“Any time you throw your weight behind a political party… and that party can’t keep promises that it made … and you’re dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify with that political party, you’re not only a chump but a traitor to your race.” — Malcolm X, 1964
So what do you think Malcolm X would say to radio host Tom Joyner’s “plea to the Blackman” blog statement? “Let’s not deal with the facts right now … let’s just deal with our Blackness and pride — and loyalty. We have a chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing … because he’s a Black man.”
Fifty years after Malcolm X preached “Black Power” and its concepts of economic and political equity, a Black family resides in the White House and people like Joyner want to keep them there without posing the ultimate question of: “What have you done for me lately?”
Malcolm X had a brilliant rap and great power and influence. His “by any means necessary” pledge to Black equality holds great sway in the “Black Power” psyche. For Joyner to be willing to overlook the fact that Black Americans have the lowest average income of any large racial group in the nation, are incarcerated at alarmingly high rates, and are still segregated and profiled just to get Obama re-elected is a disservice to Black political empowerment. Wouldn’t Malcolm’s rap on the subject be that African Americans “should take stock of what the Obamas being in the White House has accrued?”
At the basis of political struggle are economic interests. The economic interests of Black Americans are not mutually aligned with the Democrats, or the Republicans. In areas of social justice, economic development and public safety, the vast gulf between what is needed and what is provided from government demands re-evaluation. President Obama’s tone toward Blacks’ problems is for us to: “Stop whining.” And Herman Cain says to the Black and poor that “If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself!”
African Americans are a racial minority in a country where racism is a fact of life. In the current scheme of things, Black-oriented issues are regularly put on the back burner and it makes sense to form African-American interest groups who are willing to bring our issues to the forefront of American political discourse. Things can change for us, if we make a point of consolidating our own political voting power. Black Americans can no longer complain about how we are treated without adopting tried and true methods to take political power. Identifying with Black culture is necessary. Being part of a 2012 Black voting bloc would be a bold move to put balance back in the American political landscape leading up to the presidential election.
William Reed is publisher of Who’s Who in Black Corporate America and available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org.
In the immortal words of Michael Corleone, "Every time I try to get out, they keep pulling me back in."
It seems that there's always at least one good line that you can take from every classic gangster movie and apply to everyday life. The recent stories about the 2010 Census and Philadelphia's population growth prove the point.
I always look forward, with great anticipation, to new Census Bureau reports. As a marketing professional, I'm always optimistic that I'll see new, fair and accurate information.
More often than not, however, I wind up being not only deeply disappointed, but also outraged, by the way in which the data are packaged and edited.
Whenever this happens, I do feel an absolute obligation to speak out, and to attempt to clear the record, especially as regards the Black economic condition. That's where the "pulling me back in" part comes in.
Sometimes, it's the Census Bureau's own reports that are the culprits. At other times, it's the mainstream media outlets, which cover the Bureau's announcements, and their "opinion managers," such as Pew Research, who do the most damage, following the release of Census data.
Once the most recent Census data was released, for example, the Philadelphia Daily News published yet another Census-related story that managed not to mention the words "Black" or "African-American," at all; and that it failed, once again, to mention that the largest, single, ethnic population segment in Philadelphia –larger than whites, Hispanics, Asians, or any other group – is African-Americans, at 662,287 people, or 43.4 percent of the city's population. This compares, of course, with the 563,096 persons, or 36.9 percent of the population, that is represented by non-Hispanic whites, the 12.3 percent, who are Hispanics, and the 6.3 percent, who happen to be Asian.
If you're counting, that means that there are about 100,000 more Black people in Philadelphia than whites; 434,510 more Blacks than Hispanics, and 526,149 more African-Americans than Asians, in the City of Philadelphia Brotherly Love.
Don't you think a credible story about the population trends in the City should have mentioned those kinds of numbers?
But, hey, what was I thinking?
Most people know that Black people have been "catching a bad break" from the U.S. Census, dating all the way back to 1790, when the first national census was done.
If you'll recall, the 1790 census was the one that included the infamous "three-fifths compromise," in which our government leaders agreed that Black slaves would only count as three-fifths of a white person, for census-taking purposes. Right away, that should have made us all a bit nervous about how willing our national census takers are to "bend" the statistical rules to underrepresent the Black population and its influence, to serve a political agenda.
