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Black Political Power Impossible Without Black Economic Power

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By A. Peter Bailey, NNPA Columnist –

Unfortunately, most Black folks consistently ignore the fact that an individual or group of people can never achieve political power without having economic power. The best one can do in that situation is to have varying degrees of political influence. However, if you have economic power, political power automatically follows.

That this avoidance of dealing seriously with economics is long-standing among most Black people is illustrated in a 1919 article from The Broad Ax, a Chicago Black newspaper, which noted that “we have as a people given too much of our zeal to politics, and vastly more of our substance to the church…. The economic principle and the spirit of commerce is the neglected child we long have failed to nourish. These principles, Economy and Industry, are the very foundation of the universe.”

Two reasons for this self-destructive neglect of economics are provided by eminent educators, Harold Cruse in “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual” and Carter G. Woodson in “The Miseducation of the Negro.” Wrote Professor Cruse, “the reason that the debate on Black economy has gone on back and forth… is because the idea is closely associated with nationalism and the integrationists would rather be tarred and feathered than suspected of the nationalist taint….Building a Black economy could be done with the aid of attributes that the Negro has never developed i.e. discipline, self-denial, cooperative organization and knowledge of economic science.”

Dr. Woodson wrote in 1932 that “In the schools of business administration, Negroes are trained excessively in the psychology and economics of Wall Street and are, therefore, made to despise the opportunities to run ice wagons, push banana carts, and sell peanuts among their own people. Foreigners, who have not studied economics, but have studied Negroes, take up this business and grow rich.”

Concrete proposals on what can be done about such economic illiteracy are offered by Chancellor Williams in “The Destruction of Black Civilization” and legendary businessman, Earl B. Dickerson in a 1976 Ebony article.

Williams urged the setting up of a Division of Economic Planning and Development that “should be the foundation of the organized efforts and a principle source of support and promotion of the most important activities of the race. A guiding principle should be that all promoted community enterprises should be cooperatively owned and controlled by the community and that each enterprise be under highly-trained management and competent service personnel.”

Dickerson stated that “As more and more Blacks move into the middle class, they owe a responsibility to the Black community. If Blacks go into the White community to get the know-how, and then stay there, they are only pushing further away from the possibilities of Blacks ever becoming economically sufficient. I call upon these young men and women to get the experience, to get the foundation, and, before they are too old, to move into the Black community to help Blacks achieve economic equality. The economic insufficiency in the Black community can never be improved to any substantial extent merely by employing a few middle class Blacks….We’ve got to improve the purchasing power of the total community….”

In response to the guidance offered by these wise men, every Black church, civic organization, fraternity, sorority, school, college etc. should host workshops focusing on achieving economic empowerment.

Otherwise most of us will continue to be the kind of person/people who, to paraphrase legendary educator, Dr. Kelly Miller, pay for what we want and beg for what we need.

Journalist/Lecturer A. Peter Bailey, a former associate editor of Ebony, and has contributed freelance articles to numerous publications. He can be reached at apeterb@verizon.net.

Jim Crow in Silicon Valley is Exposed

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This is the age of high technology. IT companies are leading the way in job growth and high paying jobs as the word does business at the speed of thought.

No place else in the world concentrates in this industry better than the Silicon Valley of California (Palo Alto – San Jose area). So with California having a minority population of 52 percent logic would dictate that this is a place of much diversity and opportunity for Blacks and Hispanics. Sadly, that, according to investigative reporting from the San Jose Mercury News is not the case. This industry in this location is probably the most segregated and discriminatory place in the United States. The hiring and training by companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle, Applied Materials, Hewlett Packard, Cisco and others are acting more like the Ku Klux Klan than a good corporate citizen.

It is easy to do when traditional civil rights groups give you a pass as long as you provide sponsorship money for their fundraising events. Some groups even join with these culprits on advocacy and legislative issues as if these bastions of racism are examples of good inclusive governance. This is damaging and has caused these rascals to go free of public criticism until now.

The Mercury News used the Freedom of Information Act to get hiring data as late as 2005 from the US Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP), which tracks this under Executive Order 11246. Every two years major corporations are audited for their racial and gender demographics at all levels of hiring. The News tried to get 2008 data but companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle and Applied Materials have successfully blocked access to that data in the courts. It is a good reason that they did as the numbers are just un-American.

