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College-Educated Blacks Have Harder Times than Whites

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Blacks with college degrees continue to fare worse than college-educated Whites in the labor market, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

The report titled, “The Class of 2014: The Weak Economy Is Idling Too Many Young Graduates,” looked at the job prospects for high school graduates and college graduates during the Great Recession and the current economic recovery.

“Unemployment of young graduates is extremely high today, not because of something unique about the Great Recession and its aftermath that has affected young people in particular,” stated the report written by Heidi Shierholz, Alyssa Davis and Will Kimball of EPI. “Rather, it is high because young workers always experience disproportionate increases in unemployment during periods of labor market weakness.”

The report said that the unemployment rate for Black high school graduates (17-20 years-old) rose from 30.4 percent in 2007 to 41.2 percent in 2011 and decreased to 34.7 percent. The jobless rate for young, White high school graduates was 13.1 percent in 2007, peaked at 24 percent in 2010, and edged down to 19.4 percent.

Young Black college graduates also suffered high rates of unemployment following the Great Recession. In 2007, the jobless rate for young college-educated Blacks was 8.1 percent, but by 2010, a year after the official end of the recession, that rate ballooned to 20 percent. The report said that the jobless rate for this group of workers has improved to 13.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for White college graduates never reached double digits, even during the Great Recession.

“Among young, White non-Hispanic college graduates, the unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in 2007, rose to 8.6 percent in 2011, and improved to 8.0 percent,” stated the report.

The report said that high unemployment among recent college graduates is not because of a lack of education or skills for available jobs, “rather it stems from weak demand for goods and services, which makes it unnecessary for employers to significantly ramp up hiring.”

High school graduates and college graduates also earn less than they did nearly 15 years ago.

“The real (inflation-adjusted) wages of young high school graduates have dropped 10.8 percent, and those of young college graduates have dropped 7.7 percent,” stated the report.

That means that, high school graduates lost about $2,500 in annual earnings and young college graduates lost approximately $3,000 since 2000.

Despite the common belief that college students often “shelter in school,” waiting until the economy improves, skyrocketing costs associated with higher education and enormous debt force many graduates to seek any work that they can find.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the average total costs to attend a four-year in-state public school was $22,826. The average costs for a four-year private school was twice that at $44,750.

“From the 1983–1984 enrollment year to the 2012–2013 enrollment year, the inflation-adjusted cost of a four-year education, including tuition, fees, and room and board, increased 125.5 percent for private school and 129.1 percent for public school,” the report said. “Median family income only increased 15.6 percent over this period, leaving families and students unable to pay for most colleges and universities in full.”

College costs combined with a weak economy means that students that graduate in 2015, 2016, and 2017 will encounter similar high jobless rates and lost earnings.

“They’ll never get those lost earnings back, those 10-15 years of reduced earnings, said EPI’s Heidi Shierholz. “That’s just gone.”

She said that the high unemployment that young workers are facing right now is part and parcel of the high unemployment that’s going on in the labor market as a whole.

“That means the solutions that will bring the unemployment rate down more broadly are also the same solutions that will bring the unemployment rate of young workers down,” she said.

The report recommended restarting long-term emergency unemployment benefits, instituting work sharing programs to avoid layoffs, and allowing earlier access into Social Security and Medicare programs for older workers to improve job prospects for all workers, especially young workers.

The report concluded: “The bottom line is that policies that will generate demand for U.S. goods and services (and therefore demand for workers who provide them), or policies that would spread the total hours of work across more workers, are the keys to giving young people a fighting chance as they enter the labor market during the aftermath of the Great Recession.”

Changing Blacks’'Attitudes on Green Living

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By Jazelle Hunt
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – A record-high 356 temperatures were tied or broken across the contiguous United States in 2012, marking the warmest year ever in American history. Over that same peiod, widespread droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, snowstorms, and superstorms put a nearly $110 billion dent in the economy.

And according to environmental activists, that’s something Blacks should be concerned about.

“If natural disasters happen, or heat waves, or prices go up for food and gas, then African Americans get the short end of the stick in those situations,” explained Bruce Strouele, director of operations for Citizens for a Sustainable Future, a think-tank dedicated to improving quality of life for African Americans through sustainable development and environmental justice. “When you look at research on sustainable development, before it can even take place you have to be economically situated to make those improvements. For a lot of our people it seems out of reach, or like it’s something that’s not for us.”

