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

Erich Jarvis is an associate professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center. He leads a team of researchers who study the neurobiology of vocal learning, a critical behavioral substrate for spoken language. The animal models he studies include songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds. Like humans, these bird groups have the ability to learn new sounds and pass on their vocal repertoires culturally, from one generation to the next. Jarvis focuses on the molecular pathways involved in the perception and production of learned vocalizations, and the development of brain circuits for vocal learning.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).


To accomplish this objective, Dr. Jarvis takes an integrative approach to research, combining behavioral, anatomical, electrophysiological, and molecular biological techniques. The discoveries of Dr. Jarvis and his collaborators include the first findings of natural behaviorally regulated gene expression in the brain, social context dependent gene regulation, convergent vocal learning systems across distantly related animal groups, the FOXP2 gene in vocal learning birds, and the finding that vocal learning systems may have evolved out of ancient motor learning systems.

In 2002, the National Science Foundation awarded Jarvis its highest honor for a young researcher, the Alan T. Waterman Award. In 2005 he was awarded the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award providing funding for five years to researchers pursuing innovative approaches to biomedical research. In 2008 Dr. Jarvis was selected to the prestigious position of Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Jarvis received a B.A. from Hunter College and a Ph.D. from Rockefeller University......Read More

                  News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor


Late actor-playwright Sullivan Walker’s rich legacy of Caribbean themed plays and writings survive in new project. Daily News: Playwright Sullivan Walker’s rich legacy.
The Trinidad-born, New York-based Walker died suddenly in California on Feb. 20, 2012, at 68. He was known for his recurring TV roles on “The Cosby Show” and the sci-fi show “Earth 2,” in movies such as “Crocodile Dundee,” “The Firm,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin,’ ” and onstage in August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running” and the national tour of Broadway’s “Master Harold and The Boys.”

The actor was also enthusiastic about sharing what he’d learned during his career, regularly presenting a workshop called “How to Make it in Movies, Television and Theater with a Caribbean Accent.”

But playwriting was also his great passion and he would show present stage works at local theaters and other accessible venues throughout New York. Walker was masterfully adept at presenting the nuances and peculiarities of Caribbean language, social life and culture, clearly enough to be understood by non-Caribbean audiences and authentic enough to stir treasured memories for those raised in the region.

The writings and plays of Sullivan Walker – the late Trinidad-born actor who made a name for himself on TV, the Broadway stage and in Hollywood films – will live on through a project created by his wife, Carol.


The disproportionate number of high-cost subprime loans in communities of color led to concentrated foreclosures that have effectively re-redlined these communities. Race-Talk: Securing Equal Access to Foreclosure Relief for Communities of Color.
Neighborhoods of color are still reeling from the havoc wrought by the foreclosure crisis. The disproportionate number of high-cost subprime and option ARM loans in communities of color led to concentrated foreclosures and destabilization that have effectively re-redlined these communities.

Now, with limited relief available for some borrowers through federal programs and legal settlements, there is serious concern that this cycle of harm has taken a new turn. Last year’s $26 billion National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) was hailed as a significant step towards holding the largest banks accountable for the abusive servicing behavior that led to unnecessary foreclosures for countless homeowners. It has now been a year since the settlement was finalized, and the latest report released by its National Monitor Joe Smith shows that banks claim to have distributed $16.9 billion worth of consumer assistance in the state of California.

However, an important question plagues this initiative and others like it– who are the customers who were lucky enough to access this relief?

The settlement did not require banks to disclose demographic information about the borrowers or neighborhoods receiving assistance. The banks have refused to release this data, and Mr. Smith has so far declined to collect it. If the banks are truly serving all communities equally and they have nothing to hide, then why do they refuse to release this information?


