Category: Opinion Written by Courier Newsroom
(NNPA)—Suppose one of the key committees in Congress scheduled a hearing on one of the country’s most debilitating economic problems—the long-term unemployment that’s ensnared millions—and none of the committee members showed up?
That’s almost what happened last week when the Joint Economic Committee’s April 24 hearing opened with just one of its members, Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., the vice chair, in attendance. At various times later, three of the committee’s eight other Democrats—Sen. Christopher Murphy, of Connecticut; Rep. John Delaney, of Maryland, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, also of Maryland—showed up. None of its nine Republican members did.
Of course, it’s standard on Capitol Hill for committee members to miss congressional hearings. Their aides have briefed them on the issues and testimony of the witnesses beforehand; and their time that day may appropriately be better spent meeting with constituents, lobbyists, donors, other politicos, or even another congressional committee that had scheduled a conflicting hearing.
Nonetheless, the near-completely no-show hearing acquired a powerful symbolism once a National Journal reporter who was there tweeted a photo of the long, curving impressive-looking dais of mostly empty chairs.
It made the visual points that a voluminous and growing file of research has been cataloging since the Great Recession peaked and the economy began to recover four years ago. First, the recovery has moved too slowly to pare the number of the long-term jobless—those out of work for six months or longer—from what continue to be unprecedented levels. That failure has produced a growing fear that many Americans in this predicament—now numbering 4.6 million people—may never find jobs again.
In turn, that has raised the prospect that today’s long-term unemployed are becoming a large, permanent out-of-work class whose joblessness will undermine the nation’s economic productivity and whose need for financial help will not only exert a tremendous drain on the government’s treasury and private-sector coffers alike but also contribute to Americans’ growing pessimism about their own and the country’s economic fairness and political leadership.
And, finally, and most damaging, the tweet powerfully suggested that the Congress just doesn’t care about the long-term unemployed.
The symbolism became even more potent the following two days when the Senate and the House hurriedly approved, and the president hurriedly signed, legislation that forestalled any possibility the air traffic control system would be disrupted by sequester-driven budget reductions. Critics of the action contrasted Congress’ quick reaction to complaints from the business sector about airport delays with its studied ignoring pleas to show equal mercy to those who depend on government social programs—such as the long-term unemployed.
Keith Hall, one of the congressional committee’s witnesses, succinctly described some of the alarming statistics used to describe the long-term unemployment crisis. Hall, a former head of the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, now directs a research center at George Mason University.
Although the number of long-term unemployed has fallen from its peak above 6 million four years ago, it remains the largest number of long-term unemployed America has endured at any one time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. More worrisome, two-thirds of this group has been jobless for more than a year.
It’s widely accepted that, generally speaking, the longer individuals are jobless, the more their connections to viable job networks will fade and advances in technology will outpace their skills. That belief is a major reason employers, as numerous studies show, are loath to hire unemployed workers who’ve been jobless for even just six months. That reasoning means that in today’s economy a great majority of the long-term unemployed have almost no chance of finding another job.
The Joint Committee’s own report suggests recommendations, which are similar to those of many economists and other observers. Governments at the local and state as well as the federal level must forge policies that promote economic growth and encourage private employers to hire more people. Governments also must undertake new projects, such as rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, that would enable them to hire more of the unemployed. The public and private sectors must “modernize” the community college system so that those institutions can help retrain older workers and prepare new ones to meet today’s employment requirements.
It will come as no surprise that Black American (and Hispanic-American) workers are disproportionately likely to be among the long-term unemployed and the very-long-term unemployed. That grim reality underscores the raft of statistics that show that, in fact, Black Americans have been beset by a crisis of high mass unemployment and long-term unemployment for more than four decades. That crisis sharply divided African-American society into an “opportunity sector” and a “crisis-ridden sector.”
For years those scholars and activists who argued that this was not a matter of Black inferiority but of economic shifts in the labor market and persisting racial discrimination, were largely ignored. I wonder: Now that the crisis of mass long-term unemployment has crossed the color line, will the larger American society take the same stance?
(Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is “Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.”)
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 13:43
Category: Opinion Written by Dr. Boyce Watkins
DR. BOYCE WATKINS
In my 20 years of teaching in various business schools, there’s one thing I know for sure: Marketing DOES work. The best kind of marketing is the stuff that doesn’t look like marketing at all, like a viral Mountain Dew commercial, or a song on the radio where the word “Molly” is repeated over and over again, in a way that bangs down the door of your subconscious mind and plants itself into the deepest parts of your brain.
