- Faith & Family
Since 1973, the National Urban League has released its annual State of Black America that analyzes conditions in the Black community and includes a statistical measurement of many of the equality gaps that exists between Blacks and whites. Disparities continue to exist in categories that include economics, education, health, civic engagement and social justice. This year’s report places special emphasis on voting rights for Blacks, pointing to unfair voters’ rights and restrictions that have been adopted by 31 states.
But according to T. Willard Fair, 73, longtime president of the Urban League of Greater Miami, the report is “nothing more than an academic presentation written by Black intellectuals.”
“If you want to talk about the state of Black America, you need to talk about Blacks in relationship to the rest of the country,” he said. “You need to talk about where we fit, where we don’t fit and our lack of progress in comparison to how whites continue to progress.”
Few would dispute that recently-adopted voters laws in many parts of the country, including Florida, have made it more difficult for students, senior citizens in particular and and people of color in general to exercise their right to vote. That’s why the League’s CEO and former mayor of New Orleans, Marc Morial, says he defends the report and its findings.
“Voting rights remain the key to jobs, housing and education,” Morial said. “Our bread and butter in Black America hinges on who gets elected and what positions they take. I agree that the report, to some extent, is written in a more intellectual context and may be more appealing to those with higher education. But I contend that our audience is much broader and that this 2012 report is a must-read for everyone.”
Debunking the myth of white vs. Black
Fair says to truly assess the state of Blacks today, there is one ethnic group that must also be included in the data — Hispanics.
“Hispanics are the dominant group in the U.S. today,” he said. “If we were being honest about things, they would be factored into the report — Blacks would then see that our ‘state’ is not only bad but downright dismal. The Urban League has offices in 96 cities in the U.S. — we are represented in all of the major urban areas across this country. We are at the bottom of the rung in each of those 96 cities without exception. In Miami, just like in Atlanta or Chicago, our mostly-Black schools are turning out students that are failing. If we want to bring about real change in the categories on which the report focuses, we must be willing to do what some say is not politically correct — we have to put a face on those who are most impacted by the lack of education, record unemployment and those who are incarcerated the most — in all cases those who make up the numbers are Black.”
The full report can be viewed by going to www.iamempowered.com.
By D. Kevin McNeir