And, now that 2014 has arrived, I’m faced with the dilemma of making new resolutions or continuing to work on the ones I made last year. Some bloggers make it a requisite to make new years resolutions. That’s what works for them. But I’ve realized that grandiose resolutions don’t work for me. Instead, I am better at assessing what worked, what could have been done better and then proceeding to make ongoing change. In short, resolutions are too static and don’t allow for the dynamism of real life.
I finally finished reading and watching, Invisible Child: Dasani’s Homeless Life. It is the largest multimedia investigative endeavor that the The New York Times has undertaken. So, I am wondering how much it cost to produce this bit of journalism?
Andrea Elliott did a superb job at capturing the complex life Dani and her family lead. For many parts of the article, as a reader I felt like I was right there with them. Despite, Elliott’s journalistic capabilities, the article was really difficult to read. The feelings it stirred inside left me haunted and disturbed for a few hours. Of course, it doesn’t compare to the suffering that Dani and her family endure, but nonetheless I am human and empathize with them.
Scratch that, the 5-part series left me with a deep pang of sadness inside. If I can feel like this, how did the writer and photographer feel throughout the 15-month period of creating this piece?
Seeing a person in need moves me. Sometimes I feel anger. But, the more I evaluate what feelings this investigation aroused, I discover frustration and dose of annoyance. As Ruth Fremson, the staff photographer so eloquently wrote, “I wonder what it says about our society that in one of the wealthiest cities, in one of the wealthiest countries on earth, the city’s own sanctuary provides shredded, rotting mattresses for children.”
A few days ago, a colleague shared Katrin Bennhold’s NYTimes article, Britain’s Ministry of Nudges, with me. In it, Bennhold shows how Britain is using American behavioral science experiments to improve public policy, reduce unemployment, and increase tax revenue.
While I am thrilled about this reinvention of government services, the ethics of such experiments baffles me. Why does the world of academia always choose to experiment on the poor and unemployed without their consent? In this case, the experiments yield favorable results, but what if they did not? Who would be at fault – the scientist or the unsuspecting participant?
New Jersey’s federally run health insurance exchange only enrolled 741 people in the month of October according to an editorial in the Star-Ledger.
It’s disconcerting to see that New Jersey had the opportunity to create their own specific health exchange with $100 to $200 million from the federal government. The funding would have covered the creation of the marketplace and funded it through the first year.
When I read Dan Goldberg’s article, New Jersey hospitals reach out to patients to reduce ER visits, I did a happy dance. In the midst of all the bad press that the Affordable Care Act implementation has been getting, this piece offers a glimmer of hope. It’s such a well-written article showing how doctors and hospital systems in New Jersey are really trying to address the cost issues in our sick care healthcare system. Not only are they sharing data, they’re providing better patient care AND saving money.
So, yes the Affordable Care Act is changing the system for the better.
Jeff Spek, tells us why designing a city for walkers rather than cars makes it a nicer place to live. We probably didn’t need a TED talk to tell us that, but Jeff uses data and pictures to explain it, so you should watch it anyway. Then, you might want to befriend your local city council and encourage them to adopt a complete streets policy.
An introspective editorial about New Jersey’s most overrated governor, Chris Christie, that detailed his political successes, as well as failures.
The Marcus Graham Project presented about the collaboration between Microsoft Surface and the new app, Lisnr at Advertising Week in NYC.
People are still surprised about the level of intelligence, ingenuity and determination that children in inner-city communities have in regard to social media and technology usage. *sigh*
Kayne West did an interview with BBC Radio 1′s Zane Lowe. Basically, Prof. West dropped lots of gems about his personal frustrations with classism, money, power, wealth, racism, and the gift of being an artist but being categorized as only a musician. If you have time, check out part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.
And unfortunately, Jimmy Kimmel and team, trivialized him by using child actors to mock him.
In an interview with Alexandra Zawia of the Hollywood Reporter in August 2012, Harry Belafonte, said,
“And I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.”
To which Jay-Z recently responded with a few lines in a song on his latest album, “Nickles and Dimes,”
“I’m just trying to find common ground/ ‘Fore Mr. Belafonte come and chop a n*gga down/ Mr. Day O, major fail/ Respect these youngins boy, it’s my time now/ Hublot homie two door homie/ You don’t know all the sh*t I do for the homies.”
Mr. Belafonte is 85 years old and vividly recalls working with Martin Luther King, Jr. to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. The landmark piece of legislation outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It also ended the unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public. And, quite frankly it made it possible for many people of color including Jay-Z and myself to be able more fully participate in the American workforce. However, it does not mean discrimination and racism have completely disappeared from American society (that’s a discussion for another blog post).
Mr. Carter is 43 years-old and he’s considered one of the most financially successful hip-hop artists and entrepreneurs in America. According to Forbes, Carter’s net worth is estimated at nearly $500 million. Additionally, he has sold approximately 50 million albums worldwide, received 17 Grammy Awards, is an investor in the Brooklyn Nets, the founder of Roc Nation and the started the Shawn Carter Foundation. So, Mr. Carter is a shrewd entertainer and business mogul. Moreover, mentioning Jay Z’s name in some social circles elicits a laundry list of the negative things he represents – drug dealing, misogynistic song lyrics, and capitalistic exploitation to name a few. Mr. Carter is controversial because he only aligns himself (and brand) with causes that add value to his companies.
Obviously, Mr. Belafonte and Mr. Carter have two different perspectives on social responsibility. Alexis Garrett Stodghill from The Grio, wrote,“Belafonte along with entertainers such as Sidney Poitier and Josephine Baker, are part of an older guard of African-Americans in the public eye for whom it was as important to be politically active as it was to be wealthy and watched.” Further, Mr. Belafonte’s comment signals to the public that it is okay to publicly question another person’s charitable endeavors and stance on social responsibility.
As a young professional, I see this controversy as a larger reflection of the changing economic and social activism landscape. From Mr. Belafonte’s comment, I gather he is dismayed that current African-American celebrities do not share the same level of dedication to social activism that he and his peers had. If Jay Z feels he’s more effective being a entertainment media mogul, so be it. Why is it his responsibility alone to address issues of social injustice the first place?
And since working in the philanthropic industry, I have learned that social responsibility is a complicated idea to practice. And, it is a very personal choice. Yes, billionaires throughout the world are signing The Giving Pledge, but what does it say about larger society when a slight few are able to amass wealth and choose to help those without it? Additionally, not every wealthy person has the best intentions in mind with their philanthropic decisions. Heck, it makes me wonder why Belafonte isn’t publicly critiquing David Koch for his influence in American media and politics?
But at the end of the day, this public frenzy feels like a distraction from a bigger issue – protest and traditional charity are not enough to undo generations of deliberate social inequity.