Yves here. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has demonstrated it can shamelessly neglect the interests of supposedly core voter groups, like unions and people of color. See Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal for details. As most, it caters to the misleadership classes of these constituencies. As Lambert has pointed out, if the Democrats really cared about working people and minorities, it would make voter registration and fighting election abuses core party functions. But the Democrats continue to think they can fall back on “they have nowhere else to go” even as the Democrats have hemorrhaged seats at all levels of government over the last decade
By Ebony Slaughter-Johnson, a freelance writer and a former research assistant at the Institute for Policy Studies. Her work has appeared in AlterNet, U.S. News and World Report, Equal Voice News, and Common Dreams. Originally published at Alternet
Democrats need to do more to protect black Americans from institutionalized racism.
At his State of the Union address last Tuesday, President Trump sent out a clarion call that portends where he will set his legislative sights next. “We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity,” Trump insisted.
Translation: Expect cuts in the social safety net.
As the path of the Republican tax plan toward passage grew clearer, so did the threat to the social safety net. With major, permanent tax cuts for corporations, and by extension the wealthiest Americans, and (temporary) tax cuts to individuals that also disproportionately benefit the wealthy, experts argue this bill will contribute as much as $1.5 trillion to the deficit. House Speaker Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues have made clear that they intend to use the social safety net to finance the tax cuts. Said Republican Representative Rod Blum, “For us to achieve three percent GDP growth over the next 10 years from tax reform, we have to have welfare reform.
Now that the bill has passed and been signed into law, the threat to the social safety net is existential. While making the rounds on the various morning talk shows boasting of the Republicans’ “accomplishment,” Speaker Ryan argued (and Trump later echoed), “People want able-bodied people who are on welfare to go to work, they want us to get people out of poverty, into the workforce.”
It’s hard to understand the logic behind undermining the funding streams for programs that keep people out of poverty in order to “get people out of poverty,” but clearly the Speaker is not the only one who subscribes to that line of thinking. Reports suggest that the White House is finalizing an executive order demanding a review of the federal programs that comprise the social safety net. One can only presume that the conclusions of this review will justify major changes to the programs conservatives have derided for years as wasteful and ineffective. On the potential chopping block are the traditional targets: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, often called food stamps), housing assistance programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, a cash assistance program), and health care. Even now the White House is allowing states to apply new work requirements to certain Medicaid enrollees, potentially undermining their access to care.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are reportedly quietly writing legislation that could tighten eligibility standards for social safety net programs, in ways that could collectively remove millions from the rosters.
SNAP seems to be particularly vulnerable. At the beginning of December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program, circulated a memo that promised “coming flexibilities aimed at transitioning people into independence.” Flexibility is a well-known code word for policies that empower states to attach more stringent work requirements and drug tests with an eye toward, again, excising current enrollees. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue alluded to these changes himself at the end of January.
In October, Congress passed a joint budget resolution that loosely codified proposed cuts to the social safety net over the next 10 years. An analysis from the Urban Institute offers some insight as to what “welfare reform” might specifically entail and what is at stake should it come to fruition. In the event that flexibilities translate into restricting benefit access, changes to SNAP would affect 23.4 million families who would lose about $600 per year per family, or stated another way, 430 meals annually. Of those families, almost 20 million would see a reduction in their SNAP benefits. The rest would totally lose their access to SNAP. Anticipated reductions to the federal contribution to TANF was estimated to impact 260,000 families throughout the country in the form of $2,580 less each year in distributed TANF assistance.
Holding the Line
Progressives knew exactly whom to thank for the defeat of accused child molester and Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate election—black voters, who turned out in unprecedented numbers to vote for Democratic candidate Doug Jones.
In the aftermath of Jones’ upset, social media was flooded with posts thanking black Alabamians, particularly black women, for “saving America” from its worst impulses.
At least one member of the national Democratic Party apparatus agreed: Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez asserted, “Let me be clear: We won in Alabama and Virginia because black women led us to victory. Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and we can’t take that for granted. Period.”
If progressive Americans, voters, activists, and politicians are serious about giving more than verbal acknowledgement to black voters for protecting the country from extremism (and the subsequent embarrassment of having to seat an alleged child molester in the United States Senate), then they must proactively take actions to protect black voters, especially poor ones. Such actions should begin with ensuring that the social safety net programs that are most impactful for disenfranchised black voters be maintained (or expanded) and not diminished, as it appears congressional Republicans are poised to do.
To be sure, congressional Democrats have so far held the line in opposing Republicans’ efforts to weaken the social safety net and generally debilitate poor Americans. Not a single Democrat voted for House Republicans’ American Health Care Act, which attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Not a single Democrat voted for any version of the Senate Republicans’ ACA repeal legislation.
Congressional Democrats must continue to hold the line. They may be the minority party in both houses of Congress, but they have a number of powerful legislative and administrative tools at their disposal, including the filibuster and the budget writing process. For proof of their effectiveness, look no further than the DACA debate: The overwhelming majority of Democrats banded together to prevent congressional Republicans (and President Trump) from sabotaging Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’ Dreamers during the government shutdown dispute. In doing so, the Democrats in the Senate were able to bring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to the table to discuss a bipartisan DACA solution.
These tools must be employed to stop congressional Republicans from undermining the social safety net because a weakened social safety net would spell disaster for black Americans across the country.
Black Americans Need the Social Safety Net
Although black Americans are only 13 percent of the total population, they comprise 22 percent of the country’s poor. High rates of unemployment and low wages, the result of generations of commingling of economic oppression and institutionalized racism, have depreciated black incomes and wealth to the extent that in 2011, black Americans took home only 59 cents for every dollar white households did. Black Americans have the lowest household income among all racial groups, which has translated into few opportunities to build wealth. Black Americans had a median liquid wealth of $200 as compared to $23,000 for whites in 2011.
