Civil rights activists have always “called out” those who were against the movement for justice, fairness, equality, and civil/voting rights. They do this to inform people. We shine light on the evil people do. And we send a message to the offenders that their behavior is unacceptable. Justice will prevail.
In that grand tradition, Think504 calls out the enemies of the American people, within and without, who attempted to overthrow our government, democracy, and subvert the rule of law in real time.
Wednesday, January 6, 2021, is a day that will live in infamy. It was the day that a Trump mob of insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol. They fought Capitol police and went on a rampage, stealing, ransacking offices, and, yes, killing, and injuring Capitol police officers. When the tear gas cleared the treasonous criminals were escorted out of the Capitol building. Five people are dead, and 50 Capitol police injured. U.S. Capitol Pro-Trump rioters killed Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick.
THE ENEMIES WITHOUT
Trump invited his cult to Washington D.C. to challenge the results of the presidential election. The same day Congress voted to confirm the election of Joe Biden, Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Donald J. Trump Jr., Representative Mo Brooks, Jr. (R-AL), and others stood behind bullet-proof glass. They whipped the massive crowd of misinformed sycophants into an angry lynch mob, reminiscent of the KKK and Night riders.
And estimates are that at least 40,000 were in the nation’s Capital to pull a seditious coup. They came from all over the U.S. Among the crowd were members of the Proud Boys, Neo-Nazis, Neo-Confederates, and White Supremacists waving Trump flags and Confederate flags and wearing cheap Trump merch and shirts with anti-Semitic slogans. .
Primed and pumped, they tried to overthrow the U.S. government. Brooks was one of the opening speakers at Trump’s “Save America” rally. Brooks told the crowd, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”
Giuliani suggested that the Trump supporters conduct a “trial by combat.”
“Trump told followers, ‘You will never take back our country with weakness,’ and, “We are going to have to fight much harder.” Trump called the election results, an “egregious assault on our democracy, before ordering the crowd to “walk down to the Capitol.”
Donald Trump Jr. urged the seditionists to “Fight for Trump.”
While Trump’s mob was pillaging the Capitol, senators, representatives, and media were whisked away to safe, undisclosed locations.
An array of insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. Among them were:
The Q Shaman/QAnon Shaman, the dude dressed up like a wolf with hours. His name is Jake Angeli, and he has been a regular at right-wing political rallies in Arizona, where he is from, since 2019.
Derrick Evans , a Republican Delegate in the West Virginia legislature, filmed himself and fellow Trump supporters banging on the Capitol’s door. Wearing a helmet, he jumps in the building and shouts: “We’re in” Keep it moving, baby!”
In addition, another Trumpster, a Neo-Nazi, wore a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ shirt at the U.S. Capitol.
Pictured walking through the Capitol with a stolen lectern as he waved at photographers, was Adam Johnson, a psychology graduate from Florida.
Richard ‘Bigo’ Barnett’s picture went viral. The self-described white nationalist is the one with his feet on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. He showed a New York Times reporter a letter he had taken from her desk. Barnett said he left a note on her desk . It said, “Nancy, Bigo was here, you b****.” Police arrested him. His charges include entering and remaining on restricted grounds, theft of public property, and violent entry, according to NBC.
The Proud Boys were out in force and many other slimy, criminally insane people who follows Trump were present. One man was arrested with an assault weapon and 11 Molotov cocktails. Some of the insurrectionists shot ammunition into the House chamber, according to news reports.
THE ENEMY WITHIN
After the Capitol Hill Police escorted the mob out of the Capitol, the Senate and House of Representatives continued the certification process.
And of course, the majority of the Louisiana delegations showed their true colors and sided with the Racist-in-Chief. Five of the seven Louisiana lawmakers objected to the certification of Electoral Votes for Arizona and Pennsylvania.
During the U.S. House vote on the objection to electoral votes for Arizona, Rep. Clay Higgins (LA-03). Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04) and Rep. Steve Scalise (LA-01), all Republicans, voted to oppose the Arizona election results. The three have voted in lockstep with Trump. And they even repeated the “big lie” that there was massive voter fraud in Arizona’s election.
Scalise has long sided with racists. Although Scalise apologized for speaking at a David Duke rally in 2002, one has to wonder how he remains so loyal to Trump, who is obviously a racist. His own actions confirm that fact.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (LA-02), the state’s lone Democrat Congressman, and Rep. Garret Graves (LA-06), voted to accept of Arizona’s electoral college votes.
In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Bill Cassidy voted in favor of the certification of Arizona’s Electoral College votes while Sen. John Kennedy voted for the objection to both Arizona and Pennsylvania’s electoral college votes.
To be sure the Republican Party is fractured. New factions range from moderate to extremely right wing. Commend Senator Cassidy for doing the right thing.
As for John Neely Kennedy, if he moved back to his native Centreville, MS, he wouldn’t be missed. According to govtrack.us, Kennedy is next up for reelection in 2022 and serves until Jan 3, 2023. “Kennedy is a member of the so-called Kraken Caucus- Republican legislators who fomented the terrorist attack on the Capitol. They aimed to prevent the election of the next president of the United States. And they even called for entire states to be disenfranchised in the 2020 presidential election. They want to change the outcome of the election from Democrat to Republican — an attempted coup.
A photo of Donald Rouse Sr., the owner of Rouse’s Markets, show him and a former employee cheesing for the camera at the Trump coup. After the photo went viral, Rouse released a statement admitting he attended the “rally” as a supporter of Trump. Rouse said he left before the violence began, and he condemned the violent behavior of his fellow Trump supporters.
