Today, we need a comprehensive agenda for African Americans with ambition that matches the scale of the challenge and with recognition that race-neutral policies are not a sufficient response to race-based disparities. 

The Biden Plan for Black America will: 

  • Advance the economic mobility of African Americans and close the racial wealth and income gaps.
  • Expand access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system.
  • Make far-reaching investments in ending health disparities by race.
  • Strengthen America’s commitment to justice.
  • Make the right to vote and the right to equal protection real for African Americans.
  • Address environmental justice.

ADVANCE THE ECONOMIC MOBILITY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS AND CLOSE THE RACIAL WEALTH AND INCOME GAPS

Invest in African American Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Approximately 4% of small business owners are African American, even though African Americans make up approximately 13% of the population. To build wealth in African American communities, we must invest in the success of African American businesses and entrepreneurs. 

Ensuring equal access to credit and capital. African American businesses often lack the capital they need to succeed. African American businesses are rejected at a rate nearly 20% higher than the white-owned firms. Even worse, African American businesses that do get funding receive only 40% of the funds requested as compared to 70% for white businesses. To increase investment and access to capital, Biden will:

  • Double funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative. The Obama-Biden Administration created the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to support small businesses, driving $10 billion in new lending for each $1 billion in SSBCI funds. Biden will extend the program through 2025 and double its federal funding to $3 billion, driving close to $30 billion of private sector investments to small businesses all told, especially those owned by women and people of color.
  • Expand the New Markets Tax Credit, make the program permanent, and double Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) funding. The New Markets Tax Credit has helped draw tens of billions of dollars in new capital to low-income communities, providing tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing plants.  As part of his plan to reinvest in communities across the country, including in rural areas, Biden will also double funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, which supports local, mission-driven financial institutions in low-income areas around the U.S. This builds on Biden’s proposal to support entrepreneurs in small towns and rural areas by expanding both the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program and the number of Rural Business Investment Companies, to help rural businesses attract capital.
  • Improve and expand the Small Business Administration programs that most effectively support African American-owned businesses. The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) programs have been and remain one of the most effective ways of accessing capital for African American-owned businesses. Biden will strengthen these existing programs by:
    • Ensuring the SBA has the funding it needs to support African American-owned business and others in the current crisis and beyond. Trump has once again proposed a massive cut of 25% in the SBA budget for FY2021, including a 35% cut in funding to Small Business Development Centers, a 20% cut to the SBA Microloan Program, and significantly increased fees for the 7(a) loan program, which is SBA’s main loan program for small businesses.
    • Making permanent the successful Community Advantage loan program, originally created during the Obama-Biden Administration. The program, which provides capital for startups and growing small businesses located in particularly underserved communities through CDFIs and other mission-driven lenders, has been run as a pilot program since 2011. Biden will make this program permanent and reverse rules enacted by the Trump Administration that are making it more difficult for lenders to participate in the program and lend to African American-owned businesses and other businesses located in underserved communities.

Increase opportunities for African American-owned businesses to obtain or participate in federal contracts. In the aftermath of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, well over $100 billion of federal prime contracting dollars were awarded to minority-owned small businesses. And, between 2013 and 2016, the Obama-Biden Administration increased federal prime contract dollars going to Small Disadvantaged Businesses by nearly 30%, from $30.6 billion to $39.1 billion. The Obama-Biden Administration also created an Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses, which included a focus on contracting opportunities for minority-owned businesses. The Obama-Biden Administration implemented its vision of more equitable access to federal contracts through a variety of channels, including by launching the Federal Procurement Center (FPC) as part of the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The FPC, a first-of-its-kind program, helps minority-owned firms apply for and win federal government contracts. As President, Biden will build on these efforts to support the expansion of opportunities for minority-owned small businesses.  

Increase funding for the Minority Business Development Agency budget. MBDA plays a critical role in supporting the development and growth of minority-owned businesses around the country, as well as providing needed assistance to federal and state agencies so that they award minority-owned businesses procurement contracts. The Trump Administration has pushed for a 75% cut in MBDA’s budget. Biden would protect and call for increased funding for it.

Protect small and disadvantaged businesses from federal and state contract bundling which often locks out African American-owned smaller firms from effectively bidding on procurement contracts. Biden will build on the anti-bundling provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, by having the Office of Management and Budget, SBA, and MBDA conduct a government-wide review of existing contract bundling to determine whether agencies are following existing rules and whether agencies have the ability to further ensure small business participation in federal and state procurement opportunities.

Make sure economic relief because of COVID-19 reaches the African American businesses that need it most. The first installment of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) largely left out minority-owned businesses. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that more than 90% of small businesses owned by people of color will not receive loans. The program is not taking into account the specific challenges that African American businesses face in accessing funding and complying with the program’s requirements. The financial institutions best positioned to help African American small businesses don’t have the systems to quickly deploy the funding in a first-come first-served approach. The second phase set aside $60 billion for community banks and CDFIs, as well as mid-sized banks, which can better serve smaller businesses and minority-owned firms. This is a good start, but more needs to be done:

  • Provide African-American entrepreneurs and other small business owners technical assistance to help them apply for funding, as well as legal and accounting support to ensure their documentation (such as their financial records, tax filings, and other legal documents) is all in correct order. The Trump Administration and Congress should provide an additional infusion of operating capital to these CDFIs and community-focused lenders to ensure all African American entrepreneurs have access to the technical assistance and support they need.
  • Reserve half of all the new PPP funds for small businesses with 50 employees or less, so the bigger and more well-connected aren’t able to win in a first-come, first-served race. While this will help the vast majority of small businesses, it should also help target more funding to minority-owned businesses, given 98% of all minority-and women-owned businesses have fewer than 50 employees. 
  • Produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans. Such a dashboard would help drive better data collection on the beneficiaries of small business support related to the COVID-19 epidemic, including in particular collecting data by gender and race, in order to ensure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses.
SUPPORTING AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCHES DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS
Shelter-in-place orders, while critical to protecting the health of parishioners, have hit churches hard as collection revenue has virtually stopped. African American churches are especially at-risk during the downturn. One survey put the typical African American membership at just 75 congregants, while others have noted that annual revenue is down since much of it is typically collected during Easter season. At a time when many Americans will seek spiritual assistance and social support, we must ensure the preservation of religious institutions. The decision by Congress to include non-profits, including religious institutions, in the Paycheck Protection Program and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan programs was a critical first step. But the support has not flowed to these institutions the way it should. Well-connected companies were first in line for the support funding.Biden’s True Small Business Fund would also apply to non-profit groups like African American churches. 

Expand African American Homeownership and Access to Affordable, Safe Housing 

The gap between African American and white homeownership is larger today than when the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. This has contributed to a jaw-dropping racial wealth gap—nearly 1,000%—between median white and African American households. Because home ownership is how most families save and build wealth, the disparity in home ownership is a central driver of the racial wealth gap. As President, Biden will invest $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs. Biden will:

Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000. Building off of a temporary tax credit expanded as part of the Recovery Act, this tax credit will be permanent and advanceable, meaning that homebuyers receive the tax credit when they make the purchase instead of waiting to receive the assistance when they file taxes the following year.

Tackle racial bias that leads to homes in communities of color being assessed by appraisers below their fair value. Housing in communities primarily comprised of people of color is valued at tens of thousands of dollars below majority-white communities even when all other factors are the same, contributing to the racial wealth gap. To counteract this racial bias, Biden will establish a national standard for housing appraisals that ensures appraisers have adequate training and a full appreciation for neighborhoods and do not hold implicit biases because of a lack of community understanding. 

Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections, strongly enforce fair credit reporting laws, and create a new Public Credit Reporting Agency. Being able to obtain a credit report is a critical step for homeownership. Biden has long been an advocate for eliminating discrimination in the provision of credit, including his legislation amending the Equal Credit Opportunity Act which prohibited creditors from discriminating against consumer applicants for credit. Today’s credit reports, which are issued by just three large private companies, are rife with problems: they often contain errors, they leave many “credit invisible” due to the sources used to generate a credit score, and they contribute to racial disparitieswidening the African American homeownership gap, Biden will create a new public credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumers with a government option that seeks to minimize racial disparities, for example by ensuring the algorithms used for credit scoring don’t have a discriminatory impact, and by accepting non-traditional sources of data like rental history and utility bills to establish credit.

Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights. This new Bill of Rights will prevent mortgage brokers from leading borrowers into loans that cost more than appropriate, prevent mortgage servicers from advancing a foreclosure when the homeowner is in the process of receiving a loan modification, give homeowners a private right of action to seek financial redress from mortgage lenders and servicers that violate these protections, and give borrowers the right to a timely notification on the status of their loan modifications and to be able to appeal modification denials.

Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. 

  • Give local elected officials the tools and resources they need to combat gentrification. Biden will implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have a discriminatory effect. The Trump Administration suspended this rule in 2018. Biden will ensure effective and rigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. And, he will reinstate the federal risk-sharing program which has helped secure financing for thousandsof affordable rental housing units in partnership with housing finance agencies.   
  • Hold financial institutions accountable for discriminatory practices in the housing market. In 2013, the Obama-Biden Administration codified a long-standing, court-supported view that lending practices that have a discriminatory effect can be challenged even if discrimination was not explicit. But now the Trump Administration is seeking to gut this disparate impact standard by significantly increasing the burden of proof for those claiming discrimination. In the Biden Administration, this change will be reversed to ensure financial institutions are held accountable for serving all customers. 
  • Restore the federal government’s power to enforce settlements against discriminatory lenders. The Trump Administration has stripped the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, a division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of its power to enforce settlements against lenders found to have discriminated against borrowers – for example by charging significantly higher interest rates for people of color than white individuals. Biden will return power to the division so it can protect consumers from discrimination.

Strengthen and expand the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that our nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are serving all communities. The Community Reinvestment Actcurrently regulates banks, but does little to ensure that “fintechs” and non-bank lenders are providing responsible access to all members of the community. On top of that gap, the Trump Administration is proposing to weaken the law by allowing lenders to receive a passing rating even if the lenders are excluding many neighborhoods and borrowers. Biden will expand the Community Reinvestment Act to apply to mortgage and insurance companies, to add a requirement for financial services institutions to provide a statement outlining their commitment to the public interest, and, importantly, to close loopholes that would allow these institutions to avoid lending and investing in all of the communities they serve. 

Eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination. Exclusionary zoning has for decades been strategically used to keep people of color and low-income families out of certain communities. As President, Biden will enact legislation requiring any state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning, as proposed in the HOME Act of 2019 by Majority Whip Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker. Biden will also invest $300 million in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to eliminate exclusionary zoning policies and other local regulations that contribute to sprawl. 

Increase access to affordable housing. Biden will invest in expanding the supply of affordable housing by: 

  • Establishing a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing. He will ensure funding supports community development efforts, expanding the HOME program and the Capital Magnet Fund, which spurs private investment in affordable housing and economic development in distressed communities.
  • Providing tax incentives for the construction of more affordable housing in communities that need it most. As President, Biden will expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit – a tax provision designed to incentivize the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income tenants that has created nearly 3 million affordable housing units since the mid-1980s – with a $10 billion investment. Biden will also invest in the development and rehabilitation of single family homes across distressed urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act

Protect homeowners during the COVID-19 crisis. Biden has previously called for a rent freeze for qualifying individuals for the duration of the crisis, and a halt to foreclosures and evictions as people get back on their feet. Some banks are raising mortgage borrowing standards and requiring significantly higher down payments. Biden would also restrict the big banks’ ability to abandon the African American community by withdrawing from housing markets for all but the best-off buyers. 

Read Joe Biden’s full housing plan at joebiden.com/housing.

Promote More Equitable Wealth Building and a More Secure Retirement

The typical white family holds approximately ten times the wealth as the typical African Americans family—a disparity that dramatically increased over the past half century. Today, the typical wealth of a white family is $171,000, compared to just $17,600 for the typical African American family. This inequity means that many African American families have insufficient wealth to enjoy a secure retirement. In fact, in 2016, the average African American family had just $25,000 saved for retirement—due in part to a retirement saving system that affords limited incentives for middle-class African American families to save for retirement. To make the U.S. retirement system more secure and equitable, Biden will:

Equalize the tax benefits of defined contribution plans. The current tax benefits for retirement savings are based on the concept of deferral, whereby savers get to exclude their retirement contributions from tax, see their savings grow tax free, and then pay taxes when they withdraw money from their account. This system provides upper-income families with a much stronger tax break for saving and a limited benefit for middle-class and other workers with lower earnings. 