Poverty has an unusually tight grip on the black community: Most black Americans who are born poor remain poor into adulthood. Middle-class black families are not immune from this grip either. Black Americans are uniquely downwardly mobile, especially compared to whites, with 70 percent of middle-income black Americans joining the ranks of lower-income Americans by adulthood.
Even the nature of black poverty is different. Unlike poor whites, poor blacks tend to live in areas with concentrated poverty, surrounded by other poor families. Concentrated poverty for black Americans, wrought in large part by discrimination in the labor market, geographically concentrated public housing complexes and gentrification, means that they are often confronted with poorly performing schools, insufficient access to health care providers and food deserts.
In this context, it’s not surprising that black Americans experience high levels of food insecurity: More than one in five black households were food insecure in 2015, compared to one in eight of all American households. SNAP has been a critical factor in helping black families stave off food insecurity and poverty, helping to feed 13 million black families in a given month in 2015. More than 2 million black families, including 1.1 million children, used SNAP to stay on the other side of financial disaster in 2014. An additional 1.1 million black families were insulated from “deep poverty” that year as well, thanks to SNAP.
Black Americans comprised 21 percent of Medicaid enrollees in 2013 and are highly concentrated in five of the 11 states identified by the Kaiser Family Foundation as being the most vulnerable states to ensuing challenges from cuts to Medicaid. Those five states, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, have the highest black populations in the country. Weakening Medicaid could mean a return to the days when more than 20 percent of black adults were uninsured and 30 percent reported not having a consistent source of health care.
Even now, black Americans, with the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare fully intact, are uninsured at higher rates than their white counterparts and are more likely to suffer dire health outcomes as a result: Maternal mortality rates for black women in some parts of the country rival those of women in sub-Saharan African.
Perhaps nowhere is the existence of black poverty and the need for the social safety net more apparent than in Alabama, where the poverty rate is 18.5 percent. Concentrated poverty strongly correlates to black residence in the stretch of the state referred to as the “Black Belt,” where black families are between three and four times as likely to live in poverty as white families.
Alabama recently attained international attention in the wake of a special report from the United Nations, which gave the state the dubious distinction of being one of the most impoverished regions in the developed world. Lowndes County, a county in the Black Belt where 35 percent of black residents live in poverty as compared to only 4.1 percent of white residents, was singled out as an example of Alabama poverty at its most extreme.
Dismantling the social safety net could mean the duplication of the conditions that plague Alabama’s Black Belt throughout the country. If anything, congressional reform efforts to the social safety net should focus on making it more equitable, not less, with the Democratic Party leading the charge.
As things currently stand, social safety net programs, as critical as they are to the financial stability of black families, can disadvantage black families in their own right. TANF, of which blacks represent 29.7 percent of total enrollees, has been shown to have its benefits distributed by the states in a discriminatory fashion, according to the Urban Institute. States with high numbers of black residents distribute fewer TANF dollars to families and for shorter amounts of time compared to states with whiter populations. Oregon, a state in which black Americans make up a mere 1.8 percent of the population, allows an eligible single-parent-led family of three $506 in TANF assistance per month. In Mississippi, where the population is 38 percent black, a similarly situated family is only eligible to receive $170 each month.
Benefit generosity is based not only on the dollar amount offered, but on the number of impoverished families serviced. To this point, the Urban Institute found that states with high black representation were more limited in terms of how their social safety net services were distributed. Louisiana and Arkansas, where black Americans make up significant portions of the population, have some of the lowest TANF-to-poverty ratios in the nation, with TANF benefits being offered to four for every 100 in poverty and seven for every 100 in poverty, respectively. Over half of all black Americans live in the 25 states with the lowest TANF-to-poverty ratios, meaning that TANF’s benefits disproportionately accrue to whites.
Not only is the social safety net not as generous as it could or should be to recipients, it has gaping holes that have left or pushed many eligible Americans out into the cold.
Data from 2014 shows that TANF covered 850,000 adults and their 2.5 million children, a fraction of those covered at its inception in 1996. Between 1996 and 2013, while poverty and deep poverty increased, TANF covered 60 percent fewer recipients. Stated differently, before the transition from the more generous Aid to Families with Dependent Children to TANF, which marked the “end of welfare as we know it,” seven in 10 poor families received cash assistance. Today, two in 10 do.
Experts anticipate that the amount of money that goes directly to families will decline further in the years to come even without being hastened along by the Republicans in Congress.
Making Good on Promises
The black community is one of the Democratic Party’s most reliable voting blocks. Using survey data collected from some 400 black interviewees, political scientist Theodore Johnson created a number of hypothetical political situations to assess black voting patterns. Party was an overwhelming factor in their political decision-making; faced with Republican and Democratic contenders with identical policy positions in identical social climates, the black respondents resoundingly chose the Democrat.
Unfortunately, their loyalty has not always been repaid with proportionate policy responsiveness, most disappointingly from Democrats. Political scientist Nick Stephanopoulos conducted a study to determine the extent of group political power on effecting policy outcomes at the state and federal levels. Unsurprisingly, black voters had less power than whites: Unanimous support among whites for a federal policy corresponded to a 60 percent chance of adoption, while unanimous support among black Americans for such a policy corresponded to a 10 percent chance of adoption. Somewhat correspondingly then, Stephanopoulos found that the less support a policy had among black Americans, the higher its likelihood of enactment. A policy with no black support had a 40 percent chance of enactment compared to the aforementioned 10 percent for a policy with unanimous support.
