Dorothea Lange is a famous American photographer. She worked for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) during the 1930s, going across the country and taking pictures that documented the effects of the Great Depression on the American people.
She is most known for her Migrant Mother picture, which has been called “an iconic image of the Great Depression.” Lange’s work took her all over the South, where she took pictures of both struggling blacks and whites. Many of her FSA photographs are available from the Library of Congress’ online archives.
I used several of the photos to create this slideshow of black life in the South during the Great Depression.
There photographs are a vivid reminder of how tough those days were. But it’s notable that the black folks in these pictures look hardened, but not broken. They are lean, strong, and unbowed. Life is hard, and they accept it as such. Indeed, for many of them, a hard life is the only life they’ve known.
These pictures were taken in Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas during the mid to late 1930s.
The music is from a traditional spiritual performed by Texas gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson (vocal and guitar) and Willie B. Harris (vocal) in 1927. The song is titled “Keep Your Light Trimmed and Burning.”
What is Environmental Racism? Here’s a description from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Environmental racism refers to intentional or unintentional racial discrimination in the enforcement of environmental rules and regulations, the intentional or unintentional targeting of minority communities for the siting of polluting industries, or the exclusion of minority groups from public and private boards, commissions, and regulatory bodies.
Since the term “environmental racism” was coined, researchers have investigated why minorities are more likely than whites to reside in areas where there is more pollution.
Some social scientists suggest that the historical processes of suburbanization and decentralization are examples of white privilege that have contributed to contemporary patterns of environmental racism.
In the United States, the wealth of a community is not nearly as good a predictor of hazardous waste locations as the ethnic background of the residents, suggesting that the selection of sites for hazardous waste disposal involves racism. These minority communities may be easier targets for environmental racism because they are less likely to organize and protest than their middle or upper class white counterparts. This lack of protest could be due to fear of losing their jobs, thereby jeopardizing their economic survival.
In brief, environmental racism is the idea that black communities, because of their economic or political vulnerabilities, are targeted for the placement of noxious facilities, locally unwanted land uses, and environmental hazards.
The main victims of environmental racism have been poor black areas in the South. The ground breaking book Dumping in Dixie by Dr. Robert D. Bullard was one of the first to provide details on this disturbing phenomenon.
Bullard’s book was written in 1990. Fast forward to 2009, and it doesn’t look like things have changed at all. In December of last year, there was a huge spill of toxic coal ash around Kingston, Tennessee. The clean-up effort – you guessed it – seems to include a lot of dumping in Dixie.
I’ve become something of a junkie for vintage photos of African Americans. I’ve purchased over a dozen photo books that feature images of black folks from slavery times through the 1970s, and I can’t get enough. Well, I would… maybe if I had more money.
As a child of the 60s and 70s, I never ever saw images of black people in the history books. It’s like we didn’t exist. And when images of black folks were displayed, it was always in a negative or demeaning or depressing context.
I never got the full picture.
Perhaps that’s why, when I am able to find vintage pictures of black folks, I am touched and filled and uplifted. These photos show that black life wasn’t always about being downtrodden. You can see moments of joy, of pride, of strength.
And seeing how they lived makes me even more appreciative for what I have, and for what they’ve given me.
In that light, you MUST take a look at this GREAT slideshow of vintage photos of African Americans, which I’ll get to in a second.
But first, turn on some background music to add to your viewing experience. This vintage gospel song (circa World War II) by Bertha Houston, We are Americans, Praise the Lord, will do. Just click on this sound bar below, and then immediately click on the photo of the two women to start the slide show.
Click on this photo or here to start the slideshow.
This is something of a takeoff on the many A Day in the Life of… photo books, such as A Day in the Life of America by Rick Smolan and David Elliot Cohen. But make no mistake, these are great photos that paint a vivid and compelling picture of African American life from days gone by.
The photos are from the Discover Black Heritage section of the Flickr website. (Flickr is a media storage site, similar to Youtube.) The Discover Black Heritage section has a bunch of other slideshows featuring black vintage photos, which are very much worth your time.
The Pew Research Center has recently released a report on voting in the 2008 election titled Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History. As indicated by the report’s title, the big finding was that this election featured best-ever turnout numbers for non-whites, such as African Americans and Hispanics.
