April 5, 2001
How to Widen the Black-white Wealth Gap
Ignore the claims of rich, black estate-tax foes. The tax is
good for African-Americans.
By Dalton Conley <email@example.com>
On Wednesday, 49 prominent black business executives, led by
Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson,
took out full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers calling for
the repeal of the estate tax. A pointed rejoinder to
February's pro-estate-tax ads sponsored by Warren Buffett,
Bill Gates Sr. and several Rockefellers, Johnson's ad
claimed the estate tax helps widen the gap between whites
and blacks in net worth, and abolishing it "will help close
the wealth gap in this nation between African-American
families and white families."
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The federal estate
tax, which has been in place since 1916, affects only the
richest 1.4 percent of the deceased, and there are only a
relative handful of African-Americans in that group. As the
law currently stands, the first $675,000 of individuals' net
estate value is exempt from tax. It's $1.35 million for
couples. A 1997 change in the law will gradually increase
the exemption until it reaches $1 million for individuals
and $2 million for couples in 2006. Exemptions are even
higher for businesses and small farms.
The number of African-Americans who would benefit from
estate-tax repeal is infinitesimally small. But repeal would
be a windfall for the wealthiest whites in America. It would
only exacerbate the black-white asset gap.
If one statistic captures the persistence of racial inequity
in the United States, it is net worth, also called wealth,
equity or assets. If you want to know your net worth, add up
everything you own and then subtract your total amount of
outstanding debt. When we do this for white and minority
households across America, incredible differences emerge.
Overall, the typical white family enjoys a net worth more
than seven times higher than its non-white counterpart.
(Latinos, a very diverse group, fare slightly better than
African-Americans, but still fall far short of whites on
this indicator. So do Asians.) This disparity is far greater
than racial differences in education, employment or income.
To make matters worse, this "equity inequity" between blacks
and whites has grown in the decades since the civil rights
triumphs of the 1960s.
That is because differential earnings alone cannot explain
racial differences in wealth levels. In every income
bracket, blacks own less wealth than whites. The typical
black family earning $50,000 per year owns less than half
the assets of its white counterparts. Among the wealthiest
Americans, BET's Johnson and Oprah Winfrey and are the only
African-Americans on the Forbes annual list of the 400
richest people in the United States, and they are both at
the lower end of the list.
This equity inequity is, in part, the result of the head
start that whites have enjoyed in accumulating and passing
on assets. Simply put, it takes money to make money. Whites
not only earn more now, they have always earned more than
African-Americans -- a lot more. Wealth differences, in
turn, feed upon these long-term income differences. Some
researchers estimate that up to 80 percent of lifetime
wealth accumulation results from family gifts in one form or
another passed down from generation to generation.
These gifts range from a down payment on a first home to a
free college education to a bequest upon the death of a
parent. Over the long run, small initial differences in
wealth holdings spin out of control. Estate and gift taxes
are about the only social policies left that act as a small
restraint on the runaway train of wealth inequality. Doing
away with the estate tax would widen, not narrow, the gap
between blacks and whites.
If legislators really want to promote the classic American
values of savings, thrift and equal opportunity for blacks
and whites, there are better policy options. One idea would
be to loosen the asset restrictions currently built into the
welfare system. If welfare recipients were able to save
without being penalized for their asset accumulation, public
assistance might truly become a safety net instead of a way
of life. Millionaires don't need any more incentives to
save; poor folks do. Likewise, by selling public housing to
its residents in a program not unlike the VA or FHA programs
instituted after World War II, the government could create a
whole new class of urban homeowners with a stake in the
Finally, there is the Savings for Working Families Act of
2001, which President Bush claims to support. This bill
provides government matching funds to foster savings among
the poor. If programs such as these target individuals and
communities that are both income- and asset-deprived, they
will inevitably chip away at the racial wealth gap while
being ostensibly colorblind. And since it is generally
agreed that stakeholders -- those with something to lose --
make better citizens, everyone would benefit.