Rousse’s statement has not placated black New Orleanians who are calling for a boycott of his stores. It’s one thing to support a Republican if you’re a Republican. But Donald Trump has insulted every brown and black person in America and called black women horrible names. He has put brown and black children in cages. Anyone who supports or contributes to Trump obviously doesn’t give a damn about the way he treats people of color. He’s a racist, full stop, and birds of a feather…
The Insurrection has unveiled serious concerns over the way police treated Trump’s white mob vs. the way they treated Black Lives Matter protesters. An investigation may be imminent.
Video doesn’t lie. There it is in our faces. The Capitol Police opened barricades and let rioters in. Some took selfies with the insurgents. Another stood by and watched while the looters broke windows. Still others gently escorted the lawbreakers out of the people’s house.
According to a New York Times article, “Six days before the storming of the Capitol and Trump’s Civil War, Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) asked the chief of the Capitol Police about his preparations for various scenarios: Were the rooftops secured? Would streets be blocked off? Did he know that violent groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers were vowing to stir up chaos? Waters said her concerns was met with a similar response from Chief Steven Sund. “He assured me that they have everything under control, that they were on top of everything.” They weren’t.
“Instead, an angry mob of pro-Trump extremists swarmed the barricades around the Capitol on Wednesday. Spraying chemical irritants and wielding lead pipes, injuring more than 50 officers. They battered doors, broke windows and scaled the walls, rampaging through the building as congressional leaders made desperate calls for help.”
The Capitol Police should have arrested everyone of the people who breached the Capitol. Police only arrested 55 insurgents. The FBI estimates that it may take a year, to track do the other offenders.
But in June 2020, when Black Lives Matter protesters walked the streets, more than 200 were arrested, while others were tear-gassed, beaten with batons, and assaulted. The double standard of it all is glaring.
Those responsible for the failed law enforcement response on January 6, should have to testify at a Congressional hearing as to why the National Guard, the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia police didn’t arrive until 90 minutes into the siege.
Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the Joint Taskforce Commander during Hurricane Katrina, told MSNBC reporters that law enforcement’s response should be investigated. “They were complicit,” the General added.
How Local Businesses can make New Orleans Great in 2021
By Jeff Thomas
For the last few years, I have written about how to make our city great in each upcoming year. Those articles primarily focused on government policies. Fortunately, the New Orleans City Council implemented progressive laws in accordance. Some of the policies set forth are not jailing people for marijuana and creating more contracting opportunities. Despite these steps, the snags of crime still occurred.
Progressive laws are like fishing but for quality-of-life advancements. If you’ve never fished then you don’t know the frustration of your line being snagged by an underwater impediment. First you think you have a bite. Then you realize not only no fish, but you may have lost your gear and bait.
Unseen forces can ruin your cast. Progressive legislation’s goal is to improve our economy. More economic opportunities reduce poverty. Poverty is the source of most crime. Chronic poverty leads to carjackings, window smashing, home burglaries and even drug murders. Poverty starts in unemployment and poor education. Like casting a hook with a live shrimp, positive government policies hope for a good catch.
Creating more opportunities is the proper role of local governments. Typically people with jobs who own homes do not commit violent crime. Children who live in the homes of parents that own their homes normally do not commit violent crimes. A growing economy creates more jobs. Jobs should eliminate poverty.
That every politician’s website has a multipronged job creation platform is now trite. Yet the necessity of a successful jobs program is paramount to eliminating the poverty which creates the crime that plagues us.
The Unseen Impediment – Local Business Must Step Up
But just like the fisherman who drops his line only to catch a snag, even the best jobs program can be derailed. If local businesses do not hire or do business with locals, then even the best jobs program is unsuccessful. Local businesses must participate. Livable wages, job opportunities, local hiring, and solid benefits are required. Also, contracting and vendor creation are equally necessary.
Instead of being unseen barriers to economic growth, big local businesses must be advocates for local people and their small businesses. They must overcome stale and untrue narratives. Local people are qualified and able. Our local people can do great work. Local people deserve jobs and contracts.
Lets help each other pull up fish and not cost each other economic opportunities and growth. Local businesses must step up.
This the first in a series of articles that focus on the Expansion of Black Wealth. In this edition we take a granular look at the issues surrounding Black Wealth or the Lack Thereof…
What’s Up with Black Americans’ Economic Situation?
By C.C. Campbell-Rock
The Summer of Reckoning began in 2020. Thousands of woke people protested to end the killings of black people. Stopping white supremacists in and out of police uniforms. These murders have been going on since enslaved Africans landed on American shores.
However, as the U.S. lay in quarantine in its attempt to stop the spread of the deadly Coronavirus Pandemic, the impact of glaring economic racial inequities jumped into view. The pandemic hit the Black and Latino communities hardest. Low wage workers, now considered to be essential workers, were most at risk. They couldn’t be in quarantine. They had to continue to work to provide the “essential services.”
Clerks, sanitation workers, meat packers, delivery servicepeople, postal workers, and others worked to keep cities running. They risked their lives daily, often without the proper PPE to do their jobs, and certainly without the proper pay. They are the victim of structural income inequality that our government has failed to address.
However, the recognition that closing the wealth gap between blacks and whites to solve economic inequities is neither new nor novel.
The gap should have been closed by the U.S. government’s delivery of 40 acres and a mule to former slaves after the Civil War. The federal government missed another chance to level the economic playing field by not taking Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s advice.
In 1963 Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. He and thousands of others participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Embedded in King’s speech was an appeal to end economic and employment inequalities.
“King’s solution, while controversial then and now, was to force the government to create a labor economy wherein the government would create jobs to “enhance the social good” for those people who could not find work,” Caleb Silver wrote in Investopedia.
What is the wealth gap? It is the stark divide between how much capital white people and black people control.
By one estimate, the typical white family has wealth of $171,000. This is nearly ten times greater than the $17,150 for an average black family. Put another way, the typical black household remains poorer than 80% of white households.