Analysis from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies corroborated Stephanopoulos’ 2015 findings. With data collected between 1972 and 2010, researchers found that black voters were “policy winners” 31.9 percent of the time, while white voters were “winners” 37.6 percent of the time. Less power means less policy.
Political scientist Paul Frymer first articulated the underpinnings of these studies in his 1999 book, Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America. He observed that politicians focus their appeals and energy toward white swing voters at the expense of black voters, thereby rendering them politically paralyzed. The result of the need to entice white voters is that explicit arguments for racial reconciliation during presidential campaigns have been waning since the 1970s, lest they turn white voters off.
In light of this history, it’s difficult to know exactly to what extent the party will advocate for black voters. However, there are encouraging signs to be found. In 2016, the Democratic Party platform pledged “to make it clear that black lives matter.” The party promised to commit itself to addressing issues that more explicitly affect the black community, including the racial wealth gap, and that implicitly affect them, like attempts to cut funding from SNAP and Medicaid. They actionized those promises in December 2017: Not a single Democrat in the House or the Senate voted for the Republican tax plan, a massive payout to the top one percent that will widen the racial wealth gap.
Progressives in the Democratic Party have every reason to buck their history of neglect, having seen what black voters can do electorally. In spite of a history of electoral disenfranchisement, electoral neglect, gerrymandering, and voting purges, black voters have potential to flip elections when they turn out at a time when Democrats desperately need them to. Furthermore, the party itself has explicitly acknowledged that it needs to do better. Mirroring Chairman Perez, Virgie Rollins, chair of the DNC’s Black Caucus, insisted that the party apparatus is well aware of this: “We learned valuable lessons last month and last night; when we invest in our communities, we win. The DNC knows black voters are a force to be reckoned with at the ballot box.”
The midterm elections are nine months from now. Progressives in the Democratic Party must actively compete for black votes, running not only on an anti-Trump platform, but on one that offers tangible protections from Republican assaults and tangible solutions to the challenges the black community faces. Not only is advocating for black Americans the right thing for the Democratic Party to do morally, but it also makes sense politically. Loyalty from the black community cannot be taken for granted, especially at a moment when the stakes of doing the opposite are so high.
General Sherman of Civil War fame once said : “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it” but he was wrong. Some 150 years later the Republican party has taken the war on the poor and refined it to the next level to be even more cruel. So they have, with their Democrat enablers, taken $1.5 trillion out of the future economy, given it to a bunch of billionaires who are probably hard-pressed to find new places to invest it in, and are now proposing to finance it by taking money from people that are living from hand to mouth and whose children will suffer as well?
People talk about the dark web but from what I hear, America is getting a dark population – no pun intended – that are living off the books and are not taking part in the official economy. In fact, have been pushed out of the official economy. They have no real weapons left to defend themselves as a group except their numbers and they have not yet realized that that is a weapon in itself. However, the results of the last US election may portend their realization of what is possible.
Living off the books is a feature, not a bug, for the political parties as those people tend to not vote. So why really help them?
Anarchy seems to be what they are after. As long as I get my SS check anyone can do whatever they want. Im to the point of not caring anymore.
I think the billionaires can find lots of places to stick the money. The prices in the stock market can swell indefinitely to accommodate arbitrary amounts of money thrown at it. When the prices get ridiculous, there are always other places to stash money and stuff to buy. The well known problem with giving money to billionaires and multimillionaires, for that matter, is that instead of going to do some good, it gets stored away, usually in a rentier asset of some kind and ignored. The outcome of the wealthy person is not improved one iota. If you give it to poor people, they will use it to solve an immediate need and someone is better off.
Very interesting post and I agree that black voters are taken for granted by the neo-liberal Dems who do almost nothing to further their interests. I do have some questions, though. My first is on the comparative data used and second on the “big picture”.
On the comparisons. it can be very difficult to separate “racist policies” from healthy/unhealthy political cultures. For instance, you mention that Oregon spends more on TANF than Louisiana and you use that as evidence of institutional racism. That would only be true if Oregon was directing its TANF away from its black residents and I doubt that this is the case.
Also, you mention that more than half of those in poverty are situated in states of the former confederacy yet you don’t draw a line between the political systems of those ex slave states and attitudes towards poverty in general and their particularly brutal treatment of their black population.
Bringing us to the big picture question.In the northern states, how much money is directed towards female headed households? and how much is spent of education/training? The accusation is out there that these welfare programs are designed to destroy black families, through a combination of welfare dependency for the women and criminalization of the men, rather than help them
I say this because, to paraphrase Malcolm X, “the only difference between white conservatives and white liberals is that the white liberal is more deceitful”. If we insist on discussing these issues on the basis of skin color rather than particular political systems, then we risk stoking divisiveness rather than reducing it. Sadly I am coming to the conclusion that this is the aim of many neo-liberals.
The Democratic Party consciously turned away from black voters to make themselves more appealing to ‘moderates’, which is to say, Republicans and Independents. Black voters who turned out huge for Obama were rewarded with a Democratic president who seemed to deliberately avoid advocating for the needs of black community, to avoid giving his Republican detractors more ammunition with which to feed to their racist base.
It has been Democratic Party’s fear of feeding the racist narrative of the Republican’s core voters that has been the source of Democrat’s failure and neglect of the black community for decades. Democratic capitulation to Republican’s racism has been the Democratic party’s electoral strategy for a couple decades. Black votes were taken for granted; little to no effort was made on their behalf.
The Democratic Party should concern themselves with advocating for equality and justice for all, socially and economically. Period. Within that message Democrats can rightfully illustrate how various groups have systematically been excluded from this equality, including, but not exclusively, the black community, and then Democrats can campaign on their vision, and their proposals, to continue to move this country to greater equality and justice.
