Our current governor Jerry Brown is searching for ways to solve the recurring state budget shortfall that has faced every governor for several decades. They have tried different strategies by shifting responsibilities from state to local government and back to state and now realignment. While they are shifting the public safety problem of overcrowded prisons to the local level, they striped redevelopment from their hands to help solve a one-year budget deficit. Our prisons have become overcrowded because of the three-strike law that landed more Blacks and Latinos in prison to be guarded by a white population. The question is where does the Black population fit into the business of public safety in the state’s budget?
Ever since 1972 when the government started documenting unemployment rates by race, the unemployment rate of Black Americans has been double that of White Americans. California is no exception with its current overall unemployment rate at 11.7% and Black Californians hovering at 15.7% unemployed and White Californians at 8 percent. There are many reasons given by experts that attempt to explain why the unemployment rate for Blacks is always higher than Whites including education, location, lack of specialized skills, etc.
In California we have over 37 million residents of which over 2.6 million, 7.2% of the population, are African Americans. We send 416,000 Black children, 6.7% of the student population, to public schools where only 59.0% graduate, over 30% drop-out before graduation, and where 96% of the teachers do not look like them. This is not a reason for our students to drop-out but one has to wonder about the business aspect of our education system and the Black community. So the question is where does the Black community fit into the business side of education of the budget?
The governor had to cut some services from his budget and those cuts hit our community harder than any other community because of health care needs and services. These cuts hurt the very ones who had given so much to the success of our state when they were in their prime years, working, and paying taxes. These senior citizens are still living in the inner cities because racial discrimination prevented them in the past from earning higher wages to propel their ability to move into senior citizen communities. Yet, these same citizens will be asked to vote to raise their taxes if Sacramento should have it’s way in June. So my question to the governor is where will the services and business opportunities fit into your plan for the Black residents of California.
According to the latest information I was able to find on the number of Black owned businesses in California at 138,891 we stand ready to help build and push the state into the black. These firms come in all categories from agriculture, construction, retail, transportation, information technology, finance, science, education, health care, real estate, marketing, advertising and entertainment and more.
Now in order to motivate the voters to support anything that resembles more money coming out of their pockets, they are saying, “What is it for and what is in it for me?” Everyone who pays taxes is a special interest group and African Americans are no exception. I remember several years ago a large medical group asking a Los Angeles council member for his support and he responded back, “What have you done for me lately?”
So the question to the governor is, “What have you done for the African American community that would warrant the voters to follow your lead?”