Why the Gender Wage Gap is Even Worse for African American Women (by Lule K.)


The debate on the wage gap is not a secret. Everyone’s heard the whole “a woman makes 77 cents to every dollar the man makes” issue.  However, when the pay system is further analysed and dissected, one will find that this isn’t true for every woman, or every man. It is no surprise that white women have significantly more privilege than black woman, and black men less than white. For both men and women of color, the “77 cents” deal is unfortunately not the case. According to AAUW, for every dollar a man makes, the black woman makes 63 cents. That’s 37 percent less than a non-hispanic white man. Think about it this way: a black woman has to work for an extra eight months to be paid what said white man was paid at the end of December. So what exactly is the cause of this?

Well, statistically…

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Internet and Twitter: The Death of Print Journalism?

Twitter is not a new topic. People all around the global use twitter as a way to communicate. Twitter had an estimated 72 million active accounts in the year of 2013. Today it has 310 million monthly active users and 1 billion who use it to have “unique visits monthly to sites with embedded Tweets”, and a mindblowing 79% of the accounts are used outside the U.S; so you can see how big this franchise is today. Twitter supports 40+ languages on its site, so you can probably tell why this site is so popular – it’s accessible to most of the world in their most comfortable tongues such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, German and many more.

Should all journalists be on Twitter? Please do keep in mind that this question is not prompting anyone to stop using their own platforms in which they show the world their writing. This question could be taken into a larger perspective and could be asked this way: Should journalists move their work to the internet? I personally do not think it is good to abandon the idea of writing on paper, but the internet is becoming the source of news from most people. Internet usage has reached 3.3 billion users; around 40% of the world population has internet connection, as of today. This number is steadily rising. According to interentlivestats.com, “the first billion was reached in 2005, the second billion in 2010, the third billion in 2014.”

Somebody could say that Twitter could be the ruin of journalism. But, is this based in reality? There are newspapers like the Economist that post links to their articles and one could easily click a link and be transported to their website with a full length article to read the whole thing if one is interested. There are also other profiles on twitter that are Breaking News profiles and are used to tell news quick and short, which are great if you like straight forward, to-the-point reads. What I normally find myself doing is reading the breaking news articles and if I’m interested in the topic addressed, I go on Google and look at multiple articles that address that issue.

I took a survey and asked 6 millennials where they prefer to get their news from: the internet or the old fashioned papers? The results were surprising to me since both sides got 3 votes.  Maybe newspapers still have hope in the internet generation. I personally do think that the offline newspaper is, as sad as it may be, slowly dying, in the age of the internet which is growing at a surprisingly fast pace.

But what about those who live in countries or districts that don’t have reliable internet access, and rely solely on news delivered by paper? There are still the 4 billion apart from the 3 billion who still don’t have the internet at their disposal. What will become of them if news goes paperless?

Melting Pot or Not

Interracial marriages and multiracial families are something that are no longer considered rare or unheard of in many countries. They are becoming common in countries such as America, which prides its self on being a melting pot of many different cultures, races, and people. In other places, multiracial children are viewed as exotically beautiful, having picked up the best traits from each race. However when multiracial families or interracial marriages are displayed on advertisements, they are often met with a slew of racist and derogatory remarks, which are detrimental to the progress that advertisement companies are making concerning miscegenation.

On April 29, Old Navy, a well-known American clothing store, released an advertisement on social media which depicted a multiracial family. Almost immediately, the advertisement was met with racist social media comments such as “Absolutely disgusting. What’s next? Gender neutral bathrooms? Pedophilia acceptance propaganda?! Never shopping here again.” This was not the first time an advertisement depicting multiracial families has been attacked. Companies such as Cheerios have been attacked for daring to depict a multiracial family in their advertisements.

