Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1
Sylvester James Gates, Jr. (born December 15, 1950) is an American theoretical physicist, known for work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. He is currently the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park and serves on President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Gates received BS (1973) and PhD (1977) degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His doctoral thesis was the first at MIT on supersymmetry. With M.T. Grisaru, M. Rocek, and W. Siegel, Gates co-authored Superspace (1984), the first comprehensive book on supersymmetry.
Gates was a Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar at MIT (2010-11) and is a Residential Scholar at MIT's Simmons Hall. He is pursuing ongoing research into string theory, supersymmetry, and supergravity at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics.
Gates has been featured extensively on NOVA PBS programs on physics, notably "The Elegant Universe" (2003). He completed a DVD series titled Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality (2006) for The Teaching Company consisting of 24 half-hour lectures to make the complexities of unification theory comprehensible to laypeople. During the 2008 World Science Festival, Gates narrated a ballet "The Elegant Universe", where he gave a public presentation of the artistic forms connected to his scientific research. Gates also appeared in the BBC Horizon documentary The Hunt for Higgs in 2012.....Read More
News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
Hard reality. Color Lines: Why Young, Black Men Can’t Work.
The first thing you notice about Dorian Moody is how easily he laughs. He punctuates conversation on just about any topic with a shy smile and a disarming chuckle. It comes out as a self-mocking accent when he describes his initial boredom with high school. “My mother was like, you can’t fail,” he says with a smirk. “Alright, so I’m gonna give you Ds!” It takes the edge off of his raw pride when he describes his later academic revival, which began after his whole family sat him down and warned he’d be “a nobody” if he kept screwing around. And it softens his chiding response when I comment on the peaceful, spring vibe of his Irvington, N.J., neighborhood, on the western edge of Newark. “Well, go up to that corner and see what the Bloods think of that.”
Moody’s easy laughter emphasizes his already boyish looks, and together they make him seem even younger than his 21 years. But he’s facing decidedly grown-folks challenges today.
When Moody graduated high school, he didn’t yet know what he wanted to do with his life; he knew only that he wanted money urgently. “It’s not cool when you’re 18 and you can’t even buy yourself deodorant,” he says. “I don’t sit well with that. I wanna be able to provide for myself and my family.” He’s the youngest in a family of workers—a brother who’s in security, a sister who’s in daycare, a mom who’s starting a new career in drug counseling at age 69. Moody was eager to chip in, too. And yet, all his ambition notwithstanding, his work life has thus far been shaped by the coincidence of two banal facts: He graduated in the year 2010 and he is a black man.
Today, nearly a fifth of recent high school grads are, like Moody, neither employed nor enrolled in further schooling, according to analysis of federal jobs data by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). “That’s a huge population of young people,” says Alyssa Davis, who co-authored the report. “We are in a bad situation for high school graduates,” she deadpans.
I laugh at how once again pundits weigh in on the black community with polling data or interviewing actual black voters. But here's a great take, blacks in Mississippi saw Chris McDaniel for what he is: A classic Southern reactionary. Slate: Why Mississippi’s Black Democrats Saved an Elderly White Republican.
Yes, by backing Cochran, blacks would guarantee a GOP win in the fall—Democratic candidate Rep. Travis Childers probably had a better chance of defeating McDaniel, with his extremist views, than of defeating Cochran. But Mississippi is the most Republican state in the union; the difference between Cochran and McDaniel is the difference between likely Republican and leans Republican. Either way, Republicans were favored.
In which case, black voters had to choose between the man they knew—a relative moderate who deals in earmarks and largess—and a new man. If you know anything about Chris McDaniel, this wasn’t a hard choice. For as much as he’s described as a generic Tea Partier—an angry, abrasive conservative extremist—the truth is a little more complicated. Remember, the “Tea Party” isn’t a single ideology as much as it’s a collection of related ideologies under a single banner. The civil libertarianism of Sen. Rand Paul, for instance, is distinct from the compassionate conservatism of Utah Sen. Mike Lee, which is distinct from the Goldwater libertarianism of Sen. Ted Cruz.
If McDaniel resembles anything, it’s not a libertarian—although he swims in the current of right-wing libertarianism—as much as it’s a Southern reactionary whose appeal is built on resentment of assorted others, which in Mississippi, inevitably includes black Americans. Take these clips from his radio show, circa 2006, where he mocked complaints of racism, railed against hip-hop as a “morally bankrupt” culture that “values prison more than college,” and promised to stop paying taxes if reparations were ever passed: “How you gonna make me pay for something that I had nothing to do with? How you gonna do that to me? I don’t get it.”
