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Racial Segregation: Righting the Wrong and Making Restitution

At a time in history when crime continues to decline, same-sex marriage is legal, and innovation is powering advances in technology and bioengineering – one issue fails to progress: racial justice.

The unemployment rate for African-Americans continues to be more than twice that of whites. Public schools are more segregated now than they were in the 1950s and young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by the police than their white equivalents.

Widespread media coverage and outcry at the murders inside the African-American church in Charleston, and protests sparked by the killings of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown, transform the statistics into real faces.

Yet outside the political sphere, there is a continued lack of recognition and acknowledgement in the U.S. that institutionalized racism and white privilege are pervasive.

Derald Wing Sue – professor of psychology and education at Columbia University, internationally acknowledged expert on multiculturalism and diversity, and author of Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence – said he asks his students:

“How many of you socialize with people who are racially, culturally different than yourself? How many of you go into communities of color to celebrate the community events, to attend Asian Baptist churches, the black churches, how many of you do that? How many of you live in an integrated neighborhood?”

The reality here is that residential racial segregation is condoning a system of institutionalized racism where specific demographics are bearing the inevitable, negative consequences of policies set by those in power. Ultimately, race – a social construct – becomes a crucial factor in the outcome of violence whether that violence be physical, economic, political, or legal.

In the Architecture of Segregation Paul Jargowsky describes the rapid re-concentration of poverty since 2000. The concentrated poverty is racial in nature and the result of measured policy choice. Exclusionary zoning has developed with the movement and investment toward suburban neighborhoods. The wealthier suburbs reject affordable housing, keeping poor and low-income individuals in the city or fading suburbs.

Ruth Peterson, retired professor of Sociology at Ohio State University and former director of the Criminal Justice Research Center, and Lauren Krivo, professor of Sociology and affiliated professor in Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, introduce the concept of racial-spatial divide in their work Divergent Social Worlds: Neighborhood Crime and the Racial-Spatial Divide. In an extensive study accumulating crime and related data for 9,593 neighborhoods in 91 cities in the year 2000, the authors verify a connection between race, place, and crime, and prove that residential segregation is the principle reason why social worlds of people are so opposing. In short, the disadvantaged are isolated from the advantaged, and it runs across racial lines.

What the Architecture of Segregation Report and racial-spatial divide illustrate are two neighborhood studies showcasing structural housing policies – which stem from racial segregation – making particular groups more susceptible to cases of violence. Exclusionary zoning and private discrimination create the concentration of urban poverty, which inevitably means education disadvantages, labor disadvantages, increased welfare dependency, social disorder, and a loss of commercial business.

And it is an argument made again and again as young men like Michael Brown are killed on the streets, igniting a demand for change, but progress is still invisible and emotions raw a year later.

In a powerful reflection on race, John Metta, an African American who spoke to an all white audience at the Bethel Congregational United Church of Christ in White Salmon, Wash. said: “… People are dying not because individuals are racist, but because individuals are helping support a racist system by wanting to protect their own non-racist self beliefs.”

In the realm of racial justice, personal choice significantly reflects public policy and vice versa. Evident, are not only structural housing policies gone wrong, but also an inability to call them out.

If we commit an active effort in putting ourselves in unfamiliar situations, events, and discussions where authentic relationships and conversations can be cultivated, we can convert an increased understanding of institutionalized racism into righting the wrong and making restitution. We like to consider ourselves nondiscriminatory, multicultural, bias-free, and nonracist – yet this has yet to be transcended to a point where we are open to living side by side with each other.

It is time to demand that our political dogmas reflect the inclusive, nondiscriminatory attributes we claim to have. But first, we must represent those qualities outright.

Andrea Rocha is senior at the University of Washington and an intern at the Alliance for a Just Society. 

Caldwell, ID City Council Asked to Move Payday Lenders Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Community and ICAN Push Council to Limit Industry From Preying on the Poor

 

“With the average payday loan in Idaho carrying an interest rate of 350% and with the average borrower taking out 7 payday loans to pay off the initial loan”, 20131004_101226predatory loan businesses continue to swarm into our state.  Last year alone, payday loans accounted for a negative economic impact of $1 BILLION! http://www.insightcced.org/uploads/assets/Net%20Economic%20Impact%20of%20Payday%20Lending.pdf  This is money that our communities lost, nationwide.

Volunteers and members of Idaho Community Action Network went into the neighborhoods of Caldwell and gathered 400 signatures from families who both see and personally experience the impact of payday and title loan businesses.  The canvassers met families; families who have lost their only vehicle; families who lost their home; their job and even their children, because they needed help.  They learned about loved ones who died owing a debt to a predatory lender.   Read more

Delaying the Vote in Immigration Reform Has Not Silenced the Movement

We have the votes. Supporters of immigration reform in the House of Representatives have said it on many occasions, even before the Congressional recess,http://rt.com/files/news/1e/ae/c0/00/us-immigration-protest-1.jpg that the votes exist in the House to pass immigration reform.