The report, which looks at voting by ethnicity and gender, discloses a surprising statistic: black women had the highest voter turnout among all all groups in the 2008 election. This is noted in the following chart:
How do you measure the quality of life in broad terms for nations, or large groups within nations?
Most quantitative measures of quality of life are based on standard of living statistics, which in turn are based mostly on income or other purely economic factors.
A group called the Human Development Project (the Project) finds fault with that approach, saying that other measures are needed to truly understand how well people are living:
The indicators most frequently deployed in evaluating public welfare-GDP, the Dow Jones and NASDAQ, consumer spending and the like-only address one aspect of the American experience.
The human development model emphasizes the broader, everyday experience of ordinary people, including the economic, social, legal, psychological, cultural, environmental processes that shape the range of options available to us.
This approach has gained support around the world as a valuable tool in analyzing the well-being of large population groups.
The Project has developed a rating system called the Human Development Index which measures achievement in three basic categories:
• long and healthy life (as indicated by life expectancy at birth)
• access to knowledge (indicated by al degree attainment and school enrollment)
• decent standard of living (indicated by median earnings)
By applying these measures, the Project has developed the following Human Development Index scores for the United States, by race and gender:
American Human Development Index (HD) Rankings by Race and Gender, 2005
* Enrollment can exceed 100% if persons 25 years old or more are enrolled in school. Source:The Measure of America: American Human Development Report 2008-2009
American Violet is a new movie that is based on a true story of the Texas criminal (in)justice system. As described on Youtube,
Based on true events in the midst of the 2000 election, AMERICAN VIOLET tells the astonishing story of Dee Roberts (critically hailed newcomer Nicole Beharie), a 24 year-old African American single mother of four young girls living in a small Texas town who is barely making ends meet on a waitress salary and government subsidies.
On an early November morning while Dee works a shift at the local diner, the powerful local district attorney (Academy Award® nominee Michael OKeefe) leads an extensive drug bust, sweeping her Arlington Springs housing project with military precision. Police drag Dee from work in handcuffs, dumping her in the squalor of the womens county prison. Indicted based on the uncorroborated word of a single and dubious police informant facing his own drug charges, Dee soon discovers she has been charged as a drug dealer.
Even though Dee has no prior drug record and no drugs were found on her in the raid or any subsequent searches, she is offered a hellish choice: plead guilty and go home as a convicted felon or remain in prison and fight the charges thus, jeopardizing her custody and risking a long prison sentence.
Despite the urgings of her mother (Academy Award® nominee Alfre Woodard), and with her freedom and the custody of her children at stake, she chooses to fight the district attorney and the unyielding criminal justice system he represents. Joined in an unlikely alliance with an ACLU attorney (Tim Blake Nelson) and former local narcotics officer (Will Patton), Dee risks everything in a battle that forever changes her life and the Texas justice system. AMERICAN VIOLET also stars Emmy Award® winner Charles S. Dutton and Xzibit.
Here’s the movie trailer:
This is an independent movie, and is not in wide release. But if it is in your town, it might be worth a look.
The movie is based on a true story, which is detailed here. Another site has an engaging interview with Regina Kelly, upon whom the Dee Roberts character is based. Kindly enough, the video was placed on Youtube:
Paul LeRoy Bustill Robeson (April 9, 1898–January 23, 1976) was an Afro-American actor of film and stage, All-American and professional athlete, writer, multi-lingual orator, lawyer, and basso profondo concert singer who was also noted for his wide-ranging social justice activism.
A forerunner of the civil rights movement, Robeson was a trades union activist, peace activist, Phi Beta Kappa Society laureate, and a recipient of the Spingarn Medal and Stalin Peace Prize. Robeson achieved worldwide fame and recognition during his life for his artistic accomplishments, and his outspoken, radical beliefs which largely clashed with the colonial powers of Western Europe and the Jim Crow climate of pre-civil rights America.
Paul Robeson was the first major concert star to popularize the performance of Negro spirituals and was the first black actor of the 20th century to portray William Shakespeare’s Othello. His 1943-44 Broadway run of Othello still holds the record for the longest running Shakespeare play. Despite Robeson’s vocal dissatisfaction with movie stereotypes, his roles in both the American and British film industry were some of the first parts ever created that displayed dignity and respect for the African American film actor, paving the way for Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.
