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First Lady, Daughters Visit Mandela But Not President Zuma During Africa Tour

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By Fungai Maboreke, Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her daughters and her mother, visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation and was given a tour by Graca Machel, Mandela’s wife, of an exhibit chronicling the 27 years Mandela was imprisoned at Robben Island.

After the tour, the Obamas went to the official residence of Mandela, who welcomed her entire family, including a niece and nephew travelling with them.

Mandela, who turns 93 next month, has received few guests since January when he was admitted to hospital with an acute respiratory infection.

Mrs. Obama met briefly with Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, one of President Jacob Zuma's three wives, and a group of about 100 invitees in Pretoria, but she not get a meeting with the President.

South African officials insisted that Zuma was simply busy – but in fact the visit coincides with a cooling in relations between South Africa and the U.S. Last week, President Zuma issued a sharp riposte to an appeal to African leaders by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help remove Libya's Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

"We strongly believe that the (U.N. Security Council) resolution is being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation," Zuma told parliament the day after Clinton's speech.

Professor Chris Landsberg, head of the University of Johannesburg’s politics department, said even if it was not a snub, it was a “missed opportunity”.

“There is no doubt there’s been some irritation on both sides over Libya,” he said. “It might perhaps have been a chance for Mrs Obama to pass some direct messages from her husband, clarify the position and ease some tensions.”

Disasters Damage American Psyche as Natural Disasters Plagues the Country

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By Charlene Muhammad, Special to the NNPA from The Final Call –

“O people, keep your duty to your Lord; surely the Shock of the Hour is a grievous thing. The day you see it, every woman giving suck will forget her suckling and every pregnant one will lay down her burden, and thou wilt see men as drunken, yet they will not be drunken, but the chastisement of Allah will be severe.” —Holy Qur'an, Chapter 22, Verse 2

(FinalCall.com) - Severe natural disasters have been curtailing America on all sides and as volunteer workers scramble to help survivors pick up the pieces to lives and property swept away in tornados, snowstorms and hurricanes, they are working to help people maintain their mental health, heavily tested by the unprecedented events.

Millions of dollars in recovery efforts have been spent to help feed and shelter survivors but another key area of need is help dealing with the psychological toll disasters have taken on American citizens, according to mental and social health experts.

“In a number of cases, people are coming to the realization that they are homeless and there is a lot of doubt, feelings of despair and anger that hits one's self-worth,” especially if one's neighbors have received help and they hit road blocks, said E.C. Bell, director of Metro Counseling Center, a non-profit substance program in Jackson, Mississippi, and a member of the Association of Black Social Workers.

On June 11 Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick sought federal funding for recovery after a pair of tornados tore through parts of the state on June 1. In Arizona, weather attacks began in May via a 693-square mile raging wildfire that is now threatening New Mexico.

The latest disasters have given relief efforts little time to regroup since a snowstorm paralyzed the Midwest in January, tornados hit the South in April, and the Midwest came under attack again by tornados in May.

Survivors need trained volunteers, well-versed in community-based approaches to psychological support, disaster professionals say. Such approaches build on local resources, focus on strengthening community networks by utilizing its members knowledge, values and methods to enhance appropriate responses, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

People who have experienced natural weather disasters sometimes view themselves as victims, which fosters feelings of helplessness, a loss of self-esteem, and self-blame, despite things being out of their control, according to Bell.

Counseling is a way to help ease some of the psychological impact because most people want to talk about their situation so just being a good listener and giving them a chance to vent will help them, and whether the disaster occurred yesterday or years ago, recovery can last a lifetime, especially mentally,” Bell told The Final Call.

According to Ebony Muhammad, a certified thanatologist specializing in grief and loss, disasters leave people with few remnants of the life they had before. News visuals show families hunting for photo albums and other sentimental items that connect them to their memories because those items comfort them and help to combat the trauma. Many people self-medicate to cope, she said.

The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan have and continue to give means of preparation for disasters—first pointing to scripture where these natural disasters have taken place and are prophesied to take place.

Both have written and spoken countless times on the subject and have said to us to watch the weather, because the Four Great Judgments (rain, hail, snow, and earthquakes) are coming to us, noted Muhammad.

It's time we take their words seriously. It's a matter of life and death, she said.

The National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Alabama, offers therapeutic services mainly to child victims of family-related or sexual trauma but has received increased calls from schools wanting to know how to help frightened children since the tornados, according to Catherine Hereford, director of development for the center.