Sixty-four years ago, W.E.B. DuBois claimed that if freed
slaves had been provided with the "40 acres and a mule" they
had been promised, it would have made for the basis of a
real democracy, a republic of property owners. He is still
right today. Robert Johnson is dead wrong: Doing away with
the estate tax would benefit a tiny number of very wealthy
African-Americans, and at the same time hurt many more by
leading to cuts in social programs. It's a prescription for
greater inequity, not less.
Dalton Conley is director of the Center for Advanced Social
Science Research at New York University and author of "Being
Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth and Social Policy in
Copyright (c) 2001 Salon.com. All Rights Reserved.
Back to Main News Page
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 14:48:32 -0400
From: Jonathan S. White <smoove@MIT.EDU>
Subject: CSPAN airs Rho Nu Chapter's "40 Acres and a Mule..."
You can view actual debate at: http://C-SPAN.ORG/social_policy/
"40 Acres and A Mule: Does America Still Owe Blacks",
organized and coordinated by Rho Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi
Alpha Fraternity, Inc. will air on CSPAN on Sat. April 7th
at 8PM and 11PM.
You can view actual debate at: http://C-SPAN.ORG/social_policy/
The debate between David Horowitz, author of the
controversial ad "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is
a Bad Idea - and Racist Too", and Dorothy Lewis of N'COBRA
was supported by MIT's Undergraduate Associate, The Tech,
College Republicans, Political Science Department, and
Society for Political Awareness.
40 Acres and A Mule
Sat., April 7, 2001
8PM and 11PM
Check your local listings.
Back to Main News Page
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 14:51:04 EDT
From: Brother Jahahara <NCOBRAnyc@aol.com>
Subject: Reparations Segment on 60 Minutes, 4/8/2000
Greetings of IMANI (FAITH) Esteemed Elders, Sister and
Brother Leaders, and Young Warriors:
May our magnificent Creator find you and your extended
tribes in the best of Spirit and health.
i have just received word from Alden Bourne, a producer at
CBS News here in New York City, that their segment on
reparations will air on the "60 Minutes" newshour this
coming Sunday, 8 April 2001 (check your local area papers
for stations and times). i have sought out, but been
unsuccessful in obtaining an advanced copy. Their final
version will probably include interviews, and also some
coverage of N'COBRA's successful "Town Meeting on
Reparations," last Juneteenth at Howard University in
Benjamin Banneker Village. But, as i said in the February
2001 issue of REPARATIONS, NOW: Justice!
Self-Determination! Healing! ... "(W)E can't expect positive
coverage of our movements from the white-owned and corporate
media. Wherever possible, WE must use the oppressor's press
to help us reach even more of our people. However, our story
is best told when we beat our own drums." WE should use this
as another opportunity to (re) educate and call our people
into action. Ase!
Asante Sana for your great contributions to our struggle.
FREE DA LAND! FREE MUMIA, LEONARD AND ALL OUR POLITICAL
POWs! REPARATIONS, NOW!
Hotep and Continued Blessings,
Brother Jahahara Alkebulan-Ma'at
N'COBRA Co-Chair for Information and Education
(now residing in Brooklyn, New York)
Back to Main News Page
NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION
Reviving the American Mantra
by Eleanor Holmes Norton
Eleanor Holmes Norton represents the District of
Columbia in the U.S. House of Representatives.
What does it take to make a revolution in America today?
In the 18th century, a revolution was waged and a nation
was born because people were taxed without
representation. That revolution is now complete, except
in the city most associated with freedom around the
world, the nation's capital.
In the House of Representatives, I proudly represent the
District of Columbia, where my family has lived for four
generations. Yet, my family has never had full
representation in the Congress where I serve. This is
not only a contradiction in terms; it is a contradiction
of the democratic ideals and practices of our country.
The residents of the nation's capital are determined to
end their status as the only Americans the American
Revolution left behind. To meet their demand for the
vote in the House and Senate, Senator Joseph Lieberman,
D-Conn., and I have introduced the No Taxation Without
Representation Act of 2001.