“This stunning wealth gap between the races has persisted, in good times and bad, for the past 70 years. It did not get better after the civil rights era legislation. Or during the Obama administration. And it will continue to fuel unrest,” economists said.
“As long as we have racial wealth gap, we’re going to have a problem with race,” Patrick Mason, an economics professor at Florida State University told Greg Robb of MarketWatch.
The Brookings Institute traced income inequality in the U.S from the beginning of the 20th Century until the present day and found that the nation’s level of income inequality is largely affected by government policies concerning taxation and labor.
“The United States is arguably one of the most economically well-off places on the planet. The U.S. accounts for 29.4% of global wealth, or $105.99 trillion, according to Credit Suisse’s 2019 Global Wealth Databook. The second largest repository, China, is responsible for 17.7%, or $63.827 trillion. This effectively makes the U.S. the richest country on Earth, in terms of total wealth.,” Investopedia Editor Ward Williams wrote.
“A significant contributing factor to American income inequality is a disparity in earnings by race. The differences are stark. In 2019, Asian and White individuals made a median of $98,174 and $76,057 annually, respectively; Latinx and Black persons made $56,113 and $46,073, respectively.7 Additionally, Black and Latinx families in 2016 were more than twice as likely to have zero (or negative) net worth. White families were also more likely to own homes (71.9%) than Black (44%) and Latinx (45.4%) families in 2016,” Williams continued.
“Far from accepting the current economic situation as inevitable, it is evident that, in the U.S., government policies can tilt the balance of economic compensation for the rich or the poor. With the last thirty-five years being disproportionately favorable to the wealthy, and the fact that greater income inequality has been correlated with higher levels of crime, stress, mental illness, and some other social ills, it’s about time to start leveling the playing field once again,” Matthew Johnston wrote in Investopedia.
Where Do We Go From Here?
In Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? King offered solutions to poverty and through certain actions, the closure of the wealth gap.
“We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will,” King wrote.
“The problem indicates that our emphasis must be two-fold. We must create full employment, or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available…”
While King focused on fixing the unemployment and discrimination in hiring that plagued the Black community in the 1960s, he also knew that if Blacks were paid equal wages to those earned by whites, i.e., closing the wealth gap, Blacks could accumulate generational wealth.
Next Week: WEALTH IS POWER: EXPANDING BLACK WEALTH – Part 2
Biden’s Executive Order for Racial Equity
WD CT: 1003
by Theresa E. DiDonato Ph.D.
Don’t just survive—thrive in your relationship.
Romantic relationships require nurturing, but how do you best nurture an existing relationship?
Part of the problem is that, over time, every relationship develops patterns. Patterns in behaviors, patterns in emotions, patterns in what we expect from our partners (and ourselves). These patterns define our everyday interactions. They might be healthy enough to keep a relationship going, but if you’re looking for a relationship to thrive (not just survive) then pointed efforts to enhance your relationship patterns could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
How to help your relationship thrive, not just survive
Relationship scientists strive to identify the patterns that predict healthy relationship functioning. Evidence suggests its worth your time to consider adopting or doubling-down your effort to do the following:
1. Practice responsiveness. Responsiveness helps alleviate the potential adverse effects of stress in relationships. We know relationships can suffer in the face of one or both partners’ work stress, family stress, or any other kind of potentially toxic threat from external to the relationship. When people practice responsiveness, they are giving full attention to their partner, really listening and expressing care and concern. This gesture goes a long way in protecting a relationship, including from the stressors tied to the pandemic (Balzarini et al., 2020).
2. Make your phone an asset, not a liability. If you’ve heard of technoference (technology + interference), you’re probably familiar with the idea that phones can be problematic in relationships. You’ve got texts to read, social media sites to check, online shopping to do… but when people are distracted by their phones to the point where they are ignoring their partners, relationship well-being can suffer. This partner “phubbing” (phone + snubbing”) is now well-documented (Roberts & David, 2016).
But did you know phones can be used to improve relationships? Sending positive text messages can boost relationship satisfaction (Luo & Tuney, 2015), a simple step that can support the health and wellness of your relationship.
3. Foster psychological flexibility. It’s easy to rigidly want what you want and make demands, but research suggests that couples — and families — do better when people practice psychological flexibility. Being open, aware, considering the context, and keeping perspective all go a long way in reducing negativity (and not escalating problems). Fortunately, psychological flexibility can be developed with practice.
4. Get to know each other in a new way. When was the last time you and your partner talked one-on-one about your fears, joys, memories, or hopes? When chatting about casual topics or day-to-day plans becomes routine, consider introducing an intimacy builder through conversation.
A classic study showed that couples who engage in self-disclosing conversation experience an increase in feelings of closeness relative to those who engage in small-talk (Aron, Aron, Vallone, & Bator, 1997). Perhaps fall in love all over again by asking each other intimate questions, engaging in authentic self-disclosure, and responsively attending to each others’ responses.
5. Reminisce about the funny times. Not every day is an exciting day in the life of a relationship, but we do have memories that we can call upon, no matter what the circumstances. Research suggests that couples who spend time reminiscing about laughing together reported higher relationship satisfaction than those couples who reminisced about other memories (Bazzini, Stack, Martincin, & Davis, 2007). So dig through the memory archive, and when your relationship needs a boost, share a conversation about times that had you laughing.article continues after advertisement
6. Feel and express gratitude. Relationships are built on small behaviors, and gratitude is a wonderful example of a small but powerful behavior that can make a positive difference in relationships. To feel gratitude requires noticing what your partner does for you, your family, or your relationship; it’s an other-oriented emotion.