I don’t think they believe they need to focus on black voters because aren’t blacks a falling percentage of the population anyway? The future might be minority which is the trend Dems hope to gain from but maybe not so much black. I don’t justify their actions I’m just saying the kind of cynical jerks we are probably dealing with in the Dem party (and yes the Rs are worse).
If my neighbor Joe (a pseudonym) is any indication, the black community is VERY angry at how Obama ignored their needs. Don’t say the name Obama around Joe. Just don’t.
I’m not black and didn’t notice at the time that Obama ignored black needs. I did however notice that he got a lot less done on the progressive front and was disappointed about that. I was glad to have a competent sensible president. I was disappointed to have an ineffectual one.
Our current president is something else. I think his job description is quite close to Zaphod Beeblebrox.
Help me. The average black net worth fell under Obama. Obama stayed silent during the incidents of police brutality against blacks. Obama sided with the banks against homeowners, and black were hit proportionately worse than whites in the foreclosure crisis. I could go on.
The Dems moved away from black voters because they don’t contribute massive campaign and PAC contributions.
Follow the money.
This is a problem when the poor get poorer. You can’t tax them or fund your campaign with them.
Blood from turnips.
-Why Aren’t Black Voters Rewarded by the Party That Depends on Them to Win Elections?-
1. Restoring the light industrial manufacturing base in cities—-the very reason African-American Blacks moved to the cities in the first half of the 20th century—means higher labor costs. Raising wages = upset donors.
2. Restoring the heavy industrial base in cities = impossible given environmental regulations and competition from overseas and less need for labor given automation.
3. Greenfield manufacturing sites in exurbs-rural areas are cheaper and easier to build.
I remember reading an article in The Atlantic (many moons ago) by Nicholas Lemann on the post war black migration from the south. Just Googled it now and it turns out he wrote a book about it: The Promised Land:The Great Black Migration and how it Changed America(1991).
Between the early 1940s and the late 1960s, more than five million African Americans left the fields and farms of the Deep South and headed for the big cities, where they hoped to find the economic comfort and legal rights denied them under Jim Crow. This great migration changed the United States from a country where race was a regional issue and black culture existed mainly in rural isolation into one where race relations affect the texture of life in nearly every city and suburb; it altered politics and popular culture at every level. Nicholas Lemann’s narrative concerns the people and lives that were transformed by this migration. First, he tells the stories of several families who left the cotton plantations and small towns, heading north. He then examines the political figures, mostly white, who formulated the official response to this huge demographic shift. The migration was so gradual that it was barely noticed by the establishment until it was nearly over; suddenly politicians realized there was a crisis in the ghettos that they had to try to solve, even though they didn’t understand it.–From publisher description.
the reason I like this blog is the excellent comments. That migration was no accident. Indeed, when you look at blacks as a percentage of the whole population in southern, ex-slave, states, it appears that the migration was a “forced” event, intended to restore a white voting majority. For instance in 1920, blacks were in the absolute majority in both Mississippi and South Carolina. Today, the black population is less than 40% of the total.
The Mississippi floods of 1927 demonstrated the obvious neglect suffered by the black population. This population was initially given 40 acres and a mule but by 1927 they had returned to absolute misery as a result of abusive debt practices.
So the northern states, with predominantly white working class populations, were saddled with the social problems that always accompany the evil system of slavery. These, often illiterate, poor blacks traveled north to cities that were ill prepared to absorb them because industrialized economies need literate workers. Sadly, the northern populations didn’t receive them well. Instead of working to integrate these communities and lift them up, the politics took the path of least resistance and worked to isolate them in ghettos (South Chicago being one of the worst examples). As a result, the black community has been largely excluded from American economic life. Indeed, it is a testament to the creativity of that community that they absorbed the exclusion and created a space for themselves in America’s cultural life through music, fashion and, to a lesser extent, literature.
So here we are, still fumbling around trying to find solutions to slavery’s inheritance. The obvious choice is to see the US black person as any other, potentially productive human being with the same economic interests as everyone else. If we take that view, then our conversations turn to economic inclusion, training and organizing regardless of “identity”.
Instead, our politicians choose the divisive route. We insist that “identity” is all that matters. There are only “rich white men”, harassed women and poor blacks. Everyone is a victim – because if you don’t declare yourself one then you are forced to assume individual responsibility. for the sins of others.
Anonnynonny: This may seem like a quibble, but it’s an issue I just taught in a history course, and so I wanted to add a correction that actually, I think, helps bolster your point: very few Freedpeople actually got the famed “40 acres and a mule.” It was comparatively rare, though it was widely sought after by both freedmen and Radical Republicans. Most were mired in semi-feudal share-cropping and debt peonage by the end of the 1870s, a fate shared by many poor whites.
I think that quite reinforces your point.
Thank you… I really need to read more on this topic but I find the subject so depressing I often give up. I think it would be fascinating to study the differing approaches of Brazil and the US to the post slavery settlement. Both have been disastrous but the shading around population imbalances and managing identity politics is interesting.
Lemann’s book is good but there is a better one: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. There were two phases of migration, one that started in the 1910s (which petered out during the Depression) and a second that started with the ramping up of the WW2 economy in the 1940s. The migration paths followed the train lines, so people coming from Memphis, the Delta and New Orleans ended up in Chicago, the lines that came from Atlanta and eastern Tennessee carried people to Cleveland and Detroit (including lots of Appalachian “white trash”) and the industrial cities of the Northeast were the destination of people taking the trains up the coast.
