Category: Opinion Written by Ben Jealous
Coming the day after the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the new unemployment numbers show that unemployment is still high—and remains much higher for African Americans.
One thing hasn't changed in the last half century: if you're a person of color, you're more likely to be unemployed. Even though the Black unemployment rate fell by .05 percent this month, it still sits at nearly 13.3 percent, nearly double the overall rate.
This gap in employment has led to an economic divide between the richest and the poorest in America that is about as bad as in the divide in Rwanda and Serbia. The top 20 percent of Americans earn 50.2 percent of income, while the bottom 20 percent earns just 3.3 percent. Yet Congress continues to do nothing to directly address unemployment.
This is a dangerous trend. Recent studies—including one by the International Monetary Fund—show that countries with higher levels of economic inequality have slower growth rates, and that "economic inclusion corresponds with robust economic growth". Urban economies affect the prosperity of the entire surrounding region, and ultimately the country as a whole.
As our country grows more diverse, we must also acknowledge that economic inequality is closely tied to race, due to decades of past and ongoing discrimination. And this inequality undermines the racial progress that we have achieved.
As Dr. King asked in 1968, "What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?"
In the last year of Dr. King's life, he was organizing the Poor People's Campaign. He endorsed the Freedom Budget, a document that called for massive investments in public works and infrastructure, job training and education programs, and a higher minimum wage. The Budget insisted that smart investments in our most vulnerable citizens will spur economic growth.
Unfortunately, this plan never moved forward. But its message proved prophetic, and Dr. King's economic agenda is still relevant today. A strong and sustainable economic recovery requires an economic climate in which all Americans—regardless of race or class—can expect hard work to be rewarded with a steady job. This is not a partisan issue—it is an American issue. And Congress needs to act now.
Earlier this year the National Black Leaders Coalition came up with solutions for fixing the current unemployment crisis. They included implementing important parts of the American Jobs Act to revitalize urban areas; funding the Urban Jobs Act to create youth jobs programs; and increasing the minimum wage. These policies echoed King's recommendations 45 years earlier.
In 1962 Dr. King said, "There are three major social evils in our world today: the evil of war, the evil of economic justice, and the evil of racial injustice."
Fifty years later, need to recognize that inaction is not a policy option; it has been tried; and it hasn't worked. Let's try something new. Let's recommit ourselves to Dr. King's economic principles and advance an economic agenda that bridges our nation's divides and fosters an economic recovery in which all can benefit.
(Benjamin Todd Jealous is president and CEO of the NAACP)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 10:07
Category: Opinion Written by Louis 'Hop' Kendrick
LOUIS 'HOP' KENDRICK
At the outset I need to state that the current director of Shuman Juvenile Detention Center, William “Jack” Simmons is a personal, competent and respected friend of mine. Over the last two or three weeks I have read the daily media, listened to TV and radio and some of them have talked about the terrible conditions at the detention center. The question is how do they know about the alleged conditions? Who told them, where did the alleged information come from? I have never read or heard any source quote Jack Simmon’s version. Why?
When news is reported and the person being accused is denied the opportunity to present his version the issue becomes suspect. It is important that we recall the accurate statement “there are three sides to every situation RIGHT, WRONG and the TRUTH.”
My readers should take note that I am not saying the issues are another example of racism, I am asking the question, because it is an established fact of life that bigotry is alive and well in the richest and most powerful nation in the world, America. It is also an established fact that Pittsburgh is definitely not the most livable city for all people.
I remember when Colored persons [not Black yet] went to Allegheny County’s South Park and we were forced to swim in the colored pool, remember? Do you remember prejudice was rampart and flagrant on Allegheny County’s payroll? When is the last time you saw a Black Allegheny County police officer, how many are there, when was the last time one was hired?
In the very near future I will release some statistics about Allegheny County in relationship to Blacks and you will be shocked. You remember the expression much as changed, but when it comes to Blacks in Allegheny County much remains the same, and that is why the caption on this column asks is Shuman Detention Center under attack because of Black leadership?
Any person that knows me, ever heard me speak, followed my columns over the years knows I never play the race card and don’t blame slavery, but I have always believed in calling a spade a spade.
Please remember to support Kingsley Association.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 09:15
Category: Opinion Written by Marc H. Morial
(NNPA)—“Our nation is moving towards two societies, one Black, one White—separate and unequal.”—1967 Kerner Commission
In 1963, more than a quarter-million people gathered in Washington, D.C. for the historic Great March for Jobs and Freedom. This was a watershed moment in American history, giving unprecedented voice to the hardships facing Blacks as they sought a fair shot at an elusive dream. In 2013, America witnessed the second inauguration of our first Black president. Much has changed in 50 years.
We now see a fair number of successful Blacks hailed as examples of the progress and possibilities that define American democracy. Most of the legal impediments preventing African-Americans from learning, earning and living where they want have been removed. Unfortunately, these apparent indicators of improvement cannot lead us to conclude that Blacks in America have overcome. A veneer of progress cannot remove the stains of inequality that still exist in our country. As we simultaneously commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we are still on the march for economic and social equality.
