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Hey Congressional Black Caucus: It is Paychecks not Food Stamps

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(NNPA) My fear is that African Americans have resigned to poverty and blight as opposed to empowerment and economic vitality. We are acting defeated and accept the fact that we are at the bottom rung of every economic ladder and quality of life measurement. My people we don’t have to be there and it is long overdue that we demand more and take control of the situation ourselves. Time is truly wasting!

We have 42 congressional representatives and they all seem to bow to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader, respectively. That is a fatal flaw for the 40 million African Americans they supposedly represent. Harry Reid doesn’t give a damn about Black people and doesn’t try to hide that. Nancy Pelosi acts like a French Queen (Marie Antoinette) and has recently said that “food stamps give good bang for the buck.” Yes, she believes that we can be taken care of through food stamps and unemployment checks. How could our elected officials follow behind these vile persons who will never move towards our better interests? There will be no progress without courage and self empowerment. We need leaders not flunkies or “team players.”

Team players for a team that doesn’t include us is this situation. The time for true Black leadership is overdue. There should be an emulation of Parren J. Mitchell and Adam Clayton Powell in Washington, DC . Right now there isn’t a hint of such and during this recession we Blacks are catching pure hell. Congressional Black Caucus please wake up or just fall on your “swords” and let new brave leaders evolve. This could be your finest hour but yet you stutter, you pause and just close your eyes. You bow your head and follow behind the 21st century Massa named Pelosi.

Our Black farmers have settled, yet we can’t get Congress to release the money. It is like the CBC is totally helpless. Maybe they are. Congressman Danny Davis passed the Second Chance Bill that will enable our ex-offenders to enter the workforce and start a new viable future. The problem is Massa Pelosi and others won’t provide the funding to implement the bill. Thus, nothing is changing. How can they tolerate these “smacks in the face” and return to their districts and face their hurting constituents? The constituents should let them know that it is show time and patience can no longer be an option. Our children are at risk and our futures are too bleak. Black folks we need warriors not gate keepers and we should start showing that at the polls.

There are 41 million Americans on food stamps now and the majority is us. Entrepreneurship creates jobs and that should be the number one goal. Let’s stop being brain dead on small business development and work towards that end like never before. Right now the Congressional Black Caucus has the worst record in Congress for small business legislation. They seem to fight it as opposed to embracing it. They think tax increases and more welfare are the keys to empowerment and the answer to our ills. How foolish and naïve. It is time to call them out and demand more. We need Booker T. Washingtons in Congress, not enablers of welfare and hopelessness. Demand, demand and demand business development which creates jobs and paychecks for your constituents. Let us teach the people to fish and not run to hand out fish. Knowing how to fish ensures sustenance forever. Waiting for a fish is a dependency rivaling drug addiction.

CBC members, your deplorable voting record on small business legislation must be exposed. Your inattention to economic matters must be noted to all. Young leaders who want to rise and lead us out of poverty and into economic prowess – we await you! Pelosi, Reid and the others have no good intentions for Black folks. They simply retort, “We will give them more food stamps and extend unemployment insurance. Listen! We must have jobs and if you can’t do it then we will seek someone who can. Malfeasance, incompetence, cowardness and ignorance will no longer be tolerated. More jobs; more paychecks will be the measurement. If you cannot assist in providing these two key items then move your sorry butt out of the way so we can find strong, vibrant leaders who can. We don’t need team players anymore; we need strong leaders with a vision.

Oh, the change is going to hurt. But nothing good is easy as blood, sweat and tears are key ingredients to any aggressive change. Your Massa’ is going to be mad and may “beat” you, but just stand your ground and St. Peter will take notice on that judgment day and the people will be better for this. The people will reward you also via reelection.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Letter to the Editor

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Dear Editor, The purpose of the Fontana Teachers Association is to represent the interests of teachers and the students they serve. Thousands trust the FTA leadership to negotiate fair and equitable wages and working conditions. In Fontana, more than two thousand teachers contribute 1% of their wages annually towards this mission. These funds support many activities at both the state and local level, but the bottom line is that every penny should be devoted to responding to the issues and concerns of teachers.