Our bill seeks voting representation for almost 600,000
DC residents. In keeping with the nation's founding
principles, however, the bill puts the full question to
the Congress: equal voting representation or its
corollary, no taxation, as emblazoned in our history by
the American Revolution.
Our bill would erase the double inequality borne by no
Americans except those who live in our capital:
inequality with Americans whose federal tax-paying
status automatically affords them voting representation,
and inequality with American residents of the four
territories who, like DC citizens, have no vote on the
House floor or in the Senate, but, in return, are
relieved of federal income taxes.
Unlike the residents of the territories, my constituents
pay $2 billion annually in federal income taxes, making
them second per capita among the 50 states and the
District of Columbia. Thus, DC residents are the only
Americans who must comply with every obligation without
enjoying every benefit of citizenship. They have fought
and died in every war since the American Revolution. DC
sent more participants per capita than 47 states to
fight in the last war, Desert Storm.
Residents have been struggling for full citizenship for
200 years. For most of its history, the District was
governed not by the people, but by commissioners
appointed by the Congress. In 1974, the city achieved
fself government for the first time in 100 years, and in
1970 was granted a delegate to the U.S. House of
Representatives. As a delegate, I have the full vote in
committee and all the privileges of other members of the
House of Representatives except the one that defines a
democratic nation, the vote on the House floor. DC
residents have no representation in the Senate. Only
since 1964, the same year the Civil Rights Act was
passed, have we had the right to vote for president.
Each and every law passed by the local city council is
reviewed by Congress, and local democracy in the
District is often nullified by Congress in ways that
would be impossible elsewhere in America.
It gets worse. I actually won the vote in the Committee
of the Whole, where most House business is transacted,
after submitting a legal memo in 1993. When Republicans
took control of the House, they changed the rules, in a
purely partisan act, eliminating what representation the
city had managed to achieve. The withdrawal of the vote
happened not in an authoritarian country. It happened
here, in the capital of the country where democracy is
always preached, but not always practiced.
Setbacks have never stopped the citizens of the nation's
capital, however. A voting rights constitutional
amendment was passed by Congress in 1978 but failed to
win approval by three-quarters of the states. Yet, in my
ten years in Congress, I have seen renewed determination
in the city and increasing support in the country. In
1993, my DC Statehood bill was accorded a two-day debate
in the House. Although it did not become law, a large
majority of the Democrats voted to make the District the
51st state. The No Taxation Without Representation Act,
however, seeks only congressional representation, not
statehood. In 2000, two landmark cases before the U.S.
Supreme Court turned down voting rights and sent
residents to the Congress, but the decision
reinvigorated the DC voting rights movement, with the
largest crowds in 25 years coming out for events and
actions. Today, polls show that the majority of
Americans support voting rights for DC residents.
I am gathering cosponsors for the No Taxation Without
Representation Act at a time when taxation is the
overriding issue before Congress. The irony is not lost
on D.C. taxpayers. Why do I believe that Congress will
have to eliminate the contradictions to democracy it
sustains in its own capital? My family and I lived
through decades of official discrimination in the
District. Racial segregation in the nation's capital
collapsed when those injured took action and others
believed justice demanded their support.
One down, one to go.
Back to Main News Page
USA: FDA probe finds faulty listings on food labels
3 Apr 2001
NEW YORK, April 3 (Reuters) - An investigation of dozens of food companies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found as many as 25 percent of manufacturers failed to list common ingredients that can cause potentially fatal allergic reactions, the New York Times reported in its online edition on Tuesday.
The mislabelling poses a threat to about seven million Americans who suffer from food allergies and who rely on a product's packaging to keep them safe, the FDA was reported as saying.
The agency examined 85 companies of all sizes that were likely to use common allergy triggers in abundance: cookie makers, candy companies and ice cream manufacturers, the paper said.
The FDA report, which was completed earlier this year, found that a quarter of the companies made products with raw ingredients like nuts, but omitted them from the labels describing the food, the paper said.
Current FDA rules require companies to list everything that goes into their products, but allow trace amounts of "natural" ingredients to be omitted from labels, the paper noted.