But it is.

Studies have shown that poor people and people of color are most vulnerable to pollution and its climate-altering effects. For example, research from the University of Minnesota released last found that people of color are exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than Whites, with the most stark disparities in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey.

But despite being disproportionately affected, experts say many African Americans are uninformed about or uninterested in sustainability, let alone climate change.

However, Strouele thinks that climate change and sustainability becomes more relevant when framed as an economic issue.

“Sustainability may look different for our community. When we talk about Black sustainability we have to talk about issues that are more practical… some may be focused on high-speed rail, but for us it might be as simple as getting fresh food to people in the community,” Strouele says. “So we focus on aspects that do relate, like food deserts, breastfeeding, and other little things that not only lessen your carbon footprint but also improve your health.”

Last week, President Obama turned his “pen-and-phone” power toward the deepening climate change crisis with a new climate change plan. The goals include maximizing sustainable, affordable and low-income housing, and reducing energy costs for ordinary Americans.

The plan directs the Department of Interior to approve permits for 100 megawatts of renewable energy capacity across federally-subsidized housing by 2020. Federally subsidized housing includes public housing, multi-family buildings using Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, apartments and homes that accept Section 8, housing choice vouchers, etc.

This is enough energy to power 10 such households for an entire year, without ever using costly fossil fuels. (In the United States, a majority of utility companies generate electricity and heat by burning coal). Today’s upgraded homes usually use renewables as a supplement for traditional energy, instead of a replacement.

Additionally, the plan sets aside a $23 million Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund, which offers grants to rental developers, universities, and organizations to test out new ways to make cost-effective, clean energy more commonplace. A separate $250 million fund program will offer loans and grants to help rural utility companies upgrade the homes and businesses they serve.

On a more privatized level, the administration is expanding its Better Building Challenge to include multi-family housing developers. With this initiative, developers are challenged to build more affordable and low-income housing with a commitment to sustainable and green living. The developers must publicly commit to a 20-percent reduction in energy use across their properties by 2020.

Improving sustainability standards in affordable residential development also improves their quality, according to Bryan Howard, legislative director for the U.S. Green Building Council. Howard advocates for clean energy and sustainability among the nation’s lawmakers.

“In states that have taken an aggressive approach to adding sustainability, it enhances the quality of housing in those states. It’s not only sustainability, but walkability, healthiness—like making sure there are air filters, because there’s a high level of asthma and respiratory problems in public housing—making sure public housing isn’t situated in discarded areas of town,” he says. “I think the issue of sustainability has been a gateway conversation to start permeating discussions around public housing…and starting to address some of these issues.”

It provides an opportunity for developers…to talk to the communities about their needs and what they want out of new development projects.”

Further, the president’s plan strengthens federal efficiency standards for household appliances. In short, these efforts not only cut national pollution, but also cut energy bills for all Americans. The Obama administration says it has already upgraded 1 million homes for energy efficiency, saving families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills per year.

Howard explains, “When we talk to people about wanting to save money on heat bills…people respond to that more than talking about climate change directly. It’s far more interesting, as opposed to [climate change], or something that may not feel as directly impactful.”

Tolan Family wants End to Racial Profiling

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By Cierra Duncan
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Defender

HOUSTON – Police shooting victim Robbie Tolan and his family want to see justice done, while ending the assault on young Black men.

“We all experienced this as a family, as a community, and as a culture but my prayer is that we have not missed the meaning,” Tolan said during a recent press conference in Houston. “This is bigger than Robbie Tolan. This is bigger than Trayvon Martin. This decision has undoubtedly been a blessing.”

The Tolan family was joined by their new attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Trayvon’s family. Crump made reference to the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently reinstated a civil rights lawsuit filed by Tolan, who in 2008 was shot and seriously injured by a White police officer outside the Bellaire, Texas home he shared with his parents. Police said they thought Tolan was armed and had stolen a vehicle.

“The Supreme Court said that this [case] should go to a jury,” Crump said. “If this could happen to a model family like this, it could happen to anyone here.”

Marian Tolan, Robbie’s mother, said “I want laws changed. There are laws against racial profiling but they are not being enforced. It’s time for that to change.”

Crump said it was “incredible” that the Supreme Court even heard the Tolan case because of the overwhelmingly high number of cases they are presented with. He then said it is “miraculous” that the court ruled in their favor.

