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Archive for July 30th, 2013

A House Divided: Part Three of an Eleven-Part Series on Race in America – Past and Present

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

 

 

 

  


By Thomas J. Sugrue

 

Why do middle-class Blacks have far less wealth than Whites at the same income level? 

The answer is in real estate and history.

In 1973, my parents sold their modest house on Detroit’s West Side to Roosevelt Smith, a Vietnam War veteran and an assembly-line worker at Ford, and his wife, Virginia (not their real names). For the Smiths – African-Americans and native Mississippians – the neighborhood was an appealing place to raise their two young children, and the price was within their means: $17,500.

The neighborhood’s three-bedroom colonials and Tudors, mostly built between the mid-1920s and the late ’40s, were well maintained, the streets quiet and lined with stately trees. Nearby was a movie theater, a good grocery store, a local department store, and a decent shopping district. Like many first-time home buyers, the Smiths had every reason to expect that their house would be an appreciating investment.

For their part, my parents moved to a rapidly growing suburb that would soon be incorporated as Farmington Hills. Their new house, on a quiet, curvilinear street, was a significant step up from the Detroit place. It had four bedrooms, a two-car attached garage, and a large yard. It cost them $43,000. Within a few years, they had added a family room and expanded the small rear patio.

Their subdivision, like most in Farmington Hills, was carefully zoned. The public schools were modern and well funded, with substantial revenues from the town’s mostly middle- and upper-middle-class taxpayers. All of the creature comforts of the good suburban life were close at hand: shopping malls, swim clubs, movie theaters, good restaurants.

My parents lived in the Farmington house for a little over 20 years. When my father retired in the mid-1990s, the property had appreciated by about $100,000. They did not get rich from the proceeds of their home sale-indeed, after adjusting for inflation, the house was worth slightly less than they paid for it, not even counting interest costs and taxes. But it nonetheless allowed them to walk away with about $80,000.

For the Smiths it was a far different story. Detroit had been losing population since the 1950s, and especially after the 1967 riots there was massive “White flight” from the city. The neighborhood in which the Smiths invested went from mostly White to Black within a few years, along with the rest of Detroit. For the city as a whole, those who remained were not as well off on average as those who left, meaning that even as the tax base shrank, the demand for city services went up, setting off a vicious death spiral. Soon, schools and infrastructure groaned with age, and the city’s tax base shrank further as businesses relocated to suburban office parks and shopping centers. By the end of the ’70s, the decline of the auto industry and manufacturing generally compounded Detroit’s woes, as production shifted to Japan or the South in search of cheaper labor and fewer regulations.

As the downward cycle continued, investors and absentee landlords-fearful that their property values would decline as Detroit got poorer and Blacker-let their properties run down. Rising crime led to a drop in pedestrian traffic both downtown and in neighborhood shopping districts, and also to increasing demand for additional police protection. As the cost of city services surged and the tax base shrank, Detroit came to have among the highest property tax rates in the nation, which was another reason for people to move out if they could.

Meanwhile, places like Farmington Hills, which were all White in the ’70s and ’80s, were direct beneficiaries of Detroit’s decline. The seemingly insatiable demand for suburban real estate raised housing values; well-funded schools attracted families with children; local malls had few, if any, vacancies; and new shops and office parks seemed to spring up daily.

The same year that my father retired, I visited my childhood neighborhood, and drove past the Smiths’ house. The lawn was lush, the shrubs well tended. They had built a garage. The old siding had been replaced and the original windows updated. I stopped at a local real estate broker’s office to check out the housing prices in the area. The Smiths’ home was not for sale, but another house just two blocks away, almost identical to it and in move-in condition, was on the market for $24,500. Over two decades, Roosevelt and Virginia Smith’s house in my parents’ old neighborhood, despite love and care and investments, had appreciated by only about $7,000. 

After adjusting for inflation, their house was worth about 60 percent less than they had paid for it

In the United States, where real estate is the single largest source of asset accumulation for the middle class, the story of the Sugrues and the Smiths goes a long way to explaining the expanding disparities between White and Black wealth. The two families-like many Americans-invested in real estate both for its use value and as a gamble on the future. But one family did far, far better than the other.

Every once in a while, a scholarly book fundamentally shifts how we understand a problem. One of those books was published in 1995, two years after my parents sold their house. Sociologists Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro’s Black Wealth/White Wealth stepped into a stale debate about race, class, and inequality in the United States with new data and a fresh perspective. The authors acknowledged the gains of the civil rights era: Black-White income gaps had narrowed. Minorities were better represented at elite institutions of higher education than could have been imagined in 1960. And while in the ’60s the most prominent Black elites were car dealers or owners of “race businesses” that catered to Black customers, by the end of the twentieth century the number of Black engineers, lawyers, and corporate executives had grown. Newsmagazines trumpeted the high incomes of Black sports stars and celebrities. “The New Black Middle Class” became a tagline. African Americans might not have wholly overcome the legacy of centuries of slavery and segregation, but they had come a long way.

But Oliver and Shapiro told another story, a sobering one about the persistent gap between Black and White wealth. They methodically gathered and analyzed data about household assets, like real estate holdings, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, cars, and other property, that constitute a family’s portfolio. Their findings were staggering: despite all of the gains of the previous quarter century, the median Black family had only 8 percent of the household wealth of the median White family. The asset gap was still strikingly wide among middle-class and wealthy Blacks, who, despite their high incomes, still had about a third the assets of comparable Whites.