New York Newsroom (212) 859-1700.
(C) Reuters Limited 2001.
Back to Main News Page
Published on Sunday, April 1, 2001
in the Observer of London
The World in 2050
by Robin McKie and Priscilla Morris
It is the year 2050, and April blizzards have gripped southern
England for the third successive year while violent storms batter
the North Sea coast. The Gulf Stream, whose warming waters
once heated our shores, has long since disappeared, destroyed
by a deluge pouring south from the melting Arctic ice cap.
In the United States, much of Alaska has turned into a quagmire
as permafrost and glaciers disintegrate. In Colorado, chair lift
pylons stand rusting in the warm drizzle, reminders that the
nation once supported a billion-dollar ski industry, while the
remnants of Florida are declared America's second island state.
Africa is faring badly. Its coastline from Cairo to Lagos is
completely flooded and many of the major cities have been
abandoned. Tens of millions of people have been forced to flee
and are struggling to survive in a parched, waterless interior.
In Asia there is a similar, terrifying picture. Bangladesh is almost
totally inundated and the East Indies have been reduced to a few
scrappy islands. Tens of millions stand on the brink of death.
The Ugly American
President George W. Bush is seen during a press conference in
the White House Briefing Room on March 29, 2001. Bush has
decided to walk away from the Kyoto agreement on pollution
because it isn't in America's "economic interest." (Win
see: US Economy Comes First, Says Bush
It is a startling scenario worthy of a science fiction disaster film.
And it would be easy to dismiss, were it not for the
uncomfortable fact that these visions are the result of rigorous
scientific analysis by some of the world's most distinguished
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
points out in its recent Climate Change 2001 report, global
warming is likely to trigger a cascade of unpleasant effects:
elderly people will suffer and die in smoggy, polluted cities;
crops will fail; and wildlife and livestock will perish on a scorched
and miserable planet. That report was the combined work of
several thousand of the world's leading meteorological experts,
scientists whose views George Bush has now dismissed as
'questionable' and whose work in creating the Kyoto protocol has
been utterly undone.
The US decision to pull out of the international accord on climate
change has caused predictable international alarm, though it is
important to note it will have no direct effect on levels of carbon
dioxide now circulating in the atmosphere. Kyoto merely pledged
developed countries to restrict their industrial output. 'It was an
excellent first step towards reversing climate change,' according
to Southampton University's Professor Nigel Arnell. Kyoto was, in
effect, a statement of intent. The industrial nations which had,
after all, initiated the problem of global warming, would show
their commitment by making the first crucial, self-sacrificing
moves. Then the Third World could be drawn in, and the first
decreases in carbon-dioxide emissions agreed over the next few
years. 'Bush has now made the attainment of these next crucial
steps much more difficult,' says Arnell. In fact, most experts
believe he has made them impossible. If the West won't act, why
should the rest of the world? If no action is taken, the
consequences are likely to be calamitous. Before the industrial
revolution, the atmosphere was made up of 250 parts per million
of carbon dioxide. Now that figure has reached 366 and is
already producing meteorological effects: a steady increase in
devastating storms across Britain, rising sea levels, and
dwindling glaciers and ice-caps. And that is just the start.
Carbon dioxide levels will inevitably reach 450, even if
governments closed every factory tomorrow. 'Plants absorb
carbon dioxide and when they die they release that gas,' says Dr
David Griggs of the IPCC's science working group. 'Similarly, the
oceans absorb and release carbon dioxide.' These carbon
dioxide stores mean that we could not stop atmospheric levels
rising for future decades, no matter what we did. 'The climate is
changing and will continue to change, regardless of what
George Bush says,' comments Dr Mike Hulme of the Tyndall
Centre for Climate Change in Norwich.
In any case, closing down factories is not on the cards. With the
nation responsible for a quarter of all global carbon dioxide
emissions refusing to limit its output by the merest fraction,
levels will inevitably reach 550 parts per million - double their
pre-industrial revolution figure - by about 2050. By then the
world's temperature will have increased by 1.4 degrees
Centigrade, triggering the mayhem outlined in the IPCC report. 'It
is very difficult to make hard predictions,' adds Griggs. 'All we can
say is that the future is going to be very uncertain, highly variable.'
