Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1
Charles Richard Drew (June 3,1904 –April 1,1950) was an African-American physician, surgeon, and medical researcher. He researched in the field of blood transfusions, developing improved techniques for blood storage, and applied his expert knowledge to developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II. This allowed medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces. The research and development aspect of his blood storage work is disputed. As the most prominent African-American in the field, Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, an action which cost him his job.
Drew was born in 1904 into an African-American middle-class family in Washington, D.C.. His father, Richard, was a carpet layer and his mother was a school teacher. Drew and his siblings grew up in DC's Foggy Bottom neighborhood and he graduated from Dunbar High School in 1922. Drew won an athletics scholarship to Amherst College in Massachusetts from where he graduated in 1926. An outstanding athlete at Amherst, Drew also joined Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He attended medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, receiving his M.D. in 1933 as well as a Master of Surgery degree, and ranked 2nd in his class of 127 students. A few years later, Drew did graduate work at Columbia University, where he earned his Doctor of Medical Science degree, becoming the first African American to do so.
In late 1940, before the US entered World War II and just after earning his doctorate, Drew was recruited by John Scudder to help set up and administer an early prototype program for blood storage and preservation. He was to collect, test, and transport large quantities of blood plasma for distribution in Great Britain. Drew went to New York to direct the United States' Blood for Britain project. The Blood for Britain project was a project to aid British soldiers and civilians by giving US blood to Great Britain.
Drew created a central location for the blood collection process where donors could go to give blood. He made sure all blood plasma was tested before it was shipped out. He ensured that only skilled personnel handled blood plasma to avoid the possibility of contamination. The Blood for Britain program operated successfully for five months, with total collections of almost 15,000 people donating blood, and with over 5,500 vials of blood plasma. As a result, the Blood Transfusion Betterment Association applauded Drew for his work. Out of his work came the American Red Cross Blood Bank......Read More
News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
This shouldn't need to be stated but does. ColorLines: Rachel Jeantel is Not on Trial!!!
19-year-old Rachel Jeantel is in day two of testimony in the George Zimmerman trial. While Zimmerman is the one who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Jeantel has been the target of hateful comments—by both traditional and social media.
Jeantel’s testimony has been fraught with visibly difficult moments, including an explanation about the deep guilt that she’s felt since coming to terms with the fact that she was the last person to speak with Trayvon by phone before George Zimmerman killed him. In the courtroom, prosecution and defense attorneys, as well as the judge presiding over the case, have made multiple statements that they don’t understand her when she speaks.
To be clear, Jeantel simply speaks like someone with a southern drawl—but the courtroom’s white administrators keep making references to her black vernacular as she tries to explain one of the most tragic experiences in her life: the loss of Trayvon Martin, whom she first met while in second grade. Zimmerman defense attorney Don West has been especially, and perhaps unethically, harsh on Jeantel—repeatedly leaving the podium, approaching Jeantel, and berating her with scheduling and procedural questions that are legally outside of his purview. He’s been reprimanded on several occasions by the judge, often for incessantly asking the same question over and over again, despite Jeantel already providing a clear answer, and also for speaking over her.
Pundits are having a field day remarking on Jeantel’s “unpolished” testimony. And again, for clarity, Jeantel is a witness only because she was the last person to speak with Trayvon by phone; her testimony describes the way Trayvon was stalked by Zimmerman, and ultimately taken down to the “wet grass.” She is not a legal expert, and at 19, she is barely an adult. Social media, meanwhile, has exploded with racist and sexist reactions—especially on Facebook and Twitter. Jeantel’s size has also become a point of controversy.
Another look at the SCOTUS decision. In the Supreme Court’s much awaited first ruling on affirmative action, the justices basically decided not to decide. ColorLines: The Affirmative Action Non-Ruling, Explained.
After months of anxious waiting for what many believed would be affirmative action’s death knell, what exactly does this ruling mean for admissions policies that consider race? Settle in and let’s translate the legalese together.
What Was Decided?
An important, if technical detail. In a seven to one decision, a coalition of liberal and conservative justices agreed that the lower courts had not properly applied the “strict scrutiny” standard of review—essentially, the constitutional test for when government can consider race—when they weighed Abigail Fisher’s complaint against the University of Texas admissions program.
As such, the justices sent the case back to the lower courts to try again. Only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted to simply uphold the University of Texas program. In her 20 years on the Supreme Court, Ginsberg has been one of the most consistent supporters of civil rights and yesterday’s dissent merely continues that legacy.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, held that in applying the strict scrutiny test, the lower courts gave too much deference to the university in making decisions on whether to have an affirmative action program and on how it should be structured. The lower courts presumed that the university had followed the law—at least as it is presently defined, by the Supreme Court’s 2003 affirmative action decision. This meant that they left the burden on the plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, to prove that either the law was wrong, or the methods chosen by the university to follow it were wrong. In rejecting the lower court’s decision, the Supreme Court has shifted the burden off of Fisher and onto the university.
The majority ruled that once the university decided to use race in its admissions policy, it—not the plaintiff—assumed the burden of demonstrating that it could do so in accordance with the standards of strict scrutiny. And that means the program requires both a compelling reason to justify itself and a narrowly tailored method of achieving its goals.
