Newswire: Oil drilling begins in the ‘complex and beautiful ecosystem’ of the Okavango Delta in southern Africa


Okavango elephants

Oct. 25, 2021 (GIN) – Drilling companies are on the run – or at least they should be.
 
A worldwide movement to reduce global warming and protect endangered supplies of water has turned its firepower on the growth of oil well drilling, particularly in areas of precious wildlife preserves in southern Africa.
 
The movement has captured grassroots environmentalists, church groups and land protectors in Namibia and Botswana who are demanding a halt to drilling in the Okavango Delta – a World Heritage site and a vast inland river delta known for its sprawling grassy plains that flood seasonally, becoming a lush animal habitat. 
 
Anglican bishops in Namibia and three archbishops from around the world have expressed their opposition to oil drilling by the Canadian company ReconAfrica, saying it would disrupt the culture and ancestral heritage of the San people.
 
“It will also negatively affect low-impact eco-tourism, which provides a sustainable income to guides, crafters and artists,” the petition in the online EcoTourism Expert read. “We call it a sin. To destroy life and God’s creation is simply wicked.”
 
The Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s most biodiverse habitats, home to a myriad of birds and megafauna species including the largest African elephant population left on the planet. 
 
“The rejuvenating waters of this complex and beautiful ecosystem are so vast it’s visible from space” wrote Prince Harry and Reinhold Mangundu, a Namibian environmental activist, in a Washington Post editorial that appeared this week.
 
“The Okavango watershed is a natural beating heart that has nourished humans and wildlife in Southern Africa for generations – and it’s at risk,” the authors warned.
 
Drilling of boreholes for oil exploration can threaten the ecosystem through potential oil spillage, noise pollution and water contamination, said Jan Arkert, a South African-based engineering geologist with the firm Africa Exposed Consulting Engineering Geologists.
 
“Even during this first phase, we don’t know how they are going to dispose of their wastewater,” Arkert told Al Jazeera.
 
ReconAfrica insists there will be no damage to the ecosystem and denies that its wells are located in the area of national parks, conservancies or World Heritage sites. 
 
Still, a campaign called #SavetheOkavangoDelta has been started by Fridays for Future Windhoek and Frack Free Namibia and Botswana, two local green groups. An online petition appealing to the governments of Namibia and Botswana reportedly gathered more than 150,000 signatures.
 
“Who gave the government the right to determine the destiny of Indigenous communities? This is just another case of environmental racism,” Ina-Maria Shikongo, the founder of Fridays for Future Windhoek, told Al Jazeera.

“My worst fear is that it could turn into a new Niger Delta,” she added, referencing the ongoing fight to clean up areas polluted by oil companies there.
 
Meanwhile, Scot Evans, CEO of Reconnaissance Energy Africa (ReconAfrica), has confirmed his participation at African Energy Week taking place in Cape Town from Nov. 9-12. Evans and senior VP Diana McQueen lead a discussion on Namibia’s hydrocarbon potential and host a Women in Leadership Brunch at Africa’s premier energy event. w/pix of Okavango elephants
 

Newswire: Poor Peoples Campaign Study finds poor, low-income voters comprised over one-third of those casting ballots in 2020 Presidential Election

