Intentional Bias in North Carolina

A prospective black juror with no criminal record was struck because she was said to live in a “bad area,” whereas a white juror who had been a marijuana dealer was picked in part because he was a “fine guy.” [Read more]


A Social Security cut could lead to higher Latino and black elder poverty

"As my colleagues have shown, the “chained” cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security being discussed between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner is a cut to benefits. The AARP Public Policy Institute’s report, Social Security: A Key Retirement Income Source for Older Minorities, helps us to think about how this cut might affect different racial groups." [Read more]


The Persistent Black-White Unemployment Disparity

"Black workers in computer and mathematical occupations — which job-training officials say are hard to fill — had an 8.1 percent jobless rate last year, while for whites the rate was 4.1 percent. Among construction workers, who were hard hit by the recession, the black jobless rate was 30.4 percent, compared with 15.3 percent for whites." [Read more]


An Ineffective Way to Fight Crime

"More than a year has passed since Commissioner Raymond Kelly of the New York Police Department issued a memorandum ordering officers to follow a 1977 state law that bars them from arresting people with small amounts of marijuana unless the drug is being publicly displayed. Even so, a lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Society in June and pending in state court makes the case that the police are still arresting people illegally in clear violation of both the commissioner’s directive and the state law. More than 50,000 possession arrests were made last year." [Read more]


Is Job Creation on Obama's Second-Term Agenda?

"High unemployment and declining incomes means that a large share of the American public is facing significant economic hardship. President Obama can keep deficit reduction on his second-term agenda, but he needs to make certain that it does not interfere with the public's number one priority -- job creation." [Read more]

Black Voters Swung Swing States into Obama's Column

"African-American voters played a key role in President Barack Obama’s re-election by voting in higher numbers than they did four years earlier, according to Dr. David Bositis, senior research associate for the Joint Center for Political and Education Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank for black elected officials." [Read more]


Obama’s reelection sparks racially charged protest at Ole Miss

Around midnight on election night, news spread on Twitter that a group of University of Mississippi students were protesting President Obama's reelection. The crowd quickly grew from a few dozen to as many as several hundred, and the rhetoric took an ugly turn as some people shouted racial slurs. [Read more]

Marine Corps Starts Ad Campaign to Try to Diversify Officer Ranks

The United States Marine Corps, long dominated by white men, is starting a marketing campaign to attract more minorities and women into its officer corps. 

The effort kicks off on Thursday with television commercials during professional and college football games, glossy advertisements in sports magazines and a series of Internet videos. Titled “Fighting With Purpose,” it features a black lieutenant and a female captain who are actively engaged in their home communities as well as in leading Marines. [Read more]


Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever

Mother Jones magazine documents the "fake birth certificates, ghostwriters, teleprompters, a teenage trip to Mars, and more of the most paranoid and bizarro Obama conspiracy theories out there. [Find it here]


AP poll: Majority harbor prejudice against blacks

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey.

When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell. [Read more]


The Gender Pay Gap

“A problem as long-standing and widespread as the pay gap, however, cannot be solved by the actions of individual women alone. Employers and the government have important roles to play.” [Read more]

If women have not achieved full equal opportunity, is it possible that blacks have not either? If the government has to step in to protect women, is it likely that we will need the government to step to ensure equal opportunity for blacks too?


Minneapolis Acts on Employment Equity

Minneapolis recently became the first city in the nation to adopt a resolution promoting racial equity in employment. The resolution declares that institutional racism "is a primary reason for unemployment disparities" and requires the city to take action to make sure that people of color have a fair shot at government jobs, promotions, and contracts.[Read more]


Summary Discussion: Transporting Black Men to Good Jobs

"Although African American men are underrepresented in the construction industry, they do hold jobs in construction and lost jobs when the industry took a hit during the recession. Roughly one-quarter of the decline in employment for black men from 2007 to 2011 was due to their loss of jobs in construction. Investing in transportation infrastructure is a good mechanism to improve labor market conditions for black male construction workers.

"EPI estimates that African Americans could obtain as much as 14 percent of all jobs created by large public transit investment projects.1 Blacks are only about 11 percent of the labor force, so these projects bring a slightly disproportionate benefit to black workers. About three-quarters of the jobs created from infrastructure investments go to males, and most of the jobs pay medium-to-high wages. Projects such as addressing the backlog of repair work in all of our public transit systems would bring a tremendous benefit to the nation as a whole and provide opportunities for blacks to obtain about 160,000 jobs.2

"African Americans could gain an even larger share of the jobs . . ." [Read more]

Moving Beyond Affirmative Action

"Race-based affirmative action has been a woefully inadequate weapon in the arsenal against inequality. It treats the symptoms but not the root causes of an underlying social problem. It is limited to the more selective private and public colleges (those that accept fewer than half of all applicants), which together account for about 20 percent of all freshmen. By my estimate, between 10,000 and 15,000 black and Hispanic students enroll in selective colleges every year through race-conscious policies. This is about 1 percent of the entering freshman class nationwide and just 1 percent of all black and Hispanic 18-year-olds" [Read more]


Racial Stereotypes and Social Media

From Colbert King's summary:

Baylor University assistant professor Mia Moody did a study of social media stereotyping of Barack and Michelle Obama; her findings appeared in the journal New Media & Culture.

