Baby Bonds: A Plan for Black/White Wealth Equality Conservatives Could Love?
Darrick Hamilton calls for spreading the benefits of asset-ownership to all Americans.
Darrick Hamilton calls for spreading the benefits of asset-ownership to all Americans.
Although the Southern Poverty Law Center says it has alerted Amazon to sellers who sell hate group material, the company has not always been receptive to completely eliminating these sellers.
Amazon is enabling and profiting from hate groups and ideologies, according to a damning report released on Friday.
The report, “Delivering Hate: How Amazon’s Platforms Are Used to Spread White Supremacy, Anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia,” details a variety of ways that hate groups take advance of Amazon’s massive platforms and inconsistently enforced policies. Two advocacy groups ― Partnership for Working Families and Action Center on Race and the Economy ― compiled the study.
When asked about the report, Amazon referred HuffPost to its official guidelines, which prohibit the selling of “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.”
But critics say that this policy often doesn’t reflect reality.
Amazon’s approximately 300 million active customers can encounter products that feature hate symbols and hateful language on Amazon Marketplace, which has allowed racist, Islamophobic, anti-LGBTQ and anti-Semitic groups to sell merchandise.
The report found items for sale that included a costume of a lynching victim, a hangman’s noose decal, Nazi memorabilia and children’s toys featuring alt-right symbol Pepe the Frog.
Against Fortress LiberalismFor forty years, liberals have accepted defeat and called it “incremental progress.” Bernie Sanders offers a different way forward.by Matt KarpBernie Sanders in the South Bronx on March 31, 2016. Michael Vadon / Flickr628Our next issue, “Between the Risings,” is out this month. To celebrate its release, international subscriptions are $25 off.The primary campaign between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has produced the most direct ideological battle the Democratic Party has seen in a generation. It’s not just the policy differences that separate Sanders’s blunt social-democratic platform from Clinton’s neoliberal grab bag. The two candidates embody clashing theories of politics — alternative visions of how to achieve progressive goals within the American political system.The Bernie Sanders model of change has all the subtlety of an index finger raised high above a debate podium. Lay out a bold, unapologetic vision of reform that speaks directly to people’s basic needs. Connect that vision to existing popular struggles, while mobilizing a broad and passionate coalition to support it (#NotMeUs). Ride this wave of democratic energy to overwhelm right-wing opposition and enact major structural reforms.The Hillary Clinton model of change, on the other hand, begins not with policy or people but with a politician. Choose an experienced, practical leader who explicitly rejects unrealistic goals. Rally around that leader’s personal qualifications, while defending past achievements and stressing the value of party loyalty (#ImWithHer). Draw on the leader’s expertise to grind away at Congress and accumulate incremental victories that add up to significant reform.For most of the Left, Clinton-style “incrementalism” is just a code word to disguise what is effectively a right-wing retrenchment. Nevertheless many self-identified progressives have backed Clinton’s “theory of politics” as the most realistic path to achieve Sanders’s objectives.“As a temperamentally moderate figure,” the liberal Boston Globe argued, Clinton is best positioned to “take concrete steps to get relevant legislation enacted.”Other editorial boards, corporate legal bloggers, and billionaires in the back seats of limousines have likewise endorsed the Clinton model as the only serious form of politics in a polarized republic. But they struggle to identify a major progressive victory that Clinton-style incrementalism has won in the past half-century.Clinton’s eight-year term in the Senate produced bills to regulate video game violence and flag burning, both of which died in committee.Bill Clinton’s eight-year term in the White House gave us the Earned Income Tax Credit and a small children’s health insurance program — but also NAFTA, the 1994 crime bill, welfare reform, the Defense of Marriage Act, financial deregulation, and a grand bargain to gut Social Security that was only thwarted by a timely sex scandal.The pragmatic, piecemeal, and irreproachably moderate achievements of Jimmy Carter are still more dispiriting. Even judged by the charitable standards of American liberalism, the forty-year balance sheet of “incremental progress” is decidedly negative.Beltway pundits scoff at Sanders’s model of change, meanwhile, as if the Vermont senator thinks he can defeat a Republican Congress by getting a few hundred protestors to yell slogans outside Capitol Hill.They naturally fail to mention that as a matter of historical record, the Sanders model happened to produce Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, and