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Racial disparities

It’s Time To Act Locally To Address Racial Wealth Inequality

As we close out Black History Month and the celebration of the many invaluable contributions Black people have made to the U.S., we must also reflect, acknowledge and confront one of the most pernicious issues that has faced generations of Black Americans: racial wealth inequality. Black people have never been able to fully realize the power and freedom that wealth affords since throughout history they have had their wealth systematically blocked or stolen. Despite having the deck stacked against them, generations of Black Americans have been able to save, buy land, start businesses and create their own economic engines.

Unions Added 139,000 Members In 2023, But Density Remains Stubbornly Low

Unions added 139,000 more workers in historic gains in 2023, but union density remains stubbornly low, with only 10 percent of American workers represented by a union as of the end of the year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This is an all-time low and a big surprise to many, given the historic strikes by auto workers, Hollywood creatives and Kaiser healthcare workers, according to a Washington Post analysis. Union density vs. union membership is a frustrating comparison. Even with the historic membership growth, the country added 2.7 million jobs in 2023, many of them non-union, meaning the membership growth couldn’t keep up with the overall jobs numbers.

Pollution Displaces Black Residents; White Homeowners Profit

Englewood Chicago — Deborah Payne’s neighborhood of 35 years on Chicago’s South Side no longer exists. Dirt piles tower where families once gathered for Sunday dinners in single- and multifamily homes. Concrete lots cover backyards where children watched fireworks and caught lightning bugs. Streets that maintained generations of Black Chicago razed and left empty for railway cars. Today, less than 10 blocks from Payne’s old neighborhood, sits the repercussions of diesel pollution caused by the expansion of a railyard. Over a decade ago, the city, along with railroad giant Norfolk Southern, announced a plan to buy out Payne’s 12-block community of more than 200 households to replace it with the freight yard.

60 Years After March On Washington, Black Economic Inequality Persists

Black Americans have endured the unendurable for too long. Sixty years after the famed March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his landmark “I Have a Dream” speech, African Americans are on a path where it will take 500 more years to reach economic equality. A new report, Still A Dream, coauthored by Institute for Policy Studies and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, examines the economic indicators since 1963.  Our country has taken significant steps towards racial equity since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s.

The Climate Crisis Is Most Detrimental To The Black Community

There was no more defining moment in modernity than the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  Within that revolution domestically to the United States, the most significant incident was the Titusville, Pennsylvania oil drilling find , which began our internal deluge of oil.  This was the beginning of the troika of oil, coal and gas being the foundation of our modern economy. As the saying goes “there are no free lunches”.  With this abundance of cheap energy, the release of carbon in our environment has caused a constant rise in our temperatures globally over the past approximately 180 years .

Who’s Unhoused In California?

Nearly half of all unhoused adults in California are over the age of 50, with Black residents dramatically overrepresented, according to the largest study of the state’s homeless population in decades. University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) research released on Tuesday also revealed that 90% of the state’s homeless population lost their housing in California, with 75% of them now living in the same county where they were last housed. The study further found that nearly nine out of 10 people reported that the cost of housing was the main barrier to leaving homelessness.

A Racial Disparity Across New York That Is Truly Jarring

It has long been established that people of color — and especially Black people — are disproportionately criminalized, prosecuted, and incarcerated by the criminal legal system. When it comes to arrests, charges, convictions, and sentences, at every step, Black people are treated much more harshly than white people. But even though this reality is not new, just how unequal the system is across New York is still surprising: In Manhattan — one of the wealthiest and least equal places in the country — courts convicted Black people of felonies and misdemeanors at a rate 21 times greater than that of white people over the past two decades. This disparity is the largest of any county in the state. This troubling statistic features prominently in a lawsuit filed recently by the New York Civil Liberties Union challenging the constitutionality of a ban on people with felony convictions serving on juries in Manhattan.

Lessons From The Nation’s Black Male Educators

The place of Black men in higher education, both as students and as educators, has always been precarious—even before the pandemic. A U.S. Department of Education report found in 2016 that Black men made up just 2 percent of the nation's teaching workforce, representing the lowest population group in education. As the realities of the pandemic set in last year, many school districts in the South were chastised for taking a lackluster approach to ensuring safe reopenings for their students. For Everton Blair, an educator and the first Black member of the Gwinnett County, Georgia, Board of Education, openly addressing the risks and the realities was a priority in his district.

