It was good to see conservatives and liberals agreeing on Morning Joe and elsewhere that decades of systemic economic failure are creating a permanent underclass in Baltimore and throughout America. At the same time there’s a need to recognize that people have been not only saying this for some time, but also acting to prevent the present crisis. One participant in CNN’s Black In America Part 4 Silicon Valley documentary in 2011 noted:
As I said in the documentary, not fixing this problem ultimately leads to a permanent underclass. And if you think Occupy Wall Street is a troubling signal regarding dissatisfaction around wealth distribution, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I fear the growing wealth disparity, particularly along racial and ethnic lines, will be catalyst for significant civil unrest.
Commenting in 1982 on the 1965 Watts riots, the late community pioneer and founder of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee Ted Watkins said:
If we continue in the direction that we are heading in cutting out all of the support a community like this is getting. Not only Watts but New York, Washington D.C. and Detroit MI, possibly, people will be at war.
A Practical Man
Perhaps what’s needed most is a sense of urgency and the will to move beyond relying primarily on protests and government programs. We don’t have all of the science, technology, engineering and math resources we need but we have enough to start making an impact right now today. We can’t “buy black” if there’s no black company making the product, but we can choose how we spend our money so that we can invest in ourselves, our past and present knowledge of how to make products.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Nichelle Nichols had a very fortuitous encounter at an NAACP fund raising event in Beverly Hills after the first year of the Star Trek television show which changed not only her life but countless others. MLK was a very expansive thinker, well aware of the benefits of space exploration even at a time when African-Americans made up only a percent or two of U.S. engineering workforce. Earlier that week Nichelle had decided to leave the show and return to her roots in musical theatre. When she mentioned that to Dr. King, she says he insisted that she stay, that her role was of historical importance(see other accounts by Wall Street Journal and CNN). He convinced her to stay and millions of people of all ethnicities were exposed to the notion that a woman of color could be fourth in command of an intergalactic starship. He understood that it was more than a television show. I suppose we can speculate how clearly he envisioned from the mountain top that Nichelle would inspire people like former astronauts Mae Jemison and Charles Bolden, that Dr. Jemison would bring Star Trek into space:
A quarter of a century after Lt. Uhura boldly went where no African American had gone before, her protegee returned the favor. Before blasting into orbit aboard the Endeavour in 1992, Jemison, the first woman of color in space, called actress Nichelle Nichols to thank her for the inspiration. And then she made a promise: Despite NASA’s rigid protocol, Jemison would begin each shift with a salute that only a Trekkie could appreciate. “Hailing frequencies open,
and appear in an episode of the Star Trek The Next Generation tv show,
that Charles Bolden would become the director of NASA. However, one thing we know for certain is that for just about two more years, the Director of NASA and his boss are African-American. During this time every historic accomplishment at NASA happens under
their our watch. During Black History Month this year, I’ll be tracking those historical events along with other aspects of African-American historical endeavors in both physical and virtual space.
It is impossible to absolutely seal every border and as long as there’s a growing number of ebola infected people the virus will spread. Stopping the outbreak where it is and improving healthcare infrastructure everywhere else is the answer.
Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are already economically isolated because this epidemic has spread far wider and lasted much longer than any other Ebola outbreak in history. What those countries need most now is assistance from the world.
More flight restrictions will only make it more difficult for life-saving aid and medical professionals to reach West Africa. The restrictions already in place have proved so problematic that U.S. military forces are building an “air bridge” to get health workers and medical supplies to affected areas.
“Any discontinuation of transport will affect humanitarian aid, doctors, nurses and human resources entering the country, the transfer of biological sampling and equipment for hospitals,” Daniel Menucci, a representative for the World Health Organization Travel and Transport Task Force, said in August. “All of this needs international transporting, international airlines. This will create more problems in helping the countries most affected.”
The Mars Curiosity Rover has reached Mount Sharp its primary destination for exploring Martian geology. 17 years ago, Curiosity’s ancestor Sojourner became the first rover to land on another planet. A decade before Sojourner’s launch, NASA’s current leader and interplanetary history maker Charles Bolden was commanding a Shuttle mission. Congratulations are in order for both Bolden and Sojourner Truth!