Moody researched hundreds of Facebook groups and pages. She found numerous examples of the president and the first lady being targeted with racist and sexist rhetoric that, not surprisingly, also indirectly spread hatred toward women and blacks.

. . .

Moody observed that, while the group professed to dislike Obama not because of his race, most comments on the page attacked the president “personally with racial slurs.” Just one example: “Obama needs to step down and go back to Africa with the rest of the coons!! He’s nothing but a jigaboo and spear chucker!!”

The scholarly article:

New Media-Same Stereotypes: An Analysis of Social Media Depictions of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama
Baylor University
To remain relevant, it is necessary for media scholars to test theories in new media environments. Building on feminist and critical race theory, this textual analysis investigates Facebook photos and pages targeting President Barack and Michelle Obama in 2011-12. Findings indicate Facebook fans build on historical stereotypes and cultural narratives to frame the two negatively. Representations often depict them as evil, animalistic and socially deviant. Study findings demonstrate that historical representations of Blacks are strong and have an impact on modern portrayals. This topic is particularly important today in this age dubbed “post-racial” to depict an era in which U.S. citizens elected the first black president. In addition to identifying the nuances of Facebook hate groups, this study explores historical representations of African Americans, discusses how they transcend to a new media platform and offers implications for future research. To navigate the rapidly changing media climate, students and media scholars must learn how to read and critically dissect Web content. This paper provides a good foundation upon which to build.

A Three-Pronged Approach to Jobs for African Americans

  1. Direct-Public Sector Employment:
    In the past 50 years, the private-sector has not been able to put sufficient numbers of blacks to work. It appears that the only way we will approach full-employment for black workers is by having the public-sector directly hire workers from high-unemployment communities.
  2. Job Training with Job Placement:
    Sectoral job training programs are good, but even after receiving sectoral job training, blacks may still be hired at lower rates than other groups. Because of the strength of the bias against black workers, organizations must be assessed on their ability to place black workers in jobs and not simply on their ability to train them.
  3. Wage Subsidies for Hiring Workers from High Unemployment Areas:
    Wage subsidies targeted to hiring workers from high-unemployment communities in businesses in high-unemployment communities are also likely to be an effective employment strategy for blacks and for the economic development of black communities.
[Read more]


Life Expectancy Shrinks for Less-Educated Whites in U.S.

The reasons for the decline remain unclear, but researchers offered possible explanations, including a spike in prescription drug overdoses among young whites, higher rates of smoking among less educated white women, rising obesity, and a steady increase in the number of the least educated Americans who lack health insurance. [Read more]

EVENT: Transporting Black Men to Good Jobs

Transporting Black Men to Good Jobs: Transportation Infrastructure, Transportation Jobs, and Public Transit

By race and gender, black men have the highest unemployment rate. Among male workers with a high-school diploma, black men have the lowest average hourly wage. This briefing will show how investments in transportation infrastructure, transportation jobs, and public transit can be an effective way to increase black male employment in good jobs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
8:30 - 10:00 am
Rayburn House Office Building - Gold Room (2168)
45 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20515

Coffee and a light breakfast will be available.

This event is open to the public and free, but please REGISTER HERE.

Algernon Austin
Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy
Economic Policy Institute

Jeff Brooks
Administrative Vice President and Director of the Transit Division
Transport Workers Union of America

Anita M. Hairston
Senior Associate for Transportation Policy

Michelle Holder
Senior Labor Market Analyst
Community Service Society of New York

Brian Turner
Executive Director
Transportation Learning Center

Linda Harris
Director of Youth Policy

Segregated Schooling by Race and Class Increases

In spite of declining residential segregation for black families and large-scale movement to the suburbs in most parts of the country, school segregation remains very high for black students.  It is also double segregation by both race and poverty.  Nationwide, the typical black student is now in a school where almost two out of every three classmates (64%) are low-income, nearly double the level in schools of the typical white or Asian student (37% and 39%, respectively).  New York, Illinois, and Michigan consistently top the list of the most segregated states for black students.  Among the states with significant black enrollments, blacks are least likely to attend intensely segregated schools in Washington, Nebraska, and Kansas. [Read more]

Four questions for Mitt Romney

(1) Under the federal tax code, a couple with two children earning less than $26,400 will pay no federal income tax because the standard deduction and exemptions reduce their taxable income to zero. The Tax Policy Center has explained that this reflects components of “the basic progressive income tax structure that intend to exempt subsistence levels of income from tax and to adjust for differences in ability to pay based on family size."