Voting Rights protest

NNPA Newswire

Poor and low-income people accounted for more than a third of all voters overall in the 2020 presidential election, and their turnout was especially strong in tight battleground states, according to a study that the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC:NCMR) released Friday, Oct. 15.
The study, titled “Waking the Sleeping Giant: Low-Income Voters and the 2020 Elections” also shows that of the 168 million people who voted in 2020, 59 million — 35% — were poor or low-income, meaning they have an estimated annual income of less than $50,000. The 2020 presidential elections saw the highest voter turnout in U.S. election history, including among low-income voters.
“This cuts against common misperceptions that poor and low-income people are apathetic about politics or inconsequential to electoral outcomes,” the executive summary of the study reads.
Ahead of the 2020 vote, the PPC:NCMR launched a nonpartisan voter outreach drive across 16 states, targeting urban and rural areas. The action reached over 2.1 million voters, the vast majority of whom were eligible low-income voters.
Low-income voters who were contacted by PPC:NCMR had a higher turnout rate than similarly positioned voters who were not contacted in those same states.
“The drive had a statistically significant impact in drawing eligible low-income voters into the active voting electorate, showing that intentional efforts to engage low-income voters  — around an agenda that includes living wages, health care, strong anti-poverty programs, voting rights and policies that fully address injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the war economy — can be effective across state borders and racial lines,” the report says.
There’s no proven link that that outreach decided the election, but it does show the potential impact of low-income voters, the study says. “To turn the opportunity to vote into a reality for low-income voters will require expanded efforts to increase both their registration and turnout on election day, such as automatic voter registration, same day registration, no-excuse mail-in voting, early voting, more polling stations and extended and longer voting hours.” the study says.
Speakers at the news conference releasing the study include the co-chairs of the PPC:NCMR, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis; Penda Hair, senior counsel for Forward Justice and impacted people.
The study also shows the importance of low-income white voters and of building a fusion coalition of voters of various races and ethnicities.
“While the narrative that white low-income voters are voting not only against their own interests, but also the interests of other racial segments of low-income voters, persisted through the 2020 elections, our analysis suggests something significantly different,” the report says.
“The findings suggest that, rather than writing white low-income voters off, it is possible to build coalitions of low-income voters across race around a political agenda that centers the issues they have in common.”
Key findings of the report on the 2020 elections:
In the 2020 elections, low-income voters exceeded 20% of the total voting population in 45 states and Washington D.C. In tight battleground states, low-income voters accounted for 34% to 45% of the voting population, including in states that flipped party outcomes from 2016 to 2020.
In battleground states where the margin of victory was near or less than 3%, low-income voters accounted for an even greater share of the total votes: Arizona (39.96%), Georgia (37.74%), Michigan (37.81%), Nevada (35.78%), North Carolina (43.67%), Pennsylvania (34.12%), and Wisconsin (39.80%).
A closer look at the racial demographics of low-income voters in nine battleground states shows that white low-income voters accounted for a higher vote share than all other racial groupings of low-income voters combined.
Those states are the seven listed above along with Florida and Texas.
Shailly Gupta Barnes, policy director for the PPC:NCMR, is the author of the study, which was written with analysis and data from TargetSmart.

Newswire: Colin Powell, first Black US secretary of state, dies of Covid-19 complications amid cancer battle

Colin Powell

By Devan Cole, CNN

 

Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state whose leadership in several Republican administrations helped shape American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, has died from complications from Covid-19, his family said on Facebook. He was 84.
“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19,” the Powell family wrote on Facebook, noting he was fully vaccinated. 

Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response, as well as Parkinson’s, Peggy Cifrino, Powell’s longtime chief of staff, confirmed to CNN. Even if fully vaccinated against Covid-19, those who are immunocompromised are at greater risk from the virus.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said.

Powell was a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.

Colin Luther Powell was born April 5, 1937, in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants. After growing up in the South Bronx and attending public schools, Powell attended the City College of New York, when it was tuition-free. In college, he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel. 

His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first Black President of the United States. But his reputation would be forever stained when, as George W. Bush’s first secretary of state in 2003, he pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a “blot” on his record. 

Bush said in a statement Monday that Powell was “a great public servant” who was “such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”

Though Powell never mounted a White House bid, when he was sworn in as Bush’s secretary of state in 2001, he became the highest-ranking Black public official to date in the country, standing fourth in the presidential line of succession. 

“I think it shows to the world what is possible in this country,” Powell said of his history-making nomination during his Senate confirmation hearing. “It shows to the world that: Follow our model, and over a period of time from our beginning, if you believe in the values that espouse, you can see things as miraculous as me sitting before you to receive your approval.” 

