss Lamont)

Society For Ethical Culture – "When we join the Ethical Movement we do so not because we are fleeing from our past but because we now accept a new form that for us is deeper and more meaningful. We desire to enter a wider spiritual fellowship, united with men and women of every heritage. What we seek is a reverence for a human personality, a passion for social justice and an attempt to apply the best of the world's wisdom to contemporary living."

From A Religious Perspective – There is a possibly that there is a Being or Force that exists completely in the Eternal Now, and that is the Source. From the instant of “The Big Bang” to the present moment, this Source has had many names: God, Goddess, All That Is, Allah, Jehovah, Great Spirit, and Creator to name only a few. It is the state of existence wherein there is no time, no space, no separation, no judgment---only Consciousness, and Unconditional Love, Light, Balance and Oneness. The Source is the state of being we all yearn to return to, whether we are presently consciously aware of this or not. The majority of the inhabitants of this earth currently do not live completely in a state of timelessness, or eternal nowness. They do not live in the present. If we shift our own perspective to this state of awareness, how will this apply to us in our daily lives? How can we begin to live in the present moment in this body residing on planet Earth without being out of step with the majority of people? Are we ready to advise clients to be prepared to lose most of their friends, and be prepared to adopt a completely different lifestyle? A lifestyle, which can lead to new experiences, to new friends that relate on a deeper level.

When we live in the present moment fully with all parts of us (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) being "here and now", this naturally clears and grounds us, and aligns all of our bodies. We become more accessible to others as we begin to access ourselves. Because we honor who we are, we are able to then honor others for who they are, whether or not we particularly resonate with them. We still accept them as being a part of us. Being present honors our presence, as well as the presence of others.

The most extreme example I have ever heard of where a group lives only in the present is the Pirahã who live in South America.  A 2007 item in the New Yorker reported on a remote Amazonian tribe with a …“… living-in-the-present ethos so powerful that it has affected every aspect of their lives. The Pirahã have no concept of God or religion. Committed to an existence where only observable experience is real, the Pirahã do not think, or speak, in abstractions–and thus do not use color terms, quantifiers, numbers, or myths.

They perceive reality solely according to what exists within the boundaries of their direct experience–which is defined as anything they can see or hear, or that someone living has seen or heard. When someone walks around the bend in the river, the Pirahã say that the person has not simply gone away but has ‘gone out of existence.’ … They say the same when a candle flame flickers: the light ‘goes in and out of existence.”

As Thich Nhat Hanh wrote earlier in this study, “Nothing remains the same for two consecutive moments.” We can only think of one thing at a time, even when we are multi-tasking and doing several things at the same time, our mind is still rapidly jumping back and forth between activities. It is always better to do one thing and do it well.

The “Secret” for getting into harmony with the powers of the Universe is to learn to focus on one thing at a time. Why do you think we feel calmer and more relaxed when we go to the beach and watch the waves come in? Or when we stop and just look at the clouds drifting by, or the stars twinkling in the sky? Or simply looking at a flickering fireplace or even one candle? Why are we told to stop and smell the daisies?

When we focus on only one thing we cannot be thinking about anything else! Like financial problems, medical problems, personal conflicts with others, and a host of other worries and concerns. Television, smartphones, and electronic devices are the major distractions for most people today. Yes, they do get our minds temporally off our problems, but in the process we are being programmed to be mindless consumers with thousands of carefully designed commercials. We are also being filled with negative images from the programs and the so-called news shows. Television tends to make us more fearful and distrustful of others.

Living in the present with a book or a good movie does more for the mind and the spirit, and it makes you feel better because you are not stressed out being worried or depressed about some problem. Listening to the radio, like VPR or NPR is another way to live in the present, while learning more about our environment and the world.

People usually only talk or think about one of three things: People, things, or ideas. The less educated love gossip and measure their success by their possessions. They tend not to live in the present but are constantly comparing themselves against others in terms of material wealth being accumulated, places they have been, or things they plan to do in the future. Some have a “Lottery Mentality” and actually believe they can only be happy in the future when their ship comes in. They fail to realize that the only time one can be happy is in the present, and we do not need others to experience peace.

