Celebrating 25 years: 1992-2017
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Opinion




Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill
By William Reed
The face of money has furthered racial divisions in America. The legacy of the Obama administration is at the heart of the discussions. Instead of the ongoing vitriol with blacks, President Trump could make friends by replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the face of the $20 bill.
 
America’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson, has been featured on the front side of “the twenty” since 1928. Harriet Tubman and President Jackson lived on opposite sides of the American experience. Tubman, a black woman, escaped slavery to become a conductor on the Underground Railroad, risking her life to lead slaves to freedom. Jackson was the son of Scottish-Irish immigrants and the owner of slaves at The Hermitage plantation. He was elected president as a war hero but he became known for policies that led to the deaths of Native Americans.
 
“Dead Presidents” is what some blacks call America’s currency. Some say that putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill is a disgrace to what she fought for as the ultimate “co-opt” of the Black Struggle; that Harriet Tubman didn’t fight against that system of capitalism to be put on that same system’s $20 bill. Others find it insulting to Tubman’s legacy and ironic that the abolitionist icon that fought the oppressive American system economy would want to become a symbol of it.
 
Jackson’s face on the $20 remains a monument to “white supremacy.” The seventh president engineered genocide and should be vilified, not honored. Jackson led to the mass deaths of Indians when he ordered their “relocation” in “The Trail of Tears.” Jackson’s Indian Removal Act forced 50,000 Cherokees, Choctaws, Muscogee-Creeks, Chickasaws and Seminoles off their ancestral lands.
 
According to Charlotte L. Dicks’ Black History volume on Harriett Tubman, “she was a warrior, leader, guerrilla fighter and military commander.” Her contributions were great in the struggle to abolish slavery. Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland in 1820; her birth name was Araminta Harriet Ross. As a child, she was “hired out” to do domestic work. While working in her early teens, Tubman defied an overseer’s order to restrain another field hand, and blocked a doorway so the man could escape. When the overseer threw a two-pound iron weight at her, it broke her skull and left her with lifetime seizures and narcolepsy.
 
Tubman fled plantation bondage, arriving in Philadelphia in 1849. A well-organized Underground Railroad had been functioning for 50 years when Tubman joined. She became a “conductor” and went on 19 missions to the South. So determined was she that she threatened to shoot anyone who tried to turn back. Tubman was so successful that the Southern slavers offered a $40,000 bounty for her capture. Frederick Douglass had enormous respect for Tubman. Another ally was white abolitionist John Brown, who advocated armed struggle to destroy slavery. Tubman helped him recruit supporters. Brown found Tubman’s knowledge of support networks and resources to be important contributions to his 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry.
 
This is an opportunity for the Trump administration to show leadership toward overcoming racial inequities and understanding of racial/cultural sensibilities.  At present, it’s unclear if President Trump plans to reverse the Obama administration’s currency decision. During his campaign, Trump said replacing Jackson with Tubman is “pure political correctness" and that Tubman should be featured on the $2 bill.
 
Money is the medium of America’s economy. Most blacks say Harriet Tubman deserves to be on the “twenty dollar” bill more than does Jackson. Since he became president, Trump has not addressed the issue.  But Trump did put a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office. The policy for the matter will be made by Steven Mnuchin, the 77th and current US Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury Secretary is the principal economic adviser to the president and plays a critical role in policy-making. To date, Mnuchin has failed to endorse plans to redesign the $20.
 
Harriet Tubman's face on American money won’t change the condition of African Americans in this country.  Blacks could lobby Trump’s Treasury people by contacting them at: 1500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW,  Washington, D.C. 20220, or call (202) 622-2000.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com

The government shutdown
African Americans are too dependent on government
by William Reed

Without meaningful private-sector endeavorsthe black middle class 
cannot sustain itself

Rather than gloat over the Republicans getting their clocks cleaned in the government shutdown fiasco, it’s worth taking time to note our dependency on government, especially African Americans and other people of color. 


In some form, more than half of Americans rely on the government - 165 million out of 308 million. Of these, 107 million Americans rely on government welfare, 46 million seniors benefit from Medicare and 22 million are federal government employees. Ethics regarding self-reliance has dwindled as eligibility for Medicaid, food stamps, earned income tax credit, work pay tax credit and unemployment benefits have increased  since 2009. In 2010, more than 70 percent of federal spending went to these programs


This dependency on government sets too many Americans up for low aspirations and generations of welfare and poverty. And the problem for blacks is that we often rely too much on government.


Washington, D.C. is home to the “wealthiest concentration of Blacks in America.” In D.C. and around the world, more than 800,000 federal workers were furloughed during the shutdown. A disproportionate number of furloughed federal workers were African Americans. Because government jobs have always been more available to blacks than private sector employment, blacks comprise 17.7 percent of the federal workforce. Overall, people of color represent 34 percent of the federal workforce. Latinos are 8 percent, Asians are 5.8 percent and Native Americans are 2.1 percent. People of color comprise 37 percent of the U.S. population, a figure projected to grow to 57 percent by 2060.