But, enough of ancient history. Let's fast-forward, now, to the 21st century, and explore whether the modern relationship between the Census Bureau and Black people has improved, at all.
Let me see .......as I recall, the 2010 Census was the one wherein the survey designers thought it made perfectly good sense, once again, to ask Black folks to respond to whether they wanted to be referred to as a "Negro," or not. That question was right there on the form. In 2010. Seriously.
It's not just the Census Bureau we need to be concerned about, it's also the people who manipulate and edit the Census data to make it look like a sales brochure for their new, gentrified vision for Philadelphia.
It's not fair, it's also not productive, and it needs to stop.
Why, for example, do "opinion managers," such as Pew, seem to only want to describe the Black population within the context of the 31 percent of the community that lives beneath the poverty level. The fact is that, if Blacks in Philadelphia look anything, at all, like the national income profile of African-Americans, then, they are, definitely, not all poor people.
According to data buried deeply in the Census Bureau's thousands of charts and graphs, for example, the top five percent of Black households earns an average of $188,338 (about $110,000 less than the white, "top 5 percent" households); "upper middle class" Black households earn an average of $114,808, or about $60,000 less than their white counterparts, and the "Black middle class" quintile earns about $53,286, on average, per household, about $29,000 less than their white, "middle class" peers.
Leaving the ongoing income disparity between Black and white households aside for the moment, there is no escaping the fact that, nationwide, 18.9 million of the 42,020,723 Black Americans earn at a "middle class or above" level, at least $53,286, per household.
No matter what your political views about Black people happen to be, you can't ever equate such numbers with "chicken feed."
If we assume that Black Philadelphians, from a household income perspective, look anything, at all, like the national Black income profile, then it's probably safe to estimate that 298,029 Blacks in Philadelphia reside in households that are, at least, by Black standards, "middle income," "upper middle income," or "upper income" -- ranging from $52,286 to $188,338 per year.
That's a great deal of spending power. That constitutes nearly 300,000 Black family members from households that contribute substantially to the city's economy, who live in well-kept homes, who drive nice cars, and who constitute a critically important part of the city's tax base, and its economic future.
Why doesn't that part of the city's Black community show up as a positive component of the local mainstream media's demographic trend stories? Why doesn't the Pew Research report focus, at all, on this vitally significant population segment?
Indeed, in its recent Census story, the Daily News' staff writer, Julie Shaw, interviewed Paul Levy, CEO of the Center City District, who said good things about the fact that "Young parents (in Center City) are choosing to stay in the city after having babies." What? Did long-time-resident, Black people stop having babies, all of sudden? I'd like to see the proof of that.
Then, treading on very dangerous ground in the same story, Ms. Shaw wrote that the City's continued growth can be "credited to an increase in the Latino and Asian immigrant populations." The most hurtful part of that statement, if you happen to be Black, and are, at all, aware that Black unemployment has consistently been twice that of white job-seekers, is the reporter's closing comment that "Hispanics have been able to find jobs in the restaurant, hospitality and construction industry and Asians have been able to form their own businesses." She said that without referencing, at all, the fact that, according to the 2007 Economic Census, Black business formation rates, in Philadelphia, outstripped those of all other ethnic groups, including Asians.
If we didn't know any better, we might start believing that the mainstream media were writing these misleading and inaccurate stories, on purpose.
Paul Levy is a very nice man, but why couldn't the mainstream press find a single, Black, source anywhere, out of the City's 662,000 Black people, who could have commented on a story about the city's Black demographics, about recent Black employment and job creation history, and, even, about Black propensity, to have babies? Not just now, why can't they ever?
We've all heard of the great Ralph Ellison's book, "The Invisible Man." Now, we have the "invisible 300,000 Black people?" Why?
For the benefit of Black folks, here, and the city, as a whole, I hope these "opinion managers" start doing a better job of telling the complete truth about our community – oon.
Without question, Philadelphia – all of it – will be a lot better off, as a result.
