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White Privilege Shows as Owners of Oxycontin Settle Bankruptcy Case

Does crime pay? Maybe if you’re white.

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Petition to File for Bankruptcy, Photo courtesy of Melissa Gimpbell via Unsplash

You may have overlooked this bit of news last week. The ultra-rich Sackler family, the people who founded Purdue Pharma, makers of the addictive painkiller OxyContin, had its bankruptcy settlement approved.

The Sacklers will pay $4.5 billion in nine-year installments to states, local governments, hospitals, tribes, and individuals. But the settlement also absolves the family from any liability, in criminal or civil court. In other words, no one can sue and go after the Sacklers’ fortune, estimated at around $13 billion.

The U.S. bankruptcy court in White Plains, N.Y., has protected the Sacklers who now must figure out how to get by in life. Their mega-vast fortune, now simply vast, was spared by what  can only be viewed as the white privilege of capitalism.

No one got locked up. And the Sacklers get to leave with the majority of their $13 billion intact.

And what, again, did the Sacklers do? They simply addicted and killed more than 500,000 people over two decades with their gift to the world, OxyContin.

If any of you have friends or family who have paid a much higher price compared to their net worth by doing time, incarcerated for drugs, then ponder the different treatment received by the Sacklers.

By death count, the Sacklers aren’t as evil as say the coronavirus, which has killed more than 663,000 people in the U.S.

But make no mistake. They’re evil. And yet, they get special treatment. It’s the self-preservation of the 1%. There were thousands of lawsuits brought by plaintiffs hoping to make the Sacklers pay.  Now, bankruptcy’s shield makes it all go away. It’s painful to even talk about the settlement. Worthy of an OxyContin.

Labor Day Week for the Working Class

Here’s a good news/bad news note for Labor Day Week from Wal-Mart. It’s raising minimum wage to $12 an hour for 565,000 of its 1.6 million workers, which includes any checkers and stockers in its three East Bay stores. Too bad they’re not discounting store prices by 20% at the same time.

Wal-Mart could have set the raise to a “livable” $15, as has Target and Amazon.  Wal-Mart said it’s “average hourly wage” for all workers works would be $16.40. But averages are all for show. You don’t average out your shopping cart in the checkout line.

Add our economy’s reaction to the Delta variant, and the country is not doing as hot as global warming.  August had weak job growth–only 235,00 jobs added, with the service jobs in restaurants, bars and hotels taking the biggest hit. Were you hoping to pick up a job? You didn’t in August.

Add to that the cut last week of federal unemployment benefits for 7.5 million people in the nation. Continuation? This time even Democrats said it’s not likely to be extended.

And they wonder why some desperate people consider a life of crime. Yes, it doesn’t pay. You shouldn’t consider it for a moment. Not unless you’re white like the Sacklers.

All that OxyContin killing more than 500,000 people? And now shielded from criminal and civil liability? That’s all from dealing the right drugs.

These super rich people balance their evil by starting foundations that further protect their assets by funding beautiful art exhibits, museums and galleries around the country in places like Wash., DC and Harvard.

Not much different from all the other evil capitalists who hide behind foundations and try to do good philanthropically. But wouldn’t it be easier just to skip the evil and do good in the first place? Sure, but then what about the  obscene profits and individual gain at the expense of society? That’s what you’d call the capitalistic way. And now you know the ugly in their method.

Emil Guillermo is a veteran and award-winning Northern California journalist and commentator. He vlogs at www.amok.com and on Facebook at emilguillermo.media.

Activism

Nonprofit Launches Effort to Support Immigrants Seeking Early Childhood Education Careers

Upward Scholars is introducing an academic and career support initiative called TeacherUp, which will help residents enroll in college, connect with employers and receive wraparound support, like stipends. 

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The County of San Mateo, California logo. (San Mateo County via Bay City News)
TeacherUp will bring real solutions to early educators who can benefit from our track record of delivering academic and career support for adult immigrants from low-income households.

By Olivia Wynkoop | Bay City News Foundation

A San Mateo County-based nonprofit announced on Nov. 17 that it is launching a program to support immigrants seeking careers in early childhood education.

Upward Scholars is introducing an academic and career support initiative called TeacherUp, which will help residents enroll in college, connect with employers and receive wraparound support, like stipends.

The program builds on the 2018 workforce development pilot called the Teacher Pipeline Project, developed by the organization Community Equity Collaborative to address the shortage of early childhood educators across the Bay Area’s peninsula. It was backed by local community colleges, schools, nonprofits and policymakers.

The project also successfully prompted state legislation to increase awareness on the challenges and financial barriers residents face when seeking careers in early childhood education, which disproportionately affect women and people of color.

Executive director at Community Equity Collaborative Dayna Chung said now is the time to invest toward an equitable learning workforce amidst the worsening educator shortage.