The problem is that America has long identified itself as a country of immigrants, a country of many cultures, a diverse melting pot. However, can a country be a melting pot if multiracial families are not accepted in marketing, and business? Many African Americans carry the traits and genes of more than one race; no one seems to have a problem with this as long as both parents are black. The problem seems to stem from having parents that are of different races – miscegenation. The verbally abusive anti-miscegenation attacks that some American marketing businesses are experiencing are yet another sign that the fight against racism is not over. What is worse is that America prides itself on being culturally diverse, and yet cannot except miscegenation. Carolina Johnson, a junior at Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi said, “I think it’s pretty insane at this point in time, in 2016, that people make those kinds of comments. I think that they show a face of society that we really have to try to diminish. To look at a family that is based on love, and say very demeaning things about them, that’s insane.” America has come pretty far in the fight against racism, but there is still a long way to go.

People often think that because slavery no longer exists in the shameless form it used too, slavery is over; it is not. And because segregation laws no longer exist, people can conclude that racism is over; it is not. Things such as racism cannot be solved simply by changing laws. Racism is a system of thinking in which a particular race is placed at the top of the chain, and this system of thinking drastically affects reality. Anti-miscegenation is only one example of the many problems that racism still brings.

It is dangerous to place value and identity in the colour of skin. Our races are simply boxes that society tries to put us in. Race is not an identity. Character is.

Uber in Nairobi: The Death of the Taxi?

Uber launched in Kenya in late January. Its efficiency and convenience has quickly made the Uber concept popular across the world. But, for Nairobi, is Uber truly better than getting a taxi?

Most people would argue that Uber, compared to regular taxi services, is safer and more secure to ride. According to Alude, an Uber driver, “If an Uber driver decides to do something bad to a client, he can easily be traced through the system, so if you complain they will go through the record and find out who picked the personage and catch him.” Therefore, with the existence of a system, personal safety is almost guaranteed. Taxi drivers, on the other hand, don’t have a system that monitors their actions. The only thing that control them is morality. This doesn’t imply that all taxi drivers will take advantage of these lax roles. but most people are afraid of uncertainty, especially since Africa is often seen by the outside world as “unsafe”.

Another argument that people propose in favour of Uber is that it is more affordable than taking a taxi. However, experiences may call this idea into question. If an individual lives in Kileleshwa, next to Valley-Arcade in Nairobi, it will cost about 1,250 Kenya Shilling, or $12.50 to travel to the Gigiri area. This is around 250 shilling (or $2.50) more expensive than travelling by taxi. Uber’s price is determined by distance, and therefore if an Uber car gets stuck in a traffic jam it cam become unprofitable for the driver; as a result, often the criver will opt to take the longer route. This will increase the cost to the rider. However, since the route is ultimately up to the driver, the price does fluctuate. Because Uber uses shilling per kilometer, it becomes hard for passengers to correctly analyze how much the ride should cost. Most passengers don’t have a clear idea how far away their destination is, or how long it will take.

Having this in mind, Taxi’s are a different story. Since Uber uses a phone app to decide the final price, it’s very hard for passenger to bargain over the cost. In the case of a taxi, everything is negotiable. When the passenger arrives at the destination he or she can usually negotiate the price of the ride. Thus the decision is in the hands of the passenger as well as the driver. It can result in a good bargain for the rider.

Convenience is another factor. Uber is very convenient within Nairobi, but it only operates in Nairobi proper. So if a passenger wants to travel to Naivasha (a city outside Nairobi city limits), it would be difficult with Uber. This said, a taxi driver can drive a passenger to areas outside Nairobi such as Naivasha and Kisumu without any issue.

In general, the decision that a client needs to make between Uber or traditional taxis depends on the situation. The two main factors to consider are distance and how familiar you are with Nairobi. If you just want to travel within Nairobi and you are not familiar with any taxi driver, Uber is safer. But if you have lived in Nairobi for some time and are acquainted with a few taxi drivers, then taxis are the better choice. And, if you want to travel outside Nairobi, taxi are the only viable option.

Is Nairobi ready for the Uber movement? Most definitely! But does it mark the end of the taxi business? In my opinion, absolutely not. What do you think Nairobians?