A. Bruce Crawley is president and principal owner of Millennium 3 Management Inc.
Did you hear the joke about how Republicans in North Carolina want to ban scientific discussion about the rising ocean levels? Well, I hate to break it to you, but it is no joke. A law is making its way through North Carolina legislature — advanced by the Republicans, of course — to limit all calculations on rising sea levels to those determined by the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission. Further, the calculations have to be based on historic trends. In other words, the Commission is only to look to the past and not factor in what is really happening.
If anyone has any question as to what a Republican takeover of the national government would look like, watch our friendly North Carolina GOP in action. They do not like the fact that the ocean is rising so, presto, let’s pretend that it is not happening. Let’s not scare vacationers who want to visit and perhaps purchase property on the Outer Banks. Let’s leave them all in blissful ignorance while the oceans rise eventually turning those beaches into seabed unless something dramatic is done soon.
But then, the Republicans do not want to do anything about the climate catastrophe because, after all, they assert that the catastrophe is not happening. And how better to demonstrate that it is not happening than to not look at the actual data?
The North Carolina climate denial would be comedic if it were not so serious. Whether the denial is based upon an absurd attempt to protect property values or a bury-your-head-in-the-sand approach does not really matter. Let’s also leave aside some of the possible First Amendment issues contained here. The bottom line is that today’s Republican Party is, quite literally, attempting to rewrite reality.
We are living through an environmental crisis, North Carolina GOP’s opposition notwithstanding. We are witnessing the disappearance of the polar ice caps and the extinction of species. There is a dramatic crisis afflicting bats with millions dying off, and there is the equally ominous collapse of bee colonies. To pretend that this is not happening is the equivalent of a child making noises so that they do not hear things that they wish to ignore.
Yet it is not just denial. There is a struggle under way, and that is precisely what makes the politics of the Republican Party so dangerous. Environmental collapse is not inevitable since there are steps that can be taken, but they can only be taken when we take the blinders off and face reality.
So, with all due respect to the people of the great state of North Carolina, it is not only time to wake up and smell the scent of the sea closing in on your lovely homes on the Outer Banks, eventually making Raleigh a beach front … it is also time to laugh out of office the dimwits who believe that saying it ain’t so is enough to make it not happen.
Suddenly, Campaign 2012 is looking like déjà vu all over again. Remember how President Barack Obama’s fast rise to the White House was boosted here and there by remarkably unlucky opponents? The Republican challengers to his reelection seem almost determined to help him to get lucky one more time.
Obama’s 2004 Senate election memorably came after his top opponents in the primary and general election were sidelined by embarrassing revelations from their divorce records. The chosen Republican replacement candidate, former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, lost in a landslide — making it no longer necessary for him to move from Maryland.
Also fortunately for Obama, his 2008 presidential bid came at a time when voters were hungry for “change.” That role is now reversed. Republicans have the “change” advantage, unless they blow it by offering changes that voters don’t want.
Meeting that challenge has a large array of Republican candidates and their backers quarreling among themselves, divided between the Grand Old Party’s establishment, which is focused on electability, and its upstart tea party-energized grassroots, who seem more determined to be right — extreme right — than to win the White House.
The teas should be happy to see a recent CNN/ORC International poll. It shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry maintaining his lead for the nomination with 28 percent of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney trailed at 21 percent.
However, that does not settle the nervous tummies of party leaders. The same poll showed that Romney fares best against Obama. He basically ties with the president with 48 percent to Obama’s 49 percent. But Obama leads Perry, 51 percent to 46 percent.
And Perry has proved to be less pure than many believed. Republicans went gaga over the Texas governor when entered the race in August with press attention and poll numbers that edged Romney out of the spotlight, along with Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, despite her victory in Iowa’s Republican straw poll.
An audience almost as lively as a tea party rally cheered Perry’s record for executing more convicts than any other governor in memory, creating the sort of awkward moment that even causes some conservatives to gasp.
But Perry was roundly booed for his opposition to a border fence stretching from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico and his signing of a bill that allows children of illegal immigrants to pay lower in-state tuition at public colleges in Texas. His opponents pounced on both positions, as well as his initiative to require Texas girls to be inoculated against the cancer-linked human papillomavirus, unless their parents opted out.
Lingering discontent with the Republican field showed itself two days later, when Florida Republicans handed a resounding straw poll victory to Herman Cain, the colorful former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, who hardly has a pepperoni’s chance of actually being nominated.