Do you disagree with that approach? Do you believe that this family’s tax burden is too low? If so, how would you raise it?  Eliminate the deduction for children?  Raise marginal rates? Make the tax code less progressive? [Read more]

Children exposed to violence declines



Difference in African-American and Standard-American Sign Languages

Carolyn McCaskill remembers exactly when she discovered that she couldn’t understand white people. It was 1968, she was 15 years old, and she and nine other deaf black students had just enrolled in an integrated school for the deaf in Talledega, Ala.

When the teacher got up to address the class, McCaskill was lost.

“I was dumbfounded,” McCaskill recalls through an interpreter. “I was like, ‘What in the world is going on?’”

The teacher’s quicksilver hand movements looked little like the sign language McCaskill had grown up using at home with her two deaf siblings and had practiced at the Alabama School for the Negro Deaf and Blind, just a few miles away. It wasn’t a simple matter of people at the new school using unfamiliar vocabularly; they made hand movements for everyday words that looked foreign to McCaskill and her fellow black students. [Read more]

Mitt Romney: Do you believe in a safety net?

(1) Under the federal tax code, a couple with two children earning less than $26,400 will pay no federal income tax because the standard deduction and exemptions reduce their taxable income to zero. The Tax Policy Center has explained that this reflects components of "the basic progressive income tax structure that intend to exempt subsistence levels of income from tax and to adjust for differences in ability to pay based on family size."

Do you disagree with that approach? Do you believe that this family’s tax burden is too low? If so, how would you raise it?  Eliminate the deduction for children?  Raise marginal rates? Make the tax code less progressive? [Read more]


Single-black-father families see declines in poverty

"By family type, for all families with children under 18 years old, only families headed by single1 fathers showed a real decline. This decline appears to be driven primarily by a large drop in the poverty rate for families headed by single black men." [Read more]

More Upward Educational Mobility in Britain

"British schools now do a better job than American schools of lifting students up the social ladder, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report published Tuesday. In Britain, a student whose parents never graduated from high school has a 60 percent chance of attending college, while in the United States the odds are just 29 percent, one of the lowest levels among the 34 countries with advanced economies that make up the O.E.C.D., which is based in Paris." --NYTimes.


Who is to Blame for Black Unemployment?

“The federal government—the president and Congress working together—and the Federal Reserve can positively or negatively affect unemployment for blacks and in general,” Austin says. “We need to talk about how do we build an economy where everyone who wants a job can find a job; how do we create an economy than can produce full employment for blacks?” [Read more]


Key goals of 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom are still unmet

The March was about civil rights, voting rights and racial equality, but it was also about the need for jobs and for jobs that paid a decent wage. The marchers wanted the federal minimum wage raised nearly 75 percent, from $1.15 an hour to $2.00 an hour. They also called for “A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers—Negro and white—on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.”

In 1963, the unemployment rate averaged about 5.0 percent, which looks good compared to today’s 8.3 percent, but King and the other organizers wanted full employment and believed it was the federal government’s responsibility to provide it. If that meant hiring 3 million people, so be it; every American had the right to decent paid work if he wanted it. The economy had to be structured in a way that left no one behind. [Read more]


For-profit colleges have the poorest students and richest leaders

"Despite having the poorest student bodies, the CEOs running for-profit education companies earn far more than the richest leaders of traditional public and private colleges and universities. CEOs of publicly-traded for-profit education companies had an average compensation of $7.3 million in 2009, while the richest five leaders of private non-profit colleges and universities had an average compensation of $3 million (Figure B). The richest five leaders of public universities had an average compensation of $1 million." [Read more]


High cost and high debt for students at for-profit colleges

"the average cost of a certificate program at a for-profit college is 4.7 times the cost of an equivalent program at a public community college. The average cost of an associate degree is 4.2 times what it would cost at a typical community college." [Read more]

Study shows white American people believe they are more discriminated against

'Whites believe...the pendulum has now swung beyond equality in the direction of anti-white discrimination.'

'Whites think more progress has been made toward equality than do blacks, but whites also now believe that this progress is linked to a new inequality—at their expense.'

Citing several studies, researchers speculated that white people tended to see any focus on ethnic minorities as an 'attack' on white values. [Read more]


Prostate Cancer Among African American Men Reaches 'Epidemic' Proportions, Senate Says

"Each year, some 504 in 100,000 African American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the National Cancer Institute reports. And while the disease is curable when detected early, it remains the second most lethal cancer in men, killing over 30,000 men each year, a disproportionate number of which are black." [Read more]


For-profit colleges use taxpayer dollars to recruit vulnerable students, rake in profits

"These taxpayer dollars do not primarily go toward the education of students. As the figure shows, for-profit education companies take away more in profits than they spend on education. A large share of the revenue is also used to recruit new students, most of whom get deep into debt. The committee described typical recruiting practices as “aggressive,” and “deceptive.” And, this too is paid for by taxpayers." [Read more]


Raise Taxes on the Rich or Cut Head Start?

