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Building the New Haiti – Creating a Place for African-Americans at the Table

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NEWS ANALYSIS

By Ron Daniels –

(NNPA) - As President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) and Founder of the Haiti Support Project (HSP), I have just returned from leading a team to Haiti to allocate the first contributions from the IBW/HSP Haiti Relief Fund.

A total of $56,000 was distributed to nine community-based/grassroots organizations including women's, youth and peasant groups for relief and capacity-building. Deeply concerned about the plight of Haitian children orphaned by the disastrous earthquake, our team also visited orphanages and assessed the progress of the Oasis Institute, an ambitious initiative designed to relocate orphans and extended family members from tent communities to an interim camp with safe/secure environment, post-traumatic stress counseling and a world class education.

The ultimate goal is to construct a permanent campus as home for the orphans. Though adoption may be necessary as an option of last resort, Oasis Institute is designed to keep the vast majority of Haitian children in Haiti to be nurtured and educated within their own culture so they can become the new engaged citizens and leaders of the world's first Black Republic.

This Initiative has the potential to become a model to significantly impact Haiti's system of social welfare as it relates to orphans. As such, it is a major priority of HSP and the IBW Black Family Summit Task Force on Preserving Children and Families in Haiti. Taken together, the commitments above are consistent with HSP's mission of providing humanitarian and developmental assistance as part of the reconstruction effort in Haiti.

Another goal of our team's visit was to vigorously explore avenues to mobilize/organize African- American administrative and technical skills, entrepreneurial expertise and investment capacity to effectively contribute to the short, medium and long term process of building the new Haiti. Because of a 15-year history of building a constituency for Haiti in the U.S. with a principal focus on educating and organizing African-Americans, HSP has received numerous inquiries about opportunities to secure contracts, to invest and/or to start business ventures in Haiti.

Clearly Haitians will take primary responsibility for the reconstruction of their country in conjunction with the Haitian Diaspora -- which contributes nearly two billion in remittances annually as well as other valuable resources to the homeland. But, HSP believes African Americans and people of African descent in the U.S. can be an invaluable third leg in the reconstruction process. Black America has an estimated 800 million to one billion in consumer power and a large reservoir of business and professional people who can potentially be tapped to play a significant role in building the new Haiti. The question is whether there will be a place at the table for African-Americans.

Our experience over the past 15 years suggests that there is no resistance to African-Americans investing and starting businesses in Haiti. Indeed, we have encountered many Haitians in the Government and the private sector who have welcomed, even pleaded with us to encourage African- Americans to invest in the economic development of the country.

This posture was emphatically re-enforced when our team, which included representatives of the Atlanta-based Joe Beasley Foundation (JBF), met with Patrick Delatour, the minister of tourism, who has been designated to be the director of reconstruction by President Rene Gracia Preval. Minister Delatour not only welcomed the idea of African American investment and business development in Haiti, he views it as an extension of the long relationship between African-Americans and Haitians in terms of the historical struggle for freedom and self-determination. He outlined a range of investment opportunities, especially in the tourism related sector in the Cap Haitien/Milot region of the country where HSP has launched the Model City Initiative.

Tourism was a major component of the development plan for Haiti prior to the earthquake and has become even more important in its aftermath. HSP devised the Model City Initiative to encourage African-Americans and friends of Haiti to visit the Citadel, a magnificent mountaintop fortress built by King Henri Christophe after the Revolution to deter further invasions by the French.

It is one of the great symbols of freedom and hope in the Pan African world. Working collaboratively with the Destination Haiti Foundation, HSP's principal partner on the ground in Haiti, the goal of the Model City Initiative is to transform the lovely town of Milot, which is nestled at the foot of the mountain where the Citadel stands, into a Mecca for cultural-historical tourism. We believe cultural-historical tourism will be the foundation for people-based economic development in Milot and the northern region of the country. There are huge opportunities for African Americans to invest and develop businesses in this region.