When people express gratitude to their partners, it produces a cascade of positive outcomes (Algoe, Gable, & Maisel, 2010). Their partners feel more connected and more satisfied in the relationship, and gratitude increases their work to improve the relationship (Gordon, Impett, Kogan, Oveis, & Keltner, 2012).
Relationships are not static. Paying attention to patterns in your relationship can give you insight into your dynamic, and if it’s a good relationship but could be better, then small steps like the ones listed above may help. Infusing behaviors that foster closeness and responsiveness can support strong relationship functioning.
A Review of Sorry to Bother You (2018)
by Jordan Rock
Here’s the hot take: “Sorry to Bother You” is the most hilarious horror film I’ve seen in years. It’s on Hulu, go and watch it if you want to have a spiteful belly laugh at corporate politics. Are you still here? Okay, let’s dive in.
If you’re black, and you’ve had a white boss, then you’re familiar with Code-Switching.
For most of us, it starts early. A teacher sends you home with a note for your parents, and they raise an eyebrow because it says, “Crass language” or “Doesn’t speak clearly.”
Bias starts early
Maybe you got sent to an extracurricular “Speech” class that beat a transatlantic (Read: White) accent into you. Then your uppity bourgeoisie English teacher would stop telling you to speak “properly.” You travel outside your hometown and you get people asking about your accent – every other time you speak. You get a job, and your manager has to tell you over and over again that the way you talk is “too aggressive” for customers, or some corporate rep asks you to repeat yourself because they aren’t familiar with “Ebonics.”
You keep hearing that the voice of your hometown is unprofessional and abrasive from people in authority. It starts to sink in that your own culture is unprofessional. Like a core aspect of who you are has no place in business. Over time, you start to associate clear diction and deliberate phrasing and “proper” syntax with professionalism. You internalize the idea that you need to speak like a white person to come off as professional. This is what I refer to as code-switching, and it is in the enforcement of this idea that office politics attempt to colonize you.
So, what does that have to do with “Sorry to Bother You”?
EVERYTHING. Here’s the breakdown. Sorry to Bother You was released in 2018, and it takes place in modern-day Oakland. Written and directed by Boots Riley (writer, musician, activist), the movie stars Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Straight Outta Compton) as Cassius “Cash” Green.
Cash is a pretty accurate depiction of me back in 2019: broke, exhausted, and frustrated from having to bust his ass and hustle day and night just to make rent. Every day, Cash drives his busted up car to his new, crappy telemarketing job, and every night, he goes and drinks with his girlfriend, an artist named Detroit played by Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarök, Selma, Creed) and muses about how he wants to escape this life of just scraping by.
As it turns out, he’s pretty trash at telemarketing, opening with a hesitant “Uh, hey, sorry to bother you, but-“ before his customers hang up.
After several failed calls, his co-worker from the next cubicle over gives him some life-changing advice. “You wanna make some money here? Then read your script with a white voice.”
It starts with trying to subdue your drawl
Then speak with clear diction in job interviews, then you blink, and you realize that you no longer sound anything like your parents. It’s like rain on a car’s paint job. It doesn’t do anything at first. But if nothing is done, the water eats at the paint and wears it away over time until spots of rust start to show.
Code-switching is a survival tactic, you see, but you don’t think about it as an invasion into your own personal culture until somebody tells you “Well, you don’t sound black.” It’s subtle, but it eats away at you.
It’s at this point that “Sorry to Bother You” takes a ludicrous turn. Cash’s co-worker gives an example of the “White Voice;” a sample. And it sounds hilariously unnatural. It’s clearly some dude dubbing over this grizzled, laid back co-worker played by Danny Glover (too many roles to mention) in a nasally Ned Flanders-esque, overly familiar tone that instantly got a laugh out of me. It’s so jarring that it leaves you open for the absurdity that’s to come.
It doesn’t take much practice for Cash to pick up the “White Voice” (dubbed by David Cross from Modern Family). And miraculously, it works like a charm.
People on the other end of the phone line gravitate toward the laid-back, earnest ease in Cash’s affectation, and he instantly starts closing deals left, right, and center. It doesn’t take him long to earn a raise and basically become the star of the sales floor, for what its worth.
What it’s worth doesn’t turn out to be much.
The working conditions and the pay from this job are so poor that the workers form a union led by Cash’s friend Squeeze, played by Steven Yuen (Walking Dead, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Final Space) and stage a floor-wide walkout.
Cash participates in this protest, and later gets called into the manager’s office. He expects to get the axe but is instead offered a promotion so lucrative that it will change his life if he takes it.
What follows is the story of Cash’s rise in the corporate world, and the moral compromises he makes along the way in the pursuit of a “better” life. And all he has to do to keep making money is use that “White Voice.”
At the start it’s just a ridiculous gimmick, a creepy voice he can use as a party trick at the bar but, over time, the white voice becomes Cash’s voice.
He, and as an extension, we the audience, are barely aware that it’s happening. But Cash starts using the voice when he doesn’t have to, As a joke. Then in casual conversation. Then at all hours during work. It starts popping up when he’s not even trying to use it and acts as a barrier between himself and his friends and family.
As Cash’s life changes, so does his perspective. This movie puts the insidious, colonizing nature of code-switching on full display, and it is the main source of this film’s creeping dread.
That, and as the film goes on, it earns it’s “sci-fi comedy horror” tags. I’m not going to spoil the major twists here but believe me when I say that the climax of “Sorry to Bother You” needs to be seen to be believed.
With all that said, I highly recommend this movie. If you’ve ever had to tone down your accent for work, been told you don’t sound right by someone in authority, or that you “don’t sound black,” you owe it to yourself to check out Sorry to Bother You.
“Sorry to Bother You” is currently available for streaming on Hulu, Vudu and Amazon Prime, and is also purchasable on Youtube and Google Play.
