Editorial Roundup: Nebraska

Omaha World-Herald. September 27, 2022.

Editorial: Malcolm X the right choice for induction into Nebraska Hall of Fame

Omaha-born Malcolm X is one of the leading figures in America’s battle for civil rights, so it’s entirely fitting that a state commission has chosen him to be the newest member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame.

The human rights activist, who was born in 1925 as Malcolm Little, had been nominated for the Hall of Fame at least twice before. Fifteen years ago, he was deemed too controversial.

But this year, commissioners voted 4 to 3 for him, then agreed to make the vote unanimous. He will be officially inducted in 2024 and his bust will be displayed along with 26 others in the State Capitol.

Malcolm X was known for his fiery oratory that helped deliver a message of self-sufficiency and independence for Black people.

Assassinated by a gunman 57 years ago, he continues to be viewed as a leading voice for equality and freedom. His life story of overcoming adversity has been widely read in “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

It’s true that Malcolm X’s time in Nebraska was short. His family moved when he was 18 months old because of threats from the Ku Klux Klan. Arguably, though, Nebraska had a profound effect on Malcolm X and his views precisely because of the reason for his brief time here.

The first chapter of his book begins with this sentence: “When my mother was pregnant with me, she told me later, a party of hooded Ku Klux Klan riders galloped up to our home in Omaha, Nebraska, one night.”

His birthsite sits on 17 acres in the heart of North Omaha and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is maintained by the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, which has campaigned for him to be inducted in the state Hall of Fame.

Schmeeka Simpson, director of tours with the foundation, said in a World-Herald article about the vote that his induction is “an opportunity to show that Nebraska is a state that considers all men created equal.”

As our state motto says: “Equality before the law.”

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Lincoln Journal Star. September 27, 2022.

Editorial: Untangling the problem of child obesity

The problem of child obesity is hard to tackle. It’s hard even to talk about.

It’s a tangled knot of culture, race, poverty, tradition, government, mental and physical health, achievement and the economics of health care.

But Nebraskans -- really all Americans because it’s a nationwide crisis -- have a vested interest in figuring it out.

Estimates are that 3 or 4 in every 10 young Nebraskans is obese or overweight and at risk of obesity. The numbers are higher for Hispanic and Native children as well as children of families who receive federal supplemental nutrition program benefits.

Cultural, genetic and socio-economic factors seem to correlate with a higher obesity rate. Mental health, emotional well-being and intellectual achievement can contribute to obesity. And they can also be diminished by it.

Modest gains on the problem may have been wiped out -- at least temporarily -- by COVID. Schools are on the front lines in this battle, and remote learning meant less physical education and less influence on students’ diets. It also fed anxiety and mental health issues that can contribute to obesity.

As if all these factors didn’t present challenges enough, there’s more. Dr. Ruben Quiros, director of the weight and wellness program at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, noted another important factor: It’s a hard problem to talk about with individuals, “There’s still a stigma of this being a self-inflicted thing.” There’s much more too it than making a choice to overeat.

And there’s a sense that it’s all about appearances. It’s not. It’s not about fitting into an outfit or having washboard abs. From a strictly medical perspective, obesity isn’t about body shaming. It’s about basic health and setting a course for a healthy adulthood.

The bill for childhood obesity comes due in the form of diabetes, heart failure and cancer later in life. And those costs are high for loved ones and for society. So we need to figure this out now -- how to talk about it and how to address it.

Schools and food support programs are focusing on offering healthier choices. Doctors and teachers can promote education and exercise. Parents have the greatest responsibility to shape children -- and to enlist the help of others when needed.

It’s not an easy discussion to have person-to-person. And it’s not an easy discussion to have as a society. But our ability to talk about -- and act on -- child obesity is essential to our state and nation.

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