Monica Potts

Monica Potts is a freelance writer, and former staff member of The American Prospect. A fellow with the New America Foundation Asset Building Program, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. She also blogs at PostBourgie.

Recent Articles

Using Discretion to Profile.

The Post and Courier in South Carolina recently ran an article on accusations of racial profiling in North Charleston. In that city, police pull black drivers over more often, and black men are twice as likely to be pulled over than white men, the article says, citing police statistics. While African Americans made up 45 percent of the population, they accounted for 65 percent of the traffic stops in which no one is arrested or given a ticket. That led to accusations of racial profiling, and the police chief, Jon Zumalt responded with the usual: Police officials insist it's a reflection of a strategic, zero-tolerance crackdown on crime in several troubled neighborhoods where the population is predominantly black and where blacks commit the majority of crimes. Zumult said the strategy of pulling people over for minor infractions has helped reduce the crime rate by 30 percent over the past three years, and the city's mayor says he thinks communities should be happy that fewer black...

Helping HBCUs.

Via RaceWire , Obama has signed an executive order to bolster federal support for historically black colleges and universities: Obama says these schools have felt the pain of the recession (and his own cuts last year) the most because they enroll a higher proportion of low and middle-income students. His order includes $850 million which will ensure students can afford a college education and HBCUs can improve and expand facilities. That's especially important because the recession has hit these colleges especially hard, says The New York Times . Not only do they have a higher proportion of disadvantaged students than primarily white institutions, but they start off with smaller endowments. Helping low-income students go to, and stay in, college is a good goal. And making sure HBCUs get a fair share of federal help is an even worthier one. -- Monica Potts

The Oscar Win for Women.

Last night, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an Academy Award for best director, and her film, The Hurt Locker became the first female-directed movie to take home the best picture award. It was a big relief that the artfully constructed film -- albeit a possible propaganda machine -- and Bigelow both won over the blockbuster monstrosity Avatar . But her win, to some extent, was overshadowed by that of Sandra Bullock . I have nothing against Bullock, since I've followed her career since Love Potion #9 , but her performance as a smart-talkin' housewife who takes a neglected child under her wing in The Blind Side is the kind of cliche we always reward women for. It shows how Hollywood normally thinks of women: types who like to wear pretty dresses and meet their friends for lunch, and the female viewers who like to watch women talking to their friends at lunch. Occasionally, as with Bullock's character, they're also so spunky they can get what they want, but usually their...

Managing Costs Through Doctors.

In a question-and-answer session with The New York Times , bioethicist Dr. Howard Brody follows up on his New England Journal of Medicine editorial making the case that doctors have a professional obligation to keep medical costs down. In the health-care debate, physicians have supported health insurance reforms but don't want those reforms to affect their incomes, he says: Unlike previous health care reform discussions where doctors were put on a pedestal, people are now turning the searchlight, appropriately I think, on the medical profession and asking if we are the problem. But rather than rising to that challenge and exercising moral leadership in health care reform, we are acting like one more special interest group. Instead of saying we care about patients enough to put our own interests on the back burner, it has been as if we were more concerned about maximizing our income. He notes that, of course, that's not true of all doctors. But it counters the idea that, since patients...

Anti-Abortion and Health Care.

In the final push for a health-care bill, Democratic leaders in the House are working behind the scenes with anti-abortion members to try to get them to drop their opposition to the Senate bill's language on abortion, the Washington Post reports . The Senate bill adopted language from Sen. Ben Nelson that would only allow clients in the exchanges to get abortion coverage through a special rider paid for separately, in order to prevent federal dollars from paying for abortion. Many fear this provision would prevent the plans in the exchanges from offering abortion coverage at all. Despite the fact that this is about the only medical procedure Americans can prevent their federal tax dollars from funding, preserving the status quo seems the only real way forward. Bart Stupak and his ilk, of course, don't think it goes far enough. The National Right to Life Committee already thinks a direct appropriation of $7 million to Community Health Centers will go to fund abortion. It's his crew...