How a White Guy Understands Black Lives Matter

A key to understanding something written or said by someone else is understanding the context in which it was written or spoken. For example, to fully understand the Constitution, you have to learn about the lives and times of the authors and the people they wrote the document for. Those things framed the meanings of their words. In a similar fashion, to understand the Scriptures, you have to understand what the words meant to the hearers. That’s why theologians study Greek, Hebrew, and ancient near eastern history. The same practice holds true for understanding the Black Lives Matter movement as a white person. Study history, both recent and that of the early years of this country. Research the failed social engineering attempts of forced bussing and building the projects. Learn about the impact that the gentrification of the inner cities is having on people. Read literature such as Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Read Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and write down a list of the injustices he mentioned. Watch a movie like The Help (or read the book) and continually remind yourself that it was set in 1963. Listen, I mean really listen, to the album Anomaly by Lacrae. Learn the truth about Margaret Sanger and the anti-black sentiment she held as she founded Planned Parenthood. Most importantly, ask a black person that you know to explain what the movement means to him or her. Then, and only then, put feet to your convictions and become part of the solution, for if you don’t, you’re just part of the problem.


If you want to say, “I told you so”

I am inviting anybody in the United States that held a different opinion than mine about our newly re-elected president to say, “I told you so” to me when any of the following happen:

  1. The national debt ceases to grow for 12 months straight
  2. Our credit rating goes back to AAA
  3. We completely leave Afghanistan
  4. A budget is passed
  5. The president sets foot in Israel
  6. Real unemployment stays at or below 6% for three consecutive months
  7. DOMA is repealed and benefits like Social Security and military spousal privileges are extended to all legally married people
  8. The academic rating in science and math of U.S. students gets back into the top ten in the world
  9. The president fulfills his 2009 promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay
  10. The number of appearances the president makes on talk shows in a year is less than the number of press conferences he holds in the same year
  11. There isn’t a single presidential appointee at the USDA that has not or does not benefit from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)

You know where to reach me.

A Second Open Letter to Sen. Tom Harkin

On September 24, 2012, I posted the following letter to Senator Tom Harkin’s Senate Web page.


Senator Harkin:

As a veteran and taxpayer, I appreciate your desire to have the money used to educate our veterans be used effectively and efficiently. However, the presentation that you authored has issues. I’m trained in statistics and because of that, I could make a laundry list of issues. You are a very busy man so instead of going item for item, please allow me to point out one blatantly wrong slide. You have a slide entitled “For-Profit Colleges Employ Many Recruiters But Few Placement Staff.” From a subjective perspective, to have a slide with a title that indicates an issue with For-Profit Colleges as a group but then indicts a single one is disingenuous and ineffective because your case is that many schools have this problem, yet you showcase only one. It also smacks of a lack of objectivity and personal bias. Even if your chart is accurate, it does not make the point that this is a systemic problem.

Objectively, the slide in incorrect. University of Phoenix, the largest school under the Apollo Group umbrella, has an extremely robust Career Services site that covers the gamut of services from resume writing to career research to interview preparation. The site also lists major employers that Phoenix partners with to help find jobs for its graduates.

Your data was gathered from 2007 to 2010. I started at Phoenix in 2010 and I don’t know what its career placement services were like then. It could be that in 2010, your statement was accurate. However, it is nearly 2013 and it definitely is not accurate.

If I had the 20-30 hours free to write it, I would write a report that shows slide for slide, just how bad this report is. I don’t have the time to write it and anyone as busy as you doesn’t have the time to read it. Please consider making this “update” to your report as a show of good will. I’ll be the first person to thank you for that by making a post to that effect on my blog,

Since your Senate Web site has a link to that report on its home page, it appears that this is a report you are proud of and feel the people need to read. Don’t you owe it to your constituents and all of America to be accurate and up-to-date?

This is my second letter to you. I requested a response to the first one and I have not received it. I posted to your Facebook page and got no response. Please respond to this message. This is a very non-partisan issue. In this highly contentious and partisan time, taking action on a non-partisan issue is something I think would resonate well with many Americans.

Respectfully yours,
Andrew Knaster, BA, MA, MCP
University of Phoenix Master of Information Systems student, class of 2013

Statisticians and actuaries

A good statistician knows how to not lie and yet fail to tell the truth. The same holds true for actuaries. The only difference is that a statistician can use data to convince you that what didn’t happen, did, while an actuary, armed with the same data, can convince you that what won’t happen, will.