The racial wealth gap has several specific causes beyond the broad legacy of systematic racial segregation, discrimination, and unequal opportunity. Wealth is passed down from generation to generation-even if only modestly. But going back generations, Blacks had little opportunity to get a stake hold. Upon emancipation, they were mostly penniless, without land or access to credit (see Reid Cramer, “The American Dream, Redeemed,” page 45), and almost all Blacks were excluded from the various Homestead Acts that, beginning in 1862, allowed so many poor White families to accumulate land and, with it, wealth.

Meanwhile, most African-Americans earned too little to save; most lacked access to the loans and capital necessary to start a business or buy stock or own their own homes. Lack of financial assets made African-Americans more vulnerable to unemployment and medical emergencies, less likely to be able to pay for their children’s college education, and more likely to be stuck with the burden of supporting impoverished parents or to face poverty themselves in old age.

Even with the coming of Social Security and stronger protections for organized labor under the New Deal, most Blacks were excluded from the benefits because they worked as tenant farmers or domestics who were not covered by the new plans. Two other Depression-era federal programs-the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation and the Federal Housing Administration-encouraged homeownership and bankrolled suburbanization, but in the North and South alike, whole neighborhoods were redlined, many of them Black.

Many African-Americans lost out on the benefits of the post-World War II GI Bill as well. As Ira Katznelson points out in his book When Affirmative Action Was White, of the 3,229 home, business, and farm loans made under the GI Bill in Mississippi during 1947, Black veterans received only two. Until 1968, it was virtually impossible for Blacks to get access to the kinds of long-term, low-interest mortgages that made wide-scale homeownership possible.

Even after the passage of civil rights laws, dozens of studies showed that minorities had a harder time getting access to market-rate mortgages. Moreover, Black home buyers were likely to be steered to neighborhoods of older housing stock, often in declining central cities, places where housing values often depreciated rather than appreciated. This meant that Blacks, if they were lucky enough to be homeowners, were often trapped in neighborhoods on the margins, economically and politically. As it turns out, the Sugrues and the Smiths were fairly typical of the Black and White families that Oliver and Shapiro studied in the mid-’90s. And what has happened since then is even more disheartening.

Beginning in the ’90s and lasting until the bursting of the real estate bubble, some progress was made. The percentage of Black households that owned their own homes increased from 43.3 percent in 1994 to 47.2 percent in 2007. Partly this reflected a still-growing Black middle class; partly it reflected important government efforts to end racial discrimination in mortgage lending, along with the arrival of new, responsibly crafted forms of mortgages for which more people, particularly African-Americans and Latinos, could qualify.

But around the turn of the twenty-first century, there also grew up a huge new industry of predatory lenders that targeted members of minority groups, including those who already owned their homes and were persuaded to refinance on what turned out to be usurious terms. In 2006, more than half of the loans made to African-Americans were subprime, compared to about a quarter for Whites. And a recent study of data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act found that 32.1 percent of wealthy Blacks, but only 10.5 percent of wealthy Whites, got higher-priced mortgages-those with an interest rate 3 or more points higher than the rate of a Treasury security of the same length.

The bursting of the real estate bubble has been a catastrophe for the broad American middle class as a whole, but it has been particularly devastating to African-Americans. According to the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham, North Carolina, nearly 25 percent of African Americans who bought or refinanced their homes between 2004 and 2008 (and an equivalent share among Latinos) have already lost or will end up losing their homes-compared to 11.9 percent of White families in the same situation. This disparate impact of the housing crash has made the racial gap in wealth even more extreme. As Reid Cramer, director of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, puts it, “Basically, we have gone from an average minority family owning 10 cents to the dollar compared to the average White family to now owning less than a nickel.”

The median Black family today holds only $4,955 in assets.

In recent years, concerns about racial disparities have largely faded from national politics. It is now a commonplace that we have entered a post-racial era. The concerns of the civil rights era are obsolete. A Black family occupies the White House. Conservative jurists and even many liberals are arguing with greater conviction than ever that affirmative action programs and the Voting Rights Act are no longer necessary in a color-blind America. For his part, the first African American president has been remarkably silent on questions of race. University of Pennsylvania political scientist Daniel Gillion examined decades of presidential speeches and found that Barack Obama has said less about race than any Democratic president since 1961.

But for all of the talk about hope and change, the racial wealth gap has not only persisted, it has worsened. And it is this gap that is the most powerful measure of differential well-being by race. Wealth has profound consequences throughout the life cycle, from putting a down payment on a first home to spending your last days in a skilled nursing facility. Starting a business? Paying for college tuition? Making ends meet when you’ve lost your job? Covering extraordinary medical expenses? Retiring? Assets matter.

On each of these counts, minorities face an insecure present and a very precarious future. Consider just one measure: the Brandeis Institute on Assets and Social Policy estimates that only 8 percent of Black seniors and only 4 percent of Latino seniors have sufficient economic resources to be economically secure in retirement. “These seniors,” write a team of Brandeis scholars, “do not just have to watch their pennies; they are truly struggling every day, forgoing basic expenditures, such as medical appointments and household maintenance, just to make ends meet.”

