Voter Fraud or Voter Suppression

Not too long ago in the South, where I live, and in much of the rest of the nation, a voter didn’t need to worry about carrying identification to the polls on Election Day. My, how things have changed. Today, voter ID laws have spread across the nation like kudzu, from Alabama to Alaska. But coming from Georgia (a state with something of a record of disenfranchising her people) I have to ask: Is voter ID needed to prevent voter fraud or are these laws a way to suppress the vote? There are reasons to suspect the latter.

An Unjust Solution

Not long ago in Georgia, a six-year-old named Salecia Johnson was handcuffed and taken from her elementary school to the local police station. The school chose to do this, instead of sending her to time-out, or home to her parents or to the principal’s office. Zero tolerance in our schools has become an excuse for a blatant abdication of leadership, fairness, compassion, and common sense. When children are arrested for being children (Salecia apparently had a temper tantrum, something the local police in Millidgeville, Ga., figured out after they all went down to the station) who is impacted, what are the implications for our future, and what can we do? Increasingly, it is children with disabilities and minorities who are impacted the most.

Addiction, Recovery and the Dangers Young People Face Today

Robotripping, dank, bath salts, spice, triple C’s, skittles, Roxies, Oxys, Xanibars, K2, if these names don’t sound familiar, the current trends in juvenile drug abuse are as surprising to you as they were to me. A recovering addict myself, I was alarmed to learn what kinds of drugs are being used by our youth today.  The drugs are mostly synthetic, increasingly lethal, tend to require medically supervised withdrawal, and, in many cases, are undetectable by drug test. In 2010, SAMHSA reported 10.1 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 were current illicit drug users.   That same year, the rate of current illicit drug use was higher among young adults aged 18 to 25, stood at 21.5 percent. The rate of binge drinking in 2010 was 40.6 percent for young adults aged 18 to 25. Heavy alcohol use was reported by 13.6 percent of persons aged 18 to 25.  According to the CDC about 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.

The Tragic Case of Trayvon Martin and the Danger of Stereotyping


“This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black,” George Zimmerman told a police dispatcher on Feb. 26, 2011.  Moments later he shot and killed an unarmed, 17-year-old. Trayvon Martin is the latest fatality in the deadly, insidious disease of stereotyping young black males as “dangerous.”

“I will never look suspicious to you, even if I have a black hoodie, a pair of jeans and white sneakers,” wrote Michel Skolnik, who is white, in a commentary about the Trayvon Martin murder. You are right Michel. White young men, no matter how many piercings, how baggy the pants are, tend to be seen as possibly mischievous or youthfully exuberant, but a threat?

Tattoo you? Beware the Dangers

Did The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo request a new sterile needle and individual packets of ink when she got her elaborate body art? As the debate rages on, whether tattoos and body piercings are vehicles of self-expression or body mutilation, body art is on the rise. And chances are, not everyone is practicing safe tattoo. According to a 2010 Pew Research survey 38 percent of millennials (that’s the term demographers like to use to – loosely — refer to those born between 1980 and 2000) has a tattoo, and for most, one is not enough. OK, I don’t have one, but I’m a little older.

Food is Fundamental, Only Don’t Ask Newt Gingrich

On January 21 Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina Primary. But he did it, in part, by using racist rhetoric, characterizing President Obama as “the best food stamp president in American history.” Since then, he has continued to drive this distortion hoping it will somehow resonate with voters. It’s not likely to work, because most Americans understand that food is fundamental. Presidents do not put people onto the food stamp rolls.

Two Candidates Out of Touch With the Struggles of Ordinary Americans

Back in the fall, a recent college grad named Adam Valdez spoke at a press conference in Atlanta put on by Jobs With Justice, an organization that is part of a larger movement working towards social and economic justice. During his short speech, he talked about a mountain of student loans and a desert of decent paying jobs.  Then he mentioned, “wage slavery.”

He was just one kid, on one block, in one American city. But he was hitting on a reality facing so many young people today. There aren’t many jobs out there and the ones they can find hardly pay a living wage. I’ve been thinking about Adam Valdez the last few weeks as I’ve watched the leading GOP contenders for the nomination — Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich –- attack each other.

Josh Harvey-Clemons and the Role of Grandparents Everywhere

Josh Harvey-Clemons, the No. 2 outside linebacker prospect in the nation, and the No. 1 overall prospect in Georgia could have his pick of colleges to choose from when he graduates high school this year. The 17-year-old, 6-foot-five, 200-pound senior, from Valdosta — down in south Georgia — finished the 2011 season as the Region 1-AAAAA defensive player of the year, while also being named to the first National All-State team. But this talented teen has narrowed his choices to three schools.

Giving Workers a Good Tip and a Living Wage

Imagine your wages frozen for two decades at $2.13 per hour. No, I am not talking about a Third World sweatshop. The kid who put your groceries in the car, the waitress who served you dinner at your favorite restaurant last week, the guy or girl who vacuumed out your car at the car wash. All these are tipped workers and their wages in the United States have been frozen for 20 years. Passage of The Wages Act (HR 631) would make progress in closing the gap between tipped workers, many of them young, and all other workers.