Britain provides an excellent example of the problem. We may
swelter - or, if icy Arctic waters divert the Gulf Stream, we may
shiver. Either way, the consequences will mean millions of
homes will be refused insurance, native wildlife will perish and
great chunks of coastline will be inundated.
And, say meteorologists, it now looks as if there is nothing we
can do about it.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001
Back to Main News Page
RACISM IN PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENTS
By Laura Douglas
On Wednesday, March 21st, a very important forum
entitled Racism in Progressive Movements was held at a
community center in Mid-Manhattan, in New York City.
It was sponsored by Third World Within, which is
constituted of organizations run "by and for"
communities of color.
The forum was attended predominantly by persons of
Asian, Asian/Pacific Island, African, and Latino
descent, and most were young, mainly of high school
and college age. There were also older activists
present, but this was the young blood which the
progressive movement needs so much to have on board.
First of all, it was stated that white progressives
(of which this reporter is one) should be looked on
not as antagonists but as potential allies. That was
the general spirit of the forum as people spoke
thoughtfully and in a way that deserved respect. They
also didn't pull their punches in the telling of hard
truths about why they don't want to work with us white
people. There was factuality and great seriousness as
they voiced their objections.
It should also be clear that much time was given to
looking at their own issues among themselves; the
whole meeting was not concentrated on us, since, after
all, we white people are not the center of the
universe! Persons of color definitely see themselves
as comprising an important, viable movement which is
not at all dependent on whites. In fact, that was one
of their major criticisms--we don't want to recognize
the fact that they are fully capable and totally
competent when it comes to organizing and carrying
forward their own movements without us around to tell
them what to do and how to do it.
The main thing it all boiled down to is that white
progressive movements are riddled with racism, but we
don't want to see we have this problem. Following are
some of the many forms our racism take that persons of
color at this forum believe we need to stop denying
and look at straight:
We want to think there is something wrong with them
(people of color) when they don't want to join our
organizations--instead of seeing that something is
wrong with us which makes them want to stay away.
We want to think they don't join our movements because
they're just too stupid to see how great and important
our answers are about what needs to be done and how to
The things they see as most important we don't believe
are so important. We're so sure we're right we won't
even consider their point of view.
We don't like to be in the background taking the lead
from non-white persons. We have to be the ones who set
the agenda and direct the action.
We don't want to look at our patriarchal attitude, our
belief that they need us to lead them--where would
they be without us? We want to feel that they're too
weak to organize and advocate on their own behalf, and
that they require us to do it for them.
Persons there said that just as they don't want to
join our organizations, they don't want us to join
theirs either. They think that if we really care about
justice to people of color, we should work within our
own white-majority organizations to change the
entrenched racism, not run to join theirs.
They also said that as soon as too many of us white
people join an organization comprised mainly of people
of color, we start trying to change things into the
way we think they should be, instead of trying to see
how we can support what they're already doing.
We don't want to see them as having a right to their
own identity-based organizations and actions separate
from ours. We even believe we know better than they do
about this--we don't think it's necessary for them to
organize around their own unique cultures and
identities; therefore, that must be the final word on
And we don't want to see how deeply people of color
feel about their own cultural heritages. We don't want
to recognize and honor their identities and feel they
have a right to them just as much as we have a right
to our own white identity. When they work with us, we
want them to put aside their cultural identities and
just blend in with us. In other words, we want them to
become good Black white-people, good Asian
white--people, good Latino white-people so their skin
color or accent may be different, but they're just
like us in every other way.
Persons also said that we act like everything
European-based is important and valuable but that
nothing which comes from other cultures is very
We see people of color superficially, even in terms of
believing, for instance, that Latinos are this one
huge (and growing) united monolith. We don't see that
they, too, have their difficulties, just as we do,
about agreeing on things and working together.