Ivory Inferno

The Ivory Trade is nothing new to us; it has been going on for centuries. Novels have been written about it and speeches have been made in bid to stop it, but poachers seem to always have a way to obtain ivory. Security is never enough. Today, we know the Ivory Trade to be the commercial, illegal trade of the ivory tusks of – most commonly – Asian and African elephants. Ivory has been valued since ancient times for such things as manufacturing, art, false teeth, fans, and dominoes.

Poachers are now slaughtering up to 35,000 of the estimated 500,000 African elephants every year for their tusks. With a pound of ivory fetching as much as $1,500 on the black market, and the rhino horn raising as much as £54million ($80 million) – more than gold or cocaine – it is obviously a problem of massive proportions.

It is absolutely sickening that poaching continues, and that innocent animals are being decimated for their ivory, only for pieces made of this substance to end up as dusty trinkets on shelves of wealthy people that will forget about them eventually or sell at a higher price.

On Saturday 30th April 2016, ivory from about 8,000 dead elephants went up in thick smoke. Twelve towering piles of ivory – £68m ($100m) worth – were incinerated in Kenya’s Nairobi National Park. Lighting the fire to what has been described as “the world’s largest stockpile of ivory and rhino horns” confiscated from smugglers and poachers, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta demanded a total ban on ivory in order to end the ‘murderous’ trafficking. The event marked the nation’s fourth such burn, raising awareness about the importance of protecting animals and rejecting illicit business at their expense. This symbolic act shows Kenya’s stance on wildlife poaching. “From a Kenyan perspective, we’re not watching any money go up in smoke,” Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Kitili Mbathi said. “The only value of the ivory is tusks on a live elephant.”

While the burns are setting records, conservationist groups have noted that there’s still more work to. And Kenya is seeking a total worldwide ban on ivory sales when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meets in South Africa later this year, as poaching poses an increasing risk to the species.

Celebrities, including actress Kristin Davis, attended the event to show support. Representing the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a Kenyan organization that rescues orphaned baby elephants, she said: “It’s very sad to see so much ivory in one place. I have no doubt that tusks from mothers of some of the orphaned baby elephants are in those piles.”

I was sadly not able to attend this event, but Rhea Chakrabarti, student and member of the “Hands Off Our Elephants” campaign managed to witness the spectacle. When asked about her thoughts on the event she replied, “When I was confronted by the 105 tons of ivory stacked up awaiting cremation, it was simply too much to take in. It baffled me how the ivory was stacked in a way that made it seem so beautiful. The tusks had writings on them, their weight and location -the little things. The pyres of ivory represented the lives of 8000 elephants. 8000 elephants. It’s disgusting just saying that…The ivory burning might seem controversial, but being there compared to nothing else I have experienced – it was beautiful and heartbreaking. Our government and many different organizations stood together for one common goal: to not let this happen again. The ivory burning was a step in the right direction for Kenya, [and] it sent a well-needed message to poachers, and hopefully next year there will be nowhere as close to the amount of ivory that was poached.”

Kenya’s ivory is not for sale! This trade means death – of both our elephants and natural heritage. I am a proud Kenyan living in this beautiful country, and I am proud that our country took a stand for its elephants and sent a message – one that I hope that transforms into action.

What Are You Wearing?

Shop till you drop! For many, trying and buying clothes is an enjoyable way to pass the day; for some people, clothes shopping helps to make them feel good and relax. These days, thinking ethically while shopping for clothes is getting more common and trendy, because a sad reality exists behind the glitzy world of the clothing industry. In a blog entitled “The Conscience Collective”, blogger Stacy Hope combines views on fashionable style with a more ethical and sustainable focus. According to Hope, “Who made my clothes?” is a question shoppers should find very important.