Later in his public life, Powell would grow disillusioned with the Republican Party’s rightward lurch and would use his political capital to help elect Democrats to the White House, most notably Barack Obama, the first Black president whom Powell endorsed in the final weeks of the 2008 campaign. 

The announcement was seen as a significant boost for Obama’s candidacy due to Powell’s widespread popular appeal and stature as one of the most prominent and successful Black Americans in public life. 

Cifrino told CNN Powell was vaccinated early on and received his second shot in February. He was scheduled to get his booster shot this past week but that was when he fell ill so he wasn’t able to receive it. Covid-19 vaccines are a highly effective tool in preventing severe disease and death, but no vaccine is 100% effective. 

More than 7,000 breakthrough cases of Covid-19 that have resulted in death have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through October 12. By that time, more than 187 million people in the US were fully vaccinated. That’s one out of every 26,000 fully vaccinated people who has died of Covid-19, or 0.004%.
Of those breakthrough cases resulting in death, 85% were among people age 65 and older and 57% were among men, according to the CDC.

CDC data also show that the risk of dying from Covid-19 is more than 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults than it is for vaccinated adults throughout August. Among seniors, who are more susceptible to severe Covid-19, that gap is smaller. Among those 80 and older, the risk of dying from Covid-19 in August was about five times higher among unvaccinated people than among fully vaccinated people. 

Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, whom he married in 1962, as well as three children.

Newswire: African winner of Nobel Book Prize ignites debate in Zanzibar

Abdulrazak Gurnah
Oct. 11, 2021 (GIN) – Out of 118 Nobel Prize laureates between 1901 and 2021, only six have gone to African writers with only two to Black Africans.
 So there was a measure of celebration, excitement and pride when this year’s prize was awarded to Zanzibar-born writer Abdulrazak Gurnah.  
 “The prize is an honor to you, our Tanzanian nation and Africa in general,” Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan tweeted. Zanzibar leader Hussein Ali Mwinyi said, “We fondly recognize your writings that are centered on discourses related to colonialism. Such landmarks bring honor not only to us but to all humankind.”
 The Swedish Academy was also generous with praise, calling the book an “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”
 Based in Britain and writing in English, Gurnah’s 10 novels include “Paradise”, set in colonial East Africa during World War I and short-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction, and “Desertion.” Though Swahili was his first language, English became Gurnah’s literary tool when he began writing at the age of 21.
 “I dedicate this Nobel Prize to Africa and Africans and to all my readers,” the 72 year old Gurnah tweeted after the announcement.
 But the award has ignited a vigorous debate in the author’s birthplace, with long and passionate discussions about belonging and identity, observes Sammy Awami in the online edition of Aljazeera . The relationship between Zanzibar and the mainland (Tanzania) has not always been rosy – even though Zanzibar is semi-autonomous, with its own president and parliament, he says.
 The contentious union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika in April 1964 was driven by U.S. and UK fears of a Zanzibari Cuba in Africa. 
 Gurnah left Zanzibar as a refugee for the United Kingdom in late 1967, three years after a revolution which sought to end the political dominance of the minority Arab population over the African majority. The following months and years were dominated by deep division, tensions and vengeance.
 Writes social scientist Aikande Kwayu: “The debate about the “Tanzanian” identity of Abdulrazak Gurnah should be an awakening call and a trigger to our government to think of the following: (i) Justice; (ii) Dual Citizenship; (iii) Union matters; (iv) quality education and teaching – how do we do in writing & literature?” 
 Till today, the cosmopolitan island remains divided over issues of identity and its political union with Tanzania.
Meanwhile, Ida Hadjivayanis, lecturer of Swahili studies in London and a Zanzibari native, is currently translating his 1994 novel Paradise into Swahili. Pointing out that many in Tanzania are yet to read this writer’s books, she called on the government to include his works in the school curriculum.
 

