- Created on 11 April 2013
President Barack Obama has proposed a $3.77 trillion budget for 2014 that is intended to trim deficits by almost $2 trillion over the next 10 years.
But that’s just part of the story: When deficits get cut, that means spending is reduced, and when spending is reduced, that means someone is going to feel the pinch.
The tricky part for the President...
- Created on 11 April 2013
Two weeks ago, President Obama met with three African presidents—Koroma (Sierra Leone), Sall (Senegal), Banda (Malawi), and Prime Minister of Cape Verde Jose Maria Pereira Neves. This was the White House’s way of rewarding these leaders for their examples of good governance. Receiving an invitation to the White House is one of the most sought after invitations in the world, especially for foreign leaders.
African leaders constantly complain about how they are negatively portrayed in the U.S. media, about how Blacks don’t invest in Africa, and about how there seems to be a disconnect between Africans and American Blacks.
My response has always been quite simple – It’s your fault!
Let me break it down based on the itinerary for the delegation that met with Obama two weeks ago. In most cases, the State Department takes the lead in setting up the program for foreign leaders, but they are free to add their own program in addition to State’s program if they so desire.
While in Washington, each leader participated in numerous meetings and events to strengthen bilateral cooperation on a range of shared priorities. Joint events included a dinner hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) to discuss trade and investment opportunities with representatives from U.S. businesses; a public discussion on democratization in Africa at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP); an economic and development roundtable with U.S. government officials; and a meeting with Secretary of Defense Hagel to discuss cooperation on shared regional security and peacekeeping objectives in Africa.
Notice anything interesting here? Let me help you. Dinner hosted by CCA—mostly Fortune 500 companies (White-run companies). Many Africans accuse “corporate America” of only using Africa for their natural resources—well duh, you invited them to your country; a discussion on democracy at USIP. I have tried, to no avail, to get Howard University interested in engaging with African heads of state, but they have shown absolutely no interest. I think I can get a meeting with Obama easier than I can get a meeting with the president of Howard University. Meetings with government officials (i.e. White officials, other than former Ambassador Johnny Carson). Meeting with Secretary of Defense Hagel.
So, I guess these African leaders couldn’t find any Black NGOs to meet with or maybe their White lobbyists would not give them permission to meet with successful minority businessmen like David Steward, CEO of World Wide Technology in St. Louis–a $ 5 billion privately held firm.
Maybe their White lobbyist wouldn’t give them permission to meet with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of 200 Black-owned newspapers in the U.S., or give a speech at a Black university.
So, to my African heads of state, if you are looking for positive media coverage from the U.S., then sit with our Black media and tell them your story. If you are looking for investment in your country, then invest some time by meeting with Black businessmen when you come to our country. Ifif you want Americans, especially Blacks to tour your countries, then take a tour of our communities when you are in the U.S. So, stop complaining and be what you are looking for.
Africa has a lot to offer as far as investment opportunities, tourism, and even education; but Africa has not made its case to the American people. Until they do, they will continue to be like the tinkling cymbal or the sounding brass, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223
- Created on 10 April 2013
“Our nation is moving towards two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal.” – 1967 Kerner Commission
In 1963, more than a quarter-million people gathered in Washington, D.C. for the historic Great March for Jobs and Freedom. This was a watershed moment in American history, giving unprecedented voice to the hardships facing Blacks as they sought a fair shot at an elusive dream. In 2013, America witnessed the second inauguration of our first Black president. Much has changed in 50 years.
We now see a fair number of successful Blacks hailed as examples of the progress and possibilities that define American democracy. Most of the legal impediments preventing African Americans from learning, earning and living where they want have been removed. Unfortunately, these apparent indicators of improvement cannot lead us to conclude that Blacks in America have overcome. A veneer of progress cannot remove the stains of inequality that still exist in our country. As we simultaneously commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we are still on the march for economic and social equality.