Medicaid.The simple truth is that virtually every significant and lasting progressive achievement of the past hundred years was achieved not by patient, responsible gradualism, but through brief flurries of bold action. The Second New Deal in 1935–36 and Civil Rights and the Great Society in 1964–65 are the outstanding examples, but the more ambiguous victories of the Obama era fit the pattern, too.These reforms came in a larger political environment characterized by intense popular mobilization — the more intense the mobilization, the more meaningful the reform. And each of them was overseen by an unapologetically liberal president who hawked a sweeping agenda and rode it all the way to a landslide victory against a weakened right-wing opposition.All three bursts of reform, of course, were shaped by the need to deal with opponents in Congress — including conservative Democrats — who imposed their own conditions. And even the New Deal and the Great Society, of course, were profoundly compromised in ways that no one on the Left is likely to forget.Nevertheless these were real victories. None of them was won in the name of moderation, incrementalism, or the sober-minded rejection of ambitious goals.At the 1936 Democratic convention, Franklin Roosevelt famously called for a “rendezvous with destiny,” not a rendezvous with tax credits for small businesses. Roosevelt took it as hi
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
Tribute to Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan In Conversation with Dr. Wilmer Leon
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March 21, 2015 10 pm ET LIVE
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He was one of the most courageous and inspiring scholars of our time would live for nearly a century, paying personal witness to dramatic transformations in the lives of Black people across the globe. Now a Beloved Ancestor.
ABOUT Dr. WilmerLeon Dr. Leon’s Prescription
Wilmer Leon is the Nationally Broadcast Talk Show Host of “Inside The Issues with Wilmer Leon” Saturday’s from 11:00 am to 2:00pm on Sirius XM (126).
Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D. is a Political Scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics and Public Policy. Wilmer has a BS degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.Dr. Leon is also the host of XM Satellite Radio’s, “Inside The Issues”, a three-hour, call-in, talk radio program airing live nationally on XM Satellite Radio channel 126.”
Dr. Leon was a featured commentator on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight and is also a regular contributor to The Grio.com, The Root.com, TruthOut.org, The Maynard Institute.com and PoliticsInColor.com. He is an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice for more than 5 years.
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by Jon Jeter
The U.S. Black-white wealth gap is larger than in South Africa at the height of apartheid. The statistic is all the more remarkable when considering that South Africa virtually mandated gross inequality by law, while in the U.S. the great chasm exists “within a political economy that is at least nominally democratic” and packed with Black elected officials, including “the sitting head of state.”
“The wealth gap narrowed to a ratio of 7 to 1 in 1995 before ballooning to 22 to 1 following a housing market collapse five years ago.”
For every dollar in assets owned by whites in the United States, blacks own less than a nickel, a racial divide that is wider than South Africa’s at any point during the apartheid era.
The median net worth for black households is $4,955, or about 4.5 percent of whites’ median household wealth, which was $110, 729 in 2010, according to Census data. Racial inequality in apartheid South Africa reached its zenith in 1970 when black households’ median net worth represented 6.8 percent of whites’, according to an analysis of government data by Sampie Terreblanche, professor emeritus of economics at Stellenbosch University.
Widely recognized as an expert on inequality, Terreblanche described the racial wealth gap in the U.S. as “shocking,” in an email, and noted that it would exceed apartheid’s by an even larger margin had the white-minority not categorized mixed-race South Africans as “coloured” during the white-minority’s 46-year rule.
Household wealth is the accumulated sum of assets – houses, cars, bank, investment, and retirement accounts – minus the aggregate value of debt, including mortgages, auto loans, and credit card balances. It’s more comprehensive than income, which measures the year-to-year earnings from wages, dividends, and profits. Since the US Census began publishing the figures nearly a quarter century ago, the chasm in wealth between whites and blacks has always yawned far wider than disparities in income, but narrowed to a ratio of 7 to 1 in 1995 before ballooning to 22 to 1 following a housing market collapse five years ago. African-descended people account for about 14 percent of the population in the US but only 1.4 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent.