 

Newswire: Ghana President heralds historic agreement to build a world-class W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Complex

H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, attends signing in New York between W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation and Government of Ghana


NEW YORK – H.E. Nàna Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, heralded plans to construct a state-of-the-art museum complex honoring the legacy of world-renown Black intellectual and civil rights pioneer Dr. W.E.B Du Bois as an important symbolic monument.
“The museum will provide in Ghana, yet another important monument to the collective struggle of the African peoples to get their rightful place in this world,” said President Akufo-Addo in his remarks prior to the signing of a historic partnership arrangement between the Government of Ghana and the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation’s affiliate in Ghana. The signing took place in New York City where the U.S. foundation is headquartered.

The agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of Ghana by Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance of Ghana, and Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Signing for the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation were Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director  of the foundation in the U.S., and  Humphrey Ayim-Darke, Board Member of the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, Ghana.
“Mr. President, let me reassure you of our commitment to making your beloved Ghana a hub of Pan-African research and heritage tourism,” said Daniel Rose, Chairman of the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, as he kicked off the ceremony. Rose is a philanthropist and leading real estate developer with deep ties to Ghana.
The Du Bois Memorial Centre in Accra where Dr. Du Bois and his wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, are buried, opened to the public in 1985, but in recent years had required additional upkeep and maintenance. Two years ago, Rose and two board members of the foundation, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a professor at Harvard University and foremost scholar on Dr. Du Bois, and Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor at New York University whose father had worked with Dr. Du Bois, approached President Akufo-Addo about transforming the Du Bois Memorial Centre into a world-class living museum for scholars and heritage tourists.
The partnership arrangement will grant authority for the W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation to construct a multi-million dollar museum complex to preserve Dr. Du Bois’ legacy over a 50-year period. The complex will be designed by Sir David Adjaye, renowned Ghanaian architect and designer of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The Foundation’s goal is to realize the Du Bois Museum’s full potential as an international treasure and historic memorial honoring one of the leading and most revered Black voices in world history. The ambitious project features a museum, library and reading room, event hall, outdoor auditorium and amphitheater, lecture space, guest house for visiting scholars and the refurbished bungalow where Dr. Du Bois lived and worked until his death. The complex also includes a Memorial Pavilion, housing the remains of Dr. Du Bois and the cremated ashes of his wife.
Dr. Du Bois, who was a confidant of Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, became a citizen of Ghana and resided in the country until his death in 1963. While living in Ghana, Du Bois envisioned building a unified ancestral home for Africans in the diaspora around the world.
President Akufo-Addo has invited the Africans Diaspora to follow the footsteps of Du Bois by making Africa their home and contributing to the continent’s development through the government’s “Year of Return” and “Beyond the Return” campaigns.
“The ‘Beyond the Year of Return’ campaign promotes economic empowerment and encourages  people in the Diaspora to come to Africa to invest, to live, and to do more to uplift the continent, “ said Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director, W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation. Aryiku, a Ghanaian American with more than 40 years of experience in corporate America and the philanthropic community, was inspired at a young age by Du Bois’ writings and ideals.

ABOUT W.E.B DU BOIS MUSEUM FOUNDATION: The W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation is a leading New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the life, purpose, and legacy of Dr. W.E. B Du Bois. Daniel Rose, a philanthropist and leading real estate developer of major properties serves as the foundation’s Chairman of the Board. Ambassador Harold Doley, Jr. is the foundation’s President. Prominent board members include renowned scholars of the Du Bois legacy Professors Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of Harvard University; Kwame Anthony Appiah of New York University;  Emmanuel K. Akyeampong of the Center for African Studies at Harvard University; and Deborah Rose, a Visiting Scholar at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Newswire: Alabama uses $400M of COVID rescue funds to build new prisons