A key pledge in President Joe Biden’s plan to build the nation “back better’’ is to be bolder in addressing the systemic racism that has hindered the advancement of Black Americans, and other people of color, for generations.
The pursuit of racial and economic justice informed the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birth is being celebrated in a national holiday Monday. And along with health care disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the police abuse brought to light by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other African Americans, economic inequality is front and center in the national consciousness.
“These crises have ripped the blinders off the systemic racism in America,” Biden said of COVID-19 and the nation’s struggling economy in written remarks delivered Dec. 11, when he announced nominees to his governing team.
“The Black and Latino unemployment gap remains too large,” he continued. “And communities of color are left to ask whether they will ever be able to break the cycle where in good times they lag, in bad times they are hit first and the hardest, and in recovery they take the longest to bounce back.”
Biden’s proposals include boosting lending to entrepreneurs of color; creating and restoring parks and infrastructure in Black, Latino and indigenous communities; and empowering the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to more forcefully root out discrimination in the workplace. He will take office Wednesday.
But the challenge of narrowing a racial gap that spans areas from homeownership to wages to property taxes is vast.
While the Biden-Harris administration has outlined “solid proposals” to challenge some economic inequities, to significantly “rectify racial and socioeconomic disparities that exist within Black communities, they need to address the root causes of these issues,” says Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns for the racial justice group Color Of Change.
“With the systemic racism that has locked us out of job opportunities, education, and access to health care,” Hatch said, “it’s going to take more than well-intentioned plans to close the racial wealth gap for Black communities.”
Black homeownership: Lowest level in 50 years
An array of policies, practices and in some cases, outright violence, have impeded the ability of African Americans to own, or hold onto, their own homes, a key asset for building wealth.
The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic may make that disparity even greater.
While 36% of homeowners lost pay from March through September, 41% of African American homeowners saw a drop in income according to the Harvard report, citing data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. And at the end of September, 17% of African Americans who owned a home were behind on paying their mortgage versus 7% of whites, the report said.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed housing discrimination. But “these barriers continue,” says Kilolo Kijakazi, an Institute Fellow with the Urban Institute, a think tank focused on economic and social policy.
Homebuyers of color, for instance, were frequently steered toward high-interest subprime loans that are more difficult to repay, even when those same customers qualified for more affordable lending options. That left them more vulnerable to potentially losing their homes.
The subprime lending crisis contributed to the Great Recession that began in 2007.
“African American homeownership is at the lowest level that it’s been in 50 years in part due to some of the loss incurred after the subprime lending debacle,’’ Kijakazi says.
Lack of homeownership creates a domino effect, depriving families of assets to hand down, and equity that can be tapped to seed a business, pay for unexpected expenses like medical care, or to fund higher education.
“If you’re Black and your parents didn’t own a home, you’re more likely to take out loans,” says Andre Perry, a senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, and author of “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.” “So wealth begets wealth. But a lack of wealth also begets debt, and that’s what’s happening all across the country.”
Destruction and theft of property
And then there was theft. In perhaps the first documented theft of Black people’s property, Virginia’s 1705 law took and sold off possessions belonging to “any slave,” and the profits were directed to benefit “the poor,” according to “Stamped From The Beginning” by anti-racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi.
“The story would be told many times in American history,” Kendi wrote. “Black property legally or illegally seized, the resulting Black destitution blamed on Black inferiority, the past discrimination ignored when the blame was assigned.”
In the 19th and early decades of the 20th century, white mobs frequently attacked and destroyed thriving Black communities.
“Greenwood, Rosewood… the reality is that was going on all over the United States,” Perry says of communities in Oklahoma and Florida that in 1921 and 1923 experienced two of the most infamous episodes of such destruction.
The Tulsa massacre, which destroyed that city’s all-Black Greenwood District, began after a 19-year-old African American man, Dick Rowland, was accused of allegedly attempting to rape a 17-year-old white elevator attendant, Sarah Page.
Goaded by articles in the local newspaper, and likely fueled by white resentment of the success and affluence of the district known as “Black Wall Street,” whites descended on the community of roughly 10,000, burning 1,500 homes to the ground and bombing more than 600 Black-owned businesses, according to the Tulsa Historical Society.
Thousands were left homeless, and personal property and financial losses and damages totaled over $2 million, including cash some residents kept at home because they didn’t trust white-owned banks.
Two years later, a days-long massacre destroyed the Black community of Rosewood, Florida, as an alleged attack of a white woman by a Black man spurred mobs to torture and murder African American residents and burn the town to the ground.
In more recent decades, so-called urban renewal efforts that officially set out to revamp blighted pockets of cities often stripped Black Americans of their property without sufficient compensation.
Redlining, a discriminatory practice that prevented Black homebuyers from getting mortgages, also left many Black neighborhoods depleted.
While redlining is now outlawed, underinvestment in Black neighborhoods continues, Perry says. And the new building and restoration that comes with gentrification often result in Blacks being displaced, unable to afford higher taxes or rents, as more affluent whites move in.
“You’d be surprised how much destruction you can do with tax policy,” Perry continues, “by selling off land to developers without consideration of the Black communities around them. It can absolutely devastate a community like a bomb.’’
Overtaxed: Blacks pay more property taxes
In 1910, it’s estimated that African Americans owned up to 16 million acres of land. Today, they own under 5 million acres, says historian Andrew Kahrl, a professor at the University of Virginia who has extensively studied African American landownership.
Based on Black population numbers in 2020 as compared with 1910, the average Black American owned 14.5 times more land a century ago than they do today, according to a USA TODAY analysis.
One reason for that staggering loss is property taxes, which, at times, have been used overtly to strip African Americans of their property.
