All eyes are on Jackson, Miss. today. Six weeks after his untimely passing this February, a special election is being held to replace mayor Chokwe Lumumba, 66, whose brief tenure held the promise of a black progressive renaissance not just for Jackson but similar cities across the South. Among today’s seven top candidates is Lumumba’s 31-year-old son, attorney Chokwe Antar Lumumba.
Just six weeks after announcing the plan before a gathering of black and Latino lawmakers, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, last week dropped a plan to publicly fund college classes at 10 prisons. Nationwide, only about a dozen privately funded prison education programs have survived the past two decades. There were 350 up until 1994 when the Clinton administration and Congress cut Pell grants to inmates.
The prison education setback in New York is significant. It comes amidst a growing bipartisan effort to reform federal and state prisons, as well as president Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative for boys and young men of color. But in this new environment of possibility for prison reform, there still appears to be insufficient political support from directly affected communities of color and their sending-cities for scaling back mass incarceration. Nationwide, nearly a million men and women reenter society annually from federal and state prisons. Education programs like the Bard Prison Initiative have been shown to reduce the rate of recidivism, which in New York, is 40 percent.
New York’s prison population, the vast majority of which come from downstate, is 49.2 percent African American, 24 percent Latino and 24.1 percent white. Prisons are located in upstate New York, in largely Republican and majority white counties. Political resistance to Cuomo’s plan came from the Republican-controlled state senate. But popular pushback appears to have settled on the unfairness of providing a free education to prison inmates while law-abiding citizens struggle to pay for college.
It’s not clear whether the 10 prisons initially selected for the prison education program were minimum or maximum security facilities or a combination of both. New York currently spends $60,000 a year to incarcerate one person. It costs about $5,000 a year for a year of college education for an inmate.
(h/t The New York Times)
A new report from San Francisco-based community advocacy group Causa Justa::Just Cause released today details just how deeply gentrification is reshaping San Francisco and Oakland. In a sweeping report detailing the economic, social and even public health impacts of gentrification, Causa Justa::Just Cause hits back at the narrative of the seeming inevitability about gentrification. Rather, the authors of “Development Without Displacement” argue, gentrification is the outgrowth of public disinvestment in marginalized communities and years of unjust economic development policies.
In 2011 median rental prices in Oakland neighborhoods in late stages of gentrification surpassed rental housing prices in even Oakland’s historically affluent neighborhoods like the Oakland Hills. Between 1990 and 2011, median rental housing prices in San Francisco neighborhoods in the late stages of gentrification increased 40 percent. What’s more, the rental price increases and housing crisis have fueled the displacement of blacks and Latinos from both cities.
Between 1990 and 2011 the proportion of black residents in all Oakland neighborhoods fell by nearly 40 percent. Perhaps more stunning, black homeowners were about half of north Oakland’s homeowners in 1990. By 2011 they were just 25 percent of the neighborhood’s homeowners. In San Francisco’s Mission district, the historically Latino neighborhood has lost over 1,000 Latino families and seen an influx of 2,900 white households, the report authors write.
“The Mission right now is in chaos with evictions,” Causa Justa member Cecilia Alvarado says in the report. “There is also nowhere to go. The units available are for people who earn $6,000 to $7,000 more than I do per month—not for middle-class or working-class families, which had always been the status of the Mission—families with kids.” Indeed, to longtime residents of the historically Latino neighborhood in San Francisco, the Mission is a new and strange place these days.
The report also includes policy recommendations to slow and reverse gentrification, ranging from housing protections to equitable economic development in all communities. The underlying message is that displacement is a choice, not an inevitability.
- More trouble in Ukraine, as pro-Russian protestors take arms and declare a new republic.
- Are the pings in the Indian Ocean Flight 370’s blackbox?
- Voters in India start their five-week election process.
- A UC Santa Barbara party turns into a riot.
- The World Bank trims China’s expected growth for 2014.
- Microsoft XP is shutting down, potentially leaving not only individual users, but entire governments in potential danger.
- Barbara Walters is leaving The View.
- We’re getting close to a blood test that will detect early and later stages of cancers.
- Not sure how much NASA’s in the red, but it’s auctioning moondust-laced astronaut garb next week.
African-American children face “crisis-level” barriers to success. Asian and Pacific Islander children followed by whites are best positioned to meet most of the 12 indicators selected to communicate a child’s likelihood of becoming, “middle class by middle age.” And similar to African-American children, Latino and Native American children also face greater hurdles beginning at birth. That’s according to a new, comprehensive report that, where data was available, went beyond the standard broad racial groupings to look at a child’s lifetime opportunity by region, tribe, or family’s country of descent.