"The Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that the automatic cuts would slice $590 million from federal spending on Head Start, which will be more than $7.9 billion in 2012. The National Education Association said the cuts would eliminate 80,000 of the 962,000 slots for children and more than 30,000 jobs of teachers, aides and administrators in the program. It began in 1965 to provide summer school for children about to start kindergarten and later expanded to include year-round preschool classes.

"Concern about federal spending cuts is increasingly driving the debate in Washington and the action on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats narrowly pushed through legislation that would extend expiring Bush-era middle-class tax cuts for one year but allow tax cuts on incomes over $250,000 to lapse, arguing that the savings could be used to help undo the automatic cuts, known as sequestration." [Read more]


What happens if GOP’s voter suppression works?

"Suppose Mitt Romney ekes out a victory in November by a margin smaller than the number of young and minority voters who couldn’t cast ballots because the photo-identification laws enacted by Republican governors and legislators kept them from the polls. What should Democrats do then? What would Republicans do? And how would other nations respond?" [Read more]


How Hip-Hop Failed Black America

"But hip-hop also failed black America, and failed itself. It’s unavoidable that hip-hop and the war on drugs would become intertwined. But the music could have been a tool of resistance, informing on the drug war’s hypocrisies instead of acquiescing to them. Hip-hop didn’t have to become complicit in spreading the message of the criminalblackman, but the money it made from doing so was the drug it just couldn’t stop getting high on." [Read more]


Debunking Race and IQ Claims Again

"If so many genetically-indistinguishable European populations—of roughly similar cultural and historical background and without severe nutritional difficulties—can display such huge variances in tested IQ across different decades and locations, we should be extremely cautious about assuming that other ethnic IQ differences are innate rather than environmental, especially since these may involve populations separated by far wider cultural or nutritional gaps." [Read more]


An African American Swimming Powerhouse

Five years ago, the Kingfish swam in the least competitive division in the Prince-Mont Swim League.

This summer, after going undefeated for three consecutive years, they are swimming in the league’s most competitive division. Now the swimmers come to them, from miles around, to the Lake Arbor pool in Mitchelleville.

The team’s rapid ascent is even more notable because almost all the kids on it are African American. And I didn’t talk to a single parent who swam competitively as a kid.
[Read more]


Wal-Mart Wealth

In 2010, the Walton family, the family behind Wal-Mart, was 1,158,000 times wealthier than the median American family. This is up from being 62,000 times wealthier in 1983.

[Read more]


Massive Felon Disenfranchisement

"1 of every 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, and in three states -- Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia – the figure is one in five." [Read more]

Romney's "Sister Souljah" Moment?

The former Massachusetts governor didn’t go to the NAACP expecting to win votes. In fact, his true audience wasn’t the one in Houston, but the one in Montana, at a fund-raiser later the same day, where he bragged about giving his NAACP hosts heck:

“When I mentioned I am going to get rid of ‘Obamacare,’ they weren’t happy. I didn’t get the same response” as here. That’s OK; I want people to know what I stand for and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that’s just fine. But I hope people understand this: Your friends who like ‘Obamacare,’ you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff. But don’t forget, nothing is really free.”

That he’s trumpeting to donors how he’s just disabused black voters of thinking they were gonna get “more free stuff” is indeed a bold move — boldly ugly, that is. Somewhere, Newt “Give Those Kids a Mop” Gingrich is thinking he and old Mitt have more in common than he knew.

[Read more]


It's Time to Start Raising Revenues

"But I just don't see how, based on these facts, anyone can make a case that we're overtaxed, and to be clear, this includes all federal taxes, including business taxes. I also think there's a strong, reality-based case in here for new revenues in any deal to stabilize the debt situation, starting at the top of the income scale, as I've argued before." [Read more]

GOP to the uninsured: Drop dead

"Only in America could a Democratic president pass Mitt Romney’s health plan and fund it partly through John McCain’s best idea from the last campaign (taxing some employer provided plans) and be branded a “socialist.” " [Read more]


Why Won't Unemployment Go Down?

