RSS

Tag Archives: poverty

Black Financial Literacy

This Rev is right in terms of teaching FInancial Literacy and responsibility. What he misses is that The New Jim Crow is designed specifically to prevent the ability of Minorities to gain, and/or hang on to wealth.

So, in order for greater financial accumulation to work, it has to be a two part struggle, One to teach and educate folks about handling personal finances, and educating them on the ways to save, budget, and two a sustained effort to destruct individual pieces of th The New Jim Crow – using that financial wealth.

Why are you still banking at that Wells Fargo/Giant Bank which is redlining you, consigning you to high priced loans, and has outrageous fees? It is a lot more than just “budgeting”.

The Rev’s numbers are low on the Financial contribution of African Americans to the US economy…It is actually closer to $2 trillion.

WATCH: African-American pastor preaches financial literacy as gospel: “What are we doing with the money that we have?”

Rev. DeForest B. Soaries promotes financial planning as a way out of poverty

The Rev. DeForest B. Soaries is more than the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey. He shares a personal financial curriculumwith black churches nationwide, believing that a way to solve poverty in black communities involves taking into account personal values.

“The culture really has induced this idea that you can spend more,” Soaries said during a recent episode of “Salon Talks. “I lived that way for years; for 13 years I was paying last month’s bills with next week’s check. For 13 years I was getting calls from bill collectors.”

Added Soaries: “Then I realized that I had to start tracking my spending; I had to live within means. I had to have a budget. I couldn’t live as if I made $30,000 just because I had a $25,000 job and a $5,000 credit limit on my credit card.”

Soaries shared his “catalytic moment,” a realization he had after his grandmother, a sixth-grade graduate who had raised six children and served as a caregiver to her invalid husband, passed away:

“The first house I owned, I inherited from my grandmother, and at her grave I said . . .  if she could accrue enough wealth to leave three houses debt free and leave one to me, shame on me with all of my civil rights and my college degrees and my big church if all I have to leave when I die is credit card bills,” Soaries said.

Black Enterprise contributor John Burnett added, “We have to change the mindset of the people now and also create a sort of like a ecosystem for our youth so that way we can really shape future outcomes.”

Encouraging people to make wise financial choices, Soaries asked: “What are we doing with the money that we have?” He said, “The check-cashing joints are there but they don’t force us to use them,” adding that many “black people either have no bank account  . . . which means we still use payday loans.”

Declared Soaries: “African Americans who will spend $1.2 trillion this year — we have within our hands the means to do better.”

Catch more of our conversation about how to raise financial outcomes in the black community on Salon.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 4, 2017 in American Genocide, The New Jim Crow

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Uncle Ben’s Poor State of Mind

Uncle Ben Carson is as loony tunes as the Chumph and much of his cabinet. How anyone could believe this clown belongs in charge of a Federal agency defies belief.

Yeah, I was listening to one of my old favorites, “New York State of Mind” by Johnny Maths…Gus I’ll be moving into that $30m penthouse on the Park in a day or two!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Black Conservatives

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Dead End in the Red Zone – Why Red States Have Endless Poverty

Welcome to the South, boy!

Problems of the white wing Republican dominated.

Image result for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s Gleaming Downtown Hides a Secret

Why It’s So Hard to Get Ahead in the South

In Charlotte and other Southern cities, poor children have the lowest odds of making it to the top income bracket of kids anywhere in the country. Why?

Shamelle Jackson moved here from Philadelphia, hoping to find work opportunities and better schools for her four children, who range in age from two to 14. Instead, she found a city with expensive housing, few good jobs, and schools that can vary dramatically in quality. “I’ve never struggled as hard as I do here in Charlotte,” Jackson, 34, told me.

Jackson isn’t alone. Data suggests that Charlotte is a dead-end for people trying to escape poverty. That’s especially startling because the city is a leader in economic development in the South. Bank of America is headquartered here, and over the last two decades the city has become a hub for the financial services industry. In recent years, Charlotte and the surrounding area, Mecklenburg County, have ranked among the fastest-growing regions of the country. “Charlotte is a place of economic wonder in some ways, but it’s also a city that faces very stark disparities, and that increasingly includes worrisome pockets of real deprivation,” said Gene Nichol, a professor at the UNC School of Law who has completed an extensive report on local poverty. Some of these disparities bubbled to the surface in September, when protests erupted after a black man, Keith Lamont Scott, was shot and killed by police.

Charlotte ranked dead last in an analysis of economic mobility in America’s 50 largest cities by the Equality of Opportunity Project, a team of researchers out of Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley led by Stanford’s Raj Chetty. Children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution in Charlotte had just a 4.4 percent chance of making it to the top 20 percent of the income distribution. That’s compared to a 12.9 percent chance for children in San Jose, California, and 10.8 percent change for children in Salt Lake City. These statistics are troubling because mobility is essentially just a formal term for the American Dream—the ability to find a good job, provide for children, and do better than one’s parents did. Rather than making it into the middle class in Charlotte, poor children, who are majority black and Latino, are very likely to stay poor.

In some ways, Charlotte is indicative of a more widespread problem in the region. Map out the data from the Equality of Opportunity Project and you’ll find that much of the South has low mobility rates. The chance of a child moving from the bottom to top quartile in Atlanta is 4.5 percent, the chance of moving up in Raleigh is 5 percent, and the chance of moving up in New Orleans is 5.1 percent.

These are among the lowest odds of advancement in the country. “The South really does struggle,” said Erin Currier, who directed the financial security and mobility project at the Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew found that mobility lags in states including Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, and North Carolina.

There’s no obvious reason why cities in the South would perform so poorly across the board. After all, economies like those in Charlotte are booming. In other places with significant economic growth, such as San Jose, this prosperity seems to be widely shared (or at least it was between 1980 and 2012, the time period over which children were tracked in Chetty’s data). In cities across the South though, economic success seems not to have trickled down to lower-income populations.

Chetty and colleagues say that there are a few key factors that play into where people struggle with economic mobility. These areas tend to be more racially segregated, have a higher share of poverty than the national average, more income inequality, a higher share of single mothers, and lower degrees of social capital, which means people interacting with others who can help them succeed, according to Nick Flamang, a predoctoral fellow with the Equality of Opportunity Project.

All of these indicators are present in Charlotte, and throughout much of the South. Segregation took root in the early 1900s, and was reinforced by Jim Crow laws and redlining in the later part of the century. It remains a problem today. The white, affluent population lives in a wedge south of the city. The census tracts north and west of the city are where the low-income people live, and those people are predominantly black and Latino.

