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George Curry

Killing Black Teens – Literally

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(NNPA) The death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student at King College Prep High School on Chicago’s South Side is finally receiving the national attention that it deserves. An honor student and majorette in her school’s marching band, Hadiya had recently participated in President Obama’s inaugural parade in the nation’s capital.

After leaving school on Jan. 29, Hadiya was shot and killed in a park after she and friends sought shelter under a canopy when it began raining. She was killed about a mile from Obama’s Chicago home. Hadiya’s father, Nathaniel Pendleton, summed up his loss this way: “They took the light of my life…She was destined for great things and you stripped that from her.”

First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett attended Hadiya’s funeral on Saturday. Her mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, was a guest of the Obamas at Tuesday’s State of the Union address. The president is scheduled to visit Chicago on Friday where he will deliver a major address on gun violence that is certain to contain a mention of Hadiya. It’s fitting that Obama return to his adopted home town to make his case against deadly violence.

According to statistics analyzed by the Chicago Reporter, more young people are killed in Chicago than any other city in the nation. More than 530 people under 21 years old have been killed since 2008 – most of them in Black and Brown neighborhoods – while hundreds of others have been injured. According to the newspaper, nearly 80 percent of youth homicides occur in 22 Black or Latino neighborhoods on the city’s South, Southwest and West sides, even though those communities represent only one-third of Chicago’s population.”

Young people are not only the victims of gun violence – they are usually the ones who pull the trigger.

“From 2008 through 2012, nearly half of Chicago’s 2,389 homicide victims were killed before their 25th birthday. In 2011, the most recent year for which the data were available, more than 56 percent of individuals who committed murder were also under 25. One-third of Chicago residents are under 25, according to 2011 Census estimates,” the Chicago Reporter states. “And despite various police strategies and community efforts, things are getting worse. Last year, 243 people under 25 were killed in Chicago. That’s an 11 percent increase over 2011 and a 26 percent jump from 2010.”

Chicago homicides are not limited to the youth.

The Reporter also noted, “In 2012, not only did Chicago lead the nation in homicides, it witnessed nearly 100 more murders than New York City, even though the Big Apple has three times as many residents. And Chicago witnessed 215 more murders than Los Angeles – home to more than a million more people.”

Because of highly-publicized mass murders – including shooting deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.; a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; Fort Hood, Texas and Virginia Tech – much of the gun debate has centered on reducing or eliminating access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

While those are laudable goals, some police chiefs have pointed out that handguns kill far more people than assault weapons.

In its latest report titled, “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2010 Homicide Data,” the Violence Policy Center reported: “For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 83 percent of black victims (5,073 out of 6,149) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 72 percent (3,658 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 617 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 219 victims killed by bodily force, and 162 victims killed by a blunt object.”

Overall, Blacks are more than six times more likely to be homicide victims than Whites.

Citing FBI crime reports, the Violence Policy Center observed, “…In 2010 there were 6,469 black homicide victims in the United States. The homicide rate among black victims in the United States was 16.32 per 100,000. For that year, the overall national homicide rate was 4.42 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide rate was 2.66 per 100,000.”

In addition to the need to address handgun violence, President Obama, Congress and law enforcement officials should acknowledge that violence is a serious problem and more often than not, the victim knew or had a relationship with the person who killed them.

“For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 70 percent of black victims (2,146 out of 3,058) were murdered by someone they knew. Nine hundred twelve victims were killed by strangers,” the Violence Policy Center report stated.

If this country is serious about curbing murders, it must focus on tragic deaths, such as the murder of Hadiya Pendleton and 20 young kids in Newtown, Conn. But it must also deal with handguns and the murder of people who have or have had a relationship with their killer. Otherwise, all the tough talk on reducing violence is empty rhetoric.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (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.

Black History Month by the Numbers

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The U.S. Census Bureau has released the following figures about Black America to coincide with African American History Month. If found them interesting enough to share.

