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Black Reparations Update: More than Mere Chump Change!

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By William Reed, NNPA Columnist –

(NNPA) What do you think of reparations for the descendants of slaves? Over the next year African Americans will have an opportunity to illustrate their political priorities. Do you believe African Americans will yield to symbolism of re-electing Barack or rekindle the movement to be paid just reparations?

Who among us can disagree that racial discrimination, slavery and Jim Crow are the reasons for African Americans’ economic inequities? America ’s most contentious issue today is the same as it’s been for 150 years: That the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ bondage and unpaid labor. To most Americans it’s unfathomable that reparations be paid for slavery. But, “Slavery” is internationally recognized as a crime for which there is no statute of limitations. Slavery flourished in the United States from 1619 to 1865, in an inhumane deprivation of Africans’ lives under which they were held against their will, treated as property, and forced to work without compensation. American slavery was followed by 100 years of government-led-and-supported denial of equal and humane treatment that included Black Codes, convict lease, sharecropping, peonage, and Jim Crow practices of separate and unequal accommodations that lasted until the 1960s.

During the period of slavery the U.S. Capitol and White House were built for free and the nation became most prosperous in the world. Calculations of many of our ancestors’ coerced and uncompensated labor total more than $700 trillion in today’s money. Millions of contemporary African Americans suffer as a direct result of slavery and Jim Crow; yet Black Americans refuse to engage in conversations about reparations for slavery.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and chattel slavery descendants continue to be denied their rights of inheritance and full economic opportunities. Mainstream Americans refuse to engage in discussions about reparations despite the fact that American laws and practices continue treating Blacks in unequal manners in virtually every area of life including law enforcement and penal system, healthcare and life expectancies, education and wealth.

More is owed to American descendants of slaves. What can be done to atone for the sustained and heinous crime that occurred? Who among us gained from the capture and sale of human beings? Who were their benefactors? What did past laws have to do with the fact that Black households of today still have barely one-tenth the net worth of White households? A comparison of the quality of life for Blacks and Whites in categories related to economics, health, education, civic participation and social justice shows the overall well-being of African Americans barely three-fourths that of Whites.

In January 1989, Detroit Congressman John Conyers (D) introduced House Resolution Bill 40, the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. The bill advocates for the federal government to undertake an official study of the social, political, and economic impact of slavery on our nation. It is designed to create formal dialogue on the issue of reparations through a national commission established to examine the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans and make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation.

As we move toward the 2012 election, the symbolism of having a Black in the White House pales in the light of what the payments of righting the wrongs of slavery and Jim Crow would total for descendants of American slaves. These injustices are the root cause of many critical issues affecting African-Americans today. The question is whether Black Americans will throw their political clout behind post-racial silliness, and not address the subject of reparations or initiate constructive dialogue on the role of slavery and racism in shaping present day conditions. Reparations can begin the healing process in a nation that has been divided on the basis of race for centuries.

Blacks need to note how the legacy of slavery and its vestiges contribute to current societal and economic inequality. Hopefully, this will lead more of us to support H.R. 40 and lend voice to demands that any and all political contenders commit to appropriate determination and allocation of reparations.

William Reed is available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org

Billboards Claim 'GOP Is The New Black'

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Special to the NNPA from the Florida Sentinel Bulletin –

Conservative activist, Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani, who recently said that Democrats are the party of the Klu Klux Klan is the prominent image on two of the four ads, which the group hopes will “stir up a storm on the plantation.”

The signs definitely have people talking. One sign in particular that hangs over Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in East Austin is drawing mixed reviews from residents there. It says: Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. But this is a controversial claim that has never been substantiated.

Austin NAACP president Nelson Linder said that he feels the signs are disrespectful and that Black voters should vote based on whether issues that affect the community, including unemployment and police brutality, are addressed by either party.

“Martin Luther King was about civil rights and social justice. That’s not the current Republican Party.”

The signs are also up in Houston, Ohio and South Carolina. These are areas where high concentrations of people of color typically vote democratic.

Wealth Disparities Likely to Grow

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By George E. Curry, TheDefendersOnline.com –

(NNPA) A widening gap between the mega-rich and the rest of society, documented in a recent congressional study, is likely to create even larger economic disparities between African-Americans and Whites.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report that stated: “For the 1 percent with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007.” By contrast, 60 percent of the population in the middle of the income scale (the 21st through 80th percentiles), the growth in average real after-tax household income was just under 40 percent. For the 20 percent with the lowest income, their after-tax income grew by only 18 percent over that same period.

The 47-page CBO report is titled, “Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007.” It showed that the share of after-tax household income for the top 1 percent more than doubled over the period studied, rising from nearly 8 percent in 1979 to 17 percent in 2007.

The most affluent 20 percent of the population received 53 percent of after-tax household income in 2007, an increase of 10 percent over 1979. Put another way: The top 20 percent earned more after-tax income in 2007 than the combined income of the other 80 percent of Americans.