By The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Amid a national debate over the use of pandemic relief funds, Alabama lawmakers swiftly approved a plan Friday to tap $400 million from the American Rescue Plan to help build two super-size prisons, brushing off criticism from congressional Democrats that the money was not intended for such projects.
The Alabama Legislature gave final approval to the $1.3 billion prison construction plan, and to a separate bill to steer $400 million of the state’s $2.1 billion from the rescue funds to pay for it.
With legislative leaders standing behind her, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bills into law soon afterward. The Republican called the construction plan “a major step forward” for the prison system, which faces various federal court orders and a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“This is a pivotal moment for the trajectory of our state’s criminal justice system,” Ivey said.
President Joe Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion Covid19 rescue package was signed in March, providing a stream of funds to states and cities to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Alabama’s plan to use almost 20% of its American Rescue funds for prison construction drew criticism from some congressional Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama, who argued that was not the intent of the relief program. But state Republicans argued that the expenditure addresses a public safety need and is allowed under a provision to replace lost revenue and shore up state services.
Republican Sen. Greg Albritton said the funds will “go a long way” to addressing the state’s longstanding problems in prisons. This was the right thing for Alabama to do. We’ve got crumbling infrastructure. We’ve got people housed in places that are filthy. We’ve got individuals working in conditions that are unsafe,” Albritton said.
The plan drew opposition from many Democrats in the House of Representatives, but had minimal dissenting votes in the state Senate, where senators approved the use of the pandemic money in a 30-1 vote and the overall construction plan in a 29-2 vote.
Democratic Rep. Juandalynn Givan of Birmingham, who voted against the bills in the House, said she hopes the federal government steps in and tells the state the expenditure is not allowed.
“There are many needs here in the state of Alabama and there are many people who need these funds,” she said. “But they (Republicans) saw an opportunity to take the Biden money, that $400 million, because it was just like liquid water flowing through their hands and say, ‘OK, let’s jump on it,’” Givan said.
U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York this week sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking her to “prevent the misuse of ARP funding by any state, including Alabama” to build prisons.
Asked Wednesday about Alabama’s plan, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “I would be surprised if that was the intention of the funding.”
Republican legislative leaders said they are comfortable they can legally use the funds because the American Rescue Plan, in addition to authorizing the dollars for economic and health care programs, says states can use the money to replace revenue lost during the pandemic to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs.
The U.S. Department of Justice has sued Alabama over a prison system “riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence.” The Justice Department noted in an earlier report that dilapidated facilities were a contributing factor to the unconstitutional conditions but wrote “new facilities alone will not resolve” the matter because of problems in culture, management deficiencies, corruption, violence and other problems.
The Alabama prison construction proposal calls for three new prisons — a prison in Elmore County with at least 4,000 beds and enhanced space for medical and mental health care needs; another prison with at least 4,000 beds in Escambia County and a women’s prison — as well as renovations to existing facilities. Six current facilities would close.
The package of approved bills includes modest reform measures: The state will purchase a vacant private prison in Perry County and use it to house parole violators — instead of sending them back to prison — and provide rehabilitation programs there to try to combat recidivism.
Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said the construction plan was both the “right thing to do” and would help the state “with respect to DOJ, with the other litigation.”
Advocacy groups argued the state needed to take on broader reforms.
“The Alabama Legislature has proved its determination to spend $400 million of American Rescue Plan funds to build two mega-prisons when we have one of the highest Covid death rates in the world,” said Katie Glenn, policy associate at the SPLC Action Fund, an arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “It won’t solve the problems plaguing the prison system. Only decarceration can do that.”

Newswire: COVID worsen’s America’s racial wealth gap: Blacks own 22 cents for every dollar held by Whites


Graph of average wealth

By Charlene Crowell

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – As the global pandemic continues to take lives and infect multiple generations, virtually every dimension of life is challenged. And people with the fewest financial resources before COVID-19 are being challenged more than ever before.
 
It is both a challenge and an opportunity for leadership in the Biden Administration, Congress, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with the private sector address to effect policies and practices that reverse the nation’s still-growing racial wealth gap. Tried and true wealth-building tools like targeted homeownership and expanded small business investments together would bring sustainable and meaningful changes to those who historically have been financially marginalized.
 
In an effort to better understand and solve the dual sagas wrought from centuries of racial discrimination and COVID, major universities, government agencies, public policy institutes and corporations are releasing new research that analyzes the pandemic’s added challenges that exacerbate historical racial inequities.
 