The picture is my attempt to graphically show the truths espoused by philosophers and theologians throughout recorded history. The religious or spiritual beliefs of the client do not matter in this exercise.

The objective here is to feel you totally in the center room. You cannot slip into the future or the past unless you unlock the doors and enter the rooms. There is a feeling of relief being constrained in the “Present” room. There is a feeling of peace and calm. You can go to, and stay in this room, whenever you want. All you have to do is close your eyes and see yourself there. You can only be happy in the present. The vast majority of the things we worry about will never materialize. Learn to treat past negative experiences as something we flush down the toilet. Is it sane or wise to fish around in a sewer for old memories or experiences? Many only do so out of habit, and habits are very difficult to break.

“If you are depressed,

You are living in the past.

If you are anxious,

You are living in the future.

If you are at peace,

You are living in the present.”

Lao Tzu  

•Do you know anyone who lives just in the past or the future? All of us do. Are these people ever happy? Or are they always bringing others down. Don’t you be this way. Often we have guilt about our imperfect past, anxiety about a future that doesn't exist, and impatience with the present.

•You never have to unlock or even open the red or the green doors unless you want to recall pleasant memories, or to make plans for activities in the future.

Do not be concerned or think about what is on the other side of the doors in the adjourning rooms. Simply live and feel in the present. Do not try to open the door to the past where there is anger and self-pity. Do not try to open the door to the future filled with worries, fear, and anxiety. You are only going to live in the present. You are not going to open the doors and live in the past or the future. Feel the peace and calm of simply living in the present. “You can only be happy in the present” says Dr. O. This is a goal to work towards. It takes great effort and much determination. A Chinese proverb says “What is good, is difficult.”

Recommendations for Controlling Lobbying In the Vermont Legislature

1.Require former legislators must wait a year before lobbying their ex-colleagues.

2.Deprive lawmakers-turned-lobbyists of privileges such as unfettered access to otherwise "members only" areas such as the House and Senate floors and the House gym.

3.One year ban on government employees from lobbying on issues they had worked on.

4.All qualified candidates should have access to public funding –at the very least they could spend more time on the issues and less time dialing for dollars.

5.The Office of the Vermont Secretary of State should expand the present website that displays every piece of legislation that is introduced to become a de facto online forum and clearinghouse, accessible to the general public, for purposes of transparency and accountability. This will be a forum for lobbyists, constituents, and other interested parties to come together to publicly and debate legislation, and in the process provide congressional staff, journalists, and the public access to the best available arguments, information, and ideas about public policy in a way that is easily searchable and sortable. Separate pages would exist for each bill introduced. Some pieces of legislation are incredibly complex, and may require multiple sub-pages for separate titles, sections, and amendments.

6.The Vermont Secretary of State will hire innovative thinkers and programmers to help develop and guide the architecture of these sites as they evolve. (Existing online forums such as Wikipedia, Yelp, and Reddit have all developed innovative mechanisms to usefully aggregate information and could serve as models.)

7.The system must allow individuals to update their comments as new information becomes available, and it has adequate functionality to aggregate, sort, and dis-aggregate comments based on who is writing and what they are saying.

8.Registered lobbyists will be required to first briefly state their client organization’s position on the bill (or amendment or section of the bill), and if they wish, to provide a simple aye-or-nay recommendation.

9.In order for this process to be effective, it must become the required conduit for lobbying.

10.Lobbyists have to file quarterly reports listing their clients, issues, and institutional targets and compensation?


The public and other interested parties will now be able to see who is advocating for what, what their arguments are, and what information they are basing those arguments on. Rather than endless reporting speculating about who is saying what behind closed doors and how special interests are twisting arms, this could shift public debate more to the actual arguments by making those actual arguments and facts more easily accessible and comparable. Public interest groups who can’t afford to hire enough lobbyists to schedule multiple meetings with every office will now have a more level playing field on which to compete. They also will be able to see what corporations are arguing, and will more easily be able to respond to these allegations. Likewise, corporations can respond to any unfounded allegations their critics might be spouting.