Minister Delatour not only agrees with the goals of the Model City Initiative, developing Milot as a tourist destination is a priority within his plan for the northern region. Hence, we have been working together to make this vision a reality. Accordingly, he was pleased to meet the representatives of the Joe Beasley Foundation, which has substantial skills and resources to contribute to the development of Milot and the north. In fact, he agreed to accept an invitation to travel to Atlanta as a special guest of HSP and the Beasley Foundation to participate in George Fraser's Power Networking Conference which brings upwards to 3,000 - 4,000 Black businesses and professionals together for three days of extraordinary skill development workshops and inspirational plenary sessions.

Minister Delatour will address the Town Hall Meeting, which is the kick-off event for the conference and make a presentation on investment opportunities in Haiti at an information session immediately following the Town Hall Meeting. Minister Delatour's visit definitively underscores the interest of the Government of Haiti in enlisting African-Americans to play a leading role in building the new Haiti.

Minister Delatour's visit is also an expression of support for HSP as an organization with a proven track record of promoting the first Black Republic in Black America to engage people of African descent in the process of democracy and development in Haiti.

In this regard, I was delighted that representatives of the Joe Beasley Foundation were part of the HSP team that met with Minister Delatour. Organized in honor of my long-time friend and ally Joe Beasley (who traveled with me to Haiti on our very first delegation in 1995), JBF has assembled an awesome array of conscious and highly talented/skilled professionals and business persons who are committed to making a difference in Haiti. Since our initial visit to Haiti, Joe Beasley - whom I have affectionately dubbed "Ambassador" because of his fervent commitment to global empowerment of African people -has consistently collaborated with HSP on a range of initiatives in addition to developing/supporting projects of his choosing. Based on our long-standing relationship, it seems logical that HSP and JBF should forge a major collaboration to maximize the mobilization of African-American technical resources, investment and business development as we seek to engage the process of building the new Haiti.

That process is now underway. When it is finalized, the HSP/JBF collaborative will serve as one of the major vehicles for African-Americans seeking to do business with the government and private sector agencies and function as a clearinghouse to review proposals for investment and/or creation of business ventures as part of the process of assisting interested concerns to navigate the environment in Haiti. Equally important, the HSP/JBF collaborative will proactively mobilize investment for priority projects within the framework of the Model City Initiative in Milot and the northern region of Haiti in accordance with Minister Patrick Delatour's plan to make this region one of the major poles of the reconstruction process. Milot and the Citadel may well become the face of the new Haiti and the HSP/JBF collaborative will be in the very center of the process.

In previous articles, I have called the building of the new Haiti a "pan-African project" which should involve the engagement of people of African descent from around the world. The resurrection of Haiti from the ashes of the catastrophic earthquake will be one of the great triumphs of the 21st century, and business/economic development will be one of the driving engines of this monumental achievement. There is a place at the table for African-Americans to play a significant role in this phenomenal endeavor. The HSP/JBF collaborative will be a crucial vehicle in mobilizing/organizing African- Americans to assist Haiti to once again become a powerful symbol of freedom and hope for African people and the world!

Dr. Ron Daniels is president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website www.ibw21.org and www.northstarnews.com. To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at info@ibw21.org.

Employment Growth a Credit to Obama's Policies, But Black Jobs Crisis Persists

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Special to the NNPA from the Mississippi Link –

NEW YORK -(NNPA) - National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial has cautioned that higher-than-expected job growth last month should not cloud the still-desperate employment crisis among communities of color.

“The need for direct job-creation legislation is still very real,” Morial said. “The dangerously-high black unemployment rate of 16.5 percent remains unchanged, and unemployment among Black women is rising while the rate for teenagers remains elevated.”

Morial noted that the percentage of long-term unemployed - 27 weeks or longer - rose to 45.9 percent of the total unemployed.

“The level of long-term unemployed is unprecedented and points to a core group who are being left out of the growth in jobs,” he said.

The real unemployment rate - the officially unemployed plus the underemployed and those no longer looking for work - is 17.1 percent.

Morial said President Obama's leadership, particularly with regard to the Recovery Act, has begun to lift the country out of the crisis, but more needs to be done if every segment of society is to share in the recovery.