The Biden Plan will equalize benefits across the income scale, so that low- and middle-income workers will also get a tax break when they put money away for retirement.  

Remove penalties for caregivers who want to save for retirement. African Americans are more likely to be caregivers than whites. They also bear disproportionate caregiving responsibilities relative to white caregivers. Biden will support informal caregivers by allowing them to make “catch-up” contributions to retirement accounts, even if they’re not earning income in the formal labor market, as has been proposed in bipartisan legislation by Representatives Jackie Walorski and Harley Rouda.

Give small businesses a tax break for starting a retirement plan and giving workers the chance to save at work. Half of African American workers lack access to a retirement saving plan at work. Biden calls for widespread adoption of workplace savings plans and offers tax credits to small businesses to offset much of the costs. Under Biden’s plan, almost all workers without a pension or 401(k)-type plan will have access to an “automatic 401(k),” which provides the opportunity to easily save for retirement at work—putting millions of middle-class families in the path to a secure retirement.

Make Social Security benefits more generous and equitable. Older African Americans disproportionately depend on Social Security benefits for retirement income. To bolster retirement security for older African Americans who have spent a lifetime working, the Biden Social Security reform plan will raise benefits for vulnerable beneficiaries—including widows and widowers, low-wage workers, and long duration beneficiaries who may have exhausted all other assets. In addition, Biden proposes to boost average benefits across the board while putting Social Security on a long-term path to solvency by raising payroll taxes for workers with more than $400,000 in earnings. 

Invest in Communities that Need it Most

Fully implement Congressman Clyburn’s 10-20-30 Plan to help all individuals living in persistently impoverished communities. To tackle persistent poverty in all communities, in both urban and rural America, Vice President Biden supports applying Congressman James Clyburn’s 10-20-30 formula to all federal programs, targeting funds to census tracts with persistent poverty.

Create a White House “StrikeForce” to partner with rural communities to help them access federal funds. The Biden Administration will create a White House StrikeForce consisting of agency leaders who will partner with community-building organizations in persistent poverty rural communities and help them unlock federal resources. This approach is modeled on the StrikeForce Secretary Tom Vilsack successfully established in the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Obama-Biden Administration.

Drive additional capital into low-income communities to spur the development of low-income housing. The New Markets Tax Credit draws in $8 of private investment for every $1 of federal investment in low-income communities by providing tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing plants. Biden will expand the program to provide $5 billion in support every year, and will make the program permanent so communities can take the credit into account in their long-term planning. 

Build and modernize infrastructure in communities that need it most. Biden has offered a transformational $1.3 trillion plan to create millions of good-paying, union jobs—roads, ports, waterways, schools, broadband, schools, and more. His plan includes specific measures to close the resource gap in communities of color. Biden will:

  • Invest in historically marginalized communities and bring everyone to the table for transportation planning. Biden will create a new Community Restoration Fund, specifically for neighborhoods where historic transportation investments cut people off from jobs, schools, and businesses. And, he will work to make sure towns and cities directly receive a portion of existing federal transportation investments.
  • Bring broadband to every American household. As President, Biden will close the digital divide. First, he will invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure. He will triple funding to expand broadband access in rural areas, and ensure that the work of installing broadband provides high-paying jobs with benefits. He will encourage competition among providers, to increase speeds and decrease prices in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Biden will also work with the FCC to reform its Lifeline program, increasing the number of participating broadband providers, reducing fraud and abuse, and ultimately offering more low-income Americans the subsidies needed to access high-speed internet. Finally, Biden will work with Congress to pass the Digital Equity Act, to help communities tackle the digital divide.

Read Joe Biden’s full plan to invest in infrastructure and our communities at joebiden.com/infrastructure, and his full plan for older Americans at joebiden.com/older-Americans.

Support African American Workers 

Biden is proposing a plan to grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class—the backbone of the American economy—by strengthening public and private sector unions and helping all workers bargain successfully for what they deserve. Biden knows that African Americans face unique challenges as workers. Biden will support these workers by:

Fight for equal pay. African American women earned 61 cents for every dollar earned by white men in 2017. This totals $23,653 less in earnings in a year and $946,120 less in a lifetime. The Obama-Biden Administration protected more workers against retaliation for discussing wages and required employers to collect and report wage gaps to the federal government. As President, Biden will codify this into law, and he’ll make it easier for workers to join together in class action lawsuits, shift the burden to employers to prove pay gaps exist for job-related reasons, and increase penalties against companies that discriminate, as called for in the Paycheck Fairness Act. And, he’ll hold companies accountable by increasing funding for investigators and enforcement actions.

Ensure federally funded projects protect workers. Biden will propose infrastructure legislation that incorporates labor provisions contained in Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act, adopting all basic labor protections, ensuring that all investments meet Davis-Bacon wage guidelines, and banning anti-worker provisions like forced arbitration and the overuse of temporary staffing agencies. He will require federally funded projects to employ workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs, and to prioritize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements in federal procurement procedures. His proposal will make sure that national infrastructure investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting union and non-union workers across industries. Read Joe Biden’s full plan to encourage unions and collective bargaining at joebiden.com/empowerworkers.

Encourage diverse hiring and promotion practices. To push companies to look hard at their hiring practices and root out discrimination, Biden will require companies to make public their overall workforce diversity and senior-level diversity. He will support employers in increasing diverse hiring and promotion by providing federal grants to states, cities, and organizations to develop and implement evidence-based practices and innovative solutions, such as ban the box legislation, to push employers to hire and retain diverse employees and end discriminatory hiring policies. And, he will hold companies accountable by increasing funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to increase the number of investigators. 

Restore the federal government’s role in setting the bar for other employers to advance opportunities for all workers. Biden will restore and build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which Trump revoked, requiring employers’ compliance with labor and employment laws be taken into account in determining whether they are sufficiently responsible to be entrusted with federal contracts. And, he will mandate that contractors publicly disclose plans to recruit and advance people of color, women, people with disabilities, and covered veterans and will increase enforcement efforts, including pursuing debarment where contractors refuse to end discriminatory practices. 

Protect essential workers in the COVID-19 crisis. report published in April found that “Black Americans are overrepresented in nine of the ten lowest-paid, high-contact essential services, which elevates their risk of contracting the virus.” Joe Biden has released a plan to protect these essential workers, and give them the respect, dignity, and pay they deserve.  If he were President, he would:

  • Ensure all frontline workers, like grocery store employees, qualify for priority access to personnel protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus, as well as child care assistance, and other forms of emergency COVID-19 support.
  • Expand access to effective personal protective equipment, including through use of the Defense Production Act.  
  • Establish and enforce health and safety standards for workplaces. 
  • Enact premium pay for frontline workers putting themselves at risk. There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work. This premium pay should be in addition to paid sick leave and care-giving leave for every worker, which Biden called for in his plan, and $15 minimum wage for all workers. 

Turn unemployment insurance into employment insuranceAfrican American workers are more likely to work in jobs subject to reduced hours, furloughs, and layoffs during the pandemic. Biden would transform unemployment insurance into employment insurance for millions of workers by getting states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs. Under short-time compensation—also known as work sharing—firms in distress keep workers employed but at reduced hours and the federal government helps make up the difference in wages. The Obama-Biden administration championed this approach in the U.S., and so far more than half of states have established short-time compensation programs. For the current crisis, the administration should move rapidly to scale up short-time compensation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to save or restore millions of jobs. 

EXPAND ACCESS TO HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATION AND TACKLE RACIAL INEQUITY IN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM

As President, Biden will ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability. Biden will build an education system that starts with investing in our children at birth and helps every student get some education beyond a high school diploma, whether a certification, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. Biden will:

Provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds. For families with young children, finding highly quality pre-K is a major financial, logistical, and emotional burden, with potentially lifelong consequences for their children. As President, Biden will work with states to offer pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds. 

Eliminate the funding gap between white and non-white districts, and rich and poor districts in order to give teachers a raise and expand STEM curriculum in underserved school districts. There’s an estimated $23 billion annual funding gap between white and non-white school districts today. Biden will work to close this gap by nearly tripling Title I funding, the federal program funding schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families. This new funding will first be used to ensure teachers at Title I schools are paid competitively, three- and four-year olds have access to pre-school, and districts provide access to rigorous coursework—including computer science and other STEM subjects—across all their schools, not just a few.

Improve teacher diversity. For African American students, having just one African American teacher in elementary school reduces the probability of dropping out. Biden will support more innovative approaches to recruiting teachers of color, including supporting high school students in accessing dual-enrollment classes that give them an edge in teacher preparation programs, helping paraprofessionals work towards their teaching certificate, and working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions to recruit and prepare teachers. 

Reinstate the Obama-Biden Administration’s actions to diversify our schoolsAs President, Biden will reinstate the Department of Education guidance that supported schools in legally pursuing desegregation strategies and recognized institutions of higher education’s interests in creating diverse student bodies. And, he will provide grants to school districts to create plans and implement strategies to diversify their schools.

Ensure that African American students are not inappropriately identified as having disabilities, while also ensuring that African American students with disabilities have the support to succeed. African American students are 40% more likely to be identified as having any disability, and twice as likely to be identified as having certain disabilities, such as emotional disturbance and intellectual disabilities. The Obama-Biden Administration issued regulations to address racial disparities in special education programs, including disproportionate identification. The Trump Administration attempted to illegally delay the Obama-Biden Administration’s regulation. Biden will fully implement this regulation and provide educators the resources that they need to provide students with disabilities a high-quality education by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  

Address the African American student debt crisis. The student debt burden has a disproportionate impact on African Americans. The typical bachelor’s degree graduate has about $16,000 in debt compared to $23,400 for African Americans students. According to a recent Brookings Institution study, African Americans graduating with a four year degree are 5 times more likely to default on their student loans than white graduates. African American students are three times more likely to default on their student loans than white student borrowers. The inequitable burden of student loan debt contributes to the stark racial wealth gap that exists in society. Biden’s plans to address student loan debt will alleviate student debt burdens by:

  • Including in the COVID-19 response an immediate cancellation of a minimum of $10,000 of federal student loan debt.
  • Forgiving all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges for debt-holders earning up to $125,000. This will also apply to individuals holding federal student loans for tuition from private HBCUs and MSIs.
  • Forgiving loan payments for individuals making $25,000 or less per year and capping loan payments at 5% of discretionary income for those making more. 
  • Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and forgiving $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt for every year of national or community service, up to five years. 
  • Cracking down on private lenders profiteering off of students by empowering the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to take action against private lenders who are misleading students about their options and do not provide an affordable payment plan when individuals are experiencing acute periods of financial hardship.
  • Permitting the discharge of student loans in bankruptcy. 

Increase college completion by making college affordable for African American students. Our postsecondary education system has not done enough to help African American students access, afford, and succeed in high-quality postsecondary education. 64% of white students graduate from four year institutions, compared to only 40% of African Americans. To help African American students access and complete college, Biden will:

  • Make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000, including students at public HBCUs.  
  • Providing two years of community college or other high-quality training programs without debt for any hard-working individual looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work. This commitment includes two-year public HBCUs. Individuals will also be able to use these funds to pursue training programs that have a track record of participants completing their programs and securing good jobs, including adults who never had the chance to pursue additional education beyond high school or who need to learn new skills. 
  • Targeting additional financial support to low-income and middle-class individuals by doubling the maximum value of Pell grants, significantly increasing the number of middle-class Americans who can participate in the program. According to the Department of Education, almost 60% of African American undergraduates received a Pell grant during the 2015-2016 academic year. Biden also will restore formerly incarcerated individuals’ eligibility for Pell.