For example, from January through March of this year, Blacks on average had 22 cents for every dollar of white family wealth, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s Institute for Economic Equity These substantial gaps have remained largely unchanged since 1989 to the present, according to the Institute.
 
The gap’s disparities are also reflected in findings from research conducted by Harvard University. This esteemed Ivy League institution drew a key distinction between America’s income and wealth inequalities.
 
“Income is unequal, but wealth is even more unequal,” said Alexandra Killewald, professor of sociology at
Harvard, who studies inequality in the contemporary U.S. “You can think of income as water flowing into your bathtub, whereas wealth is like the water that’s sitting in the bathtub,” she said. “If you have wealth, it can protect you if you lose your job or your house. Wealth is distinctive because it can be used as a cushion, and it can be directly passed down across generations,” providing families more choices and greater opportunity in the present and the future… white Americans are benefiting from legacies of advantage…The typical white American family has roughly 10 times as much wealth as the typical African American family and the typical Latino family.”
While the issues raised by the Federal Reserve and Harvard may sound like variations on an old theme, a 150-year-old global financial firm, Goldman Sachs, urges targeted and sustained investment by both the public and private sectors to erase America’s racial wealth gap. While the report focuses on Black women, its projected outcomes would benefit Black men as well.
“If the improvements benefit Black women and men alike, we estimate larger increases in U.S. employment of 1.7 million jobs and in U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 2.1%, which corresponds to $450 billion per year.”
Titled, Black Womenomics: Investing in the Underinvested, the March 2021 report calls for access to capital, education, equitable earnings, health care, and housing to lay the groundwork to reverse historical disadvantages, while creating financial
independence and personal wealth. Most importantly, the report calls for the participation of Blacks – and especially Black women — to shape their own futures.
 
“[A]ny efforts to effectively address the issues can only be successful if Black women are actively engaged in formulating the strategies and framing the outcomes. Moreover, addressing discrimination and bias will be fundamental to real and sustainable progress…The large wealth gap faced by single Black women is particularly important because Black women are more and increasingly likely to be single and breadwinner mothers…Among Black mothers, more than 80% are breadwinners compared to 50% of white mothers,” states the report.
How existing financial disparities leave Black women more financially vulnerable is found in the report’s data points:
• Black women face a 90% wealth gap; 
• The wage gap of Black women widens through their whole work-life, and especially rapidly between ages 20 and 35; 
• Black women are five times more likely than white men to rely on expensive payday loans; 
• Black women are nearly three times more likely to forego prescription medicine, and also much more likely than white men not to see a doctor because they cannot afford it; and 
• The median single Black woman does not own a home, and single Black women are 24 times less likely than single white men to own a business. 
Additionally, the nation’s shortage of affordable housing translates into 85% of Black women with families facing housing costs ranging from more than 30% to 50% of their incomes. Once the monthly rent is paid, these housing-burdened households have little left to cover utilities, food, childcare or other household needs.  

Even Black families earning a median income will need 14 years just to save a 5% home down payment, according to a recent analysis by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL).   

A legacy of historically modest incomes and little inter-generational wealth available to be passed down by families leaves most Black Americans without the comparable financial advantages enjoyed by other races and ethnicities. 

These and other circumstances lead many women – especially women of color — to turn to high-cost loans of only a few hundred dollars. Although the typical payday loan of $350 is marketed as a short-term fix to an unexpected expense, the reality for many with modest incomes is that the high-cost loan – which can come with interest as high as 400% — becomes yet another long-term financial burden that worsens financial strains with[every renewal.
 
“Predatory, high-interest lenders pull people down into financial quicksand, making them more likely to experience a range of harms, such as losing their bank account, defaulting on their bills, losing their car, and declaring bankruptcy. It is low-income consumers, and disproportionately communities of color – whom the lenders target – that are being harmed,” said Ashley Harrington, of CRL in testimony this summer before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.
 