Louis is right about the end of urban manufacturing. Except for a handful of very old relics, and a few cases of desperate cities bulldozing huge parcels to allow mfrs to build industrial park-style plants in the city (i.e. GM’s Poletown plant in Detroit), there is no advanced manufacturing done in big cities (but still lots of sweatshops!).
The “Warth of Other Suns” is a very important book, I regard it as a must read.
The end of urban manufacturing, except maybe for relatively small scale, high value goods, is I would think something almost all European cities have also experienced. I know it’s true for Oslo. I visited a Lobster Museum on an island outside Stavanger a while back (it was a small group tour and I couldn’t get out of it without attracting notice) and out of pure boredom starting checking out the origin of the equipment the lobstermen used. A lot of it was made in Christiana (Oslo’s prior name) and if not Christiana then from our cousins the Swedes and Danes. And a lot of it was cast iron.
All these mills, foundries, and light manufacturing industries are gone now. Or most anyway – just to cover my ass in case there are some.
And yet me managed the decline.
Are there any studies on how different countries have managed the decline and came out the other end better off? Would love to see a study incorporating different perspectives, form the neurobiological (not really) to fill in the blank. I don’t know, maybe it needs a Braudel.
Yes! I love Braudel!
and black African-Americans suffer from the ‘let them eat training’ attitude that DC Dems throws to rural whites.
the original sin of the pundit Left is that it focuses on identity politics and a trans-racial focus economics-trade-finance is given tertiary thought.
I think much of the light manufacturing, at least manufacturing that would pay solid livable wages, is gone for good due to the globalization competition from lower labor cost centers from abroad and advances in technology in the workplace that make people redundant.
Massive investment in K12 for the poor, particularly in STEM, which would potentially enable the critical mass of black youth to compete and cash out in the knowledge/information economy. I suspect that whites who came from better school systems in zip codes with well funded, well managed school systems were able to get the quality STEM education that enabled them to later on monetize their education and skills in the software industry, e.g., Seattle area, Silicon Valley.
Well funded school breakfast programs for the poor would be helpful in charging their brains to absorb the knowledge.
The US could solve the “lower labor cost centers from abroad” problem by abrogating and rejecting every free trade agreement going all the way back to GATT Round One and rebuilding the missing industries in this country. We could then forbid entry of lower priced product from lower labor cost centers overseas.
Simple but not easy. Deliberately engineered globalization was designed as a weapon to destroy American manufacturing over several decades, and it would take several decades of watertight airtight protectionism to permit the rebuilding of some of that industry. But the first step would be to realize that globalization was a deliberately engineered project, not an accidental force-of-nature process.
Yes, there may be a history. However, there is nothing black about manufacturing. They are people. They can get jobs where the jobs are like everyone else. I work in software. I help interview maybe 20 people per year for the last 16 years. I’m pretty sure I met precisely 2 black applicants in that time. What gives? If you’re good, I want you. I don’t care what you look like. Americans should have a leg up. You speak the language, know the culture, understand the companies.
Are you serious? You really don’t get it. For starters, it’s been well documented that class mobility is gone in the US. If you are born in the bottom 40%, you are pretty much guaranteed to stay there. How is someone who went to crappy K-12 schools supposed to catch up, for starters?
There have been plenty of studies on bias. One sent out resumes with identical background, except some had white names (like Karen Parker or Thomas Brown) and others had back-sounding names like Lakisha Jones or Tyrone Washington.
The black resumes didn’t get read. Recruiters stopped at the name.
And there is also huge class bias in hiring. Tell me, are you prepared to have schools give kids with lower-class diction elocution lessons? Because that’s what it would take for them to get a fair shot, not just with recruiters but how teachers treat them, which becomes self-reinforcing (Google “expectancy theory”).
I suggest you take the Harvard Implicit Bias test and see if you are really as prejudice-free as you think you are:
My last comment here, I promise. The thing is you are at the coal face of the problem. I suspect the reason you don’t see many black candidates is because of some combination of many of the things others are talking about. In fact, the older I get the more I am convinced that we are all part stereotypical of our heritage (sociable, mouthy Irish catholic male here with an amazing potential to hold a grudge!!) .
The fact is they can’t get high tech jobs if they aren’t able to do the work and to be able one needs a basic grounding in math etc. Only a minority of any race is able and interested to work in software development. Often the smart black guys are focused on creative industries where they see more opportunity.
Anyway, an anecdote. I left a horrible job in 2013 where the milieu was NOT accepting of anything apart from morally superior, ivy educated SJW’s. The virtue signaling was ridiculous. They could find bias and pettiness in everyone – except themselves naturally. Despite their “obvious” self-defined superiority, I never once heard them question why the ‘diversity’ statistics of their own company was so poor.
Anyway, struggling with depression and voluntarily unemployed, I took to going to a coffee shop in Brooklyn. Staffing there consisted of a large group of baristas in their 20’s and, over time, they all started chatting, telling me their deal. The group was diverse (racial, gender, sexual identity ) but they all got along in the normal way, HOWEVER they all accepted/resented/bitched about each others stereotypes. The black guys would say white guys are weird (we all live in our heads and end up killing ourselves according to them). The black guys were, with one exception, struggling to get into the music industry (when I said why is everyone crowding in there the usual answer was “that’s where you go”)
Anyway, a very sad thing happened. One of the guys ( white guy) was clearly struggling with depression and tried to off himself (hence the comment about white guys above). He failed (thankfully). The women in the group provided practical and emotional support (another stereotype I know) . The guys were just awkward about it. He transferred out of the job but before he left all the guys brought him for a beer. Interestingly, they invited me along (I suspect to minimize their own outlays) . I went for a half hour, bought a round and listened to a fascinating conversation about race. One of the black guys was telling a story about this SJW he had met who told him that if she were reincarnated she would like to come back as a black man. I tutted before I could stop myself, but everyone laughed at me. Anyway, then he said, “as if she has any idea what its like to grow up a black man” and went on to describe life in a single mom household – where social support is a network of women – and men are treated like “sh*t”. Boys bullied and shouted at throughout childhood and kicked out at 18 with little or no education. Man, that was a downer!!