The South also has among the highest poverty rates in the country. Mississippi ranks last, Louisiana is 49th, and North Carolina is 39th in the country when it comes to the percentage of people living below the poverty line. While Southern poverty has traditionally manifested itself in rural areas, cities are now home to some of the worst poverty in the region, according to Nichol. “If you look at census tracts, the deepest poverty in North Carolina is right in the middle of Charlotte, the middle of Greensboro, middle of Winston-Salem, the middle of Raleigh,” he said.

Indeed, concentrated poverty is becoming a pressing problem in Charlotte. The Brookings Institution data shows that in 2000, just 2 percent of poor families lived in a census tract with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher in Charlotte. That percentage had climbed to 10 percent by 2012. According to Nichol’s work, 17 census tracts in Mecklenburg County had poverty rates higher than 40 percent, a dramatic increase from 2000, when just four did. I visited neighborhoods like Lockwood, just north of downtown, where homeless people hung out at the gas stations and the small box homes had bars on their windows.

Concentrated poverty is related to another factor Chetty and his colleagues mention: social capital, which is essentially the mechanism that allows people to interact with others and become a part of broad networks that can lead to opportunity. It can help people get hooked up to first jobs, internships, and scholarships. Without these types of connections, children are more likely to take a similar path to their parents. For those who live in areas of concentrated poverty, this means they don’t learn about opportunities that might get them out of poverty, or about people in different income brackets.

Latasha Hunt, 36, is an example of what it means to lack social capital. She grew up in northern Charlotte, far from the wealth of the city’s south side. Her parents did ok, she told me—her mother worked in manufacturing and her father worked for the school system. But growing up, she didn’t know people who went to college or who worked in finance. Almost no one at her high school went to college—they all ended up getting a job right out of high school, or going to jail, she told me. Neither Hunt nor her two brothers went to college. Her brothers are both barbers, she now works in customer service at a local nonprofit. She doesn’t think she’s better off than her parents were.“My generation is struggling,” she told me. “We work every day, but it’s like we’re working just to pay for daycare.”

Hunt is a single mother, which creates its own unique challenges. She juggles taking care of her two children and working a full-time job. Many other women in Charlotte experience similar issues; in North Carolina, 65 percent of African-American children live in single parent families, according to the Kids Count Data Center from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Jackson, who moved from Philadelphia, told me she lost her job in Charlotte because of “single mom stuff.” She was frequently tardy to work because she had to drop kids off at school or pick them up when they were sick, attend parent-teacher conferences, and otherwise take care of her family….Read the Rest Here

 

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Dartanyon Crockett …Really, Really Bad! Paralympic Judo Champ

Really inspiring story here of a guy with what would seem to be a skyscraper size deck of cards stacked against him… Reaching his goal. This article by Lisa Fenn is an Edward R. Murrow- and six-time Emmy Award-winning feature producer.Image result

From Blind and Homeless to Judo Champ: How Dartanyon Crockett Fought His Way to Rio

Legally blind and born into poverty, Paralympic athlete Dartanyon Crockett overcame many obstacles to compete this week in Rio, but his is no simple feel-good story.

The Olympics sow a common dream, that children can one day become champions. The triumphant music, the billowing flags, and the rags-to-riches vignettes lure us into believing that gold medals and Wheaties boxes are available to any child who dreams big enough. One athlete whose backstory will be front and center this week in Rio is Paralympian Dartanyon Crockett. Dartanyon won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Games in the sport of blind judo, and he arrives in Brazil ranked second in the world in his weight class. When I met him in 2009, he was transient, hungry, and had never heard of judo. At first glance, Dartanyon fits the underdog narrative that we crave in our sports stories. But when you scratch beneath the glossy surface, you’ll find it takes more than a dream to make it out of where he came from.

Dartanyon is legally blind. Born with optic neuropathy, a condition that causes vision loss, he can barely make out the facial features of a person sitting a few feet away. His mother died when he was 8 years old; he then went to live with his father, in a crack house. Dartanyon attended a high school in Cleveland, Ohio, with a graduation rate of less than 40 percent. I met him there when I was a feature producer at ESPN, and he was a senior on the wrestling team. My story was focused in part on his accomplishments as a visually impaired wrestler, where at 5-foot-7 with muscles bunched like walnuts, he was a winner in multiple weight classes. He achieved this success despite subsisting on the soggy mozzarella sticks and bruised apples served in cafeteria lunches.

Dartanyon told me that he wanted to wrestle in college the following year and one day attend law school. In the next breath, he admitted that he had never been on a college visit and hadn’t taken his SATs because he didn’t have the $26. As I filmed in his classes, I noticed something curious. He would doodle the phrase “Destined For Greatness” on the tops of his papers.

He knew how to hope for his dreams. He didn’t know how to hope towardthem. He had the will, but he didn’t know the way. Worse, he didn’t know he lacked a way. He seemed oblivious to the damning limitations on his life. And as I would soon discover, Dartanyon’s poverty was even more disabling than his visual impairment.

I was raised with Olympic-sized ideals and the belief that with determination and perseverance, one could overcome any circumstance. And yet as I met Dartanyon’s extended family, I was struck by how hardship engulfed multiple generations of families. Nearly everyone I met struggled with unemployment, poverty, or addiction. Why wasn’t the “determination + perseverance = success” formula working?

Image result for Dartanyon Crockett

As I sat and listened and pieced together the personal stories, one fact grew clear: My blueprint for betterment was critically flawed. Families like the Crocketts had inherited their history. They were born into a set of disadvantaged conditions that cascaded into subsequent negative outcomes. As children, they attended underfunded schools and returned home to overstressed, oftentimes single parents who were not equipped to nurture their emotional development. As teens, while their parents worked, many turned to the streets looking for a sense of belonging and a cure to boredom. They moved frequently and experienced more episodes of hunger, homelessness, and unemployment than children living above the poverty line.

Your money, your family, your security, your will, your future. Poverty takes a percentage of everything, indefinitely, until the cycle is broken.

Yet Dartanyon wasn’t told this as a child. He was only told to dream. And so he believed he was destined for greatness instead of a statistical sentence. After sitting beside him in abject poverty for several months, I agreed. And then I decided to do something about it.

After harnessing donations from ESPN viewers who were inspired by his story, I helped Dartanyon apply for college and lined up the resources he’d need to succeed. The publicity drew the attention of the U.S. Paralympic Committee, which offered him residency at the Olympic Training Center to study and train in the sport of blind judo. Housing, a competitive outlet, and three meals a day—we had found his winning lottery ticket, I thought.  My work was finished.

I was wrong. Dartanyon began failing at every turn. He failed his classes, failed to get up for morning weight lifting, failed to adjust socially to his now stable environment. What might seem like minor setbacks feel like major threats to an individual who has lived in the toxic stress of poverty, and Dartanyon often shut down in the face of daily challenges. His childhood taught him to endure his circumstances, but nothing and no one in his life showed him that he could overcome them.

