Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Your Choice of UE. Any second thoughts?

Okay fellow alumni.  My question of the day is if you had to decide all over again, would you have attended the University of Evansville?  I asked myself that question many years ago.  Since you are a subscriber to this Facebook page, I will first assume that your answer will be yes you would still choose U.E.  There are many alumni from my days at UE who once they left UE did not look back and have not returned. Now for my answer.

Prior to attending UE I grew up in the 1960s and early 1970s in urban inner city environments in Saint Louis, Missouri; Compton, California; and Gary, Indiana.  I did benefit from 8 years of attending elementary Catholic Schools in Saint Louis and Compton, but my high school years were in a public school that did not have a strong curriculum designed to prepare me for college.  Most of the schools I attended from grade school through high school consisted of a student population that was over 98% black students or other minorities.

My face to face interaction with European Americans was limited over the first 17 years of my life.  Those interactions were mostly with teachers in school, and workers in stores.  So why in 1975 did I choose UE?  First, no one in my family had attended college.  I had no parental guidance to assist me in making a college choice.  I did all the research myself to include completing the then paper based applications.  I do not recall hearing much about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) during my high school years.  All I knew is I was seeking a good liberal arts school that would give me financial aid so I could attend college.  Saving money for college?  That was something my parents or me never thought of while I was growing up.  There were no discretionary funds available for a college fund. I grew up in the 1960s when we as black people were just breaking some of the chains that still tied us down from slavery days.  With all that I had seen in the era of the 1960s, I had a somewhat militant attitude towards European Americans.  All I knew is that I was going to college to prepare myself for a career of some type.

In terms of Indiana colleges, for some reason my choices came down to Earlham College and UE.  The University of Cincinnati also became a late entry to consider. I had received some mail from UE advertising their school. I felt that was a sign that maybe the campus desired to attract more minority students.  From my research I knew that UE had a very minuscule black student population.  I visited UE taking a Greyhound bus from Gary.  I recall I over packed for my 2 day visit. I liked what I saw in terms of the campus and decided to attend UE.  I wrote to all the incoming black freshmen in an attempt to build relationships before we even stepped on campus.

I know that my first year I came to UE with a chip on my shoulder.  My attitude was,”yeah, I’m a black student at this white campus, you deal with it!”  I spoke my mind and viewpoints, criticized European American Greek fraternities, posted my militant views on my dorm wall to include an American flag on which I had written the word “Caucasia”.  I had no fears about being a true minority on campus and in the city of Evansville.  I was often the only black student in my class.  It was a precursor of what I would experience most of my life in the real world.

Life at UE to me was just practice for the real world.  As Allen Iverson would say, “we’re talking about practice!” Even at that age I knew that if I aspired to a successful career after college I would need to learn to deal with a European American world.  At UE I had a few friends of European American descent.  But most of my friendships especially in the dining hall were with my fellow black students.

My social skills were terrible then (and not much better now). I became active in student activity organizations at UE.  I interacted well with European American students and teachers for the 5 years I attended UE.  I learned much about the thought processes of those I interacted with.  I did an internship with a Federal agency my sophomore and junior years at UE.  I applied what I learned at UE while on my internships.  My time at UE prepared me for a work environment where I was the only black male in the office.  That was my environment during my internships and in the real world after I graduated from UE.  My time at UE made my transition to the working world seamless.  Would I have had the same seamless transition if I had attended an HBCU?  Maybe.  I think an HBCU might have cared more about me as a person and helped me improve many of my personal skills.  That’s just my guess.

One thing I do know is that I had a very successful career after UE.  Rewards, accolades etc.  I rose up the chain to become a supervisor and manager in Human Resources.  My income was higher than what I had set as a goal during my high school years.  I experienced things I never would have dreamed of while sharing a small room with my two older brothers.  After I left UE I’ve never gone without a meal, never been homeless, never been without a job until I retired.  I’ve been able to give back to charities via money and my time.  I’ve traveled to places that were never a thought to me as a child.  I was able to retire at age 55 with a very generous pension.