These figures are fueling the heated debate over the Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread throughout the country and around the world. But that discussion has virtually ignored the plight of Blacks, who have already seen the wealth gap widen during the most recent recession.

A State of the Dream report issued earlier this year by United for a Fair Economy chronicles African-Americans’ stalled economic progress.

“In 1947, Blacks earned 51 cents to each dollar of White median family income,” the report recounts. “By 1977, Blacks were earning 56 cents on each dollar in White income, a gain of five cents. Most of those gains were made in the 1960s.

“Then, as the backlash took hold, progress slowed – and stopped. By 2007, Blacks earned slightly over 57 cents (57.4 cents) to each White dollar, a gain of just one penny in thirty years. Two years later, as the Great Recession set in. Blacks lost a half-cent, ending at 57 cents to each White dollar of median family income.”

Such erosion has led to the widest wealth gap on record between Blacks and Whites.

In July, the Pew Research Center issued a report that stated, “The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households.” It explained, “These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these groups for two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009.”

The bursting of the housing bubble in 2006 and the high unemployment rates have devastated communities of color.

Median home equity for Whites declined by 18 percent between 2005 and 2009, from $115,364 to $95,000. Meanwhile, Blacks lost 23 percent of their home equity, from $76,919 to $59,000.

Black long-term unemployment was also higher than that of Whites, which is usually the case during a recession. Black unemployment increased from 8.6 percent to 15.6 percent during that period; White employment rose from 3.7 percent to 8 percent.

Black wealth, already much less than Whites, worsened.

“From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66 percent among Hispanic households and 53 percent among black households, compared to just 16 percent among white households,” the Pew report stated. “As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009, the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth; and the typical white household had $113,149.”

The $5,677 in Black wealth in 2009 was less than half of the $12,124 in Black wealth just four years earlier.

In order to get ahead in the future, clearly African-Americans will need to diversify their financial holdings beyond housing. As the Pew report noted, “Whites and Asians are much more likely than Hispanics and blacks to own financial assets. More than 80 percent of whites and Asians own interest-earning assets in financial institutions, compared with about 60 percent of Hispanics and blacks. Whites and Asians are also three to four times as likely as Hispanics and blacks to own stocks and mutual funds shares…A sizable minority of U.S. households own no assets other than a motor vehicle. In 2009, that was true of 24 percent of black and Hispanic households, 8 percent of Asian households and 6 percent of white households.”

The racial and ethnic wealth gap was already horrendous. Reports of a wider economic divide between the haves and have-nots have shown that the problem is getting even worse.

Supreme Court Could Decide to Review Health Care Reform Nov. 10

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Special to NNPA from Afro-American Newspaper –

The nation’s highest court could decide whether to review President Barack Obama’s health care reform law as soon as Nov. 10, Politico reports.

Five opponents of the law and the Obama administration have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether the law’s requirement for all Americans to buy insurance is constitutional. Five of the six requests have been sent to the court already, according to Politico.

Opponents of the law, including 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business, Liberty University and the Thomas More Law Center, and petitions from the Obama administration will be under consideration.

In a private conference on Nov. 10, the court could decide if they want to hear the issue, and would announce their decision on Nov. 14. Justices could also defer a decision until a later conference.

Politico said the Supreme Court is expected to hear the issue because the administration has asked and circuit courts have issued conflicting decisions on whether the mandate is constitutional.

Texas Radio Ad Offers Hand Gun Training--But Not If You Supported Obama or are Muslim

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

If you want to take advantage of the Texas law that allows adults to carry a concealed handgun, Crockett Keller will be happy to help you learn how to handle your sidearm—as long as you didn’t vote for President Obama or are a Muslim.

Keller, a licensed gun dealer authorized to train and certify handgun owners for handgun carrying permits in Mason, Texas, is paying for radio ads to voice his twin passions—gun advocacy and distrust of Muslims, socialists and Obama supporters, according to Reuters.

Keller said in the ad for his class on how to effectively use a concealed pistol, “If you are a Socialist liberal and/or voted for the current campaigner in chief, please do not take this class.” Keller goes on to explain that you will be barred from taking his class because…“you have already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision as required under the law.”

Keller’s approach to teaching may trigger a challenge to his gun instructor credentials. After Keller’s ad began in Mason, a town about 120 miles away from the state capital in Austin, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued the following statement: “Certified instructors are required to comply with all applicable state and federal statutes, and conduct by an instructor that denied service to individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion would place that instructor's certification at risk.”

Reuters has reported that the department has initiated an investigation into the matter.

The class, typically a one-day course, teaches gun carrying methods and gun use, in addition to how to clean and maintain a handgun. Texas allows adults to carry concealed weapons if they have successfully completed a class similar to that being advertised by Keller.

Keller wrapped up his radio by saying: "With no shame, I'm Crockett Keller. Thank you, and may God bless America.

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