The court’s previous decisions have established the law allows universities some leeway toward the goal of achieving diversity, if a university’s choice to consider race is “essential to its educational mission.” But even this limited deference does not apply to the means chosen to reach a diverse end. As Justice Kennedy wrote yesterday,
Will only elite wealthy colleges end up with racial diversity? Slate: The Double Secret Danger in the Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling.
For supporters of affirmative action, the Supreme Court’s opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas, Monday’s ruling on affirmative action, is like Animal House’s double secret probation. The Supreme Court did not end race-based affirmative action programs. Instead, the majority of seven doubled down on “strict scrutiny”—the relatively exacting standard courts use to assess whether the government can make a law that treats people differently on the basis of race. This isn’t new—the federal courts have applied strict scrutiny to race-based affirmation action for 35 years, requiring programs to be “narrowly tailored” to serve a university’s “compelling interest” in the pedagogical benefits of diversity. But if the court’s previous rulings already required strict scrutiny, Fisher imposes double secret strict scrutiny.
But Fisher still leaves several questions unanswered. The court said that before turning to traditional affirmative action, schools have to prove that “no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.” How will we know? Back in 1996, when U.T. used race explicitly, it admitted an entering class that was 4.1 percent black and 14.5 percent Hispanic. Then it turned to a race-neutral admissions policy (the Top Ten Percent plan, with automatic acceptance for the best 10 percent of each high school’s graduating class) and the admitted class was 4.5 percent black and 16.9 percent Hispanic. Because the numbers are similar, it may look as if adding race-based affirmation action was unnecessary. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. Many at UT felt the Top Ten Percent plan was a blunt instrument that didn’t allow admissions officers to consider the varying quality of different high school programs in the state: They worried that the students admitted this way were not on the whole as qualified as those admitted under the more flexible approach that included affirmative action. And the Top Ten Percent plan only worked because Texas’ neighborhoods and high schools are highly segregated. So universities that draw applicants from a pool of less segregated high schools couldn’t use a similar approach.
Another open question: What exactly is a race-neutral means of achieving racial diversity? Some opponents of affirmative action argue that a properly crafted class-based affirmative action plan would yield significant racial diversity. But in order to even get close to the type of racial diversity most affirmative action plans achieve, it’s not enough to simply consider family income or even wealth. You need to include a long list of factors, such as the educational achievement of the applicant’s parents and grandparents, median income of the applicant’s neighborhood, whether English is the main language spoken at home—the list goes on. At some point, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her Fisher dissent, you have to wonder whether such a “race-neutral” alternative is really just a disguised and hobbled form of regular old affirmative action.
This brings us to the secret part of Fisher’s double secret strict scrutiny. The court’s focus on race-neutral alternatives encourages universities to pursue racial diversity by proxy, or to hide race consciousness in increasingly subjective and individualized reviews of admissions files. Texas’ Top Ten Percent plan, Ginsburg reminds us, is as race-conscious as any affirmative action program: It was devised precisely because admitting a sample of students from each racially segregated public school would guarantee racial diversity at the college level. Any admissions policy that uses class considerations to produce racial diversity has the same problem.
President Barack Obama has a strong record when it comes to diversifying the bench. But in the Northern District, one minority group hasn't benefitted — his own. The Recorder: Why Black Judges Are Vanishing From the Bay Area Federal Bench.
The number of black federal judges in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose has dwindled as those who broke barriers a generation ago have departed or taken senior status. So far, not one African-American has been named to succeed them.
As recently as 2008, there were four black judges on active status. Today, only Phyllis Hamilton, 60, handles a full caseload.
On Thursday, Obama nominated Shearman & Sterling partner James Donato and Judge Beth Labson Freeman of San Mateo County Superior Court, both white, to fill two pending vacancies on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The situation is spurring reflection and a call to action from African-American lawyers and judges, minority bar groups and others who advocate for diversity on the bench.
"The Northern District is at a crossroads," said Bingham McCutchen partner Raymond Marshall, a member of Senator Dianne Feinstein's judicial advisory committee for the Bay Area.
He declined to discuss the committee's role interviewing and recommending potential candidates for the federal bench, as the senators keep that process private, but said the diminished number of black judges is a concern.
"There is a heightened and increasing sensitivity to the need to maintain if not increase the presence of African-American judges on the bench," he said. "It's something that is clearly understood to be front and center."
Image: Jason Doiy/The Recorder
Africa's euphoria over Obama's election gave way to disappointment in his focus, and its growing confidence has made diplomacy with the U.S. less important. LA Times: Obama's Africa visit will take him to a changed continent.
When a newly elected President Obama zipped through Africa in 2009, he was given a hero's welcome on the continent of his father's birth. This week, after four years away and few major initiatives aimed at Africa, Obama will return as a prodigal son.
Initial euphoria over the election of the first African American U.S. president has given way to disappointment with his perceived lack of interest and action on issues in Africa not related to America's security.
Obama's six-day tour — of Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania — is designed to reinvigorate Washington's flagging engagement and reward countries that have made democratic transitions. At the same time, the president will avoid influential nations whose leaders are deemed too controversial or corrupt.
For African leaders, who are increasingly used to welcoming delegations of senior Chinese officials, the declining U.S. visibility seems less important than it would have a decade ago, when the relationship with Washington was paramount, analysts say.
Some of the world's fastest-growing countries are in Africa. The dramatic expansion of the middle class, cellphone ownership and the Internet are creating vast new opportunities. Young Africans — and their leaders — appear confident, assertive and less anxious about being in or out of favor with the U.S.
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