March 28, 2005

Black, Asian women make income gains, Earn more than similarly educated white women, Census says

Updated: 12:04 a.m. ET March 28, 2005
WASHINGTON - Black and Asian women with bachelor’s degrees earn slightly more than similarly educated white women, and white men with four-year degrees make more than anyone else.

advertisementA white woman with a bachelor’s degree typically earned nearly $37,800 in 2003, compared with nearly $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman and $41,100 for a college-educated black woman, according to data being released Monday by the Census Bureau. Hispanic women took home slightly less at $37,600 a year.

The bureau did not say why the differences exist. Economists and sociologists suggest possible factors: the tendency of minority women, especially blacks, to more often hold more than one job or work more than 40 hours a week, and the tendency of black professional women who take time off to have a child to return to the work force sooner than others.

Employers in some fields may give extra financial incentives to young black women, who graduate from college at higher rates than young black men, said Roderick Harrison, a researcher at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank that studies minority issues.

“Given the relative scarcity, if you are a woman in the sciences — if you are a black woman — you would be a rare commodity,” Harrison said.

Specific reasons unclearBecause study in the area is limited, it is hard to pinpoint specific reasons, said Barbara Gault, research director at the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
“It could be the fields that educated black women are choosing,” she said. “It also could be related to the important role that black women play in the total family income in African-American families.

Notions that black women are struggling financially as much other groups are should not be dismissed, Gault added.

For instance, nearly 39 percent of families headed by a single black woman were in poverty, compared with 21 percent of comparable white women, according to census estimates released last year.

A white male with a college diploma earns far more than any similarly educated man or woman — in excess of $66,000 a year, according to the Census Bureau. Among men with bachelor’s degrees, Asians earned more than $52,000 a year, Hispanics earned $49,000 and blacks earned more than $45,000.

Minorities affected by range of eventsWorkplace discrimination and the continuing difficulties of minorities to get into higher-paying management positions could help explain the disparities among men, experts say.

Demographics may offer an explanation: There are millions more college-educated white men in better paying jobs than there are black, Hispanic or Asian men.

Minorities also suffered more financially as a result of the 2001 recession and its aftermath, as has been the case with past economic downturns, said Jared Bernstein, chief economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

The figures come from the Census Bureau’s annual look at educational achievement in America, culled from a survey in March 2004. Questions about income were asked for the previous calendar year.

Regardless of race or gender, a college graduate on average earned over $51,000, compared with $28,000 for someone with only a high school diploma or an equivalent degree. College-educated men typically made $63,000, compared with $33,000 for men with just a high school education.

Among women, a college graduate earned more than $38,000, compared with nearly $22,000 for a high school graduate.

The data also showed that:
The percentage of people age 25 and older who completed at least four years of college rose again in 2004, to 27.7 percent, compared with 27.2 percent in 2003. There were increases in all race and ethnic categories.

About 29 percent of all men in the same age category finished four years of college, compared with 26 percent of women.

The gap between men and women has narrowed since the 1970s as younger, more educated women steadily replace older, less-educated women in the work force. For example, among 25- to 29-year-olds, more than 31 percent of women have finished at least four years of college, compared with 26 percent of men.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Hip-hop debate focuses on images of women

Topics included the effect of rap videos on adolescents
By Imani Dawson
The Associated Press
Updated: 1:59 p.m. ET March 24, 2005

NEW YORK - A volatile topic inspired heated debate as several hundred people gathered to discuss the impact of misogynistic rap on black women.

Rapper Remy Ma, underground emcee Jean Grae, author and radio personality Karen Hunter, Essence magazine health editor Akiba Solomon and DJ Beverly Bond were featured on the panel, titled "Images of Women in Hip Hop," on Tuesday night at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Hip-hop's treatment of womenMore than 300 people filled the auditorium to capacity, spilling onto the stage and into the aisles. Attendees listened raptly as panelists debated hip-hop's treatment of women before vociferously voicing their own deeply held beliefs.

The talk began with moderator Thabiti Boone, co-founder of the Hip Hop Political convention, condemning rapper Nelly's infamous "Tip Drill" video, which featured the artist swiping a credit card through a stripper's buttocks. Though nearly everyone agreed that the salacious video crossed all tasteful boundaries and blatantly disrespected women, the dialogue soon became chaotic.