A few years ago, I met Roosevelt Smith. He still owned my parents’ old house on Detroit’s West Side, which was a rental property by then, and he gave me a tour. It was in good shape-pretty much the same house that my parents sold, but with newly refinished floors and some new kitchen cabinets and tiles and the garage out back. He’s a resourceful guy who bought a second, larger house nearby-another asset, a nest egg for the future. But together, the two houses aren’t worth much. The median listing price for homes in Detroit is now just $21,000, or about the cost of a Chevy Malibu-and, like the car, likely to depreciate in value from the moment you buy it. Detroit’s population has fallen from 1.85 million in 1950 to a little more than 700,000 today, and as population falls housing demand falls with it. Today, nearly every block has abandoned homes on it. The Smiths probably have more in household assets than the $4,955 median for Black families, but not a lot.

In contrast, my parents’ assets have provided them with a cushion of security and more than modest comfort, from that family room they built in the ’70s to the cottage in northern Michigan they built forty years ago and later renovated for their retirement. Along the way, my parents used their savings to help pay for three college tuitions. They helped me buy my first house because I didn’t have enough savings for the 10 percent down payment. When their health deteriorated, they drew from their assets to rent an apartment in a comfortable retirement community. Barring a medical disaster, which my mother could at least partially cover using her remaining assets, my sisters and I can expect a small sum from her estate. Last year, my mother sent me a check-she called it, rather morbidly, a “down payment” on my inheritance-that totaled more than twice the household assets of the median Black family.

I have never thought of myself as a particularly wealthy person, and by the standards of the top 1 percent I’m not one. Despite the swings of the economy and a divorce settlement that drained my retirement account, I own a house worth more than twice its original purchase price. I have squirreled away some money in a mutual fund to help pay for my children’s educational expenses: college is just a few years off, and it won’t be cheap. I can also use some of my assets as collateral for loans to help pay their way. And, if my investment decisions prove to be wise, I will have a substantially larger retirement nest egg than my parents had. If I have extraordinary medical expenses, I have funds to fall back on. I also drafted a will, and hope that my heirs-my family and a few charities-will be able to benefit from my good fortune.

There are many White folks who are not as fortunate as my parents were, and even the modest legacy they were able to build may be becoming increasingly rare among younger generations of Americans of all races. Still, like most Whites, I am a beneficiary of the racial wealth gap. And until that gap narrows, we can’t begin to talk about the dawning of a post-racial America.

Thomas J. Sugrue is the David Boies Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent book is “Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race.”  This article, the third of an 11-part series on race, is sponsored by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and was originally published by the Washington Monthly Magazine.

Photo Caption: Thomas J. Sugrue

 

 

Hunger Strike for Healthcare issues August 1, 2013 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

An Open Letter to Illinois legislators and administrators from the Moratorium on Deportations Campaign

To Illinois Legislators and administrators of UIC Medical Center, Christ Medical Center, Northwestern Medical Center, Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Others: We, the family members and friends of patients that are in need of a transplant have started a hunger strike today. We have taken this extreme measure because Chicago hospitals have refused to add our loved ones to their transplant lists because they lack immigration status and because they lack insurance.

Most of these patients are either receiving dialysis or are dependent on medication to stabilize their illness. We have been told there is no financial assistance for a transplant for uninsured patients. We find this to be unjust and inhumane. We cannot sit and wait until our loved ones die. We ask you to meet with the hunger strikers and hear their testimonies at a public meeting with officials and hospital administrators.

This meeting will take place on Thursday, August 1st at 6PM at Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission, 3442 W 26th Street in Chicago. We ask that you work with the hunger strikers and with Dr. David Ansel from Rush Medical Center to ensure life-saving treatment for all the patients. We will not end the hunger strike until the following demands are met: 1. A concrete system is established to evaluate each case and then place patients on a waiting list for a transplant based on need and not legal or financial status. 2. Policies are established that ensure affordable medicine for waitlist candidates before and after transplant.

For more information, contact: Fr. Jose S. Landaverde 773-512-8015.

Sincerely,

The family and friends of patients in need of a transplant. Lista de Huelga de Hambre •Maria De El Carmen Garcia •Maria Garcia •Juan Balbuena •Chris Hernandez •Heriberto Balbuena •Veronica Rivera •Tania Reyna •Maria Galvez •Lorena Galvez •Blanca Gomes •Padre; Jose S. Landaverde •Rev. Luis Alvarenga •Vanessa Jauregui •Rosa Gomez •Leticia Hes Peninal •Osbeidy Rivery PATIENTS IN NEED OF TRANSLPANTS •Lorenzo Arroyo (LIVER) •Martin Hernandez (KIDNEY) •Marisol Rivera (KIDNEY) •Blanca Gomez (KIDNEY) •Isidrio Secundino(KIDNEY) •Maria Isabel Mariano (LIVER) •Marcos Noe Garcia (KIDNEY) •Sarai Rodriguez (LIVER) •Gustavo Galvez (KIDNEY) •Juana H. Rodriguez (KIDNEY) •Teodora Toyalo (KIDNEY).

In Solidarity Moratorium on Deportations Campaign (MDC) Visit us on Facebook

The Workers Center for Racial Justice will host a forum on Discrimination Against Formerly Incarcerated Black Workers with the Governor’s Office Wednesday, August 7th at Salaam

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ), a community-based group that organizes unemployed, low wage and formerly incarcerated Black workers to fight for access to good jobs, better working conditions, and higher wages, will host a forum on employment discrimination against the formerly incarcerated on Wednesday August 7th at 6 p.m. at Salaam Restaurant, located at 700 West 79th Street in Chicago.