“What we're seeing is a higher rate of children who have stronger reactions to storms, feelings of anxiety, fear and worry about the safety of themselves and others,” she said. In addition, children have shown changes in behavior like increased irritability, withdrawal, angry outbursts and aggression, increased sensitivity to sounds, loss of interest in activities and regressive behaviors, like going back to baby talk and bed wetting.

“The question of resolution to the psychological impact of natural disasters is therefore a question going beyond recovery, and unfortunately that becomes a physical phenomenon in terms of repairing buildings, roads and broken bones. We have to go beyond the question of restoration to how do we restore people's sense of spirit,” according to Dr. Wade Noble, a member of the Association of Black Psychologists' Haiti Disaster Relief Task Force.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, however, has warned that the divine chastisement and death that have entered America are harbingers of difficult times ahead. He has also warned that the place to seek refuge is with God, and in living the life that God wants lived. The Minister has stressed the need for disaster preparedness for the Black community as the intensity and scope of disasters continues to increase. He has called for widespread training and coordination of efforts in the Black community in this dangerous time.

Study: Young Males of Color Likely to End up Jobless, Imprisoned or Dead

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By George E. Curry, TheDefendersOnline.com –

Fifty-one percent of Hispanic male high school graduates ages 15-24 and 45 percent of African-American males in that category will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead, according to a study issued this week by the College Board’s Advocacy & Policy Center.

“Collectively, the pathway data show that more than 51 percent of Hispanic males, 45 percent of African American males, 42 percent of Native American males and 33 percent of Asian American males ages 15-24 will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead,” concluded a report titled, “The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress.”

A companion report, “The Education Experience of Young Men of Color: Capturing the Student Voice,” was also released. Both reports were released at a news conference at Harvard on Monday and in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

The College Board report on educational experience observed, “…Men, especially minority men, lag behind their female counterparts in college access, educational attainment and employment. Minority men outpace their female counterparts only in negative post-secondary outcomes: unemployment, incarceration and death.”

In order to accomplish President Obama’s goal of the United States retaking its position as the world’s best educated nation, improvements must be made in the rate men of color enroll in and graduate from college, the report stated.

“The report seeks to identify not only what we know but also what we don’t know about men of color,” authors of the study said…It is our hope that this report will be the impetus for scholars to investigate more rigorously the issues affecting the academic performance of young men of color. We are particularly interested in research that identifies solutions to the problems, not that which identifies the problems all over again.”

A different approach would be to study successful men of color to determine what elements went into their success.

How well the problems of men of color are addressed will largely determine whether the United States will have a workforce educated enough to support knowledge-based jobs, which will directly impact the global competitiveness of the nation.

Although high school dropout rates among most racial and ethnic groups have declined over the past three decades, minority dropout rates remain disproportionately high, especially among males, the report noted.

The dropout rate for White males in 2008 was 7 percent. But the figure was 22 percent for Hispanic males, 17 percent for American Indian/Alaska Natives, 12 percent for African-Americans, 8 percent for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and 4 percent for Asians.

Dropout rates vary significantly within the ethnic group. Among Hispanics, for example, the high school dropout rate was 25.8 percent for Salvadorans but only 6 percent for Cuban males. The dropout rate was 22.2 percent for Mexicans but only 8 percent for South Americans.

Troubling statistics were also evident at the college level

As of 2008, only 30.3 percent of African-Americans ages 25 to 34 and 19.8 percent of Latinos in that age bracket had attained an associate degree or higher. By comparison, 49 percent of Whites and 70.7 percent of Asian Americans had earned at least a degree from a two-year college. In every group, women had higher graduation rates than their male counterparts.

College enrollment figures show that 25.8 percent of African-American males 18-24 were in college in 1990, slightly higher than the 24.7 percent rate for Black women. By 2008, however, not only had Black women overtaken Black men, they had done so by a comfortable margin. In 2008, 29.7 percent of Black men ages 18-24 were enrolled in college. But the figure for African-American females in that age bracket had risen to 34.2 percent.

Among Hispanic males, the college attendance rate increased from 15.4 percent in 1990 to 23 percent in 2008. But the rate for Hispanic women jumped from 16.4 percent in 1990 to 28.9 percent in 2008. The Asian American/Pacific Islander male graduation rate was the only one to decrease over that period, from 59.2 percent to 53.8 percent while Asian women rose from 54.9 percent to 61.1 percent.