Immediately, a familiar sign of Republican panic surfaced: breaking news of efforts to draft New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, despite his having asked publicly “What do I have to do short of suicide to convince people I’m not running?”
That’s a good question, since I don’t think the party’s conservative wing is going to be tickled with Christie, either, once they get to know him. He favors “a legal path to citizenship” which tea partiers boo as “amnesty.” He favored “some of the gun-control measures we have in New Jersey” in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who immediately razzed it as a “bad idea.”
Christie also has said climate change “is real,” although conservatives like Perry call it a hoax. And, horror of horrors, he has been known to praise President Obama’s Race to the Top education program and apply for funds. That’s reasonable for a big-state governor, but reason doesn’t get you very far as a GOP candidate in these angry times.
No wonder Christie is reluctant to run. But that doesn’t stop his suitors from asking. “It’s starting to look like dysfunctional dating,” said Republican strategist Nicolle Wallace on NBC’s “Today Show.” True. Or a circular firing squad.
Feeling blue about losing $656 million Mega Millions jackpot lottery? Cheer up. Behind the lottery frenzy and hoopla, I’ve seen enough miserable winners over the years to conclude this: If you’re not prepared to handle the pitfalls that follow a sudden windfall, you’re probably better off without it.
First, if you become a winner you should be prepared to gain a lot of new friends and lose others, especially if you chipped in with a group to buy the winning ticket. Witness the McDonald’s employee in Maryland who claimed to hold a winning Mega Millions ticket as an individual, the New York Post reported, even though she also bought tickets for several other people as part of a restaurant pool. If true, she could be the latest of many targets in group lottery lawsuits.
Advice: If you play with friends, keep careful records. As filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn is somewhat inaccurately to have said, an oral contract is not worth the paper it’s written on.
Another hazard: impulse buying. One legendary case was the late William “Bud” Post III, who died six years ago at age 66. He won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery in 1988. Within three months, according to an obituary in the Washington Post, he was $500,000 in debt after buying a liquor license, a lease on a Florida restaurant for his brother and sister, a used-car lot and its fleet for another brother and a twin-engine plane, although he did not have a pilot’s license.
Along the way, a brother tried to hire a contract murderer to kill him and his sixth wife; a landlady forced him to give her one-third of the jackpot, and he was convicted for assault at his dream house in northwestern Pennsylvania after he fired a shotgun at a debt collector. He went bankrupt, came out of it with only $1 million free and clear, and reportedly spent most of that, too. Message: Invest wisely.
Excessive generosity also can be a hazard, judging by the widely reported story of Janite Lee, a Korean immigrant who won $18 million from the Missouri Lottery in 1993. She generously doled out many dollars to educational programs, community services and political organizations, and dined with President Bill Clinton, among other VIPs. Alas, in 2001 she filed for bankruptcy and was reportedly left with only $700 in her bank account. Sad.
So is another affliction commonly called “affluenza,” the lonely feelings of worthlessness and dissatisfaction that come, even after you already have become quite wealthy, from always wanting “a little bit more.”
That’s how Richard Watts, who manages the fortunes of some of the country’s wealthiest families, describes the syndrome in his new book, “Fables of Fortune: What Rich People Have That You Don’t Want.” Unlike many of his fellow Harvard Business School grads, the California lawyer decided not to write a book about how to make money, but about how to keep your sanity while living with it.
The biggest tragedy of the rich, he told me during a visit to Washington, falls on children, who, because of their parents’ well-intentioned over-generosity, end up being “children of entitlement,” woefully under-equipped to face the struggles and decisions of normal life. Once they reach adulthood, Watts says, “their wings have had so little strengthening, their chances of flying are limited.”
Yet if this sounds like the sort of problem you’d like to have, there are important lessons to be learned from the suddenly wealthy who managed to avoid unhappy headlines.
One, catch your breath. Take a little time to employ competent advisers and figure out what to do with the new cash sensibly. You’ll have plenty of time to blow your money later.
Second, do something nice. Some lottery winners have set up foundations to improve the lives of others. Then they maintained a very low profile to keep others, including the media, off their backs.
Also: Avoid impulse buying, which is good advice for all of us.
What’s more important than money, I realize as I grow older, is time. Time is, indeed, like money as the old saying goes. Wisely use it — or lose it.
