AFAM Newsbits – January 2017

As if we don’t have too many illegal guns in our neighborhoods that are too often being used for lethal purposes, legal purchases of guns by African-Americans have risen by 40% since Donald Trump was elected president. I wonder why?

“Surveys going back decades show that blacks and whites alike are more concerned with a potential neighbor’s income than they are with his skin color. Most people don’t have a problem with families from different racial or ethnic groups moving in next door, so long as the newcomers can afford to live there.” (Jason L. Riley, The Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2016)

“Polling done at the national level as well as in cities like Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Omaha also reveals that a large majority of blacks strongly prefer to live in a neighborhood that is at least half black. Despite these finding, the idea that a neighborhood’s racial imbalance could be caused by something other than racial discrimination never seems to occur to the experts at HUD.” (Jason L. Riley, The Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2016)

“Kleptocracy is a Greek word you might want to familiarize yourself with. Its literal Greek meaning is “rule by thieves.” The word actually refers to a government with corrupt rulers (kleptocrats) who rob from the people and/or plunder the country’s natural resources to increase their personal wealth. Although, when describing kleptocrats, one usually thinks of rulers leading small undeveloped nations like Zimbabwe, Russia is a more recent example of a larger, developed country whose leader, Vladimir Putin, has enriched himself and his close friends at the expense of his people. Our president-elect, Donald Trump, shows disturbing signs of being a man who might try to turn our country into a kleptocracy. I say “try” because it is unlikely that he will succeed given the negative media attention he is attracting and the blowback from our system of checks and balances. But he is brazen enough to try and the damage to our country from his efforts might take some time to repair.

In a recent article in The Boston Globe (December 16, 2016), Robert Kuttner rebutted the notion that inequality in America was a passive result of technological change, globalization and advanced skills. “In fact,” he writes, “the distribution of income and wealth has bounced around a lot in the past century and a half. It was extreme in the first Gilded Age of the 19th century, a little less so in the Progressive Era, extreme again in the 1920s, and remarkably egalitarian in the period between the New Deal and the early 1970s – and now extreme again.” And he challenges us: “Does anyone seriously argue that these shifts reflected changes in technology or skills? No, they reflected changes in the political power to set the ground rules of capitalism. And that’s what should command our attention today.”

I don’t usually read the New York Times but one of the rare times that I chose to do so, I read one of the most honest articles written by a White guy on race that I have probably ever been privy to. New York Times Nicholas Kristof wrote, “In 1962, 85 percent of white Americans told Gallup that black children had as good a chance as white kids of getting a good education. The next year, in another Gallup survey, almost half of whites said that blacks had just as good a chance of whites of getting a job.
“In retrospect, we can see that these white beliefs were delusional, and in other survey questions whites blithely acknowledged racist attitudes. In 1963, 45 percent said that they would object if a family member invited a black person home to dinner.”
“This complacency among us white Americans has been a historical constant. Even in the last decade, almost two-thirds of white Americans have said that blacks are treated fairly by the police, and four out of five whites have said that black children have the same chance as white kids of getting a good education. In short, the history of white Americans’ attitudes toward race has always been one of self-deception.”
I can’t include the entire article, which was only one of a series of articles Kristof wrote over several months, but I just can’t leave this statement out: “Just as in 1963, when many well-meaning whites glanced about and couldn’t see a problem, many well-meaning whites look around today, see a black president, and declare problem solved….That’s the backdrop for racial tensions roiling America today.”

Good for Springfield City Councilors who voted to return the Police Commission to Springfield.

Black Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson appears to be jockeying for a mayoral race against Boston Mayor Marty Walsh who is showing some real vulnerabilities. Tito is popular and tough in a city where minorities are in the majority and pulling at the bit for change. Sounds a bit like a city I know in Western Massachusetts.

Times’ Joe Klein chose to close out the year with some significant observations about the Obama presidency not the least significant of which was in his comments on scandals in the White House. He wrote: “The first African-American President of the United States was never going to be boring. . .There would be little melodrama and absolutely no hint of scandal during his time in office. The conservative fever swamps would be no less pustulant than they were during the Clinton presidency – indeed, the level of race-based hatemongering was frightening – but somehow the Obamas never let it get to them. They radiated a sense of militant normality, a mother-knows-best family on the world’s brightest stage.” Amen!
“Their physical, emotional and intellectual grace was daunting. They never lost their cool in public. He controlled a super sharp sense of irony; he was never harsh. He made plenty of mistakes, as all Presidents do. He declared a “red line” in Syria and did nothing when it was crossed. He did not pretend to like the social ceremonies of politics; he despised flattery. I once asked a top aide why the President didn’t invite his opponents over to the White House for a drink or a movie more often and was told, “He believes they’d see right through it.” Amen!

“It would help if the media finally learned its lesson, and stopped treating Republican scandal-mongering as genuine news.” (Paul Krugman, New York Times as reprinted in The Republican)

He shot an unarmed man to death during a road rage dispute, sat and waited for the police to arrive and surrendered to them. He was taken into custody and released later that day without charges. He was White and the man he killed was Black. What are we Black folks supposed to think about the fairness of our criminal justice system?


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