For the past six months the WCRJ has been running a campaign in Illinois called Ban The Box, which is an effort to get the question that asks about a person’s criminal background  removed from all job applications in the state. “Because Black people are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, that question on job applications can and has served as a way for employers to discriminate against Black workers without being explicit about it,” says DeAngelo Bester, Executive Director of WCRJ.

Legislation to “Ban The Box” has been introduced in the Illinois Legislature on several different occasions, but has thus far failed to be signed into law. The WCRJ is using a different strategy by putting grassroots pressure on Governor Quinn to sign an Executive Order that would effectively remove the question on all job applications in the state, and then work to build more support in the legislature to get a bill signed into law, which would make the ban permanent.

The forum on August 7th will be an opportunity for formerly incarcerated Black workers and their supporters to engage in a productive discussion with the Governor about issues that affect their lives. “This forum is just the first step in our work to end discrimination and help deliver justice to formerly Black workers in this state,” according to Bester.

Getting on Track

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

 

By William Spriggs

President Obama has kicked off a series of talks to America’s working families on the economy. He started in Galesburg, Ill., where he succinctly described a solution to our economic troubles: making the middle class the engine of American prosperity.

Obama said: I care about one thing and one thing only, and that’s how to use every minute of the 1,276 days remaining in my term to make this country work for working Americans again. Several things flow from the emphasis on the middle class. The president indicated that policies in recent years have focused too heavily on what government could do to help the wealthy.

For instance, he pointed out a major switch in post-World War II economic policy when, beginning in the 1980s, “Washington doled out bigger tax cuts to the rich and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor.” And, he observed, “Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1%. The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40% since 2009, but the average American earns less than he or she did in 1999.” This switch in policy and the outcome of growing inequality were fueled in a belief that the engine of American prosperity lay in its wealthy entrepreneurs-not in its vibrant middle class.

 Thank you for signing up to receive our blog alerts. You will receive your first email shortly. The president summarized this as bad economics: “This growing inequality isn’t just morally wrong; it’s bad economics. When middle-class families have less to spend, businesses have fewer customers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy. When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther apart, it undermines the very essence of this country.”

Several things flow from this analysis that aren’t as clearly articulated by the president’s speech at Galesburg. First, the continued emphasis in Washington on runaway government spending and deficits is really a conversation based on a belief that the engine of American prosperity is a rich and privileged class that doesn’t have to pay taxes. Profits are up. American growth-the GDP measuring the size of our economy-has recovered and continues to grow. The ability of America to pay its bills is not falling, the willingness of the rich to pay their fair share is. But a conversation dominated by what the rich are willing to pay is a diversion from a conversation on what America needs to sustain its growth. And, it is that frank conversation that people want to take place; then we can judge if spending is growing too fast or deficits are out of control.

The president did mention the middle class grew when unions could fight for workers. And that has not changed. Middle-class values go to democracy in economic activity-balancing the power of employers and employees. Unions and the right of workers to organize and raise their voices at the table when the pie is being cut are essential to a vibrant middle class. The president must have an agenda to strengthen the rights of workers to organize.

Middle class-led growth had several dimensions to it. The president touched on a few of those elements. One was education and the affordability of a college education. But he left out access to a high-quality education for middle-class children. The massive defunding of public higher education by American states means the greater challenge to middle-class children is access to a high-quality college. The president talked about cost savings that public colleges could engage in, like online course work. I know that the parents who are paying Harvard tuition would not welcome paying for online course work.

In the past, we made the likes of the Universities of California-Berkeley, Michigan and Virginia the public “Ivies,” high-quality research universities with rankings that rivaled Ivy League schools but with public “endowments” to level the playing field with the vast endowments of Harvard and Yale so top faculty could be recruited to teach middle-class students. And, in part, the rise in public funding led to a rise in competition for leading professors. This is an element of rising inequality the president did not mention, but must be part of the rebuilding of a middle class-not simply cheapening middle-class educational opportunity.

Middle class-led growth means admitting that people can legitimately demand public goods-like high-quality colleges. The American middle class of the post-World War II era was very dependent on a renewed sense that people could demand public goods-high-quality primary and secondary education, libraries and public parks and quality public roads and highways. In the post-World War II era, much of that demand was met through state and local efforts. But, based on arcane local taxing schemes that often segregated high-quality public goods-like public primary and secondary education on tax sources tied to income segregation. Still, the public sector and public goods are vital to a functioning middle class.

This economic recession was the most severe of the post-war era in shrinking the revenues of state and local governments. The president must address the dying public sector. While he touts the growth of private-sector employment, this recovery has uniquely been marked for the shrinking of public-sector employment. Yet, the demand for schools has not gone down, the demand for public safety-police, firefighters and emergency health responders-remains constant. The president must show more leadership on this.

President Bush responded when the financial sector was collapsing, forcing the American people to see the essential nature of a functioning finance sector-even one that was corrupt and had speculated the nation into a recession. President Obama must make the same case for the public sector. If the financial sector is the “heart” of the economy, then the public sector is the economy’s “kidneys.” You won’t live without a heart, but you also will not live without kidneys.