Oh, you don’t know what Molly is? Just ask your teenage son or daughter. If they didn’t know what it was last month, they now surely know what it is, where to get it, some friends who use it and might even know when they plan to try it themselves. This brand has been thoroughly introduced to nearly every teenager in America, especially the ones who love Trinidad James. In the words of former President George W. Bush, “Mission Accomplished.”
You see, there’s a reason that Reebok once paid Rick Ross millions of dollars to put his chubby little toes into their sneakers. It wasn’t because he was training for the Olympics. They paid him money because he is what some might call an “urban influencer.” Kids in the hood see Reeboks on Rick’s feet, and they go out and buy Reeboks themselves (even if they don’t have any money). So, to those who don’t think that repetitive messages in hip-hop have an impact on the subconscious thinking of our kids, I ask this: If kids imitate rappers based on what they wear on their feet, don’t you think they might also pay even closer attention to the content of their music?
My point here is simple: I’m not surprised that police are now saying that Chris Kelly, a member of the group Kris Kross, probably died from a drug overdose. We also shouldn’t have been surprised when Lil Wayne went to the hospital (again) for “seizures.” Rick Ross also went to the hospital a few months ago for seizures, and both men want you to believe that their conditions have nothing to do with their long histories of drug and alcohol abuse. I can’t say for sure if all that “purple drank” Wayne’s consuming is causing his seizures, but I can guarantee that it doesn’t help. Oh, don’t know what “purple drank” is? Just ask your teenage son, it’s been extensively marketed to him already.
Hip-hop on the radio (which isn’t controlled by Black people, it’s only puppetry with Black face) is now pushing a hard lifestyle, where staying high and drunk is a source of pride. The powers-that-be know that a young Black man constantly seeking out his next high is probably not going to become the next Malcolm X. It must be a relief that we contribute so readily to our own oppression.
I wasn’t surprised when the rapper Nate Dogg died younger than most. Just a few years ago, Nate released a really hot song that ended with the words, “Hey hey hey hey……smoke weed everyday.” I’m not sure if someone paid him to issue what sounded like a Public Service announcement promoting excessive marijuana consumption, but it surely had an impact.
The point here is that when we see the fallout from the consistent promotion of drug use and alcohol consumption, we just might want to be a wee bit alarmed. Our kids might need to hear graphic stories about how many men and women are serving 30 year prison sentences for committing felonies that occurred while they were under the influence of one of the substances being promoted by artists nation-wide.
One young man, 19-year old Justin Jones, admitted that he deserved the death penalty after murdering someone when he “hit some weed” that was laced with PCP. When I see Justin, I see a man who could have (or might already be) someone’s father. He could have been a great husband, attorney, or perhaps a black leader. His English was definitely broken, but there was a degree of intelligence, conscientiousness and naivete that told me that had he been raised with the right messages, he could have been something other than another payday for the prison industrial complex.
I point people to an article on RapRehab.com, which shows that many of the companies that own and market hip-hop labels and artists also have significant ownership stakes in private prisons. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, but the Finance professor in me says this ownership structure is probably no coincidence. So, the truth is that those who love Black people and those who love the power of hip-hop may want to take up arms against companies that have spent billions of dollars seeking to control the minds of young Black kids.
I’m sorry for the death of Chris Kelly and I’m honestly getting dressed for the funeral of Lil Wayne already (it should be happening any day now, I regrettably must admit). What bothers me most is that these are just two of the millions of brilliant Black boys who had their brains destroyed before the third grade. Nothing great has ever been accomplished by people sitting around getting high and drunk everyday, and these messages have ruined an entire generation.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series called Commercialized Hip-Hop, the Gospel of Self-Destruction.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 09:09
Category: Opinion Written by Louis 'Hop' Kendrick
LOUIS 'HOP' KENDRICK
There is an excessive amount of coverage of negative actions by Black persons, but a very limited amount of coverage of positive actions by Blacks. The death of Judge Gary Lancaster, head federal judge of western Pennsylvania highlighted that fact.
