Friday, November 27, 2015

Why are there so few Native American PhDs?

We in academics who are interested in finding and hiring minority faculty -- specifically Native Americans -- are asked why there are so few PhDs to pick from. When there are open faculty positions listed, programs are flooded with non-minority applicants -- and they are very well qualified to boot. It is easy to justify hiring non-minorities when there are so many overly qualified folks to pick from, and there are so few minority applicants without the "right kind" of education, training and scholarly experiences on their resume.

So, when asked why there are so few Native American applicants to pick from, it is so complicated, a typical sound bite response usually is the only result. It is difficult to frame, know how to begin or where to begin.

Because I am interested in education when I read this article I thought about all of the poor responses to this on-going question. While there are additional layers to this problem, the article, link below is a great response to why there are so few Native American PhDs. I hope you will read it. Peace, DAP

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Do our values show up in our policies?

Why I asked you a question on Facebook...

A very generous colleague of mine who directs a research center has years of data indicating that children, mostly very poor children, who have assets like 529 college savings, experience improved health and wellness outcomes.

Although his distractors say that the child’s parents, more specifically, the child’s mother will spend the child’s savings, his research indicates parents leave that money alone as it is viewed as helping their children get an education and out of poverty.
The problem is that although there is sound, historical data supporting efforts to provide saving accounts for new born children, this idea does not sit well with policy makers. There are states that provide modest saving accounts for children and this was accomplished by framing this effort as – “job readiness.”

We began to discuss how to develop a different framing in order to better connect with folks.

I think to reach and get the attention of a large audience the approach has to tap into something that is deep, personal and equally shared across gender, age, politics, etc. For instance, consider the statement, “No child left behind.” This was the work of Ted Kennedy (D) and George W. Bush (R).

In reality, the general American public cares little about child welfare. However, the general American public does “support our troops.” Americans hold the idea/value that on the battle field; we will leave no soldier behind. It is un-American to abandon anyone in war. It is a crime to “abandon your post.” Our most valued heroes are those individuals who were willing to sacrifice themselves to save others.

The framing of No Child Left Behind, hits deep with us. We are all in favor of not leaving anyone behind – especially children.

Think about the recent events where our government used its resources to return one American hostage held in Afghanistan for several years after he left his Army unit (NOTE: After rescuing him, he is now being charged for abandoning his post and could go to prison). Where ever Americans go in the world, they are protected and valued by our idea of what it means to be an American. President Carter failed when attempting to go after hostages in Iran. Americans were upset not at the attempt – but the failure.

It is a deep seated American value that we leave no American behind.

Our “academic” framing of helping children in poverty has to tap into that same broad American value.

The above link is a story about a man who entered a school bus, killed the bus driver and took a child hostage. The dead bus driver was an instant hero. The child is the victim and the man who took the child was the villain.

Every American – every human – values the safe return of that child. Every American agrees with the framing of that story and the players involved.

If Al-Qaida, ISIS or any “outsider” took a group of American children hostage and forced them to live in a rundown shack, feed them just enough to survive, did not provide them with medical care when sick, and blamed them for their own situation – Americans would demand, at any cost, to bring them home.

However, there are about 16 million children “held hostage by poverty.” Poverty forces children to live in inadequate structures. Poverty forces malnourishment. Poverty forces children to live without proper medical care.

If poverty was a foreign government, Americans would not allow this treatment to our children.

Unfortunately the idea of defending children or declaring a “war on poverty” carries a military framing. Also, the war on poverty was declared in the Johnson administration and ended in the Clinton administration with the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.  

War or defending framing is powerful and Americans are strongly connected to warriors. Below is the ending of the recent “American Sniper” movie. This sniper had 160 confirmed kills in Iraq and Afghanistan – killing men, women and children.

A war or military framing widely connects with folks and is a deep value. However, these are played out. Declaring war on anything has been a mess.

Considering a different framing

There is however an American value that is also deep rooted and baked into our DNA. Whenever there is a crisis or life-threatening situation people value who gets protected first. This has beginnings with a sinking boat, in the novel Harrington: A Story of True Love, 1860.

Women and children first!