I am only saying this to
1) provide some meat to your observation
2) try to counteract the moral shaming/silencing that the other reply attempts. The Harvard bias calculator!!- give me a break. Isn’t Harvard the place where their own psych dept bullied and intimidated undergrads as an experiment? and produced the Unabomber! That college should take a look at its own pandering BS one day.
You clearly don’t know anything regarding Project Implicit. I suggest you take the test. Millions of people have. Individuals apparently get the same results even after taking it before, as in understanding exactly how it works (as in how it works is pretty obvious, but even understanding that, people are unable to change their reflexes). Malcolm Gladwell, who is half black, found out he scored as having an implicit bias against blacks. So the results are also not what you assume they might be.
I did take a test on bias and while I don’t know it if was the one you linked – I will admit that I scored as moderately biased. Bad bad me! I understand that bias exists, in fact I’ve read many many articles on it and listened -not too patiently – as my daughters relate exactly how, as a man, I am obviously biased!!
Those tests are highly suspect in my opinion. First off, who decides the categories? Why does this movement seem to reduce whole groups of individuals into one or two-dimensional caricatures based on an already conveniently defined categorization? Your answer will no doubt say that is because we already categorize along those lines and this just measures it. I don’t believe it to be true, EVERYONE uses biased shortcuts to work their way through the world and everyone is a mix of race/class/gender/age/status/physical attributes etc etc. It is impossible to reduce them to a few categories and say “ahaa, see!” its nonsense.
An uncomfortable example is the college admissions bias. Somebody did the “what SAT premium do you need to go to college” for a variety of ethnic groups showing that Asians need the highest SAT premium while Black kids were admitted with much lower average scores. Anyway, the study was compelling until somebody took a class based look at the numbers and concluded that the group MOST discriminated against were middle income white kids – no legacy benefit, needs aid, no kudos on diversity admissions for the college in question – and the MOST discriminated against in that group were rural white kids – it turned the whole thing on its head.
The other aspect of the article was how these SAT premia changed over time. For instance when the Ivy League colleges were fighting against Jewish admissions (a group which has recently arrived then) they found it difficult because test scores (or whatever criteria used back then) were higher for that group. Today, Jewish scores are only moderately higher than average, yet they are well represented in the populations of Ivy League colleges. Why is that I wonder? Could it be that they have money and connections?
It is no surprise that biases exist, everywhere. In fact I read an article talking about how the US – as an extremely multi-cultural place – is often one where uncomfortable stereotypes are reinforced! For instance why are those of Irish catholic heritage over represented in politics and law but under represented on wall street? I understand that human networks self reinforce behaviors. This doesn’t mean there is an inherently superior set of abilities in one group over another but it does mean that we will likely never see absolute equality of outcome. It also means that when you see a ruddy white guy with a name like Murphy and a nice suit you may be likely to assume a profession from a shortlist.
My last point is the silencing effect and I find this most insidious. Ian Ollmann above gave an anecdote about how, in 16 years on recruiting for software he has only seen 2 black candidates. I imagine he is telling the truth about that. He mentions that history is one thing but performance is color blind – only partially true in my opinion. They are the beginnings of a good conversation but that can’t happen now because the dread “bias” word came up – and so – everyone stays schtumm.
You make it obvious you haven’t even bothered to understand how the test works. You have really discredited yourself by arguing over something you haven’t investigated. It operates by measuring reflexes.
This is called “making shit up” and is a violation of our written site Policies. We also say, “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
Your comment is ignorant. One more violation of site Policies and you will be blacklisted and your comments will be expunged.
Expunge away. You decided to use the word bias and suggested that both the previous poster and I take a test. I tried to point out two things. First, when you bring that into the conversation it kills it. The word comes with a lot of baggage and puts otherwise perfectly reasonable people on the defensive. Silencing does not move a conversation forward. Also, facts are not biased and he presented a fact worth discussing – why were there only 2 candidates.
I also tried to give an anecdote on conversations I had with people that have lived experience in some of the issues being discussed. If I am told I am biased I can’t do that.
And don’t worry about banning me, It won’t be needed.
On a lighter note, when I saw “payback” and “black voters”, my mind immediately thought of that excellent James Brown song by the same name….
Fans of 90s R&B/hip hop will recognize the base line that was sampled by Biggie (‘Can’t you see’) and En Vogue (‘never gonna get it’) in a couple of songs.
“… I need some get-back!”
Thanks for the song, JohnnyGL. I needed that.
No disrespect to the writer of this good piece, but portraying the proposed cuts to the US social safety net as a “black” issue seems unhelpful and reeks of Democratic identity politics, wherein the voting base is sliced and diced into microtargetable demographic blocks who are then pandered to or pitted against each other in various ways. Special interest groups comprising a small proportion of the population lack power, which is presumably why identity politics has been so popular among Democratic elites for the last several decades. Consciously or unconsciously pitting women against blacks against Hispanics against LGBTs against immigrants against students against the aged is nothing but the old divide-and-conquer strategy brought up to date. The results of this strategy for the Democratic Party have been impossible to miss: large scale abandonment by voters of what has become a useless and corrupt political machine, and a dramatic loss of political power at every level of government in the period since 1970.