At the height of his fame, Paul Robeson decided to become a primarily political artist, speaking out against fascism and racism in the US and abroad as white America failed post-World War II to stand up for the rights of people of color. Robeson thus became a prime target of the Red Scare during the late 1940s through to the late 1950s.
His passport was revoked from 1950 to 1958 under the McCarran Act and he was under surveillance by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency and by British MI5 for well over three decades until his death in 1976. The reasoning behind his persecution centered not only on his beliefs in socialism and friendship with the peoples of the Soviet Union but also his tireless work towards the liberation of the colonial peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and Asia, his support of the International Brigades, his ardent efforts to push for anti-lynching legislation and the integration of major league baseball among many other causes that challenged worldwide white supremacy.
Condemnation of Robeson and his beliefs came swiftly, from both the white establishment of the US, including the United States Congress, and many mainstream black organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This mass vilification by the American establishment blacklisted and isolated Robeson for the latter part of his career.
Despite the fact that Paul Robeson was one of the most internationally famous cultural figures of his era, the persecution virtually erased him from mainstream culture and subsequent interpretations of 20th century history, including civil rights and black history.
Paul Robeson sings Ol’ Man River in the 2nd version (1936) of Showboat:“Colored folks work on de Mississippi / Colored folks work while de white folks play / Pullin’ dose boats from de dawn to sunset / Gittin’ no rest till de judgement day.”
The most notable aspect of Paul Robeson is that he always fought for the dignity and progress of the race, no matter what the personal cost. And as said above, that cost was very, very high.
To those who don’t know about Paul Robeson: please, find out and learn. This is a man who lost fortune, fame… everything… in the furtherance of the cause of African American progress.
His name deserves to be invoked among the pantheon of American and African American giants. Don’t let those who sought to destroy him and his legacy be successful.
I want to give my readers a Buy recommendation for the October 2008 issue of American Prospect magazine. It contains a Special Report insert titled The Color of Opportunity – Narrowing Racial Divides and Expanding Prosperity for All that is required reading.
The American Prospect is a progressive magazine that covers political, economic, social, and cultutral issues. Thanks to the support of several foundations, the Prospect has prepared a detailed review of the economic state of Americans in general and African Americans in particular. Thankfully, they’ve made the Special Report available on-line.
This graphic shows several of the articles in American Prospect’s Special Report on race and economics.
Today, the U.S. economy is facing one of its greatest challenges in decades. The recent seven-year economic expansion netted a record for producing the fewest jobs since Herbert Hoover was president. The median income for American households has not kept up with inflation. So as the economy slows, households are in a weaker position than they were when the expansion began in 2001.
Yet, while the economy has failed American workers — generating more inequality than growth, more debt than income — discussing solutions to America’s economic woes rekindles America’s racial cleavage. White voters are asked to weigh issues such as trade and its effects on wages and jobs, or the complications of providing health care and its effects on take-home pay and retirement benefits, or the rising costs of college tuitions on their children’s futures.
But black voters are too often given a lecture on presumed black pathologies — a lack of interest in education and the skills needed to compete, a weak sense of family, and high criminal proclivities.
One could easily assume that white America was doing fine, and if black America would only get its act together, black Americans would be doing just as well. You might almost believe that the hundreds of thousands of jobs America has lost in manufacturing in the last seven years were only lost by lazy, poorly educated African Americans too busy having babies to get the skills to keep their jobs. You might almost believe that gas and food prices were rising only for black Americans, preventing only their wages from keeping up with the rising costs of living.
This bifurcation in the discussion of America’s economic woes blocks identification of the true similarities and differences among workers of different races. The usual frame leads African Americans to experience white views as insensitive to their plight — while for whites it dangerously masks the broader rise in economic inequality.
Whites too easily see the black economic condition as the result of failing lifestyles, not a failing economy. Blacks too easily put the blame on either their own shortcomings or on discrimination.
Properly understood, what has befallen the black community should be viewed as water coming into the steerage section of an ocean liner — special problems for those getting wet but a clear sign the entire ship is in trouble. The current debate on black pathologies is delaying a call for getting out the lifeboats and ensuring a fair distribution of those lifeboats — and building a more sea-worthy ship for the next voyage. So far, the result has been, as with the Titanic, lifeboats for the rich in first class.
The articles in the Special Report are well written, informative, and enlightening. This is must reading, especially given the increasingly held view among experts that the American economy is going to get worse before it gets better.