 Invest over $70 billion in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions that will train our next generation of African American professionals. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are key to educating our next generations of African American leaders. They enroll about 10% of African American students, while accounting for more than 20% of African American bachelor’s degrees awarded. 40% of African American engineers and 80% of African American judges are HBCU graduates. But these institutions do not receive the investment that reflects their importance. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund estimates that the typical HBCU endowment is one-eighth the average size of historically white colleges. As President, Biden will take steps to rectify the funding disparities faced by HBCUs so that the United States can benefit from their unique strengths. Biden will:

  • Make HBCUs more affordable for their students. Biden will invest $18 billion in grants to four-year HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), equivalent to up to two years of tuition per low-income and middle class student. He will invest additional funds in private, non-profit HBCUs and under-resourced MSIs so they are not undermined by the Biden proposal to make four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free for students. Schools must invest in lowering costs, improving retention and graduation rates, and closing equity gaps year over year for students of color.
  • Reduce disparities in funding for HBCUs and MSIs. 
  • Invest $10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future – including fields tackling climate change, globalization, inequality, health disparities, and cancer – to learning and career opportunities.
  • Build the high tech labs and facilities and digital infrastructure needed for learning, research, and innovation at HBCUs and MSIs. 
  • Invest $5 billion in graduate programs in teaching, health care, and STEM and will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies. 

Create a “Title I for postsecondary education” to help students at under-resourced four-year schools complete their degrees. The Biden Administration will establish a new grant program to support under-resourced four-year schools that serve large numbers of Pell-eligible students. The funds will be used to foster collaboration between colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, including additional financial aid to cover textbook and transportation costs that often keep students from staying enrolled, to child care and mental health services, faculty mentoring, tutoring, and peer support groups.

Make a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including community-college business partnerships and apprenticeships. These funds will create and support partnerships between community colleges, businesses, unions, state, local, and tribal governments, universities, and high schools to identify in-demand knowledge and skills in a community and develop or modernize training programs – which could be as short as a few months or as long as two years – that lead to a relevant, high-demand industry-recognized credential. 

Read Joe Biden’s full education plans at joebiden.com/education and joebiden.com/beyondHS.

MAKE FAR-REACHING INVESTMENTS IN ENDING HEALTH DISPARITIES BY RACE

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the long-standing, pervasive disparities that exist across our health care system due to unequal access to treatment. An early analysis indicates that counties with majority-African American populations have coronavirus infection rates three times higher than counties with majority white residents, with death rates nearly six times higher. Although COVID-19 can hit anyone anywhere, it does not affect every community the same. African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and report higher rates of chronic health problems, and these factors increase their chances of becoming seriously ill and dying from this disease. This is unconscionable. Biden calls on Congress to immediately enact Senator Kamala Harris’ bill to create a task force to address the racial disparities that have been laid bare by this pandemic. As President, he will do everything in his power to eliminate health care disparities.

Ensuring access to health care during this crisis. In the short-term, Biden’s COVID-19 response plan calls on the Trump Administration to drop its support of a lawsuit to overturn Obamacare. Millions of Americans may lose their health insurance because they lose their job, and millions more may find health care increasingly difficult to afford. During this crisis, Biden would expand access to quality, affordable health care for all through:

  • Creating a public option;
  • Providing full payment of premiums for COBRA plans;
  • Increasing Affordable Care Act subsidies;
  • Reopening Obamacare enrollment so uninsured individuals can get insured;
  • Increasing federal investments in Medicaid;
  • Ensuring that every person, whether insured or uninsured, will not have to pay a dollar out-of-pocket for visits related to COVID-19 testing, treatment, preventative services, and any eventual vaccine. No co-payments, no deductibles, and no surprise medical billing.

Ensure access to affordable, high-quality health care beyond the crisis. Because of Obamacare, over 100 million people no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have a pre-existing condition – whether cancer or diabetes or heart disease or a mental health challenge. Insurance companies can no longer set annual or lifetime limits on coverage. Roughly 20 million additional Americans obtained the peace of mind that comes with health insurance. Young people who are in transition from school to a job have the option to stay covered by their parents’ plan until age 26. As President, Joe Biden will build on Obamacare. He will help address racial disparities in the health care system in the following ways:

  • Reducing the uninsured rate for African Americans by creating a public option health plan. Nationally, 11% of nonelderly African Americans are uninsured, compared to 8% of white people. This disparity is far greater in states with Republican governors who have not expanded Medicaid. Biden will give all Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. And he will ensure the individuals who would be eligible for Medicaid but for their state’s inaction are automatically enrolled on to the public option, at no cost to the individual.
  • Improving care for patients with chronic conditions, by coordinating among all of a patient’s doctors. This is particularly important for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, which disproportionately impact African Americans.
  • Lowering costs for African Americans enrolled in Obamacare plans by increasing the value of tax credits to lower premium and lowering deductibles by making other changes to how the tax credits are calculated.
  • Lowering drug prices, by allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug prices and stopping drug companies from price gouging on new drugs. 
  • Reducing our unacceptably high African American maternal mortality rate. African American women are 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. The Biden plan takes the California strategy nationwide.
  • Expanding access to reproductive health care, including contraception and protecting the constitutional right to choose. Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment. He will also restore funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides services necessary to address health disparities, including breast cancer screenings and HIV/AIDS counseling, screening, and treatment. The breast cancer death rate is over 40% higher for African Americans than white women, and in 2016, African American women comprised 60% of new HIV cases.
  • Doubling the nation’s investment in community health centers. Community health centers provide primary, prenatal, and other important care, and their patients are disproportionately members of racial and ethnic minority groups, including African Americans.
  • Expanding access to mental health care. African Americans are far less likely to receive mental health services or compared to white adults.  Biden will ensure mental health parity and eliminating the stigma around mental health are critical to closing this gap.
  • Tackling social determinants of health. Because racial health disparities are the result of years of systemic inequality not only in our health care system, but across our economy, other parts of Joe Biden’s agenda are also necessary to improve the overall well-being of African Americans. For example, African Americans are more likely to face exposure to air pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Invest in the diverse talent at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to solve the country’s most pressing problems, including health disparities. As part of Biden’s more than $70 billion investment in HBCUs and MSIs, he will invest $10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future to learning and career opportunities. He will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies, including National Institutes of Health. He will also dedicate additional and increased priority funding streams at federal agencies for grants and contracts for HBCUs and MSIs. And, he will require any federal research grants to universities with an endowment of over $1 billion to form a meaningful partnership and enter into a 10% minimum subcontract with an HBCU, TCU, or MSI. 

Build a diverse pipeline of health care professionals by investing in health care graduate programs at HBCUs and MSIs. As part of Biden’s more than $70 billion investment in HBCUs and MSis, he will invest $5 billion in graduate programs in health care, along with teaching and STEM, at HBCUs and MSIs. 

Read Joe Biden’s full health care plan at joebiden.com/healthcare.

STRENGTHEN AMERICA’S COMMITMENT TO JUSTICE

Today, too many people are incarcerated in the United States – and too many of them are African American. To build safe and healthy communities, we need to rethink who we’re sending to prison, how we treat those in prison, and how we help them get the health care, education, jobs, and housing they need to successfully rejoin society after they serve their time. As President, Biden will strengthen America’s commitment to justice and reform our criminal justice system. 

The Biden Plan for Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice is based on several core principles:

  • We can and must reduce the number of people incarcerated in this country while also reducing crime. Reducing the number of incarcerated individuals will reduce federal spending on incarceration. These savings should be reinvested in the communities impacted by mass incarceration.
  • Our criminal justice system cannot be just unless we root out the racial, gender, and income-based disparities in the system. African American mothers and fathers should feel confident that their children are safe walking the streets of America. And, when a police officer pins on that shield and walks out the door, the officer’s family should know they’ll come home at the end of the day. Additionally, women and children are uniquely impacted by the criminal justice system, and the system needs to address their unique needs.
  • Our criminal justice system must be focused on redemption and rehabilitation. Making sure formerly incarcerated individuals have the opportunity to be productive members of our society is not only the right thing to do, it will also grow our economy.
  • No one should be profiteering off of our criminal justice system.

Biden will call for the immediate passage of Congressman Bobby Scott’s SAFE Justice Act, an evidence-based, comprehensive bill to reform our criminal justice system “from front-end sentencing reform to back-end release policies.” The Biden Plan will also go further. Biden will take bold action to reduce our prison population, create a more just society, and make our communities safer. He will: 

Expand and use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices. Using authority in legislation spearheaded by Biden as senator, the Obama-Biden Justice Department used pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees to address circumstances of “systemic police misconduct” and to “restore trust between police and communities” in cities such as Ferguson. Yet, the Trump Administration’s Justice Department has limited the use of this tool. Under the Biden Administration, the Justice Department will again use its authority to root out unconstitutional or unlawful policing. In addition, Biden will push for legislation to clarify that this pattern-or-practice investigation authority can also be used to address systemic misconduct by prosecutors’ offices. 

Establish an independent Task Force on Prosecutorial Discretion. The Biden Administration will create a new task force, placed outside of the U.S. Department of Justice, to make recommendations for tackling discrimination and other problems in our justice system that results from arrest and charging decisions.

Reinvigorate community-oriented policing. Policing works best when officers are out of their cruisers and walking the streets, engaging with and getting to know members of their communities. But in order to do that, police departments need resources to hire a sufficient number of officers. Biden spearheaded the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which authorized funding both for the hiring of additional police officers and for training on how to undertake a community policing approach. However, the program has never been funded to fulfill the original vision for community policing. Biden will reinvigorate the COPS program with a $300 million investment. As a condition of the grant, hiring of police officers must mirror the racial diversity of the community they serve. Additionally, as President, Biden will establish a panel to scrutinize what equipment is used by law enforcement in our communities.

Invest in public defenders’ offices to ensure defendants’ access to quality counsel. Defenders’ resources and support are too decentralized and too hard to access. Biden will expand the Obama-Biden effort to expand resources for public defenders’ offices.

Create a $20 billion grant program to support criminal justice reform at the state and local level. Funds can be used by cities and states on measures proven to reduce crime and incarceration, and require states to eliminate mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes in order to receive funding. 

Reform sentencing. Biden will work with Congress to reform federal sentencing and provide incentives to state and local systems to do the same. He will end, once and for all, the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity, decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions, and end all incarceration for drug use alone and instead divert individuals to drug courts and treatment. He will work to eliminate mandatory minimums and the death penalty. 

End the criminalization of poverty. Cash bail is the modern-day debtors’ prison. Biden will lead a national effort to end cash bail and reform our pretrial system by putting in place, instead, a system that is fair and does not inject further discrimination or bias into the process. And, he will work to end the practice of jailing people for being too poor to pay fines and fees.

Stop corporations from profiteering off of incarceration. Biden will end the federal government’s use of private prisons, building off an Obama-Biden Administration’s policy rescinded by the Trump Administration. And, he will make clear that the federal government should not use private facilities for any detention, including detention of undocumented immigrants. 

Eliminate existing barriers preventing formerly incarcerated individuals from fully participating in society. For example, Biden will eliminate barriers keeping formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing public assistance such as SNAP, Pell grants, and housing support. The Biden Administration will incentivize states to automatically restore voting rights for individuals convicted of felonies once they have served their sentences. He will also expand access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as educational opportunities and job training for individuals during and after incarceration.  

Reform the juvenile justice system. Biden will invest $1 billion per year in juvenile justice reform. He will expand funding for after-school programs, community centers, and summer jobs to keep young people active, busy, learning, and having fun. Biden will double the number of mental health professionals in our schools so behavioral and emotional challenges can be addressed by appropriately skilled psychologists, counselors, and social workers, not our criminal justice system. And, he will restore the Obama-Biden Administration guidance to help schools address the high number of suspensions and expulsions that affect students of color at a higher rate than white students.

Make our communities safer. Biden will pursue evidence-based measures to root out persistent violent crime. Violent offenders need to be held accountable, and survivors need to have access to support to deal with the physical, psychological, and financial consequences of violence. Biden will tackle the rise in hate crimes through moral leadership that makes clear such vitriol has no place in the United States. And, in the Biden Administration, the Justice Department will prioritize prosecuting hate crimes. Additionally, Biden will address the daily acts of gun violence in our communities that may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to survivors and victims’ families as gun violence that does make the front page. These daily acts of gun violence disproportionately impact communities of color. Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year initiative to fund evidence-based interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000 lives over the eight-year program.

Read Joe Biden’s full criminal justice plan at joebiden.com/justice and his plan to reduce gun violence at joebiden.com/gunsafety.