Native American/Alaska Native male college rates doubled, from 8.4 percent to 18.7 percent over that period. Women, who held a 12-point lead over their male counterparts in 1990, saw the gap narrowed, holding only a 24.3 percent to 18.7 percent lead by 2008.

In 2008, White males had a college enrollment figure of 35.6 percent, compared with 34.7 percent for women. But White women had surpassed their male counterpart by 2008, upping their college attendance rate to 46.9 percent, compared to 41.7 percent for men.

The report suggest a goal of ensuring that 55 percent of young Americans hold an associate degree and higher. However, that can’t be done without closing the college completion gaps that separate Whites and Asians from other groups.

The report’s figures on unemployment, incarceration and death were particularly gripping.

In 2008, more than 9.4 million 15-24-year-old high school graduates, including 5 million men (53.1 percent) and 4.4 million women (46.9 percent) were unemployed, the report said. Among males 15- to 24-years-old with a high school diploma, 46 percent of Hispanics were unemployed, 39.2 percent of Native Americans, 34.4 percent of African-Americans and 29.8 percent of Asians. Post-recession numbers are expected to be even higher.

While Hispanics and Native Americans had higher unemployment rates than Blacks, that pattern did not hold true for incarceration. More than 475,000 people aged 18 to 24 were incarcerated in 2008, with males making up 92.4 percent of that group.

Among minority males 15 to 24 with a high school diploma, 9.9 percent of African-Americans were behind bars, 5.2 percent of Hispanic men in that age group, 3.4 percent of Asians and 2.7 percent of Native Americans.

“An early death – natural or violent – is a real possibility for today’s youth,” the report stated. Among 18 to 24-year-olds, it noted, 34,887 died in 2008. Of those, 26,070 (74.7 percent) were males; 8,817 (25.3 percent) were females.

Of those who died in 2008, males made up 77.5 percent of African-Americans, 71.5 percent of Asians, 79.4 percent of Hispanics, 71 percent of Native Americans and 72.6 percent of Whites. Overall, African-Americans and Native Americans were tied at 0.3 percent of the deaths in that age group, followed by Hispanics, at 0.2 percent, and Asians, at 0.1 percent.

The authors of the report said that while there should be a concentrated effort to improve the plight of men of color, women of color also need and deserve support.

Among the report’s recommendations:

1) Policymakers must make improving outcomes for young men of color a national priority;

2) Increase community, business and school partnerships to provide mentoring and support to young men of color;

3) Reform education to ensure that all students, including young men of color, are college and career ready when they graduate from high school;

4) Improve teacher education programs and provide professional development that includes cultural- and gender-responsive training;

5) Create culturally appropriate persistence and retention programs that provide wraparound services to increase college completion for men of color and

6) Produce more research and conduct more studies that strengthen the understanding of challenges faced by males of color and provide evidence-based solutions to these challenges.

The researchers said they reached an unmistakable conclusion: “There is an educational crisis for young men or color in the United States.”

Racial Slurs Become Part of St. Bernard Parish Housing Fight

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By Zoe Sullivan, Special to the NNPA from The Louisiana Weekly –

There has been clear opposition for years to the presence of African Americans in St. Bernard Parish, based on the litigation history of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), James Perry, executive director of that organization, told The Louisiana Weekly.

“We get really nasty phone calls and e-mails pretty frequently about St. Bernard Parish, and they oftentimes have a lot of racial innuendo, but occasionally they have really direct racial statements and racial epithets,” Perry told The Louisiana Weekly.

Recently, his organization used two examples of this in litigation against St. Bernard Parish around a multi-family housing project being developed there by Provident Realty Advisors, Inc.

Provident is building four mixed-income apartment complexes, which would be within walking distance of a planned hospital. According to GNOFHAC, each complex would contain 72 units for a total of 288. Perry says the State of Louisiana is supporting the development with $30 million in tax credits, which are only awarded following stringent investigations by the State. Provident initially asked GNOFHAC for assistance in 2008.

Recently, Judge Ginger Berrigan, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, denied a request by the Parish for a cease and desist order against Provident Realty.

The ruling stated: “While Defendants have raised concerns about the work Provident has performed without inspections, none of these concerns justify a complete shutdown of the projects. From the testimony presented in court, Provident appears willing and able to address all of Defendants’ concerns.”