 Louisiana Republican has a novel way to end poverty:
 Republican message to Nevada Hispanics: don’t be the new n******.
We don’t want (Hispanics) to become the new African-American community… And that’s what the Democratic Party is going to do to them, create more programs and give them handouts, food stamps and checks for this and checks for that. We don’t want that…
I’m very much afraid that the Democratic Party is going to do the same thing that they did with the African-American culture and make them all dependent on the government and we don’t want that.
– Didi Lima, GOP communications director in Clark County, Nevada, according to USA Today. Lima has since been releived of her duties.
 Obama the Anti-Christ, again.
Fort Mill, SC Mayor Danny Funderburk says he was “just curious” when he forwarded a chain e-mail suggesting Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama is the biblical antichrist. “I was just curious if there was any validity to it,” Funderburk said in a telephone interview. “I was trying to get documentation if there was any scripture to back it up.”
Funderburk apparently sent the e-mail from his business account at Gastonia Sheet Metal where he works as a business agent.
The e-mail, which has circulated in the last six months since Obama secured the Democratic nomination, claims the biblical book of Revelation says the antichrist will be in his 40s and of Muslim ancestry.
There is no such scripture. And Obama is not a Muslim. But that hasn’t stopped the e-mail.
When asked if he believed Obama was the antichrist, Funderburk replied, “I’ve got absolutely no way of knowing that.” Funderburk said it “probably does give that impression” that he believed the e-mail was true “but that was not my intent.”
“I am curious about current events and their connection to the Bible,” he said.
 Obama Effigy Hung From Tree at Christian College.
So much for the Christian spirit.
A custodian at the Christian school George Fox University found an effigy of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama hanging from a tree on campus on Tuesday, University President Robin Baker told The Associated Press.
University spokesperson Rob Felton said the figure hung from the branch of the tree with fishing line around its neck, an image that recalls lynching of Blacks and Latinos, outraging students and school administrators alike.
Taped to the cardboard cutout of Obama was a message targeting participants in Act Six, a scholarship program intended to increase the number of Black, Latino and low-income students at several Christian colleges, mostly in the Northwest. The message read “Act Six reject,” according to the article.
It is ironic that such an effigy would be hung at George Fox University, a school founded by Quaker pioneers in 1891. (Quakers opposed slavery.) “It has been my dream to establish a university that more adequately represents the kingdom of God,” said Baker at a school assembly, according to the article. “This act causes some to question our commitment.”
The content of a racially insensitive flier regarding presidential candidate Barack Obama, distributed in some Roxbury, NJ neighborhoods last weekend did not violate any criminal statutes and is speech protected by the First Amendment, according to a review by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
Prosecutor Robert Bianchi, in a formal statement, said he found the flier to be “reprehensible literature” but its distribution and content was not illegal. He pledged, however, to carefully monitor the situation and “aggressively prosecute any person who crosses the line and commits a criminal offense or bias crime.”
The flier was left on driveways in a neatly packaged plastic envelope and distributed by a group named the League of American Patriots, which listed a Butler mailing address. It questioned, “Do You Want A Black President?” and stated “Black Ruled Nations most unstable and violent in the world.”
”Why should we seal our fate by allowing a black ruler to destroy us?” said the flier, which also detailed what it contended to be a series of facts on black unemployment, poverty, HIV and crime rates, while pointing out woes of a couple of predominantly black-populated countries.
The Family Research Council is a Christian right non-profit think tank and lobbying organization that was formed by James Dobson. This was a hot selling item at the Council’s 2008 Values Voter Summit, which was held in mid-September in Washington in Washington, D.C:
 The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The day went as usual at Marianna Middle School, but one thing is different: 7th grade teacher and coach Greg Howard is no longer an employee. He was suspended without pay for 10 days starting Thursday for making racial slurs at presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Our source told us Howard asked his students what “change” stood for and proceeded to write out the acronym “change”- come help an(word) get elected.
Jackson County’s Deputy School superintendent says he’s received conflicting reports, but he can confirm change and the n-word were used.
The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women’s group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles. (The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario Metropolitan Area of southern California is commonly referred to as the “Inland Empire”.)
The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps — instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of “Obama Bucks” — a phony $10 bill featuring Obama’s face on a donkey’s body, labeled “United States Food Stamps.”