The battlefield may look different, but the most pressing demands of today mirror the ones faced by those gathered in Washington, D.C. on that August afternoon in 1963: economic equality, educational opportunity and parity, and civil rights. However, instead of fighting against employment discrimination or a $2 minimum wage, we now fight for job training and wage equity. Instead of calling for school segregation to end, we now demand an end to disparities in educational investment. Instead of calling for meaningful civil rights legislation, we now fight to preserve voting rights and affirmative action—those very rights for which our ancestors fought and died.
This week, the National Urban League will release the 37th edition of the State of Black America report, which takes a 50-year retrospective look at economic and educational equality in America. I have seen the findings and studied them, and I am more convinced than ever that there remains much for us to do.
As I pointed out in a recent appearance on CNN, the so-called housing “recovery” clearly demonstrates that we are in “a tale of two Americas”—one where the rich are surging ahead while the average American is getting squeezed out—again. Further Blacks and Hispanics are faring even worse. The findings from the 2013 State of Black America, Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America make that painfully clear.
America is at a critical juncture. If we are to continue on the road to full economic recovery, every American needs access to jobs with a living wage and good benefits. Every child deserves access to the best schools, the best teachers and the best education in the world. Without that commitment, we will continue to see America, as the 1967 Kerner Commission put it, “moving towards two societies…separate and unequal.”
But persistent problems require sustainable solutions. This week, we will begin to move that conversation forward.
(Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 10:12
Category: Opinion Written by Ulish Carter
I had no intension of dealing with violence in this week’s column with the mayoral race heating up and with the Sequester being such an issue in D.C. and the country but then the big fight breaking out Downtown amongst a large group of people with two people being shot occurred. Plus there was an incident at an area college in which five girls jumped two girls and beat them up over a boy, thus running the risk of being kicked out of school. This was not in the news.
Both incidents and many, many more like them keep me going back to the question. When will we as Black people stop trying to solve our problems with our fists or guns? When will we realize that our manhood, or womanhood is not determined by who can beat up who?
The Downtown incident witnesses say that a confrontation started that included five guys and two girls, or more depending on who you talk to, that later led to fighting that led to gun play, as masses of people ran to get out of the way of the fight and stray bullets. Was there a winner in this? No. Everyone involved were losers, because they all will probably be prosecuted. It is still not clear what the fight was all about, and why two of the people involved in the dispute chose to go for their weapons, or why they had weapons in the first place. According to another at the scene, in a fight between two people one male took the gun away from the other and shot him with it as they wrestled over the gun. The police are still trying to sift through the details to separate fact from rumors.
There could have been a whole lot more damage done if one of the stray bullets had hit an innocent bystander Downtown shopping or waiting for a bus after work. I knew the answer when I asked the question, “were they all Black?” The answer, yes. And they were all young, under 30, probably under 25.
In the college incident apparently a young male had interest in two young females. Well, instead of confronting the male about his two-timing her, the one girl chose to get a group of her friends together to confront the other girl. Well I’ve seen and heard a lot about this kind of behavior among young females and sometimes older females. I know one girl who actually transferred from her high school because she had to face a group of girls every day because the guy one of these girls liked was talking to her. But this was high school, you expect more from college students.
The two girls who were jumped by the five, at least to their credit they filed a police report, which could and should lead to probation or suspension from school of the other five. They did not go back to the street code of we don’t talk to the cops; we will take care of this ourselves. So hopefully the police and school officials will do something.
Both incidents have become so common. Our young people tend to believe that all problems are to be solved with their fists, knives or guns. Do we not have the verbal or mental capacity to solve our problems through talking, or by using our brains? All fighting does is get your butt whipped, or you end up in jail or in trouble, even if you win the fight. What the girl who felt like she was being two-timed should have done was call the other girl, tell her what was going down, and if the other girl didn’t care, which she probably wouldn’t, then confront the male. Of course he’s going to lie, so find a way to get all parties together, in which he has to tell the truth. Then move on with your life, there’s no need to jump the other female, or the ex-boyfriend. Yes, I know it hurts when we are lied to or rejected, but beating up the other female is not going to make him love or want you. He’s still going to pursue her, because guys don’t desire women because they can fight well.
It’s not worth it being killed, crippled, losing an eye or being kicked out of school or losing a job.
As for the Downtown incident, it’s really hard to raise kids these days because you have to be so careful about who they hang with. Because girls and boys have a tendency to hang in packs these days, and when two packs run into each other at a public event or Downtown, if there are bad feelings from one person in each pack, then the two packs became involved, and if your daughter or son is with one of these packs then they get caught up in it.
That’s why it’s so important to know your children’s friends. And that becomes harder and harder as they get older, college age or young adults. But it’s so important that when you can get a word in edge wise over the cell phone, to talk to them about friends, and violence.
How many times have kids come home from college and gotten in trouble by hanging out with friends who were just hanging out.
I don’t have the answer, but I encourage the many groups, organizations and individuals who are working to stop the violence, and create within our young people better ways of resolving their differences than with their fists, knives, or guns, because there are no winners when it comes to violence.
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 05:59
Category: Opinion Written by CNN
ENJOYING HAVANA--Beyonce and Jay-Z, tour Old Havana, Cuba, April 4, 2013. R&B's power couple is in Havana on their fifth wedding anniversary. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
by Simon Tisdall
(CNN) -- Right-wing U.S. Republicans are up in arms over Cuba again. Their ostensible cause for concern is last week's visit to the island by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who were photographed in Havana, apparently celebrating their wedding anniversary.
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 15:51
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