“Early childhood educators are an essential ingredient in the human infrastructure that supports healthy families and strong, local economies,” Chung said. “Unfortunately, COVID-19 revealed and exacerbated systemic inequities, including poverty wages that drive the early educator shortage and force roughly 1 in 3 parents to take time off or leave their jobs.”

TeacherUp plans to also provide students with tutoring, scholarships, laptops, food vouchers, transportation assistance and other services from Upward Scholars’ other programs, like NannyUp.

“With its roots in the Teacher Pipeline Project and its future with our organization, TeacherUp will bring real solutions to early educators who can benefit from our track record of delivering academic and career support for adult immigrants from low-income households,” said Upward Scholars Executive Director Linda Prieto.

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Advice

From the 1800s to Today: Empowering Veteran Business Owners

Amid the success of the family business, the McKindras never lost sight of the support they had been given—and the importance of passing it on to others in their community and society. Generations of McKindras have dedicated their lives to the military, including his grandfather, father, and brother (pictured right), and subsequently to their communities when they returned home.

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Three generations of McKindras pictured from left to right: Alex Jr. (West Point, Air Force), Q.R. McKindra (Alex Jr.’s grandfather, WWII veteran), Alex Sr. (career Army officer), and Marcus (Alex Jr.’s younger brother, Air Force Academy) (Courtesy photo)
Three generations of McKindras pictured from left to right: Alex Jr. (West Point, Air Force), Q.R. McKindra (Alex Jr.’s grandfather, WWII veteran), Alex Sr. (career Army officer), and Marcus (Alex Jr.’s younger brother, Air Force Academy) (Courtesy photo)

From JPMorgan Chase

From his years of service in the military to his current work helping former soldiers build their own businesses through JPMorgan Chase’s veteran initiatives, Alex McKindra Jr. is a veteran success story.

Moreover, as we celebrate Veteran’s Day this year, Alex’s story is a uniquely American one that veterans and members of the military community across the country can relate to. But, as he is the first to admit, his success story, like many, has a long history tracing back through generations of his family in the small town of Union Chapel, Arkansas.

Becoming a Cornerstone of the Community

In the late 1800s, Alex’s great-great grandfather, Reuben Frank McKindra, moved his family to Union Chapel, a town originally settled by freed Black slaves.

Working on their family farm, the McKindras made a name for themselves by demonstrating their resourcefulness and aptitude for hard work. Namely, the family utilized mentorship programs, as well as public and private funding, to not only start but grow their family farm.

Amid the success of the family business, the McKindras never lost sight of the support they had been given—and the importance of passing it on to others in their community and society. Generations of McKindras have dedicated their lives to the military, including his grandfather, father, and brother (pictured right), and subsequently to their communities when they returned home.

“I would not be in the position I am today if not for the opportunities that mentorship provided,” says McKindra. “The farm my family was able to start, through the support and mentorship of others, has helped to educate and put clothes on every generation of my family since the 1880s.”

Honoring a Legacy

McKindra chose to honor his roots by joining the service himself. He graduated from West Point in 1993 and then completed a tour of duty serving across the U.S. as Captain in the United States Air Force. He worked as a procurement officer, including on the B-2 Bomber Program, which allowed him to travel across the country, learning from and serving others. During that time, he also spent his nights and weeks pursuing an MBA from the University of Southern California.

Armed with the life experience and knowledge he gained from the service—and a freshly-minted MBA and banking internship under his belt— McKindra dove into the world of corporate finance. Quickly building a reputation for his intelligence, reliability and kindness, he rose through the ranks. Today, he works as a Managing Director for JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking in San Francisco

Paying It Forward

Alex didn’t want the chapter in his family’s story to end with commercial success.  He wanted to help those who—like his great-great-grandfather Reuben—had risked their lives for the country and were now seeking to put down roots as civilians. With that in mind, he decided to co-lead JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking’s veteran initiatives alongside Army veteran, Terry Hill. Alex, Terry and their team across the firm share a passion for mentorship and community building. Through various programming, they tap into their military backgrounds to connect with aspiring and current military-connected entrepreneurs to help them access the resources they need to be successful over the long-term.

For example, McKindra worked with JPMorgan Chase to partner with Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit that supports the ventures of veterans and military spouses, to build programs to help veteran business owners.

Today, JPMorgan Chase is powering Bunker Labs’ CEOcircle, a monthly peer accountability group for growth-stage companies looking to scale. Through this program, veteran business owners and their families gain access to the guidance and resources they need to succeed, including education, networking, and one-on-one financial coaching. This year, CEOcircle welcomed 71 new individuals to the program including Office Libations from Alameda.

The program uplifts businesses that will support military families for generations to come — businesses like the McKindra farm.

“If I’ve learned one thing from my family’s history, it’s that hard work and preparation aren’t always enough. Sometimes we need to create our own opportunities as well,” Alex says. “That is what we are hoping to do with CEOcircle, to create the opportunities and provide the support veteran entrepreneurs need to help them overcome systemic obstacles to business and professional growth.”