Sheila Raines, an African-American member of the club, was the first person to complain about the newsletter. Raines, of San Bernardino, said she has worked hard to try to convince other minorities to join the Republican Party and now she feels betrayed.
“This is what keeps African-Americans from joining the Republican Party,” she said. “I’m really hurt. I cried for 45 minutes.”
Why do African Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats over Republicans? One reason is that the Democratic Party is representative of the America that black people see, and the Republican Party isn’t.
This is illustrated by the following two photographs. The first shows the early field of Republicans candidates for the 2008 Presidential election. The second shows the early field of Democratic candidates.
Republican Candidates for President, 2008 (not in order): California Rep. Duncan Hunter, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain
Democratic Candidates for President, 2008: former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Sen. Joe Biden of Deleware, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio
The Republican candidates are all white males. The Democratic candidates include a white woman, a black male, a Hispanic male, and five other white males.
Other examples of Democratic diversity, and Republican non-diversity, abound.
This is a list of black mayors in cities with a population over 50,000. This is based on information from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The Joint Center describes itself as “one of the nation’s premier research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses exclusively on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color.”
Their black mayors list is here. I have updated the list; the Joint Center’s list was effective as of the end of 2007. This list should be correct as of August 2008. If readers have any updates to provide, please fell free to send them to us. Items in bold are known updates as of very early 2010 – but a number of entries are certainly outdated in 2010.
There are 45 cities on the list. African Americans are at least 40% of the population in 35 cities. Ten of the 45 mayors are female.
Ward Connerly is an outspoken critic of affirmative in education. Wikipedia provides a history of his activism in this area:
In 1995, he became the chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative Campaign and helped get the initiative on the California ballot as Proposition 209. The Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations, the ACLU, and the California Teachers Association opposed the measure. It passed by a 54% majority.
Connerly, in 1997, formed the American Civil Rights Institute. Connerly and the ACRI supported a similar ballot measure in Washington which would later pass by 58%. Connerly and his group worked to get a measure on the ballot in the 2000 Florida election. The Florida Supreme Court put restrictions on the petition language, and Governor Jeb Bush later implemented, through a program called “One Florida,” key portions of Connerly’s proposal, helping to keep it off the ballot by accomplishing some of its key objectives through legislation.
In 2003, Connerly helped place on the California ballot a measure that would prohibit the state government from classifying any person by race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, with some exceptions such as the case it is needed for medical research. Critics were concerned that such a measure would make it difficult to track housing discrimination and racial profiling activities. The measure was also criticized by newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times, that claimed it would hamper legitimate medical and scientific purposes. The measure was not passed by the voters.
Following the 2003 Supreme Court rulings in Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, Connerly was invited to Michigan by Jennifer Gratz to support a measure similar to the 1996 California amendment. The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative appeared on the November 2006 Michigan ballot and passed.
I’ve never agreed with Connerly’s stands on issues, but I’ve always respected his right to fight for what he believes.
But I am very troubled by some reporting about Connerly in the latest issue of Good magazine. An article about him notes:
Connerly is also paid handsomely for his crusade—a factor his critics think is his true motivation. He makes no apologies for his salary. When he’s asked if reports that he makes as much as $400,000 per year are accurate, he flashes a quick smile and says ambiguously, “I hope it’s more than that.”
As it turns out, it’s much more. In 2003, he earned more than $1 million in compensation—the same year he was fined $95,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for not disclosing who funded a proposed California ballot initiative.
In his defense, the Heritage Foundation’s Becky Norton Dunlop has said, “Most people who donate to causes such as this, that are controversial, recognize that talented and effective leaders must be compensated or they’ll find other ways to make a living. Connerly’s … willingness to speak out on the issue has had national impact.” In other words, he’s invaluable to the cause.
The Bradley Effect’s named for the long-time African-American Mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, who ran for Governor of California in 1982. Election-eve, Bradley was so far ahead of his white Republican opponent that newspapers printed headlines saying “Bradley Wins!” But he lost by 50,000 votes. Why? White voters who’d claimed they’d support him changed their minds–in the voting booth.
In 1989, Douglas Wilder, the Democratic black Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, ran for Governor, and stayed nine points ahead of white Republican Marshall Coleman all through the race. Yet on election-day, Wilder won by just half a point.