"The need for legislation could not be more clear, and a cost-benefit analysis shows the legislation would grow the economy and even trim the federal deficit through a combination of savings and increased revenue," he said.

The analysis is available on the National Urban League's new State of Urban Jobs website, at www.nul.org/content/state-urban-jobs.

Morial said the National Urban League launched the website to bring the jobs crisis into sharper focus, highlight the League's Plan for Job Creation, and provide a forum for the unemployed. In addition to analysis and data, the site includes a jobs bank and help for job seekers.

Despite Protests, Texas Board Passes Conservative Textbook Curriculum

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By Gordon Jackson, Special to the NNPA from the Dallas Weekly –

AUSTIN, Texas – A week-long series of strong testimonies, marches, rallies and cries of injustice by nationally renowned figures such as NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous and former U.S. Secretary of State Rod Paige could not deter a bloc of hard-core ultra “Christian Conservatives” of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) from passing 9-5 a controversial social studies component of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum in the late evening of May 21.

Unless other efforts are successful, the structure of the social studies curriculum will be implemented into Texas schoolbooks, by law, for the next 10 years and taught to over 4.7 million public school students. Further, with the state being the largest supplier of schoolbooks in the country, up to 40 percent of the rest of the nation could adopt the same curriculum for their school districts. The vote ended, at least for now, several months of heated debate and charges of attempting to rewrite history in a way that would drastically diminish the credibility and contributions of African Americans and Hispanics.

“I am ashamed of what we’ve done to the teachers and the students in this state, I will not support this travesty of a document,” said trustee Mavis Knight (D-Dallas), one of the five Democratic board members who have been fighting losing battles to prevent the adoption of the conservative curriculum.

“We might as well say Hispanics don’t exist,” said board member Mary Helen Berlanga (D-Corpus Christi). “We have hidden information; we have tried to cover up a lot of information. I guess there are people that have a difficult time with the truth. I feel that I have let down the students in our state.”

Much of the debate came to a head during the public hearing session on May 19, before overflowing crowds at the SBOE boardroom, where a total of 206 citizens signed to speak. The board was forced to turn away over half of that number as the testimonies ran into the late night hours. Jealous however was one of the first to speak and stated his case as to why the board should the delay the vote.

"We are entitled to our own opinion but we are not entitled to our own facts. We have to make sure our kids are taught what actually happened not what the school board wishes,” Jealous told the board. "We are concerned about quality, not quotas. We are concerned about our children learning the whole truth, not half of it."

Jealous commented on one example, where the Atlantic slave trade would be renamed the “Atlantic Triangular Trade.” Also that speeches by Confederate President Jefferson Davis, also a slave-owner, should be taught in equal value with Abraham Lincoln. “They will talk about the civil rights movement but not about the struggle,” Jealous said. “It minimizes the role of the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement moved our country and you got to talk about the facts. They will be learning something other than the truth. They will not be able to compete on SAT exams.”

Paige told the board: “In Texas, we’ve allowed the pendulum to swing backwards and forward. I’m asking that the swing (should) be narrower and let history speak for itself. What students are taught should not be the handmaiden of political ideology.

“We have allowed ideology to drive and define the standards of our curriculum in Texas.”

Other items within the proposed curriculum included the lauding of conservative institutions such as the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the Contract with America with no counterbalance from the progressive perspective. Another states that President Thomas Jefferson’s contribution to the writing of the U.S. Constitution did not promote the concept of the Separation of Church and State, as believed before by many historians.

The actions of 1950s Senator Joseph McCarty, whose anti-Communist campaign resulted in the blacklisting of several Americans – many of them African Americans - will be recorded as justified, even though many of the blacklisting were deemed inaccurate and McCarthy left the Senate in disgrace.

The “Double V Campaign” of African American World War II veterans promoting to fight for equality both at home, as well as abroad, was “gutted from the current TEKS draft.”

