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Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

As a world food, potatoes are second in human consumption only to rice. And as thin, salted, crisp chips, they are America's favorite snack food. Thus, every time a person crunches into a potato chip, he or she is enjoying the delicious taste of one of the world's most famous snacks – a treat that might not exist without the contribution of black inventor George Crum.

The son of an African-American father and a Native American mother, Crum was working as the head chef in the summer of 1853 at the Moon's Lake House, a resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. At work one hot summer day in August, Crum was in his kitchen when a patron ordered a plate of French-fried potatoes. Cooked to perfection, the potatoes were delivered to the customer, who, turning his nose up, complained that the potatoes were too thick and too soft. Crum cut and fried a thinner batch, but these, too, met with disapproval. Exasperated, Crum decided to rile the guest by producing French fries too thin and crisp to skewer with a fork. Slicing potatoes paper thin, Crum over fried them to a crisp and seasoned them with an excess of salt. Crum then gave the chips to the customer, who, to his surprise loved them.

Almost overnight, Crum's invention became widely popular. Known as Saratoga Chips, the delectably salty treats resulted in a booming business and Crum was able to open his own restaurant in Saratoga Lake in 1860 with the profits he made selling his crisps. As a tribute to the snack that got him started, Crum made sure that customers to his restaurant were greeted with basket of chips on every table. Crum's restaurant flourished and within a few years he was catering to wealthy clients including William Vanderbilt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, and Henry Hilton.....Read More


                  News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor

Yeah this may seem like deja vu. Raw Story: Christian school to bullied African-American girl: Straighten your natural hair or get out.
A Christian school in Orlando, Florida told a 12-year-old African-American girl and her family that she must change her naturally curly, voluminous hair to a more conventional style or face expulsion from school.

According to Eyewitness 10 News, when 7th grader Vanessa VanDyke reported to school officials that she was being bullied and harassed by other students, they issued her an ultimatum.

Administrators told the girl that she had one week to choose between cutting and straightening her hair or leaving the school that she has attended since 3rd grade.

The pre-teen told Channel 6 that she’s proud of her hair.

“It says that I’m unique,” VanDyke said. “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”

School officials have apparently decided that the little girl’s hair poses a danger to the learning process.

“Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction,” reads the school’s student handbook. Hairstyles like mohawks, “rat tails” and shaved designs are forbidden. The handbook itself, however, says nothing about natural or African-American hair.

School administrators took it upon themselves to tell Vanessa VanDyke “change your hair or get out” rather than deal with the children who harassed her.


Meet the man who took on Merrill Lynch's race problem. BusinessWeek: The Man Who Took On Merrill.

But McReynolds couldn’t wait forever to be treated equally by his employer. Over the years at Merrill—he started there in 1983—McReynolds had gotten used to inequities small and large. With only a few fellow black brokers in the Nashville office, he felt isolated. Often excluded from work social events, he took to eating lunch at his desk; if he was out, he says, the receptionist sometimes told callers he didn’t work there. He also noticed that the other African American financial advisers at Merrill were rarely top producers—meaning they generated less business than their white colleagues—though they seemed to work as hard as everybody else.

In 2001 his manager asked him to team up with two younger white brokers, pooling their accounts and splitting the profits. The bulk of the combined accounts came from McReynolds. Right away the three had problems. “We didn’t agree on how business should be done,” he says. After two years the team broke up, and the office manager gave a majority of the accounts to the younger brokers. McReynolds says he lost $40 million in client assets and had to give up his office. His new desk was in a carrel outside the ladies’ restroom. “In this business, assets equal income,” McReynolds says. “It cut my income in half.”

The incident made him consider suing Merrill, but he worried he’d never prevail in court. (Merrill says numerous factors could determine how the accounts were divvied up after so long.) Then, in the spring of 2004, an arbitration panel found Merrill had systemically discriminated against female brokers and awarded $2.2 million to a single employee. The ruling was part of a spate of cases women brought in the 1990s against the financial industry, including the infamous Boom-Boom Room suit against Smith Barney. At the time, women were a third of managers and executives in finance. African Americans made up 4 percent. In 2004, Merrill had almost 10,000 full brokers, not including trainees; fewer than 150 were black.

The women’s victory gave McReynolds hope. Over several months that year, he and Maroc “Rocky” Howard, a former Army captain in Merrill’s Dallas office, talked about filing a lawsuit. The friends, who’d met a decade earlier, knew they faced steep odds.

During the next eight years, their case meandered through the judicial system, its journey marked by personal and professional misfortune, countless legal setbacks, unexpected breakthroughs—and finally redemption, when, last August, Merrill Lynch and McReynolds announced a settlement. In terms of cash, the $160 million won for 1,400 black brokers was a record for a racial bias case.