UE shaped who I would become after UE.  It was the place I was destined to attend.  I was not the smartest student at UE but I think I got as much out of the school as I could.  Would I have been more successful if I had attended an HBCU?  Who knows?  One regret that I do have is that when I attended UE I didn’t give much thought to the black students who had preceded me. It was not until some 25 years later when I researched the history of black students at UE that I became aware of the many contributions and challenges faced over the years by black students at UE.  But through UEAAA some of that legacy can be defined and passed on to black students who attend now and in the future.

So now fellow alumni it’s your turn.  Would you have chosen UE if you had to decide again?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Trump's Budget

I watched this week as the Office of Management and Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney,  stated that Trump’s proposed budget was an attempt to be compassionate towards those who are paying taxes.  His view apparently is that much tax money is spent unwisely in “entitlement” programs designed to assist people in need.  That view somehow insinuates that those with a high income that allows them to live comfortable lives are being inconvenienced by paying the taxes the system has stated they should pay.  So people who are able to eat regularly every day, pay bills on times, live in $200,000 plus homes, take several vacations each year, stay in time shares or rental homes, pay medical bills without being financially burdened are somehow deserving of compassion??

The White House budget director’s comments seemed to say “don’t feel sorry for the poor, the homeless, those who don’t have opportunities to make their lives better”.  No, feel sorry for the wealthy and the well off who are burdened to have to pay taxes to assist those who are not well off.  This seems a very selfish attitude.  A “me first” attitude.  I got mine, you get yours somehow without my help!

Let’s be fair.  There are many well off people who donate to causes, charities, or even volunteer to help those who for whatever reason are disadvantaged.  But the comments of the budget director appear to be an elitist view of what taxes are meant for.  Apparently taxes are not meant to go to any form of assistance to those who through no fault of their own are not well off.  The view is that the government doesn’t exist to open doors or provide opportunities.

If the government doesn’t exist to open doors than how do people aspire to improve themselves?  Well, let’s look at the history of these United States of America.  European Americans came to this country, inhabited then by Native Americans and took/stole what they wanted.  European Americans took property and made it theirs.  There was no fair compensation to Native Americans.  Any treaties made were one sided towards European Americans or agreements that took advantage of Native Americans.  European Americans understand that open immigration today that allows competitors to enter these United States of America is a danger to the interests of European Americans.  More competition for resources is something they do not advocate.  The demise of Native Americans is a lesson not forgotten by those in control.  Sharing the wealth is not a European American strength.  That is one reason why after the Civil War, Reconstruction policies designed to allow newly freed black people to gain economic wealth were crushed.  Selfish, me first attitudes governed and the government of these United States of America supported the demise of Reconstruction policies.  Forget uplifting people who had been enslaved for hundreds of years in this country.

 “..there’s a certain philosophy wrapped up in the budget, and that is that we are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs.  We're going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programs and get back in charge of their own lives.  We're not going to measure our success by how much money we spend, but by how many people we actually help.”  This statement by the budget director shows that getting people off of programs is the goal.  It does not say how to get those people back in charge of their own lives." commented the budget director. 

It’s fine to pause and reassess the value of entitlement programs and if they are truly working.  But, to claim that “compassion” for taxpayers is the reason and giving people control of their lives?  There’s something wrong with that logic.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Trump Experiment

Well America.  How is that experiment going with a businessman with no political experience being President?  Are you folks in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio who voted for Trump rethinking your vote?  Do you feel safer in a world where North Korea is launching missiles almost weekly and we have Trump as our leader?  Do you have confidence in a President who appears to be an amateur among seasoned world political leaders?  Do you see a President moving out with a well planned agenda to address the myriad of domestic issues in these United States of America?  The economic markets have started to panic at the performance of our Russian connected President.  You may want to move your stocks and other investments into safer areas.
It’s only been 4 months and now we’re moving into investigations of Trumps actions/decisions. Are we going to have to adjust to saying President Pence?  “PP”.  It kind of has a nice ring to it as a quick acronym for number 46.  What’s going to happen next in the Trump administration?  Where are all the great things he spoke about in the campaign? 
What do Presidents do when they are in trouble at home?  They get the hell out of the country and act Presidential in foreign countries. Trump is now headed to Saudi Arabia and among other stops will meet with 50 Muslim leaders over lunch, visit Jerusalem and then meet the Pope in Vatican City.  So we can look forward to stupid comments and embarrassing actions from overseas on the nightly news for 8 days.  Order your pizza, chips, sodas etc. ahead of time.  It should be a show worth watching.  Who knows, maybe he’ll even stop by North Korea on a quick detour and observe a missile launch.