So, if the lesson that Bush pushed was that there were banks too large to fail, President Obama must be leading us with actions because there are cities too big to fail. The loss of revenue for Detroit-a city straddled with a byzantine fiscal structure designed by Michigan politicians at odds with its major city, and based heavily on income taxes-is not simply the result of a shrinking population base, but a collapsed labor market. The downward spiral the city was sent in by the 2001 economic downturn and the weak recovery through 2007 is a cautionary tale of where we are in state and local finance, not a singular event tied to Detroit’s political leadership.

Certainly, the banks saved by the TARP under President Bush and continued when President Obama took office were not managed in a stellar way, either. And, similarly, their failures could be explained away as the function of rotten morals and misguided incentives. But, those truths would not outweigh the calculus of the necessity of their sector to function so we can have a modern economy. Similarly, no truths about Detroit outweigh the necessity of functioning, high-quality, well-funded schools, safe streets, regular sanitation, clean water and well-maintained transportation structures-whether buses or smoothly paved streets.

The president did mention poverty, and among the key elements of the post-war middle class were programs aimed at middle-class safety nets. We don’t operate an economy that guarantees success, but a middle class is dependent on an economy that prevents people from falling too far. Today, we are continuing to pull away in the quality of that safety net. Southern states, long in rebellion against a middle-class nation, are speeding up their pulling away from the fabric of America’s social safety net. It is why the South is disproportionately the home of America’s poor and, as we are learning from recent research, the cradle of the growing immobility of poor.

The South breeds poverty not just through its porous safety net that would prevent poverty, but that same crashing of incomes flattens the mobility of those who do become poor from climbing back. A strong middle class means a renewed commitment to a national set of standards for the adequacy of benefits for unemployment, Medicaid and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. And it means the president must be unequivocal that a solid middle class rests on no cuts to Social Security benefits. In fact, the post-war middle-class society was marked by expansion and increases in Social Security benefits.

The president signaled he had responded to all the Republican criticisms. His health care reform was not slowing job growth. His initial economic plan that passed with no Republican votes reversed the accelerated loss of jobs to continued and steady private-sector job growth. The deficits he inherited from massive tax cuts for the wealthy and unfunded wars were now almost half their size relative to the size of the economy. Now, he wants to have the conversation on restoring the middle class.

Let’s hope the talking heads of Washington and the media consensus move with him in describing the nation’s problems and change the page with the president. Let’s hope the conversation that moves forward is on the real deficits that affect America’s working families-the deficit of jobs for our young people, the deficits of quality school slots for our children and the deficit of security for our retirements and health. Fiscal deficit debates need to be relegated to a past vision of America that thought we could grow a country by feeding the rich. That vision failed. The president wants to reignite the American dream; a country of prosperity for all based on the engine of the middle class.    

William Spriggs serves as Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO and is a professor in, and former chair of the Department of Economics at Howard University.  Bill is also former assistant secretary for the Office of Policy at the United States Department of Labor.

ABC 7 presents live broadcast of Bud Billiken Parade Saturday, August 10th

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Live broadcast begins at 10:00 a.m., co-host by ABC 7’s Cheryl Burton, Jim Rose and Hosea Sanders 

ABC 7 broadcasts the 84th annual Bud Billiken Parade, live, Saturday, August 10th, 10:00 am- 12:30pm. The Bud Billiken Parade has developed into one of the city of Chicago’s premier back-to-school events. ABC 7 anchors Cheryl Burton, Jim Rose, and Hosea Sanders will co-host from the broadcast booth capturing all the fun for viewers watching at home. Windy City LIVE co-host Val Warner and ABC 7’s Karen Jordan will also be a part of the festivities, checking out the action along the parade route. 

“The Bud Billiken Parade is a 2 ½ hour party on ABC 7,” says co-host Jim Rose. “It’s a wonderful day to celebrate summer while reminding kids of the importance of returning to school.”

In addition, members of the ABC 7 news team including Ryan Chiaverini, Evelyn Holmes, Leah Hope, Phil Schwarz and Linda Yu will ride atop the station’s colorful float. 

The Bud Billiken Parade is the largest African-American parade and the second largest parade overall in the country with more than 1.5 million people in attendance.

 Recognized as a day of family fun and celebration that kicks off Chicago children’s return to school, the parade has become an anticipated event in Chicago each August.  The Bud Billiken Parade makes its way down by starting at King Drive at Oakwood Blvd 51st Street through Elsworth Drive (in Washington Park) from 51st Street to ending at Garfield Boulevard (55th St.).

There will be activities following the parade which will be located in Washington Park southeast of 51st and King Dr. with free giveaways and other treats.

ABC 7’s broadcast of the Bud Billiken Parade is available on-demand at abc7chicago.com.

Christopher Bowen is the executive producer of the Bud Billiken Parade.

National School Lunch and School Breakfast Guidelines Set for 2013-14 School Year

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois has seen increase in children eligible for free and reduced lunch 

The Illinois State Board of Education established its policy for free and reduced-price lunch, breakfast and after-school snacks for those students unable to pay the full price for meals and snacks under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The policy, effective at the start of the fiscal year July 1, sets the guidelines for schools as they prepare to welcome back students to the classroom next month.

From 2003 to 2012, students eligible for free or reduced priced lunch increased from 42.7 percent to 53.6 percent, meaning about 1 million students in Illinois public and private schools now qualify for a free or reduced lunch.

“We know that more children across the state are living in families that are struggling to make ends meet,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “The federal breakfast and lunch program gives these students a fighting chance with nutritionally-balanced meals so that they can focus on school and learning.”