Inflated largely by speculators’ frenzied investments in usurious mortgage loans, the real-estate bubble’s inevitable implosion triggered the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and, the most profound dispossession of African Americans’ material wealth since the slave trade.
“Here in the US, redlining, gentrification and foreclosure have been just as potent as South African bulldozers.”
To be sure, virtually no American who works for a living has emerged from the financial crisis unscathed. But for blacks, today’s political and economic climate is tantamount to a perfect storm: persistent unemployment, low wages, and a growing dependency on household debt have conspired with a restructured postwar economy to weaken every rung on the ladder – labor unions, the manufacturing sector, education, public sector employment, homeownership and marriage – that blacks have historically relied on to climb out of the muck of poverty.
What’s most astonishing about America’s yawning racial chasm is that the U.S. has eclipsed apartheid-like levels of inequality within a political economy that is at least nominally democratic, and a generation of black post-civil rights elected officials that includes the sitting head of state. Conversely, apartheid brought the hammer; until voters of all races went to the polls for the first time in 1994, the law of the land prohibited blacks from voting, holding public office, owning property, joining progressive political movements, and miscegenation.
But on a molecular level, apartheid shares with monopoly capital the same genetic markers, cultural narratives, and immutable identity. To annex land coveted by whites, the apartheid state simply razed entire black neighborhoods to the ground, and rebuilt them as sprawling gated communities. Here in the US, redlining, gentrification and foreclosure have been just as potent as South African bulldozers. Fifty-three percent of all black homebuyers in 2006 were saddled with subprime mortgages, compared to 49 percent of Latinos and 26 percent of whites.
Treating black South Africans as essentially guest workers, apartheid “pass laws” required blacks to produce employment documents for any white person – gendarme and 11-year-old white girls alike – who demanded it. You need not be a Marxist to see the clear parallels between that Draconian measure and the stop-and-frisk policies employed by the New York City Police Department, or the wide berth afforded white vigilantes such as George Zimmerman. Similarly, payday loan stores began to materialize in the inner cities of Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and New York at roughly the same time they began to open for business in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The result is that South Africa’s blacks, wanting the good life that was denied to them by apartheid, are today sinking in consumer debt just as are blacks are in this country.
“For blacks, today’s political and economic climate is tantamount to a perfect storm.”
Much like the ubiquitous payday loan shops, racial inequality in the US is so profound that it has become unremarkable, almost banal.
There is seldom a single white passenger on the weekday 295 bus that leaves the Menlo Park train station at 7:32 am, dropping off mostly Latinas who clean million dollar homes in the Silicon Valley neighborhood. At the New Orleans airport, the jazz trio that greets passengers appears phenotypically all white men, while all the employees at the Copeland’s Gourmet Kitchen are African American, save one, the shift manager. Similarly, if you ride the uptown 5 train and get off at 51st and Lexington Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the afternoon rush hour, you will see a study in contrasts: the mostly black and brown homeless people in tattered clothing huddled, still and silent, in the soup line at St. Bart’s Episcopal Church, while across the street, the chatty white employees pour from the Bank of America office tower, dressed to the nines.
“Our nation is moving toward two societies,” the Kerner Commission concluded in its 1968 report on the causes of the nationwide civil disturbances that had begun three years earlier in Los Angeles, “one black, one white— separate and unequal.”
Forty-five years later, it’s a wrap.
Jon Jeter was the Washington Post bureau chief for southern Africa from 1999 to 2003, and is the author of Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced Working People. He can be reached email@example.com.
by Paul Kiel, ProPublica, May 13
Many people know the dangers of payday loans. But “installment loans” also have sky-high rates and work by getting borrowers — usually poor — to renew over and over. We take you inside one of the biggest installment lenders, billion-dollar World Finance. More »