The State We’re In: Rick Hurst on the Racial Inequality Report | Connecting Point | Mar. 2, 2018

The State We’re In: Rick Hurst on the Racial Inequality Report | Connecting Point | Mar. 2, 2018


50 YEARS AGO THE KERNER
COMMISSION SAID WHITE RACISM PUT AFRICAN-AMERICANS AT AN EXTREME
DISADVANTAGE. A NEW REPORT FROM THE ECONOMIC
POLICY INSTITUTE FOUND WHILE SOME STEPS TOWARDS EQUALITY HAVE
BEEN MADE, RACIAL INEQUALITY AROUND PRISON RATES, HOUSING,
AND UNEMPLOYMENT HAS ACTUALLY BECOME WORSE. RICK HURST, PUBLISER OF AN
AFRICAN-AMERICAN POINT OF VIEW SPOKE WITH ME BUT THE LOCAL
IMPLICATIONS OF THE REPORT.>>WELL IT’S NOT NEW TO ME. MY REACTION IS THAT IT’S GOOD TO
KNOW THAT THEY REVIEWED IT AND COME UP WITH THE FACTS. IT’S ALL TRUE. THEY HAVE GOTTEN REMARKABLY
WORK. HOME OWNERSHIP HAS GOTTEN —
IT’S GOTTEN WORSE, AND IN THE SENSE NUMBER ONE IT HASN’T
GOTTEN ANY BETTER. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, DURING THE
2007, 2008 ECONOMIC DOWNTURN THE WHOLE IDEA OF THE BLACK FOLKS
BEING CHARGED HIGHER RATES FOR HOUSES CAME TO THE SURFACE.>>IN LOOKING AT THIS, MOST
RECENT UPDATE OF THE KERNER COMMISSION REPORT, WHICH CAME
OUT IN 1968, AFRICAN-AMERICANS HAVE BEEN PUT BEHIND BARS THAT
NEARLY TRIPLED THE RATE SINCE 1968. I HAVE HEARD YOU TALK A LOT BUT
THE IMPACT THE DRUG WAR ON THE 1980s HAS HAD ON THE
AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY. DO YOU THINK THAT THAT’S BEHIND
THOSE NUMBERS?>>I THINK THE DRUG WARS IS WHAT
DROVE THE NUMBERS UP, SO DRAMATICALLY. AND THE FACT THAT DURING THAT
PERIOD DRUG LAWS WERE PASSED THAT DISCRIMINATED AGAINST
AFRICAN-AMERICANS FOR — THE AFRICAN-AMERICANS TOOK SOME OF
THE SAME DRUGS, SOLD SOME OF THE SAME DRUGS THAT WHITE FOLKS TOOK
AND SOLD, AND ONE CASE THEY GOT 100 TIMES MORE TIME. NOT ONLY THAT, WHEN THEY GO
BEFORE THE COURTS, THEY ARE TREATED DIFFERENTLY. YOU HAVE GOT MOSTLY WHITE
JUDGES. YOU HAVE GOT MOSTLY WHITE
JURIES, AND WHEN BLACK FOLKS COME BEFORE THE COURTS, THEY ARE
CONSIDERED GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT, AND IT’S VERY
DIFFICULT TO NOT TAKE A PLEA.>>SO LOOKING AT THE
UNEMPLOYMENT RATES, THIS REPORT FOUND THAT NATIONALLY,
AFRICAN-AMERICANS, THE RATE OF UNEMPLOYMENT IS TWICE THAT OF
WHITE AMERICANS? DO YOU THINK THAT THAT’S A
DIRECT RESULT OF THOSE JAIL AND PRISON RATES?>>OF COURSE. BUT I THINK THAT THOSE RATES
MASK THE REALITY BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE COME OUT OF JAIL
CANNOT GET JOBS, AND SO THEY ARE NO LONGER IN THE WORKFORCE,
SO –>>BECAUSE THE FELONY IS GETTING
IN THE WAY OF THAT OR WHATEVER CHARGES.>>THAT’S RIGHT, THAT’S RIGHT. AND KORY REPORTS THAT BLOCK THEM
FROM GETTING EMPLOYMENT, THEY GET DISCOURAGED AND DON’T LOOK
FOR WORK ANY MORE. SO THAT’S NOT REFLECTED IN THE
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE. SO MY POINT IS, IT’S REALLY MUCH
HIGHER THAN THE 6 POINT SOMETHING PERCENT.>>THIS REPORT FOUND THAT BLACK
HOME OWNERSHIP IS JUST OVER 40%, WHICH IS 30% LOWER THAN WHITES,
RIGHT?>>YES.>>WHAT’S THE IMPACT THAT YOU
HAVE SEEN THAT HAVE?>>WELL THE BIGGEST IMPACT IT
HAS IS THAT BLACK FOLKS DON’T ACCUMULATE THE WEALTH. THE BIGGEST WEALTH IN THE
FAMILIES IS IN THE HOUSE, IN HOUSING, AND IF WE CAN’T GET
HOUSING AND PAY INTO IT, THEN, AND DEVELOP THE EQUITY, THEN WE