Workers’ Wages Rebound From Pandemics But Not For Blacks

While wages for many Americans have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, earnings for Black workers declined in the first quarter of 2021, growing the wage gap to its highest level since before the pandemic, according to a new analysis. In a report of earnings data by the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP) real median earnings have increased by 1 percent for the first quarter of 2021, driven in large part by a 1.6 percent increase in real earnings by Hispanic workers, while real earnings for white workers remained virtually unchanged. Wages for white earners have fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels and are currently 0.3 percent higher in real terms than in December 2019.

Why Black Women Are Often Missing From Conversations About Police Violence

When Lajuana Phillips was shot and killed by a police officer in late 2018, she was a mother of three children, a daughter and a cousin who was described by family as “a hard worker,” according to an online memorial. But Phillip’s death received little media attention. There were a few local stories when she was first identified by police, and others detailing the circumstances that led to her being shot at six times. But that was about it. Phillips isn’t alone. Crystal Danielle Ragland, who was killed in Huntsville, Alabama; Latasha Nicole Walton of Florida; and April Webster of South Carolina, to name a few, also received little news coverage after their fatal encounters with law enforcement. Most people fatally shot by police get little to no attention from national media outlets.

Study Of Unionized Newsrooms Finds Gender And Racial Pay Gaps

The median salaries of women and people of color at 14 unionized Gannett newsrooms was at least $5,000 less than those of their male and white colleagues, a new study by the NewsGuild Gannett caucus found. The median full-time salary for women in fall 2020 was $47,390, while the median for men was $57,235, representing a pay gap of $9,845. Journalists of color earned a median salary of $48,006, or $5,246 lower than the median salary for white journalists, $53,252. A team of six volunteers put together the study, which was released Tuesday and includes data for roughly 450 employees from fall 2020. Newsrooms that participated in the study include The Arizona Republic, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Indianapolis Star.

SALT Cap Repeal Would Exacerbate Racial Inequities

A new analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy provides critical data for the debate over whether to repeal the $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. The report, Not Worth Its SALT: Tax Cut Proposal Overwhelmingly Benefits Wealthy, White Households, finds that repeal of the SALT cap without other reforms would worsen economic disparities and exacerbate racial inequities baked into the federal tax system. Black and Hispanic families are respectively 42 percent and 33 percent less likely to benefit from SALT repeal than white families. Overall, 72 percent of the benefit of SALT repeal would go to white households. More specifically, white households earning more than $200,000 a year are 6.7 percent of all households but would receive 66.8 percent of the benefit of SALT repeal.

To Abolish The Medical Industrial Complex

The past six months have highlighted the fight that Black people are in against state violence, both in the form of policing and the US healthcare system. Though the ruling class cries that the coronavirus pandemic is “the great equalizer ,” the virus continues to demonstrate exactly who our capitalist health-care system was designed to keep alive. So far, across the country, about 42% of coronavirus deaths have been Black people , even though they were only about 21% of the population in the areas analyzed. In Louisiana , over 70% of people who died were Black (despite Black people being only 32% of the population). Along with high rates of death, countless stories have emerged about Black people turned away from hospitals, struggling to access testing, and being disproportionately arrested or ticketed for not following public health guidelines.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Identity politics currently is in the forefront of the United States political agenda, and things do look quite dismal in regard to wealth, opportunity, and quality of life of a significant number of minority workers—but this is also the case, when we look closely, for a large segment of the overall population of our country. The question I see is where do we want to go and how can we change the situation? It is quite clear to me that the current ruling class has no intention of giving up their ruling position without a concerted fight. The ruling elite (the capitalist class or rich people as a class, not individually) have fought throughout the history of its existence—about 350 years, for its ruling position. I think the choice for us is this: Parity or Emancipation?

Defending Black Lives Means Banning Facial Recognition

Uprisings for racial justice are sweeping the country. Following the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, named and unnamed, America has finally reached its moment of reckoning. And politicians are starting to respond. But you can’t end police violence without ending police surveillance. That starts with banning facial recognition, a technology perfectly designed for the automation of racism. I live in Detroit, a city with more than 500,000 Black people. In my city, we live under constant surveillance. We are in a perpetual lineup. Our faces are caught on camera everywhere we go—harvested and analyzed by algorithms. Numerous studies have shown that facial recognition algorithms exhibit systemic racial and gender bias. Detroit’s police chief openly admitted that their software is wrong up to 96 percent of the time.
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