Lobbyists should not be relied upon for the following: which amendments to introduce in committee; which amendments to support in committee; how to vote in committee; which amendments to introduce and support on the floor; how to vote on the floor; how much to try to intervene as administrative agencies try to implement rules mandated by legislation.

Some lobbyists might be reluctant to participate. They prefer to tailor their arguments to specific congressional offices and to present different arguments publicly and privately, obscuring their rationales. If this is true, it would seem to make transparency all the more important. If that is indeed the case, lobbyists should welcome the opportunity to participate. By making what they do transparent, this system could help to dispel popular myths that all lobbyists do is put the closed-door hurt on craven lawmakers. Instead, by adopting this system, lobbyists could potentially improve their standing with the public by directing attention to the education and argument parts of lobbying.

One way for these suggestions it to take hold is for a few early adopter legislative offices to signal that they will only seriously entertain lobbying and constituent opinion that comes through this system. The rationale for this could be simple: “If you can’t make a public case for your position, we aren’t interested in talking to you.” Once certain congressional offices announce their intentions to use this system as their primary resource for learning about issues, lobbyists will have a clearer incentive to participate. Once some lobbyists start using the new system, those on the other side of the issue will want to be able to respond to accusations. As the benefits of the system become clear, all offices and lobbyists will eventually adopt this new procedure as the primary clearinghouse for public policy debate and discussion. The most straightforward way would be to simply require that all registered lobbyists must participate. Certainly, this will not and should not entirely replace in-person meeting and phone calls and e-mails, nor is it designed to. In many ways, it has the potential to make in-person meetings more productive, since staffers and members of the Legislature would have more opportunities to brush up on current information and arguments in advance of those meetings.

The quality of public policy depends on many factors, but perhaps the most important of these is the quality of information and argument. All legislation is ultimately written by people making decisions based on their ideas and understandings about how the world works, how the world should work, and how to bridge that gap. Where they get that information from matters. This proposed system will make it more likely that such information is balanced and transparent by providing a central clearinghouse where any member of the legislature, staffer, journalist, or constituent could, at the few clicks of a mouse, learn what different

organized interests, constituents, and members of the House and Senate think about any piece of legislation or amendment: who supports it, who opposes, and why. These suggestions will make lobbying maximally accessible and more accountable.

All of the above recommendations will not put a final end to the disproportionate influence that certain lobbyists or special interests have. Money will presumably still matter, as will relationships, as will constituents, as will party, as will any number of factors. There are many reasons why lawmakers and their staff make the decisions that they do. Special interests will continue to try to influence outcomes by contributing to campaigns and hiring well connected lobbyists, and nothing proposed here will make this entirely irrelevant. But this new system will hopefully render their advantages less influential.

Pete Seeger Tribute

I first met Pete Seeger when I moved to Beacon, NY in 1999. On the first Friday of every month he held a meeting at his Sloop Club in Beacon. The Sloop Club was an offshoot of the Clearwater, which Pete had formed to clean up the pollution in the Hudson River. I made up my mind to meet Pete, and within a year I was the treasurer of the Sloop Club and even lived with my family in Pete’s original small house right next to his home at the top of a private mountain.

I enjoyed accompanying him on the train, or driving him to visits to his doctor in Manhattan or to visit friends. It was amazing to see the crowds of people that gravitated to him in Grand Central Station, or walking down the street wherever we went.

Pete was so humble and kind to everyone he met, inviting some of us to Thanksgiving Dinner with his family. Mickey and I spent weekends with Pete and Toshie and their daughter Tinya. The guest room was on the top floor of the barn that Pete had built himself. It was crowded with boxes of letters, instruments, awards and photographs which were eventually heading to the Smithsonian. There were instructions written on the walls of the bathroom in magic marker on how to flush the toilet and turn on the shower. Mickey was horrified when Pete showed us to the small room, and then expected us to sit down and sing with him. He introduced us to a new song, “God’s counting on You”, and the three of us sang the 8 verses together for the next hour. 

It is still difficult to comprehend that Pete and Toshie are no longer physically with us. Their partnership, their vision for a just and clean planet, and his music and her drive, affected the world for the better, and we will never forget them.

Read More Columns by Offie Wortham OPEN MIND SEASON 1 in the Archive.