Another way we see persons of color too superficially
is that we want to think it's easier for them to
motivate people and organize their communities than it
is for us to confront other white people's racism. An
African American woman spoke about the fact that when
she tells white people they have to go back and
organize their own communities, they say it's too
hard, and they want to think it's all somehow less
difficult for Black people.
White people tend to talk about race and racism as
though it's about black and white only, which is
denigrating to Latinos, Asians and all others.
A woman also said--and this was a criticism of
everyone equally--that as we talk about these things,
we should all remember whose land we're on to begin
with. As we talk about the redistribution of land and
power, we should always have an awareness of the
Indigenous Peoples and what was done to them, whether
they're in the room or not.
We're very interested in and know all the details of
such things as what's going on in Chiapas, Mexico;
yet, we don't have the slightest idea about what
concerns a community of color two blocks from our
home--and we don't want to. We see the first as
important, but the second we feel is beneath us.
While many white people have shown a great deal of
concern about Mumia Abu Jamal--and rightly so--we act
like he's the only political prisoner in this country
although, in actuality, there are numerous political
prisoners of color locked up all over this nation who
also deserve our attention and support. It became
fashionable to care about Mumia's case in a way it
hasn't with most others.
They also pointed to the fact that Mumia had to fire
his white lawyers because one of them betrayed him by
secretly publishing a book about the case, even though
it is still in process, Mumia is facing his last
appeal, and his life is literally on the line! This is
indicative of the selfish motives which they can worry
may be working beneath the surface even as a white
person advocates forcefully for persons of color.
Finally, as one young man said, white people don't get
it, we don't get that we don't get it, and, as far as
he can see, we don't want to get that we don't get it!
But we think it is they who don't get it about what is
really important and that is why they aren't working
with us. This is what's going to have to really change
if we want them to join our movements.
It was an exciting forum because much clarity was
brought to the very troubling problem of racism in
progressive movements. And there is a feeling of
relief when the truth about anything is told straight,
as it certainly was that evening.
Laura Douglas can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to Main News Page
Ten Reasons Why Considering Reparations is a Good Idea for Americans, and Horowitz Too
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson ehutchi344@a...
March 30, 2001
Conservative muckraker David Horowitz has been verbally mugged for peddling an ad to college newspapers giving ten reasons why reparations is racist. But the name callers have done little more than canonize Horowitz as a martyr for truth and free speech. Even worse, they've failed miserably to tell why reparations merits a serious look. There are ten compelling reasons it does.
1. The U.S. government, not long dead Southern planters bears the blame for slavery. It encoded it in the Constitution in article one. This designated a black slave as three-fifths of a person for tax and political representation purposes. It protected and nourished it in article four by mandating that all escaped slaves found anywhere in the nation be returned to their masters. In the Dred Scott decision in 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that slaves remained slaves no matter where they were taken in the United States.
2. Major institutions profited from slavery. In October, the California state legislature passed a bill requiring insurance companies to disclose whether they wrote policies insuring slaves. This was recognition that insurance companies made profits insuring slaves as property. The insurance industry was not the only culprit. Banks, shipping companies, and investment houses also made enormous profits from financing slave purchases, investments in Southern land and products, and the transport, and sale of slaves.
3. Slavery ended in 1865 but the legacy of slavery still remains. A report by the National Conference for Community and Justice, a Washington D.C. public policy group in 2000, found that blacks are still the major economic and social victims of racial discrimination. They are far more likely to live in underserved segregated neighborhoods, be refused business and housing loans, be denied promotions in corporations and attend cash starved, failing public schools than whites.
4. There's a direct cost for slavery's legacy. Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Andrew Brimmer estimates that discrimination costs blacks $10 billion yearly through the black-white wage gap, denial of capital access, inadequate public services, and reduced social security and other government benefits. This has been called the "black tax."
5. The U.S. government has shelled out billions since the 1960s to pay for resettlement, job training, education, and health programs for refugees fleeing Communist repression. Politicians and the majority of the public enthusiastically backed these payments as the morally and legally right thing to do.