“A lot of this was very subtle” Kahr saysl. “Many African American landowners didn’t know they were being overtaxed… But over time, it added up to being a very heavy burden with long-term consequences for Black wealth-building and economic mobility.’’
During the time of “Jim Crow,” when segregation and discrimination against Black Americans were enshrined in local and state laws, white landowners in the South, particularly those with a large amount of property, would often be given unreasonably low assessments, and local officials would shift the tax burden to smaller, often African American landowners.
“It’s putting your thumb on the scale for white landowners,” says Kahrl. But additionally “it was part of a larger philosophy of taxation that guided Jim Crow policy in general and is a part of our politics today … A philosophy of taxation that tried to sock it to the poor, the Black poor in particular, out of a sense that they weren’t deserving of the benefits of those tax dollars to begin with.’’
The discrimination could be blatant. In 1967, white officials in the town of Edwards, Mississippi, doubled the assessed value of most homes owned by African Americans to punish Black residents who were protesting the town’s continuing discrimination.
But even if bias is unintentional, structural issues continue to put Black taxpayers at a disadvantage.
Today, Black and Latino residents pay 10% to 13% more in property taxes than their white counterparts, according to a paper published in June by Carlos Fernando Avenancio-León of Indiana University and Troup Howard of the University of California, Berkeley.
That may be due in part to a history of segregation and underinvestment in communities of color. Assessments are based on the perceived market value of a home, and tax officials may factor in a house’s number of bedrooms or size, but not whether it’s located near a park or highly regarded school, features that can inflate a home’s worth.
Because Black neighborhoods are less likely to have amenities like parks or highly regarded schools, even a white owner’s home would be less valued in a Black neighborhood.
And Black and Latino homeowners – who appeal their assessments less, win those appeals less often, and see smaller tax cuts than whites when they are successful – tend to pay higher property taxes wherever they live. Lack of access to lawyers, and a reluctance to trust and challenge the official process are some of the reasons.
Bias on the part of potential buyers also plays a role.
“The same property in the hands of an African American, or located in a predominantly Black neighborhood is going to be devalued because of its location” or the race of its owner, says Kahrl, who was not involved with the Indiana University and U.C. Berkeley study. “Invariably, it means the assessment is at a higher percentage of market value than white-owned property.”
The pay gap: Blacks paid less than whites
In 2016, the net worth of a typical white family was $171,000, almost 10 times that of an African American family, which typically had a net worth of $17,409, according to Brookings.
While wealth involves assets that go beyond weekly wages, income plays a significant part, and Black Americans on average are paid less than their white peers, no matter their profession or education.
Recent census data reported that the median income for white non-Hispanic households was $76,057 in 2019, a 5.7% increase over the previous year, and an 8.2% increase since 2000.
The median income for Black households saw a steeper spike – 8.5% – in one year. But it hovered at $46,073 in 2019 and had crept up just 1.4% from where median income was in 2000.
“There are barriers in the labor market that further contribute to the gender and racial wealth gap,” says Kijakazi, who added that African American workers also experience higher rates of joblessness at every level of education. “Racial discrimination in hiring has persisted despite the enactment of legislation.”
Black men on average make 71 cents for every dollar paid to white men, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Black women, meanwhile, earn 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. That adds up to a loss of $24,127 a year for Black women, or $965,078 over the course of a work-life spanning 40 years, according to an analysis by the American Association of University Women.
Lower wages, longer gaps in employment, and jobs that are less likely to offer pensions or savings plans like 401(k) plans also impact how much income people have to carry them through retirement.
“African American seniors are less likely to have financial assets, retirement accounts, and home equity than white seniors,” says a July 2019 paper, “African American Economic Security and the Role of Social Security,” that was co-written by Kijikazi.
Remedies to root out systemic biases
Despite entrenched beliefs in race, there are ways to root out systemic biases, experts say.
“We created these concepts to suppress, we can create new concepts to create inclusion,” Perry says. Black Americans “are over-policed. We are discriminated against in the job market. These things you can correct, and it will help change the perception of people of color.”
Remedies to bridge the wealth gap can include measures like federal job guarantees, in which any adult who wants a job can get one from the government, higher taxes on wealth versus income, and the introduction of trusts known as “baby bonds,” economists, civil rights advocates and lawmakers say. Such initiatives would also have an impact on lower-income families regardless of race.
Conceived by the economist Darrick Hamilton, baby bonds would be federally funded accounts set up for every child born in the U.S., with larger contributions given overtime to those in poorer families.
In July 2019, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Representative Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., reintroduced the American Opportunity Accounts Act, which would start every newborn with $1,000. Each child would receive up to $2,000 more each year, based on their family’s earnings, and at age 18, he or she could tap that money to buy a home or pay for higher education.
The Biden administration also has some promising initiatives, says Hatch of Color of Change. They include improved access to credit that could help narrow the racial wealth gap, and making sure that half of new funds allocated by a federal Paycheck Protection Program go to businesses with no more than 50 employees. That could be especially helpful to Black-owned businesses, the majority of which are solo ventures or employ no more than two people.
“Our priority will be Black, Latino, Asian and Native American-owned small businesses,” Biden said when announcing his economic and jobs team on Jan. 8. “We’re going to make a concerted effort to help small businesses in low-income communities, in big cities, small towns, rural communities that have faced systemic barriers to relief.’’
Still, more far-reaching measures, like federal business grants and a higher minimum wage are also necessary, Hatch says.
“What we need from the Biden-Harris administration is a federal jobs guarantee, an influx of affordable housing, a higher federal minimum wage, and much more,” Hatch says. “If Black communities are going to survive this crisis, we need the new administration to act with the urgency this moment requires.”
Biden has said he is hopeful it will be easier to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour now that Democrats control Congress in the wake of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff winning the recent Georgia runoff elections for two seats in the Senate.