What's behind the absence of national mourning when young victims of violence are African American? Ebony's Zerlina Maxwell seeks out the perspectives of two experts. Ebony: ENOUGH, Why Doesn't America Care About Dead Black Children?
The public outcry for gun legislation after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was swift and forceful.  Suddenly, there was a narrative shift in the media that something had to be done about gun violence in America. Vice President Joe Biden was tapped to head up a task force with real support from the public and the beltway. The reaction to Newtown, both politically and socially, was appropriate and yet also highlights the lack of response to the almost daily incidents of gun violence in inner city communities like Chicago. Simply put: we respond differently when White children are killed versus when Black children suffer the same fate.

"We are only a few generations away from Black people not having any value in our society beyond being chattel," Tom Burrell[,] author of Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority told EBONY.com. ["]We were judged to be three-fifths of a person and that was because of politics."

This has been a fascinating almost stream of conscientiousness series of post by Josh Marshal, with lots of interesting feedback and comments.  Talking Points Memo: Race, Denial, Obliviousness and Oblivion.
I had a funny experience yesterday, one that taught me on a whole new level the barriers on the way to any significant dimunition of the role of race and racialized politicking in our country. It came from the responseto this post I wrote on the zero sum dynamics of race and American politics.

The gist of my piece was that it’s not so simple as the GOP ‘outreaching’ its way to more support with African-American and Hispanic voters. The kinds of changes the GOP would have to make to get any access to minority voters would inevitably loosen its hold on the white voters whose votes it’s been working to maximize as their share of the population decreases. If you drop anti-immigration politics, English only initiatives, minority voter suppression, overturning civil rights laws and all the rest, some of your white voters are going to start saying, “Hey, why am I a Republican again?”

And that doesn’t even get us to less clearly racialized policies like Health Care Reform where opinions differ markedly across the racial divide.

The point is pretty simple: our politics today is heavily correlated to racial cleavages in our society. If you fiddle with the policy mix on one side, it’s going to have a pretty immediate change on the other side as well. If you go and endorse a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants you’re going to lose some traction with the folks who are mainly politicized around hostility to immigrants. And the same dynamic plays out on all these fronts.

       GOP outreach?


Goma might be considered a war zone by the rest of the world, but local musicians and artists know it a capital of culture. The Guardian: Congo's hidden cultural hub.
Situated on a lake shore, the foot of an active volcano (actually, two volcanoes), the border with Rwanda and on the southern edge of North Kivu province, the city of Goma (map) has had more than its share of disasters, notably the Rwanda genocide (1994), the eruption of Nyiragongo (2002), the eastern Congo wars (1996-2003) and most recently the advance of the M23 rebels, whose headquarters are a stone's throw from the provincial capital. In November they launched an attack on Goma, taking over the city without much resistance from the army.

After a show of strength the rebels marched out again, leaving a trail of looted houses, women who had been raped, more than 1,100 escaped prisoners hiding among the population and a pillaged central bank. The day M23 entered Goma, this video (above) from Kinshasa-based rapper Lexxus Legal's child education album 5eme Doigt was launched, and the bouncy castle, computer graphics and celebrating kids couldn't have offered a more contrasting image of the country.

To the outside world, the advance of the M23 didn't help in providing a more balanced picture of life in Goma. The fact that the city has a budding cultural scene has gone largely unnoticed. Companies creating opportunities for young talent include the Maisha Soul studio, run by the brother of Congolese pop idol Innos'B, radio stations aiming at the youth of eastern Congo such as Mutaani, the Yole!Africa youth centre, Ujadep (Union des Jeunes Artistes Dessinateurs et Peintres), Maison des Jeunes and Maison Proplusion. There are organisations working to strengthen the budding local film industry like Collywood (yes!), Goma Film Project and in the past couple of years a number of new recording artists and music video producers have emerged.

Geographically isolated from Kinshasa, and still a four-hour drive from the Rwandan capital Kigali, artists from Goma don't have many avenues to promote their work. The city is the capital of NGOs though: nearly every western and Congolese aid organisation has an office (or rather: a barbed wire fenced compound flanked with watch towers) here, and some have provided substantial budgets to support local cultural initiatives.


Welcome to the porch, where it's always warm, and the conversations are just fine.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Black Kos on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 01:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Black Kos community and Barriers and Bridges.

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