Teachers are on the front lines with our students daily, and FTA must ensure that their hard earned dollars are used to improve teaching and learning. FTA should be their voice!

There are numerous concerns of teachers that remain to be addressed if we are to achieve the promise of educating every child. First, we must ensure that teachers possess all of the resources and training needed to deliver high quality instruction that is differentiated for each student’s specific needs.

According to one of the current board’s goals, we must also make sure that every resource is strategically allocated. The current board and superintendent would have us believe that the state is entirely responsible for the need to layoff teachers and slash their salaries. Yet, there is observable waste, inequity, and greed that can and must be addressed at the local level.

There are closets, rooms and even rented bins full of unused material while some teachers’ requests for even the most basic resources are denied! The superintendent generously reduced her own salary by the same five days as every other employee, but her salary is ten times or more the salary of the lowest paid person serving our children. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate the salary of the top level administrators, and redistribute some of their largesse back into the classrooms.

Sadly, FTA has endorsed the three incumbents in the current school board election. The very people who have tolerated unfairness and inequity, who have chosen to support fiscal decisions that have lead us into the current dangerous financial situation. Visit any school and ask teachers how often they have actually seen a board member at their site other than to attend a social event. Question teachers about whether they believe working conditions and resources are fair and equitable.

There are serious issues to be addressed in the areas of equitable distribution of resources, fair treatment of employees and class size.

Until the wide disparities between and within our local schools are adequately addressed, our children’s dreams cannot truly be achieved. Education is at a critical crossroads in Fontana, and it is time for this community to take bold action in choosing our school leaders. A close look at the results achieved by the current board mandates that we take action for change this November. None of the incumbents has demonstrated the leadership demanded. Hopefully, the United Steelworkers will make wiser decisions when choosing candidates to endorse. Make your vote count. Vote for leadership with integrity on the Fontana School Board!!!

Sophia Green, Candidate for the Fontana Unified School Board.

Republicans Pledge: 'A Trick Bag For America'

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The Republican Party has spent most of the past two years as the "Party of No," opposing nearly every policy proposed by President Obama and Democrats in Congress --a strategy that has worked politically, according to polls that say this November's election could sweep Republicans back into the majority in the House and possibly the Senate. But until last week, the Republican Party had offered no agenda of its own--so party leaders finally produced one: the lofty-sounding "Pledge to America."

Sadly but predictably, this Pledge is nothing more than a promise to return to the failed policies that created the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and threw millions of Americans out of work--with most of the pain doled out to those at the bottom of the ladder.

Those who yearn for a return to George W. Bush's philosophy will cheer the Pledge's promises of tax cuts for the rich and lax regulation of Wall Street. They will applaud the Republican call to repeal universal health insurance and to hand the Social Security Trust Fund over to Wall Street.

But for African-Americans, this retrograde Pledge is a recipe for disaster.

Our communities were hit hard by the Great Recession, and the economic crisis continues. African-American unemployment now stands at 16.3%. Working families are struggling to pay the rent and keep food on the table. And the situation is critical for our youngest generation: among African-Americans ages 16 to 19, the unemployment rate is 26.2% -- and that doesn't include those with low-paying part-time jobs or those who have given up looking.

For these youth, the American Dream is turning into a nightmare.

President Obama and this Democratic Congress led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip James Clyburn (the highest- ranking African American in Congress) inherited this dire recession from Bush and the Republicans, and they've directed help toward those who need it most -- despite stiff opposition from Republicans in Congress. If the “Party of No” had gotten its way, the Great Recession could have been worse than the Great Depression – an economic hurricane instead of a bad storm.

They opposed the Recovery Act. They opposed healthcare reform. They opposed ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. They even opposed 7 of the 8 tax cuts Congress has passed to help small business owners.

We don't need to imagine what would have happened if Republicans ran Congress. We know their record – and now we can read their Pledge: to restore the immoral policies of Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush II: tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and benefit cuts for everyone else and of course, nothing special for Blacks.