The battlefield may look different, but the most pressing demands of today mirror the ones faced by those gathered in Washington, D.C. on that August afternoon in 1963: economic equality, educational opportunity and parity, and civil rights. However, instead of fighting against employment discrimination or a $2 minimum wage, we now fight for job training and wage equity. Instead of calling for school segregation to end, we now demand an end to disparities in educational investment. Instead of calling for meaningful civil rights legislation, we now fight to preserve voting rights and affirmative action — those very rights for which our ancestors fought and died.
This week, the National Urban League will release the 37th edition of the State of Black America report, which takes a 50-year retrospective look at economic and educational equality in America. I have seen the findings and studied them, and I am more convinced than ever that there remains much for us to do.
As I pointed out in a recent appearance on CNN, the so-called housing “recovery” clearly demonstrates that we are in “a tale of two Americas” — one where the rich are surging ahead while the average American is getting squeezed out — again. Further Blacks and Hispanics are faring even worse. The findings from the 2013 State of Black America, Redeem the Dream: Jobs Rebuild America make that painfully clear.
America is at a critical juncture. If we are to continue on the road to full economic recovery, every American needs access to jobs with a living wage and good benefits. Every child deserves access to the best schools, the best teachers and the best education in the world. Without that commitment, we will continue to see America, as the 1967 Kerner Commission put it, “moving towards two societies…separate and unequal.”
But persistent problems require sustainable solutions. This week, we will begin to move that conversation forward.
Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League
- Created on 11 April 2013
Surely you’ve heard the saying, “Money Talks.” But, have you ever wondered what is said about Black money? Obviously, understanding its power and the role it plays in this economy, money speaks loudly and clearly, and Black money speaks even louder. But what does it say?
We know from past experience, when we have grievances, if we resort to economic retaliation we can get things done. Why? Because Black money speaks loudest when it is under duress. One trillion dollars can get pretty loud and boisterous, and those who are getting the lion’s share of it right now pay close attention to what it is saying. They sit up and take notice when we resort to withholding our money from their coffers. Just look back in history and you can see what I mean.
The only language that gets things done in this country is the money language. Why do you think those folks on that balcony at the New York Stock Exchange always clap at the end of the trading day – regardless of a loss or a gain? In 2001, immediately following the World Trade Center tragedy, the call went out to the American public to spend more money; and then-President George W. Bush called for a spending campaign with the $600 “advance tax refund” checks.
Consumption comprises two-thirds of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP); the more we spend the higher it goes. Black dollars play a significant role in that scenario since we consume much more than we produce. But, since we already know what our dollars are saying to everyone else, let’s see what Black dollars are saying to Black people.
There is a great deal of it in the hands of brothers and sisters who seem to have plugs in their ears, unable to hear what their money is saying. I see some in the Hip-Hop crowd doing voting summits but not economic summits, despite their collective worth of billions of dollars. I see many of our Black athletes and entertainers spending rather than investing in their own brothers’ and sisters’ businesses. And I see millions of everyday brothers and sisters spending their share of our $1 trillion haphazardly, aimlessly, and unashamedly on the baubles, bangles, and beads made by everyone else except Black folks. It is obvious they are not listening to their money, and even more obvious that they are certainly not listening to folks like me.
My hope is that they and other Black consumers will listen to Brother Norm Bond, Chairman of the National Alliance of Market Developers, and Sister Sara Lomax-Reese, President and General Manager of 900AM (WURD), as they have kicked off the Million Dollar Black Spending Power Campaign in Philadelphia. In conjunction with the Philly movement, Claud Anderson, author of Powernomics, and Bob Law, venerable radio talk show host and community activist, are conducting forums titled, “Where is the money going?” which deal with turning Black spending into real power. The commitment being asked of individual Black consumers is to spend at minimum of $20 per week at a Black-owned business.
Do you think you can do that?
I think it’s the least we can do, and we must spread this movement across the country. Our dollars speak volumes of positive words but mostly to businesses other than those owned by Blacks. Our dollars also speak loudly – we just need to listen more closely and understand what they are saying. And then we must act upon their messages of power, leverage, and reciprocity.