MAKE THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND THE RIGHT TO EQUAL PROTECTION REAL FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS 

President Trump has rolled back civil rights enforcement across the government and cut staff for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  In the first two years of the Trump Administration, the Division started 60% fewer investigations than during the Obama-Biden Administration. As President, Biden will reverse the damage done by Trump and increase funding for civil rights enforcement. He will ensure that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the EEOC, and agency civil rights enforcement offices have the resources they need to root out and stop discrimination. He will also: 

Ensure that political appointees, including the President’s Cabinet, look like the country they serve, and ensure that our federal workforce is representative of the demographics in our country. The Obama-Biden Administration made great progress in building a diverse federal workforce, but Biden knows work remains for the country to fully realize the benefits of the talents, abilities, and perspectives of a workforce that looks like the country. As President, Biden will nominate and appoint people who look like the country they serve and share Biden’s commitment to rigorous enforcement of civil rights protections. He will reissue and mandate strict compliance with the Obama-Biden executive order to promote diversity and inclusion. He will rebuild the pipeline of workers into the federal government and incentivize more qualified workers to choose public service by forgiving $10,000 a year in student debt for up to five years of public service. He’ll tap into the best and brightest talent from every source by developing career pipelines from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions into federal agencies. Biden will also provide more training and mentoring opportunities to improve retention, and collect better data about who is applying for federal service positions as well as being promoted.

Appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges who look like America, are committed to the rule of law, understand the importance of individual civil rights and civil liberties in a democratic society, and respect foundational precedents like Brown vs. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Biden has also pledged to appoint the first African American woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, a move which is long overdue. We can’t have four more years of Trump appointees filling lifetime judiciary seats. Trump has already appointed 193 federal judges – including two Supreme Court justices. Only eight are African American. Seven Trump appointees were rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.

Ensure every vote counts. Since the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, an increasing number of states have passed laws with no apparent purpose besides making it more difficult to vote, especially for people of color. It’s just as un-American now as it was during Jim Crow. As President, Biden will strengthen our democracy by guaranteeing that every American’s vote is protected. He will start by passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act to update section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and develop a new process for pre-clearing election changes. He also will ensure that the Justice Department challenges state laws suppressing the right to vote. Biden supports automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and many more steps to make exercising one’s right to vote easier. Biden will ensure that the Justice Department has the resources and authority to enforce laws that protect our voting rights. Biden believes we need to end gerrymandering and we must protect our voting booths and voter rolls from foreign powers that seek to undermine our democracy and interfere in our elections. And, the Biden Administration will incentivize states to automatically restore voting rights for individuals convicted of felonies once they have served their sentences. 

Combat the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color. As a direct response to the high rates of homicide of transgender people—particularly transgender women of color—the Biden Administration will make prosecuting their murderers a priority. And, during his first 100 days in office, Biden will direct federal resources to help prevent violence against transgender women, particularly transgender women of color. Recognizing that employment and housing discrimination lead to increased risk of homelessness and violence, Biden will also work to pass the Equality Act to reduce economic barriers and social stigma and the LGBTQ Essential Data Act to help collect a wide variety of critical data about anti-trans violence and the factors that drive it.

Tackle systemic racism and support a study of the continuing impacts of slavery. We must acknowledge that there can be no realization of the American dream without grappling with the original sin of slavery, and the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear, and trauma wrought upon African American people in this country. As Biden has said in this campaign, a Biden Administration will support a study of reparations. Biden will begin on day one of his Administration to address the systemic racism that persists across our institutions today. That’s why he developed educationclimate change, and health care policies, among others, that will root out this systemic racism and ensure that all Americans have a fair shot at living the American dream. 

ADDRESS ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Biden knows we cannot turn a blind eye to the way in which environmental burdens and benefits have been and will continue to be distributed unevenly along racial and socioeconomic lines – not just with respect to climate change, but also pollution of our air, water, and land. The evidence of these disproportionate harms is clear. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the National Pharmaceutical Council, African Americans are almost three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than their white counterparts. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. They are also less likely to have the funds to prepare for and recover from extreme weather. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, African American and Hispanic residents were twice as likely as non-Hispanic white individuals to report experiencing an income shock and lack of recovery support. 

As President, Biden will stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities. He has asked his campaign to commence a process to more deeply engage with environmental justice leaders and develop additional policies related to environmental justice. The policies, to be announced in the weeks ahead, will build on the proposals he has put forward to date:

Reinstate federal protections, rolled back by the Trump Administration, that were designed to protect communities. Biden will make it a priority for all agencies to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income, and indigenous communities. 

Hold polluters accountable. African American children living in poverty are more likely than wealthier white children to live in a community that borders toxic chemical facilities. Extreme weather can increase the health risks of being co-located with these toxic structures. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. Failure to reduce emissions disproportionately hurts African American and Hispanic residents who experience 37% higher exposure to nitrogen dioxide (a toxic pollutant) compared to non-Hispanic whites. This leads to an increased rate of premature death due to heart disease. As President, Biden will direct EPA and the Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation as needed to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited. 

Ensure access to safe drinking water for all communities. Biden will make water infrastructure a top priority, for example, by establishing systems to monitor lead and other contaminants in our water supply and take necessary action to eliminate health risks, including holding polluters accountable and support communities in upgrading their systems. In addition, Biden will double federal investments in clean drinking water and water infrastructure, and focus new funding on low-income rural, suburban, and urban areas that are struggling to replace pipes and treatment facilities – and especially on communities at high risk of lead or other kinds of contamination. In addition, Biden will reduce the matching funds required of local governments that don’t have the tax base to be able to afford borrowing to repair their water systems.

Monitor for lead and other contaminants and hold polluters accountable. As President, Biden will also require state and local governments to monitor their water systems for lead and other contaminants, and he will provide them with the resources to do so. Biden will also work with the EPA and the Justice Department to hold companies that pollute our waterways accountable, aggressively enforcing existing regulations and prosecuting any violations. Corporations and their executives cannot break the law and expect to get away with it.

Prioritize communities harmed by climate change and pollution. Low-income communities and communities of color don’t equally share in the benefits of well-paying job opportunities that result from our clean energy economy. As President, Biden will make sure these communities receive preference in competitive grant programs in the Clean Economy Revolution. In addition, Biden will pursue new partnerships with community colleges, unions, and the private sector to develop programs to train all of America’s workforce to tap into the growing clean energy economy; incorporate skills training into infrastructure investment planning by engaging state and local communities; and reinvigorate and repurpose AmeriCorps for sustainability, so that every American can participate in the clean energy economy. We also know that resiliency investments can raise property values and push lower-income families out of their neighborhoods. Climate change mitigation efforts must consciously protect low-income communities from “green gentrification.”

Source: https://joebiden.com/blackamerica/

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New Orleans Must Improve the Lives of ALL African Americans

By Jeff Thomas

Many people often say I’m too focused on race. But look around our city. Most of the big social problems are in the African American community. Murder. Car jackings. Poverty. Covid hospitalizations. Drug abuse. Unemployment. The list goes on and on and on. Fixing these problems in that part of the African American community that struggles makes the city great for EVERYBODY. So if you are black or white or Asian or Hispanic and doing pretty good want to live in a safer cleaner city, let’s fix the problems in the ailing parts of our city. Helping poor black people benefits everybody.

Good news is we can do it. And it is not that hard. New Orleans should be a sanctuary city for the poor and struggling African Americans.  Every policy and regulation possible should support this notion.  And given the egregiously regressive and burdensome past, city government should fast track all current, available solutions.   Even a cursory glance at   the plight of  hard-working African Americans  in the city provides ample evidence of the urgent need for change.

Broken Paradigm

Our current paradigm has created and sustains the crime-plagued, underperforming city. Low-performing schools contribute to the highest dropout rates in the country.  Gentrification and low-paying jobs force many into the rental market in our city.  And people who own their homes are nearly 90% less likely to commit crimes compared to those who rent. Though the murder rate is once again the highest in the country per capita.  African Americans in NOLA die at alarmingly high rates. Especially when it comes to young people.  We must fix serious and deeply-entrenched problems here quickly.  It can be done with surprising ease if a coordinated attempt is employed.

THE SANCTUARY CITY MODEL

Characteristics of the sanctuary should include

Combined, these targets will dramatically reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for all our citizens.  With access to good-paying jobs and pathways to home ownership, crime will drop precipitously.  Working men, who earn living wages, will fatten city coffers via property and sales tax payments.  Needing fewer police officers, more money could then be shifted into job training programs. These programs prepare young people to enter the workforce and become taxpayers.

SWB JOBS PROGRAM

The Sewerage and Water Board can be the greatest jobs program in city history.  Billions of FEMA dollars are scheduled to be spent repairing crumbling infrastructure. The board must hire, train and demand excellence from its repair people.  Our ability to pump water is our lifeline. We must invest in training our people to protect our property. The SWB is more important than the NOPD.  SWB must pay enough to enable employees to purchase homes. 

HOME OWNERSHIP

Eighty five percent of people who commit crimes do not own their homes. Neighborhoods where people own their homes are cleaner, safer. And they provide ancillary activities (kids sports programs, block parties, etc.) that promote healthier living.  Living wages help people qualify for mortgages.  City-sanctioned home ownership classes would motivate and inspire people to save for down payments and improve their credit scores.  The soft second mortgage programs should also be expanded.

NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

Working families need close and convenient good schools for their children.  Our experiment with charter schools must shift to emphasize local school excellence.  Good neighborhood schools reduce stress, increase participation and reduce dropout rates, which in turn strengthen families.  Parent-school partnerships are easier when parents are able to access school personnel close to home.  Friendly rivalries centered around athletic and academic achievement will transform educational achievement[  in The Bowl.  Businesses could offer cash prizes to the students who perform best and the schools which achieve great successes.

COMMUNITY POLICING

Police Chief Shaun Ferguson rose through the ranks. And he is a man from our streets who now leads the men and women who patrol our streets.  He says, “The community and police must form a partnership.”  He is correct when he says the NOPD needs citizen support.  Right now, our NOPD is dangerously understaffed. Shifting to 12 hour shifts increases presence on the streets. Good move Chief. Also moving more desk and clerical jobs from police to citizen staffing will enable more officers to get out. And top brass should patrol our neighborhoods. They are our best and brightest. They have the experience and authority to effectively decipher complex situations. Is a shouting match serious?

We know arresting and jailing people for minor crimes, even for short periods of time, has dramatic and real effects. And ironically results in yet more crime.  Instead, community policing operates in an atmosphere of cooperation and respect.  Too often, police have operated with rigidity and oppressiveness. That stifles the community support it needs, desires, and deserves. 

For too long, New Orleans and other municipalities have focused on fines and fees to finance government.  Police decide who gets pulled over and issued a ticket.  Furthermore, rigid rules and immediate late fees from municipal utilities create undue stress in an already overburdened populace. 

In the 21st century, our cities must uplift the lives of all the citizens who make these places home.

It happens everyday in America!

By Jeff Thomas

Black men kill each other at alarming rates all across America every day. Nearly every city’s daily news casts reports, “Today in our city three (or thirty depending on the size of your city) men were shot and killed in three (or thirty) separate shootings.  Police have no suspects in any of the cases.”  And immediately and innately you know that the people killed were black and the killers were black.  This has been going on for the last 30-40 years and no end is in sight.  New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates nationally.  Why do black men kill each other?

First Let’s Dispel a Racist Myth

First thing you have to know is that 99.999% of black men do not commit murder ever in their lives.  That is a fact!  This is not a black man issue.  There is nothing genetically or intrinsically wrong with black men. But the fact remains that daily hundreds of black men across this country are murdered everyday by another black man.  Why does this happen with this subset?

Common factors to Black men murdering other black men

RACE

The first thing about murder is that people usually kill people who are similar to them in many ways, particularly race.  White men normally murder other white men and black men normally murder other black men. 

PROXIMITY

In the black community, these killings are normally city events.  Rarely do you hear of a drive by in the country.  Most of these daily killings occur on the city streets.  People kill others who they interact with.

AGE

Young men engage in risky and violent behavior.  Most of the men dying on our streets are between the ages of 17-35. 

EDUCATION

Nearly 95% have not graduated from college and 65% have not completed high school.   

Socioeconomic Status

100% were not upper class in America. The links between poverty and crime are well documented.  And black men have lived in depression level economic conditions for the last 50 years.