            Photograph by Jono Rotman


Study finds that internet customers are less likely to buy from black sellers. Daily Mail: How online shopping reveals we're RACIST.
Shoppers are more likely to buy a product advertised from an online classified advert if they think the seller is white, a new study suggests.

A year-long experiment examining the sales of iPods on Craigslist in the U.S. revealed racial bias as black sellers did worse than their white counterparts. The research showed that black sellers got fewer responses and lower offers for their iPods, while shoppers were also less attracted to white sellers with tattoos on their wrists.

The research showed that black sellers got fewer responses and lower offers for their iPods, while shoppers were also less attracted to white sellers with tattoos on their wrists. The researchers posted similar photos of the devices being held by white and black men

The experiment found black sellers receive 13 per cent fewer responses.
Black sellers got 18 per cent fewer offers and the money was 12 per cent lower than that offered to a white seller.

White sellers with wrist tattoos had similar results.

Buyers interacting with a black sellers were 17 per cent less likely to include their names, 44 per cent likely to agree to a proposed delivery by mail and 56 per cent more likely to express concern about making a long distance payment.

U.S. researchers posted 1,200 classified adverts in over 300 areas of the U.S. between March 2009 and March 2010, to test for racial bias among buyers by featuring similar photos of the iPod held by a man’s hand that was wither black, white or white with a wrist tattoo.

The research showed that black sellers got fewer responses and lower offers for their iPods, while shoppers were also less attracted to white sellers with tattoos on their wrists. The researchers posted similar photos of the devices being held by white and black men.

America’s neighborhoods, 45 years after the EHA, remain segregated. In Milwaukee, our most segregated city, 81% of African-Americans would need to move in order for Wisconsin’s largest city to be perfectly integrated. Forbes: Listen To "This American Life" On The Legacy Of Lending Discrimination Against African- Americans.
America’s neighborhoods, 45 years after the passage of the Equal Housing Act, remain segregated. In Milwaukee, our most segregated city, 81 percent of African-Americans would need to move in order for Wisconsin’s largest city to be perfectly integrated; in New York, our largest city, 79 percent would have to move.

Segregation remains in place in part because of prejudice and private sector discrimination, about which I will say more below. But it is also a legacy of Federal policy–a policy that is reviewed in the“This American Life” story, The Missionary. The Missionary was George Romney, who, as Richard Nixon’s HUD secretary, tried to reverse the awful legacy of American housing finance policy with respect to African-Americans. Nixon, being who he was, blocked Romney.

Because the radio story is thorough, I won’t rehash it here, but it is worth emphasizing two particularly nasty things. First, the term redlining arose from maps drawn by the Home Owners Loan Corporation. Colin Gordon of the University of Iowa used GIS to show what the redlining map of St. Louis in 1940 looked like:

The color scheme reflects desirability of neighborhoods for lending, as determined by the HOLC, where the red areas are deemed “hazardous.” You guessed it: the areas to the east, along the Mississippi, is where African-Americans lived. African-American neighborhoods were systematically denied credit.

At the same time the government kept money from flowing to neighborhoods where African-Americans lived, it was also making sure African-Americans were kept away from white neighborhoods. The FHA praised restrictive deed covenants as a mechanism for “stabilizing” neighborhoods.


In the Central African Republic rebels are on the rampage and their foes are fighting back. Economist: A catastrophe in the making?
A POLITICAL crisis in the Central African Republic is on the verge of spiralling out of control. The country of 4.6m people has been in turmoil ever since a rebel group known as Séléka ousted President François Bozizé in March. Human-rights groups say abuses have multiplied. UN and American officials have gone so far as to warn that the conflict is at risk of leading to “genocide”.

Séléka forces from the predominantly Muslim north are hoarding food and prey on civilians. Michel Djotodia, whom they made president, seems to have turned against them and told the rebel forces to disband but they seem to have refused to do so.

Hostility to Séléka has led to the formation of self-defence groups. They are targeting the movement and, in some cases, Muslim civilians, provoking tit-for-tat reprisals. The number of refugees may now exceed 400,000.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s head, says he is preparing plans to send up to 9,000 peacekeepers to the country, pending a Security Council resolution. But that could take months, whereas humanitarian organisations are calling for immediate action. Should there be a “precipitous deterioration in the situation”, says Mr Ban, the UN might respond on an emergency basis, drawing on troops from neighbouring peacekeeping missions. The UN has eight of them in Africa, including Congo, Darfur, Mali and South Sudan.

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Originally posted to Black Kos community on Fri Nov 29, 2013 at 01:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges.

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