With such initiatives, race could perhaps become less of a barrier and more of a marker to measure progress and change.
“You can’t create a whole society based on race and then” just stop, says Deena Hayes-Greene, co-founder of The Racial Equity Institute. “We have to take account of race until we change the structure that perpetuates these differences over and over again. Then we can stop checking the boxes.’’
Contributing: Jayme Fraser
LLOYD EDISON LAZARD’S SERVICES SET
NEW ORLEANS—Lloyd Edison Lazard’s Celebration of Life Service will be held Friday, January 22, 2021 at Littlejohn Funeral Home, 2163 Aubry Street in New Orleans. Viewing begins at high Noon and the private service at 1:00 p.m. The event will be live-streamed at ww.facebook.com/viewfuneralnow.
Lazard, 80, passed from heart complications on January 3, 2021 in Atlanta, while visiting his daughters.
Lazard’s community activism covered a range of topics, including education, governmental affairs, small business advocacy, and civil and human rights. He spoke truth to power at the New Orleans City Council, and on radio and television broadcasts.
Lazard served in the U.S. Air Force before returning to his native New Orleans and attending Loyola University and Delgado Community College. Lazard garnered many “firsts” during various career moves. He left a lucrative position at the Boeing Company to become the first African-American to operate a concession at the N.O. International Airport. He was the founder of the National Slave Ship Museum project and the African American Heritage Cultural Center.
Lazard was known to many as “Rip the Poet.” and for playing the Congo drums. He was also a historian who specialized in African American history and Louisiana history.
Lazard leaves behind four children, two sisters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews to cherish his memory.
For more information about Lloyd Lazard, please contact his sister, Carol LaMotte at 504-858-1645.
At first glance one might mistake this article as having something to do with the 1991 Blockbuster film
“Boyz on the Hood “ written and directed by filmmaker John Singleton. Singleton’s story follows the journey of a young Black boy,Tre. Tre goes to live with his father in South Central Los Angeles. The father’s home is in a crime and gang ridden part of town. Tre and his friends struggle to not get caught up in the violence of gang culture. They just want to be normal teenage kids. John Singleton’s movie “Boyz in the Hood” pays homage to the creative dialect of Black neighborhoods. My title “Boys in the Hood” sheds light on the clandestine Klan like behavior of the Republican Party, the President and his followers.
The piece is not only titled the same but has a similar story line. My story tells how dangerous and violent gang culture can be regarding partisan party politics. My “Boys in the Hood” takes place in Washington D.C not LA. It stars people like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Ted Cruz.
On January 6th I too watched in awe as supporters loyal to President Trump descended upon the nation’s capital at the behest of the President.
Various hate groups and loyalists stormed the storied halls of Congress. Simultaneously members of the House and Senate treasonously objected to the certification of a valid electoral college vote. They seemingly coordinated with insurrectionists to interrupt the Constitutionally mandated process.
These insurrectionists violently pierced the sacred veil of democracy. They broke windows, battered police and pushed their way unlawfully into the halls of Congress. Nothing else mattered to them except what they believed to be true. But they believed lies. Our narcissistic President told them lies for weeks. Trump refused to concede and claimed the election was fraudulent.
For weeks following the election, President Trump convinced his supporters that the election was stolen. He did so despite the fact that the results of the election had been challenged in many Republican dominated states. These challenges triggered recounts. Also, over 90 lawsuits failed in both state and federal courts. Every claim was dismissed. There was no evidence of significant voter fraud.
Despite the lack of evidence of any fraud, President Trump consistently perpetuated the lie that the election was stolen. He claimed that it is the duty of the Republican Party along with his followers to “stop the steal”.
President Trump preyed upon the historical racial and political divide in this country while profiting politically from the stupidity of his followers.
Requesting that the Proud Boys “stand down and stand by” does not necessarily make the President a racist. Yet the President’s reluctance to publicly denounce such hate groups in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement certainly energized and emboldened them. These groups use coded language like “Make America Great Again”. Examining their social media reveals a desire to reinstitute Jim Crow era laws and practices in this country.
We have failed to acknowledge the racism baked into American capitalism. Many of the individuals who attended Trump’s rally did not necessarily believe in Trump. Rather they believed that the election of a Democratic president and a Black vice president would signal the beginning of the socialist revolution. Then the wealthy are forced to share some of their wealth and resources with the poor.
Equality is Oppression for the Privileged
They believed that the election of a Democratic president would somehow mean that minorities and the disadvantaged would become more equal. And they believed that this new equality would somehow take something from those that have enjoyed social and economic superiority for hundreds of years.
After the Capitol insurrection I now fully understand how a millionaire like Donald Rouse would want to attend the rally to overthrow Democracy. Maybe for him and those who attended that rally, democracy means something different. For them American Democracy maintains oppression and white privilege.
For a long time, I often wondered why anyone would ever want to cover themselves with a white hood only to harass, intimidate and cause bodily harm to another. The very fact that you are concealing your identity should be the first clue as to the harmful nature of your acts. The fact that you go through the trouble of making and wearing a hood in order to remain anonymous should sound an alarm. Your humanity and morality should let you know that you are doing something wrong. You are doing something that is either illegal, immoral or has been deemed to be socially unacceptable.
Members of the Ku Klux Klan wore hoods so that after they finished intimidating, harassing and lynching African Americans in the South, they could easily assimilate back into being members of our communities. Even now, they serve as elected officials, members of the police force, doctors, grocers, pastors and yes even your neighbor.
As we come to the end of the Trump Presidency the takeaway for me is that President Trump did not make America Racist Again. Instead he and the Republican Party only made it normal for the racists to show their faces in public without the necessity of wearing a hood.