Dartanyon’s pathway out required more than handing him opportunities. The journey required constant support over many years. It required a love free of strings and full of patience. Dartanyon and I worked tirelessly to reprogram the debilitating mindsets he carried out of poverty and take strides toward self-sufficiency: He learned how to pay a bill, plan ahead, have conversations with those in authority, utilize community resources, and develop healthy interpersonal relationships. Of equal importance, he learned to verbalize his traumas, to talk about them rather than shroud them in shame. Talking became like oxygen. It gave him life. And as he came to understand the history he had inherited, he grew less likely to repeat it.

And this is where it can get uncomfortable for those preferring to punt to a government program, because poverty has less to do with running out of money and everything to do with running out of useful personal relationships. The effective choice is to share in another’s vulnerability, to enter into their weaknesses and uncertainty. The courageous act is to speak healing truths that make souls stronger. The necessary investment from those of us in positions of strength is to put the needs of another before our own, even when inconvenient.

Our country is crying out for people who will cross the divide—who will venture into poverty, take a seat, learn the stories, and respond with love. People who make a difference in the world don’t wait to see if someone else will do something. They are willing to feed one family, educate one child, and mend one broken heart.

Today, Dartanyon is thriving. He is the 2014 blind judo world champion, a UNICEF ambassador, and a motivational speaker. He is pursuing a degree in social work so that he can one day help kids who grew up as he did. He said he’s learned that the difference between success and failure is having just one person who believes in you. He now wants to be that person for others.

If you see Dartanyon on the medal stand in Rio, resist getting too swept up in the music and fanfare. Remember the scores of children like him who believe they too are destined for greatness, yet are unknowingly thwarted by socioeconomic barriers. Politicians talk about reviving the American Dream, but it’s up to us as individuals to strengthen this ideal by developing relationships with those in need. And when we do, we will find that connection breeds compassion, and out of compassion, the will to act. Ultimately we will find that we can only change this world when we enter into another’s world.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 6, 2016 in Giant Negros

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Poverty Porn

I have been a volunteer to assist after several natural disasters, as well as traveled to 3rd world countries in my life and career. Went to help after the earthquake in Haiti. Left my big cameras home. There really is no need to document disaster, and unless you are a seriously twisted individual – you really don’t want to relive, or even remember the really bad shit you see.

Met a few photographers taking pics for the world media, mostly concentrated around the worst of the worst, some for the NGO’s pleas for money.

My second or third trip did involve bringing cameras to document the “why” of the damage done by the earthquake. So I have hundreds of  pics of structural failures in destroyed buildings and geographical features… And a few dozen of the de rigor pics with politicians and other players. Somewhere there are pics of me with a group of Mayors from a local newspaper. I’m not even sure I still have it. Two or three of the type of portraits I prefer taking of people, providing a still view of character, and perhaps their lives. I have none of post-Katrina.

Then there are the folks who come loaded with cameras to ghoulishly document the carnage… The following author defines that as “Poverty Porn”. I think that is an apt description.

The dangers of poverty porn

It’s the time of year when social media is inundated with posts about the importance of being thankful for family, friends and well-being because there are starving children in Africa who wish they had a quarter of your good fortune.

Cue the images of an emaciated child with flies buzzing around his face, protruding rib cage, runny nose, and extended hands toward the camera — also known as poverty porn.

Poverty porn is a tactic used by nonprofits and charity organizations to gain empathy and contributions from donors by showing exploitative imagery of people living in destitute conditions.

It leaves many of us feeling uncomfortable, disconnected and guilty — conflicted between turning a blind eye and reposting these pictures in hopes that sharing images of human suffering will enlighten others about poverty.

“There is a human tendency, by some more than others, to want to be helpful,” retired photographerChester Higgins Jr. said. “The ads make it easier. You call a phone number, donate and you’ve done a thing.”

How many of us have considered the possibility that rather than help others, poverty porn does considerable damage?

Higgins, a former New York Times photographer, said it’s time to change the visual conversation. He has been traveling to Africa since 1971. For the last 20 years, he’s taken trips along the Blue Nile, through Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to “make photos,” live and create relationships.

Oftentimes when he see pictures of African people, they are “theft pictures,” which means the pictures were made without the consent of the subjects.

“A photograph never lies about the photographer,” Higgins said.

A distinct mark of poverty porn advertisements and photographs made by non-African photographers is the lack of decency, dignity, virtuous character, or that it shows the subjects’ most vulnerable moment, he said.

He refers to photographers, charities and nongovernmental organizations that exploit the situations of people in dire need as “poverty pimps.”

Save the Children, one of the most-well known aid organizations, operating in more than 120 countries, has come under scrutiny for controversial advertisements some have deemed poverty porn.

A 2014 Save the Children commercial features a woman giving birth at a clinic in Liberia to an unresponsive baby. As the mother moans and shakes, a midwife cleans and rubs the blue newborn, Melvin, to kick-start his lungs. The graphic and distressing scene are followed by text: “For a million newborns every year, their first day is also their last.”

Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children UK, said in a statement that the organization has robust guidelines for the images and stories used, and their priority is safeguarding the children.

“Our image guidelines ensure all our communications reflect the truth, balancing the huge child suffering we witness with stories of hope and progress,” Forsyth said.

The idea that only impoverished Africans, South Americans, Asians and Middle Easterners need Western aid detracts from the impact poverty has in our own backyard, say some experts.

Mark Rank, professor of social welfare at Washington University in St. Louis, said poverty is an issue that touches the majority of Americans.

Compared to other Western industrialized countries, the United States has by far the highest rates of poverty, as well as the highest rates of income and wealth inequality, he said.

Approximately 60% of Americans will experience at least one year in poverty between the ages of 20 and 75, said Rank, who included this statistic in his book “One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All.”

Rank said poverty porn is a graphic way of portraying extreme economic distress, and we mimic this practice in the United States to some extent.

“We focus a lot of time on … inner-city, minority groups living in dilapidated housing as an image of poverty in this country,” he said. “But the majority of folks who experience poverty do not fit that image. In fact, they’re more likely to be the person down the block going through a spell of unemployment.”

In 2014, 17.4 million U.S. households didn’t have reliable access to food, according to the USDA Household Food Security in the United States report.

According to 2013 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 40.2% of SNAP food aid recipients are white, 25.7% are African-American, 10.3% are Hispanic, 2.1% are Asian and 1.2% are Native American.

Rates of infant and maternal mortality/morbidity in the United States, some of the highest among industrialized nations, are also concerning, said Dr. Wanda Barfield, director of the Division of Reproductive Health within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The successes of modern technology can only go so far. There is still high burden of premature birth,” Barfield said. “They’re not just small babies; their entire organ systems are immature (and) until they are full-term they run risks of complication.”