Population

43.9 million

The number of Blacks, either alone or in combination with one or more other races, on July 1, 2011, up 1.6 percent from the census on April 1, 2010. Source: Population Estimates

http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-90.html

77.4 million

The projected Black population of the United States (including those of more than one race) for July 1, 2060. On that date, according to the projection, Blacks would constitute 18.4 percent of the nation’s total population. Source: Population projections

http://www.census.gov/population/projections/data/national/2012/summarytables.html

3.7 million

The Black population in New York, which led all states as of July 1, 2011. Texas had the largest numeric increase since April 1, 2010 (84,000). The District of Columbia had the highest percentage of Blacks (52.2 percent), followed by Mississippi (38.0 percent). Source: Population Estimates

http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-90.html

1.3 million

The Black population in Cook, Ill., which had the largest Black population of any county in 2011. Fulton, Ga., had the largest numeric increase since 2010 (13,000). Holmes, Miss., was the county with the highest percentage of Blacks in the nation (82.9 percent). Source: Population Estimates

http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-90.html

Serving Our Nation

2.3 million

Number of Black military veterans in the United States in 2011. Source: 2011 American Community Survey

ttp://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/11_1YR/S0201//popgroup~004

Education

82.5%

The percentage of Blacks 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher in 2011. Source: 2011 American Community Survey

http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/11_1YR/S0201//popgroup~004

18.4%

The percentage of Blacks 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2011. Source: 2011 American Community Survey

http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/11_1YR/S0201//popgroup~004

1.6 million

Among Blacks 25 and older, the number who had an advanced degree in 2011. Source: 2011 American Community Survey

3.1 million

http://www.census.gov/hhes/school/data/cps/historical/index.html

Number of Blacks enrolled in college in 2011, a 74.0 percent increase since 2001. Source: 2011 Current Population Survey, Table A1

 

Voting

11.1 million

The number of Blacks who voted in the 2010 congressional election, an increase from 10 percent of the total electorate in 2006 to 12 percent in 2010. Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of 2010

55%

Turnout rate in the 2008 presidential election for the 18- to 24-year-old citizen Black population, an 8 percentage point increase from 2004. Blacks had the highest turnout rate in this age group. Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008

 

65%

Turnout rate among Black citizens regardless of age in the 2008 presidential election, up about 5 percentage points from 2004. Looking at voter turnout by race and Hispanic origin, non-Hispanic whites and Blacks had the highest turnout levels. Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance

$32,229

The annual median income of Black households in 2011, a decline of 2.7 percent from 2010. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011

27.6%

Poverty rate in 2011 for Blacks. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011

80.5%

Percentage of Blacks that were covered by health insurance during all or part of 2011. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States : 2011

Families and Children

61.9%

Among households with a Black householder, the percentage that contained a family in 2012. There were 9.7 million Black family households. Source: 2012 Current Population Survey, Families and Living

Arrangements, Table F1 and Table HH-2

45.2%

Among families with Black householders, the percentage that were married couples in 2012. Source: 2012 Current Population Survey, Families and Living Arrangements, Table F1

 

1.2 million

Number of Black grandparents who lived with their own grandchildren younger than 18 in 2011. Of this number, 48.5 percent were also responsible for their care. Source: 2011 American Community Survey

Homeownership

43.4% Nationally, the percentage of households with a householder who was Black who lived in owner-occupied homes in 2011. Source: 2011 American Community Survey

 

Jobs

28.2%

The percentage of Blacks 16 and older who worked in management, business, science and arts occupations. Source: 2011 American Community Survey

Businesses

$135.7 billion

Receipts for Black-owned businesses in 2007, up 53.1 percent from 2002. The number of Black-owned businesses totaled 1.9 million in 2007, up 60.5 percent. Source: 2007 Survey of Business Owners

37.7%

Percentage of Black-owned businesses in 2007 in health care and social assistance, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services. Source: 2007 Survey of Business Owners

10.6%

Percentage of all Black-owned firms operating in 2007 in New York, which led all states or state-equivalents. Georgia and Florida followed, at 9.6 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively. Source: 2007 Survey of Business Owners

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (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.

Obama Races Away from the Issue of Race

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(NNPA) When Barack Obama accepted his party’s presidential nomination in Denver on August 28, 2008 – the 45th anniversary of the March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” – excitement filled the air.

Amid that jubilance, however, it struck me as odd that Obama failed to mention Dr. King by name.

“.. And it is that promise that, 45 years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln’s Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream,” Obama said at the time.

Seconds later, he would add: “’We cannot walk alone,’” the preacher cried. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

When Obama was inaugurated for the second time on January 21, 2013, the day we officially celebrated as the King federal holiday, I knew – or thought I knew – that President Obama would not make that same omission again.

I listened carefully as he said: “We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”

Why couldn’t President Obama utter Dr. King’s name on the day he used the slain civil rights leader’s Bible to be sworn in? On King’s birthday, why couldn’t he be called more than just a preacher?

Even though Beyoncé lip-synced the National Anthem on Inauguration Day, she hasn’t been accused of faking it when she sings another song – “Say My Name.”

If you ain’t running a game

Say my name, say my name

The problem is larger than the failure to say Dr. King’s name. The problem, according to Michael Eric Dyson, is that, “This president runs from race like a Black man runs from a cop.”