“It is historic when you get a unanimous decision from the United States Supreme Court,” Crump said. “For all nine justices to agree that what happened was wrong…all glory goes to God.”

Crump said that every mother would be “proud to call Robbie their son” and that there was no reason for him to be shot and his family to be victimized.

The Tolans say that their faith has helped them as they continue to pursue justice. Robbie was a 23-year-old aspiring pro baseball player when he was shot. His father, Bobby, played in the Major Leagues.

“Our pastor constructed a prayer just for this case and the Supreme Court,” Marian Tolan said. “In that prayer we prayed for each Supreme Court justice, we asked God to give them a clean heart so that they can do His will,” she said. “From the beginning, I’ve asked God to use this case for change. God saved Robbie for a reason. This decision has placed us in a position to bring that reason forth.”

Extended family, community members, church leaders and elected officials gathered in support of the Tolan family.

“There are a lot of people who can be inspired by the dogged determination that has been exuded by the Tolan family,” said Kirbyjon Caldwell, pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church. “We have to change these laws. This is not just about what happened six years ago. This is still happening today.”

U.S. Congressman Al Green (D-Texas) said there cannot be a law that allows police to shoot an unarmed person on their own property and go unpunished.

“I agree with the Supreme Court that it is important that this case be reviewed again,” said Green, whose district sits in Houston. “The circumstances of this case, the shooting of an unarmed young man in his parents’ yard, are deeply troubling and raise many questions. I trust that after a just review, a jury will be able to sort through the facts and come to a just resolution.”

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said she and Green will meet with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and ask for an investigation in the case based on civil rights violations and any “criminal aspects” in the case.

She urged the community to unite behind the Tolan family and support them as they pursue a new trial. “We must leave this place and demand a new trial for Robbie,” Jackson Lee said. “The trial he never had.”

Opposition Party Planning Protest to Force Election Date

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Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News

CMC – The main opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) says it will begin a series of protests and pickets next week in a bid to force Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer to name a date for the general election.

Prime Minister Spencer has in the past indicated that the date would be announced “very shortly”. He had delayed naming the date for the poll while awaiting the ruling ot the Appeal Court on two matters filed by the ALP leader Gaston Browne.

The court handed down its ruling last month and Prime Minister Spencer said he would announce the date as soon as he was sure that the Electoral Commission was prepared to hold the polls.

But Brown, who had given Prime Minister Spencer a May 9 deadline to name the date for the election, said the leader of the ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) has no excuse for not naming the date for the election.

He said it is the responsibility of the prime minister to set the date for the election, which is now constitutionally due no later than July 26.

The ALP leader said that historically, Antigua and Barbuda has had general elections within the five year parliamentary cycle which on this occasion ended on April 26.

The ALP accuses Prime Minister Spencer of disrespecting convention and tradition by seemingly pushing the election to the latter stages of the constitutional deadline.

In the last general election, the UPP won nine of the 17 seats, with the ALP winning seven. The other seat was won by the Barbuda People’s Movement.

AIDS Institute Leader Condemns Sterling's Rants

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By James Wright
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

Disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling publicly stumbled when he attacked NBA Fall of Famer and entrepreneur Ervin “Magic” Johnson and other people living with HIV/AIDS, during a May 12 interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Sterling was then taken to task by the leader of the Black AIDS Institute of Los Angeles.

Sterling, 80, said, in essence, that Johnson – who contracted the virus that causes AIDS during his years as a professional basketball player, is a not a role model for children because of his former sexual promiscuity.

“I think he should be ashamed of himself,” Sterling said. “I think he should go into the background.”

Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, said Sterling’s comments “are shocking and appalling.”

“We are not going back to the dark ages when people living with HIV/AIDS were categorized as promiscuous sexual predators, who should hide and be ashamed,” Wilson said. “Mr. Sterling would have us go back to the days of keeping children out of school, and denying people with HIV housing.”

Wilson said that his organization has worked with the Magic Johnson Foundation and the National Basketball Association “to fight stigma, increase knowledge and awareness about the facts of HIV and end the type of misinformation that Mr. Sterling tried to disseminate to deflect attention away from his own bigotry.

“Instead of demonizing people with HIV/AIDS and alienating them from care, we should be taking advantage of the opportunity that currently exists to end the AIDS epidemic so that our children can grow up in an AIDS-free generation,” Wilson said.

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