The harms of wealth inequality also extend to the broader U.S. economy, according to the Goldman Sachs report. In its view, expanding opportunities for Black women who are often on the bottom rung of the economic ladder can create a pathway to individual and national prosperity. “Overcoming these adverse economic trends would make for not only a fairer, but also a richer society. We estimate that confronting the earnings gap for Black women could create 1.2-1.7 million U.S. jobs and raise the level of annual U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.4-2.1% each year, or $300-450 billion in current dollars.”
 
It is time for this nation to make good on its age-old promises. Creating neighborhoods of opportunity from poverty pockets would strengthen cities and suburbs alike.  If corporate leadership would join with the Administration and Congress to ensure that Black America and other people of color share in the nation’s prosperity, everyone would be better off.
 
Charlene Crowell is a senior fellow with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

Newswire : After 13 Years, Black and Missing Foundation still searching for tens of thousands of People of Color

Natalie and Derrica Wilson (left) founded the Black & Missing Foundation to raise awareness about people of color who have disappeared./ Allison Keyes / WAMU

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire

It’s been 13 years since Natalie Wilson and her sister-in-law Derrica Wilson founded the Black and Missing Foundation to help bring attention and closure to the ever-growing number of cases in minority communities.
As incomplete and cringe-worthy, the number of the missing – one count suggests that of the more than 600,000 individuals currently reported missing, more than 200,000 are individuals of color – Wilson forges ahead.
The recent case of the disappearance and death of Gabbi Petito, who was white and blone, has focused more attention on the missing people of color, including indigenous people, who go missing every year without similar press attention.
She does so, even 13 years and some success stories later, emotionally.
“We’ve come a long way,” Wilson declared during a recent visit to the new, state-of-the-art National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) television studios in Washington, D.C.
During a conversation with NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Wilson punctuated the need for the Black and Missing Foundation with the story of Phoenix Coldena young African American woman who went in 2011 missing near St. Louis, Missouri.
“I called every media outlet, and no one covered that story,” Wilson recalled. “Finally, an assignment editor got tired of me calling and asked me to send Colden’s profile.”
In her interview with Dr. Chavis, which will air on PBS-TV and PBS-World as a special on The Chavis Chronicles, Wilson reflected on how the news media and even law enforcement fail to highlight missing people of color – notably missing Black girls.
“I’m so grateful for the Black Press,” Wilson remarked. “They have used their platform to showcase [these stories]. Media coverage is important. It could speed up the recovery and add pressure on law enforcement to add resources to these cases, and that’s vital.”
Wilson proclaimed that laws are needed to protect children, particularly victims of sex trafficking. She said she had witnessed young boys and girls arrested after becoming sex trafficking victims. “They need rehabilitation,” she exclaimed.
Wilson recalled a case in Virginia of a young Black woman who went missing.
“She was too old for an Amber Alert and too young for a Silver Alert,” Wilson stated. Ashanti Billie, 19, was kidnapped while heading to work in 2017. Authorities recovered her body 11 days later in North Carolina.
Because she didn’t qualify for either an Amber or Silver alert – which notifies the public about missing children and senior citizens – family and authorities lost precious time.
Virginia has now enacted The Ashanti Alert, which bridges the age gap. “This needs to be on the national level because so many of our missing are slipping under the radar,” Wilson stated.
She pointed out that since the beginning of the pandemic, there’s been an uptick in sex trafficking, and children are more exposed to online predators than ever before.
“They are tapping into our children,” Wilson said.
“There was a young lady who went missing. She was a gamer, and she was talking to a man online. So, when she went missing, her family was so surprised that she was talking to someone online.”
Wilson continued:
“You’ve got to be nosey with your children. Have them sit in an open area so you can see what’s going on. Create a fictitious account and see if you can befriend your child online and share information to save their lives. Unfortunately, once they go missing, we don’t have any intelligence to help save them.”
For more information about the Black and Missing Foundation, visit http://www.bamfi.org.