The risk factors for premature birth include being African-American, stress, multiple births, obesity and diabetes, Barfield said.

It’s not only mothers in Africa, like the one in the Save the Children ad, who are at risk of infant mortality, but that’s the prevailing narrative, that all Africans are in need of saving.

Twitter user Diana Salah helped jump-start the hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShows to showcase the continent’s diversity on social media. Users post images of grand architecture, fashion, cuisine, culture, engineering, universities, diamond mines and female heads of state.

So, now that we’ve heard a few of the problems associated with poverty and poverty porn, what are some solutions?

Barfield said people can help support the health of infants and pregnant women in their communities by joining organizations like the March of Dimes, which has state chapters to help educate the public and community about risks of preterm births.

Communities can help support families and children by educating them about opportunities to get good nutrition, and making sure young girls grow up into healthy women.

Demanding transparency from NGOs and charities is crucial to differentiate legitimate causes from “poverty pimps,” Higgins said.

To avoid being duped, Higgins said potential donors should ask questions like:

  • How much of the money is transferred to local causes?
  • Can the charity/NGO provide an audit?
  • Are the locals given agency to handle their problems with the money raised?
  • Is the charity or NGO building local infrastructure?
  • Are skills being transferred to locals so they have the ability to use your money to do good?
  • Is the programming respectful of the cultural norms and local perspectives in the country it serves?

Don’t donate money to a charity or NGO based on emotions; instead ask for a measurement of what good they’re doing, because “good” is a variable word, he added.

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 27, 2015 in American Greed

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A System That Cares…

As a kid growing up in segregated Virginia…

My Mother was a primary School Teacher. Besides learning to write in perfect letters in both cursive and block letter, she insisted that every piece of paper I handed in look perfect.

She would often correct papers at home, after dinner, One day, when I was in about 3rd grade,  noticing that some of the papers had grease stains on them, I asked why. That question led to a sit down, which opened my eyes to realities beyond our black middle class home. She told me that some of the kids I went to school with lived in homes where the only place to do homework was at the kitchen table. They had no other place to go, and sometimes he food stains got on the papers as their mother was preparing dinner. I had honestly never considered that some of my friends lived in small, very old homes, where 5 or 6 kids tried to live in in 2-3 bedrooms. Scotty was my friend who played baseball after class….It never occurred to me that anything wasn’t as it should be, or that his home life would be any different than my own.

She organized a food and supplies drives through her Sorority and Church, and very quietly made sure these kids had enough food, clothing, and supplies – often delivering them herself, after sending a note home with the kids – who often didn’t have telephones in their homes. I went with her to deliver some of the supplies, and what I saw truly changed my worldview…I got strict orders never to discuss any of it, ever with my friends or school mates. It was our secret for many years.

The black community looked after the black community in those days…Because nobody else would. And did so in a way to try and preserve the dignity of those receiving aid. My Ebony and Jet reading dumb behind, never thought about it until then.

Now I grew up in what has consistently been ranked by those who keep track of such things as one of the 5 or 6 wealthiest counties in America. After desegregation, many of the white teachers were shocked to learn that abject poverty (both black and white) existed in the cracks and crevices of our otherwise wealthy and highly educated area.

It has taken damn near 50 years…But somebody else caught on to the things my parent’s generation knew.

School’s Private Pop-up Shop Lets Underserved Students Buy Basics With Dignity

Students require more than just books to succeed in school, and this innovative resource is helping teens in need build confidence both in and out of the classroom.

Administrators and the student government at Washington High School, in Washington, North Carolina, have created an anonymous, in-house shopping experience that provides underprivileged students with basic resources like food, hygienic products, school supplies and clothing. To eliminate stigma or judgment, students are able to discreetly approach a school administrator to privately take what they need from the shelves, where all items are targeted specifically to teenagers.

“If we want academics to improve, we have to make certain we’re meeting our students’ basic needs,” Misty Walker, the school principal, told The Huffington Post. “We want to strengthen our community, and schooling is just one aspect of that.”

The idea for the pantry came about when Walker realized her students’ needs were constantly growing. Though Washington High offers free and reduced meals, some students would not eat their next meal until they were back at school the next day, Walker explained. Students even began coming up to her personally, asking for items like toothpaste and toothbrushes.

As more of these needs began to surface, Walker consulted with Washington High School partner Bright Futures — an organization focused on school and community development. With the group, school administrators and the student leaders first developed a hygiene closet, and when that was successful, local donors helped expand the service into a school supply closet, food pantry and clothing shop.

“It’s a slightly different concept because we focused really on trying to help our high schoolers, versus the experience of preparing a whole box of food for a family,” Walker said.

To gain access to these resources, students simply speak in confidence with a teacher, counselor or administrator about their needs. A member of the school staff will then take them to shop in the pantries, all of which are located inside the school. This system both provides teens in need with basic resources, and strengthens the school community…Read the rest here

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 18, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Long Hard Fall of Olympic Figure Skater and Physician Debi Thomas

How does a World Champion skater, and Olympic Silver Medalist who is a Physician fail?

Debbi Thomas as we remember her –

Here a discussion of her appearing in Iyanla “Fix My Life” on Oprah’s Network…

How An Olympic Icon Ended Up Living In A Bug-Infested Trailer

Debi Thomas used to be a renowned figure skater and a surgeon. Now, she’s broke and unemployed.

From the time Debi Thomas was a young girl, she wanted to grow up to become two things: a renowned figure skater and a practicing physician. She did both.

In the 1980s, Thomas captured the world’s attention from the moment she got onto the ice. While studying for her engineering degree at Stanford University, Thomas won both the U.S. and World Championships. She soon set her sights on Olympic gold. Though her stumbles at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary cost her first place, Thomas took home the bronze and became the first African-American athlete to medal at any Winter Olympics. Then, after a successful figure skating career, Thomas went on to fulfill her second dream. She became a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, eventually opening up her own private practice in Richlands, Virginia.

Today, however, Thomas’ successes seem worlds away.

In between the Olympics and the World Championships, Thomas got married, but says the relationship crumbled after just three years because her husband felt lost in the midst of her popularity. As with her professional stumbles at the Winter Games, Thomas considered this personal stumble to be a failure. Then, more failures: As a physician, Thomas says her high expectations led her to go head-to-head with colleagues, and she was let go from two jobs. Though she had never really wanted to open up her own practice, she did. That’s when another divorce led Thomas to lose her nest egg, she says, and she soon had to close her private practice after two years.

Thomas is currently broke, jobless, twice-divorced and living in a bug-infested mobile home in a trailer park with her fiancé and his two sons. She even lost custody of her own 13-year-old boy, and her fiancé struggles to control both his alcohol use and his anger. Thomas knows it’s time to turn her life around, so she asks life coach Iyanla Vanzant to help her face some harsh truths on a path toward healing….Read the rest Here

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Why the Poor Stay Poor in America

In summary – America is Failing

At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.

Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes.

Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.

Where you are born counts… What you should notice is that the Red State South still serves as the boat anchor holding the rest of the country back. That is in huge reason today due to failed Republican Tax CUt policies necessitating a reduction in every service from social services to education. You get what you pay for, and in the case of conservative tax cut and slash policy – what you get is stagnant economic mobility. Ergo the poor stay poor.

In America, the Poorer You Are, the Poorer Your Children Will Be

This country’s terrible social safety net is making it impossible for working-class parents to keep up with their wealthier peers.

When people talk about “balancing work and family,” they’re usually talking more about the workplace than what’s going on at home. Now we’re starting to get data on what the workaday life looks like from a kid’s eye view, and it doesn’t look good.

When debating the issue of work-life balance, arguments over unlimited vacation and employment discrimination center around women’s barriers to opportunity—the perennial glass ceiling that Anne Marie Slaughter and Sheryl Sandberg rage at when lamenting not “having it all.” For working-class folks crushed by on-call schedules or poverty wages, it’s often hard to find any life outside work, let alone to balance work and family lives. But centering the conversation not on career ambition but the life course of a family helps put the false dichotomy of work vs. life in perspective.

In their new book “Too Many Children Left Behind,”Bruce Bradbury, Miles Corak, Jane Waldfogel, and Elizabeth Washbrook help illuminate these gaps by comparing the impacts of inequality across four wealthy countries—the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They found that poor children in the US are “doubly disadvantaged relative to their peers in the other three countries” because the government’s “social safety net and supports for working families do the least among the four countries to combat inequality”—particularly our national lack of guaranteed paid time off and vacation.

That’s old news, but the center of the researchers’ narrative is not necessarily workers’ lives but their children’s. Poverty limits access to basic resources like nutrition and decent childcare. But a geometrically expanding class divide looms over all income brackets, as wealthier parents zealously splurge on “enrichment expenditures”:

spending on books, computers, high-quality child care, summer camps, private schooling, and other resources that offer a motivating and nurturing environment for children. A generation or more ago, during the early 1970s, a typical family in the top fifth of the income distribution spent about $3,850 per year on resources like these, four times as much as the typical family at the bottom of the income distribution, which spent about $925…. by 2005 it had grown tremendously, to $9,800 versus $1,400.

So poor parents struggling just to cover basic food and shelter face both massive income inequality in their day-to-day lives, plus a seven-fold gap in the amount they can “invest” to help their children thrive in the future. Given that social mobility is already suppressed at all income levels—with children’s future earnings highly correlated with the earnings of their parents—the Herculean amount of “catch up” poor parents must undertake just to get on the same footing as their higher-earning peers makes the great American wealth gap seem even more devastating, for both today’s working households and generations to come.

Moreover, the gender gap straddles the class divide: the “earnings advantage” provided by parents’ wealth, or lack thereof, is skewed against women. A child is likely to inherit a greater share of his dad’s wealth than mom’s. Beyond the perennial “equal pay” debate and the simplistic notion of “78 cents on the dollar,” how does that reality of gender inequality play out in family dynamics, in those difficult late-night conversations on who should stay home with a newborn, or stay late at the office?

But the most enduring impact of these deficits may be impossible to quantify. Economic disadvantage intertwined with structural inequality has a savage effect on a child’s long-term educational prospects—including basic preschool-level skills, like language aptitude and sociability, and failing primary-school grades. And the “achievement gap” (which is itself a notion often politicized with complex racial biases) has folded into a deepening black-white education divide over the last three decades.

Other research has revealed that economic status is a growing factor in academic outcomes, as “the relationship between income and achievement has grown sharply” over the last 50 years. So wealth trumps intellect on many levels.

Closing the gap takes more systemic solutions than just “leaning in.” Class lines reflect a deficit of democracy, created by neglect of government institutions. Research suggests much of the education gap is perpetuated or aggravated while children are wending through the highly segregated school system.

Co-author Jane Waldfogel says via e-mail that in addition to better workplace benefits, policy solutions might come through richer, more accessible early education and childcare: “Universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds would help level the playing field by ensuring that all preschoolers receive educationally oriented early education (rather than the case now, where more affluent families can buy preschool, while lower income families have to make do with lower quality care).”

Federal programs like Head Start and childcare subsidies have for years suffered massive funding gaps, leaving tens of thousands of kids underserved. But some states are directing resources into expanding preschool—with pioneering programs in New York City—though it remains to be seen whether lawmakers who have failed to adequately fund K-12 are really willing to invest enough public dollars in the long-term to create a sustainable universal pre-K system.

Waldfogel’s research reveals a need for not just income supports but simply less need to work all the time. For young children of parents who are either out working around the clock, or constantly stressed at home, overwork translates into a materially and emotionally impoverished home environment. During the developmental years, research shows “inequalities in income and family resources are in turn linked with disparities in more proximal factors such as books in the home, lessons and activities outside the home, and parents’ spanking.”

Although many factors shape a household’s social climate, the connection between a parents’ economic frustrations and a pattern of a lack of nurture, even cruelty at home, suggests a troubling through-line in this inheritance of inequity: Wealth doesn’t trickle down, yet economic violence does.…More…

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On that conservative Welfare Meme & Uncle Ben Carson

An 1860’s handbill, containing all of the elements of the current conservative-Republican belief system abut race, welfare, and white victimization

In the late 1860’s conservatives, including the first KKK, sought to stir up white resentment by attacking the Freedmen’s Bureau with a number of falsified accusations. Like today’s conservatives (with the help of the 3rd KKK), today’s Republicans argue the “dissolution of the black family” the loss of “work ethic”, and “black laziness” having as a root cause the Great Society (re: Welfare) Programs instituted under President Lyndon Johnson. Frequently quoting numbers of $15 trillion to $30 trillion devise by the conservative “think tank” The Heritage Institute, racist conservatives conveniently ignore the fact that the Heritage Institutes numbers are fake – and that whatever that amount may be – nearly 80% of that money was spent on places like The Great White Ghetto, and other areas of the Republican led, poverty stricken South. Not the inner city, mostly black ghetto.

The same three elements are carried over from this racist handbill to today’s racist Republican Party:

  • The “Hard working white man” vs the “Lazy Negro”
  • White Victimization in terms of (falsely claimed) benefits to whites vs blacks
  • That hard working whites are supporting lazy blacks though their hard earned tax money.

Ben Carson’s claim that ‘we have 10 times more people on welfare’ since the 1960s

Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, asserted in a television interview that government efforts to ease poverty have largely been a failure. He specifically made two claims — that $19 trillion has been spent on anti-poverty programs since the mid-1960s and that “we have 10 times more people on welfare.” More generally, he also said that there are more people living in poverty.