Amendments have to be placed to keep the curriculum from removing the works of Thurgood Marshall, the nation’s first Black Supreme Court justice and the lead attorney behind the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case and Caesar Chavez, the highly heralded labor organizer and Hispanic rights activist. The curriculum also purports that the gains made in the women and civil rights movements were more because of White-male benevolence instead of the courageous and death-defying sacrifices made by its leaders.

“Minimizing or misrepresenting African-American and Latino culture and history can lead to distorted beliefs regarding our fellow Americans,” Jealous said. “And it can lead students from those ethnic groups to have a skewed picture of themselves and their place in the world. Studies of high school dropout rates have shown that students became disengaged with classes because what they were learning didn't seem relevant to their lives.”

Another amendment revealed that President Barack Obama’s full name was previously absent from the high school curriculum. Republican member David Bradley motioned to further include Obama’s middle name “Hussein” into the amendment, for what Democratic trustees felt was for a wrong motive of stirring up the same controversy Obama endured during his presidential campaign. After debate, Bradley said: “I’ll put an end to the whining. I’ll withdraw the motion.”

Constantly, throughout the last several months, Democratic trustees Knight and Berlanga,” along with Rene Nunez (El Paso), Rick Agosto (San Antonio) and Lawrence Allen, Jr. (Houston) have been defeated in a string of 10-5 votes in their attempt to derail the conservative measures, with one of the moderate trustees occasionally siding with them, still resulting in 9-6 losing votes. The board considered the more that 20,000 responses and worked on many of the over 400 amendments that were recommended to tweak the curriculum, many of them at the 11th hour before the May 21 vote, which upset trustees.

“I don’t know of anyone that would be accepting cut-and-paste material now,” Berlanga said. “I don’t think a teacher would accept that from a student.”

Allen made the motion late Friday evening to delay the vote until this July, with moderate trustee Bob Craig (Lubbock) actually seconding the motion. Still, the motion was defeated 8-6, followed by the conservative side passing the curriculum for elementary, middle school and high school. The conservative board members held their positions throughout the debate. Don McLeroy (R-College Station) said the revisions, albeit last-minute, was proof that the curriculum was valid, calling any diminishing of minority representation as “clearly false.”

“We have corrected the imbalance and are heading straight in the right direction,” McLeroy said. “Children need to know what makes the country so great and unique.”

Cargill (R-The Woodlands) spoke about the amendment that will teach high school students not the “effects” of the free enterprise market economy, but its “benefits” in world history, without any counter argument.

“This is one of the most important things we teach our students, to value free enterprise,” said Barbara Cargill (R), author of the contentious last-minute addition.

"By delaying this process we're doing nothing but increasing the amount of disagreement," said Cargill. "Because we're never going to agree."

Terri Leo (R-Spring) said that it "punishes children if you delay a vote on a proclamation. This is a very transparent and public process unlike your [committee meetings]." Leo was criticized by several members of the audience, feeling that she disrespected Jealous when questioning the points during his public hearing testimony.

On the legislative front, the Texas Black Legislative Caucus, led by state representative Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) and the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, led by state rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) have jointly expressed their displeasure, as they did at a May 19 rally held outside the Travis Building, sponsored by the Texas Freedom Network.

“This year, they are changing the record on slavery, celebrating the Confederacy and shedding a positive light on Jim Crow laws – they are rewriting African-American history,” said Gary Bledsoe, President of the Texas NAACP.

The NAACP has initiated a “Not in My State” campaign, hoping to spur a boycott of the textbooks.

Census Projects Older American Population to Become More Diverse

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Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly –

(NNPA) - The U.S. Census Bureau reported today that the dependency ratio, or the number of people 65 and older to every 100 people of traditional working ages, is projected to climb rapidly from 22 in 2010 to 35 in 2030. This time period coincides with the time when baby boomers are moving into the 65 and older age category. After 2030, however, the ratio of the aging population to the working-age population (ages 20 to 64) will rise more slowly, to 37 in 2050. The higher this old-age dependency ratio, the greater the potential burden.

The projections are not based on 2010 Census results. Rather, they project 2000 Census counts forward using components of population change — births, deaths and net international migration.