But these are often cited, unsurprising factors.  More salient is what goes into the psyche of a guy who can look into the eyes of another man and pull the trigger at close range or jab a knife with the intent to murder another man?  What are the other factors that contribute to becoming a murderer? Why do Black men kill each other

Habitually Hostile Men

The guy who ain’t never scared and always looking to escalate a situation.  Down for whatever.  Nothing to live for and anticipating the day he will either kill or be killed.  This mindset is cultivated in a limited option, few chances, success deprived life.  This guy has had a number of arguments and fist fights throughout his life.  He hates authority and frequently feels angry or resentful towards people.  He often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.  This guy is a walking heap of rage.  He is always nothing but a gun and an argument away from murder.

The Disrespected Man

A man who feels like everybody but him gets respect.

For this guy, respect is everything and options to express anger or refutation are often limited.   He often seeks to overcome a feeling of impotence. If another who seems unworthy of disseminating criticism or scorn or generally crosses the line of imagined respect, then a high level of response will be meted out.

The Wannabe

When challenged by a non-believing skeptic, this man often acts in unnecessarily violent ways in unnecessarily violent situations.  Often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.

Self-Hate

The daily feeling of isolation, powerlessness and impotence is like being a prisoner of war.  One reason black men grab their genitals is to stress their vitality.  Men who have been literally stripped of the ability to display their manhood – great jobs, big houses, educational attainment and all the other accoutrements of modern society- are literally killing to express their power in life.  Twisted but true.

According to a Dietitian

All your questions about booze, diet, and health—answered!

BY ERICA SWEENEY

ENJOYING A NICE glass of red wine with dinner, sipping a tumbler of bourbon after a long day, trying a new craft beer, or mixing up your own cocktail. Everyone loves a good drink from time to time. Though drinking too much (and, we’ve all been there) isn’t good for you, it is possible to incorporate your favorite alcoholic beverage into a healthy lifestyle.

So, what is healthy drinking? “Moderation is key,” says Brittany Kunza, M.D., a medical director at virtual health platform PlushCare. “Alcohol really shouldn’t be considered ‘healthy,’ but it certainly can be part of social gatherings.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women. But, two-thirds of adults say they drink more than that at least once a month.

Drinking too much long-term can bring many health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and stomach problems. It can also weaken your immune system and increase your risk for certain cancers.

Either inspired by these health risks or striving to cut back for other reasons, many people are partaking in Dry January or permanently embracing a “sober curious” lifestyle. And, non-alcoholic, booze-inspired drinks are becoming more popular.

Many aspects of drinking can affect your health—how much you drink, how often, and your beverages of choice. A healthy approach to drinking alcohol is part of a healthy approach to life. Often, that means choosing drinks that are lower in sugar and calories, such as skipping sugary mixers and using seltzer in place of tonic.

What’s the best way to balance drinking and a healthy lifestyle?

It’s best not to overdo it when it comes to alcohol and stick to two drinks or less a day. But, having a few more from time to time likely won’t harm your health—just don’t drive when you’re drinking.

Everyone is different in terms of how they handle alcohol. Some people can drink more than others before they feel drunk.

“Alcohol impairment is an individual number that is different from person to person,” says Ernest Gelb, D.O., president of the American Osteopathic Association. “The legal limit is 0.08, but there are many individuals who can’t tolerate that much alcohol. The end result of impairment is the same and will not end well.”

It’s a good idea to understand what’s considered a “standard drink,” too, says Dr. Kunza. According to the CDC, standard drink sizes include:

What Kinds of Alcohol Are the Healthiest Options?

Ignore the myths you heard in high school about your body processing certain alcoholic beverages in different ways. Your liver doesn’t recognize wine from beer from a Long Island Iced Tea—it only processes alcohol.

That said, if a drink is higher in alcohol, your liver has to work hard. So if you’re drinking a finger of Scotch whisky neat (typically about 40% alcohol by volume, or ABV), your liver is going to have an easier time than with that Long Island Iced Tea (typically four shots of alcohol—all of which are roughly 40% ABV).

So, usually, the simpler the drink—and the less of it that you’re drinking—the better off your liver (and you!) will be. Here’s what to know about drinking different kinds of booze.

Beer

Beer can contain anywhere from 103 to 350 calories per 12 ounces. Craft beers often have a higher ABV than traditional macro-beers. And more alcohol means more calories.

For example, a 12-ounce beer with 9% ABV (typical for craft brews) has about 270 calories. But because craft breweries don’t have to list the calorie count on their beers, you can use this handy equation to estimate the number of calories in your beer: Multiply the ABV by 2.5, then multiply that by the number of ounces in your beer.

Vodka, tequila, and other spirits

Put this in the myth category. Tequila—as well as vodka, rum, and gin—all have zero grams of carbs, so they won’t raise your blood sugar if you drink them straight up. If you have diabetes, you should count your drink as two fat exchanges.

But don’t fall for the hype that choosing a tequila made from 100 percent agave changes the impact. All of the health attributes of agave (aka lower glycemic index, etc.) are gone once it’s been distilled into tequila. That said, choosing pure, agave tequila means you’ll typically skip unnecessary additives like caramel coloring. It’s also gluten-free.

Most distilled alcohol, including gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey, contains between 97 and 116 calories per 1.5 ounces.

Hard seltzers

Most hard seltzers are lower in alcohol, ranging from 4% to 6% ABV. But, they can contain added sugar.

Look for brands that offer very little sugar per serving. Otherwise, you’ll take in an overload of calories, mainly from the sweet stuff. Spiked seltzers, on the other hand, aren’t a bad option. Ideally, you want one that’s zero-calorie flavored sparkling water with booze added.

Wine

Most wines contain 120-130 calories per 5-ounce glass. But, the sugar content can vary. A glass of red table wine contains about 0.9 grams of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some white wines, like chardonnay, can contain 1.4 grams of sugar, and super-sweet dessert wines can have 7 grams.

Cocktails

Determining the calorie and sugar content of a cocktail is tricky, as it depends on what ingredients they contain. A simple vodka soda with seltzer and a squeeze of lime would be a low-calorie, low-sugar option.

But, sweet cocktails like a mai tai can have as much as 300 calories and loads of sugar. Creamy drinks like a White Russian or Piña Colada can clock in at more than 500 calories.

It’s always a good idea to opt for low-calorie mixers and avoid drinks overflowing with sugar, Dr. Gelb says.

You also need to drink plenty of water, too

Alcohol is a dehydrator. So, it’s crucial to drink plenty of water while you’re enjoying a beer or cocktail.

“Physicians recommend a one-for-one ratio, which is one 8-ounce glass of water for every alcoholic drink,” says Brian Fiani, D.O., attending neurosurgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and vice chair of the American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Emerging Leaders.

Drinking alcohol can also irritate the stomach, worsen acid reflux, and contribute to gastritis, Dr. Kunza says. So, it’s a good idea to eat something before you drink or while you’re drinking.

How Drinking Too Much Affects Your Body

Having a few too many glasses of wine or overdoing it on the beer is OK every so often. Drinking too much of even low-calorie alcohol long-term can be detrimental to your health.

For one, it can affect the brain and spine. “Specifically, regarding the central nervous system, alcohol slows down the cerebral cortex process, which can lead to poor judgment,” Dr. Fiani says.

Long-term drinking can damage the brain’s frontal lobes, which can affect decision-making, memory, judgment, and impulses, he adds. It can also lead to degenerative disc disease of the spine and cause back pain.

Excessive alcohol intake over a long time period can cause a thiamine deficiency, which might lead to someone developing the brain disorder Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, Fiani says. “This condition can cause irreversible mental confusion, loss of coordination, and memory problems similar to dementia.”

Overdoing it on alcohol can cause (or increase your risk for) a number of other health problems, like liver disease, pancreatitis, cancer, high blood pressure, anemia, GI problems, and other conditions.

Signs You Might Be Drinking Too Much

Excessive daily drinking could signal a drinking problem. “Individuals who can’t just have one drink would be a warning sign,” Dr. Gelb says.

If you feel you fall into this category, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a good place to start.

The bottom line is: When alcohol or any substance use begins to interfere with your life, it’s problematic, says Lea McMahon, LPC, Ed.D., chief clinical officer at Symetria Recovery.

Mental health and addiction professionals use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to assess substance use and how it affects someone’s life, she says. Patients are asked a series of questions, including:

“The number of yes answers determines the degree to which one’s substance use is problematic,” McMahon says. For example, two or three yeses might signal a mild alcohol use disorder, four or five a moderate disorder, and six or more a severe disorder.

by Mark Travers Ph.D.

Successful couples’ counseling starts with a shift in these four behaviors.

Many people assume that a successful relationship is something that happens by itself. They may have the idea that some people “just click,” and that the more effort one has to put into their relationship, the less likely the partnership is to work.

But the truth is that all relationships take work and we should always be striving to be better partners. In this article, I’ll talk about four habits you can develop to manage what psychologist and relationship expert John Gottman views as the most common relationship killers.

1. Be gentle, not critical.

Criticism is a direct attack on someone’s character or behavior. It may be expressed as an accusation or judgment about one partner’s personality rather than a specific action or event.

Criticism sounds like, “You never help around the house!” instead of “I feel frustrated when you don’t help with chores.” Criticism often leaves people feeling attacked, unheard, and defensive.

While it’s not likely realistic to tell yourself that you’ll never be critical of your partner again, you can work on how you deliver your critiques. For instance, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. Express a positive need instead of negative judgment. Avoid making your partner feel attacked.

Here’s an example. Instead of saying, “You always talk about yourself. Why are you so self-obsessed?” try reframing it as “I feel left out in our conversations. Can we please talk about my day as well?”

2. Appreciate instead of being contemptuous.

Contempt goes beyond criticism. It’s a damaging form of communication that involves attacking one’s sense of self-worth with name-calling, hostile humor, body language, and/or sarcasm.

A contemptuous relationship often involves using sarcasm or making disrespectful jokes about a partner’s character traits or behaviors, behind their back and to their face. Contempt sounds something like, “Oh, don’t start your emotional drama again.”

To cure contempt, build the habit of nurturing fondness and admiration in your relationship by engaging in appreciation.

Here’s an example. Instead of saying, “You forgot to do the laundry again? Why are you so lazy and forgetful?” try reframing it into “I understand that you’ve had a long day, but could you please remember to do the laundry on days I work late? It would be really helpful and I’d really appreciate it.”

3. Take responsibility instead of being defensive.

Defensiveness occurs when one or both partners respond to conflict by denying responsibility for their contribution to the problem and shifting blame onto their partner instead.

Defensiveness can include phrases such as:

When people go on the defensive, it leads to further arguments without resolution because both partners feel like they have been unfairly accused or blamed for something they didn’t do.

The antidote to defensiveness is to accept responsibility for your role in a conflicting situation. Develop the habit of taking mutual responsibility.

An example: Instead of accusing the other person by saying: “It’s your fault that we’re late because you take way too much time to get dressed!” try reframing it as “I like to be on time as much as possible. But it’s OK, we can be flexible at times.”

4. Try self-soothing in place of stonewalling.

Stonewalling occurs when one person withdraws emotionally from an argument to avoid further conflict. This can take many forms—such as avoiding eye contact, walking away from discussions before they’re resolved, refusing to talk about certain topics altogether, and shutting down conversations if things get too heated.

Stonewalling does nothing to address the underlying issues between two people. Instead, it increases feelings of isolation and disconnection which can then lead to further resentment between partners over time.

Self-soothing is an antidote to stonewalling. When you sense an impending stonewalling situation, instead of shutting yourself down completely, first stop the conversation, communicate with your partner, and take a break to practice physiological self-soothing for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Here’s an example of how you can go about it: “I am feeling overwhelmed with our conversation. I need to take a break. Can you give me twenty minutes to take a walk around the block and I will get back to you after that?”

Conclusion

Relationships are like most other living things: They need constant nurturing to achieve their fullest expression. Take time to reflect on how you can approach your relationship with more patience, appreciation, and responsibility-taking. Things can, and will, get better.

If only Alvin Richard and Jimmie Woods had identified as black women. Maybe then Mayor LaToya Cantrell would’ve given their trash contracts the first-class treatment.

Surely, if a black woman requires $30,000 in upgraded “protection” to travel on an airplane, then black businessmen must require so much more to traverse the treacherous process of getting a major contract, then keeping it in this city.

Instead, the mayor has smeared mud on their names. And given them both a lesson in the politics of trash. Politics can get dirty in New Orleans.

Why Is Mayor Cantrell Discriminating Against Black Business?

As Gerod Stevens once said on WBOK’s The Reality Check, “Ever since these two black men got these contracts, they’ve had to fight like hell to hold on to them.”