It was later widely expected and popularized during the sinking of the Titanic.

The “captain going down with the ship” was also expected during the same time. This is a very powerful value.

Americans love heroes and would love better to be one.

Above is a story where Captains did not go down with the ship. They saved themselves – being one of the first off the ship. People were furious with these self-seeking captains and one will most likely go to prison.

The value that women and children are first is very powerful and cuts across all types of Americans. And those adults who save themselves first, is out of step with that value.

A greater and deeply seated value is the idea of “women with children go first.”

Females with children in many cultures are treasured. In the animal world, such as wolf packs, females and pups are the highest priority. Wolf packs are structured just like human families.

The mother and pups remain in a den and are protected by the other wolves. All the adult wolves take care of the pups. Adults bring food to the mother so she can care for her young. When the pups begin to eat meat, all adult wolves brings food to the pups, play with them, and make sure they are safe.

Wolves will fight to the death in order to protect their pups. Their system and survival depends on the health of their females and pups. These behaviors are directed by Mother Nature (DNA). When faced with the choice to protect themselves or their young – there is no choice. They do not stop and consider things. They don’t evaluate or plan the outcomes. Behaviors and nature are interwoven.

American families hold similar DNA.

Often times we focus on new policies without ever looking at or debating our current policies.

So, to play out our current policies: if a group of Americans were face with a crisis, like being inside a burning building, the natural, innate act would be to ensure women with children get out first.

This is why I asked that question on Facebook. Most responses were in favor of the woman holding the child being first out of a burning building. We value – in our behaviors – protecting mothers and their children. Honestly, who could be against this? This is cooked within our DNAs.

I asked on my Facebook post:
Question: If you were in a burning building with a group of other folks, who would you pick to be FIRST out the door? Assume they are all healthy.

Middle aged man
 Teenage female
 Female holding her baby
 Retirement aged female
 Teenage male
 Middle aged female
 Teenage male

Who is FIRST to safety? – pick only 1

Female holding her baby. Why?
Female holding her baby
Male not make
Is this a trick? You have teenage make twice?
Female holding Baby
Female holding her baby
Female w baby
Female holding the baby
Female w/baby - not because there's anything special about women & children but because it's two for one.
Female holding baby because all would let her go first
Female holding the baby, although may not be my choice to choose who goes first. Teenagers would be last. Haha
Female holding baby
wondering why "self " is not on the list? baby is first....
The first person I came to. They all hold unique value.
Why are they standing around waiting to be dismissed from a burning building? They are all healthy and can make the decision to run or perish.
female w baby
 (Please note that this Facebook question is not scientific as I pick my friends because they most likely have similar values.  I may need to de-friend a few folks as the result of this question though!). 

From our current policies, if older people were in a burning building along with other community members, these older folks would be allowed to push aside or basically run over women with children. Older people get out of the building first.

Now, we value our elders and should. When I asked my youngest son, who is 13 ¾, he picked women with children to get out first. His second pick were elders. I asked a follow up question: Son, if you were the elder in a burning building would you pick yourself to leave before others, like getting out before teenagers or anybody else? He quickly responded – no. 

Under our current policies, if the Titanic happened today, life boats would be filled first with older folks.   

In the good ole US of A

The elderly, by law, get: $1.2 trillion.

Our children, get: $444.7 billion.

The largest category for children's spending is tax credits.

These behaviors (policies) go against our DNA and are also Un-American.

Our American heroes/elders would not allow this to happen. And people want the opportunity to be a hero.


This framing taps into an old, established value that women with children are precious members who must be protected and respected.

If potential danger approaches, we sacrifice ourselves for women with children. If we are in a burning home, adults should not run over a woman holding her child. If that happened, Americans would be infuriated at such self-seeking behavior.

We want older folks to get off the sinking boat or out of the burning house safely. However, it should not be our policy that they lawfully get to stampede over women holding their children.

Thanks for your help and Peace, DAP

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ferguson officials should be charged under the RICO Act

Please allow me to open with…I’m no lawyer.

