(pictured above: Melissa Harris-Perry on the set of her MSNBC show.)
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan has added her voice to the crescendo calling for a minimum wage boost to $10.10 an hour. That’s nearly three bucks higher than the current federal (and North Carolina’s) minimum wage rate of $7.25, but it’s hardly cause to rejoice.
Democratic lawmakers – especially those, like Hagan, in tough reelection fights – have long pulled out the minimum wage card to blandish low income voters. Aside from the fact that a minimum wage hike is nothing more than a mere pipe dream in a U.S. Congress that cares more about satiating corporations than the people who voted for them, a $10.10 hourly wage is nearly as insulting as the $7.25 one. This isn’t 1985 afterall.
Indicators put the living wage – what one must earn to just make ends meet – at $18.63 for one parent and one child living in Forsyth County. That rate increases for larger cities.
A recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the North Carolina Housing Coalition found that an adult in the Triad needs to earn at least $13.68 an hour to afford a basic rental unit in the Triad. Working at minimum wage in the Triad, a family must have two wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 75 hours in Greensboro and High Point or 74 hours in Winston-Salem to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment, the report found.
Are our lawmakers oblivious to these realities? How can they champion a $10.10 minimum wage when the fight should be for something much more lofty?
Voters – don’t be fooled! Don’t let talk of raising the minimum wage become a mere political rallying cry – one of those little campaign stump speech lines designed to garner applause and possibly a vote or two. Lawmakers, many of whom are millionaires many times over, should be challenged about this half-hearted effort that, if successful, will still keep the poor, poor. Don’t accept tuppence for your vote!
Wake Lands Top Names
It has been a banner couple of weeks for Wake Forest University.
On April 4, the school hired Danny Manning as its new Men’s Basketball coach. On April 11, it announced that alumna Melissa Harris-Perry will join the Politics and International Affairs Department as a chaired professor.
It’s ironic that a university that has struggled with racial inclusion over the decades now has three African Americans as its most famous and recognizable faces. (Dr. Maya Angelou, of course, is the third.)
Manning led Kansas to the national title in 1988, picking up MVP honors and a number one NBA draft spot along the way. He spent 15 seasons as a pro baller with seven different teams. He has built an impressive coaching resume in his post NBA years. He left the University of Tulsa, where he earned 2013-14 Conference USA Coach of the Year honors, for the Wake job. While they have had their moments, the Deacs have not been on fire since the untimely death of Coach Skip Prosser in 2007. Two coaches have tried – and failed – to reignite the team’s spark since then. Manning, who played high school ball at Greensboro’s Page High School, has his work cut out for him. We hope he demonstrates some improvement with haste, as Deac fans and alumni have shown they have little patience with mediocrity.
Harris-Perry was already way ahead of the curve when she entered Wake Forest as an undergrad. She was only 16. She had a BA in English from Wake and a Ph.D. in political science from Duke by the age that most folks are wrapping up their first degree.
She won the 2005 W. E. B. Du Bois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and 2005 Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association for her first book, “Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought” and began crafting a teaching style that has been described as “creative and dynamic” at the University of Chicago and Princeton University. In 2011, she was named a political science professor at Tulane. In 2012, her eponymous MSNBC weekend talk show debuted. Harris-Perry commutes from New Orleans – where Tulane is based – to the Big Apple to tape her show each weekend. That travel schedule is expected to continue when she returns to Wake.
Landing her is a boon for Wake. At the ripe age of 40, she is one of the nation’s foremost thinkers – an articulate and thoughtful voice in a world of slipshod pontificators who speak first and leave thinking for a later time.
Harris-Perry, who will be the second Presidential Chair in the Politics and International Affairs Department, says she is teeming with excitement to return to the campus.
“My love affair with Wake Forest began when I was 16, so having the opportunity to return is thrilling beyond measure,” she said. “Wake Forest taught me the joys of learning, the responsibilities of citizenship and the endurance of friendship. I welcome the challenge of joining this demanding and nurturing academic environment.”