The unethical ways of many textile producers within the fashion industry include unfair working conditions and exploitation of poorer countries, as well as unsustainable treatment of land and soil and excessive environmental damages (such as excessive water drainage and use of harsh chemicals). Tracking clothes back to where and how they were produced shows the true face of the clothing industry; child labor, low salaries and factories where human rights are ignored. Some “Western” clothing brands use the sad realities of poverty in many countries to their advantage, gaining cheaply manufactured clothes in order to rake in huge profits. Though this “tracking” is hard work, to those concerned about ethical clothing and sourcing, it is important.

“The Conscience Collective” proves that great fashion and style can be combined with sustainable production. If a person is interested in both fashion and environmental and ethical concerns, it is important to make wary choices as a consumer. How can we choose wisely?

Here’s a “starter list” of some good tips for finding great sustainable and ethical outfits:

  • When you buy your clothes, skip the plastic bag! Bring your own fabric shopping bag – already, you have taken one important step on the path to reduce your global footprint.
  • Wait for one more wear before you clean your clothes! Often, we feel that a shirt is “dirty” after one use; this could use some rethinking. Changing the attitude on this issue can be hard for a lot of us, yet the benefits to the environment are worth it! And, there are other wash-related steps we can take, like using eco-friendly detergents and air-drying the clothes as often as we can.
  • Choose local! Locally produced clothes have obvious environmental advantages and often ethical ones as well, since the control over a smaller business is much greater than in mega-factories, and you as a consumer can know more about the production.
  • Don’t trash it! About 21 billion clothing items are thrown out in the United States every year and numbers are high in many other countries as well. NEVER throw clothes away if they are usable. Rather, donate, trade with a friend, or sell your gently used duds.
  • Shop second-hand! I absolutely love second hand clothes and so should you! It´s a great way to find unique clothes without supporting the wasteful industry of today.
  • Do some research! When it comes to finding ethical clothing you need to ask questions and be curious. Regardless of how stylish and cheap their clothes may be, Primark, Forever 21 and H&M (except their Conscious line) do not use ethical labor methods. In a jungle of companies who exploit workers, it can be hard to make conscious decisions. But when you are wearing something that both looks fabulous and is fabulously produced it will be worth it!

A Kenyan Coachella? Yes Please!

For two weekends every April, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes over the small desert town of Indio, California. The word ‘festival’ may conjure up images of sodden fields and mud-splattered boots, but over at Coachella, it’s a classier affair. The two three-day weekends of the festival (this year it spanned April 15-24) consist of flower crowns, daisy dukes, non-stop music, fashion and fun.

For those who missed it this year – because they were busy with school, work, or live on the opposite side of the world – the highlights included: Guns N’ Roses performing with AC/DC’s Angus Young; Halsey hosting a mini Panic! At the Disco show; Lorde and Sam Smith singing with Disclosure; and “Sia’s concert performance of a generation.” Not to mention the surprise appearances by Kanye West, Rihanna, Kesha and even Bernie Sanders.

Off-stage, the fashion and revelry are as much a part of the festival as the sounds. Most celebrities and supermodels attend Coachella, so the chances of meeting your favorite famous people are pretty high. Gabriella Opagi, a student in Kenya and a fan of the festival said, “I love the idea of the celebrities mingling with non-famous people without it being a big deal, it’s like an unspoken word to not freak out-as everyone is trying to have a good time. It would be cool to have that in other places”.

So far, it all seems pretty glamorous, right? But how much does it cost? For the 2016 festival, general admission tickets were $399, or $459 with a shuttle pass included. VIP admission is $899, and VIP parking is $150. But scoring tickets to the festival is only the beginning of the challenges that await potential Coachellers. Essentials like travel to the festival, lodging, and dining during the weekend usually command the larger part of a festival-goer’s budget. “By the time you get into the show, you’re broke,” says Ross Gerber, CEO of LA-based financial firm Gerber Kawasaki and a long-time festival attendee.