Over a period of time there have been 17 Black judges, and five who served in the capacity of magisterial district judges, a total of 22. The first Black Allegheny County Common Pleas judge was Judge Homer S. Brown. Then there were Judge Henry Smith, Judge Warren Watson, Judge Thomas Harper, Judge Livingston Johnston, Judge Walter Little, Judge Kim Clark, Judge Dwayne Woodruff, Judge Cynthia Baldwin [appointed to the Pa. Supreme Court] and the most recent is Judge Joseph Williams.
At the Pennsylvania Superior Court level there was Judge Justin Johnston and currently there is Judge Cheryl Allen.
At the federal level there was Judge Paul Simmons [deceased] and until recently there was Judge Gary Lancaster [deceased]. All of the above judges served us well and I can openly boast that I knew all of them personally and was an active participant in all of those who were elected to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court and the two who were elected to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
At a local level, remember those on the magisterial level— the late Judge John H. Adams, late Judge Jacob “Jake” Williams, Judge Eddie Tibbs, Judge Kevin Cooper and Judge Oscar Petite. I have been privileged to know all of them and Judge Oscar Petite is currently running for reelection.
I don’t live in Judge Petite’s district, but if I did I would definitely be supporting his reelection. Why? I have sat in his courtroom as a witness, defendant and an observer and I walked out of the courtroom impressed to no extent. Judge Petite was articulate, knowledgeable about the law, compassionate but forceful. As I sat in his courtroom it was apparent to me and a number of others that his 18 years as a magistrate and the many thousands of cases he has presided over proved conclusively that he overwhelmingly has earned the right to be reelected in May of 2013.
Please send Kingsley Association a financial donation.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 10:17
Category: Opinion Written by Raynard Jackson
(NNPA)—I was on “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” last week. This is a weekly TV show that deals with Black political issues, among other things. The roundtable discussion was very lively, but I was amazed at my fellow panelists’ response to something I said.
Americans somehow have this strange notion that all discrimination is bad. But it isn’t. We discriminate every day. You choose one restaurant over another; you watch one TV show versus another; you date skinny girls and not heavy girls.
As a matter of fact, some discrimination is quite healthy. If you know drug dealers sell their drugs in certain neighborhoods, why would you go there if you have no interest in buying drugs? If you are allergic to smoke, why would you go to a bar that allows smoking? If certain countries are more likely to kidnap an American tourist, why would you go there if you are an American?
I think most reasonable people would agree that this type of discrimination is good and healthy. Similarly, our immigration policy should have a certain level of discrimination built into the policy. I was totally surprised that my fellow panelists disagreed. They seemed to be in favor of an open borders approach to immigration. The open borders crowd basically believes that anyone who wants to come to America has a right to come here if they follow the rules.
I find this view very idiotic. If you are not an American citizen, then you have absolutely no basis for the assertion of any right. Post 911, at a minimum, our immigration policy should discriminate based on country of origin. We know that certain countries are a hotbed for producing terrorist: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Chechnya, etc. So, why would our immigration policy even allow people from those countries to come to the U.S. for any reason, let alone to get a green card or citizenship?
Is this discrimination? You betcha—it’s the good kind of discrimination. Just as you can have good and bad cholesterol, the same applies to discrimination. What we call affirmative action is called “positive discrimination” in France.
You don’t see terrorists being trained in Australia, the Seychelles, or Trinidad & Tobago, so therefore there should be less concern about immigrants from these countries. Is this not reasonable?
American visas, green cards and citizenship are not enshrined rights, but are privileges. No one has a right to enter into our country and we don’t need to justify our requirements for admittance into the U.S.
I am sure my fellow panelists would agree that an 80-year old woman should not have to go through secondary screening at the airport before she gets on an airplane. Why? Because she is very unlikely to have a bomb or other weapon on her body. Is this not profiling? How many 80-year-old female terrorists have you read about? Exactly my point.
But these same panelists took issue with me for saying that America should deny entry and student visas for people from certain countries. Is it discriminatory? Yes. Is it appropriate and reasonable? Yes.
Does that mean every person from a country known to produce terrorists is a terrorist themselves? Of course not, but that is not the overriding issue in my decision to deny them entry into the U.S. I am sure there are many good people from countries that are known for producing terrorists; but I am not willing to take a chance, just for the sake of making Americans feel good.
If you are the parent of a young boy, would you leave him alone with a Catholic priest? I wouldn’t. And most of you wouldn’t, either. I would venture to think that most Catholic priests are good people, but I am not willing to sacrifice my son’s safety to prove a point.