"Our goal for the black unemployment rate should be about 4 percent. We can’t get to a 4 percent black unemployment rate while the national unemployment rate is over 8 percent. To address the broad economic stagnation we are in, we need more job-creating investments in the American people and the American economy. We know what works.
"The Congressional Budget Office (as well as all of the major professional macroeconomic analysts) has indicated that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (editor’s note: this is informally known as the “stimulus bill” of 2009) created more than 3 million jobs. We need more of these types of policies, since we have a current jobs deficit of about 10 million jobs.
"But to break the 2-to-1 black-to-white unemployment-rate ratio, we will also need targeted investments in high-unemployment communities. There are many black communities that can best be described as economically depressed. They have not been depressed for two or three years, but two or three decades. For these communities, we need a modern Works Progress Administration. Only something of this sort can break the decades-long pattern of high unemployment in these communities." 


The Student Loan Crisis

"The student loan crisis needs to be tackled head-on. Part of the answer is to make student debt more manageable, including by making it dischargeable under the appropriate circumstances. For-profit schools, which have proved themselves to be better at exploitation than at delivering a valuable education, need to be effectively and forcefully regulated. Even more important will be increasing government investment in higher education to bring tuition costs down. Such investments would have high economic returns, and would even help bring our country closer to our ideals." [Read more]


Black Lose Jobs Big in Las Vegas

  • In 2011, the Las Vegas and Los Angeles metropolitan areas had the highest black unemployment rates, at 22.6 percent and 21.1 percent, respectively.
  • Of the metro areas examined, Las Vegas experienced the largest increase in black unemployment from 2010 to 2011.
  • Metro areas in or including parts of Virginia—Virginia Beach, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.—had the lowest black unemployment rates. However, at around 10 percent, these areas still had high rates of black unemployment.
  • The biggest black-white unemployment rate disparity was in the Minneapolis metropolitan area, where the black unemployment rate was 3.3 times the white rate.


African American churches focus on being holy and healthy

"First Baptist is among many big African American congregations locally and across the country that in recent years have decided to make health and wellness a major priority. The health ministries’ efforts range from nutrition to Zumba classes to showing parishioners how a healthful lifestyle is promoted in scripture.

"The programs are a response to rising awareness of illnesses caused by obesity, fueled by a national public health focus on the issue, including first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity. High blood pressure and obesity, both of which can be alleviated with proper diet and exercise, have a disproportionate impact on African Americans, who are 1.4 times as likely as whites to be obese, according to a 2012 report from the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services."

[Read more]


Black Wealth Down 40 Percent

"If we compare the white and black wealth declines from their most recent high points, we see white net worth down 27 percent (from 2007) and black net worth down 40 percent (from 2004). A 40 percent decline is a large drop for a population with very little wealth even at their peak." [Read more]

Hard Times for Black Job Seekers in NYC

"More than half of all of African-Americans and other non-Hispanic blacks in the city who were old enough to work had no job at all this year, according to an analysis of employment data compiled by the federal Labor Department. And when black New Yorkers lose their jobs, they spend a full year, on average, trying to find new jobs — far longer than New Yorkers of other races." [Read more]


Public Workers Face Continued Layoffs, Hurting the Recovery

"In California, the governor is threatening to eliminate 15,000 state jobs. When school begins in Cleveland this fall, more than 500 teachers probably will be out of work. And in Trenton — which has already cut a third of its police force, hundreds of school district employees and at least 150 other public workers . . . ." [Read more]

A Formerly Segregationist Institution Tries to Change

"When the Southern Baptist Convention met Tuesday, it elected its first African American president, Fred Luter Jr., a former street preacher and current pastor of a church in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.

"Luter’s election marks a watershed moment for the SBC. The organization was founded in a split over slavery before the Civil War and for decades was a largely segregated, all-white denomination. It was not until 1995 that the organization adopted a resolution of racial reconciliation; it has come under scrutiny for racial insensitivity as recently as the Trayvon Martin case, when the president of its policy arm made racially charged comments about the case." [Read more]


Conservatives Like Big Government

They just want it working for the rich.

"It is totally understandable that the right would try to conceal the massive extent to which it relies on government to redistribute income upward. It is very hard to figure out why the country's leading progressive thinkers want to help them." [Read more]


Innocent but Incarcerated; Justice Department Needs to Look Up the Word "Justice"

"A USA TODAY investigation, based on court records and interviews with government officials and attorneys, found more than 60 men who went to prison for violating federal gun possession laws, even though courts have since determined that it was not a federal crime for them to have a gun.


"Still, the Justice Department has not attempted to identify the men, has made no effort to notify them, and, in a few cases in which the men have come forward on their own, has argued in court that they should not be released.