Heated bickering between the panelists and the audience ensued, much to dismay of moderator Boone. On multiple occasions he was forced to quell catcalls, jeers or claps as the conversation addressed topics including parental responsibility versus community involvement in child rearing, the effect of rap videos on impressionable adolescents and even hip-hop's designation as a culture.

Remy, the lone female member of Fat Joe's Terror Squad clique, has many oral sex references in her raps on such hits as "Lean Back" and "Take me Home." During one exchange she declared, "I'm not here to raise anybody's children." Audience member and teacher Radha Blank retorted, "If you don't believe hip-hop is affecting young people, join me in the schools where junior high school girls are (performing fellatio) in the hallways."

Panelists occasionally interrupted or argued with each other. And the audience was equally divided _ younger people repeatedly claimed that hip-hop's depiction of women accurately reflects the behavior of some females, while older folks insisted that rap's content negatively affects the behavior of both young men and women.

Program ended abruptlyThe program ran almost a half-hour long as panelists and audience members battled to articulate their opinions. It ended abruptly, with little solution-oriented discourse, leaving some frustrated and unsure about next steps.

"I really didn't think much was accomplished," complained Tanysha Chaffin, a youth specialist and caseworker. "It was an attack on hip-hop that didn't solve anything."

Others remained optimistic. "The campaign's goal is to open and further a dialogue on a sometimes unpopular topic," said panelist Solomon. "We observed tonight that this is an issue the community feels passionate about."

The panel was sponsored by Essence magazine and the Center for Communication, a nonpartisan forum designed to familiarize college students with the business of media. Inspired by the 2004 Spelman College protest of the "Tip Drill" video, Essence launched a yearlong "Take Back the Music" campaign in January, featuring articles in the magazine and town hall meetings around the country tackling stereotypes about black women perpetuated by hip-hop.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

March 19, 2005

Las Fallas, Valencia - March 19th

Las Fallas, Valencia

Does the smell of gunpowder excite you? Does the sight of flames make you smile? Do you harbor pyrotechnic urges that are only socially acceptable on the Fourth of July? Well, Las Fallas de Valencia is your kind of event--a loud, smoky, rowdy fiesta where the whole town is literally set ablaze!

Las Fallas is undoubtedly one of the most unique and crazy festivals in Spain (a country known for unique and crazy festivals). What started as a feast day for St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, has evolved into a 5-day, multifaceted celebration of fire. Valencia is usually a quiet city with a population of a half-million, but the town swells to an estimated three million flame-loving revelers during Las Fallas.

Las Fallas literally means "the fires" in Valencian. The focus of the fiesta is the creation and destruction of ninots--huge cardboard, wood and plaster statues--that are placed at over 350 key intersections and parks around the city today. The ninots are extremely lifelike and usually depict bawdy, satirical scenes and current events (lampooning corrupt politicians and Spanish celebrities is particularly popular). They are crafted by neighborhood organizations and take about six months to construct (and often cost upwards of US$75,000). Many ninots are several stories tall and need to be moved into position with cranes.

The ninots remain in place until March 19th, the day known as "La Crema." Starting in the early evening, young men with axes chop holes in the statues and stuff them with fireworks. The crowds start to chant, the streetlights are turned off, and all of the ninots are set on fire at exactly the stroke of midnight. Over the years, the local firemen, called "bomberos," have devised unique ways to protect the town's buildings from torching along with the ninots, such as by neatly covering storefronts with fireproof tarps. And each year, one of the ninots is spared from destruction by popular vote and exhibited in the local Museum of the Ninot along with the other favorites from years past.

Traveler and pyromaniac Janet Morton says, "The scene at Las Fallas is extremely cathartic and difficult to describe, but resembles a cross between a bawdy Disneyland, the Fourth of July and the end of the world!"

The origin of Las Fallas is a bit murky, but most credit the fires as an evolution of pagan rituals that celebrated the onset of spring and the planting season. In the sixteenth century, Valencia used streetlights only during the longer nights of winter. The street lamps were hung on wooden structures, called parots, and as the days became longer the now-unneeded parots were ceremoniously burned on St. Joseph's Day. Even today the fiesta has retained its satirical and working-class roots, and the well-to-do and faint-of-heart of Valencia often ditch out of town for Las Fallas.

Besides the burning of the ninots, there is a myriad of other activities during the fiesta. During the day, you can check out the extensive roster of bullfights, parades, paella contests and beauty pageants around the city. Spontaneous fireworks displays occur everywhere during the days leading up to "La Crema", but another highlight is the daily mascletá which occurs in the Plaza Anyuntamiento at exactly 2pm. When the huge pile of firecrackers is ignited, the ground literally shakes for the next ten minutes.