When I was a candidate for mayor in 2007, among the many issues in the campaign that I felt passionately about was Mayor Nutter’s plan to stop, question and frisk anyone suspected of having a gun on the streets.
I was opposed to it then, and I am opposed to it now.
During that campaign four years ago, voters would often stop me and ask: “Are you soft on crime?” On the contrary, I am a strong advocate of law and order, and, frankly, the highest priority of all elected officials should be public safety. Without it, there is unbridled chaos.
But “stop-and-frisk,” as it is conveniently called, is a proposal far too simplistic for the very complicated issue of crime. Yes, it wins the battle for good publicity, but it fails miserably on many levels because it essentially labels anyone who looks “suspicious” a criminal.
That’s one of the reasons why my opposition to it is so personal.
My parents were West German immigrants who narrowly escaped the murderous reign of Adolf Hitler. They settled here and built a wonderful life for themselves, proud to be Americans, literally basking in the freedom of democracy. Not a single day passed that my parents did not remind me how grateful they were to be living in America.
As I was growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, however, the stigma of prejudice was never far away. Living in Northeast Philadelphia, neighbors would sometime brusquely ask me about my parents and if they were living here as citizens. I didn’t like it then, and looking back on it 50 years later, it sounds as ugly as ever.
In the mid-1970s, I learned that my father had actually been detained for 18 months in an Army camp along with other German and Japanese immigrants. He was moved from base to base across the country without any evidence of charges filed against him.
His was labeled “suspicious” only because of his ethnic background.
At his visa hearing, an officer reviewed my father’s file, shook his head, and apologized on behalf of the American government for such a miscarriage of justice.
The protection of civil liberties is paramount in any civilized society. The American patriots who framed our constitution, and the men and women who have fought and died in the defense of it over the last 235 years deserve nothing less.
There is no question that we must prevent the scourge of crime from devouring entire neighborhoods in this city. Advances in police work, greater public awareness and increased resources into crime prevention are making us a safer city.
“Stop-and-frisk” does nothing to advance this goal. It fans the ugly fires of prejudice and arouses anger in those communities where the most vulnerable are already preyed upon.
“Stop-and-frisk” has no place in our society.
Al Taubenberger is a Republican candidate for Philadelphia City Council at-large.
The American Dream is starting to fade away and that is very scary. The saddest thing about this is the recent behavior or attitude of President Barack Obama. He has abandoned leading us and has gone on full campaign mode with more than four months to go before the national election. He seems to be delirious in his character attacks against candidate Mitt Romney. It is like Nero sitting down with his fiddle while Rome was burning away. Is Obama our Nero? Let’s take a look.
God has blessed our country with natural energy resources such as oil, natural gas and coal. Maybe that’s why he is mad about it — God has blessed us. He is attacking the life blood of our energy needs. He wants us to stop using these products but has no clear solution or even a hint about how we can do without them. Our tariff-free trading partner Canada has immense reserves of oil and would love to ship vast amounts via the Keystone Pipeline. Everyone but environmental extremists is cheering for this to happen. What’s the big problem? Our president is one of those environmental extremists. He wants to decrease oil quantities regardless of the negative affect it has on our economy (prices, jobs, business growth, etc.). Let us suffer; he has a “fiddle” to play.
The process of fracturing, a/k/a fracking, has opened vast new reserves of natural gas for our nation. We now have more natural gas than any other nation on earth. That makes most of us happy but it depresses our president. He has his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) trying to find ways to slow down the process and, at times, to shut it down. We need more natural gas in a desperate way but he would rather play that “fiddle.”
Then there is our abundant quantity of coal. This is the cheapest form of energy and many of our utility companies rely on it. The harvesting of coal is a serious job creator in states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois. Our president doesn’t want to slow this down; he wants to kill it! His henchman, the EPA, has issued the Utility MACT Rule, which requires new mercury air standards that most utility plants cannot possibly meet. The result will be about 32 utility facilities shutting down. That is a tremendous amount of jobs (in this recession) and utility prices will skyrocket as supplies dwindle. Play that fiddle!