It is unconscionable that at a time of our nation’s highest unemployment in more than 60 years, the Republicans propose a $4 trillion tax cut for the rich. They're trotting out the same tired argument they've recycled for 30 years: cut taxes for billionaires, and some of their wealth will trickle down to the rest of us. Meanwhile, the Republicans promise to repeal President Obama's Recovery Act, which cut taxes for 110 million families who don't happen to be rich.

We already know the harmful impact of trickle-down economics – nothing ever trickles down for Blacks, minorities and the poor. Under Presidents Reagan and Bush, the economic divide widened to historic proportions due to huge tax cuts for millionaires while workers' wages stagnated.

President Clinton made a dent in pervasive inequality by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and investing in education, healthcare, jobs and tax breaks for working families.

While turning the budget deficit into a surplus those policies were good for all America. But President George W. Bush pulled a 180 degree turnaround, cutting taxes for the richest of the rich, letting Wall Street run wild, and slashing federal aid to working families. The result: rising inequality, the largest budget deficits in U.S. history, a cataclysmic financial crisis and net loss of eight million jobs.

That's what the Republicans pledge to repeat.

One of the starkest contrasts between the Democrats and Republicans can be seen when it comes to healthcare. Today, one in five African-Americans is without health insurance. They can't afford doctor's bills if they get sick, and an emergency room visit or hospital stay can wipe out their life's savings. But we have reason to hope that this shameful situation will be eliminated in a few short years. Thanks to the landmark Healthcare Reform Law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this year – unless the Republicans regain control of Congress. That is why we Blacks have to vote and get our neighbors, friends and community to vote. NNPA and our 200 Black publishers are asking our leaders to help us in rallying our base: churches, sororities, fraternities, Black students, community clubs, Black radio, community organizers, Black social media experts and all progressive people of goodwill.

That's right: with the U.S. finally on the brink of joining other developed nations that guarantee healthcare to all their citizens, the Republicans want to repeal universal health insurance, snatching healthcare away from tens of millions of people. The Republicans' Pledge makes it crystal clear what's at stake in November. We can't sit home on Election Day and let the Republican Party turn back the clock on our country and on Black people definitely. I pledge, on behalf of 200 Black newspapers in this country, to do what we can to stop them!

You can mark my words:If they take back the House (of Representatives), they will launch an investigation on President Obama that will make the investigation on President Clinton look like child’s play.

They will make his next two years untenable and miserable, leading up to 2012.

We will also lose two of our most visionary leaders of the 21st century in Speaker Pelosi and Majority Whip Clyburn. We can’t let that happen!

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. is Chairman of the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA).

Katrina V – A City Rebuilding Itself

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(NNPA) Last month, I joined the people of my beloved hometown of New Orleans in commemorating the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a natural and manmade disaster of biblical proportions that claimed 1800 lives and caused more than $100 billion in damages. Katrina V, as this year's remembrance has been called, is a tale of two cities. According to a new report from Brookings and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, "Despite sustaining three shocks in the last five years [Katrina, the economic downturn, and the Gulf oil spill], greater New Orleans is rebounding and, in some ways, doing so better than before."

There is no doubt that due to the extraordinary resilience of New Orleans citizens, coupled with sustained assistance from a steady stream of volunteers, and a more effective response from all levels of government, large parts of the city are coming back. Signs of hope include the allocation last week of $1.8 billion in federal funds for New Orleans schools damaged during Katrina, notable improvements in the levee system, and a sweeping overhaul of the New Orleans police department whose actions after Katrina earned it the label as one of the worst and most corrupt in the nation.

This is especially painful for me because my successor Ray Nagin's inept leadership completely dismantled the remarkable police reform that took place when I served as Mayor of New Orleans from 1994-2002. In an 8 year period of reform crime dropped by 60% and corruption was snuffed out. This will hopefully begin to change due to the renewed confidence in government that will come with the election in February of a capable new mayor, Mitch Landrieu. But in places like Pontchatrain Park, where I grew up and in the Lower Ninth Ward, which suffered the worst damage from the storm, progress has come much too slowly, and much more needs to be done.

I saw some of these disparities first-hand last Sunday during my attendance at a rally and memorial for the people of the Lower Ninth who lost their lives during the storm.