The two brothers from Chechnya who committed the bombings in Boston should have never been allowed in the U.S. Is this an indictment of all people from Chechnya? No. It simply means that the U.S. is exercising its sovereignty to determine who is admitted to its shores. This is a very reasonable and smart approach to our immigration policy. To do anything else is a reckless disregard for the future and safety of our country.
(Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/ government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 14:58
Category: Opinion Written by George E. Curry
(NNPA) JOHANNESBURG, South Africa—A trip to South Africa provides painful reminders of the protracted struggle to establish democracy, how the United States propped up the White minority-rule government and the courage Black South Africans demonstrated to win their freedom.
A key aspect of the struggle is vividly captured in the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum in the heart of Soweto, not far from the homes of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. The name of the museum itself is steeped in unforgettable history. The most compelling image of the Soweto student protest of 1976 is a photo taken by Sam Nzima.
In the foreground of a crowd of Black student protesters is a tearful Mbuyisa Makhuba, a high school student, running with the small, limp body of 13-year-old Hector Pieterson and his screaming sister, Antoinette, running beside them.
The teenager’s story is told inside the museum under the heading, “An individual life can change society.” It begins: “Hector Pieterson lost his life under police fire on June 16, 1976 during a student march protesting Afrikaans as the language of instruction in African schools. He was thirteen years old. News of his death and the violence that subsequently erupted in most African townships in South Africa spread rapidly across the world. In his death Hector Pieterson became a symbol of the plight of the black South African youth under the yoke of Apartheid.”
It continued, “His public funeral commemorated, as does this museum, all those who died as a result of the tragic events of June 16, 1976—a turning point in the struggle towards a true South African democracy.”
Hector Pieterson became one of many martyrs of the fight against apartheid, a rigid system of racial segregation designed to keep the White minority in control of the country’s political, economic and social system.
In fact, Pieterson’s last protest march was prompted by the ruling National Party’s decision to force Black schools to use Afrikaans—which Bishop Desmond Tutu called “the language of oppression”—and English in equal measure.
On April 20, 1976, students at Orlando West Junior High School went on strike, refusing to go to school. The protest quickly spread to other schools in Soweto. On the morning of June 16, an estimated 20,000 students started walking from the junior high school to Orlando Stadium, where they had planned to hold a mass rally before continuing to the regional office of the Department of Bantu Education.
Instead of allowing the students to walk peacefully, police barricaded the march route and unleashed dogs on the crowd. According to some news accounts, students stoned the dogs and police soon began opening fire on the students, killing 13-year-old Pieterson and 22 others that day, all but two of whom were Black. At the end of a series of protests, called the Soweto uprising, estimates of those killed ranged from 176 to more than 600.
The violent attack on the children thrust the African National Congress to the forefront of Black political protest and ignited international protests. But that did not curb the all-White police force’s appetite for violence.
A quote from Steve Lebelo, a student at Madibane High School, describes the violence that was inflicted on the community in the immediate aftermath of Pieterson’s death. The quote, which also hangs in the museum, recalls:
“It was on the 17th and 18th, when police went out and systematically were killing people. I do know that suddenly there was the infamous green car. It was a 3800 Chev, it was a green car, and at the time they were used mostly by the police. We suspected that they had a sniper in there who picked up people at random and shot and killed them. I do know a friend of mine who was killed on the 19th of June, under the same circumstances. He had gone to the shop, and as he came back from the shop carrying a litre of milk, he was shot by a sniper and killed.”
Above the quote is a photo of a green Chevrolet, loaded with White men, with rifles sticking out of the windows.
There are other reminders throughout the museum. There is a picture of a small, naked child being drenched in a bottle of water to soothe her pain in tears. Another photograph contains student protesters, with one holding up a sign reading, “To hell with Afrikaans.”
Erected in 2002, the museum honors the memory of the students who died in the uprising. A brick bearing each name is built into the ground just steps from the entrance of the museum, which is only two blocks away from where Pieterson was killed.
The inscription about Hector Pieterson in the museum ends by noting, “When National Youth Day is celebrated each year on June 16 at the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum, it becomes a national site of commemoration, also reflecting current changes in the articulation of the South African democracy.”
(George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the NNPA. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 10:16
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