You know, if Philadelphia sustains the Million Dollar Black Spending campaign, the impetus and catalytic effects from that city alone would demonstrate the strength and benefits of recycling Black dollars like no other movement has done. Philadelphia alone, with its tremendous number of Black businesses, associations, consumers, its history with Richard Allen, the Philadelphia Plan, Leon Sullivan, Ed Robinson, and Kenneth Bridges’ MATAH Network, Kenny gamble, Walter Lomax, anchored by WURD Radio, could serve as the model of how to get Black dollars to make some sense. I trust and pray you will support this movement.
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.
- Created on 10 April 2013
You can call it the "bandwagon effect," or "political opportunism," or, the "wake-up-call effect," or, less cynically, an old American tradition. Whatever you call it, in the last month it seems everybody and their momma in the political arena has been expressing support for gay rights and same-sex marriage.
The support has come from opposite ends of the political spectrum: from Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman, who also revealed that his son is gay, to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said she was free to speak her mind now that she has left office.
Even the Republican National Committee seemed in its white paper exploring the causes and implications of the Party's decisive defeat last November to call for a softening of the GOP's hard line on gay rights and same-sex marriage lest it find itself in "an ideological cul-de-sac."
Martin Luther King, Jr., whose commitment to justice for all got him killed 45 years ago this month, would be pleased. We do know which side this man, who was becoming ever more "militant" in his willingness to challenge the country's fierce dynamic of exclusion, would be on today.
Of course, it's not literally true that the opposition to gay rights has melted away. We can still expect plenty of venomous rhetoric and obstructionist legislative tactics from right-wing clerics, conservative officeholders (and wannabes) and pundits, and the conservative talk-show confederacy.
But the signs are unmistakable that the American public's support-to-opposition ratio on the multifaceted issues of gay rights has shifted significantly. For example, a Washington Post–ABC News poll conducted last month found that a record 58 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage, a finding the paper called "a remarkable – and remarkably fast – turnaround in American public opinion" on the issue since 2010.
The poll's findings were underscored by the two cases involving same-sex marriage the Supreme Court took up last month: One concerns California's 2008 voter-enacted Proposition 8, which bars same-sex marriage in the state. The other involves the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in the nine states and the District of Columbia where it is legal.
Regardless of how the court rules on these cases – expectations are that the justices will issue narrow rulings effectively gutting both laws – full civil rights for gay and lesbian Americans will become a reality much sooner rather than later.
The fact that this marked shift in public opinion about same-sex marriage became apparent at the moment of another calendar-driven commemoration of King's prophetic mission helps illuminate the similarities between the Black freedom struggle and the gay rights movement.
It's perfectly clear now that the gay rights movement is this era's "gateway" tolerance issue – that it is the movement whose successes are most critical at this moment to advancing tolerance and equal opportunity in American society.
That isn't to say gay rights has pushed into the background the struggle for full equality of Black Americans – or of White women and other people of color.
Rather, it's to acknowledge what hindsight has made apparent: Because the issue of gay rights has been the most contentious issue of tolerance for the past two decades, the advances gays and lesbians have made in gaining their rights, and the recognition of those rights by their fellow Americans have broadened the boundaries of tolerance for all.
That last point goes to the core of the common bond between the Black freedom struggle and the gay rights movement. Both groups were so stigmatized, so disregarded, so exiled from the American mainstream that they, separately and in different eras, had to forge an extraordinary, decades-long movement to change the thinking about them as a critical minority of Americans.
That shift the respective movements engineered led to the social and political breakthroughs for them and, importantly, for other groups. Just as the gay rights movement benefited from the inspiration and the practical successes of the Black freedom struggle of the last 50 years, so now Black Americans are benefiting from the gay rights movement's expanding the "space" for greater tolerance in American society.
Of course, what has happened on the same-sex marriage front over the past month hardly means that struggle is finished. Black Americans can point to an entire catalogue of breakthroughs stretching back to Emancipation; yet, their struggle for full citizenship goes on. So it will be with the gay rights movement. To be sure, this is a watershed moment for the movement. But, as with the Black freedom struggle, it will be some time yet before justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His most recent book is "Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America."