While the high spirit of the community remains unbroken, there is no doubt that the pace of the neighborhood's recovery is lagging behind.

By most accounts only one-fifth of the Lower Ninth's 20,000 residents have returned since 2005. There is evidence that inequities in reconstruction funding along with arduous bureaucratic hurdles and the exclusion of many of the neigborhood's surviving and displaced residents in recovery planning has resulted in large patches of the community still languishing in shambles. So, even as we celebrate New Orleans' remarkable resilience, this is no time for "irrational exuberance."

As I told the crowd at the rally, "Until the Lower Ninth is back, New Orleans is not back."

It is remarkable that a hard-hit neighborhood like the Lower Ninth Ward is still standing today. There were calls by some after Katrina for it to be abandoned and never rebuilt.

But the people there and throughout New Orleans have never given up hope. That is what struck me most about my visit back home last week.

While New Orleans is grateful for more help from the government and the continued goodwill of a nation, its citizens are no longer standing on rooftops of despair waiting to be rescued.

In the spirit that is New Orleans, the city is rebuilding itself.

President Barack H. Obama's Strong Leadership

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By Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., NNPA Columnist –

Be careful on what you pray for, because God will answer your prayers. Millions of African Americans and others prayed for a President of the United States who would lead America in a more just and fair direction both domestically and internationally. Many believed two years ago that the world would never witness a Black man and woman in the White House.

Unless we are too quick to forget, prior to November 2008, the U.S. economy, world image, and national social divisions were all in pretty bad shape after eight years of failed leadership from President George W. Bush. Today as we approach the mid-term 2010 elections across the United States, it is very important for us not to lose our memory or sense of perspective.

This is also certainly not the time to become complacent or to take the importance of voting for granted.

Yes, the vast majority of African Americans are proud of the leadership and progress that has already been accomplished by President Barack H. Obama. Once again, the vital role of the Black Press reemerges on the national scene.

Most of the established media in the U.S. thrives off of cynicism and negative media coverage. We believe in objective reporting and constructive criticism. Yet, the problem is there appears to be more subjective criticism of President Obama than is warranted after only two years in office.

We pause, therefore, to salute the excellent and thorough broadcast of the Tom Joyner Morning Show that featured President Obama live on Friday, September 10, 2010. Joyner’s skilled interview of the President exemplified the best of the Black Press tradition of providing timely and crucial information to the African American and other communities who demand more objective truth in the media. Most of all, what was clear from that broadcast was the outstanding leadership of President Obama on a number of key issues critical to improving the quality of life of African Americans.

The leadership of a president is not to be judged solely by media coverage or by sheer popularity. Presidential leadership should be judged by how well a president leads the nation forward, not backward.

In 2010, even with the persistent economic and unemployment challenges, the U.S. under Obama’s leadership has moved in a forward, progressive manner in terms of foreign and domestic policies.

It goes without saying that we understand that the President of the United States has the responsibility to act and lead in behalf of all the people of the U.S. One of the reasons why we attest to President Obama’s strength as a national and world leader is that while he has held the office with high dignity and integrity, and has well represented all of the people in the U.S., he has not forgotten about the Black American community in terms of public policies, budget allocations, and other governmental actions.

During the Tom Joyner Morning Show interview, President Obama in summary stated, “What we’ve been trying to do is build a new foundation for economic growth and prosperity in our communities… Now, what we hve done over the course of two years is laid the foundation. Put in place some key reforms… I mentioned health care reform. That’s going to mean millions of African Americans and Hispanics and people of every stripe across the country who did not have health care… now are going to have health care. Number two in terms of one of the keys that we’ve always talked about in terms of job growth - long term - is education. We have done more to reform education in our communities in the last two years than had been done in the previous 20 years, and that’s at every level K-12...

But it goes all the way up to higher education, where HBCUs are getting $850 million dollars over the next 10 years… So, no we’re not where we need to be. But at least we’re moving forward, and what we can’t start doing is moving backwards.”

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is a national civil rights leader, Senior Advisor to the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and President of the Education Online Services Corporation.

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