Of the ten companies investigated here are the results. Collectively, only 2.1 percent of the workforce is Black while only 5.2 percent of the workforce is Hispanic. The News states “Of the 5,907 top managers and officials in the Silicon Valley offices of the 10 large companies in 2005, 296 were Black or Hispanic, a 20 percent decline from 2000, according to U.S. Department of Labor work-force data obtained by the Mercury News through the Freedom of Information request. In 2008, the share of computer workers living in Silicon Valley who are Black or Latino was 1.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively – shares that had declined since 2000.

Nationally, Blacks and Latinos were 7.1 percent and 5.3 percent of computer workers, respectively, shares that were up since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The share of managers and top officials who are female at those 10 big Silicon Valley firms slipped to 26 percent in 2005, from 28 percent in 2000.” This isn’t progress but a reversal of our gains during the Civil Rights Struggle.

What these racial culprits are doing should be punished by the U.S. Justice Department. It is blatant discrimination and must be stopped. Now that it is exposed we must put serious pressure on this activity. What they think they can do is import a massive amount of Asians via H-1B visas and count them in their collective minority numbers. First of all, only US citizens can be counted in these numbers and all groups, especially Black and Hispanic, must not be under represented. It violates law and should prohibit these corporations from doing business with the federal government or any other entity that receives federal funding or benefits from a federal program or regulation.

The NAACP, Urban League, La Raza, etc. should cease receiving money from these bigot corporations. Certainly they should stop doing their bidding and representing them as good outstanding corporate citizens.

They should be protesting and suing them in the courts.

They should put serious pressure on the U.S. government to enforce standing Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity laws.

If they don’t than I guess the National Black Chamber of Commerce will have to go after them in their absence like we did in the telecommunications and auto industries with success back in the 1990’s. It is not exactly our mission but someone has to do it.

Remember, there are reasons why we have triple the unemployment of the national average. This is one of them and no one is going to change the situation but us. We sometimes “sleep” with the enemy instead of beating them upside their heads. As Frederick Douglas taught us long ago, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and never will.” Wake up people they are trying to ruin us and destroy our children. This is not the time to be nice.

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

Just in Time: Obama Targets HBCUs for Increased Spending

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As the proud graduate of an Historically Black University and having worked in one for most of my academic career, I approve of President Barack Obama having broken his pledge not to govern by race or ethnicity just in time to increase spending for HBCUs. These institutions are still vitally relevant to the production of a Black middle class because, while they only constitute 3 percent of all institutions of higher education, they graduate 20 percent of all Black undergrads.

Announcing current increases in the FY 2012 Federal Budget was Dr. John S. Wilson, the new executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, who said that the President’s budget includes a $17 billion increase in Pell Grants, $400 million of which was earmarked for HBCUs. Last year, there was an uproar when it was discovered that the President took $85 million from the HBCU budget, but this year, rather than mandating it for two years as the Bush administration had done, this sum is included in the President Obama’s budget for 10 years.

There is also $98 million in new money proposed for HBCUs that would fund such things as financing for capital costs such as the repair and replacement of educational facilities and equipment, and the building of physical infrastructure. There is also proposed $65.4 million for the enhancement of graduate programs.

Wilson indicated that there is also $400 million of additional funds in the Education budget for institutions whose description was close that of HBCUs some of which he intends to attempt to acquire.

One of the greatest areas of lack of growth in the federal budget however has been in the funds generated by the government which goes to research at institutions of higher education. Some of it, in such areas as energy, defense, or agriculture, requires sophisticated engineering or scientific research facilities that most of these institutions do not have, but other grants in the social, administrative, and economic areas should be achievable.

This funding increase is also welcome news in light of the current economic crisis that threatens to continue the laggard growth of the Black middle class. The unemployment and home foreclosure crises put at severe risk the kind of capital that has enabled Black families to fund college enrollment in the previous generation and so many in this generation have a far more difficult time acquiring enrollment, remaining enrolled and potentially graduating. While some observers have been focused on academic performance as the major factor in Black college retention rates, economic factors have always been as important.