As a state senator, McDaniel has spoken to gatherings of the Sons of Confederate Veterans—a neo-Confederate group that promotes present-day secessionists—and delivered the keynote to a SCV event last fall. Indeed, his rhetoric decries the rise of a “new America” and pines for days of old. “There are millions of us who feel like strangers in this land, an older America passing away, a new America rising to take its place,” he said in a speech after the June 3 election. “We recoil from that culture. It’s foreign to us. It’s alien to us. ... It’s time to stand and fight. It’s time to defend our way of life again.”
Most of the religion news from African focuses on inter religious conflicts (Christian and Muslims) or religious attacks on LGBT, but atheist also are under attack. BBC: Nigeria atheist Bala 'deemed mentally ill' in Kano state.
A Nigerian man has been sent to a mental institute in Kano state after he declared that he did not believe in God, according to a humanist charity. Mubarak Bala was being held against his will at the hospital after his Muslim family took him there, it said.
The hospital said it was treating Mr Bala, 29, for a "challenging psychological condition", and would not keep him longer than necessary.
Kano is a mainly Muslim state and adopted Islamic law in 2000.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) says that when Mr Bala told relatives he did not believe in God, they asked a doctor if he was mentally ill.
Despite being told that he was not unwell, Mr Bala's family then went to a second doctor, who declared that his atheism was a side-effect of suffering a personality change, the group says.
Mr Bala, a chemical engineering graduate, was forcibly committed to a psychiatric ward at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, but was able to contact activists using a smuggled phone, it says.
Nigeria will eventually get its act together (after exhausting every other option). Economist: Why reform is so hard.
ONE of Nigeria’s most reform-minded and articulate governors has been ousted in an election in Ekiti, a south-western state, by a populist who was once impeached following charges, albeit unproven, of embezzling public money. The vote was deemed generally free and fair. The result highlights public resistance to political reform.
The incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi, a member of the All Progressives Congress, Nigeria’s main opposition, was trounced by Ayo Fayose (pictured) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the party that rules Nigeria at the federal level and is backed by the president, Goodluck Jonathan. It was a big win for the government, which hitherto controlled none of Nigeria’s six south-western states and has been struggling with internal divisions; several PDP governors have defected to the opposition. By gaining a gubernatorial foothold in Ekiti the PDP’s chance of victory in next year’s presidential election looks brighter.
In dismissing a forward-thinker, the voters sent out a loud message. After coming to power in 2010, Mr Fayemi laid new roads, improved the university system, presented a plan to get more young people into jobs, created a social-security scheme for the elderly, and cut corrupt wage payments to government workers. But such reforms upset people with a vested interest in the old political system.
A year ago this week the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act. Color Lines: Rethinking Racial Justice Law a Year After the Gutting of the Voting Rights Act.
A year ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act, one of the landmark civil rights laws designed to
protect people of color from discrimination. It marked another blow in a long succession of hostile legal decisions aimed at institutionalizing the notion of “color-blindness,” narrowing the definition of racism, and raising the bar for proving its existence.
The Act, as intended by Congress and most recently revisited and affirmed in 2006, authorized the Department of Justice to “preclear” changes to voting laws in covered jurisdictions that historically discriminated against voters of color. Yet the Court declared Section 4, which specified the covered jurisdictions, to be unconstitutional, in effect, rendering much of the Act unenforceable.
Despite a nationwide surge in voter suppression initiatives, many of which would disproportionately impact and impede voting access to people of color—efforts extensively covered by Colorlines—Chief Justice John Roberts, in the majority opinion, stated that “our country has changed” for the better and that the discriminatory conditions addressed in the Act had “no logical relation to the present day.”
Providing immediate proof of Roberts’ flawed logic and ahistoric analysis, within hours of the decision, Texas, a previously covered jurisdiction which was found to be in violation of the Act as recently as 2012, wasted no time in advancing its voter ID law.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is consistent with modern conservative and restrictive legal theory on race, which defines discrimination as intentional, placing the burden of proof on plaintiffs to prove the malicious motive. This “intent doctrine” however, flies in the face of contemporary social science, which has amassed an impressive body of evidence demonstrating that discrimination is often unconscious, and therefore, unintentional.
For legal advocates committed to anti-discrimination, it has become increasingly constraining and challenging to initiate claims that the courts will view favorably.
Welcome to the Black Kos Community Front Porch!
Pull up a chair and sit down a while and enjoy the company.