What Can You Buy With A Dollar Anymore?
This was the question I asked my group of sixth graders at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Newark. A moment of silence followed and a few blank stares were sent to me in passing. My Team Leader (who helps me out every Thursday with my class) laughed at me.
I was definitely confused. For most of my adolescent and adult life I have watched the power of inflation take over and the prices of everything escalate. I still remember the days when I could go to the General Store in Stillwater and buy penny candy or even a candy bar for under a dollar. Those days, to me, were far gone. You can’t even buy a McDonald’s cheeseburger for a dollar (don’t forget about tax!). I mean, come on, in the last couple weeks the gas prices have gone up almost every day and are now surpassing four dollars to the gallon. Was I really crazy for thinking that buying something for a dollar alone was something of the past?
Then he responded. ”Are you kidding? I can go to the corner store and buy two bags of chips and a can of soda for just a dollar”.
Now that you have a brief idea of Newark and what I’m doing there, let’s go back to the dollar.
I like the idea of making items such as these more accessible to the poor. My only issue is type of items they are. In a country that has been down are throats about proper diets and nutrition ever since the obesity rate got out of control, I find it hard to believe that we cannot provide people in Newark with more affordable way to eat a little healthier. This is where my thoughts have been since I had the “dollar” conversation. I know it may sound a little crazy, but if we can sell two bags of chips and a soda for a dollar and people are buying them, why can’t we focus on trying to improve what we’re actually selling to them (the ingredients, the nutrients)? Very idealistic, I now. But seriously, I don’t think it’s that inconceivable.
3 People That Should’ve Made Time’s 100, But Didn’t.
3.) James Franco (Hollywood’s Philosopher King): He’s been all over the news recently, but for what? Acting? No. Although Mr. Franco is best known for his diverse roles in Hollywood Blockbusters (Your Highness, Eat Pray Love, Milk, Pineapple Express, oh and who can forget Spiderman?), Mr. Franco is also esteemed in another sector of society: the University. After deciding to attend the University of California—Los Angeles in 2006, Franco took 62 course credits per quarter and earned his degree in Creative Writing in a single year. His success led him to attend graduate school at Columbia University for Creative Writing, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for Filmmaking, Brooklyn College’s Brooklyn College for Fiction Writing and Warren Wilson College for poetry all at the same time. (NOTE: He was also acting while attending these colleges.) You may ask yourself: how is this possible? Did he stop there? The answers to those questions go as follows: IT JUST IS and NO. Currently, Mr. Franco is enrolled in Yale University’s Phd English program and the Rhode Island School of design AND just a few weeks ago he announced he announced he will be attending the University of Houston for a doctoral degree in literature and creative writing. Talk about an overachiever, eh?
So although James Franco was not recognized in Time Magazine’s 100 this year, I still give him a two thumbs up for showing everyone that you can be intelligent, hot and still be a Hollywood Star.
2.) Buthayna Kamel (Egypt’s Woman-of-Power): If you haven’t been catching up with international news lately, you should really get on it. You know all of those riots that exploded in Egypt? Well, the people want a new ruler and Buthayna Kamel is up for the task. Just last week, Ms. Kamel made a bold move by declaring that she would be running for the Egyptian presidential office in the next election—a move that makes her the first female presidential candidate in Egypt’s history. Now, this may not seem like significant news to all you Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin fans (been there, done that) but even though the United States is still experiencing gender discrimination, Egypt faces inequality similar to that of the US prior to the 19th amendment. More often then not women are swept aside in Egypt—paid terribly low wages and left without a political voice. For a woman to declare political office of ANY sort is abnormal. Enter: Buthayana Kamel. She faces a daunting task with pressure being felt from women’s activist groups in the country who feel that women’s rights will not be acquired through a female president but rather through mass protests. Still, Ms. Kamel’s move is monumental and whether successful or not, has set the precedent for (hopefully) many more women to come.
Maybe it was too late for Time to catch onto this tenacious lady, but I give two thumbs up to Buthayana Kamel for tackling male-dominated politics, fighting for women’s rights and nonetheless looking classy. You go girl!
1.) Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh’s Superhero): Imagine a place where people in poverty can take out loans, create small business and even send their children to college. Muhammad Yunus—the founder of Grameen Bank—made all three of those scenarios possible. So no, this is not a fantasy world, this is Bangladesh. Grameen Bank is a micro-finance organization that gives out different kinds of small loans to those people really in need. The bank focuses on giving loans to groups of people and thus ensuring repayment and credit building. For impoverished citizens of Bangladesh—primarily women—Grameen Bank is a means to make some sort of profit in a society that faces illness, financial difficulty, and disparity on a day-to-day basis. Through his efforts to combat poverty, Muhammad Yunus earned a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Unfortunately, in February of this year Mr. Yunus faced numerous vocal attacks from other political leaders in Bangladesh who claimed that activities at the Bank needed to be reviewed to determine its benefit to society. Muhammed Yunus welcomed the review, staying true to the belief that Grameen is and will always be for the betterment of the impoverished. Ultimately last month Mr. Yunus (the founder!) was forced to step down from his position when outside political forces outweighed his own—a move that sparked many riots and protests from the people living in Bangladesh.
Although Time 100 neglected to include Muhammed Yunus—probably because of the recent controversy—I still give him two thumbs up for staying firm to his beliefs, being a heroic figure for the impoverished of Bangladesh and all-in-all doing so gracefully.
**To read more about Grameen Bank, Bangladesh and Muhammed Yunus, check out my friend Sarah’s blog. She’s currently an intern at Grameen, has the inside scoop of everything that’s been going on, and can most certainly explain it better than I can: http://actastheromansdo.blogspot.com/
Not an Introvert
There are times when I shy away and keep things to myself, but definitely not here.