Newswire : Senators fail to reach deal on George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Sen Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) who were the main negotiators working on this legislation


By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Talks to enact the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act were halted on Wednesday after a bipartisan Senate negotiations team announced it failed to reach a deal. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) called off the talks. No further discussions are in the works.
“Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners, and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal,” Sen. Booker stated.
“The effort from the very beginning was to get police reform that would raise professional standards, police reform that would create a lot more transparency, and then police reform that would create accountability, and we’re not able to come to agreements on those three big areas,” the senator remarked.
Lawmakers had worked toward a measure following the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Optimism about a deal peaked in April when a jury convicted former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of Floyd’s murder.
Floyd’s killing led to global protests and corporate awareness of the call that Black lives matter.
Introduced by California Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act addressed a range of policies and issues surrounding police practices and accountability.
The bill sought to lower the criminal intent standard to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution. In addition, the measure would limit qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against an officer, and it would grant administrative subpoena power to the Department of Justice in pattern-or-practice investigations.
Notably, the measure establishes a framework to prevent and cure racial profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels.
It restricts the use of no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and carotid holds.
“On behalf of the families of George Floyd and so many others who have been impacted by police violence, we express our extreme disappointment in Senate leaders’ inability to reach a reasonable solution for federal police reform,” Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump wrote in a statement.
“In the last year and a half, we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of Americans urging lawmakers to bring desperately needed change to policing in this country so there can be greater accountability, transparency, and ultimately trust in policing,” Crump continued.
“People – including many police leaders – have raised their voices for something to change, and partisan politics once again prevents common-sense reform. We cannot let this be a tragic, lost opportunity to regain trust between citizens and police.
“We strongly urge Democratic senators to bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to the floor for a vote so Americans can see who is looking out for their communities’ best interests and who is ready to listen to their constituents so we can together put the country on a better, more equitable path for all.”

Newswire: Jacob Zuma, former South African Presidentloses bid to stay out of jail

Jacob Zuma

 

Sep. 20, 2021 (GIN) – Former South African President Jacob Zuma has lost his latest bid to remain out of jail after refusing to respond to a corruption inquiry.
 “The application for rescission is dismissed,” Justice Sisi Khampepe said as she read the majority decision, which included an order for Zuma to pay court costs.
 It was the latest legal setback for the 79-year-old anti-apartheid veteran from the ruling African National Congress, whose presidency from 2009 to 2018 was marred by widespread allegations of graft and malfeasance.
 He denies wrongdoing.
 Back in June, Justice Khampepe sentenced the former president to 15 months imprisonment in a ruling called one of the most prolific Constitutional Court judgments in the history of South Africa. Many saw the case as a test of South Africa’s post-apartheid ability to enforce rule of law, particularly against the powerful.
 Zuma stayed out of jail until July 7, asking the court to revoke its sentence for contempt, arguing it was excessive and would endanger his health and life. His appeal was denied and he finally turned himself over to police. Zuma’s supporters in the port city of Durban responded with fury, setting off some of the worst riots and looting in decades. More than 300 people were killed and thousands of businesses pillaged and razed. 
 President Cyril Ramaphosa called the violence a “failed insurrection”. Fueling it was frustration among the largely Black communities still living in squalid conditions long after the ANC swept to power in South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.
 Zuma faces a separate corruption trial linked to his sacking as deputy president in 2005, when he was accused of taking bribes from a French arms manufacturer. 
 Mr. Zuma once said the party was more important than the nation itself, contending that it would govern South Africa until Jesus returned. And during his nearly nine-year presidency that was marred by scandal, corruption and mismanagement, ANC officials repeatedly rallied behind him as their leader.
 In the end, though, his party turned against him, asking him to step down a full year and a half before the end of his second term and the country that had inspired the world with Nelson Mandela’s idea of peaceful reconciliation, and the continent with Thabo Mbeki’s vision of an “African renaissance,” would now be known for corrupt leadership and a wide range of thorny problems. w/pix of J. Zuma