Remember when our beloved President John F. Kennedy said we will put a man on the moon and lead the world in space exploration? Well, the guy we have now just closed down NASA (JFK is rolling in his grave). Our nation is now No. 3 in space behind Russia and China. If we want to go into space we have to buy a seat from them. Many thousands of engineers are still unemployed as a result of this capitulation. Stop fiddling!
“America, the strongest nation on earth” — that saying is becoming passé. Our president has the crazy idea of slashing our military all the way back to 1940 levels. Hmmm, isn’t that the year Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan considered us punks and later attacked? It is quite clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin considers Barack Obama a punk. He has a look of disgust when they are together. No one respects weakness, especially when it comes with a fiddle.
No family or business can run properly without a budget. Our president is trying to manage and lead a nation without a clear budget. That’s why in his short tenure he has increased our debt by more than $4 trillion dollars (that’s a T). I can’t recall any other president in our history running our nation without a budget. It is lunacy or it’s like playing a fiddle while Rome burns. We are on the verge of financial ruin and there is no plan from the White House.
Former President Lyndon Baines Johnson vowed to make war on poverty. He started the food stamp program with a budget of $268 million in 1964. Our president doesn’t fight poverty; he promotes it. Last year, we spent more than $78 billion in food stamps. We are becoming a nation of paupers and he is playing the fiddle.
Finally, there is the low regard for the Black Church. How do you jump into the moral discussion of same sex marriage? That debate belongs to our church, not the white House. This is an affront to our beloved long standing institution — just for a few votes.
Mr. President, I am calling you out. Stop the ugliness and tend to the crisis at hand. Raising taxes in a recession and killing jobs via all of the above is a blue print for disaster. Your record with Black procurement is now at 1.1 percent (GAO). Nixon did better than you! — (NNPA)
A Black boy born in 2001 has a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime and a Latino boy a one in six chance of the same fate. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world: 7.1 million adult residents. One in 33 are under some form of correctional supervision, including prison, jail, probation, or parole.
Michelle Alexander writes in her best-selling book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” that there are more adult African Americans under correctional control today than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. In 2011, our state and federal prison population exceeded that of all European nations combined. Something’s very wrong with this picture.
The numbers are frightening — and there’s more. That’s why the Children’s Defense Fund will focus on this unjust crisis in one of the main plenary sessions at our national conference in Cincinnati on July 24. This epidemic of mass incarceration has created one of the most dangerous crises for the Black community since slavery and affects everyone in our nation. Black males have an imprisonment rate nearly seven times higher than white males, and Hispanic males have an imprisonment rate over twice that of white males.
Mass incarceration is tearing fathers and mothers from children, and economically and politically disempowering millions by taking away the right to vote and ability to get a job and public benefits in some states after prison terms are served. One in nine Black, one in 28 Hispanic and one in 57 white children have an incarcerated parent.
Mass incarceration has also become a powerful economic force and drain on taxpayers. Annual state spending on corrections tops $51 billion and states spend on average two and a half times more per prisoner than per public school pupil. I think this is a very dumb investment policy. Federal spending on prisons totaled $6.6 billion in fiscal year 2012.
An added danger driving mass incarceration is the privatization of prisons for profit. The Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison corporation, has proposed to 48 state governors that it will operate their prison systems for 20 years with a guaranteed 90 percent occupancy rate. A majority of all those incarcerated have committed nonviolent offenses. Some young prisoners I recently visited are in prison for use or possession of marijuana.
The toxic cocktail of poverty, racial disparities in child serving systems, poor education, zero tolerance school discipline policies, racial profiling, unbridled prosecutorial discretion and racial disparities in arrests and sentencing are funneling millions of young and older poor people of color, especially males, into dead end, powerless and hopeless lives. So we are bringing an extraordinary group of experts together at our national conference to talk about how to halt the epidemic and get our nation back on course and our children into a pipeline to college and productive work.
The panel will be moderated by Charles Ogletree, the Jesse Climenko Professor at Harvard Law School and founder and executive director of Harvard’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. The panelists are legal scholar Michelle Alexander, the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness;” Elaine Jones, former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and chair of CDF’s strategic planning committee on mass incarceration and the privatization of prisons; the Patricia Martin, presiding judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., Child Protection Division and president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Michael A. Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia and incoming chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors; Dr. John Rich, professor and chair of health management & policy and Co-Director of the Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice at Drexel University School of Public Health; and Bryan Stevenson, executive director of Equal Justice Initiative, who successfully argued the recent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court ending mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole for juveniles.