HAVE A VERY DIFFICULT TIME ACCUMULATING THE HEALTH.>>THIS REPORT ALSO POINTED OUT
SOME IMPROVEMENTS THAT IT FOUND OVER THE 50 YEARS SINCE THE
KERNER REPORT WAS RELEASED, AMONG THEM EDUCATION RATES, 90%
OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS ARE COMPLETING HIGH SCHOOL COMPARED
TO 50% IN THE — 54%, EXCUSE ME, IN THE 1960s, AND THEN COLLEGE
DEGREE THAT, REPORT HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED TO 23%. HOW HAVE THOSE STRIDES BEEN MADE
DO YOU THINK?>>WELL, FIRST OF ALL THE
COLLEGES HAVE BEEN MORE RECEPTIVE. SECOND OF ALL, WE ARE TALKING
ABOUT SECOND, THIRD GENERATION, BLACK FOLKS, AND LIKE MOST
IMMIGRANTS, IT IS — IT’S BEEN NATURAL FOR FAMILIES TO WANT
THEIR KIDS TO GO ON BEYOND WHERE THEY HAVE MADE IT.
AND NOT ONLY THAT, BLACK FOLKS HAVE FOUND IT TO BE — THAT THEY
BELIEVE THAT IT WOULD PAY OFF TO GET AN EDUCATION. UNFORTUNATELY THAT HAS NOT
ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE.>>WAGES HAVE NOT SEEN THE
INCREASES THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE COMPARED TO WHITE PEOPLE IN THIS
COUNTRY, ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, TOO, RIGHT?>>YEAH. WAGES HAVE NOT GROWN
SUBSTANTIALLY. YOU MIGHT THINK THAT THAT’S THE
BIGGER PROBLEM. TO BE FRANK WITH YOU I THINK
THAT THE BIGGER PROBLEM IS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND
ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH AND THE FACT THAT WE FOCUSED ON THIS
TERM POVERTY INSTEAD OF WEALTH DEVELOPMENT AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT. WE SPENT OVER A TRILLION DOLLARS
ON THESE POVERTY PROGRAMS OVER THE YEARS SINCE 1968, IF WE HAD
PUT THAT MONEY INTO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF OUR OWN
COMMUNITIES, TO HELP PEOPLE TO TRAIN TO RUN THE BUSINESS IN
THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES, AND IT WOULD HAVE MADE A BIG
DIFFERENCE. WAGES AND SALARIES. THAT’S NOT HOW YOU GROW WEALTH. THE MORE IMPORTANT THING IS
WEALTH DEVELOPMENT AND COMMENCEMENT. WE HAVE FEWER BUSINESSES RIGHT
HERE IN SPRINGFIELD, AND THE BLACK COMMUNITY THAN WE DID
BEFORE 1968.>>I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT
SOMETHING THAT YOU HEARD ABOUT IN THE MOST RECENT ADDITION OF
YOUR PAPER. YOU SAID QUOTE, “SO MANY OF ALL
RACES ARE SO WELL TRAINED TO TREAT RACISM AS THOUGH IT
DOESN’T EXIST.” WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO WRITE THAT?>>BECAUSE I UNDERSTAND THE
DAMAGE THAT IS CAUSED BY TREATING RACISM AS THOUGH IT
DOESN’T EXIST. IT DOES EXIST, AND IF WE ARE
GOING TO COMMUNICATE AMONG OURSELVES AS TO HOW WE’RE GOING
TO MAKE THINGS BETTER, AND MORE UNIFIED, AND HOW WE’RE GOING TO
COOPERATE, THEN YOU HAVE GOT TO AGREE WITH THE REAL PROBLEM. CALLING RACISM BY ANY OTHER NAME
IS NOT TO MAKE IT RACISM. IT’S NOT TO REALLY DEAL WITH THE
PROBLEM. I USED THE TERM, BECAUSE I KNOW
IT JOLTS PEOPLE, AND I BELIEVE THAT WE NEED TO BE JOLTED. WE NEED TO FACE UP TO THE
PROBLEM FOR WHAT IT IS. IT’S NEVER GONE AWAY. THERE IS NO SENSE IN PEOPLE
CONVINCING THEMSELVES THAT IT’S GONE BECAUSE THEN THEY BECOME
PASSIVE IN TERMS OF DEALING WITH THE PROBLEM. AND THIS CURRENT REPORT CONFIRMS
MY POINT.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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