To Make New Orleans a Great City
by Jeff Thomas
There are some things black and white New Orleanians agree with. Others cause extreme disagreement. We can all agree that our streets are horrible. And that flooding has to be stopped. Crime is a bad thing. We need strong levees. Gumbo is a cold weather food. Good music is good for the soul. But if I start talking about the disparities that exist in our city, then we quickly get into bad juju land. Black men suffer from 50% unemployment in New Orleans because of discrimination. Education is not the great equalizer. Want proof? On average, black men with college degrees earn less than white men without even a high school diploma. Hard work is not a way for black people to pull themselves up. Proof? Black men earn 50% less than white men for the same work. In short, black people need more money to make our city great.
If you really want to make New Orleans a great place to live, then we have to be bold and flip the script. First things first. So, black people having more money is not a threat to anybody. And more money in the local economy is good for everybody. You see, crime and poverty are inextricably linked. And for the last 300 years, too many black people in New Orleans have been mired in poverty. But for too long too many white people have dismissed this as fake news. But facts are facts.
One notion has to be understood. Being born white is an unearned advantage. This advantage is the result of government policies over the course of centuries. From slavery to Jim Crow to red lining, government policies have created income and opportunity advantages for white people. One stunning fact is that the average white person inherits just over $250,00 while the average black person inherits debt. The most pernicious policy is mortgage and housing discrimination. From rich to poor, the greatest single advantage white people have is wealth derived from home ownership. Most white people have passed generational wealth through property. While black people were denied mortgages, paid lower wages and have been forced to work harder just for self-preservation and sustenance, whites were able to create wealth through property ownership. These fixes would helpblack people make more money and make our city great.
The federal government would fund and invest in accounts for every child born in the US. This money would be available at 18 for every child to get an education, start a business or buy a house. This would provide some foundation from which all people could benefit.
Not talking socialism, but if two people do the same job then the pay should be equal. Black men earn half of what white men earn for the same work and women only a third. We must eliminate these disparities by requiring equal pay.
Half of all city contracts must be given to pre-qualified black businesses. This would make our city, state and country a better place to live for all