Delaying the vote seems to be the House opposition’s approach to waiting for the immigration reform movement to divide itself, disengage from the efforts, or even disperse. Read more

Profiles of Poverty: Who Benefits from Fair Wages?

living.wage.featureSingles Moms, Children, the Elderly and Students Have Much at Stake in the Living Wage Debate

Opponents of raising the minimum wage frequently argue that low-wage jobs are transitional, for teenagers seeking experience before life in the “real world.” Granted, many teenagers work to contribute money desperately needed for their family, or are raising families themselves. And many teens are trying to save up for college.

But, like young people, these facts apparently don’t seem to matter to profit-at-all-costs corporations. Nor do actual statistics of minimum wage workers and people in poverty. Read more

McGimmick Budgeting No Substitute for Living Wage

living.wage.feature

Making Ends Meet: Part 2

We’ve certainly seen some sobering statistics regarding low-wage jobs out there. But — lucky us — one of the most profitable companies in the history of the world has kindly stepped up with tips for how its employees can manage their embarrassingly inadequate minimum-wage salaries.

McDonald’s recently launched a handy-dandy website that includes a wide variety of resources to help the average low-wage worker manage his or her finances. The homepage provides an informative video, asking viewers, “Do you ever wonder where all of your money goes?” The site also provides an informative workbook for workers to budget their monthly expenses and “plan for the future.” Read more

Low-Wage Workers Not Covering Basic Needs

Today’s minimum wages are a far cry of what it actually takes to survive.

Last Thursday, thousands of fast food workers staged a strike in 50 cities across the country to draw attention to corporate wage gaps. Fast food workers are demanding $15 hourly wages; currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Perhaps it is easy for profit-hungry corporations to forget, but low-wage workers are human beings; anyone working full-time should be able to make enough to live.

Read more

Native Americans Train to Defend Mother Earth

On August 23rd, Alliance affiliate, Indian People’s Action of Montana opened camp for a 3 day Direct Action training camp. Indian People’s Action brought Moccasins On The Ground to Montana. Drawing Native Americans from across the country to defend Mother Earth they trained activists in nonviolent direct action to stop the Keystone Pipeline that the Canadian developer, TransCanada is building to carry crude oil from the Boreal Forests of Albert, Canada across the United States to the Gulf Coast.

Many Native groups believe that the Environmental Impact Study did not adequately consider potential damage to American Indian Tribes and Tribal members in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, whose water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other vital resources could be damaged by the project.

100 trained defenders of Mother Earth and Sacred Waters

100 trained defenders of Mother Earth and Sacred Waters

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MARCHING ONWARD!

Sing a song, full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song, full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sum of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won

Excerpts of The Negro National Anthem

—by James Weldon Johnson

“Lift every voice and sing till Earth and heaven ring, ring with the harmony of liberty…”

 

Whites and Blacks, young and old, rich and poor took to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial roaring demands to address the devastating plight of African Americans facing discrimination and income inequality.  The marchers understood that the crisis faced by black men, women, and children were actually an American crisis wedded together and born out of the twin evils of racism and economic deprivation.  Such evils robbed all people, both Blacks and Whites, of dignity, self-respect, and freedom.  Together, they sang in harmony to redress old grievances affecting Black life.

Their marching orders were clear: they demanded an end to discrimination.  Read more

“No One Should Live in Fear…” Courts Rule on NYPD “Stop and Frisk”

A simple premise behind every law that gets created: No one should live in fear. The laws we create should support that basic assumption by reducing crime. But when laws have no bearing on crime rates, yet become the very source of fear that people live with, we have crossed the Constitutional boundary, and law enforcement itself becomes the source of fear.Stop Frisk BT

New York City’s Stop and Frisk law is one of the in-depth discussions the Alliance will lead this October at our 5th Institute for Pragmatic Practice symposium. Students, activists, organizers, policymakers and scholars will address the increase in racially charged, discriminatory and dehumanizing practices by law enforcement; actions reinforced by new ever-more draconian laws; and the increased boot print of prisons and detention centers on the everyday lives of Americans. Read more

CellBlocks and Border Stops

The Institute for Pragmatic Practice, Union Theological Seminary and the Alliance for a Just Society are hosting our fifth symposium,

Cell Blocks & Border Stops. Hundreds of organizers, academics, policy leaders, journalists, theologians and grassroots activists will convene and examine the intersection of immigration control and mass incarceration, and to consider the future of activism and organizing in these areas.

Today, more than seven million people are under control of the criminal justice system (prison, probation, parole or detention) exceeding the combined populations of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

Eleven million immigrants-roughly the population of Ohio-are out of compliance with federal immigration law, and at constant risk for harassment, detention, and deportation.

Counting friends, families, colleagues, and neighbors, tens of millions of people today are directly affected by the sprawling immigrant control and criminal justice systems. Poor Black and Brown people have been born this burden most heavily, driven by long-standing beliefs in racial inferiority and white supremacy.

REGISTER HERE– http://bit.ly/clblocks

But these systems leave few untouched.

Join us and noted scholars and activists Cornel West and Pramila Jayapal among many other noted speakers to end the dehumanization of millions of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters by law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

[Click here for a full event Agenda.]

REGISTER here– http://bit.ly/clblocks