Mayor Cantrell has had no time for their struggles. Whenever they’ve brought up an issue, her response has simply been: you can miss me with that. And she proceeded to channel her inner Mitch Landrieu and get down to the business of running these two high performing businessmen out of business.

Jimmie Woods, owner of Metro Service Group, tried to inform the administration that his company was owed more money. He explained that his company was picking up trash from more houses than initially estimated. The mayor heard that and essentially flipped him to voicemail. She then proceeded to not pay an extra dime. And that was despite a mutually agreed upon 3rd party concluding that Metro’s contract stipulated the city did in fact owe the company more money.

Then Woods and Alvin Richard of Richard’s Disposal informed the administration that COVID and Hurricane Ida had both companies hauling a larger tonnage of trash. As a result, their dump fees increased. Again, the contract required the city to pay for the extra trash. But again the mayor refused. And this too was despite both being eligible for emergency funds the city had already received from the federal government.

You can run scenario after scenario. And no matter what, the mayor’s response to the city’s legal obligations to these two black businessmen has been silence or a big so what.

You couldn’t blame Richard and Woods if this left them feeling like they’re in a similar situation as the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Vappie claims— wondering if their contractual obligations were being screwed by the mayor.

But with Metro driven out of the residential trash disposal business in New Orleans, the mayor apparently has had no qualms about spreading her wallet wide for Sidney Torres.

With much fanfare, the mayor signed a new contract with IV Waste, Torres’s company. Now the city is paying twice as much per household than it was paying Metro. And this is for half the service — one day a week picking up, instead of two. Maybe citizens should identify with Mrs. Vappie, too.

Why all the hostility, though? Why would the mayor agree to this ridiculous contract when the city could’ve gotten better service for less. There’s a simple answer: the mayor is using Torres’ inflated contract to try and drive Richards out of business, too.

Richard’s Disposal is hiring drivers now!

As Alvin Richard said, if you’re going to pay the competition double, then they are just going to lure his workers away. That has already started. And it hasn’t taken long for the mayor to pay Torres even more money. She quickly hired him to cover the parts of a route after Richards fell only a couple of days behind.

This is typical New Orleans politics, and politics in general. You support my campaign, and when I get elected, I’ll throw contracts your way. This is the politics of trash in New Orleans.

Remember back when Cantrell was a councilperson running a tight mayoral campaign against Desiree Charbonnet?  Just as he is today, Torres was a known supporter of Cantrell then. And he took it upon himself to not only sponsor a debate, but also host it as well.

The Politics of trash in New Orleans

Attorney Suzette Bagneris made an important point on WBOK radio. Paying for a debate is a slick way of skirting campaign finance laws. Campaign finance law caps individual contributions to a mayoral candidate at $5,000. Clearly, putting on a televised debate costs a lot more than that.

Of course, Desiree Charbonnet didn’t show up. Torres then set up a PAC to attack her candidacy. And Cantrell went on to win the election. Now it seems that Mayor Cantrell has finally found a way to pay Torres back. Typical politics. Typical New Orleans.

Mayor Cantrell can get this one right. Councilman Freddie King asked Mr. Richard how much the city owed him. He replied about $5,000,000. The administration knows Richards picks up more houses than the city pays for. He deserves the full amount owed. And he should be paid the market rate of at least $28 per house. That’s what the city is paying IV Waste. So Richard’s should be equally paid for doing the exact same work.

Richard’s contract should be extended, too. For the last 15 years it has been the best disposal company in this city. They are a local success story. Celebrate and promote them. Don’t destroy another successful home-grown Black business.

Clearly, this is one of those teachable moments former president Barack Obama always talked about. From allegedly sleeping with her security detail officer, to overseeing one crime wave after another, to discriminating against two major black businesses, this mayor has given a lesson in the politics of trash. Now suddenly she finds herself surrounded by a city full of adversaries who are looking forward to a day when she and her tonnage will be hauled away.

The politics of trash in New Orleans.

@freddieking

@barackobama

@latoyacantrell

@sidneytorres

Black owned businesses operate in every business sector.  Many are small shops.  But others are some of the biggest businesses in the country.  These companies’ stocks are sold on national stock exchanges. They employ tens of thousands of people.  These biggest Black owned companies earn billions of dollars annually.  This is our list of the 20 biggest black owned companies.

20. Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Revenues: $220 Million

Employees: 2500

CEO: Sheila C. Johnson

Owned by Sheila Johnson, cofounder of Black Entertainment Television, Salamander Hotels and Resorts is a 168-room luxury hotel, resort, and spa located in the Virginia countryside. The hotel is built on a 340 acre property and boasts a 230,000 square foot spa with many outdoor activities such as hiking, zip-lining, and horseback riding. The resort took ten years to build, finally opening in August 2013.

19. Devon Industrial Group

Revenues: $234 Million

Employees: 70

CEO: David A. Burnley Sr

Devon Industrial Group is a construction company located in Michigan. They specialize in construction projects in various sectors, including commercial, health care, industrial, and educational. The Devon Industrial Group’s main target market for its services is across the midwestern states of the United States, with the headquarters in Detroit Michigan.

18. Georgetown Metal Processing

Revenues: $235 Million

Employees: 30

CEO: Kirk Lewis

Georgetown Metal Processing is a steel processing service center, specializing in blanking and warehousing located in Georgetown, Kentucky. Their produce range includes aluminum, flat-rolled steel, cold-rolled steel, coated and exposed steel products. Georgetown Metal Processing boasts an 80,000 square foot facility, which is climate controlled due to the nature of their work.

17. Bird Electric

Revenues: $238 Million

Employees: 587

CEO: Dale LeFebvre

Founded in 2004, Bird Electric is a leading full-service electric company. Services provided by the company include transmission, maintenance, instrumentation and electrical construction, automation, and storm restoration. Bird Electric operates in over ten states in the United States including Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida, Mississippi, Idaho, California, New Mexico, Alabama, Maryland and Puerto Rico.

16. Baldwin Richardson Foods

Revenues: $252 Million

Employees: 350

CEO: Eric G. Johnson

Richardson Foods is a leading custom ingredients manufacturer for the food and beverage industry. It is a family owned company originally founded as Baldwin Ice Cream in Chicago. Illinois in 1921. In 1997, five years after current CEO Eric Johnson purchased the company, Baldwin Ice Cream Company purchased Richardson Foods, creating Baldwin Richardson Foods. Over the next twenty years, the retail business grew to become a custom ingredients manufacturer making many kinds of liquid products for the food industry, including condiments, sauces, and syrups.

15. Adams Communication & Engineering Technology

Revenues: $253 Million

Employees: 385

CEO: Charles M. Adams

Founded in Maryland in 1999 by Charles Adams, Adams Communication & Engineering Technology is a leading technology company providing services for Government Defense, Intelligence, and other Federal Agencies of the United States. The company provides products and solutions in information systems, healthcare systems, aerospace, and electronics.

14. Millennium Steel of Texas

Revenues: $266 Million

Employees: 86

CEO: Andrea M. Jackson

Founded in San Antonio Texas by Henry Jackson in 2005, Millennium Steel of Texas ia a steel company providing automotive grade outer body steel sheets to auto makers across the state of Texas. Their services include steel processing, warehousing, and storage.

13. Global Automotive Alliance Corporation

Revenues: $275 Million

Employees: 1647

CEO: William F. Pickard and Sylvester L. Hester

Global Automotive Alliance is a holding company of many different companies originally founded by William Pickard in 1989. It is a consolidation of logistics and automotive manufacturing companies with eight plants in the United States and Canada. GAA supplies to top three United States automakers: Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. In addition, it also supplies to other global companies such as Boeing, Mercedes Benz, Starbucks, and Home Depot.

12. Millennium Steel Service

Revenues: $312 Million

Employees: 51

CEO: Andrea Jackson

Sister company of Millennium Steel of Texas, Millennium Steel Services is an automotive steel processing and warehousing company based in Princeton Indiana. It provides warehousing and supply chain management including inventory managements, inspection, slitting, and information technology system services.

11. Fair Oaks Farms

Revenues: $342 Million

Employees: 257

CEO: Michael L. Thompson

Fair Oaks Farms is food services company which produces fresh, ready-to-cook, and fully cooked beef, pork, and poultry products. Products offered by the company include sausages, cured meats, smoked meats, and canned meats. Founded in 1985 in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin in the United States, Fair Oaks Farms distributes its products to a variety of national and international restaurant chains and food companies.

10. Hightowers Petroleum Co.

Revenues: $435 Million

Employees: 52

CEO: Stephen L. Hightower

Operating for over 58 years, Hightowers Petroleum Co. is a petroleum products distribution company founded by Stephen “Steve” Hightower in 1982. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Hightower built the company from humble beginnings to a well-established business through persistence, drive, and determination. It is a family business providing services in bulk fuel delivery, HPC fleet cards, inventory management, emergency fuel, and supply chain managements.

9. Urban One (NASDAQ:UONEK)

Revenues: $440 Million

Employees: 1058

CEO: Alfred C. Liggins III

Based in Silver Spring, Maryland, Urban One Inc is a publishing and broadcasting company primarily providing content aimed at the African American community. Self-titled as the “leading voice speaking to Black America “, Urban One Inc is the largest distributor of urban content in the United States since 1980. It is the largest Black-owned broadcasting company in the United States, with 53 radio stations, cable network TV One, digital media company iOne, and news provider NewsOne all under its belt.

8. The Anderson-Dubose Company

Revenues: $703 Million

Employees: 543

CEO: Warren E. Anderson

Launched in 1991, The Andersons-Dubose Company is a distribution company providing logistics services to McDonalds and Chipotle fast food restaurants in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia in the United States. Their services roster includes transportation of groceries, happy meal toys, paper products, dairy products, frozen meat and fish, and other food products. The Anderson Dubose Company operate from two locations, one is a 210,497 square foot facility in Lordstown, Ohio and the other is in Rochester, New York.

7. Thompson Hospitality

Revenues: $760 Million

Employees: 6,000

CEO: Warren M. Thompson

Thompson Hospitality Corporation is a food and facilities management company providing hospitality services in the United States. It is the largest minority-owned Food Service and one of the largest Retail Food and Facilities Management companies in the United States. Thompson Hospitality Corporation was originally founded as a restaurant company in 1992 and has now branched out to offer all services of the hospitality industry.

 In 2010, the company was awarded the Black Enterprise Award of Company of the Year. In 2017, Washington Business Journal ranked it #1 Minority Owned Company. And in 2019 they were again recognized by Washington Business Journal as the Largest Independent Employer Company.

6. Bridgeman Foods

Revenues: $870 Million

Employees: 20,000

CEO: Ryan Bridgeman

Located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, United States, Bridgeman Foods is a part of the fast-food and quick-service restaurants industry. Formerly known as Manna Inc, Bridgeman Foods was founded in 1988 in Louisville, Kentucky. Currently Bridgeman Foods affiliates operate 139 Wendy’s restaurants, 27 Golden Corral Buffet and Grill restaurants, 83 Fazoli’s restaurants, 6 Mark’s Feed Store restaurants, 7 Blaze Pizza restaurants, Napa River Grill, Jimmy John’s, and The Layover Bar.

5. Modular Assembly Innovations

Revenues: $1,042 Million

Employees: 259

CEO: Billy R. Vickers

Modular Assembly Innovations is one of the United States’ largest black-owned businesses. Based in Dublin, Ohio, Modular Assembly Innovations is the parent corporation of a group of certified, minority-owned companies part of the Machinery Manufacturing industry. MAI companies include Great Lakes Assemblies, Gulf Shore Assemblies, Indiana Assemblies, and North American Assemblies. These are all aware winning, tier one suppliers of automotive parts to customers in both the United States and abroad.

4. Coca-Cola Beverages Florida

Revenues: $1,310 Million

Employees: 4,800

CEO: Troy D. Taylor

A family owned company, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida L.L.C. is an independent Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) beverage bottler company with over 18 million consumers across 47 counties of the state of Florida. This includes all the major metropolitan markets of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Coca-Cola Beverages Florida L.L.C. , or Coke Florida as it’s known for short, manufactures, sells, and distributes over 600 products of the giant Coca Cola Company as well as many other partner companies.