No one can deny that black people in the US have been systematically and horrifically screwed over for centuries, and that this has not ended. It a great source of individual tragedy and national shame. But our best hope for the future is to identify our collective interests wherever possible and form vast, unified movements to improve society. Reflexive grasping at things like poverty, hunger, homelessness, and lack of healthcare and education as “my” issue rather than “our” issue is a bad habit that plays into the hands of opponents.
“”our best hope for the future is to identify our collective interests wherever possible and form vast, unified movements to improve society. Reflexive grasping at things like poverty, hunger, homelessness, and lack of healthcare and education as “my” issue rather than “our” issue is a bad habit that plays into the hands of opponents.””
Better wages for workers, benefits all
32 hr work week, benefits all
Medicare for all, benefits all
medical and family leave, benefits all
public parks and spaces, benefits all
treatment on demand, benefits all
universal housing, benefits all
I agree completely. For example, one major issue that affects every ‘identity’ group in the United States is home ownership. If one looks at the rise of family groups out of poverty, home ownership is the first step on establishing some degree of familial wealth – and yet, certain groups were targeted for wealth extraction and received zero assistance from Obama after the 2008 subprime-led crash. First-time homeowners were forced into foreclosure, and the banks were bailed out.
In contrast, consider the FDR response in 1933. From wiki:
How could this had been done in 2009, with Obama in office? First, take over all the subprime adjustable-rate mortgages and convert them to fixed-rate mortgages. Instead of the bailout money going to the banks, use it to finance all these mortgages (at zero-interest rates, as with the banks). Practically, this would have meant that most homeowners would have much lower monthly payments – eventually, they’d have been able to pay it all back. Foreclosures would have been avoided. Of course, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan would have suffered serious losses – but they could afford it.
This is why people say that the Democrats became the Party of Wall Street, just as the Republicans became the Party of Fossil Fuels. And of course, fossil fuel executives and their shareholders work hand in hand. I.e. this is not democracy, this is plutocracy.
I think the is that supporters of the Democratic Party are fawned over for their votes, but ignored when it is time to actually help them. Blacks are merely the most obvious example for this article.
No one can deny that black people in the US have been systematically and horrifically screwed over for centuries…
This is a trope of the left that I do, in fact, deny. Aside from Democrat/left run welfare-funded inner cities that mostly resemble delapidated third world basket cases today, black people have better lives now in the US than they would have almost anywhere else in the world.
It’s an ironic marker of the American left that though they are materialy in the top .01% of people who have ever lived they still imagine up things to bitterly complain about while demanding ever more free stuff. The left won’t be happy until everyone is very equally living in squalor and hunting zoo animals for food–as they have successfully accomplished in Venezuala and just about every other place they’ve ever run for a while.
Certainly we can agree that much of the wealth of the nascent United States (and other Caribbean plantation societies) was created by human slaves who were forcibly brought from Africa in chains and imprisoned and bred to do the work of the people who claimed ownership of them. To me, this definitely counts as being “systematically and horrifically screwed over.” I suspect most people would agree; I assume you would, too, if you or your family were forced into the same conditions.
Though chattel slavery has been largely abolished and replaced by wage slavery, the US remains a very racist society (like most societies), and the (various) targets of majority racism of course continue to endure daily insults and lifelong disadvantages that the rest of us are spared. This is not to say that everyone of all races does not have their own array of crosses to bear, a fact that should bring us together, not drive us apart.
I think if you take away the word “black” and just say “people” the statement is still largely true, though among developed nations, the US is taking on an increasingly third-world character; the Shining City On The Hill has been getting pretty tarnished under the neoliberal order. I’m not sure what the point here is. People should be happy for whatever crumbs they get from their overlords, and be thankful things aren’t even worse? I don’t like this as an organizing principle; it’s like you’ve given up before you’ve started.
Donkey and Carrot system.
Keep promising the carrot. If you give the donkey the carrot, you need a new carrot.
The problem may be larger then the Democratic party. The whole political system needs an overhaul. What incentives do politicians have? Money seems more important then anything else. Secrecy hides criminal activity and accountability. The U.S. used to be a nation of laws.
What do you mean “seems”?! Money is quite clearly the *only* thing that matters to politicians. Here it is in numbers:
I am not comfortable making blanket statements about large groups so I water down my claims with language like “seems”. Anyway, yes , the situation is outrageous. It looks like we are going to find out how long the U.S. economy can be mismanaged before it collapses.
All of these cuts are devastating to Memphis. The only majority black metropolitan area with over a million people in America. Recently a friend asked a senior person the Shelby County Democratic Party what the party will be doing for GOTV in 2018. Voter registration drives, trainings, volunteer recruitment. This SCDP person is a black women and she said a one word response “Trump”. The democratic party is not going to do anything. They think Trump will drive waves of people to register and turnout. My friend was stunned. All I said to him is this is why democrats suck. Lazy, corrupt, no vision.
Speaking of what HUD is doing now in these parts. Let’s say you finally get a housing voucher (after 5 year wait, on average here in Memphis). So you take voucher to a house or apartment. If the place hasn’t already had HUD inspection, HUD will just cancel the voucher. Locks in the places that can be rented with vouchers and cuts down on that waiting list quick. Truly awful in a city with a 27% poverty rate and desperate need for affordable housing.
The neoliberal/libertarian/social Darwinism ideologies have made listening to the money Lords important enough to ignore everyone else. This hunger for money is helping the spread of corruption.
There has been an increasing amount of good old fashioned corruption seasoned with increasing incompetence in the government/NGOs/charities social services especially in housing. The proportion of any money by government funding, foundations, or donations being used to help people has been declining for decades. More money is going towards “administration” and “consultants.” So not only is total funding decreasing but the percentage of it being used directly to help decreasing. This is yet another area of political economy I have to study. More books to buy and read! I have too much corruption to study. F@@@.
