AFAM News bits – November 2017


“oleaginous” “1 having the properties of or producing oil.  2 oily; greasy.  3 obsequious; ingratiating.”

Just as I think my vocabulary is reasonably healthy, I encounter a word like “oleaginous,” a word I not only didn’t know the meaning of but one that I had never heard before. But it was an apt description of Fox News’ Sean Hannity by syndicated columnist Michael Gerson in an article in the Boston Herald (October 15, 2017).  


The Massachusetts unemployment rate has fallen to 3.9% after the addition of 8,000 jobs in August and 9,000 in September. Most economists consider this full employment. Unfortunately, the numbers do not include those who have dropped out of the labor market in frustration over not being able to find a job or for other reasons. This latter category includes a disproportionate percentage of African Americans and Latinos.


The big problem about race issues is that the first instinct of most White folks is to hide them, which is why the current controversy over the Dr. Suess Museum developed and why race problems in America persist. Theodor Geisel is no saint and he should not be treated as such. He made mistakes in his early career but later changed his ways, which is admirable and ripe for a teachable moment. Scholars will not let the truth be hidden and even lay students of history will rebel against a deliberate decision to hide the truth. Teach us all. Don’t deceive us and attack the messengers of historical truth.


Speaking at the Massachusetts Governor’s Awards in the Humanities in Boston, Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. said:
“We cannot allow forces of reaction to turn back the clock on American racial relations, obliterating the heroic efforts of legions of Americans, white and black, Asian and Latino, Jewish, Muslim and Christian, gay, straight, and trans, who risked – and sometimes gave their lives – to make certain that the arc of the moral universe bent toward justice to paraphrase King. Too many hands today are trying to bend that arc back, in another direction. May those of us who love truth and justice, who love the principles of democracy and equal opportunity upon which this great nation was founded, and who understand that Truth and Beauty are both cosmopolitan and colorblind, resist division and hatred.”


A recent poll shows Boston Mayor Marty Walsh beating Tito Jackson by 35 points or by a ratio of 58% to Tito’s 23%. Other statistics don’t look good for Tito either. 69% of voters say they hold a favorable opinion of Walsh, 66% are pleased with his job performance and 59% say Boston under Walsh has implemented progressive policies. It gets worse. Marty leads Tito among voters of every race, including Black voters and 50% of voters say they have personally met him. Additionally, Walsh had 68% favorable name recognition to Jackson’s 38%. The question that comes to mind is whether Jackson did any polling before jumping into the race.


The Boston NAACP gave Mayor Marty Walsh poor grades for fulfilling his campaign promises to minorities. Walsh received “Fs” for lack of diversity in the Boston Fire Department, the recruitment and retention of teachers of color, and the city’s inability to fully implement the police body camera pilot initiative. According to The Boston Globe (October 22, 2017), the 200 page report titled “Equity, Opportunity and Access Report Card,” “…pointed to low levels of homeownership for building wealth; high levels of poverty; and low levels of minority business development and success.” It further stated that “Relative to white people, economic differences are stark and manifestly unfair.” It also asserted, “The city has the opportunity to greatly improve the economic situation in its communities of color.”  Like Springfield, more than half of Boston’s residents are people of color.  


I mean, let’s be real! What did Boston’s Black leaders expect Elizabeth Warren to do when it came to a choice between endorsing the surging Marty Walsh and the floundering Tito Jackson? The minimum they expected of her was that she sit out the mayoral election and, at most, to endorse Jackson. Both made no sense for a person who is planning to run for president in 2020 and could use a Walsh endorsement which is far more valuable than a Jackson endorsement. Jackson’s own Black community is voting against him in his mayoral race and in a presidential election, Jackson and Boston’s Black leaders will have little choice but to back Warren unless they want to buck their own constituents and the Democratic powers that be, that they make it a religion to suck up to. Good move, Liz.  


The NAACP recently elected 49-year-old Derrick Johnson as its new president and CEO. Johnson previously served as vice chairman of the NAACP board of directors and as its interim leader since July. His selection doesn’t sound like a fresh start, which the NAACP badly needs, although Johnson is planning to alter its nonprofit status to allow it to be more political.  


A Boston Sunday Globe article (October 15, 2017) revealed how President Donald Trump’s kneejerk decision to end a provision of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) that was benefiting about 6 million Americans is likely to harm the very people who helped him get elected. According to an Associated Press analysis, nearly 70% of those benefiting from the part of the Act that Trump eliminated live in states Trump won. Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of consumers benefiting from the cost sharing part of the Act that Trump canceled went for Trump. Half of Kentuckians buying health insurance on the federal exchange were benefiting from the subsidies Trump just ended. The subsidies were paid by the government to insurance companies to lower the amount they charged to people buying health policies. Premiums in Arkansas will rise by 14% to 25%. In Mississippi, where 80% of consumers buy on the insurance exchange, premiums for consumers will increase by 47%. It goes on and on in states Trump won. He took his action out of pure spite in complete disregard for folks who trusted him and, by all accounts, still trust him. We’ll see how they feel when the effects of his actions kick in.


In a Wall Street Journal editorial (September 25, 2017), William Lloyd Stearman ruminated about slavery and among the things he said was: “In the late 1960s, when the American black family structure had begun to crumble and the number of babies born out of wedlock was increasing, some blamed slavery. But in the 1930s the vast majority of American black families were intact. In the 1930s, the flag was hardly displayed in the south….Only in the 1950s did the greatly proliferated flag became (sic) a symbol of opposition to desegregation, with the flag design even appearing on beach towels and bikinis….General (Robert E.) Lee would have been appalled by this base exploitation of the old Conquered Banner. And African-Americans, who have every reason to be offended by the flag, understandably delight in its increasing disappearance from public view.”  ■

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