"Justice Department officials said it is not their job to notify prisoners that they might be incarcerated for something that they now concede is not a crime." [Read more]


The Problems With NYC's Stop-and-Frisk

From letters to The New York Times:
  • "there is no evidence — none — that New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy saves lives."
  • "Weapons are recovered in roughly one in 1,000 stop-and-frisks in New York City. About 90 percent do not result in arrest or summons."
  • "Eighty-seven percent of all people stopped are black and Latino, though they are 23 percent and 29 percent of our population, respectively."
  • "Stop-and-frisk as carried out in New York breeds mistrust of law enforcement among communities of color — particularly young men, who are disproportionately targeted for stops."
  • "The simple math shows that 3,200 guns were seized by means other than stop-and-frisks, four times more than were seized in street stops. By allocating police resources to inefficient stop-and-frisk tactics instead of using tactics that have higher public safety payoffs, the N.Y.P.D. is missing out on a substantial number of gun seizures."
  • "The seizure rate of about one-tenth of 1 percent and the persistence of shootings show that the police are looking for guns in all the wrong places."
  • "If the New York Police Department stops and frisks people to deter crime, rather than based on reasonable suspicion that the person stopped is engaged in crime, the stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional."
NAACP March against Stop-and-Frisk in NYC this Sunday, June 17th.

How Racist Are We? Ask Google

And many Americans use Google to find racially charged material. I performed the somewhat unpleasant task of ranking states and media markets in the United States based on the proportion of their Google searches that included the word “nigger(s).” This word was included in roughly the same number of Google searches as terms like “Lakers,” “Daily Show,” “migraine” and “economist.” [Read more]


Obama Has Fought for Blacks

"Last week, Professor Frederick Harris penned an op-ed in the Washington Post lampooning President Obama's commitment to the African American community and made the slanderous claim that we are "Still Waiting For The First Black President."

. . .

"But the distortions and omissions of the President's record from a professor at an esteemed university were so egregious . . ." [Read more]

GOP Steps Up Bogus War on Voter Fraud

"It's hardly coincidence that the majority of those targeted for voter purges are black and Hispanic. And it's even less of coincidence that the bogus vote purge campaigns are zeroed in on the key battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Colorado and New Mexico where election officials are also mounting similar purge campaigns." [Read more]

As Unions Decline, Inequality Rises

"To a remarkable extent, inequality, which fell during the New Deal but has risen dramatically since the late 1970s, corresponds to the rise and fall of unionization in the United States." [Read more]


The Life Expectancy Gap Shrinks

The good news: Fewer blacks are dying from heart disease and HIV/AIDS.

The bad news: More whites are overdosing on prescription drugs. [Read more]

A Natural Hair Movement for Black Women?

The filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa presents an Op-Doc on black women’s decision to embrace their naturally kinky hair, rather than use chemical straighteners. [See it here]


We Still Have a Long Way to Go to Achieve Racial Equality

"Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen recently illustrated how much overt racial bigotry against blacks has been reduced. He used the case of Wesley A. Brown, the first African American graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Brown was the first to “successfully endure the racist hazing that had forced the others to quit.” When Brown joined the Naval Academy, if blacks dared to enroll, they were harassed to force them out. Today, there is a building in the Naval Academy named in Brown’s honor.
"Cohen is correct. Today, black children know that there is no occupation that is categorically off limits to them. They can grow up to be president, an idea that seemed farfetched just a few years ago.
"On the other hand . . ." [Read more]


Race Colors the Political Brain

"Tesler has used polling experiments to identify a series of issues that have become enmeshed in complicated racial attitudes by dint of Obama’s association with them: health care reform, taxes, the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Even Bo Obama fell into this matrix; racists looked less favorably on a picture of the president’s dog when they learned the identity of his owner." [Read more]

Should Obama Have Done More for Blacks?

"The president has gone to bat for gay rights, even at the risk of alienating some independent voters and plenty of conservatives, who can’t be thrilled when Newsweek magazine declares Obama “the first gay president.” But he has been unwilling to do the same for top black priorities. He has even berated African American leaders, telling members of the Congressional Black Caucus last year to “stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying” and get behind him.

"Obama may be our first gay president, but if a focus on racial inequality matters at all, we’re still waiting for our first black one. Or at least the first black president since Lyndon Johnson, who pushed through civil rights legislation and the Great Society programs." [Read more]

Is Romney a unicorn?

"The time has come for Mitt Romney to prove it once and for all: Is he or is he not a unicorn?

Let me stipulate that I have no proof that Romney is a unicorn, and indeed I want to believe that he is not. But I have not seen proof of this because he has not released the original copy of his long-form birth certificate." [Read more]


Is Beyonce a Good Role Model?

In an interview with People magazine to promote her new gardening book, when asked if she could be anyone in the world, the first lady replied "Beyonce."

While I thought it was a slightly odd response, (after all, I couldn't picture Hillary Clinton saying, "Lady Gaga" or "Madonna") I assumed that maybe I was simply being too square. I then shared the article featuring her response with a family member and African-American friend, both of whom are fans of the first lady, and another friend who is not African-American but is a die-hard Beyonce fan. Without sharing my own thoughts first, I asked for theirs. They all reacted with varying degrees of horror.

