I have always been fascinated by the term “white collar crime.” It makes it seem as if stealing lots of money is not as bad as stealing a small amount. It rarely results in punishment that fits the crime. Yet the small-time thief is often thrown under the jail, like the guy who stole $20 from a parking meter and was sentenced to 10 years.
Contrast that with the fallout from the recently exposed Wells Fargo Bank scam, in which two million credit cards and customer accounts were opened using phony signatures and email addresses. More than 5,000 low-level employees got fired for trying to meet impossible sales targets set by their supervisors. The CEO said it was all their fault, as if thousands of bank workers making $12 an hour woke up one morning and decided to defraud their customers. Not one manager was terminated. And even if the CEO eventually loses his job, he will reportedly walk away with company stock that grew to be worth more than $200 million because of the scam. That’s on top of the $19.3 million salary he was paid last year. Continue Reading Wells Fargo
Sunday’s Washington Post interviewed two African American activists about political strategies for black communities: Erika Totten, 33, a co-creator of the District Black Lives Matter group; and Courtland Cox, 75, head of the SNCC Legacy Project, and veteran of violent voter registration campaigns in the South during the sixties.
Because the two-party system is “corrupt,” Totten said, “Thinking about voting the lesser of two evils, there are many people that feel I’m just not going to vote for evil at all.” She favored, instead, working “on the ground level” to change her community.
Cox, on the other hand, quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. to caution that “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Continue Reading Vote to Make Black Lives Matter!
When leaders of the British colonies grew weary of being oppressed by their motherland, they called upon the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” and vowed to revolt. In 1776, they wrote a Declaration of Independence. In that document they laid out principles for a new kind of nation, one of enlightened self-interest. For the first time in history, a nation would be founded and based on the self-evident truths that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . . Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Continue Reading America in Black and White Part III – Aspirational America
What if America were all white? Would life be better for its citizens? Yes, it would be, in Aspirational America, where all are supposed to be endowed with “inalienable rights,” among them “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Continue Reading America in Black and White Part II – Is it Just Race?
As president of the public institution of higher learning in and for the nation’s capital, and out of a sense of obligation and intellectual honesty, I feel compelled to comment on the article that appeared in the Sunday, July 24, 2016, edition of the Washington Post titled “What whites mean when they say race relations are bad.” I hope that my words provoke thought and stimulate honest conversation.
We recently discussed the attached Power Point presentation in a Town Hall meeting at the Community College. In a nutshell, if the District Council approves the Mayor’s recommendation, we will have an additional $5m of non-recurring funds in FY 17 as compared to FY 16. Based on recent campus wide Town Hall meetings held by Mr. Stovall and the budget committee, we have a good idea of what your priorities are, and are building the FY 16-17 budget accordingly. Continue Reading The Big Question
Last week I participated in an Aspen Institute study headed by one of our Board members, Josh Wyner. I was part of a group of regional presidents who discussed the skills that university presidents of the future will need to be successful. It was an enjoyable conversation, but by the end of the day the list of required skills was long and varied. It ranged from political savvy and budgetary acumen, to having a comfort with communications and a basic knowledge of social media.
Later at home, I reflected on the experience, and connected the day’s process to our work at UDC. It occurred to me that even though the other university leaders and I had spent four hours contemplating what a modern president needs to be able to do, I found myself considering one particularly important skill: the ability to find common ground.
In a world of shrinking available resources and global competitiveness, where various constituencies see success as a zero sum game, perhaps building consensus and finding common ground is the most important skill a president must possess. Continue Reading Common Ground?
Last October, one of my students – a young Black man – held open a door for an overburdened woman with a baby carriage so that she might more easily enter the ATM lobby of a bank. This thoughtful gesture was met with someone calling 9-1-1, saying that my student and his friend “looked suspicious.” Responding to the call and without asking questions, police wrangled an innocent young man to the ground and detained him.
Similarly, storeowners in trendy Georgetown guard against their “dis-ease “of what they deem as suspicious- looking shoppers with a downloaded app to track and share information about potential threats. It’s somehow more than just coincidence that seventy percent of the people they thought might steal something are Black. Continue Reading “Unfinished Business: Thoughts on the Nation’s Future”