Coca-Cola Beverages Florida has received a number of awards. They received the Minority Business Enterprise Supplier of the Year Class IV honor in 2020. The Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council also recognized Coca-Cola Beverages Florida L.L.C. as the Supplier of the Year Class IV in the same year.

3. Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C

Revenues: $ 1,969 Million

Employees: 2,400

CEO: Ronald E. Hall Jr.

Founded over 20 years ago, Bridgewater Interiors is an automotive seating manufacturing company based in Detroit, Michigan. The company specializes in JIT (just-in-time) manufacturing, sequencing, and delivery of seating in automotive vehicles. The company does assembly for 15 car models belonging to four automotive manufacturers. Bridgewater Interiors has four facilities at its two locations, three in Michigan and one in Alabama.

Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C has received a number of accolades throughout the years. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Commerce, through its Minority Business Development Agency, named Bridgewater Interiors its Manufacturer of the Year. General Motors (NYSE:GM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), and Ford (NYSE:F) have all recognized Bridgewater Interiors for their quality and service.

2. Act 1 Group

Revenues: $2,800 Million

Employees: 2,000

CEO: Janice Bryant Howroyd

ActOne Group is a privately held corporation based in Torrance, California founded in 1964. The ActOne Group, stylized as Act 1 Group, is a global enterprise that provided employment, workforce management, and procurement solutions to a wide range of industries. ActOne is the largest debt-free woman-owned, minority-owned workforce management company in the United States. ActOne is a global leader in the human resources industry and currently operates in 19 countries around the world with 17,000 clients and 2,600 employees worldwide.

The CEO, Janice Bryant Howroyd was awarded winner of the 2016 Peter Yessne Staffing Leadership Award for all her efforts.

1. World Wide Technology

Revenue: $11,287.419 Million

Employees: 5,378

CEO: David L. Steward

Topping the list of 20 biggest black-owned companies in the United States is technology solution provider World Wide Technology with $11.2 billion in annual revenue and more than 5,000 employees. Founded in 1990, World Wide Technology provides supply-chain technology to 45% of Fortune 500 companies. The company provides information technology and software solutions. Some of the world’s most recognizable brands are WWT’s customers, namely Boeing, Cisco, AT&T, Microsoft,  and the US Air Force. World Wide Technology employs more than 3,800 people and operates in more than 20 facilities throughout the world.

New Orleans has a crime problem.  The solution is not more police.  The solution is more and better jobs.  In New Orleans, that means more and better black owned businesses. Black businesses create better jobs for African Americans.  And that is because black businesses hire African Americans at a higher rate and pay them more money.  Our community needs more black jobs.  Those are jobs for us by us. 

We Need Black Jobs

Black jobs by definition are offered by African American businesses to African American people.  Black companies hiring black people. Strong African American companies create generational wealth.  People with good jobs are good tax paying citizens.  Our city council must create meaningful pathways to black jobs.  Creating access to contracts and the capital to fulfill them is the proper role of our city council.  Some states offer free land or no taxes to attract businesses.  The New Orleans City Council must offer contracts and capital.  That creates Black jobs – African American companies hiring African Americans people to do work.

Black jobs are the key to our city’s future. Growing an African American business class provides long-term stability for our families.  Hiring African Americans and providing good paying jobs has immediate impacts.  People with good jobs are much less likely to engage in crime.  If you got a good job – paying all your bills and have some left over – you don’t need to be on the corners involved in street crime.  If you have a good paying job, you will not be angry all the time.  You will have something to live for.  And you won’t shoot the guy next door over “disrespect!”  And having an African American company to offer the jobs means better jobs.

The best employers for young African American men are African American businesses.  A reason white owned companies hire more white employees is because people like to work with people who are like them. Cohesive happy environments foster creativity, productivity and profitability. Yes diversity is very important.  But we just do not have enough successful African American businesses. This dearth contributes to the troubled neighborhoods. We must do better in New Orleans. We must develop, support an grow more African American businesses.  Creating business opportunities in our communities strengthens our communities.  Good jobs help young men develop into good citizens.  And growing Black businesses promote other ancillary Black businesses. Those will also hire African Americans.  Black jobs are the best jobs.

For our existing African American owned businesses, we need to support and protect them. Bigger companies want their valuable contracts.  But the city council must protect these contracts.  We need successful African American companies to support our communities.  The profits stay here and are multiplied when the companies are New Orleans based.  New Orleans based African American companies help reduce crime, grow the tax base and create more business opportunities.  More black jobs make New Orleans a better city.

We must support our local businesses.  Our political leaders must contribute to their success.  If they need help, that is precisely the role of government.  Instead of tax breaks to attract big businesses, we need tax incentives that support local businesses.  Support our local African American owned businesses. They create black jobs.  Black jobs are the best jobs. 

We published a list of things that white people should never say to their black co-workers. Now, Risha Grant, a public relations professional and diversity and inclusion expert, asked white people on her Facebook feed, to list the things that black people say or may do that annoy them.

Here are 16 of the top annoyances (mild and otherwise) that white people said they felt about black people mostly in the workplace, but also in general (these are posted verbatim from Risha Grant’s Facebook feed):

WHEN YOU WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH THEM AT WORK BUT THERE ARE OTHER BLACK GIRLS SO YOU JUST CAN’T GET CLOSE CUZ UR JUST THE WHITE GIRL WHO IS HELD AT ARMS LENGTH. YOU GET THE FEELING THAT THEY DON’T BELIEVE YOU WANNA BE THEIR FRIEND. THEY THINK WE ARE TOO DIFFERENT.

…THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES THAT CONVERSATION WITH A BLACK PERSON SOMEHOW TURNS TO THE TOPIC OF INEQUALITY…I HAVE NO WAY OF TRULY KNOWING ALL THE PRIVILEGE THAT I ENJOY AS A WHITE, STRAIGHT MALE. I JUST KNOW THERE ARE TIMES, I’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE AND THE DOOR CLOSES.

…ANY TIME A BLACK PERSON WALKS INTO A ROOM — SAY A NEW EMPLOYEE IN AN OFFICE — THEY MAKE A BEELINE TO THE OTHER BLACK FACES. IT CAN BE DISAPPOINTING BECAUSE I MAY KNOW FROM ADVANCE NOTIFICATION ABOUT YOUR HIRING THAT YOU AND I HAVE A LOT IN COMMON, BUT I HAVE TO WORK HARDER TO BE YOUR FRIEND.

ON SOCIAL MEDIA, A LOT OF MY ACTIVIST BLACK FRIENDS WILL POST COMPLAINTS ABOUT “WHITE PEOPLE SAY …” “WHITE PEOPLE THINK…” “WHITE PEOPLE DO …” AND I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE SAYING, “NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE!”

[RELATED: 27 THINGS WHITE PEOPLE SHOULD NEVER, EVER SAY TO THEIR BLACK CO-WORKERS]

… MORE COMMON AMONGST MY BLACK FRIENDS THAN ANY OTHER GROUP. I DON’T LIKE IT WHEN BLACK PEOPLE BRING UP MY ‘WHITE PRIVILEGE’ FOR THE REASON THEY AREN’T AS WELL OFF AS THEY THINK I AM

I FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE JOINING AMAZING ORGANIZATIONS IF PREFACED WITH ‘BLACK’. LIKE BLACK NURSES ASSOCIATION. THESE ARE AMAMAZAZAZING COLLEAGUES I WANT TO NETWORK WITH BUT….I’M NOT BLACK.

…HAVE NOTICED A LOT OF TIMES WHEN I EXPECT THE BLACK FRIEND OF MINE TO FOLLOW THROUGH OR FOLLOW UP ON A CONVERSATION, WEATHER [SIC] IT BE TO CONTACT SOMEONE IN BUSINESS OR TO GET BACK WITH ME WITH SOME INFORMATION IT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAPPEN. SO I WOULD SAY FOR ME IT’S FOLLOW THROUGH OR FOLLOW UP WHEN CONVERSATIONS ARE MADE ABOUT MOVING FORWARD WITH SOMETHING.

…WHEN I WAS WORKING WITH CHILDREN IT SEEMED MORE COMMON FOR BLACK ADULTS TO COME DOWN ON A CHILD FOR CRYING OR HAVING EMOTIONS (PARTICULARLY WHEN LITTLE BOYS AND YOUNG MEN CRIED, TELLING THEM TO “MAN UP.”)

I CAN SAY THAT IN MY TRADITIONAL CLASSROOMS OVER THE YEARS I’VE HAD MORE BLACK KIDS THAT SEEM TO GO RIGHT TO FIGHTING ON THE PLAYGROUND- NOT A LOT OF BUILD UP, JUST STRAIGHT TO THROWING PUNCHES

“THE VICTIM.” THE ONES THAT MAKE ANY NON BLACK RACE FEEL LIKE A DOG FOR WHAT THEIR ANCESTORS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE DONE DURING THE PERIODS OF SLAVERY, AND ACT LIKE THE CURRENT PERIOD NON BLACK RACES OWE THEM SOMETHING FOR IT. 

SPEAKING AS IF THEY ARE UNEDUCATED. NOT ACCENTS BUT REFUSING TO SPEAK CORRECTLY.

…IT SEEMS LIKE AFRICAN AMERICANS NEVER USE A CROSSWALK. EVEN IF IT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, THEY WILL GO OUT OF THEIR WAY NOT TO CROSS AT THE LIGHT. IS THERE SOMETHING THERE OR AM I IMAGINING THINGS?

POOR GRAMMAR

IT REALLY IRRITATES ME THAT Y’ALL CAN DANCE SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME! (NO ONE WHO WITNESSED IT HAS EVER FORGOTTEN YOUR VALIANT ATTEMPT TO TEACH ME THE WOBBLE!)

…PLEASE DON’T ASSUME ALL WHITE PEOPLE SUPPORT TRUMP. BECAUSE WE DON’T.

A WHITE PERSON HAS TO WALK ON EGGSHELLS WITH CAVEATS TO KEEP OVERLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE FROM BEING OFFENDED — THAT SEEMS TO BE ONE THING THAT BLACK PEOPLE DO—GET OFFENDED TO EASILY.


BY MALAIKA BATES

The Center for Disease Control defines health disparities as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations .” As the second-largest minority population in the United States, African Americans have been disadvantaged racially, socially, and economically for decades and their health has been drastically affected by this trend through a number of factors.

Factors outside the community

The socioeconomic status of African Americans is a determinant of healthcare access and is an integral part of how race affects health . Racism in healthcare is not new. On average, African Americans have limited access to good quality, conveniently located healthcare facilities. In communities with a high proportion of African Americans, these necessary facilities are placed few and far between and are of poor quality. This has fostered a mindset that is in denial of health issues amongst the community members as there are most times no affordable treatment available, increasing the percentage of chronic illnesses. Research has shown a high correlation between low income and being uninsured, implying that African Americans struggle to afford any insurance.

A racial and economic gap has existed between African Americans and white Americans since 1968 with no significant sign of change. People assume that the amount of money someone makes is based on their job, but for African Americans, their race is tied to their income level and as a result, their health. The average black person has earned about 57 percent of what the average white American makes from 1968 to 2016 . The U.S. economy enforces regulations that keep the majority of the finances in the hands of the richest members of society, excluding most people of the African American race .

Still today, the average white American household earns 6.5 times the amount of an African American household, despite a thriving U.S. economy. Income level is also reflected in the type and placement of housing, allowing for large groups of people within the same race and income level to form their own neighborhoods and attracting those who wish to take advantage of this.

The health and safety of any individual is a priority.

Factors within the community

Health starts with what you eat. Everything you put inside your body is either nourishment or a detriment and for African Americans, the latter is more often true but not by accident. It has been found that unhealthy foods are promoted heavier in African American communities as they are often cheaper and what can be afforded, leading to drastically reduced access to healthy food choices, even in grocery stores. Studies have shown that there is a higher prevalence of fast-food restaurants among and an inverse relationship with low-income neighborhoods, even at the national level . This means that as the overall income level of the neighborhood goes down, the number of fast-food restaurants increases. 

In most cases, the population of African Americans per area was a better indicator of fast-food restaurant density than household . Essentially, increasing proportions of African Americans in a neighborhood is an indicator of average decreasing income levels and is positively correlated with an increasing number of fast-food restaurants. The conclusion can be made that these fast-food establishments follow elevated African American populations because they are guaranteed business as their prices are more affordable, but the food rarely has any great nutritional value and is highly fattening. What can be seen as somewhat healthy, such as a side salad, is often twice or three times as expensive making it the least likely to be bought by people with limited funds or knowledge of healthier food options.