We’ve often explained that statistics can be manipulated when comparing decades. For instance, the population of the United States is 60 percent larger in 2015 than it was in 1965, so it may not be relevant to compare raw numbers. There are definitional issues, such as what constitutes an “anti-poverty” or “welfare” program. Is it all means-tested programs, including health insurance such as Medicaid that also assists people above the poverty line? Or should it be limited to traditional anti-poverty programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)?

Let’s check out Carson’s math.

The Facts

Eligibility for participation in government benefit programs can be based either on financial need (means-tested) or the occurrence of an event (such as reaching retirement age). Examples of mean-tested “social welfare” programs include TANF; food stamps; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the disabled; Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); public or subsidized rental housing; free or reduced-priced school meals; and Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor.

Doug Watts, a Carson campaign spokesman, said, “We’re speaking of means-tested public assistance programs.”

Under that rubric, the “federal government is spending almost $1 trillion a year on welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical treatment, social services, training, and education to poor and low-income Americans,” providing benefits and cash to almost 100 million recipients, Watts said. “Dr. Carson recognizes the need and value of public assistance. Our point is the way government has addressed it, by virtually throwing money and programs, that have mostly proved ineffective or inadequate at reducing poverty.”

The poverty rate in 1965 was 15 percent, when the “war on poverty” announced by President Lyndon Johnson began to be implemented; Watts noted that in 2010 it was still 15 percent. (It was 14.5 percent in 2013, the first drop since 2006.) Watts also provided two other figures, though without providing a source: In 1965, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) “had roughly 400,000 cases (recipients),” he said. “In 2015, TANF (the successor to AFDC) had 3.1 million recipients. That alone is 8 times.”

100 million recipients

Definitions are important for this number, which is made up primarily of people on Medicaid (64.9 million people in 2014) and food stamps (46.5 million in 2014). But Medicaid is increasingly aimed at the elderly (people in nursing homes) or the disabled. “Medicaid spending per participant is much higher for people who are elderly, disabled, or pregnant than it is for nondisabled children or for working-age adults who are not disabled or pregnant,” the Congressional Budget Office said in a report. The Medicaid rolls have also expanded because the Affordable Care Act extended it to some people with income above the Federal Poverty Level.

The 100 million figure is a bit misleading, though, because it includes anyone who resides in a household in which at least one person (such as someone who is disabled) receives a means-tested payment. As of the fourth quarter of 2012, the Census Bureau says, the number stood at 109 million, but the Medicaid figure is listed as nearly 82 million, far higher than the number of people who actually receive Medicaid. Indeed, other census data indicates that 82 percent of the households that receive means-tested benefits included at least one person who was working.

In a May report, the Census Bureau said 52.2 million people — 21.3 percent of the population— participated in one or more major means-tested assistance programs, on average, each month. That seems a much more reasonable figure to use — and it’s about half the size of number touted by the Carson campaign.

The poverty rate

In saying that the poverty rate has barely changed, the Carson campaign is referring to the official poverty rate. It is worth noting that even by the official metric, the rate has declined slightly since 1965. But increasingly scholars believe the official figure is not especially informative because noncash benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or public housing are not recorded as income, meaning it does not capture the effect of anti-poverty programs that Carson suggests are ineffective.

The Census Bureau has tried to mitigate these concerns with a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) introduced in 2011. In fact, the 2014 report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers reassessed poverty rates over time using the SPM.

“Poverty rates fell from 25.8 percent in 1967 to 16 percent in 2012 — a decline of nearly 40 percent,” the report concluded. “In 2012 alone, the combined effect of all federal tax, cash and in-kind aid programs was to lift approximately 14.5 percent of the population — over 45 million people — out of poverty.”

$19 trillion in spending

Carson’s $19 trillion figure is within the range of estimates by right-leaning organizations that have placed spending for anti-poverty programs at $15 trillion to $20 trillion in the past 50 years. These figures, which are in inflation-adjusted dollars, include spending on about 80 means-tested programs by the federal government, plus state and local governments. The estimates include items such as nearly $100 billion for education programs, with about half devoted to Pell Grants for college, as well as the refundable portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit — which one can receive receive if you hold a job. So some might find it debatable that all of these programs constitute “welfare.”

Medicaid, again, is a huge part of the number — but the growth in the Medicaid budget is reflective of increases in health-care costs in general. The Congressional Research Service, in a 2012 report, says that between 1962 and 2011, “federal outlays for low-income health programs have increased, in inflation-adjusted terms, at a rate of 13.3 percent per year versus 6.5 percent for other spending.”

And while $19 trillion sounds like a lot of money, that’s over half a century. In context, federal spending in constant dollars amounts to nearly $110 trillion in that period.…More…

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pharrell Williams…”Freedom” and Prince …”Baltimore”

Enjoy the song – but check out the background and symbolism…

Prince’s song on Baltimore and the death of Freddy Gray…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Republicans and Welfare

 

Poor people are “animals”…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 14, 2015 in American Greed, Domestic terrorism

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Poverty in America… No Longer an Urban Thing.

A Brookings infographic on the reasons for rising poverty in the Suburbs.

The rest of this study can be found here.

One of the popular beliefs of the American ignorati (AKA conservatives, and their racist co-conspirators) is that poverty in America is confined to the “ghetto”. Not really surprising that they should be so far out of step with reality, when much of their belief system is based on a book written by Patrick Moynahan over half a century ago about conditions in the mid 1960’s.

With the collapse of American manufacturing, and it’s relocation to China – urban areas have undergone wholesale change as people have moved out to find jobs. This has resulted in a reversal of the “Great Migration” of the 1920’s and 30’s, where black folks moved wholesale out of the South to the North urban centers for better jobs building Fords and Chryslers. The segregation of the time stratifying the neighborhoods into urban clusters.

Creating a very convenient Pinata for the racist right.

Unfortunately for the right’s favorite talking point, twin forces are conspiring to destroy the urban ghetto. Gentrification, and the residents desire to seek employment. Tashwaniankia has moved to the ‘burbs!

Suburbs and the New American Poverty

More people with low incomes now live outside of cities, and some areas are ill-equipped to deal with the influx of the poor.

NORCROSS, Ga.—Every weekday around 3:15 p.m., a big, yellow school bus stops on Pelican Drive outside Norcross Extended Stay, near the intersection with Best Friend Drive.

Dozens of children file out, carrying their heavy backpacks away from the Wendy’s and the AutoZone, towards the cluster of aging three-story yellow buildings where they live. Some are met by waiting parents, others trek by themselves to the shabby motel rooms, marching past broken-down cars, their tires flat, scattered around the parking lot, and discarded mattresses piled next to some of the residences.