Generational Impact

Less than an hour north of Little Rock, the McKindra’s family farm still stands in Union Chapel. Today, the manicured green fields and trees remain a testament to the effort, determination, and community it takes to create a successful business.

“If my great-great-grandfather were here today, I would want him to know that what he built didn’t just support our family, it also instilled the values in us that would seed the acceleration and growth of hundreds of other veteran-owned businesses in the future,” McKindra says. “I know he’d be proud of that.”

If you are a veteran or know someone who is and want to learn more about how JPMorgan Chase support veterans whether through career advancement or small business support or anything in between, please visit: https://www.jpmorganchase.com/impact/people/military-and-vets

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Activism

COMMENTARY: The Fight to Save Affirmative Action for All of Us

These are the folks within our community who have been used by a white anti-civil rights activist named Ed Blum in an attempt to topple this thing in society that has allowed previous generations of not just Asian Americans, but all people of color, and women, and anyone else who has been qualified, to break through the color barriers in life. They just needed that benevolent boost we’ve known as “affirmative action.”

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. His web show is on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a webshow on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

Don’t think for a second that Asian Americans are rooting to end affirmative action.

You might get that impression as the Supreme Court heard two cases concerning the use of race in college admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.

The Harvard case in particular has Asian American plaintiffs represented by a group called Students for Fair Admissions, or SFFA.

Don’t be misled. The group isn’t representative of Asian Americans at all. They’re a minority within a minority. National polling data of Asian American voters show that nearly two-thirds actually support affirmative action.

What you’re witnessing is a classic “divide and conquer” strategy, where some Asian Americans are being used by a white anti-civil rights activist named Ed Blum, who has dedicated his life to upending diversity and race equity in society from voting rights to higher ed.

And now it looks like his time has come.

Remember, conservatives aren’t automatically against affirmative action. The late Justice Sandra Day O’Conner wasn’t—totally. To the court’s credit, it’s always allowed for race to be addressed within reason. No quotas, of course. But race has always been allowed as a factor.

Then came 2012, the Fisher v. Texas case, where Blum hand-held a white female plaintiff in an attempt to destroy the use of race in admissions at the University of Texas. It didn’t work, but Blum learned a lesson.

He realized he didn’t have a perfect victim. That was clear when even Antonin Scalia wondered aloud what the damage was to the white Fisher when she was not able to gain admission in a process where she had to compete fairly against people of color.

Indeed, what was the harm? The cost of the application fee?

So, this time, Blum found aggrieved rejections from Harvard and UNC on the internet. And he found a large group of plaintiffs among a new generation of Asian Americans immigrants from the 1990s and after, or rather their sons and daughters.

They were the ones who never quite understood why their little darlings with the straight A’s and perfect scores would be rejected from Harvard.

They have enabled Blum’s yellow-faced attack against affirmative action.

It’s created a civil war between Asian Americans, only the Mason/Dixon line is the year of your family’s immigration.  1980s? ’90s? 2000s?

These are the folks within our community who have been used by Blum in an attempt to topple this thing in society that has allowed previous generations of not just Asian Americans, but all people of color, and women, and anyone else who has been qualified, to break through the color barriers in life.

They just needed that benevolent boost we’ve known as “affirmative action.”

It’s impossible to say exactly how the court will come down on the Harvard and UNC cases. You can’t really tell by the questions asked by the justices.

Clarence Thomas took a swing at UNC by questioning the educational value of diversity.

“I didn’t go to racially diverse schools, but there were educational benefits,” he said. “And I’d like you to tell me expressly when a parent sends a kid to college, that they don’t necessarily send them there to have fun or feel good or anything like that; they send them there to learn physics or chemistry or whatever their study. So, tell me what the educational benefits are.”

North Carolina Solicitor General Ryan Park, arguing for UNC, spoke of the benefits of racial diverse environments, but not to Thomas’ satisfaction. “Well, I guess I don’t put much stock in that because I’ve heard similar arguments in favor of segregation, too.”

Thomas would be indicative of the hardline conservative attitude.

But the court’s first African American female was there, too. Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson questioned the SFFA attorney about the harm the race conscious approach had in admissions. The SFFA attorney couldn’t speak to any significant harm and admitted that even whites benefitted from the system now in place.

So, why even bother with the plaintiff’s SCOTUS appeal if the lower courts have already decided Harvard and UNC’s programs weren’t discriminatory?

Well, the only thing that’s changed is the six solid, unyielding conservative justices in the high court.

You saw what they did to abortion. Would they do the same thing to affirmative action?

In a heartbeat.

That’s what worries people. A decision is expected in 2023. I’m being optimistic while I still can. Affirmative action has been a considerable tool to fight racism. Without it there’d be no BIPOC middle class.

So, what’s the ultimate way to beat a court hell-bent on playing politics?

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a webshow on www.amok.com

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