They were not alone. A quick look at the comments on predominantly African-American news sites, where commenters tend to be fans of the first lady, Beyonce, or both, made it clear that many found the first lady's response troubling, and some found it downright embarrassing. [Read more]


The New Jim Crow in Louisiana

“Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.”

That paragraph opens a devastating eight-part series published this month by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans about how the state’s largely private prison system profits from high incarceration rates and tough sentencing, and how many with the power to curtail the system actually have a financial incentive to perpetuate it. [Read more]


An Argument for Integrated Schools

"These economists’ studies consistently conclude that African-American students who attended integrated schools fared better academically than those left behind in segregated schools. They were more likely to graduate from high school and attend and graduate from college; and, the longer they spent attending integrated schools, the better they did. What’s more, the fear that white children would suffer, voiced by opponents of integration, proved groundless. Between 1970 and 1990, the black-white gap in educational attainment shrank — not because white youngsters did worse but because black youngsters did better.

"Not only were they more successful in school, they were more successful in life as well. A 2011 study by the Berkeley public policy professor Rucker C. Johnson concludes that black youths who spent five years in desegregated schools have earned 25 percent more than those who never had that opportunity. Now in their 30s and 40s, they’re also healthier — the equivalent of being seven years younger." [Read more]


Save the Post Office from Congress

"On the other hand, its pension is overfunded to the tune of around $11 billion. It is also required by law to make an annual payment of nearly $5.5 billion to prepay for health benefits for future retirees, a mandate imposed on no other company — or government agency — in America. Simply ending that onerous prefunding requirement and reclaiming the excess pension money would go a long way toward shrinking the losses."

. . .

"Rather, the problem is that neither the management nor the workers really control the Postal Service. Even though the post office has been self-financed since the 1980s, it remains shackled by Congress, which simply can’t bring itself to allow the service to make its own decisions. It was Congress that insanely imposed the prefunding requirement in 2006. Laws restrict the post office’s ability to raise prices and cut costs. Over the years, when the post office wanted to get into new businesses, it was often prevented from doing so by Congress." [Read more]


Fleecing the Poor

"Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking."

"Many courts impose fees without any determination of whether the offender is able to pay, and the privilege of having a payment plan will itself cost money." [Read more]

"Trends in U.S. Corrections" Fact Sheet

The Land of the Free is still number one in putting people in prison. Nearly 7 times the rate of Canada, and 10 times the rate of Denmark.

View the Sentencing Project fact sheet.

Pardons Aren't Colorblind Either

"The work of the pardon office has come under heightened scrutiny since December, when ProPublica and The Washington Post published stories showing that, from 2001 to 2008, white applicants were nearly four times as likely to receive presidential pardons as minorities." [Read more]


America's Schools--Still Segregated

"In the broad resegregation of the nation’s schools that has transpired over recent decades, New York’s public-school system looms as one of the most segregated. While the city’s public-school population looks diverse — 40.3 percent Hispanic, 32 percent black, 14.9 percent white and 13.7 percent Asian — many of its schools are nothing of the sort.

"About 650 of the nearly 1,700 schools in the system have populations that are 70 percent a single race, a New York Times analysis of schools data for the 2009-10 school year found; more than half the city’s schools are at least 90 percent black and Hispanic." [Read more]


Racial inequality and the black homicide rate

"At the conference, the honorable Mitchell J. Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans, gave a moving, passionate, and brave speech about homicide in black communities. He challenged us to consider whether we devalued black lives by not paying sufficient attention to the more common forms of homicide in black communities, and instead reserved our activism for homicides that could be conceived of as involving racism.

Landrieu made an important point, but I think he also missed a number of other significant points." [Read more]


The Other "New Jim Crow"

"Republicans are waging the most concerted campaign to prevent or discourage citizens from exercising their legitimate voting rights since the Jim Crow days of poll taxes and literacy tests." [Read more]


Wal-Mart's Relationship to "Stand Your Ground" (the License to Kill Law)

"Not only are Wal-Mart and the Walton Family Foundation members of ALEC, but the company also played an active role in helping advance the 'Stand your ground' law. In 2005 Wal-Mart executive Janet Scott co-chaired ALEC's Criminal Justice Task Force (it later became the Public Safety and Elections Task Force in 2009) when the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied the task force to support the 'Stand your ground' legislation.