The reason for my opening? There’s a law that says people who are not lawyers, cannot assert themselves as lawyers. Isn’t that something? You can impersonate a teacher or truck driver, no worries. But act like a lawyer without paying a law school for a degree and, you are breaking a law.

Now, when I think about a law, for some dumbass reason, I think they should apply to everyone equally. Surely, our law makers would not spend all of their valuable time creating laws that applied to some groups of folks and not others. I think laws are created to help everyone.

Can you imagine what would happen if a small municipal community in Missouri announced they just passed a law that would raise $1 million per year by targeting drivers within its city’s limits? Wonder if it was further reported that through the efforts of the city’s police department and judicial system, older white, male drivers would be allowed to be targeted to cover 80% of the new law. Basically, cops would be on the lookout for white males driving about town and pull them over. 

The cops would find multiple “violations” which would require white men to pay $800,000 per year and others to pay $200,000.

The hurricane-force shit storm that would rain down on this community would be epic. And rightly so.

Anyone who lives around St Louis knows that there are certain municipals that target African-American drivers. It took us a few months to notice who mostly were pulled over by the cops. When we would ask folks, they were open about things – especially in Ferguson – before it was “Ferguson.”

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law designed to combat organized crime in the United States. According to NOLO “it allows prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity performed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Such activity may include illegal gambling, bribery, kidnapping, murder, money laundering, counterfeiting, embezzlement, drug trafficking, slavery, and a host of other unsavory business practices.”

“To convict a defendant under RICO, the government must prove that the defendant engaged in two or more instances of racketeering activity and that the defendant directly invested in, maintained an interest in, or participated in a criminal enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce. The law has been used to prosecute members of the mafia, the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, and Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, among many others.”

The whole Ferguson system - its leaders - should be charged using the RICO act. The recent Department of Justice report lays out all kinds of unsavory business practices.

There are no laws that allow these practices to occur. Ferguson’s police department and its criminal justice system are an organized crime syndicate similar to the mafia. Our U.S. Department of Justice would have a strong case against the criminal organization in Ferguson using RICO.

But there again, I’m not a lawyer.

Peace, DAP

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Older is Better

I was sitting in my favorite chair: a recliner that allows me to arm-reach everything I might need -- end table with small drawer; lamp; electrical outlet; TV remote; etc.  I was thinking about an earlier chat I had about the importance of bringing back, or more importantly, hanging onto our indigenous wisdom.

This internal dialogue was interrupted by my son’s text saying that he needed a ride home. It was Sunday morning.

A bit of history: Friday evening after work I had to swing by his school on my way home because he needed $10 to buy a ticket to attend a dance Saturday night. I pulled up to his school, handed him a ten dollar bill from my car window. He vanishes back into his school. Several minutes later he and his two buddies walk out and get into my car. Those three hung out after school while waiting for me – more importantly -- my $10. My son’s two friends remembered that they needed to bring $10 to school before Friday.

My son…he forgot!

After several trips over the weekend, I realized that I am my son’s personalized Uber. The main difference is that I give him money after riding him places.

Back to my chair and thoughts about indigenous knowledge. As I am typing this my two sons have their faces in their smart phones and my lovely wife, although it is Sunday, is on her laptop finishing her work from the past week.

Information is not knowledge. We are bombarded with information from our TVs, world wide web, and all kinds of other technologies. We are not obtaining knowledge from these tools, what we are mostly doing is obtaining information. Mainly, unusable information.

We are extremely lucky to be living in a time with so much information at our fingertips. We have many great tools in our lives: Cars, electric, walmarts, etc. Our Native American ancestors, our great leaders, had to get information and “things” in a very differ way. The older way is better.

Which would you prefer, living in a world with clean water, air and food with very little technology? Or in our current world where everything we need is arm’s length, but the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we consume – are poisoned?

Our ancestors’ bodies and minds were clean - not toxic like ours. They were vaccinated by Mother Nature. The strongest survived, led and taught. There teachings came from purity of thought, body and community.

Our Native Ancestors lived in a world that was pure, clean, and full of knowledge.

We live in a world that alters the body and mind with contagions.  

Older is better and we need to learn from our clean ancestors and never let that knowledge go.