Saturday, August 28, 2010

What Really Matters

In honor of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, I decided to post on issues the Movement would be concerned about:

Poverty in the United States

  • Over 37 million people in the United States lived in poverty in 2007
    • The number of people living in poverty has increased by almost 6 million since 2000. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008
    • Over 15.5 million people lived below half of the poverty line in 2007. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008
    • 37 percent of households headed by women with children present lived in poverty in 2007. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008
    • In 2007, the poverty threshold for a family of four was $21,203. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008
  • Children in the United States have the highest poverty rate of all age groups
    • Over 13 million children (age 18 and younger) lived in poverty in 2007. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008
    • The poverty rate for children was 18 percent in 2007—much higher than the poverty rates for adults 18-64 (10.9 percent) and for the elderly (9.7 percent). U.S. Census Bureau, 2008
    • A family of four generally needs to earn twice the poverty threshold to provide children with basic necessities. National Center for Children in Poverty, 2008
  • Employment alone is not always sufficient to provide a family’s basic needs
    • 55 percent of children in low-income families have at least one parent who works full-time, year-round. National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), 2008
    • 36 percent of households receiving emergency food assistance had at least one employed adult. Feeding America, 2007 (Formerly America’s Second Harvest)
    • In 2005, 25 percent of all workers earned a poverty level hourly wage.Economic Policy Institute, 2008
  • Minorities and immigrants are disproportionately affected by poverty
    • 24.5 percent of black and 21.5 percent of Hispanic people live in poverty, compared to 8.2 percent of white people. 34.5 percent of black and 28.6 percent of Hispanic children live in poverty, compared to 15 percent of white children. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008
    • 16.5 percent of foreign born US residents experience poverty versus 11.9 percent of native born residents. This number is particularly high among immigrants who have not naturalized, at 21.3 percent.U.S. Census Bureau, 2008
This is despite abundance of food resources. Almost 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in America each year. 700 million hungry human beings in different parts of the world would have gladly accepted this food. Here are some statistics on the nature of poverty and the waste of food and money in America:
  • In 2004, requests for emergency food assistance increased by an average of 14 percent during the year, according to a 27-city study by the United States Conference of Mayors.
  • Also in this study, it was noted that on average, 20 percent of requests for emergency food assistance have gone unmet in 2004.
  • According to the Bread for the World Institute 3.5 percent of U.S. households experience hunger. Some people in these households frequently skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going without food for a whole day. 9.6 million people, including 3 million children, live in these homes.
According to a report by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, the wealth gap between African-American families and white families has jumped dramatically in 23 years. In fact, the difference in financial assets between these two groups has increased over four times in a generation, from $20,000 in 1984 to $95,000 in 2007.

The unemployment rate for whites held steady at 8.8 percent compared to February and went down for Asians from 8.4 percent to 7.5 percent. But it rose to 16.5 percent for blacks from 15.8 percent. Hispanics showed a slight increase as well from 12.4 percent to 12.6 percent.

College-educated black men, especially, have struggled relative to their white counterparts in this downturn, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older in 2009 has been nearly twice that of white male college graduates — 8.4 percent compared with 4.4 percent.

. . .A study published several years ago in The American Economic Review titled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” found that applicants with black-sounding names received 50 percent fewer callbacks than those with white-sounding names.

A more recent study, published this year in The Journal of Labor Economics found white, Asian and Hispanic managers tended to hire more whites and fewer blacks than black managers did.

In the largest and most comprehensive project of its kind to date,
13 young male applicants, presenting the same qualifications and experience, split into teams and went on nearly 3,500 entry-level job interviews with private companies in supposedly left-leaning, "progressive", multicultural New York City, jobs ranging from restaurants to manufacturing to financial services. After recording which applicants were invited back for interviews or were offered jobs, two sociology professors looked at the hiring practices of 1,500 prospective private employers, focusing specifically on discrimination against young male minorities and ex-offenders.

Some of the study's findings are depressingly familiar. For instance, young white high school graduates were twice as likely to receive positive responses from New York employers as equally qualified black job seekers. It also reaffirmed not only that former prisoners are at a distinct disadvantage in the job market, but also that, again, black ex-prisoners are in a much worse position: positive responses from employers towards white applicants with a criminal record dipped 35 percent, while for black applicants similarly situated it plummeted 57 percent.
However, the study revealed that our society's racism extends even deeper: black applicants with no criminal record were no more likely to get a job than white applicants with criminal records just released from prison! In other words, while whites with criminal records received low rates of positive responses, such response rates were equally low for blacks without a criminal background. Further exposing the overt racism at play was the study's finding that minority employers were more accepting of minority applicants and job applicants with prison records.
Lastly, in honor of the march on Washington for jobs and freedom, a few MLK quotes:
Reporter: "Do you feel it's fair to request a multi-billion dollar program of preferential treatment for the Negro, or any other minority?"
Dr. King: "I do indeed...Within common law, we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs. ... America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans...They could negotiate loans from banks to launch businesses. They could receive special points to place them ahead in competition for civil service jobs...There was no appreciable resentment of the preferential treatment being given to the special group." -- (Interview,1965, p.367)
"Something positive must be done... In 1863 the Negro was told that he was free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation. But he was not given any land to make that freedom meaningful. And the irony of it all is that at the same time the nation failed to do anything for the black man -- through an act of Congress it was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and Midwest -- which meant that it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor...Not only that, it provided agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, as the years unfolded it provided low interest rates so that they could mechanize their farms. And to this day thousands of these very persons are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies every year not to farm.

"And these are so often the very people who tell Negroes that they must lift themselves by their own bootstraps...

"We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice." -- "Remaining Awake," 1968 (271).
"Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree, but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic." -- 1964, Why We Can't Wait.
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. (Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?) 1967 [emphasis mine]
"A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro..."

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This isn't too complicated. If you disagree with me, I'm more than happy to have an honest discussion. I'm quite open to learning new facts and ideas. I'm dying for a conservative to explain their ideas in a sensible way.

But, I do have rules, and they also apply to those who agree with me. They just get the benefit of my already knowing the fact they'll be referring to.

So, here're the comment thread rules:

1 - Use facts.
2 - Refer to policy.
3 - Don't rely on theories and conjectures. Show me how, for example, a public health insurance option will lead to "rationing" of health care.
4 - No unfounded attacks on any entity.

If you break those rules, I will edit your comment to my own whimsical satisfaction.

Lastly, perhaps most importantly, I'm not going to entertain too much pro-white/racism-denying discussion. I want this to be a space to discuss strategies to fight racism, not space where I have to fight racism. I want anti-racists to be able to come here for a mental respite. If what you're interested in doing is attempting to demonstrate the fallacy of anti-racism by repeating the same ole comments and questions and accusations we hear all the time, please do that somewhere else.

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