The following chart lists the household size and income criteria that will be used for determining eligibility.

Income Eligibility Guidelines

Effective from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014

  Free Meals130% Federal Poverty Guideline   Reduced-Price Meals185% Federal Poverty Guideline
HouseholdSize  Annual  Monthly Twice PerMonth Every TwoWeeks  Weekly HouseholdSize  Annual  Monthly Twice PerMonth Every TwoWeeks  Weekly
1 14,937 1,245 623 575 288 1 21,257 1,772 886 818 409
2 20,163 1,681 841 776 388 2 28,694 2,392 1,196 1,104 552
3 25,389 2,116 1,058 977 489 3 36,131 3,011 1,506 1,390 695
4 30,615 2,552 1,276 1,178 589 4 43,568 3,631 1,816 1,676 838
5 35,841 2,987 1,494 1,379 690 5 51,005 4,251 2,126 1,962 981
6 41,067 3,423 1,712 1,580 790 6 58,442 4,871 2,436 2,248 1,124
7 46,293 3,858 1,929 1,781 891 7 65,879 5,490 2,745 2,534 1,267
8 51,519 4,294 2,147 1,982 991 8 73,316 6,110 3,055 2,820 1,410
For each additional family member, add  5,226  436  218  201  101 For each additional family member, add  7,437  620  310  287  144

Children from households that meet Federal guidelines are eligible for free or reduced-price meal services. Complete one application per household for all children that attend the same school district.

All meals served must meet the U. S. Department of Agriculture meal requirements. However, if a child has been determined by a doctor to have a disability and the disability would prevent the child from eating the regular school meal, this school will make substitutions prescribed by the doctor. If a substitution is needed, there will be no extra charge for the meal. If you believe your child needs substitutions because of a disability, please contact the school for further information.

Application forms are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meal services, households must complete the application as soon as possible, sign it, and return it to the school. Additional copies of the application form are available in the principal’s office in each school. Households should answer all applicable questions on the form. An application which does not contain all the required information cannot be processed and approved by the school. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants may be eligible for free/reduced-price meals and are encouraged to complete an application for meal benefits.

The required information is as follows:

SNAP/TANF HOUSEHOLDS:   If the school provided you a letter that stated your child(ren) is eligible for free meals via the direct certification process, you do not have to complete this application to receive free meal benefits. Households that currently receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for their child(ren), only have to list the child(ren)’s name and at least one SNAP or TANF case number and sign the application. If

at least one SNAP/TANF case number is provided for any household member, then all children listed on the application are categorically eligible for free meals.

Applications listing LINK card numbers cannot be used for free or reduced-price meals.

ALL OTHER HOUSEHOLDS: If a household’s income is at or below the level shown on the income scale, children are eligible for either free or reduced-price meal services. Households must provide the following information: (1) the names of all household members; (2) the last four digits of the social security number of the adult household member signing the application, or indicate if the adult does not have a social security number; (3) the amount of income each household member received last month, how frequently it is paid, and where it came from (wages, child support, etc.); and (4) the signature of an adult household member.

The information on the application may be checked by school or other officials at any time during the school year.

Households may apply for benefits at any time during the school year. Households that are not eligible now but have a decrease in household income, an increase in household size, or a household member becomes unemployed, should fill out an application at that time.

Homeless, migrant, runaway youth, Head Start and foster care children, are categorically eligible for free meals. Please follow instructions and return form to school.

Households that do not agree with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss it with the school. Households also have the right to a fair hearing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal and, where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.) If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at program.intake@usda.gov. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Top 2013/2014 Government Internships for Minority Students

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

 

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Every year, thousands of local and federal government agencies offer internships to college graduates. Some are even offered to students who are still in college, or even high school. Many of these programs target minority students who are often left out.

Some are paid positions and some are unpaid. But all offer valuable experiences, and many students who have participated in the programs have gone on to find successful careers. Many have even used the experience to add value to their resumes, and/or to qualify for scholarships in graduate school.

Here’s a list of the top government internship opportunities for minority students in 2013 and 2014:

STILL AVAILABLE FOR 2013:

James E. Webb Internship Program for Minority Undergraduates
www.findinternships.com/2013/07/james-e-webb-internship-program-for.html

Smithsonian Minority Awards Program
www.findinternships.com/2013/07/smithsonian-minority-awards-program.html

Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Intern Program
www.findinternships.com/2013/07/minority-serving-institutions-msi.html
AVAILABLE IN 2014:

White House Initiative’s Year-round Internship Program For African Americans
www.findinternships.com/2013/04/white-house-initiative-year-round-internship-program.html

The White House Internship Program
www.findinternships.com/2013/02/the-white-house-internship-program.html

To search hundreds of other internships, visit www.FindInternships.com

Mobile Rail management fires two IWW Organizers – Workers will respond

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(Letters to Editors - From IWW)

On Friday the 26th, Management at Mobile Rail Solutions fired Eric and Dwayne, two non-CDL service-helpers who are active participants in the ongoing Unionization effort. They further alluded to the possibility of firing all remaining non-CDL carrying employees. While management claims this is part of a restructuring, we believe that the firings constitute a broad attack on protected organizing activity and most likely a direct retaliation against protected OSHA complaints recently filed across several Mobile Rail locations.