Since the 2007 Recession, federal, state and local government agencies have pared down payrolls and eliminated positions that sustained millions of Black middle-class workers for decades, eliminating some 375,000 government jobs. Nearly 21 percent of the nation’s working black adults have government jobs. Public agencies are the single largest employer of black men, and the second most common for black women. During the shutdown many recipients of Head Start, HUD Section 8 and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC, lost funding.


It’s important for blacks to understand the difference between the private and public sectors. Black workers have fared so much worse than other segments of the population since the recession’s end. In May, the unemployment rate among African Americans reached 16.2 percent, up from 15.5 percent a year earlier. By contrast, white unemployment was 8 percent, an improvement from the 8.8 percent level of the previous year.


But now, with the broader economy stuck in a deep rut and working opportunities chronically lean, government jobs are diminishing, too. From the Post Office to the White House, a government job has long offered African Americans pathways to middle-class lifestyles. The loss of government paychecks erodes what many African Americans considered an important equalizing force over the past century.


It’s as if African Americans and other communities of color can’t see beyond the proponents of “big government socialism” and attitudes of dependency. Blacks would do well to limit the amount of government dependency in their lives. Without meaningful private-sector endeavors, the black middle class cannot sustain itself. Some would say today’s black middle class is no more than an illusion. Terms such as “job creation” and “economic engines” must become more commonplace in the black vernacular.


As stunted as their economics have been under Democratic governments, the mindset among African Americans remains Democratic and “big government inclined.” A 2011 report by Globescan showed the number of U.S. citizens who believe in the strength of a free market economy dropped to 59 percent. When Globescan first conducted this survey 10 years ago, 80 percent of Americans favored a free market economic system. Those people with the lowest annual incomes were more likely to oppose a free market economy. Heritage Foundation reports that on average, Americans who depend on federal assistance received $32,748 in annual benefits, which is more than an average American worker makes in a year. In 2011, the median annual salary was reported as being $26,364.


William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org.




Santa, Go Straight to the Ghetto
By William Reed
Santa Claus, go straight to the ghetto.  Hitch up your reindeer and fill every stocking you find…-James Brown

Where is the “hopelessness” mentioned by Michelle Obama evidenced more than in America’s urban enclaves?  Nobody, neither whites nor blacks, care about the poor among us. If Santa couldn't find his way from the North Pole to your house don’t expect any assistance in direction course or route from people in the city, county councils, Congress or the White House.

Masses of blacks are under a false promise of black political representation. Black elected officials are too busy representing the interests of “all people” and not just one race. Black political operatives are resistant to legislation, laws or practices that are “race-specific”. In essence, the masses of blacks and the middle-class just want to go along to get along. 
 
Blacks have been “brainwashed”.  When Donald J. Trump called black neighborhoods “war zones” of failures where residents struggled to get by on food stamps, a mainstream publication reported a retired African American postal employee acknowledging that Trump’s remarks described a reality for some blacks, but saying, “Who’s he talking about?” Most of the black people I know are educated and live in nice neighborhoods.
 
Black leadership is effectively leading us nowhere. Blacks have held high government offices for decades as the environments the represent decline and deteriorate. The black middle-and-leadership-class is too busy chasing and condemning racism to take time to help the “have-nots” among us. Blacks are enjoying the fruits of American democracy and are well represented at all levels of government. Record numbers of African Americans hold elective office, but policy preferences of black voters remain unlikely enacted. There are black mayors and majority-black city-and-county-councils. There are forty-five black members of Congress and so is the current occupant of the White House.  The appearance of black political clout is deceiving, because despite their gains in participation and representation, blacks continue to fare worse than whites.
 
Jolly old St. Nick is about the only  name of note that journeys into urban jungles. The issue of race was often in the forefront of the 2016 campaign, but received little discussion or platforms..  It’s time the nation’s underprivileged start built political agenda and platforms. The formation of black neighborhoods is closely linked to the history of segregation in the United States. Today’s urban black residents are routinely ignored and capriciously violated by political office-holders and official policies.
 
When evaluating whether it’s worthwhile for urban dwellers to step forward on their own, it’s worth noting wealth dynamics taking place within the black community and the widening wealth gap between ‘black elites,’ and other African Americans. It prompts the question: who is carrying water for us?  In today’s two-party system, the political interests of black Americans aren’t represented well. Black voters are “captured” - ignored by one major party and taken for granted by the other. Black voters’ issues are routinely ignored and overlooked resulting in African Americans being left behind.
 
It’s time to measure African-American leadership. The typical white household has 16 times the wealth of a black one.  Who do you know that’s advocating affirmative action’s for historically disadvantaged groups?  Blacks in the United States continue to lag behind whites in key areas of economic well-being like wealth, income and homeownership. If current economic trends continue, the average black household will need 228 years to accumulate as much wealth as their white counterparts hold today. The top 10 percent of African Americans accounted for 67 percent of wealth held by African Americans. African Americans have the highest poverty rate, 27.4 percent among racial and ethnic groups. Forty-five percent of young black children (under age 6) live in poverty.
 
If they want “real justice” Black Americans need remind the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to: either led, follow or get out of the way on the issue of reparations. Each black household is due $1.5 million. Three-fourths of Blacks are owed a million dollars each but too few exercise the political muscle to prompt H.R. 40. Black leaders have the power to initiate plans, discussions and campaigns toward CBC adaption.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com