When we think Music Festival, we might imagine non-stop music and partying with thousands of strangers crowded together, like at Coachella, Tomorrowland or Lollapalooza. We also might think of the “West” (i.e. America or Europe). We do not often connect music festivals to Asia, Africa or even Australia, unless they are focused on traditional or cultural music. But, there are non-cultural music festivals that take place in countries like Kenya, for example, they are just not as popular and publicized.

“Sunglasses At Night” is the brainchild of 6:AM Entertainment Kenya Ltd. It’s the one party of the year where the venue is washed in some of the most sophisticated lighting ever seen on the Kenyan scene. The bright lights make the sunglasses necessary for the ravers as they enjoy the colorful effects of the professional light installation. Other music festivals in Kenya include –Beach Life, Kikoy Culture and Earth Dance. All cost around 1,500/- 3,500/, which is about 15-35 USD. Relatively cheap, right? However, there is a slight problem. To be able to attend, you have to be over 18 or 21. This is a problem, as teenagers want to go, and as they can’t, they get fake IDs and get in illegally. It is actually sad that kids have to go to such lengths to have a fun night out, as there aren’t any “teen-friendly” non-cultural music festivals for them to attend.

What would it be like to have a “Coachella” in Kenya? Opagi, on the benefits of a music festival becoming a reality in Kenya said, “If you would Africanize Coachella, because not many Africans listen to all-American music per se, people would go and have fun, and learn more about American music. It would also be a great opportunity to showcase Kenyan talent for all ages”.

Promoters out there: are you listening?

Chase Bank: Is There Still Hope?

Bankruptcy, debt, poverty, and dying dreams. These are a few consequences following the closing of a bank. Recently, Chase bank – a major bank in Kenya – closed down due to poor governance. The directors of Chase bank had apparently loaned themselves too much money, and were not able pay it back. Chase bank also lent money without proper security, which also contributed to its downfall. Once the news of the bank’s unreliability was leaked, Chase bank customers lost faith in their bank and started to withdraw money. The withdrawal of so much money forced the Central Bank of Kenya to shut Chase bank down, and place it under receivership for 12 months. The Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation has been appointed as receiver manager, in order to control and supervise the affairs and business of Chase Bank and advise the Central Bank of Kenya on an appropriate resolution strategy.

But for the people who placed their trust, and money in the care of Chase Bank, the repercussions will last a lot longer than 12 months. In it’s relatively short history, Kenya has never reopened a Bank. Because of this, even though the CBK says that Chase will reopen in the near future, people aren’t counting on it. Despite the tremendous amount of withdrawals, Chase bank still closed, leaving 55,000 of their clients in the position of not being able to access their money. Some of these people will be okay. But for others who had trusted Chase Bank with life savings, or are in debt, or had all their business money in Chase, a 12 month receivership – or the possibility of Chase Bank never opening again – is devastating.

The closure of a major bank such as Chase is not only detrimental to individuals, but also negatively affects the economy and the country as a whole. Judy Thuo, owner of the bus company City Hoppa, and a supplies business called Redline Limited, said that “the closing down of Chase bank creates a run on the industry, it makes us lose confidence in our financial industry which is very bad for our business, and very bad for the economy.” However there is still hope. Chase Bank has a few interested buyers, due to their good profile among small and medium enterprises. And of the banks of that have failed in the past (and have not reopened), none have had the outstanding customer profile, or the amount of resources Chase Bank has. So there is still hope.

The future of Chase Bank now lies in the hands of KCB (Kenya Commercial Bank) – the biggest bank in Kenya – since they have bought a majority stake in Chase. KCB hopes that Chase will improve its access to small and medium sized enterprises. To the public, this financial tragedy should emphasize the importance of choosing the institutions with which we trust our money very carefully. Chase Bank was known for its excellent service, and for reasonable interest rates. Chase was a great choice for a bank, especially for a lot of middle-class citizens who couldn’t afford to be a part of larger banks such as Barclays. The loss of such a bank is an important reminder of how prudent we need to be when it comes to money.  Our hope now lies in KCB.