From the very beginning, the workers at Mobile Rail have held safety as their most important demand. We have succeeded in pressuring management to provide some basic Personal Protection Equipment but remaining safety concerns are numerous. A chief complaint is the use of single-worker servicing teams that lack protection from heat-stroke, injuries from faulty equipment, or the threat of train accidents. We fear that the firings could be just the beginning of Mobile Rail destroying the two-worker teams and replacing them with the much riskier and more dangerous single-worker service. We demand that Mobile Rail rehire both Eric and Dwayne, stop all firings, and implement two-worker service teams across all locations.

In a further act of venom, it appears that Management has already posted job openings to replace these organizers. If Mobile Rail has no need for Eric and Wayne, why are they hiring new employees? If Mobile Rail intends to do away with non-CDL workers, then they need to provide full tuition for each existing worker to become licensed. If Mobile Rail thinks they can force everyone into unsafe single-worker teams, they are very, very wrong.

The IWW and the workers at Mobile Rail Solutions are asking for support from the community of labor. Workers have been organizing for months and hope to have their voices heard in an upcoming NLRB election on August 14th. The IWW is a rank and file Union open to all workers across all industries. The workers at Mobile Rail and the IWW are prepared to engage in direct action to see their Fellow Workers rehired and their voices heard.

‘Fierce Women of Faith’ Declares ‘State of Emergency’

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

 

Vows to find answers to violence

By Chinta Strausberg

As the daily body bag count continues to rise in Chicago, a multicultural/interfaith coalition of women, elected officials and Tio Hardiman, creator of the CeaseFire Violence Interrupters, Sunday declared a “State of Emergency” and launched a city/suburban faith-based women’s campaign designed to transform violence into peace.

Before the press conference held at the Lowden Homes, 200 West 95th Street, the “Fierce Women of Faith” (FWF) who partnered with the “Leading Ladies of Lowden” gathered at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 West 95th St., and walked to a park by the Lowden Homes where they announced their city/suburban anti-violence movement they hope will stem the violence that is taking so many lives.

With blue police tape surrounding scores of children and five white body bags visible, Marcenia J. Richards, pastor of The Life Center Church and executive director of FWF, announced each Tuesday at 10 a.m. when the emergency sirens ring, women across the Chicagoland area will stop and pray for peace. Armed with one agenda, the women will also advocate for an end to gun violence and fight for resources children and youth need to improve the quality of their lives.

“It is the voices of women and our presence that will transform this moment of violence into a peaceful environment where children and adults can feel safe,” said Richards. “We believe we can make a difference. It takes a village to raise a child” noting that the women are “stepping up to the plate” to protect the children.

A resident of Englewood, Richards said last Saturday she awakened to the sound of bullets. “Often times I have found myself,” praying that bullets would not penetrate her home. Standing by Richards was Jillian Carew whose nightmare began on July 6, 1999 with the stabbing death of her brother, John Douglas Carew, 19, and a list of other deaths including her childhood boyfriend,  Dangelo Jackson, 28, who was killed Aug. 10, 2010. As a result, Carew, 28, has committed her life to mentoring and inspiring youth to “to make positive life changes and decisions.”

Richards also announced the airing of the film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell at Trinity United Church of Christ which will also be viewed at many churches in Chicago and the suburbs. On September 7th, Richards said all are welcome to attend an event featuring keynote speaker Angela Davis on September 7th at Saint James Cathedral, 65 East Huron St.

Young people were represented at the rally. Saying today there is no peace locally, nationally or internationally, Avery Bolden, 12, a member of Saint Sabina, said, “Chicago is becoming to be Chiraq….” Bolden said the youth must “find our voice and fight for change” and to do that she said electing people who can effectuate change is the answer. 

Admitting it will take time especially for those not yet old enough to vote, Bolden said it will be worth the wait especially if “we end up with a representative who won’t close 51 schools at once the most in history and won’t fire 1,000 CPS employees and will reinvest in Chicago communities which means investing in our future; so be it,” Bolden said. Peace, she said, “is a journey of learning, discovering, listening, cooperation, tolerance and passion.”

Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16th) said, “We as a nation are not only suffering from gun violence but social and economic violence.” Pointing to the mass incarcerations of black males with women sprinting in numbers, Collins said, “We have an unjust criminal justice system. We also have the highest unemployment on the West and South Sides of Chicago. We have the highest infant mortality. We have the most killed from gun violence. We have the most lacking funding for public education. We’re closing 51 of our schools. We’re all suffering.”

Collins said what will make the difference is “that we stand up and say enough is enough.” Referring to Dr. King’s speech 50-years ago, Collins said, “Many of those things he mentioned in that speech we are encountering today. We still have a promissory note that still has been marked ‘insufficient funds.”

Referring to Sojourner Truth, Collins said, “She said I would have freed more if they had known they were slaves. We are enslaved not by the physical chains but mental chains of believing of what we cannot do. It only takes one and Christ only had 12 and he changed the world; so let’s get busy.”

Dr. Kimberly Lymore, associate minister at Saint Sabina, said FWF would be partnering with other women across the city. “We’re asking communities to take possession of your blocks…and to declare them as peace zones. We can make a difference if we just not shut our eyes and shut our mouths…to be a snitch…. People know who are committing those crimes. “

Lymore is asking that people to partner with other blocks and to engage in conflict/resolution. “We’re asking for faith communities to declare your places of worship as peace zones and to display no guns allowed in your buildings and signs throughout your campuses.” Lymore said despite the recent passage of the concealed carry law, “We have possession and the right over our buildings to say no guns are allowed in places of worship.”

