Blacks at risk

Urban League says progress is fragile


WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and a Republican-dominated Congress have shifted power and priorities in Washington and brought a “dire risk” to Black economic and social progress, according to the National Urban League’s annual State of Black America report released last week.

“A little more than three months since President Obama has left office, much of the economic and social progress we saw under his watch is under imminent threat,” said NUL President/CEO Marc Morial in a statement upon the release of the report.

“Recovery from the Great Recession has been slow, but it has been real…. During the Obama era, the economy added 15 million new jobs, the Black unemployment rate dropped and the high school graduation rate for African-Americans soared. Now that progress, and much more, is threatened.”

Specific threats
The report, which has a 20-page executive summary and voluminous addenda and essays by numerous policy experts, outlines specific issues where NUL studies have found threats of imminent rollbacks. Among them:

National Urban League CEO Mark Morial issued the organization’s annual State of Black America report last week.

•“The federal budget currently under consideration would slash the budget of the Departments of Health, Education, Housing, and Labor – a blueprint for a sick, uneducated, homeless and unemployed America.  Suggested double-digit cuts, or the outright elimination of funding for vital programs and services, would devastate already vulnerable citizens and working families.” 

•“During his confirmation hearing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions surprisingly expressed his doubt – and disregard – for consent decrees secured by the Obama Justice Department in cities where policing patterns revealed ingrained racial bias, systemic civil rights violations and the regular use of excessive force… Sessions…(is) signaling a retreat on common sense police reform that endorses constitutional policing in all our communities. We believe he must continue to enforce these vital consent decrees.”

•“…(T)he social cancer of hate continues to metastasize, thriving in a climate conducive to hostility towards religious and racial minorities, permeating even at the highest levels of national discourse and threatening to further crack our fractured nation….Incendiary language about immigrants, Muslims, women and people of color has translated into discriminatory public policy, including an immigration ban that gives preference to one religion over another; baseless accusations of voter fraud…and efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in parts, or as a whole, that would have the inevitable outcome of disproportionately burdening communities of color.”

Trailing, dropping
Also included in the report are the annual “Equality Indexes” which compare the economic status between Blacks and Whites. Even the area with the best Black-White income equality revealed Black America woefully trailing and even dropping.

The detailed report states that the highest median household income for both Blacks ($68,054) and Whites ($112,177) was in Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Va. areas. The lowest median Black household income ($23,693) was in Toledo, Ohio.

It notes, “Even though Toledo had one of the lowest median White household incomes in the country, the White household income in Toledo was still more than double the Black household income.”

List of solutions
As a remedy to some of the direst problems, the SOBA presented “The Main Street Marshall Plan: From Poverty to Prosperity,” described as “a sweeping proposal for economic and social revitalization of America’s cities and struggling neighborhoods.”

The plan calls for:
•National investment of $4 trillion over the next 10 years: $2 trillion for physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges and buildings and $2 trillion for human development, such as education, job training and health insurance.
•A comprehensive infrastructure initiative, with inner cities being the major beneficiary, including a strong jobs-building component that guarantees minority business participation and employment for workers in high-unemployment neighborhoods.

Other highlights include universal pre-K education; a $15 minimum wage with increases indexed to inflation; reforms to financial and educational institutions and programs; criminal justice and police reform; and expansion and protection of voting rights.


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