Also in 1989, African-American Democrat David Dinkins kept an eighteen-point lead over his rival for mayor of New York, white Republican Rudy Giuliani; until final tally. Dinkins squeaked by with two points.
In 1990, African-American Democrat Harvey Gantt ran against white Republican Jesse Helms for a North Carolina Senate seat. Throughout the contest, Gantt (like Obama) was predicted to win by 4-6 points. He lost to Helms by six.
Why the reversals? Some white voters lie about whom they support, so as not to seem racist. But most probably intend to vote for the black candidate, and simply, on the day of election, freak out. They feel suddenly nervous about the black candidate’s “competence,” or “experience,” and pick the “known quantity,”–the white guy.
Barack Obama is being interviewed at the values forum of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Rick Warren, the Church’s pastor, asked Obama which current Supreme Court Justice he would not have nominated.
Obama’s response: “I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas.” Obama said Thomas was not a “strong legal thinker.” Wow. It’s almost like Obama was implying that Thomas was the affirmative action appointee to the Court!
Interestingly enough, the audience applauded Obama’s comment.
The New York Times Magazine has an article titled Is Obama the End of Black Politics? which is must reading. The article addresses a theme that’s been seen throughout this election: a new generation of African American politicians, symbolized by Barack Obama, is emerging, and their world view is much different from that of the old guard:
The latest evidence of tension between Obama and some older black leaders burst onto cable television last month, after an open microphone on Fox News picked up the Rev. Jesse Jackson crudely making the point that he wouldn’t mind personally castrating his party’s nominee. The reverend was angry because Obama, in a Father’s Day speech on Chicago’s South Side, chastised black fathers for shirking their responsibilities…
Most of the coverage of this minor flap dwelled on the possible animus between Jackson and Obama, despite the fact that Obama himself, who is not easily distracted, seemed genuinely unperturbed by it. But more interesting, perhaps, was the public reaction of Jesse Jackson Jr., the reverend’s 43-year-old son, who is a congressman from Illinois and the national co-chairman of Obama’s campaign. The younger Jackson released a blistering statement in which he said he was “deeply outraged and disappointed” by the man he referred to, a little icily, as “Reverend Jackson.”…
This exchange between the two Jacksons hinted at a basic generational divide on the question of what black leadership actually means. Black leaders who rose to political power in the years after the civil rights marches came almost entirely from the pulpit and the movement, and they have always defined leadership, in broad terms, as speaking for black Americans. They saw their job, principally, as confronting an inherently racist white establishment, which in terms of sheer career advancement was their only real option anyway…
This newly emerging class of black politicians, however, men (and a few women) closer in age to Obama and Jesse Jr., seek a broader political brief. Comfortable inside the establishment, bred at universities rather than seminaries, they are just as likely to see themselves as ambassadors to the black community as they are to see themselves as spokesmen for it, which often means extolling middle-class values in urban neighborhoods, as Obama did on Father’s Day.
This real or imagined generational divide has been discussed a lot, but the Times article is the best I’ve seen on the subject so far.
Dr. Algernon Austin, whose work I cited earlier, is the founder and director of the Thora Institute, which “disseminates facts and analyses about black Americans for the purpose of improving the socioeconomic standing of black Americans.” The blog he writes for the Institute’s site is timely, provative, and informative; I highly recommend it. The latest blog entry (8/10/2008), titled 200,000 Black Jobs Lost to China, discusses the impact of China’s economic expansion on African Americans and the rest of the country:
Between 2001 and 2007, over 200,000 blacks lost their jobs due to U.S. trade with China, estimates economist Robert E. Scott in “The China Trade Toll.” Further, other research estimates that the average black worker earns about $1,400 less a year because of the downward pressure on wages from trade with less-developed countries. America’s trade policies have been driven by what is most beneficial to economic elites, not what benefits average workers in the U.S. or abroad.
The U.S. trade deficit with China has been growing about 21 percent a year. It increased from $84 billion in 2001 to $262 billion in 2007. There are a number of unfair ways that China achieves this export advantage. China devalues its currency. Currently, the yuan, China’s currency, is about 30 percent below its true value. This devaluation basically puts a 30 percent discount on all Chinese goods. China is very lax with labor and environmental laws. Exploiting workers and the environment is cheaper for businesses than following good labor and environmental practices. The combined effect of these policies produces a large and unfair trade advantage to Chinese goods.