That families are living in extended-stay motels like this one may seem surprising in a town like Norcross, founded in 1870 and named one of the best places to livein Georgia by Movoto, a real estate blog, last year. Gwinnett County, where Norcross is located, is, in parts, a collection of well-off towns like Duluth, home to NeNe Leaks, of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame. Its unemployment rate is just 5.7 percent and one of its schools, the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, was recently named one of the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

But the suburbs of Atlanta no longer hold just the promise of good schools, clean streets, and whitewashed homes with manicured lawns proudly displaying American flags. They are increasingly home to the very poor, who find themselves stranded in suburbs without the kind of transit or assistance that they might once have found in cities’ urban cores. They are stuck in places like Norcross Extended Stay, that see the same type of crime that families might have once seen in metro Atlanta. (A few years back, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department had to order 20 sex offenders to leave the motel, because it was located near a public pool.)

Joanna Watkins stays at home with her grandkids in one of the tiny rooms in Norcross Extended Stay while her daughter borrows her car to work as a waitress nearby. On the day I met them, Watkins’ granddaughters lounged on the motel’s polyester, flowered bedspreads watching TV while Watkins peered nervously out of the motel room’s first-floor window.

“We don’t let the kids go outside,” Watkins told me, explaining that the family is looking for something better. She moved from Texas in September to help out with childcare, but with her daughter’s low wages, they’re still looking for a more suitable place to live.Fully 88 percent of Atlanta’s poor live in the suburbs, according to Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution. Between 2000 and 2011, Atlanta’s suburban poor population grew by 159 percent, while the city’s poor population remained essentially flat.

 It’s not just Atlanta—across much of the country, poverty is increasingly a problem found in the suburbs. The number of poor in the suburbs surpassed the number of poor in the cities in the 2000s, and by 2011, almost 16.4 million suburban residents lived below the poverty line, according to Kneebone and Berube.

 

Poor Residents in Cities and Suburbs, 1970-2012

The fact that more poor people live in the suburbs doesn’t have to be a bad thing, Kneebone told me. If low-income residents have access to good job opportunities, affordable housing, low crime rates, and good schools, then the suburbs can provide a path out of poverty.

But poverty has increased so quickly in some suburbs that these areas are ill-equipped to deal with it, she said.

“Many of these communities lack the infrastructure, safety-net supports, and resources to address the needs of a growing poor population, which can make it that much harder for poor residents to connect to the kinds of opportunities that can help them get out of poverty in the long run,” she said.

The problem speaks to a different kind of erosion of the American Dream, in which families strive to get to the much-vaunted suburbs, only to find out there’s nothing for them there. And as suburbs see more and more poverty, they become the same traps that impoverished, urban neighborhoods once were, where someone born there has few chances to improve his economic standing.

There are more tangible problems that arise when poverty grows in the suburbs. Often, government structures change more slowly than the population at large, and residents find themselves represented—and policed—by people who don’t understand their needs or concerns. The unrest in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, over the past year, reflects this conflict.

Suburbs also have less transit than urban areas, making it difficult for low-income residents to get to jobs or buy groceries. And social services have been slow to follow the poor to the suburbs, so many suburban poor find themselves isolated and without a safety net, hidden from those who might be able to help.

 This all became extremely clear to the Reverend Harriet Bradley, who lives in an extended-stay motel in Gwinnett County, where a neon sign advertises rooms for $169 a week. She has no car, and depends on public transit to get around. It can take her three hours to get to church some days, and the public transit in the county doesn’t run on the weekends.

She says she was called by God to talk to other public-transit riders about the need to expand the bus system, and recently decided to attend a public hearing of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners to ask them to divert more support to public transit in the county. After two long bus rides, she waited through hours of dull zoning appeals and then, right before the meeting ended, was given a few minutes to speak.

The crowd was diverse, but the commissioners were all white. Over the last decade, Gwinnett has become the most racially-diverse county in Atlanta. Between the 2000 and 2010 census, the county’s African American populationadded 112,000 residents, growing 143 percent, while the county’s Asian population doubled, adding 43,000 residents. The white population grew by a mere 1,680 residents. Still, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners is all white, as is the county school board, and all of the judges elected to county’s state and superior courts.

Bradley, who is African American, cleared her throat and stood in front of a round table of white elected officials and staff, and asked for more transit funding.”The bus schedules don’t start early or run late enough,” she said. “I’ve often heard people around me say, ‘They don’t realize that I can’t get to work.'”

A person without a car who wanted to attend that very meeting would not have been able to get home afterward because the bus doesn’t run late enough, she said (she’d arranged for a ride home). Gwinnett County residents without cars can’t get jobs at the mall or local warehouses, or at Atlanta’s airport south of the city—the busiest airport in the world—because the buses don’t allow them to get to work on time.

 “Many people have had to turn down jobs because they couldn’t get there,” she said, ending her speech.

Afterwards, she spoke individually to a few commissioners but felt mostly ignored. “The commissioners—they don’t really want public transportation out here,” she told me afterwards. “They wouldn’t use it anyway.” (…More…)

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Belafonte’s Moving Oscar Speech

Belafonte has been around a long long time…Nice that the Oscars are clearing up some past oversights.

This is a very powerful speech.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 13, 2014 in Black History, Giant Negros

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Biggest Ghetto in America

Conservatives – especially their Lawn Jockey black conservative servants, like to talk about black folks and the inner city. It, like almost everything conservatives have to say is a lie – a flim flam game.Since I was hammering the Wall Street Journal’s professional Uncle Tom, Jason Riley a few posts ago – let’s use one of his buckdances for his WSJ Massa’s as an example

Liberals in general, and the black left in particular, like the idea of talking about racial problems, but in practice they typically ignore the most relevant aspects of any such discussion. Any candid debate on race and criminality in this country would have to start with the fact that blacks commit an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes. African-Americans constitute about 13% of the population, yet between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the U.S. The black arrest rate for most offenses—including robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes—is typically two to three times their representation in the population.

“High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination,” wrote the late Harvard Law professor William Stuntz in “The Collapse of American Criminal Justice.” “The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segregation but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans—and of African American control of city governments.”

The left wants to blame these outcomes on racial animus and “the system,” but blacks have long been part of running that system. Black crime and incarceration rates spiked in the 1970s and ’80s in cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia, under black mayors and black police chiefs. Some of the most violent cities in the U.S. today are run by blacks.

One more time for the Lawn Jockey set – the issue is POVERTY, not black folks, not white folks,not cities..The issue buckdancers is POVERTY.

The White Ghetto

There are lots of diversions in the Big White Ghetto, the vast moribund matrix of Wonder Bread–hued Appalachian towns and villages stretching from northern Mississippi to southern New York, a slowly dissipating nebula of poverty and misery with its heart in eastern Kentucky, the last redoubt of the Scots-Irish working class that picked up where African slave labor left off, mining and cropping and sawing the raw materials for a modern American economy that would soon run out of profitable uses for the class of people who 500 years ago would have been known, without any derogation, as peasants. Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.

