Obama Commutes Sentences for 8 in Crack Cocaine Cases

President Obama, expanding his push to curtail severe penalties in drug cases, on Thursday commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of crack cocaine offenses. Each inmate has been imprisoned for at least 15 years, and six were sentenced to life in prison. [Read more]

Tackling a Racial Gap in Breast Cancer Survival

Despite 20 years of pink ribbon awareness campaigns and numerous advances in medical treatment that have sharply improved survival rates for women with breast cancer in the United States, the vast majority of those gains have largely bypassed black women. [Read more]

Santa’s skin color flies right over kids’ heads

The color of Santa’s skin — though a hotly debated topic among adults this week — pretty much means bupkis to the kids mobbing Kris Kringle at a Hyattsville mall. That red suit means loot. And it basically ends right there. “I’m just excited to see him, and I want him to bring me some doll babies,” Dae’Lese, 6, said as she waited in line at the Mall at Prince Georges, which features one of the region’s few African American Santas. But his race wasn’t what brought Dae’Lese and her mom, Masche Williams, 26, to the mall. “I don’t care if he’s yellow, black, green. And she doesn’t care — she’s so excited to see him because he brings toys,” Williams said. [Read more]


South Africa's Unfinished Revolution

For all his remarkable achievements, Nelson Mandela died with his dream for South Africa incomplete. Democracy and peace were attained, yet real racial harmony, social justice and equality seem, in some ways, further away than ever. 

South Africa’s economy still stifles the aspirations of most of its black citizens — a situation that threatens the sustainability of the project of national reconciliation that is a central part of the Mandela legacy. [Read more]

Some Are Freaking Out Because Miss France is Tan

“I’m proud to represent a multicultural France,” gushed Flora Coquerel last Saturday as she accepted the title of Miss France 2014. Unfortunately, some of her countrymen did not feel the same kind of egalitarian pride.

Within minutes, social media was drowned in comments: Miss France set Twitter on fire with over 1.1 million tweets that night, according to TF1, Gala, and Le Télégramme. And a portion of those comments were horrifying: “I’m not a racist but shouldn’t the Miss France contest only be open to white girls?” to “Fuck, a n***er” or “Death to foreigners.” Hateful tweeters put up offensive collages like this.

[Read more]


The Real Lessons from the PISA Results

What the top-scoring PISA nations do: (1) invest in early childhood education; (2) target resources to the most disadvantaged children; (3) provide teachers with time to prepare lessons and collaborate; (4) have a robust curriculum; (5) use tests to diagnose, not punish; and (6) foster partnerships between all educational stakeholders, not battles.


Many blacks and Latinos have no retirement savings, study shows

More often than not, blacks and Latinos benefit little from the tax breaks and other policy initiatives aimed at bolstering retirement security because they typically have no money to save for retirement in IRAs and other vehicles outside the workplace, according to Diane Oakley, executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), which conducted the study.[Read more]

U.S. poverty rate decreased over past half-century thanks to safety-net programs

While the government has helped keep poverty at bay, the economy by itself has failed to improve the lives of the very poor over the past 50 years. Without taking into account the role of government policy, more Americans — 29 percent — would be in poverty today, compared with 27 percent in 1967. [Read more]