The expected steep rise in the dependency ratio over the next two decades reflects the projected proportion of people 65 and older climbing from 13 percent to 19 percent of the total population over the period, with the percentage in the 20 to 64 age range falling from 60 percent to 55 percent.

“This rapid growth of the older population may present challenges in the next two decades,” said Victoria Velkoff, assistant chief for estimates and projections for the Census Bureau’s Population Division. “It’s also noteworthy that those 85 and older — who often require additional caregiving and support — would increase from about 14 percent of the older population today to 21 percent in 2050.”

The findings are contained in the report, “The Next Four Decades: The Older Population in the United States: 2010 to 2050,” which presents information on how the age structure of the overall population and the composition of the older population in terms of age, sex, race and Hispanic origin are expected to change over the next four decades. The report provides an analysis of national population projections released in August 2008.

According to the report, minorities would comprise 42 percent of the 65 and older population in 2050, more than double the proportion they comprise today (20 percent). Likewise, among those 85 and older, 33 percent are projected to be minority in 2050, up from 15 percent in 2010. (In the report, the minority population refers to people who are other than non-Hispanic, single-race White).

Other highlights include:

The percentage of the 65 and older population that is Hispanic would rise from seven percent today to 20 percent in 2050. In absolute terms, it would increase more than sixfold — from 2.9 million to 17.5 million. At the same time, among those 85 and older, the Hispanic population would increase more than ninefold, from 305,000 to 2.9 million.

Among those 65 and older, 12 percent are expected to be single-race Black and nine percent Asian in 2050, up from nine percent and 3 percent, respectively, in 2010. In addition, 77 percent are projected to be white alone, down from about 87 percent in 2010.

The least populous race groups are projected to see large growth relative to their populations. The older multiracial population, for instance, would increase from 278,000 in 2010 to 1.3 million in 2050.

The multiracial population will continue to be the youngest population, as the 65 and older percentage would rise from 5.1 percent today to 7.8 percent in 2050.

With the projected more rapid increase in the life expectancy for men over the next several decades, women would comprise a smaller percentage of older people: 57 percent of those 65 and older today, 55 percent in 2050. Among those 85 and older, the drop would be even larger (from 67 percent to 61 percent).

This report is based on the projections released in August 2008. In December 2009, the Census Bureau released a set of four national projections supplementing the series released in August 2008, showing projections to 2050 by age, race, sex and Hispanic origin. These four scenarios assume either high, low, constant or zero international migration between 2000 and 2050. The August 2008 projections remain the preferred series for users.

This article was originally published in the May 24, 2010 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Homophobic Backlash Sweeping Africa, More Jail Terms Seen

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – Harsh anti-gay legislation in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya and Uganda, among others, has sentenced same-sex couples to long prison terms and pushed up the number of LGBT refugees seeking asylum abroad, according to local press accounts.

The increase in intolerance is blamed partly because gay men and lesbians are becoming more assertive about their rights, and partly because of intolerance fanned by evangelical churches in America, observed the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch group.

Last week, a Malawi court imposed a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison with hard labor on a gay couple for holding an engagement ceremony last December. The two were convicted of gross indecency and unnatural acts.

Chief Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa’s Thursday judgment with a court seal stamp, said he was giving the “scaring sentence” to protect Malawi from homosexuals and uphold morals.

In Zimbabwe, police raided the offices of GALZ, a gay and HIV/AIDS awareness group, arresting two members of the organization for posting a letter from former San Francisco Mayor Willie Lewis Brown. The letter criticized the Zimbabwean president's opposition to homosexuality, their lawyer said on Monday.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Africa Progress Panel in Johannesburg, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo gave high marks to the Malawi ruling. His colleague, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, called the decision “regressive.”

Also opposed to the Malawi ruling was pop star Madonna who asked her fans to sign on to her website in support of equal rights and “the freedom to love in Malawi”.

“I call upon the progressive men and women of Malawi; and around the world to challenge this decision in the name of human dignity and equal rights for all,” she wrote. .. "The world is filled with pain and suffering; therefore, we must support our basic human right to love and be loved.”

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