"According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 'justifiable homicides' have tripled since the passage of the law. FBI data shows similar increases in other states that have adopted the law." [Read more]

Hate among Hockey Fans

"When Joel Ward scored the overtime winner for the Capitals to end the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins’ season, a wave of racist tweets surfaced. They ranged from casually offensive to viciously hateful. None were shocking. But they illustrated the latent sentiment that exists in many pockets of the fan base that hockey is a sport to be played and enjoyed by whites." [Read more]

NYC's Policing Policies Destroy Lives

"An arrest, even without a conviction, can swiftly unleash disastrous personal consequences. Consider the 2011 case of a 26-year-old single mother from Brooklyn whose lawyers say she was arrested after the police forced her to reveal a small packet of marijuana hidden in her purse. The judge said the charges would be dismissed if she stayed out of trouble for a year. A week later, the woman had been fired from her job as a janitor with the New York City Housing Authority. She has not been rehired.

. . .

"Young parents have faced neglect accusations in family court after marijuana arrests, even if they are not ultimately charged with any crime. In a case described in The Times, a woman’s son and niece were removed from her home by child welfare workers after police found about a third of an ounce of marijuana — below the threshold for a misdemeanor — in a boyfriend’s backpack in her Bronx apartment. The district attorney declined to prosecute, but the children spent time in foster care, and her niece was not returned for over a year." [Read more]


Hard Times for College Grads, Hard Times for Ex-Offenders

College Grads: 

"A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge.

"Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs – waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example – and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans." [Read more]

"According to a startling 2011 report from the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group, about 90 percent of companies are using criminal background checks in hiring decisions and about 65 million people have criminal records. The group found that companies of all sizes routinely deny people with records any chance to establish their qualifications, even for entry-level jobs like warehouse worker. These blanket exclusion policies flout the E.E.O.C. rules. They also ignore research showing that many offenders who stay out of trouble for even a brief period after their original crimes present little or no risk to employers." [Read more]


All-White Jury Pools Convict Black Defendants 16 Percent More Often Than Whites

"Juries formed from all-white jury pools in Florida convicted black defendants 16 percent more often than white defendants, a gap that was nearly eliminated when at least one member of the jury pool was black, according to a Duke University-led study." [Read more]


A Crazy Level of Inequality in the United States

“The United States is getting accustomed to a completely crazy level of inequality,” Mr. Piketty said, with a degree of wonder. “People say that reducing inequality is radical. I think that tolerating the level of inequality the United States tolerates is radical.” [Read more]


Better Educated, But Still Low-Wage

"the average low-wage worker today is both older and much better educated than the average low-wage worker was in the past." [Read more]


Food Stamps Helped Reduce Poverty Rate, Study Finds

"A new study by the Agriculture Department has found that food stamps, one of the country’s largest social safety net programs, reduced the poverty rate substantially during the recent recession. The food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009, the most recent year included in the study, a significant impact for a social program whose effects often go unnoticed by policy makers." [Read more]

Latinos versus the Census Bureau: When racial categorizations clash

"Over the past few decades, the United States has seen a significant increase in the Latino population. Many of these Latinos are immigrants from other countries with other systems of identity and racial classification. These systems of classification may be in conflict with the official directives of the Census Bureau." [Read more]


The NRA is Out of Control

There is nothing so dangerous as a lobbying organization that’s running out of stuff to lobby about.
I am thinking in particular of the National Rifle Association. These people are really in desperate straits. The state legislatures are almost all in session, but some of them have already pushed the gun-owner-rights issue about as far as it can go. You can only legalize carrying a concealed weapon in church once.
This year, in search of new worlds to conquer — or at least to arm — a couple of states are giving serious attention to bills that would allow gun owners to carry their concealed weapons in places like day-care centers and school buses. [Read more]


The Republican Mean Season Continues

[The budget proposal of Republican Congressman Paul] Ryan would cut $770 billion over 10 years from Medicaid and other health programs for the poor, compared with President Obama’s budget. He takes an additional $205 billion from Medicare, $1.6 trillion from the Obama health-care legislation and $1.9 trillion from a category simply labeled “other mandatory.” Pressed to explain this magic asterisk, Ryan allowed that the bulk of those “other mandatory” cuts come from food stamps, welfare, federal employee pensions and support for farmers.
Taken together, Ryan would cut spending on such programs by $5.3 trillion, much of which currently goes to the have-nots. He would then give that money to America’s haves: some $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, compared with current policies, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.
. . . 
The budget “repairs the safety net” by allowing the states to award public assistance to fewer people — “those who need it most.” Financial aid for college would be slashed — er, “put on a sustainable funding path.” And the Ryan plan would give workers “the tools to thrive in the 21st century” — by killing off various job-training programs. 


Bob Herbert on "The Destruction of Black Wealth"

"Black-owned auto dealerships have taken a terrible hit. By mid-2011, according to Automotive News, there were just 261 black-owned dealerships in the U.S., half as many as three years earlier. White-owned dealerships suffered a decline of 18 percent over the same period." [Read more]


Charles Murray’s failure by design

Murray’s last book, The Bell Curve, argued that nothing could be done about inequality because it was all genetic. He is still arguing that nothing can be done to address inequality. [Read more]