March 7, 2005

Spain's troop withdrawal affects U.S. study abroad programs

Spain's troop withdrawal affects U.S. study abroad programs
MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (AP) — Two community colleges have ended their study-abroad program in Spain, citing the country's troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Trustees of the South Orange County Community College District, comprising Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College, voted 5-2 last week to cancel the 14-year-old summer program.
"Spain has abandoned our fighting men and women, withdrawing their support," said trustee Tom Fuentes, a former head of the Republican Party in Orange County. "I see no reason to send students of our colleges to Spain at this moment in history."
Spain pulled its 1,300 troops after the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in March last year.
Fuentes said the bombing also raised concerns about student safety, although students were allowed to visit Spain three months after the bombings.
"Bringing this up now is strange," said trustee Marcia Milchiker, who voted to keep the program.
"I'm still in shock," said Professor Carmenmara Hernandez-Bravo, who runs the study abroad program. "I cannot believe a community college can put this much politics into academics."

March 2, 2005

January/February 2005 Update

March 1, 2005
Dearest Friends, Family, and Rotarians,

As I turn my calendar to March 2005, I realize that it is a great time as ever to write to you about my January and February.

In summation of this time, I have had the time to relax and reflect about where I have been and where I am going. Burak and I are, most likely, moving to Durham, North Carolina in August 2005 for two years because Burak was accepted to Duke’s Fuqua School of Business MBA. Now that just means, ‘what I am going to do for two years?’ I have been exploring other career possibilities in case I don’t get into Duke or UNC Law. Additionally, I am organizing an Americans for Informed Democracy in Barcelona in June and a fundraiser for the Martinez Foundation later this spring. My second semester officially started two weeks ago, and I am settling into my new school schedule. For more details and photos, continue below, and check out my website at:

The Full Update:

Early January was spent relaxing near Verviers, Belgium with my host family of my exchange year from four years ago. Burak and I celebrated Three Kings Day searching for the ceramic toy in the cake with the finder becoming the ‘king.’ I required much sleep to keep my French, Spanish, and English all in line. I was asked by a local bartender while out with my family, after learning I could speak all those languages, whether I wanted to be a translator. I really think it is funny how most people think the only thing you can do with speaking many languages is be a translator. I told him no, and he seemed a little disappointed.

Burak and I ate dinner with my first host family before we left Belgium. They presented us with a generous wedding gift. I was so surprised. I hadn’t expected anything at all. It struck me once more how I have come to know and care for such wonderful people all over the world and how they have grown to care for me.

Our last weekend in Belgium, we stayed with an old friend of mine I had met nearly 7 years to the day of our visit in San Antonio, Texas. He was a Rotary Exchange student from Belgium living in Gonzalez, Texas, but we had met in RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) when I was 16. We had kept in touch over the years when he was in Texas, I was in Belgium, and now when I lived in Spain. Hopefully, he and his fiancée will visit us in Barcelona.

The rest of January was comfortably uneventful unlike what you read about in my December update about December. I worked out to burn off the Belgian food and continued teaching my adult class and my little kids (4- and 5-year olds). I was adopted by the Rotary Club Barcelona Millennium to be their first Rotary Scholar ever and soon had a new Rotary counselor, Mark. Mark gives me rides to meetings and during the rides we get to catch up on the last week. He is a great counselor, and I am happy that I can create a relationship with my new club. I had switched clubs because the first one I was given was 50 km away from me. Attending the regular Monday meetings, I am quickly becoming a familiar face to the members.

In February, as the temperature continued to drop and my house continued not to have central heating, Burak got really sick. He had a mix between everything like cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc. We really weren’t sure what he had, but just kept pumping him up with medicine that I had to fight to get from a stubborn pharmacist (another story for those interested), freshly squeezed orange juice, and movies and meals in bed. He bounced back after a week and a half in bed with lots of sleep and my care. I took the role as doctor, nurse, wife, cleaning lady, cook, etc. I even found myself cooking steak for him, which slightly disgusted me as a vegetarian for 10.5 years. I just had to hold my breath as the blood oozed out of the meat. It gives me chills just thinking and writing about it.