The general increase in higher education funding will help those in non-HUCU institutions as well. The other shoe to drop has been the fact that most Black youths are in state supported institutions, either four-year institutions or community colleges, and state governments have chosen to cut education budgets deeply to balance their budgets. This has caused a rise in the tuition rates, teacher furloughs and curriculum reductions at many institutions.

In most states, the education budget is the largest funded item and cuts in places such as California have recently drawn very visible protests from students and faculty. Federal funds given to states from the bank bailout (TARP) have disproportionately gone to support K-12, such that while the latter has suffered a 3 percent decrease in funding in California, higher education has suffered a 5 percent decrease.

While states are grappling for solutions to the problem of overall funding, I would suggest they should look at the amount of spending involved in holding non-violent offenders in prisons. Some states are now beginning to look at alternatives to incarceration more seriously than when they were just theoretical possibilities and some are actually letting prisoners go.

The State of California is typical of many where funding for the prison system has now overshadowed funding on education, a situation that is not sustainable in terms of future economic development of the State or balancing its budget. While the Governor says that now California spends 10 percent on prisons and 7 percent on higher education, the most alarming trend is that higher education spending has been declining since the tax limitation wars of the 1970s. It is time to break out of Republican-think about taxes and raise some revenue to fund higher education so that localities are not as dependent upon the Federal government.

Meanwhile, Mr. President, thanks for the help for HBCUs in this crisis.

Dr. Ron Walters is a Political Analysts and Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland College Park. His latest book is: The Price of Racial Reconciliation (University of Michigan Press)

The Trouble With Our Public Schools

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One of America’s biggest challenges is providing an adequate educate for our children. A solid education was a given when I was growing up and why isn’t it a simple thing now? It appears that we complicated a simple process to the point of making public education more of a “cash cow” than a vehicle to ensure our freedom and economic standing in this competitive world. Our corporate leaders consider it a very serious crisis and rightly so. Let’s look at some of the obvious reasons.

The grades Kindergarten through Sixth Grade are the most important years. This is where the mold is set. You drill, drill and drill into the heads of our little angels the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic. In the early years, this was known as the “3 R’s”. If a child can master these three areas they will be ready to journey into other areas such as science, history, health, etc. The 3 R’s allow you to comprehend the more sophisticated subjects and gives you the rational to reason and perform logic on other tasks.

That’s all we need to do during K – 6 grades.

Bad behavior will not be tolerated. These children must learn immediately to respect authority. Fighting for whatever reason is automatic suspension requiring a parental visit and a pledge to never do it again. Do it again; you will never return to that particular school. Talking back to a teacher is also a very bad thing and should be treated accordingly. Manners and respect for your elders should be paramount in order to maintain a learning environment. Dress codes must be in place.

Why are we providing free breakfasts at schools? This is a family matter and the government, if it wants to get involved, should deal directly with the family not a public school. Stop feeding these students free breakfast. School is for education only. Students should pay for their lunch or bag it. There should be no federal program dipping into the time for education.

The same goes for daycare. Schools are for education not babysitting. There should be no daycare activities on the grounds of a public school. Let’s concentrate on education only!

Perhaps the worst thing to happen to inner city schools was the “Busing” programs.

This was an attack on our communities.

Why would we wake up our children in the wee hours to put them on a bus and take them to a school where they weren’t wanted? It disrupted local community pride and alienated potentially great students. It gave them a feeling of inferiority. To answer my question, it was the bus manufacturers and unions, who wanted the driver jobs. They saw big bucks in this and therefore ordered the NAACP to push for it.

This was perhaps the most damaging thing done to our communities from an educational standpoint. Central High, Crispus Attucks High, Booker T. Washington High, etc. soon disappeared and community pride and spirit went away.

The procurement process of many school districts involves serious money.

With that comes much corruption. The books, learning tools and equipment are many times decided via kick backs, etc. instead of what is best for the student.

There should be major cleansing at all inner city school systems – they are all corrupt. Also, there should be intern and training programs demanded of corporations who do business with a particular school. They should recruit new applicants or train the very students they are making money from.

This creates a visible future for the students and inspires them to study hard and perform well.

Teenage pregnancy is a big distracter.