“There is a church on every block in this city. You don’t have to do it alone,” Lymore said urging churches to partner with each other. “We are asking corporate America to partner with the communities and faith communities to offer job internships and mentoring for our young people.” She’s also asking the business community to donate funds to credible anti-violence organizations needed to “engage our young people in positive activities and assist in promoting peace in our communities.” She also asked elected officials to pass common sense gun laws.

Lymore is asking the government to declare violence as an epidemic as a public health crisis needed to secure funding to reduce the violence.

Asked her opinion about some mothers who know their sons are involved in drugs and guns but are afraid to make them behave or are the beneficiaries of the illegal funds, Lymore said, “We have to develop a moral conscious for our mothers.” She said these mothers could come to a church including Saint Sabina for help.  “Fear and finances,” Lymore said sometimes prevent mothers from seeking help in raising their wayward children.

Agreeing was Rev. Harold E. Bailey, president of Probation Challenge and the PCC Broadcast Network who ran an anti-violence program for more than 34-years. He knows about the fear some mothers have knowing their sons are selling drugs and have guns in their homes.

“Drugs have not only divided the family, but have also torn-down the family structure,” said Bailey who was not at the press conference. He said all too often drug money “has often become the ruler of the house. Some of these sons make the decisions in the house including who will sleep in the master bedroom.

“The household take-over is generated by fear,” said Bailey who has counseled many mothers in this situation. Too often, some mothers simply surrender to their drug-selling sons since they are “unable to combat them physically…. They simply hand over their powers of authority to their sons.”

Sister Khaleelah Muhammad, coordinator of the Ministry of Justice for the Nation of Islam, said she lost her brother on October 31, 2012. Three-weeks ago when she was in D.C., Muhammad said a comrade who also worked with youth was murdered. “We as people of faith have to remain steadfast….

“Do not be discouraged in this work. Do not lose your hope. Do not lose your faith because together as people of faith, working together in the community in unity, we can do this. We can transform our community, but we have to know it is God who will transform the community through us, not ourselves,” Muhammad said.

Rev. Victoria Curtiss, from the Fourth Presbyterian Church, said in declaring a state of emergency the coalition intends to “assist those who are traumatized. We’re going to meet basic needs. We’re going to direct resources to support people whose futures seem bleak.”

“We have a crisis, and we are witnessing an epidemic. Warm weather should be a reason for us to rejoice that we can go outside. It should not be named as a factor for increased violence in our city,” Curtiss stated. “We are losing a whole generation of our young people, and we want it to stop.”

Referring to the Congressional Black Caucus that recently held a hearing on violence at Chicago State University, Rev. Curtiss said there were some suggestions to stem the violence but the Fierce Women of Faith “intends to implement these ideas, to get resources to those who are concerned and who need them the most.”

Curtiss also challenged the youth saying, “We’re also asking our young people to have forgiveness of one another and break a cycle of retaliation and revenge.” Admitting that is one cycle that is difficult to break, Curtiss said it must be done and that they must be taught conflict/resolution. “We must help our young people and ourselves to forgive each other to stop the cycle that only ends up with more people being killed,” she said vowing to “take back our city.”

In a show of solidarity, a multicultural/interfaith coalition of women and youth wore pink rebozos around their waist, which are worn by Mexican women to carry tools, groceries, babies, weapon, protection, unity and peace. “I think it is significant,” said Susana Sandoval, a member of Fierce Women of Faith who is also founder of  Musicsavesoneonone.org. “Even though the rebozo is of one culture, many other cultures like in Africa” wear this as well.

To the backdrop of the song, “What About the Children,” a blue police tape representing the symbol of peace that said, ‘Stop the shooting,’ was wrapped around the children as a sign of protection.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com. 

The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal promotes public awareness to prevent electrical burn incidents

Posted by Admin On July - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

 

Electrical Burns can be Prevented

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – “Electrical injuries and fires are preventable if adults are proactive in making sure that electric equipment and outlets in the home are safe,” said Larry Matkaitis, Illinois State Fire Marshal. “It’s our priority to educate the public about simple steps to prevent electrical burns and other serious injuries from occurring.”

Nearly 1,000 people in the United States die each year as a result of electrical burns. Knowing the seriousness of the burns, seeking medical attention must be immediate. Electrical burns occur when a person is directly exposed to an electrical current, including an alternating current or a direct current. Shock related injuries may vary depending on the level of electrical exposure. Some electrical burns may look minor, but in many cases they can cause internal damage, especially to the heart, muscles or the brain. In those cases, electrical burns could be deadly.

In Illinois, 7,900 electrical related incidents were reported between 2009 and 2013. In 2012, 1,591 cases were reported and these incidents have resulted in 120 injuries, 8 fatalities and approximately $1.4 in property losses.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 47,820 reported home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction in 2007-2011. These fires resulted in 455 civilian deaths, 1,518 civilian injuries and $1.5 billion in direct property damage.

OSFM recommends the following steps to prevent electrical incidents:

Replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords.

Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.

In homes with small children, make sure your home has tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles.

 The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is educating the public on the importance of electrical safety in an effort to prevent home fires, electrical burns and other serious injuries. Electrical related injuries and burns may result in serious tissue, nerve or muscle damage.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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