Because Burak was sick, I was recruited to teach his high school ‘Study Skills’ class. I was slightly frightened when he asked me. I hadn’t walked into a Freshman HS class for more than 9 years, when I myself was one. I didn’t teach any material to his class, but just had to keep them under control as I held a study hall. The week before at the same international school, I had the last-minute chance to substitute for the kindergarten class. As the language of instruction is English, it wasn’t too hard to control them besides their age’s being a factor. The 5- and 6-year olds impressed me when they sang ‘Happy Birthday’ in English, Spanish, and Dutch for their Dutch classmate. Darn, these kids are sharp! I had fun being a kid again, and the school even paid me.

The second week of February was a vacation week at Burak’s school. He spent most of the week in bed, but we had plans for that weekend to spend it in Paris for Valentine’s Day weekend. At the very last minute, he decided that he could go with me despite his sickness. We stayed at an AIESEC Austin friend’s posh apartment where we slept on a better bed than ours and ate the wonderful French food. We even later learned he had cable TV and enjoyed all the luxuries that brings. Oh, yeah, we were in Paris, right? Well, we got to the top of the Eiffel Tower, took a 2-hour tour on a bus, and went out with friends almost every night. Other than that, we slept in, and Burak was still fighting off this sickness. I didn’t mind since it was my 4th time in Paris, but I had to run away from Burak for a couple of hours to see the Musee d’Orsay. I had never seen it before. In the end, it really didn’t impress me after seeing the Louvre (Paris), the Van Gogh Museum(Amsterdam), and the Prado(Madrid). Sorry if I offended anyone with that statement.

On one particular night in Paris, we accumulated most of our friends that we have met in different places in our lives, who all live in Paris now. The friend we were staying with whom we met in AIESEC in Austin, Luis, a fellow officer and friend from Rotex DC that I had attended an exchange student conference in PA the year before, Julianne, and a French friend from UT that I had taken down to my family’s ranch in Mexico to expose him to a new country, Ben. The next night, Emily, a French, former exchange student to El Paso who had lived with the same family Burak had lived with on exchange, visited where we were staying. It was really weird to all get together and know so many people living in the same European capital. That moment made me realize we surely live in an internationally connected world and getting together and staying in touch would not have been feasible without email and mobile phones.

Sometime in early February, I was approached to organize a conference for Americans for Informed Democracy ( in Barcelona. I was a group leader and speaker at an AID conference in Berlin in December and they were hoping to hold several similar mini-conferences in major European cities this spring. AID has very similar goals in line with my scholarship, including creating better world understanding, and that was the main reason I agreed to organize it.

With the organization’s seed money, I have booked a huge hostel that is actually a mansion in the hills of Barcelona. The conference will be held this June 3-5, 2005 for 50-70 Americans studying abroad to talk about international issues to help create better global understanding and return that knowledge back to the States. The theme of the conference will be ‘The New Worldwide Community: Globalization in the Postmodern age’ or something similar. I am currently securing speakers on a range of topics while AID will advertise the conference to study abroad Americans and filter through the applications.

I am really excited about the opportunity to use my organizational, people, and Spanish skills, and connections (Rotary, UAB, friends, etc.) to create a learning atmosphere that will help meet both Rotary and AID’s goals on many different levels. I am also thrilled to give people an excuse to come to Barcelona since it is such a great city. Furthermore, I am a Senior Political Analyst for the same organization; you can see my bio at:

On a somber note, Burak’s father, Naci, died on February 17th, 2005. Burak knew that his father was in his last days and had secured tickets and leave from work for ten days in Turkey. My father-in-law was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in November 2004. Burak had the opportunity to fly to Turkey to visit in December for a few days. He flew out the day of his dad’s passing away and was there for the funeral and his family. His mother will stay with her parents for a while before moving back to her beach house and possibly live with a cousin there. Burak’s sister, Burcu, has returned to Australia to continue her studies.

I want to say thank you to all for your kind notes, comments, and cards. Burak returned Sunday and appears to be at peace with all the events. I am so thankful we lived with his parents last summer (2004) for two months and that we live in Spain this year. We are only 3 hours from Istanbul, and Burak has visited his family 2 times since we left in August. I am grateful I shared many good moments with my father-in-law at my wedding and last summer.
I will remember my father-in-law as a very giving and funny teddy bear. I remember the moment he wore Burak’s cowboy hat while playing backgammon on the terrace of their beach house talking about how he was the best at the game while Burak was beating him. Or the time when he loved Missouri at first sight, place of my wedding, and just wanted to lie on a blanket under the stars because it reminded him of home, the small village where he grew up. Truly, my receiving this scholarship a year after I wanted it ended up being a good thing in the end for the chance to live in Turkey and the proximity of Spain to Turkey.