6. The reparations issue will not fuel more hatred of blacks. Most Americans admit that slavery was a morally monstrous system that wreaked severe pain and suffering on America. City councils in Chicago, Dallas, Oakland, and Los Angeles, and other cities in the past year have passed resolutions supporting a federal commission to study reparations. Also, there was no national outcry when the U.S. government made special indemnity payments, provided land and social service benefits to Japanese- Americans interned during World War II, Native-Americans for the theft of lands and mineral rights, and Philippine veterans who fought with the American army during World War II.
7. No legislation has been proposed that mandates taxpayers pay billions to blacks. A bill by Michigan Democrat John Conyers that has languished in Congress since 1993 simply establishes a commission to study the effects of slavery. The estimated cost is less than $10 million.
8. There is a precedent for paying blacks for past legal and moral wrongs. In 1997 Clinton apologized and the U.S. government paid $10 million to the black survivors and family members victimized by the syphilis experiment conducted in the 1930's by the U.S. Public Health Service. In 1994, the Florida legislature agreed to make payments to the survivors and relatives of those who lost their lives and property when a white mob destroyed the all- black town of Rosewood in 1923. The carnage was tacitly condoned by public officials and law enforcement officers. The Oklahoma state legislature is currently considering reparations payments to the survivors and their descendants of the destruction of black neighborhoods in Tulsa by white mobs in 1921.
9. Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan and other mega-rich blacks will not receive a penny in reparations. Any tax money to redress black suffering should go into a fund to bolster funding for AIDS/HIV education and prevention, underfinanced inner-city public schools, to expand job skills and training, drug and alcohol counseling and rehabilitation, computer access and literacy training programs, and to improve public services for the estimated one in four blacks still trapped in poverty.
10. Thirty years ago a writer passionately argued that the U.S. government has kept the "black ghettos in a colonial status since Reconstruction" and refused to meet the "most basic political and economic demands of the black movement." That writer was David Horowitz. He made the argument in his book, Empire and Revolution, a blistering indictment of the U.S. government. Radical hyperbole notwithstanding, Horowitz recognized then that America owed a debt to black America for past and present sins. It still does.
[Earl Ofari Hutchinson is the President of The National Alliance for Positive Action < http://www.natalliance.org> and the author of The Disappearance of Black Leadership (Middle Passage Press).]
Copyright (c) 2001 Earl Ofari Hutchinson. All Rights Reserved.
BRC-NEWS: Black Radical Congress - General News Articles/Reports
Back to Main News Page
Future Hope column, April 1, 2001
Fannie Lou Hamer
by Ted Glick
"There will come a time, I know, when people will take delight in one
another, when each will be a star to the other, and when each will
listen to his fellow as to music. The free people will walk upon the
earth, people great in their freedom. They will walk with open hearts,
and the heart of each will be pure of envy and greed, and therefore all
humankind will be without malice, and there will be nothing to divorce
the heart from reason. Then life will be one great service to humankind!
His/her figure will be raised to lofty heights--for to free women and
men all heights are attainable. Then we shall live in truth and in
beauty, and those will be accounted the best who will the more widely
embrace the world with their hearts, and whose love of it will be the
profoundest; those will be the best who will be the freest; for in them
is the greatest beauty. Then will life be great, and the people will be
great who live that life."* Maxim Gorky, from Mother
I was flying home from a meeting in Atlanta last weekend, reading "We
Didn't Come All This Way for No Two Seats," an article about Mrs. Fannie
Lou Hamer in the Spring issue of American Legacy magazine. It was an
inspiring article, until I read these words:
"Fannie Lou Hamer died on April 14, 1977, at the age of 59. She and her
husband, Pap, were penniless, and friends had to raise money to pay for
her funeral. At the end of her life, she sometimes felt as if no one
remembered her or cared about what she had done. . ."