They’ll share their thoughtful research and experience about how to better ensure public safety through prevention and early intervention and fairer law enforcement policies. They’ll also examine mass incarceration as a continuing method of racial control and discrimination and recommend measures to replace the cradle to school to prison pipeline with one to college and productive work.
The panel will lead into an interactive town hall discussion with various speakers, including formerly incarcerated participants, to focus on how we can close off the major feeder systems fueling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and mass incarceration and create new hope and opportunity for children in their place. It will be a critical chance to hear from leading experts, identify how we’ve reached this point, and determine how together we must build a focused, effective movement to say no more.
Join us in Cincinnati to learn more and add your voice. It’s time to reroute our children, youths and parents from prison to college and productive work. And it’s way past time to stop the uniquely American blight of mass incarceration permanently.
Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense. For more information, go to www.childrensdefense.org.
Amazingly, Black folks in this country still don’t get it. After all we have been through and after everything we have accomplished, before and after integration, our relative collective economic position in America has changed very little. In some cases we have regressed in terms of ownership of land, from some 20 million acres of land (31,000 square miles) in 1910; and in our ownership of banks, of which 128 were founded between 1888 and 1934 and 64 Black-owned banks existed in 1912. As for other necessities such as supermarkets, manufacturing concerns, and distribution networks, we are not even on the economic radar screen.
In light of the latest news reports that predict yet another recession just around the corner, and the financial “cliff” from which we will soon fall, as reported on CNN’s, “Your Money,” one would think Black folks are busy getting our economic act together, our history of business ownership and mutual support notwithstanding.
Sad to say, we are still floundering, enamored by the trappings of the “good life” and living vicariously through reality television shows and the shallow personalities thereon. Instead of working on our own economy we seem to be more interested in the economies of others, like the Kardashians who make about $30 million per year, not counting Lamar Odom’s contribution. We just love to check in on those “wives” of wherever and listen to their vulgarity and watch their extravagance. We can’t seem to get enough of the gossip shows and things that will take us nowhere while making others quite wealthy.
Bob Law once said, “Black folks are just happy because Oprah is rich,” as he pointed out how ridiculous we have gotten when it comes to our own collective economic empowerment. He also chided us for just wanting to see a Black man in the White House — that’s all, just to know he is there.
Most of the people we follow and nearly worship are multi-millionaires and couldn’t care less about us. They wouldn’t give most of us the time of day if we saw them on the street. Yet we idolize and follow them in all that they do, as we slip further and further behind in building (or should I say rebuilding) our collective economic base.
Recent reports cite how important the Hispanic consumer market is and that it comprises more than $1 trillion in buying power. They also point out that Hispanics are the second largest population group in the U.S. and by 2015 they will be 18 percent of the total population at nearly 58 million persons. Those of us who were paying attention to Claud Anderson 15 years ago heard him predict just that. He also warned that if we didn’t get anything from this society when we were in second place, what do we think we will get when we fall to third place? He begged us to get prepared but we were too busy helping everyone else build up their wealth and take care of their children. As the saying goes, “It’s time to pay the piper.”
What can we do now? For starters we can look into a mirror and admit how we have played a role in our own economic demise; and then ask, “What can I do to contribute to our collective economic uplift?” Establish or get involved in a local effort to empower Black people, whether through education, politics, economics, or all three. You have to take action.
Remember when the lady on the school bus was harassed by students, and a couple of days later more than $660,000 was raised for her through Facebook? That’s how easy it is for us to do something collectively to help ourselves, yet we fail to take advantage of models that have been and could be implemented to help ourselves.
There was, and could be again, the Blackonomics Million Dollar Club that sent money to 20 Black institutions; we tried to get just 200,000 people to send $5 each to a designated charitable entity, but at its height there were no more than 1,000 participants involved. We have the Collective Empowerment Group (formerly Collective Banking Group) that should have a chapter in every major city across this country, but some heads of churches are too egotistical and individualistic to get involved. We had the 10-10-50 Movement, the Nationalist Black Leadership Coalition, the Bring Back Black Movement, and even a Black-owned and operated distribution network, The MATAH. Of course there have been many more opportunities that we have squandered for lack of involvement.