The concerns ranged from drain lines from the development buildings to existing storm drains, the height of proposed driveways, and the use of third party inspectors.

The court ruling also noted that: “…the Court finds that there is no legal support for President Taffaro’s position that Provident must tear down all of its buildings before the Parish would issue any permits.”

“It’s always been clear that racial animus is key to the resistance to this housing development. There’s no mistake,” Perry told The Louisiana Weekly.

“We have been and continue to be offended by the incident that is in question,” St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro, Jr. said to The Louisiana Weekly’s inquiry about the racially tinged graffiti and voicemail presented in court.

“We find it equally troublesome that the Provident officials sought no legal intervention. No police report was filed by Provident. We are really proud that our post-Katrina population statistics continue to show that St. Bernard is more diverse than ever before in our history, and we continue to promote a unified community in our recovery.”

The Insistent Question: Where Are The Jobs?

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By Lee A. Daniels, Special to the NNPA from thedefendersonline.com –

The gloomy federal jobs report for May has brought to the forefront again all the questions – and fears – about the economy and the jobs crisis that six months ago were pushed into the deep background by the compromise on unemployment benefits between President Obama and the Republicans in Congress.

The legislation ensured that for all of this year all jobless workers who reach the normal six-month cutoff point for unemployment benefits – estimated at about four million – would automatically have their payments renewed. The measure also included another two million whose benefits were lapsing during last December as well.

In exchange, the President agreed to extend for another two years the Bush-era provisions governing estate taxes and tax cuts for the highest-income earners.

The administration was clearly hoping that during this year, the economic recovery would have gathered enough steam to forge the kind of job growth that would jump-start a sustained paring of the jobless rolls.

That hasn’t happened. Instead, the slowing of the momentum of economic recovery has produced a keenly-felt disconnect between the fact that the Great Recession officially ended nearly two years ago and the fact of the hardship many Americans are still enduring.

The official unemployment rate for May inched up to 9.1 percent and a just-barely-positive 54,000 new jobs were tallied. That underscored the fact that the labor market still has seven million fewer jobs than at the start of the crisis in December 2007—and that some 14 million Americans remain out of work. Which, in turn, raised the point that many labor-market analysts expect it will take years of sustained significant job growth to push the unemployment rate down to its pre-recession level between five and six percent.

The recovery’s tepid pace has also emphasized the many worrisome questions about the recession’s long-term effects. Millions of younger workers among the jobless face a future in which their lifetime earnings are likely to be permanently diminished by this period of sustained joblessness. And, many jobless workers who are 55 and older are likely – if they can find work again – to never again approach the status or wages of their previous jobs. In addition, the number of long-term unemployed workers – those jobless for six months or more – after declining somewhat late last year is on the rise again. The 6.2 million workers in this category now comprise 45.1 percent of the total jobless, from 43.4 percent in April.

Numerous analysts have expressed concern that many of the long-term unemployed will never again find consistent employment.

If not mitigated, these possibilities will in the years ahead diminish the amount of payments into the funds for Social Security and Medicare, just as the largest waves of Baby Boomers are likely to be drawing heavily on those two federal programs.

Further, the May jobs report, in which Black unemployment ticked upward from April’s 16.1 to 16.2 percent, again underlined the intensifying racially-skewed dynamic within the broader economic crisis.

This month’s report on Black employment and unemployment from the Center for Labor Research and Education of the University of California at Berkeley (PDF) noted that the Black unemployment figures stand in stark contrast to those of Whites, which plateaued at 8.0 percent for both months. Furthermore, the composite figures for Blacks mask the separately alarming predicaments of Black male and female workers. Unemployment for the former climbed from 18.1 to 18.6 percent, while that of Black females stood in May at 14,1 percent, down slightly from April’s 14.4 percent (compared to 7.5 and 7.6 percent, respectively, for white females workers).

That was just one of numerous statistics – including homeownership rates, the incidence of foreclosures, funds saved for retirement , household income, access to health care, and poverty rates — that show, amid the difficult present and worrisome prospects for several segments of American workers in general, Black Americans’ predicament continues to be the worst of all.

But, of all of this data, the Black unemployment rate, seeming now to be slowly spiraling upward on a curve of its own, presents the greatest danger. The reason is simple: If fewer and fewer Blacks have jobs, all of the other indices of their economic status will get worse.

Lee A. Daniels is Director of Communications for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. and Editor-in-Chief of TheDefendersOnline.

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