Effects and implications of these factors 

It is no surprise that with all these factors in place to promote unhealthy eating amongst the African American population, a frightening number of health concerns have also raised. The risk factors, morbidity, incidence, and mortality rates for the top ten leading causes of death are disproportionately greater for African Americans than white Americans . This leads to elevated death rates for heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide, and decreased life expectancy overall for African Americans at an average of 76.1 years compared to 79.8 years for white Americans .

Another obvious effect would be the high obesity rates among adults and children that contribute to a number of additional health risks such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks, and strokes, not to mention decreased performance in completing everyday tasks. The strategic placement of and excess access to unhealthy food without the same ease of access to health facilities to combat the issues that arise shows that the U.S. economy has no intention of closing the racial or socioeconomic gap between white Americans and African Americans soon. 

What can be done to alleviate these effects?

This issue with African American health disparities is a matter of environmental justice because it is concerned with the equal distribution of environmental burdens such as health hazards and other inequalities . It is the responsibility of the U.S. government to provide all citizens with equal access to healthy food choices and healthcare facilities. The implementation of universal, race-neutral policies would be a step in the right direction . Other means of solving the food situation in African American neighborhoods directly might include improved transportation to facilitate access to healthful foods or mobile markets to increase the supply of fresh produce, and nutritional education . There is too much of U.S. history built out of racism for all of our problems to be fixed with any one solution, but these propose a good start. Until the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities between African-Americans and white Americans are dissolved, environmental justice cannot be achieved.

If you haven’t tried some of these, your waistline really wants you to.

If you haven’t tried some of these, your waistline really wants you to.

HOT PEPPERS

There’s a good reason that some like it hot. Capsaicin — the compound that gives peppers their fiery kick — helps boost metabolism by raising your body temperature.

BELL PEPPERS

Surprise! Contrary to popular belief, hot red peppers aren’t the only veggies that contain metabolism-boosting capsaicin. Though bell peppers have smaller amounts, they still allow you to get your fix.

CELERY

Celery might not seem like it has any superpowers, but it’s blandness can be beneficial. It doesn’t have much taste on its own, but chomping on the super low-calorie food stimulates digestion, keeps your body hydrated, and has plenty of fat-burning fiber, all of which amp up your metabolism.

TUNA

Nothing to be sorry for, Charlie. Tuna — along with salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines — contains omega-3 fatty acids, which stimulate the production of hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite.

WATER

You need water to survive — and drinking eight glasses a day is also great for your metabolism. A small study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that consuming 500 ml of water caused metabolic rate to spike 30 percent within 10 minutes, an effect that lasted for around a half hour.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS

These nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats, which studies show could help melt belly fat. The how isn’t totally clear, but it could be because mitochondria, the energy factories of cells, need polyunsaturated fats to help burn flab.

MATCHA

Yup, that’s just a fancy word for green tea. It not only packs a bit of caffeine, which speeds up your heart rate and thus your metabolism, but it also has norepinephrine-stimulating EGCG, a nutrient that helps boost your metabolic rate.

PAPAYA

Keep the taste of the Caribbean alive in your kitchen. This tropical fruit contains papain, an enzyme thought to improve digestion — a key to boosting metabolism and torching fat.

ALMOND BUTTER

This nutty spread is a low-glycemic food, meaning it helps keep your blood sugar levels stable. That’s crucial when your blood sugar spikes and crashes on the regular, it slows down your metabolism.

OATS

Don’t vote all carbs off the island. Oats are loaded with beta-glucan, a special type of fiber that helps slow the digestion of carbohydrates, which releases sugars at a slower rate. This triggers certain metabolic responses that decrease appetite.

GRAPEFRUIT

Move over apples and oranges! This tart citrus fruit contains naringenin, an antioxidant that helps keep your blood sugar consistent and helps improve calorie burn.

YOGURT

People who upped their yogurt intake — eating at least one serving a day — dropped almost a pound every four years, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that followed nearly 120,000 adults for two decades. Those who skipped a serving a day gained weight.

RED WINE

If you’re going to cut back on an Italian dinner, it’s better to ditch the pane than the vino. Refined carbs found in white bread and pasta trigger a release of insulin, which can then store as extra fat. Red wine, on the other hand, contains resveratrol, which may help you better metabolize the sugar you do eat.

It has nothing to do with looks but it’s universally appealing.

by Rosemary K.M. Sword and Philip Zimbardo Ph.D.

KEY POINTS

Throughout our decades of research, we’ve found that compassion is the overarching trait that brings out the best in oneself, as well as others. Our work includes time perspective, post-trauma, shyness, evil, heroism, meditation, and the indigenous Hawaiian practice of ho’oponopono. Moreover, in recent years studies indicate that compassion is proving to keep people younger, more attractive, healthier, and happier. For us, that is one big wow.

Compassion may be defined as sympathy or concern for the suffering of others, but it’s much more than that. It involves feelings of empathy with someone else and an authentic desire to turn those feelings into pro-social action, when possible (Goetz, Keltner, et al, 2010). We also know that compassion can be taught through meditation training, and, for example, can increase prosocial affect and behavior (Condon, Desbordes, et al, 2012; Lieber, Klimecki, et al, 2011).

To experience true compassion, we must, on some level, feel a deep, emotional connection – empathy – with one or more other people. The recipients of our empathy may be total strangers, or perhaps animals, anywhere in the world. Curiously, for whatever reason, we relate to and connect with them and their situation.

Gain big benefits by being compassionate

While there are numerous benefits to having a compassionate nature – such as routinely taking kind actions that help others – there are also advantages for the compassionate person:

Compassionate meditation

To paraphrase the Dalai Lama, compassion is innate and, like a muscle, it can be strengthened with exercise. According to master meditation instructor Vishen Lahkiani, “From a spiritual approach, you can train our brain to be kinder and more compassionate through meditation .… Think of it as the act of moving from judgment to caring, from isolation to connection from indifference or dislike to understanding.”

In case you are new to meditation, we share Lahkiani’s 6 steps to compassionate meditation below to help you get started. As he shares, “It will take a bit of practice, and it might feel weird or silly at first. But once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature.”

  1. Bring a loved one to mind. Take a deep breath, and on your exhale, see a loved one in front of you in the most vivid detail possible. If you’re not a visual person, just sense their presence. Internalize the feeling of compassion by tuning into the love they inspire within you. Bring awareness to your heart space, and give those feelings of love a color. It could be pink, light blue, green — whatever comes to mind. Allow your heart to marinate in that color.
  2. Allow the compassion you feel to encompass your body. Let yourself go from feeling compassion for your loved one in your heart to feeling the sensations all over your body. Feel it forming a comforting bubble around you. Try your best to find compassion for yourself. As a good friend of mine once put it: “Fill your cup first, only then can you serve from your overflow.”
  3. Expand compassion into the room you’re in. Take another deep breath, and as you exhale, see that bubble of compassion expanding. Imagine it growing and covering everything in the room, including people, plants, pets — no boundaries needed.
  4. Send your compassion to the streets. Now that you’ve got the hang of expanding compassion through a small space, you’re ready to go further afield into your neighborhood. Imagine your bubble of compassion spreading throughout your entire home first, touching anyone who lives there. Next, imagine it expanding to engulf your entire neighborhood.
  5. Allow compassion to encompass your city and country. Start with your city, then expand to your entire country. For this part, imagine a map of your town or city in your mind’s eye that zooms out into a map of your country. See the space beneath you as if you’re flying over it in a helicopter or viewing a drone shot of it.
  6. Allow your compassion to envelop the Earth. This is where things get interesting. Take a deep breath. From your country, you’re going to keep sending this compassion out into your continent on the exhale. Then make your way through every continent for each new exhale. This is the final stage of the practice that connects us not just to those closest to us, but to all of life on Earth.

If you get lost at any point, return to step one. See your loved one in front of you again, charge yourself up with love, and spread it outward again.

By practicing compassionate meditation for a few minutes each day, we can live a happier, healthier life as well as transform not only the way we think about ourselves and those we’re close to, but also the world. How? By the positive micro- and macro- actions we’ll make happen due to our expanded capacity for compassion. Research suggests that seeing someone helping another person creates a state of elevation in the onlooker (Algoe and Haidt, 2009). This data in turn proposes that elevation then inspires onlookers to help others—and it may just be the force behind a domino effect of greater empathy and giving.

Finally, we advance the proposition that compassion is contagious: Acts of generosity and kindness beget more generosity in a chain reaction of goodness going forward (Fowler and Christakis, 2010). Let us become the bright spark that illuminates the world.

Maybe the City Council should have a say over who the police chief appoints too. They’ve already gained control over the mayor’s appointees. And given who Interim Chief Michelle Woodfork has surrounded herself with, there may be some questions in order. Let’s meet some of these people, starting with her 2nd in command.

Captain Hans Ganthier. Never heard of him? Well you should’ve. Ganthier was one of the off-duty officers involved in the Beachcorner incident. Remember, that’s when a gang of white off-duty NOPD officers jumped 4 black off-duty RTA workers after an argument in the bathroom line. They kicked and stomped one of the workers, then planted a gun on him, then tried to cover it up by getting an innocent bystander to help falsify a police report.

Ganthier was listed as one of the officers directly involved in the beating. Now Woodfork has appointed him as her right-hand man. Should there be outrage? Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste thinks so.

“You tell me we gon make this man the 2nd in charge when we got a black mayor who says she’s a black woman, but she hires somebody who beat 2 black people up and possibly called them the n-word? Something is wrong with that system to me.”

NOPD Commander Hans Ganthier

Last week, mayor Cantrell, for some reason, voluntarily revealed that she had a say over who Woodfork did and did not appoint.

“Think about it,” Batisite said, “if she’s saying that, then she’s saying the chief don’t got no power. But for the police to do the job they need to do; we need a police chief that the mayor can’t control. That’s the problem with this city.”

Woodfork’s other move was promoting Captain Nicholas Gernon to Deputy Chief of Professional Standards and Accountability. This is an interesting choice, considering that the Independent Police Monitor just investigated Gernon. And they concluded that his standards and accountability weren’t up to par during an investigation he led.

Gernon was tasked with determining whether there was some shadyness in how summons were issued after Batiste and then council member Jay Banks had a dust up. 6 officers, including a captain, 2 lieutenants, and 2 sergeants showed up at Batiste’s house to issue a minor summons. Yet, Banks was allowed to simply pick his up from a police station.

Somehow Gernon failed to conclude that a show of force of that magnitude wasn’t an act of intimidation or that Banks received preferential treatment. The Police Monitor wasn’t shy about calling that out in their report.

The report “asserts that Investigating Officer Capt. Gernon should have conducted a more thorough investigation into the allegations of disparate treatment and whether then-Councilmember Jay Banks’ political status had any influence over the involved officers.”

Nicholas Gernon

Should the Council Vet Chief’s Appointments?

And then again it says, “In reviewing this investigation, the OIPM concluded that Investigating Officer Capt. Gernon should have also considered the appearance and the perception that could be created by seeing a group of officers, including a district captain, two lieutenants, and two sergeants, showing up at a house unannounced to serve a summons for a minor offense.”

Ironically, one of the involved officers was Interim Chief Woodfork herself. Gernon cleared her. And now, she’s given him a promotion. Banks, meanwhile, got a position in the mayor’s office. In contrast, Batiste, one of the leaders of the mayoral recall, got harassed.

“Make this make sense to me,” Batiste said. “Woodfork is just promoting all of her friends. And we got good officers stepping down behind these appointments. It’s just another example of the favoritism and nepotism that 86% of officers said they was tired of.”

Some might say there’s nothing to see here. That it’s just an example of Woodfork getting a top position and bringing along the people she trusts most to help her serve. Possibly, but their performance and reputations precede them.

“I’m asking for justice,” Batiste said. “We need a plan and we need a plan now. People are being robbed, carjacked, bust in the head, and how we supposed to believe in this chief when she promoting people who cover up crimes? If she’s doing that, what else is she about to do?”

Being that the national search for a permanent chief is off to a less than stellar start, it looks like Woodfork will hold the position for a while. So going forward, we are all about to get a front row seat to see exactly what she’s about to do. Hopefully, in a good way, we’ll all be in store for a nice surprise.