We can only hope that he’ll meet Jesus in Jerusalem or the Pope will exorcise him of all his demons.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Presidential Crisis?

I'm reading a book on James Buchanan, the 15th President of these United States of America. Buchanan was the President just before the American Civil War began.  Buchanan has been deemed by historians as one of the worst Presidents in American History.  He may soon be joined in the worst Presidents club by Donald Trump.

In the span of 4 months, Trump has consistently spoken and acted in an undignified non Presidential manner.  Yes, he became President by winning the electoral college process but he did not win the popular vote.  We expect great things from our President.  Regardless of what the current President says, great things are not coming from the oval office.  Trump's legitimacy as a President is seriously in question.

Trump, his "family" of advisers and his inexperienced staff are showing that they are not ready to lead the nation in the turbulent times we live in.  The American public may have been disenchanted with the political system in 2016, but now is not the time to support an amateur in the White House.  The world is too dangerous to place our lives at risk in the hands of a President who is a narcissist.

We can hope that a miracle happens and the light will come on in Trumps head.  But, their is too much at stake to just hope and pray.  The checks and balances of the American political system need to be implemented and implemented quickly.  We cannot wait until we are at a crisis point to act.

We have witnessed in 1972 how a President can misbehave.  In 1972 President Richard Nixon became embroiled in the Watergate scandal that lead to his resignation.  Will that be the way the Trump Presidency ends?

Monday, May 1, 2017

What Ever Happened to "Win, Win" As an Outcome?

I was watching a network "news" show one morning.  The Vice President of the United States, mentioned that Congress had reached agreement on a piece of legislation that kept the government from shutting down.  One of the news correspondents mentioned the word "compromise" several time.  Unfortunately compromise has not been something that Congress has done well over the past 10 plus years.

In the past decade we have seen political parties become entrenched in viewpoints to the point where nothing is accomplished.  There was a time when people were focused on "win, win" as a strategy.  In "win, win" both parties could gain from a discussion or a deal.  It was the art of compromise.  Instead of defeating the other party, both parties could walk away having gained something.  In a world where there are many divergent viewpoints and opinions there is a need for compromise and give and take.  Unless we develop specific living areas where it is a requirement that everyone agree on everything, we must accept that we cannot always get our way!

It is imperative that we as individuals understand that we cannot force our opinions and viewpoints on others.  Some of us want to make our personal views, the dominant view.  We need to understand that we should not do that.  I call such thoughts  and views the "God" complex.  People who think there is only one specific way to think and believe somehow are placing themselves into a position of being a God on earth.  Such people forget that they are not supreme beings who have the answers to everything.  Those with a "God" complex apparently believe they have a direct communication line with our ultimate Creator, the one who created human beings.

I cringe when I hear people talk about something being the answer to a problem.  My thought is does the proposed answer really benefit everyone?  An example is the current issue about health care coverage.  Congress has been struggling to develop legislation involving health care.  My thought has been that whatever they do, the result will not be beneficial to 100% of the people.  So, what defines a successful health care bill?  If it benefits 80% of the people?  90%?  What is the level of acceptable pain on people?  Is a bill that benefits 80% of the population really a "win, win" proposition?

In such a case the pain caused to the remaining 20% should be a concern.  A way to ease that pain should be sought.  Don't just move on to the next 80-20 solution.  If not, then we as people have come to the conclusion that there must be a winner and a loser in every situation?  We can do better than that.  It may take more work, but a situation that results in a "win, win" for the various parties does seem more compassionate and humane.  Absent compromise comes conflict.  We've all seen how human beings deal with conflict.

As you interact with others during your day, think about the opportunities to compromise on issues rather than seeking your "solution" as being what applies to everyone.