When I was a child in Guyana, old folks always said that eating the head of the fish was good for the brain. There’s an art to eating a fish head. Nothing more than a dry, white pile of bones must be left. The fish-head fetish is found throughout the Caribbean. Indeed, fish-head soup is a staple at every salt-of-the-earth island restaurant. Though not an island, Guyana has plenty of fish. The word “Guyana” is rooted in “Waiana,” the Amerindian name for the original territory, and means “land of many waters.” True enough, Guyana is known for its rivers, lakes and streams, not to mention the Atlantic Ocean on its northeastern border. You can imagine, then, the number of fish heads we consume—along with the rest of the fish. More than 40 years after leaving Guyana, I still “do a fish-head justice.”
You never discount the wisdom of the old. As an adult, I learned that fish, especially the head, contains nutrients that benefit the brain, such as Iron, Vitamin E, selenium and Omega-3 fats.
On July 13, some very brainy men and women assembled at Chelsea Piers in New York City to ruminate on “The Pipeline Crisis: Winning Strategies for Young Black Men.” It was the second plenary session of a year-old initiative that seeks to “pool the talents, know-how and resources of the legal, financial services and other private business communities to help reverse the rising rates of school dropouts, joblessness and incarceration among young Black men and to increase their representation in the pipeline to higher education and professional endeavors.” The initiative was launched by Sullivan & Cromwell L.L.P., Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice. If marshaled, proponents contend, private and public sector resources can help to significantly improve opportunities for young Black men.
Just as last year, more than 1,000 lawyers, finance and business executives, government officials, human services practitioners, academics and community leaders attended the July forum. With Harvard Law professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. moderating, panelists proposed solutions in “areas of urgent need:” early childhood development, public school education, employment and economic development, criminal justice and opportunities for high achievers. In early childhood development, for example, studies show that every $1 spent on a three-year-old yields a $4 return to the individual and a $13 return to society as a whole. In employment and economic development, a 2006 unpublished Race and Justice study by NERA Economic Consulting concludes that Blacks in the last decade lost more than $2 trillion in income due to the earnings gap, excessive unemployment and over-incarceration relative to whites.
The panelists were some of the nation’s best, brightest and most well-intentioned individuals,
Noticeably, painfully and regrettably absent was the law enforcement brass. Given the importance of criminalization in the pipeline crisis, shouldn’t law enforcement brains be brought into the initiative? Absolutely yes!
That’s my fish-head two cents on the matter.
By Rosalind McLymont