For example, children of Southeast Asian descent (Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese) faced greater challenges than those of Indian, Chinese or Filipino descent. Among African-American children, those living in the southeastern U.S. were least likely overall to become middle class because the report says, of a legacy of “institutional discrimination that still plague[s] the region.” Children in Choctaw households fare better economically than those in Apache households. And children of Mexican and Central American descent had to surmount bigger obstacles than those born into Cuban and South American households.
The report, Race for Results, is a first for the Annie Casey Foundation, long recognized for producing the massive state-by-state Kids Count data trove. Race for Results recommends race- and ethnicity-targeted investments (especially for boys and men of color) and greater data collection.
After a three-day retreat, here’s some of what I’m reading about this morning:
- A little more about Ft. Hood II shooter Ivan Lopez.
- Gabriel García Márquez is hospitalized in Mexico City.
- AP photog and journo are shot, killing one, by a cop in Kabul ahead of Afghanistan’s elections.
- Massive storms and tornadoes pummel the Midwest and the South.
- Payrolls rise again for March.
- Mozilla’s anti-gay brand new CEO steps down.
- The scramble to find another white guy must be in full force after Letterman officially announces his retirement.
- Your kid wants that cereal because it’s staring into their soul.
- How hummingbirds reinvent themselves.
Over the weekend, strangers mobilized to help an Ariz. mom facing child abuse charges after leaving her 2-year-old and 6-month-old sons in a parked car while she went for a job interview. An online fundraiser begun for Shanesha Taylor’s $9,000 bail blew through that goal. More than $60,000 has been donated so far. And the #ISupportShanesha hashtag on Twitter is on fire. It’s a running commentary that Taylor is not alone and that indeed, her impossible choice between work and childcare is not unique. Millions of women and their children (and dads and grandmothers, too) can relate. So what about them?
The danger of charity is the same thing that provokes it: an individual story so affecting that it moves people to act. It’s easy to relate and react to a single human being. It’s difficult to nurture a sustained response to the millions of Shanesha Taylors living both below and scraping by above the federal poverty line (currently, $20,000-a-year for a family of three). But if social justice is the goal, then attention must be paid to everyone else and the social safety net, too.
Over at ThinkProgress Annie-Rose Strasser looks at state cuts to subsidized childcare—about 40 percent—over the past four years in Ariz. And Taylor came to mind in a brief post last Friday about a little known but apparently successful federal housing program that, while available nationwide, is poorly funded. In Houston for example, federal funds allow 540 of 18,000 eligible households ( or .03 percent) to participate in its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, which helps to transition families off welfare.
Issues like housing and childcare aren’t as media friendly as abortion or images of a woman “leaning in” in a power suit. But they are critical this election year for most of America’s working moms and their families.
Expect more of Shanesha Taylor’s personal story to unfold as the week gets underway.
Today’s the day. As of midnight, if you’ve not enrolled in a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act (or asked for a special extension), you’ll have to wait until 2015 to buy coverage on the law’s exchanges. Medicaid enrollment continues all year.
The Obama administration has already declared the tumultous enrollment process of the past six months a success. After the rocky start of healthcare.gov, the Congressional Budget Office estimated 6 million people would enroll in private plans this year. Last week, the White House announced it had hit that number. That’s an important political victory for the administration, to be sure. But health policy wonks across the ideological spectrum agree the number doesn’t say much useful about the overall effort to fix our health care system. It doesn’t answer any of at least three crucial questions.
Here’s what I’ve been reading this morning:
- North Korea and South Korea exchange 800 rounds of fire on an imaginary line in the Yellow Sea.
- The new climate change report illustrates how horribly bad off we already are.
- Those aren’t missing flight MH370 plane parts in the Indian Ocean; they’re junk.
- It’s back up now, but the Obamacare site was down earlier today, which is the last day for open enrollment for 2014.
- Michael Lewis explains how the stock market is rigged.
- Must-read on Suey Park and #CancelColbert.
- Apple wants to make walking while texting safer by making your phone’s text background a live feed of whatever’s in front of you.
- Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta’s Benzino is shot at his mother’s funeral.
- And then there were the Final Four.
- It was snowing here in New York when I woke up this morning, but spring is supposedly coming soon—along with allergies.
- Ready for a total lunar eclipse (that’s the one where the moon looks red) on Tax Day?
An inspector general with subpoena power over the NYPD was named today. After much opposition during the Bloomberg years, the City Council created the post in response to surveillance of Muslim communities and stop-and-frisk tactics towards black and Latino young men. Philip K. Eure (pronounced yore), a Boston native, is tasked with investigating police practices on the street as well as department policies.
Eure officially takes office this May. In addition to impacting how stop-and-frisk is conducted on city streets, it remains to be seen how this appointment will affect the efforts of Muslims in New Jersey to stop NYPD surveillance of their communities. A judge last month dismissed their claim that NYPD spying was unconstitutional because it focused on religion. There are plans to appeal.
“It’s now time for the mayor to turn his attention to the NYPD’s mistreatment of another minority community: Muslims who have borne the brunt of the post-9/11 police surveillance,” the Brennan Center’s Faiza Patel wrote this week. Since taking office Mayor de Blasio has abandoned the city’s appeal of a landmark stop-and-frisk ruling and he has dropped the city’s challenge of a law making it easier to sue police for racial and religious profiling.
(h/t New York Times)
When Dan Snyder, who owns the Washington, D.C. NFL team, announced his “Original Americans Foundation” this week, some Natives weren’t too happy. Now, there’s more information that throws Synder’s effort into more suspicion.
Synder’s been working with Gary Edwards (Cherokee), who heads the foundation. Edwards also runs an organization called the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA). Sounds legit, right? It turns out it probably isn’t.
According to a 2012 federal investigation by the Office of the Inspector General, Edwards received nearly $1 million in federal funds for his Native cops association. In return, Edwards supposedly recruited 748 people to apply for law enforcement position in Indian Country. More than 100 of those applicants didn’t even meet standard age requirements. 492 of them aren’t even Native. And not one was even qualified for a hire:
Upon delivery, [Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice] officials reviewed the first batch of applications, finding them to be generally unacceptable because they were incomplete and/or applicants exceeded age requirements, did not have Indian preference, and/or had criminal records. Specifically, we reviewed 514 applications for age, felony records, citizenship, driver’s license, educational requirements, required documentation, and position applied. We found 244 applications (47 percent) to be unacceptable because applicants were not qualified for the position applied for or applications were incomplete. For example, one applicant was born in 1929, which is clearly too old at 80 years of age. Other examples include the following:
• 3 applicants were not U.S. citizens;
• 104 applicants were either too old or too young;
• 3 applicants did not have a driver’s license;
• 26 applications were missing critical documents required by the contract;
• 47 applicants lacked a 4-year degree for the criminal investigator position;
• 119 applicants did not specify the position they were applying for, which is an Office of Personnel Management requirement (see appendix 4 for additional details).
According to BIA’s Human Resources deputy director, NNALEA’s CEO stated that he would focus his recruitment efforts in Indian Country. We found that recruitment in Indian Country was ineffective, with only 22 of 514 applicants (or about 4 percent) having Indian preference.
The Oneida Nation, which leads Change the Mascot, thinks the revelations illustrate Snyder’s flawed approach. Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative, says that while the information is disturbing, he’s not surprised. “[Synder] then hired a former associate of notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who helped bilk Native Americans, and selected a person who financially harmed Native Americans to run a foundation to defend his team’s name,” says Halbritter. “These aren’t accidents, but part of a systematic campaign to denigrate Native Americans by a team owner who will stop at nothing to keep the team’s offensive name.”
You can read the damning federal investigation in full.
In Houston, a 43-year-old mother of six used a little known federal program to obtain a nursing degree, move her family above the federal poverty line and save to buy a home—all while living in public housing. This is unusual. Most welfare recipients lose benefits, including housing assistance, as they earn more income. But the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, according to the Houston Chronicle, maintains stable rental assistance for a five-year-period. It thereby allowed Monica Johnson, starting over after leaving a drug-addicted husband, to save and improve her family’s livelihood.
Problem is, the FSS program is poorly funded. In Houston, federal funds only allow 540 (.03%) of 18,000 eligible households to enroll in the program. The average family doubles their income from $14,000 to $28,000. And while not every family completes the program, it’s difficult not to wonder what a similarly meaningful social safety net, one that accounted for transition periods,* might mean for a family like Shanesha Taylor’s.
The 35-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz. mother faces child abuse charges after leaving her 2-year-old and 6-month-old sons in a parked car while she went for a job interview. Taylor, gone for 45 minutes, told officers she did not have anyone to take care of her children, according to the police report. The FSS makes a difference in that it accounts for how vulnerable housing is, when transitioning from living below to above the poverty line. Could a similar “transition-aware” safety net program, which accounts for childcare when job-seeking*, have made a difference for Taylor?
Those interested in the FSS program should check availability through local public housing authorities. A list of past funding recipients, current through 2012, is available on the HUD site.
(h/t Asset Building Program)
*Post has been updated.
Here’s some of what I’m reading this morning:
- An appeals court upholds anti-abortion measure in Texas.
- Ukraine is expecting $3 billion from the IMF, and that’s just the start of the funds.
- Obama tells Russia to pull back its troops from Ukraine border; Russia says no one can prove there are troops there.
- Obamacare reaches 6 million signups.
- US incomes and consumer spending are up for February.
- Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is building up “drones, satellites and lasers” in order to get internet to Africa and Asia.
- #CancelColbert? Stephen Colbert illustrates he’s incapable of owning his crisis after his show tweets really racist garbage.
- Are you ready for all the Bible films this year?
- Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova. Again.
- Diabetics who experience major depression appear to be at a higher risk for kidney failure.
- Are you ready for combat dolphins? Because I’m not.
What do you get when you combine anti-choice attacks on women’s reproductive rights with a healthy dose of racial stereotypes about Asian families? South Dakota’s new anti-abortion law SB 1162, signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Wednesday.
SB 1162 makes abortions based on a fetus’s sex illegal, and physicians who perform such abortions could be charged with a felony. To make their case for the bill, South Dakota lawmakers had to rely on Asian stereotypes and a healthy dose of xenophobia.
The AP reported earlier this month:
Rep. Don Haggar, R-Sioux Falls, suggested during a House debate that the bill was necessary because of an influx of immigrants to the state. And Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said that he spent 18 years in Asia in the military and believes parts of the world don’t value women as much as he values his daughters.
South Dakota’s Asian population increased 70 percent (PDF) between 2000 and 2010, notes the National Asian Pacfic American Women’s Forum. (Though, to put things in perspective, at roughly 10,000 people, Asian Americans are still just 1.3 percent of South Dakota’s population.) All that was enough to convince South Dakota lawmakers to advance its anti-choice agenda. NAPAWF and groups like the ACLU are currently challenging a similar law passed in Arizona which explicilty targeted women of color in order to limit women’s reproductive rights. And at least a half dozen other states have laws on their books with sex-selective abortion bans.
To be clear: female infanticide and feticide is a serious global problem among South Asian and Chinese parents who are desperate for male babies. But conservatives have seized upon the issue to limit abortion access, instead of actually fighting for gender equity. What’s more, underlying the attacks on women’s reproductive rights is an anti-immigrant xenophobia that paints Asian women as being unable to make their own reproductive choices. “Our community has made it clear we don’t support these misleading, stigmatizing bans that hurt us and only serve to exacerbate the health disparities we already face,” NAPAWF executive director Miriam Yeung said in a statement. “If these legislators truly cared about AAPI women, they would support policies that help our community, like culturally competent sex education and laws to prevent sexual and domestic violence. These hypocritical bills are designed to ban abortion, plain and simple.”
A little over a week ago Hassan Alawsi, 46, was loading items into the trunk of his car at a Home Depot parking lot in Sacramento when a white man shot him. One account said it appeared to be a random act of violence. Now, reports The Sacramento Bee, police have determined that the murder was racially motivated.
According to The Bee, detectives believe that Jeffrey Caylor, “had a ‘severe hatred’ of people of Middle Eastern descent,” and “began following [Alawsi] after seeing him with his sister, who was dressed in an ‘Arabic-style dress’ and headscarf. A relative of Caylor later told detectives that hatred stemmed from an ongoing dispute with a former landlord.”
Alawsi, described as a refugee from Jordan with a fine arts degree from the University of Baghdad, died at the scene. He and his sister had gone to Home Depot to buy gardening supplies. Caylor’s girlfriend and 12-year-old son were in his car at the time of the incident.
According to a new report released Wednesday by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, in 2009 black and Latino students in New York state went to the most racially segregated public schools in the country. The numbers are heavily influenced by the racial segregation in New York City Public Schools, the nation’s largest public school district, where nearly all black and Latino students attend schools that are majority-students of color, but where typical white students attend schools where fewer than 10 percent of the students are black, even though across the district black students are 30 percent of the district.
In New York City the numbers are more stark when broken down by type of school. In New York City, 73 percent of charter schools were classified by researchers as “apartheid schools,” meaning that they had under 1 percent white enrollment, and 90 percent were classified as “intensely segregated,” with under 10 percent enrollment. New York City has one of the nation’s most highly racially segregated school districts, due largely to the high degree of residential segregation for blacks, Latinos and whites. UCLA researchers said that the high degree of school segregation in New York City was also due to the fragmentation of the school system in New York, where even in New York City the district is split up into 32 Community School District. Nineteen of those CSD’s have a white enrollment under 10 percent—including every district in the Bronx, two-thirds of Brooklyn’s CSD’s, half of Manhattan’s CSD’s and fourty percent of the districts in Queens.
What’s more, the steady dismantling or near absence of federal desegregation plans in New York and the proliferation of school choice plans have exacerbated racial segregation in New York schools.
The numbers are so serious that “the apartheid conditions are similar to those that existed in the South before Brown v. Board of Education,” the report’s authors write.
Read the report in full: “New York State’s Extreme School Segregation” (PDF)
In Manhattan, after factoring in cost of living, the city’s mandated $8-an-hour minimum wage is actually more like $3.63 an hour. A similar struggle befalls low wage workers in other high cost urban centers such as Honolulu. Instead, head to the Midwest or Pacific Northwest cities like Spokane for more buying power from the low wage dollar. With more states taking on the minimum wage fight (at the federal level, the minimum wage remains a non-starter), it’s worth paying attention to how proposed small increases translate into actual buying power for men and women and their families.
Connecticut as of yesterday will offer the highest minimum wage in the country at $10.10 an hour up from $8.70. More money is always good. But then comes the question, is it still enough to both buy milk and pay rent in New Haven or Stamford? — Maybe it’s time to talk more about a living wage instead of a minimum one.
Find out the real stretch of your state’s minimum wage dollar, here.
Here’s what I’ve been reading up on this morning:
- Amnesty’s annual death penalty report is out; the US remains the only country in the Americas that executes people, and is fourth on the worldwide executors list.
- Meanwhile, Japan frees the world’s longest held death-row inmate.
- 90 people are still missing as a result of the Washington mud slide.
- Not sure I can take Nate Silver seriously anymore after reading this.
- The GDP expands higher than expected to 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter.
- And jobless claims fall lower than expected.
- Preparing for its IPO, cloud computing is thinking outside of the, um, Box.
- C.R.E.A.M., get the money. Wu Tang will sell one copy of its new album that you can pay to listen to at a museum.
- Live better, play union. The NLRB confirms that college football players can unionize.
- Thanks to federal public funding, Chad Trujillo observes a planet on the edges of our solar system—80 AU away in the Oort cloud.
Mary Virginia Jones, 74, walked out of a Calif. prison late Monday evening after serving 32 years for a murder she did not commit. Her son Robert who has a felony was not allowed to visit her prison. As a result, according to the LA Times, Monday is the first day he’d seen his mother in 30 years. Jones’ story reads like those of so many incarcerated women. It includes a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse from parents and boyfriends, rape, and grief from the loss of a 4-year-old daughter.
Jones, who used a magnifying glass in court to help her see, was convicted in 1982 of first-degree murder, kidnapping to commit robbery and robbery. She always maintained that she did not willingly participate in the crime that led to a man’s murder. Jones’ boyfriend, the shooter, died in 1988 while on death row.
None of Jones’ initial and subsequent trials had taken into account her history as a battered victim, said attorney Heidi Rummel of USC Law School’s Post-Conviction Justice Project.
United Students Against Sweatshops, a national college student organizing group, wants Teach for America off college campuses. In a “TFA Truth Tour” launched this week, student activists, Teach For America alumni and local teachers are visiting college campuses and speaking up about the politics of Teach for America, and education reform. The tour is slated to hit over a dozen college campuses over the next two weeks to target the undergrads who are the backbone of the Teach for America teaching corps. TFA focuses its recruitment operations on college campuses and often partners with local universities to offer provisional teaching licenses to fresh college graduates who are brought in for two-year teaching stints in poor communities, says Jan Van Tol, a national organizer with USAS.
“TFA recruits based on a social justice and community service message,” says Van Tol. “We think that’s deceptive and doesn’t get at what TFA is really about,” which is about dismantling democratic institutions of public education with market-driven education reform.
At a TFA Truth Tour event at the University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday night, half the room was filled with UPenn undergrads who had already applied or were considering applying for TFA, says Van Tol. “I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of students at schools being told, ‘If you get a job offer from Goldman Sachs you can defer that offer and still do Teach for America and then carry on with your real career,’” says Van Tol. “That runs counter to what we believe, which is that teachers should be well-trained, well-educated professionals. Teaching is not a hobby you just do for two years.”
TFA is indeed a lightning rod in the education reform debate. Long supported by corporate-reform-minded foundations and school superintendents like the Broad Foundation and TFA alumni Michelle Rhee, TFA is often blamed for being part of the larger political effort to hollow out public education, villify school teachers and their unions, and ultimately destabilize poor comunities and communities of color.
USAS’s goal is to use the tour as a launching pad for a longterm campaign to kick TFA recruiters off college campuses and question universities’ current role in sustaining TFA.