Returning to the section 8 housing vouchers…
the county office, which is the level that the actual administering is actually done, could easily become corrupt. The vouchers themselves usually pay a good market rate for what is expected to be a decent working, even middle class apartments. There are also inspections and lawyers at this level to back up the requirements. There are effective ways to force tenets to be quiet, or quickly evict them. The apartments can become slums while everyone but the tenants make bank.
I don’t know what is happening, but corruption is endemic in public housing, although it can be greatly reduced. With the increasing corruption, police dysfunction, and like I mentioned earlier it’s spreading deep into public and private social services especially anything dealing with the very poor. They make good victims. Please rofitable, almost defenseless with few people who will even listen, nevermind be able to speak for and effectively fight for.
If I were you I would do some research, maybe talk to somebodies in the real world. It could just be bureaucratic jackasses but very possibly not.
BTW, the waitlist has been closed to new section 8 applicants for an actual decade where I live. Not that there is any real need for affordable housing in the Bay Area…
I would be hardpressed to name any group which the dimocrats support other than the big money donors/wall street. The party is a steaming pile of trash and is broke.
But wait, their solution: biden, kerry, holder, et al.
Jeez, what a clown show.
The first law of politics: you must reward your friends and punish your enemies. If you don’t, your interests will not be respected, and it will be your fault.
Indeed, blacks have voted for Democrats lock-step for some time – even for that utterly despicable corporate shill Barack Obama. And blacks get nothing but words in return – although the black ‘leadership’ class does get some payout.
But this is not just blacks. Liberals in general have gone this route, especially under Obama. Obama broke every substantive promise he made during his campaign, but liberals supported him unquestioningly. Where were the protests against the Wall Street Bailout? The trillions wasted on endless pointless wars? The shameless attempt to shove the corporate-coup of TPP down our throats? Oddly, most of the protests against these awful policies came from the ‘deplorable’ Republicans. Meanwhile Democrats have devolved to mere tribalism, protesting Trump without presenting any substance, not caring if a Democratic candidate is just as bad on the real issues…
“Lesser of two evils” voting has its place, but there must be a level where both mainstream choices are so vile that the only sane alternative is political scorched earth.
> but liberals supported him unquestioningly.
So the Dems do have a point here. Every four years the Republicans put up a dozen or so political candidates that would be right at home among the cast of Batman villains. They are so obviously awful. I mean they weren’t quite child molesters — except that even that limitation seems to have fallen — but they are clearly racist, heartless monsters to a man and woman. It is as if they strove mightily to live up to every demonizing caricature from the previous 30 years of Republicans and wear it like a suit of armor. I don’t care if the opponent is Barney Fife or Barney the Dinosaur, I would vote for *anyone* over these sociopaths.
It is probably about time for a Jimmy Carter-like candidate to win.
I personally wish Jerry Brown would run next time, but he’s probably ready to enjoy retirement.
Black people need to do something about their misleadership class. As long as charlatans and chancers can make a living claiming to represent them, Dem politicians will seek out those “leaders” with deals to enrich the leaders for delivering up the led.
Enough should already be enough.
After MLK was assassinated, the Black leadership, including the civil rights leaders, were offered a quid pro quo of a share of the political power if they dropped all of King’s talk about poor Americans (yes, his original focus had been on civil rights for blacks but he expanded to all poor Americans and the war.) and focus just on Black civil rights. They took the deal. It’s rather like how the original American feminists were inclusive of all classes and races, with a side focus of poverty and racism although it had a strong inclination towards upper class white women. The government gave funding to college educated upper middle and higher white who took over the feminist movement’s leadership and shifted focus to feminism most useful for them.
If I actually wrote a book of fiction using what the Federal and State governments have done to splinter social movements world wide, and a case can be made that neoliberalism is one of the methods, I would be accused of writing some crazy paranoid phantasm.
I have read somewhere “that history is the autobiography of a madman.”
Black people need to do something about their misleadership class.
Indeed. But I’m far more concerned when I see Pelosi & Schumer calling the shots for the Democratic Party.
Everyday as I read NC, and most particularly when I read posts such as this one, touching on poverty in America, a Stevie Wonder song, “Living for the City” runs through my head.
And the lines of that great song which state that, “This place is cruel, nowhere could be much colder…” I have to agree.
Wonder tells here a tale of a young and naive black man from the south who decides to venture to NYC and the trouble he encounters immediately after getting off of the Greyhound/Trailways which took him there.
My measure of any society has always been that societies treatment of its prisoners.
In this country corporations are using prison labor for what amounts to no cost to the corporation and no wages for the prisoner, who is charged for his stay in this hellhole via various scams.
Other corporations actually own the prisons and states have made deals with these devils to keep them at full capacity.
It cannot be overstated that this country is beyond cruel in its treatment of those of us with little financial means. Here is a link I found today at ICH which I hope you will all find insightful.:https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/02/08/poverty-american-style/
Read Donna Brazile’s book, which is filled with instances where the Democratic party treats blacks as scum.
Apologies, as I cannot resist quoting from Brazile’s book, specifically page 130:
How about a
“Don’t Count On Us Boycott”
where black people stay home on election day
unless the candidates truly reflect their interests?
Welfare? What about people on disability? Here in Michigan people are more upset with able bodied people on disability instead of people on welfare. Is trump going to tell disabled people they have to start working? Because what welfare people will do is go on disability. That’s the golden egg. Then, they are guaranteed a check for the rest of their lives. And no one can deny them anything because since they are disabled, they are equal to quadropolegics.