On Saturday, Jan 2., in true pandemic fashion, admirers of Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson drove around the Louisiana Supreme Court building in New Orleans’ French Quarter to honor her retirement as the first African-American woman on the Louisiana Supreme Court and the first African-American chief justice. I was happy that the pictures and videos of the judge’s celebration didn’t include the gaze of white terror represented by the large and often vandalized statue of Edward Douglass White Jr., a Louisianian who served on the state Supreme Court and as ninth chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. On Dec. 23, 10 days before Chief Justice Johnson’s drive-by celebration, the state Supreme Court relocated White’s statue from its prominent place at the Court’s entrance.
But by simply moving the statue, the court didn’t go far enough. The statue should have been taken down entirely.
The Louisiana Supreme Court building, for all its architectural beauty, is an artistic celebration of the White men who gave legal power to Louisiana’s historic racial terror against African Americans. With the exception of a regal portrait of civil rights icon A.P. Tureaud, a substantive museum named for Chief Justice Johnson and a few other pieces of art, the prominent artwork inside the majestic building are portraits of Louisiana’s lawmakers from the 1800s and 1900s. There is a pervasive and disturbing white supremacist aesthetic at the Louisiana Supreme Court building.
During my time working at the court, before my workday even started, White’s statue at the Court’s entrance and the expensive paintings of white men who led Louisiana during its apartheid era would disrupt me. These paintings of White men that supported and embraced terror against African Americans are not grotesque like the racial terror the men endorsed. No, they are dignified portraits consistent with the myth of white superiority. Most times, though, I eventually laughed at those paintings knowing that these so-called statesmen never intended that I be in such a place of privilege. I also laughed knowing that it was unthinkable to them the idea of a Black woman serving as the court’s chief justice.
There have been efforts around the country and especially in New Orleans to rid our public spaces and institutions of white supremacist art and labels, but Louisiana’s Supreme Court didn’t rid itself of the E.D. White statue; according to a press release from the court, it relocated it to a place “near the court museum.” The court museum where that statue is being placed has just been named in honor of Chief Justice Johnson. Johnson is a product of Walter L. Cohen High School, Spelman College and LSU School of Law, which she helped integrate. Her 36 years of public service includes serving as the first woman to take the bench at the Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Thus, the museum is a visual representation of Black success and of women’s success. Placing E.D. White’s statue next to Chief Justice Johnson’s museum suffocates what little inspirational and democratic light exist in the court’s artwork.
Chief Justice Johnson’s legacy must be protected.
Chief Justice Johnson’s legacy is one of attempting to bridge the racial divide through integration and the courts, but E. D. White is solidly on the wrong side of history. His family bought, sold and terrorized enslaved Africans and exploited their labor on its plantations. E. D. White fought for the Confederacy and supported terror against African Americans his entire career. Though some emphasize E.D. White’s groundbreaking decisions in the area of business law and antitrust law, as a former professor of business law and tax law, I must say that his embrace and support of terror far outweighs those decisions. He gets no kudos for antitrust law decisions when he presided over the Plessy v. Ferguson decision that formalized American apartheid. Unfortunately, E.D. White’s image and the images of other Louisiana statesmen who defied all notions of human decency are prominently displayed at our taxpayer-funded state Supreme Court. The court’s decision to move the E.D. White statue inside –- rather than denounce it and remove it entirely -– will further imbue the court’s air with the myth of white superiority.
Allowing the spirit and legacy and aesthetic of the Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson Museum to shine without the gaze of white terror represented by the E.D. White statue would be a much healthier, and far more democratic option. But, as the writer James Baldwin said, “any upheaval in the universe is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality.” And celebrating by itself the monumental achievements of this beautiful Black woman at Louisiana’s highest court, while inspiring to so many of us, remains terrifying to so many others.
Okyeame Haley, a former law clerk for Chief Justice Johnson and former chief deputy clerk at the Louisiana Supreme Court, is the son of the late civil rights pioneer Oretha Castle Haley.
For the bulk of 2020, I’ve been keeping up with the news cycle and telling you how I feel about it. I don’t know if you noticed, but 2020 was a pretty garbage year for just everybody.
If I’m being real, a lot of those breaking news weeks made me so angry that I wanted to rip my own arms off so I wouldn’t have to write anymore. There’s just something about researching how your country is letting you down every week that grinds away at you, until you’re just a vessel for salt and angst.
The point is, I’m done reporting on politics. I just don’t have the guts to write about something that puts me through so much mental turmoil. There are plenty of other excellent writers on this site that can give you an impassioned, punchy article about how police will beat the crap out of you for asking them nicely not to kill you but won’t lift a finger to stop domestic terrorists from trashing the White House. There’s that angst again. See what I mean?
But this isn’t a resignation, either. I’m going to stick around here and write art-inspired articles. The fact is, I didn’t go to school for political science. I went to school for animation. I have a film degree. Film theory, storytelling, animation – that’s my jam. That’s what I’m on this planet to do, so I figured that I ought to keep to that ethos, even when writing articles.
So, starting next week, I’m going to report on black media. The stories we tell and how we tell them can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. Our perspective is unique so, naturally, our stories have an appeal unlike any other demographic.
Our creativity is bottomless and our commitment to excellence is boundless. Every time we tell a story, it’s a cause for celebration.
So that’s what I’m going to focus on. Representation, what to watch, content from black creators, examples of black excellence on film, highlighting black characters, film reviews… that kind of thing. I’ll talk about movies and cartoons and TV shows and games and any other relevant media contributions by black people. That’s what I’m passionate about and that’s what I’m gonna write about.
So, strap in friends and neighbors because starting now I’m going to be a bright spot; a respite in this parade of insanity…a little something to break up the unfolding horror of the times we’re living in.
Tune in next week for my debut column on film analysis and critiques, and black media highlights.