When candidate Obama was forced to address the issue of race in the wake of controversial remarks by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor, he said in Philadelphia: “But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now.”

However, that’s exactly what he has been doing.

Frederick C. Harris, director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, noted, “… as president, Mr. Obama has had little to say on concerns specific to blacks. His State of the Union address in 2011 was the first by any president since 1948 to not mention poverty or the poor. The political scientist Daniel Q. Gillion found that Mr. Obama, in his first two years in office, talked about race less than any Democratic president had since 1961. From racial profiling to mass incarceration to affirmative action, his comments have been sparse and halting.”

Sure, he had a beer summit at the White House with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the White police officer who arrested him in his own home. Obama said the officer had “acted stupidly,” but later softened his criticism. The president also said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon [Martin].”

Of course, the issue is not whether Obama has a son who looks like Trayvon Martin. What is he going to do about people who are treated like Trayvon?

To discuss race less than Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, all White southerners who grew up under segregation, should be embarrassing to President Obama. It should be even more of an embarrassment that Obama hasn’t taken leadership on the issue as Bill Clinton did when he launched his “One America Initiative” on race. Putting aside the merits of the initiative, it demonstrated Clinton was willing to confront the issue of race.

As my friend Courtland Milloy wrote in the Washington Post, it’s time to stop making excuses for Obama.

He said, “Obama should not be allowed to get away with thinking that when it comes to making his mark on the issue of race, all he had to do was become the first black president.”

Unfortunately, some of the most vocal Black leaders have either been co-opted by the White House or fear a backlash from adoring Black voters.

The usually outspoken Rep. Maxine Waters [D-Calif.] told a crowd in Detroit, “If we go after the president too hard, you’re going after us.”

And former Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II of Missouri admitted, “With 14 percent [black] unemployment if we had a white president we’d be marching around the White House.”

If we don’t get some true leadership on this issue, perhaps it will be time to march around the White House, Congress and the headquarters of some of our civil rights organizations.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (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.

Hands off Malia and Sasha Obama

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(NNPA) Just when you think leaders of the National Rifle Association can’t stoop any lower, they keep managing to plunge even deeper. This time, they have strayed way over the line of respectability by using Malia and Sasha’s enrollment in Sidwell Friends, a private Quaker school, to malign President Obama over his proposal to place limits on the sale of assault rifles and expand background checks.

“Are the president’s kids more important than yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. But he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security. Protection for their kids. And gun-free zones for ours.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was correct when he said in a statement: “Most Americans agree that a president’s children should not be used as pawns in a political fight. But to go so far as to make the safety of the president’s children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said: “To talk about the president’s children or any public officer’s children who have – not by their own choice, but by requirement – to have protection and use that somehow to make a political point I think is reprehensible.”

I am tempted to call NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and his comrades scum. But I’m going to resist the temptation. Not because they don’t fit that description. I’m restraining myself because to call them scum would be an insult to scum.

A second NRA ad, running four-and-a-half-minutes, tossed in an image of NBC newsman David Gregory – whose children also attend Sidwell Friends School – for good measure. The narrator in the ad says “Armed Guards — Good enough for the David Gregory’s kids’ school, not for the rest of us. …[The] school Obama’s daughters attend has 11 armed guards.”

Not surprisingly, the ad conveniently ignores the fact that the Secret Service is required to protect the president’s children. They protected Chelsea Clinton and Julie Nixon when they attended the school, known as “the Harvard of Washington’s private schools.”

Although the original NRA ad leaves the impression that it is referring to Secret Service agents, the longer version makes it clear that NRA is referencing security guards at the school, which has a lower school campus in Bethesda, Md. and middle and upper schools in northwest Washington, D.C. .The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column awarded the NRA ad four Pinocchios, representing a “whopper” of a lie. The newspaper noted, “…the online directory for Sidwell Friends lists 11 people as working in the Security Department. Five are listed as ‘special police officer,’ while two are listed as ‘on call special police officer,’ which presumably means they do not work full-time. The directory also lists two weekend shift supervisors, one security officer and the chief of security.“

“… But we spoke to parents who said they had never seen a guard on campus with a weapon. And Ellis Turner, associate head of Sidwell Friends, told us emphatically: ‘Sidwell Friends security officers do not carry guns.’”

The NRA’s ad claiming that President Obama is “skeptical about putting armed security in our schools” misrepresents his position. The clip was taken out of context from this exchange between the president and David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

GREGORY: Should we have an armed guard at every school in the country? That’s what the NRA believes. They told me last week that that could work.