For days I've been thinking about this. I wondered, how could a woman
who meant so much to so many people have an ending so sad? How could she
not know, not feel the importance of her life? How could she die
I called Victoria Gray-Adams, one of the three women, with Ms. Hamer and
Ms. Annie Devine, who were the national spokespeople for the Mississippi
Freedom Democratic Party. In 1964-65, the MFDP, with Ms. Hamer as the
main spokesperson, electrified the country by their open challenge to
the racist white power structure that controlled politics and economics
in the state of Mississippi and beyond.
When I asked Ms. Gray-Adams if it was true that Ms. Hamer died without
money, she said that it was. When I asked why, she explained that it was
because, until the end of her days, Fannie Lou Hamer thought of others
before she thought of herself, stayed active in one way or the other for
as long as she could, and as a result she just didn't have any money
when she died.
How many of us have the depth of commitment of a Fannie Lou Hamer? How
many of us are willing to give so much that we literally would not have
the money to pay for our burial expenses?
And make no mistake about it, Ms. Hamer had options. Following the
national exposure she and the MFDP received in the mid-60s, she could
have done quite well if she had wanted to. She could have continued to
struggle for justice, in some way, while drawing a nice salary from an
organization, or taken in money from public speaking. But she continued
to work in Mississippi, involved with her people until the end, never
losing that contact, never being seduced by fame or potential fortune.
I think of Ella Baker. I had the privilege of getting to know this
heroine of the Civil Rights Movement in the latter years of her life. I
visited with her several times in her small apartment in Harlem. She,
also, could have used her gifts and talents to live much better, much
more comfortably, while still staying involved with the pro-justice
movement. But her deep commitment to her people, to the cause of justice
and freedom for all people, would not allow her to do other than what
she did for decades, at the expense of personal comfort and security.
Ms. Hamer, Ms. Baker and Annie Devine were exceptional people, but they
were not exceptions. There were then, and there are today, people who,
in their own ways, are living similar lives. They are doing all that
they can, giving all that they can, risking job, income, security,
personal health, for the greater good. They may or may not be drawing a
decent salary; that is not the most important thing to them. What is
important is that they follow their hearts, their consciences, do the
right thing, put the needs of suffering humanity and a threatened
ecosystem before personal need. Indeed, such people have come to
understand that our lives are the fullest and the greatest when we give
them for and with others.
Ms. Hamer loved to sing. One of her favorites was, "This Little Light of
Mine." She understood that it is only by shining our lights, the best
within us, for as long and as strongly as we can, that the world will
become a better place for all its people. There is no better way that we
can honor this giant of our history than to draw strength from her
example so that we can get to that time when "the hearts of each will be
pure of envy and greed, and therefore all humankind will be without
malice, and there will be nothing to divorce the heart from reason."
The struggle is long, but victory is certain.
Ted Glick is National Coordinator of the Independent Progressive
Politics Network (www.ippn.org) and author of Future Hope: A Winning
Strategy for a Just Society. He can be reached at futurehopeTG@aol.com
or c/o P.O. Box 1132,Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.
Back to Main News Page
USA: States supplement federal border controls due to foot and mouth fears
2 Apr 2001
Source: just-food.com editorial team
Several states across the US have established added border controls to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease. The US Department of
Agriculture has already banned imports of some animals and meats and farm equipment from the EU in response to the disease, but officials in
Colorado, North Dakota and Montana, where there is a high population of livestock, believe they have not gone far enough.
The states have imposed further import regulations, involving disinfectant baths and bans of animals not covered by the federal ban. Last week,
Colorado extended the import ban to include horses and companion animals, a restriction that will apply to all animals until their country of origin has
been declared free of foot and mouth disease for six months.
Meanwhile, North Dakota officials implemented a similar string of emergency measures last week; a ban on all farm animals from FMD infected
countries until the disease has been wiped out for six months. Any companion animals will be subject to quarantine and vinegar-and-water baths.
Montana is similarly implementing new restrictions, with all FMD preventative measures set to apply to all animals, including dogs, cats and exotic
The officials admit that these restriction policies are difficult to enforce, but they are confident that with help from local farmers and vets the rules
will be implemented efficiently. Such strict measures are essential, according to the states’ veterinarians in order to protect the multi-billion dollar
Back to Main News Page