If a student becomes pregnant she and the soon to be father must be removed from school and home schooled during the pregnancy. No student should be walking through the halls of a school pregnant.

Many of the public schools actually have on campus daycare centers for the children of the students. This is not school business and should not exist at all. Teen pregnancy should be discouraged not encouraged.

When my family moved to Washington, DC we decided not to go the route of public schools. We were lucky to get our twins into one of the best private schools in the nation. Funny, the teachers there were not certified like public school teachers are required and most did not have degrees beyond the bachelor level in addition they received about one half of the pay. However, they loved the kids; discipline was a must; the classrooms were small (12 students or less) and the students were always taught that the sky was the limit for each and every one of them.

Bureaucracy, busing, corruption, federal intervention, lack of discipline, unions, low standards during K – 6 and poor social morals have destroyed our public school systems. Let’s rebuild them now.

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

Michelle Obama: Let's Move on Childhood Obesity

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Michelle Obama has now challenged Americans to deal with the growing problem of obesity in children.

Childhood obesity has tripled in the last thirty years. Nearly one-third of US children are now overweight or obese; nearly one in three will eventually suffer from diabetes. In the African - American and Latino communities, the proportion is almost one in two.

This is, the First Lady said, possibly “an even greater threat to America’s health than smoking” with staggering costs. A recent study put the health care cost of obesity related diseases at $147 billion a year. Obesity is now one of the most common disqualifiers from military service.

Michelle Obama has made this her centerpiece initiative, called Let’s Move.

She is sensibly focusing on the conditions that lead children to eat bad food, and to not exercise. “Our kids did not do this to themselves,” she said. “Our kids don’t decide what’s served to them at school or whether there’s time for gym classes or recess. Our kids don’t choose to make food products with tons of sugar and sodium in super-sized portions, and then to have those products marketed to them everywhere they turn.”

So the first lady has put the focus on changing school lunches, altering the fast food environment (like shutting down the junk food machines outside the school cafeteria door), educating parents, providing access to affordable healthy food (like ending the “food deserts” in our urban areas that are deprived of access to a grocery store with fresh vegetables), and encouraging exercise.

Her initiative combines both personal responsibility and public action. She wants clear labeling to help parents understand what is in the food that they buy. She’s enlisted athletes for public service ads and promotional events to encourage exercise. The President has convened a national task force to coordinate changes in everything from our national food programs to the nutritional materials given out to our citizens.

The First Lady wants to make this a campaign, one that might challenge all of us to change our habits, while creating institutional supports for the change.

This is just common sense. For all the focus for getting a sensible health care plan in place, the even greater priority is creating good health care habits. Childhood habits are the most important; and our children now are increasingly at risk.

Sensible eating, regular exercise, drinking lots of water – this common sense too often is ignored by all of us.

You dig your grave with your teeth, goes the old saying, and too many folks don’t drink enough water even to nourish the flowers.

Michelle Obama is right to get athletes engaged in teaching our young. She might want to enlist some “afterletes” too, the retired champions who have let themselves swell up, shortening their life expectancy by continuing an athlete’s eating habits without an athlete’s exercise regimen.

This incredibly important initiative won’t be easy. The First Lady will face powerful corporate lobbies that make their money off of peddling junk food. She’ll be attacked for being an elitist for presuming to tell us how to eat and exercise.

She’ll be scoured for talking about eating right, when many folks are struggling just to eat at all.

In our polarized politics, no good deed goes unpunished. Already right-wing attack machine has geared up, mocking the notion that obesity is a national security challenge. Michelle Malkin, one of the legions of poisonous rightwing columnists, says this is just an effort to displace parents, “cede the children, feed the state,” and favor “SEIU union bosses,” whose members serve lunches in schools. On Redstate.com, a rightwing blog site, a screamer named Streiff, in a blogpost titled “Hey Fatso, Gitmo for You,” warns that we’ll “see foods being banned, states acting to remove obese children from their homes.”

I’m glad the First Lady ignored the many obstacles, the naysayers and the haters, and decided to go forward full force. If we all join – engage schools, public education, personal responsibility, responsible corporations, institutional changes and pubic action – millions of children might be saved – and the country would surely be the stronger for it.

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BVN National News Wire