OBAMA: I’m not going to prejudge the recommendations that are given to me. I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools. And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem.

Clearly, the president did not say he was skeptical about placing armed security guards in schools. Instead, he said that is not “the only answer.”

Even more insane, at a press conference, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA asserted that the answer to preventing future incidents like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. is the placement of armed guards in every school.

Among the proposals presented by President Obama is providing federal funds to place more officers in schools, if the school requests them.

After acting on a specific proposal made by NRA, the gun lobbying organization denounced Obama yet again. After coming under attack by even some conservatives, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said: “If anyone thinks we’re talking specifically about someone’s children, they’re missing the point completely…”No, that’s exactly the point. Leave those beautiful Obama girls out of your degenerate ad campaigns.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (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.

NRA Maintains Stranglehold on Congress

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(NNPA) In the wake of the killing of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn. last month and just before Vice President Joe Biden presented a list of proposals to President Obama this week that includes banning assault weapons and limiting sales of high-capacity ammunition clips, the president of the National Rifle Association expressed confidence that new gun legislation will stall in Congress.

In an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State Of The Union,” NRA President David Keene said, “I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get assault weapons ban through this Congress.”

When asked about placing limits on high-capacity ammunition clips, Keene replied, “I don’t think ultimately they are going to get that, either.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), referring to Keene, said on CNN, “I think he’s wrong.” Murphy explained, “Newtown fundamentally changed things. The NRA doesn’t get this.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) acknowledged that it will not be easy to get Congress to ban assault weapons.

He told CNN, “I think we have the possibility, but it’s going to be difficult.” Cummings said the prospects are brighter for Congress to place restrictions on high-capacity magazines and require expanded background checks.

A 10-year ban on the sale of assault weapons expired in 2004, largely as a result of pressure exerted by the NRA. The organization has risen from being founded in 1871 to help improve marksmanship to a powerful 4 million-member lobbying organization that takes in more than $200 million in annual revenue.

According to Opensecrets.org, NRA spent $20 million in the last election cycle, all on friendly lawmakers who score well on the NRA’s political scorecard. The combination of big bucks and political pressure have made too many members of Congress fearful of bucking the powerful gun lobby, a group that doesn’t even want machine guns banned.

But there are growing indications that the NRA’s political clout might be vastly overrated.

“The gun lobby had an abysmal 2012 election cycle. They spent more than $11 million to defeat President Obama, warning that on Election Day, “Americans will vote either to defend or surrender freedom in the most consequential national decision in U.S. history.” They also failed to elect their preferred candidate in six of their seven top targets for the U.S. Senate. And more than two-thirds of incumbents who lost their seats in the House of Representatives were backed by the NRA, including four Democrats,” noted Media Matters, the watchdog group.

And the NRA got a poor return on its political investment.

“According to open government group the Sunlight Foundation, the NRA Political Victory Fund, the NRA’s political action committee, received a less than one percent return on $10,536,106 spent on independent expenditures during the election cycle,” the media monitoring group also found. “The NRA spent 0.44 percent of its money supporting winning candidates and 0.39 percent opposing losing candidates. The NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the organization’s lobbying arm, garnered a 10.25 percent return on $7,448,017 spent on the election. In seven Senate races where the NRA spent more than $100,000, six of the NRA-backed candidates lost.”

That trend did not start with the November elections, according to ThinkProgress, a liberal blog.

Paul Waldman, contributing editor at The American Prospect, analyzed data from the last four federal elections – 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

“The conclusion to be drawn from these data will be surprising to many: The NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections,” he wrote. “The NRA endorsement, so coveted by so many politicians, is almost meaningless. Nor does the money the organization spends have any demonstrable impact on the outcome of races. In short, when it comes to elections, the NRA is a paper tiger.” Not exactly.

“If you’ve been following the issue of guns over the last few years, you know that these have been good times for gun advocates,” according to ThinkProgress. “In a landmark 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court settled a longstanding question by declaring that the 2nd Amendment confers an individual right to own guns. Under Barack Obama’s administration, the only pieces of legislation on guns have expanded gun rights; for instance, gun owners are now allowed to bring firearms into national parks as a result of legislation Obama signed in 2009. The assault weapons ban passed under Bill Clinton expired in 2004, and despite early indications the Obama administration might try to renew it, they have made no moves to do so.”

Public opinion on gun control has moved, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. It showed that 38 percent of Americans favor stricter gun measures, a 13-point increase from last year and the highest it has been in more than a decade.

Now is the time for Obama to make his move. If not, the NRA will do it for him.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (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.

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