Now we have the Unity Movement (myunitymovement.com), which is calling for 2 million people to simply sign up on its website in an effort to capture a critical mass of folks to begin a collective effort to inform and educate, and to start, support and grow Black businesses. Will you at least do that?
Please, let’s reverse our economic dysfunction and help create a meaningful, pragmatic, and sustained economic movement. Don’t you think our children deserve that as a legacy from us? — (NNPA)
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his website, blackonomics.com.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich launched a nuclear attack on the needy last week by using ugly stereotypes to argue that people are poor because they are lazy, and the solution to widespread poverty is scrapping child labor laws and putting poor kids to work in menial jobs.
He said in a speech in Council Bluffs, Iowa: “Start with the following two facts: Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”
What planet does Gingrich live on?
My entire childhood was spent in poverty, and I can’t remember a time that my mother and stepfather didn’t have jobs. In fact, I can’t remember a time when Mama didn’t have at least two jobs. I’ve held jobs since I was in the sixth grade, jobs that included cutting the grass of my elementary school principal, delivering newspapers, washing dishes at the University of Alabama while I was a student at Druid High School in Tuscaloosa, and working as a waiter on trains during Christmas breaks while enrolled at Knoxville College in Tennessee.
Evidently my experience was not atypical. An analysis of Census Bureau data by Andrew A. Beveridge, a professor at Queens College in New York, found that most children live in homes where at least one parent works. In fact, three of every four poor working-age adults have jobs.
The problem isn’t that those living below the poverty line are unwilling to work. The problem is that their jobs don’t pay enough to lift them out of poverty, which is defined as $22,050 (yearly) for a family of four.
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, “Nearly 15 million children in the United States – 21 percent of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $22,050 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using that standard, 42 percent of children live in low-income families.”
Gingrich falsely asserts that poor children don’t have a work ethic except when it comes to illegal activity. His solution is to repeal child labor laws and put poor kids to work as library assistants or assistant janitors.
Federal law already allows young people to work.
The Department of Labor notes, “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets 14 as the minimum age for most non-agricultural work. However, at any age, youth may deliver newspapers, perform in radio, television, movie or theatrical productions, work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs), and perform babysitting or perform minor chores around a private home.”
Republicans have a record of railing against welfare, labor unions and the poor as part of their political strategy. During his 1976 presidential campaign, for example, Ronald Reagan told the story of a woman from Chicago’s South Side who had 80 aliases, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards, collected veteran’s benefits on four non-existent husbands, received Medicaid, got food stamps and collected welfare under each of her fake names, netting her tax-free income of more than $150,000. It was later determined that the woman resided only in Reagan’s head.
Like Reagan, Gingrich has sought to eliminate many federal programs that assist poor people.
In 1994, he proposed kicking young mothers off welfare and using that money to create Boys Town-like orphanages. The New York Times observed in an editorial, “The party that professes to support family values seems excessively eager to yank poor children away from their mothers and dump them in institutions.”
He also opposes extending unemployment benefits for those unable to find a job.
In an Aug. 12 email to supporters, Gingrich claimed “the extension of unemployment benefits has given people a perverse incentive to stay on unemployment rather than accept a job.”
The only thing perverse is Gingrich’s inability to understand that most people do not choose to be either poor or unemployed.
In an attempt to smear President Obama, Gingrich has repeatedly called him “the most successful food stamp president in American history.”
Gingrich asserted, “We have people who take their food stamp money and use it to go to Hawaii.”
First, what was known as food stamps has been called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, since October 2008. Instead of using old paper food stamps, recipients are issued a plastic card similar to a bank debit card to make grocery purchases. Second, the program has specific limitations of what can be bought with the funds, excluding such items as beer, liquor and wine.
The average monthly “food stamp” benefit is $133.49. That’s not enough to purchase an airline ticket to Hawaii on Southwest, Jet Blue or any other cheap carrier.
We should not be surprised by anything Gingrich says. This is the same person who claimed he “helped balance the federal budget for four straight years [1998 to 2001].” He wasn’t even in office those last two years.
Gingrich will say anything, even if he knows it is a lie. — (NNPA)
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. He can be reached through his website, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.