On a more positive note, I also held a Wine and Cheese Party in February. I had so much fun buying nuts, cheeses, bread, dried and fresh fruits, and linen-lined bread baskets that I couldn’t wait for the party to begin! I created a beautiful display of foods spiced with lit-candles for my guests to see when they walked through the front door. I took more pictures of the food than my guests (oops)! The majority of the guests were Spanish-speakers with only 4 non-Spanish at one time. It impressed me with how I had really gotten into the culture when my party’s guests and language was that of the country I was living in. The party also gave me an idea of a Rotary fundraiser that I could attempt to cater since I love to throw theme parties.

And now where am I going from here? I haven’t received law school application results except that of an acceptance to American University’s Washington College of Law and a rejection from Stanford Law. I am waiting for Duke's response. I am also considering UNC Chapel Hill, but I think I might just wait the 2 years (retake the LSAT and reapply for UT or Georgetown as my favorites).

If I don’t get into Duke, I plan to do real estate, teach, work for the government, work at an NGO, or something like along those lines. Do you know of anyone in those areas in or near North Carolina I could contact?

And to the subject of my studies at my university: As the first week of any semester is about searching out good classes, I also had to weed out the Catalan classes, because I only want Spanish-taught ones. I have come to a list of four, non-conflicting, interesting, Spanish-taught courses: International Relations of the Mediterranean, Spanish Foreign Policy, Panorama of Contemporaneous Asia, and Cultural Studies (this is a discussion class taught in English). I have one course on Mondays and Wednesday and then three back to back on Tuesday and Thursdays from the afternoon till the evening.

And to add a little Catalan/Spanish cultural observation: I joined a local, government-operated gym in November. “Government-operated” denotes that it is cheap enough for the average family, and, hence, there are a lot of members. Since January, I have been going more regularly and have made a few observations. I love going in the middle of the day when Spaniards are eating because there are very few people. If there are any, they are people of my grandparents’ ages and a few select weight-lifting fanatics there at that time, so I have free reign to my machines. Furthermore, a gym, to Catalans/Spaniards is a social club. You often see 3 or 4 of them huddled around one person occupying a machine pretending to work out while they are actually chatting. They will stay there and rotate the person pretending until you have lost your patience and figure it is not your day to use that machine. This is the main reason that I avoid the gym at all times except 2-5 p.m.

Note on language: Talking about Mexican Spanish (which is what I learned in Texas and Mexico), Saturday night at my party I said 'nieve' referring to ice cream. I was chuckled at by my Catalan/Spanish friends because that means 'snow' over here. Then I thought for a second. I remember learning that was the word for ice cream in Mexico. So, one morning when I couldn't sleep I realized I was right but the word 'nieve' is used for sherbet in Mexico. But, I think 'nieve' was used on the street for ice cream and sherbet like there was no difference( from what I remember). Funny how I have to keep relearning Spanish from the Mexican to the Spanish version.

Rotary Duties/Projects: With my four months (ouch, so little?) I have left in Spain, I plan to start a serious speaking program to Barcelona Rotary clubs and to complete a fundraiser for the Martinez Foundation, ( Doctor Martinez is one of kind. She is a one-woman show that is probably the only one in the world who can help patients with a rare disease. Her patients fly into Barcelona from all over the world just to see her. She needs a research team, secured funds, and time to write and spread the word about her research. I am going to try to help her get money and recognition to help her continue her work.
And for this coming weekend, I am off to Rome to visit a friend and hopefully meet up with a Texan friend who will fly into Rome the same day. Next weekend, I will be running a “hostel” with 8 people staying with us over the course of the week (of course not all at the same time!).
In late March, Burak has Semana Santa (the Holy week before Easter) off from work, and we plan to travel possibly to Morocco and stay with friends in Seville for the festivities of Holy Week.

As I sit here with all the layers of clothing I possess, realizing I have lived in Spain for six months this week, I can’t tell you where the time went. Well, maybe I can if you read my updates, but seriously I am in shock that I am basically 2/3 over with my scholarship year. I am extremely grateful to Rotary for this opportunity, and I am already actively planning on applying for the Rotary World Peace Scholarship sometime down the road. That will give me a two-year scholarship to obtain a Masters probably in England or Australia. (Sounds okay, Burak? )

Hope all is well – Take care of yourself – and Keep in touch,

Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar 2004-2005
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain