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Archive for the ‘racism’ Category

Some are blaming the current financial crisis on the poor.  This is not only wrong but offensive.

Newsweek has a good article outlining the attacks and placing the blame where it belongs.

Daniel Gross
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Oct 7, 2008 | Updated: 12:58 p.m. ET Oct 7, 2008

We’ve now entered a new stage of the financial crisis: the ritual assigning of blame. It began in earnest with Monday’s congressional roasting of Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld, and continued on Tuesday with Capitol Hill solons delving into the failure of AIG. On the Republican side of Congress, in the right-wing financial media (which is to say the financial media), and in certain parts of the op-ed-o-sphere, there’s a consensus emerging that the whole mess should be laid at the feet of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the failed mortgage giants, and the Community Reinvestment Act, a law passed during the Carter administration. The CRA, which was amended in the 1990s and this decade, requires banks-which had a long, distinguished history of not making loans to minorities-to make more efforts to do so.

The thesis is laid out almost daily on The Wall Street Journal editorial page and in the National Review. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer provides an excellent example, writingthat “much of this crisis was brought upon us by the good intentions of good people.” He continues: “For decades, starting with Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, there has been bipartisan agreement to use government power to expand homeownership to people who had been shut out for economic reasons or, sometimes, because of racial and ethnic discrimination. What could be a more worthy cause? But it led to tremendous pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-which in turn pressured banks and other lenders-to extend mortgages to people who were borrowing over their heads. That’s called subprime lending. It lies at the root of our current calamity.” The subtext: if only Congress didn’t force banks to lend money to poor minorities, the Dow would be well on its way to 36,000. Or, as Fox Business Channel’s Neil Cavuto put it: “I don’t remember a clarion call that said: Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster.”

Let me get this straight. Investment banks and insurance companies run by centimillionaires blow up, and it’s the fault of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and poor minorities? (more…)

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Law makers and the NAACP have asked for an investigation into a research experiment with “sludge” (a mixture of industrial and human sewage) on yards in low-income black neighborhoods in Baltimore.

Those living in the neighborhoods were told that the substance was being tested to see if it would reduce the effects of lead-poisoning among children in the area but allegedly were not told about the toxic content of the sludge.

Though this may not seem like it has much to do with poverty or homelessness, a story like this underscores how often low-income people and neighborhoods are subjected to unsafe conditions and poor development because of absentee law makers and landlords. Now it would appear that researchers don’t seem to mind putting sewage on the lawns of low-income people and not telling them what it really is.

Not only are they subjected to these kinds of conditions, but often are treated with less dignity, as if it is not wrong to put sewage in their yards.

The full story can be found at Democracy Now!

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The Homeless Alliance of Western New York will be conducting a survey of homeless and at risk individuals and families in Buffalo and Erie County tomorrow beginning at 8 am. The survey will be conducted by over 200 volunteers at over 70 locations in Buffalo and Erie County including survey sites in Amherst, Hamburg, Orchard Park, East Aurora, and Springville. The Homeless Alliance expects to talk to over 1200 respondents during the 24 hour period.

This survey is a follow-up to a similar survey taken in 2004 where 165 Homeless Alliance volunteers spoke to over 1000 homeless and low-income individuals and families in an effort to gain a greater understanding of the makeup of the homeless and at-risk population as well as what services are needed in our community and how services are accessed, and delivered.

Three “street teams” made up of seasoned homeless caseworkers will talk to individuals on the street in the downtown area as well as the lower east side and west side areas overnight from 10 pm until 8 am on Friday the 25th.

Homeless Alliance staff intends to blog throughout the day on the progress of the survey so please make sure to check this space and comment if you like.

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The last major speech Dr. King delivered, four days before his assassination, was on poverty at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., on March 31, 1968. . The full text of Dr. King´s sermon entitled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” containing the quotes below can be read here:

http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/publications/sermons/680331.000_Remaining_Awake.html

“There is another thing closely related to racism that I would like to mention as another challenge. We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world. Two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry tonight. They are ill-housed; they are ill-nourished; they are shabbily clad. I’ve seen it in Latin America; I’ve seen it in Africa; I’ve seen this poverty in Asia.

I remember some years ago Mrs. King and I journeyed to that great country known as India. And I never will forget the experience. It was a marvelous experience to meet and talk with the great leaders of India, to meet and talk with and to speak to thousands and thousands of people all over that vast country. These experiences will remain dear to me as long as the cords of memory shall lengthen.

But I say to you this morning, my friends, there were those depressing moments. How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes evidences of millions of people going to bed hungry at night? How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes God’s children sleeping on the sidewalks at night? In Bombay more than a million people sleep on the sidewalks every night. In Calcutta more than six hundred thousand sleep on the sidewalks every night. They have no beds to sleep in; they have no houses to go in. How can one avoid being depressed when he discovers that out of India’s population of more than five hundred million people, some four hundred and eighty million make an annual income of less than ninety dollars a year. And most of them have never seen a doctor or a dentist.

As I noticed these things, something within me cried out, “Can we in America stand idly by and not be concerned?” And an answer came: “Oh no!” Because the destiny of the United States is tied up with the destiny of India and every other nation. And I started thinking of the fact that we spend in America millions of dollars a day to store surplus food, and I said to myself, “I know where we can store that food free of charge-in the wrinkled stomachs of millions of God’s children all over the world who go to bed hungry at night.” And maybe we spend far too much of our national budget establishing military bases around the world rather than bases of genuine concern and understanding.

Not only do we see poverty abroad, I would remind you that in our own nation there are about forty million people who are poverty-stricken. I have seen them here and there. I have seen them in the ghettos of the North; I have seen them in the rural areas of the South; I have seen them in Appalachia. I have just been in the process of touring many areas of our country and I must confess that in some situations I have literally found myself crying.

I was in Marks, Mississippi, the other day, which is in Whitman County, the poorest county in the United States. I tell you, I saw hundreds of little black boys and black girls walking the streets with no shoes to wear. I saw their mothers and fathers trying to carry on a little Head Start program, but they had no money. The federal government hadn’t funded them, but they were trying to carry on. They raised a little money here and there; trying to get a little food to feed the children; trying to teach them a little something.

And I saw mothers and fathers who said to me not only were they unemployed, they didn’t get any kind of income-no old-age pension, no welfare check, no anything. I said, “How do you live?” And they say, “Well, we go around, go around to the neighbors and ask them for a little something. When the berry season comes, we pick berries. When the rabbit season comes, we hunt and catch a few rabbits. And that’s about it.”

And I was in Newark and Harlem just this week. And I walked into the homes of welfare mothers. I saw them in conditions-no, not with wall-to-wall carpet, but wall-to-wall rats and roaches. I stood in an apartment and this welfare mother said to me, “The landlord will not repair this place. I’ve been here two years and he hasn’t made a single repair.” She pointed out the walls with all the ceiling falling through. She showed me the holes where the rats came in. She said night after night we have to stay awake to keep the rats and roaches from getting to the children. I said, “How much do you pay for this apartment?” She said, “a hundred and twenty-five dollars.” I looked, and I thought, and said to myself, “It isn’t worth sixty dollars.” Poor people are forced to pay more for less. Living in conditions day in and day out where the whole area is constantly drained without being replenished. It becomes a kind of domestic colony. And the tragedy is, so often these forty million people are invisible because America is so affluent, so rich. Because our expressways carry us from the ghetto, we don’t see the poor.

(more…)

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Last month on the blog, we posted a link to the All-American Presidential Forum on PBS; a debate between Democratic presidential candidates on issues of poverty and racism.

On September 29th, Republican presidential candidates had their turn in a similar forum. Note that four of the Presidential candidates (former Mayor Rudy Guiliani, Sen. John McCain, Gov. Mitt Romney, and Sen. Fred Thompson) did not attend the debate.

watch or listen to the debate (or read the transcript) here.

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