If the people here weren’t 98.5 percent white, we’d call it a reservation.

Driving through these hills and hollows, you aren’t in the Appalachia of Elmore Leonard’s Justified or squatting with Lyndon Johnson on Tom Fletcher’s front porch in Martin County, a scene famously photographed by Walter Bennett of Time, the image that launched the so-called War on Poverty. The music isn’t “Shady Grove,” it’s Kanye West. There is still coal mining — which, at $25 an hour or more, provides one of the more desirable occupations outside of government work — but the jobs are moving west, and Harlan County, like many coal-country communities, has lost nearly half of its population over the past 30 years.

There is here a strain of fervid and sometimes apocalyptic Christianity, and visions of the Rapture must have a certain appeal for people who already have been left behind. Like its black urban counterparts, the Big White Ghetto suffers from a whole trainload of social problems, but the most significant among them may be adverse selection: Those who have the required work skills, the academic ability, or the simple desperate native enterprising grit to do so get the hell out as fast as they can, and they have been doing that for decades. As they go, businesses disappear, institutions fall into decline, social networks erode, and there is little or nothing left over for those who remain. It’s a classic economic death spiral: The quality of the available jobs is not enough to keep good workers, and the quality of the available workers is not enough to attract good jobs. These little towns located at remote wide spots in helical mountain roads are hard enough to get to if you have a good reason to be here. If you don’t have a good reason, you aren’t going to think of one.

Appalachian places have evocative and unsentimental names denoting deep roots: Little Barren River, Coal Pit Road. The name “Cumberland” blankets Appalachian geography — the Cumberland Mountains, the Cumberland River, several Cumberland counties — in tribute to the Duke of Cumberland, who along with the Ulster Scots ancestors of the Appalachian settlers crushed the Young Pretender at the Battle of Culloden. Even church names suggest ancient grievances: Separate Baptist, with the descriptor in all-capital letters. (“Come out from among them and be ye separate” — 2 Corinthians 6:17.) I pass a church called “Welfare Baptist,” which, unfortunately, describes much of the population for miles and miles around. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 15, 2014 in American Genocide, Black Conservatives

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Republican District Hurt By Budget Cuts

Last night’s Gubernatorial election in Virginia went about as expected, although the Republican challenger was a bit closer than projected. Looking at the voting acrss the State, the more populaous and prosperous areas voted overwhelmingly Democrat, while rural counties and the southwestern mountain are voted heavily Republican.

There are a lot of similarities between those areas and the area in this article in Kentucky. Poor white folks voting for their own misery… wonder when these folks are going to finally wake up and realize their Tea Party representatives don’t give a damn about their welfare.

Austerity deals harsh blow to already stricken land

Republican Congressman Hal Rogers brought so many federal dollars home to eastern Kentucky’s coal country, he was crowned “Prince of Pork.”

Now that spigot has been turned off, just when his district might actually need it the most.

Competition from natural gas, cheaper coal, and environmental regulations have hastened the demise of the mining industry here, already in decline. More than 6,200 eastern Kentucky miners have been laid off since July 2011. There are now fewer coal jobs here than in 1920, when the great-grandfathers of today’s miners wielded shovels and pick-axes.

But sequestration—a series of across-the-board spending cuts that many Tea Party Republicans have come to embrace—and other austerity measures have accelerated the economic free fall. Unemployment benefits to laid-off miners are shrinking; fewer meals are getting delivered to homebound seniors; and there’s less money to help workers retool for new jobs. Beginning Friday, food stamps will be cut by an average of $36 per month for a family of four.

It’s yet another blow to struggling Appalachian mining towns like Harlan, where the mayor estimates that 15% of the town’s residents have moved out in the past year, searching for work elsewhere.

Unsold guns are piling up in pawnshops. Even the local mortician is feeling the pinch: grieving relatives are downgrading from hardwood coffins to two-gauge steel, and ordering five baskets of flowers instead of twenty or thirty. “If I don’t sell to the coal people, I don’t sell,” one Harlan businessman explained.

Rogers has been one of the few Republicans to slam sequestration as devastating, unworkable, and unrealistic. Unless Congress decides otherwise, $109 billion in cuts will continue every year until 2021—a budget that Rogers must implement as chair of the House Appropriations Committee. But many of his Republicans colleagues have embraced the $85 billion in cuts this year as guaranteed spending cuts. It’s unlikely that budget negotiations that started this week in Congress will reverse all of them.

The incremental nature of sequestration —slow rolling, local, and scattered unevenly nationwide—has made the belt-tightening hard to measure and easy to dismiss since the cuts took effect in March. “The people that I’ve talked to seem to be doing well,” Missouri Rep. Billy Long said in April. “In fact, when I got out in restaurants here in town, people come up to me. They want to see more sequestration, not less.”

Even some Democrats believe the White House overhyped the cuts when it made dire predictions about their impact, some of which didn’t pan out. “I think they probably went over the top in terms of saying that the consequences were going to be horrible. The lines in the airports aren’t long, the world hasn’t changed overnight,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

But Harlan sees long lines. They are in the unemployment office, filled with out-of-work miners chasing any rumor of jobs left to be had. A TV in the waiting area explains how federal cuts have chipped away at the safety net most had hoped they would never need.

“Sequestration…What does that mean for you? Your Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits that begin on or after March 31, 2013 must be reduced 10.7% for each week of unemployment through September 2013.”

“Sequestration is a terrible way to do business. I’ve said it since day one. It slices the good with the bad, and removes the duty of Congress to ensure vital programs, like Head Start and various grant programs receive adequate support,” Rogers told MSNBC. “Couple those deep cuts with the rapid loss of coal mining jobs in eastern Kentucky and we’re now facing an economic superstorm.”

For Donnie Reeves, 40, each passing week of unemployment means less security. He lost his mining job in March, just weeks before his wife Tiffanie lost her job as a teaching assistant. “After December, it’s no more unemployment, no more nothing,” he said in August.

“I would have to work a minimum of three jobs, each 40 hours a week at minimum wage. That’s to keep the lights on. No groceries, no gas,” said Donnie, who made $70,000 in his best year.

Donnie spent the summer retraining for a factory job through an emergency federal program spared—this time—from sequestration’s axe. Tiffanie found a job helping unemployed Kentuckians like her husband find work.

But with two teenage kids and their hometown’s economy in tatters, the Reeves know that their future may lie outside Harlan, leaving behind a family rooted here for more than 120 years.

“Tiff,” he told her last spring, when they were first considering the idea, “we’re giving up.”…

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: