We choose not to give up

By Krystal Copeland

It’s the responsibility of those who know the truth to educate and teach those that don’t. If it wasn’t for Tim Wise, how engaged would everyone from all backgrounds be to listen to someone speak about racism? It’s fascinating to hear a white man be an advocate for minorities. Not only is he a great speaker but he offers something out of the ordinary that grabs folks attention.

We see how history repeats itself, so it’s really hard to expect change. And  Wise touched on how we could expect change, but it must involve the assistance of those who are privileged and those of European descent known as white folks.

There are white people who are programed to think a certain way. And they come from decent living conditions and nonetheless grow up being a member of the dominant group. So as a result, they don’t have to think about or even be aware of some important stuff.

So if growth involves change and change involves letting go, then how can we build off that? As we’ve been taught throughout this whole semester and have heard Wise discuss, growth can be messy. Changing people’s viewpoints and getting folks out of their comfort zone can be extremely hard.

As with the Black Lives Matter movement, the fact that you have white people out there protesting with blacks proves  we can unite as one. We all are human beings and race is what disconnects us and wealth is what classifies us. We can’t afford to waste any more time being a divided nation.

The bigger problem is wealth and income inequality. Allowing companies like Walmart to pay workers pocket change while the Walton family makes infinity times their workers is just plain disrespectful. As Wise said “the economy is predicated on low wages.” The problem is not the Mexicans or blacks are taking  jobs; it’s the greed of these CEOs.

We have to challenge these people in power. 

We’ve learned that there’s a balance when people earn low incomes because those are the ones who help support the economy. Just think if we all were wealthy there’s the possibility of an unbalanced economy. But my question is why should people have to live in poverty and why can’t we all be equally educated. I believe the fair thing to do is to give everyone equal opportunity and not to be judged based on your skin color or lack of education.

We can’t keep allowing racism to continue. And we can’t allow those in power to keep manipulating are minds. We will continue to be a “Snap Chat” nation as  Wise calls it if we don’t put an end to what’s holding us back. Poverty doesn’t have to exist. That’s why it’s up to us come together as one and fight for change. And we can’t give up.

 

You don’t know what you don’t know

Federal-Minimum-WageBy Jessica Vezina

“Just admit that you do not know what you do not know, and then listen to the ones who have had to know it all their lives just so they don’t die.” These words of Tim Wise stuck out to me Thursday at the Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event, because it is all too true about the way income inequality, homelessness and poverty is handled in America.

White men in D.C. are trying to fix situations  they  know nothing about.  Wise said that you don’t know anything you haven’t taken a class on. White men will never know anything about racism because they have never had to deal with it. Politicians will never know anything about poverty because chances are they have never had to live through it.

If you talk to a politician about how to end income equality, and compare it to those who get the crap end of the stick of income equality, chances are they will be vastly different.

Presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders had a long list of how he’s going to end income inequality. After reading them all, it appears that he wants to just throw money at the issue. He wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, or invest $5.5 billion into youth job problems, or make tuition free at public universities throughout America.

While all of these changes sound  nice, where is he going to get this money? And how is he going to ensure that the one’s suffering from income inequality are going to be the ones benefitting from these changes?

Wise talked about how 160,000 African Americans are arrested yearly on drug charges that are strictly enforced in African American communities, while there are 160,000 white people in America who are not arrested on drug charges when they should.

When going for these pretty new jobs that pay $15, do you  think employers are going to give it to the one with a record over the one without one? Because an increase in minimum wage means that employers can now be even pickier on whom they hire. They are getting one for the price of two, so whomever they hire better be damn good.

Which adds to the downward spiral of income inequality, because those who grow up in better communities, with better career resources and more privileges, will have the better resume and interviewing skills over the less fortunate person.

I doubt that the politicians intentionally meant for income inequality to get this out of hand, but thinking that they have the knowledge to fix it is just unimaginable to me. One piece of advice I’m sure Tim Wise would give them is to listen to those who took the class, because they truly know what needs to be done.

 

 

We have to talk about white privilege

tim-wiseBy Nicholas Evangelista

One of the major leaders of the anti-racism movement is a privileged, white male.

Let the irony of that statement sink it.

But it is true. Tim Wise is an author of the book White Like Me, and is a well-known activist who has had countless appearances on television. And at CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10, he made some great points that really stuck out to me.

  1. The very fact that he is a leader for this movement is ironic.

Even he knows that this is not how it should be. As paraphrased from his speech:

It is still easier for Universities to get me to come here and talk about these issues. We must continue to have these talks until a woman of color, for instance, could stand at this podium and say these things and more, and be taken every bit as serious as I am going to be.”

This is an important point. Why is it that a white male like Wise should be the leader in this? Of course, it is good for someone like him to be able to come out and admit that he has privilege. I am a white male, too and I am every bit as privileged as he is. But me coming out and admitting that does not solve the problem alone.

The truth is, we need to take the issues seriously. We need to stop pretending the issues don’t exist. People are talking to us, but we need to learn to listen.

  1. Race and poverty are tied together.

This is an obvious statement, but one that needs to be said again and again and again. We live in a system that abuses people and impoverishes people so that the rich can get richer. Race almost is less of the reason, and more of a result. The truth is, people of all races and ethnicities are suffering. Right?

Not exactly. While it is true that not all white people are wealthy and successful, there are still major disproportionalities between white and colored people. Being white means that statistically speaking, I am more likely to have a better education, more likely to have better jobs, and therefore more likely to make a good living. Even if that does not mean that it is true for everyone, it is still overwhelmingly true statistically speaking. Not only that, but African American men are significantly more likely to go to prison, and to serve longer sentences, even though they do not commit crimes at any worse rate than that of white people.

These disproportionalities are due to a structural system that is designed to keep certain types of people in place so that other types of people can stay in power. The simple fact is, white people start at an advantage, so it is no surprise that that is where we tend to finish.

  1. Having privilege does not make you a bad person, but it is to not abuse it that makes the difference.

Being white does not make someone a villain. Privilege simply means that you benefit from the system that you are born into. This is purely by chance–you do not choose where you are born. You have no say in your ethnicity, gender, or social class at birth. But by using your privilege to gain upward mobility, or even to stay at the top, could make you a perpetrator of the system.

Wise used an analogy of moving floors in an airport to explain privilege:

“Those moving floors are the advantage you get, and even by doing nothing you still move forward. We need to stop, and step backward. Only by moving backwards can we head towards equality.”

This is a difficult step for many people. Admitting and accepting that being indifferent is not good enough can be difficult. After all, we all just want a good life, and to be able to take care of our family. If it were right there in front of us, why wouldn’t we take it?

But that is what compassion is about. It means not taking for yourself when you can see others who are in need. It means that even though you are in a position of power, you choose to help those who are below you, and to think of them first.

And this is especially hard to do when we are all so separated from one another. This was the last major point that Wise made, which impacted me. White men–myself included–do not know enough about other people’s lives. We do not see what they see. We are, for all intents and purposes, blind to it. The action we need to take is to see. We need to open our eyes and see the abuse and turmoil that many people live through because of no fault of their own. This is what racial inequity is. It is a system that is rigged so that certain people win, and others lose for no reason other than how they were born.

And it would be truly despicable to stand idly by and let this continue.

A Snapchat Nation

imagesBy Jibreel Mahmud

We are becoming a second-to-second collective in this country. What I mean is that day-by-day we are becoming a more technologically oriented nation. We have access to information all around the world in a microsecond. We have become accustomed to coverage of events, entertainment, etc. to be delivered to our eyeballs within the moment we want it.

The rise of social media such as Vine and Snapchat have whittled our conversations down to 6 and 10 second pictures and video clips. In the case of Snapchat, once you view a colorful photo or “story” a friend it is gone after that initial viewing.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, our collective attention span as of 2015 is less than that of a goldfish.

The rise of technology and social media is a factor in this staggering decrease in attention span. This is a fine example of Technological Determinism. Where the technology of one society shapes the culture at large. Speaking for myself, in the last few years I have been using my phone much more frequently than I ever have before.

I have noticed decreased dedication ability when focusing on one task. Watching a movie on my phone that I’ve been eager to watch is dashed by the desire to check Facebook, or text a girl I’ve been talking to.

Even writing this blog is delayed by invasive thoughts of doing something else. With access to ongoing issues all over the world it is difficult to dedicate ourselves mentally or emotionally to one thing for a long period of time.

Tragedies that have occurred in recent years, whether they be school shootings or any recent terrorist attacks, have faded from the public who at the height of the hysteria were gung ho for systematic change have died down and the collective pain we felt has faded. Nothing registers or permeates as vividly as it down about 15 years ago.

At CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10, educator Tim Wise brought up many excellent points relating to the title of this blog. He discussed that in history class we are given a glimpse of the horrific treatment of Blacks during their time as slaves during the civil rights movement of the 1960s but we are not always shown to us in school due to the shame our country felt.

Like Snapchat, we are given something and due to our decreased attention spans we see it and it’s gone forever never seen again. It almost never goes further than the classroom discussion. I can speak to this because in the majority of my history classes once I learned something for a test it was gone. Only now have I begun re learning what I thought was dull and unnecessary.  With this decrease in our attention spans I have to ask can we learn from our mistakes if we can’t remember them? I suppose it’s just as Mr. Wise said, we are living in a “Snapchat Nation.”

Who’s got the power?

Walmart Spending CycleBy Josh Kimball

It’s funny, because when someone tells you they have been struggling with racism for a long time, you automatically assume that person is someone of color.

Having a white man struggle with racism is downright laughable and that laughable man fighting the tyranny of racism is Tim Wise. This brings into mind the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” where King discusses his disgust with complacency. King makes it clear there will never be a right time to seek change, that it will always be an inconvenient time. Wise is an example of someone who is not complacent, where millions of Americans – including myself –

find it convenient to just say let’s just wait, things are getting better.

Either you are on the side of justice or not- no neutrality.

Whites fighting for blacks and men fighting for women, this is the only equation for success. Ridding our country of racism will not happen without ridding our country of discrimination in general, that includes discrimination of women. There is a point in everyone’s life where they just can’t take anymore, be that criticism, abuse, discrimination, or serving at the lower end of the pay scale. Everyone knows there is a problem, but no one wants to do anything about it, or if they do, they do not have the tools to go about it.

Wise is white, but he has gained credibility on something that some say he has no right speaking about. This idea of implicit bias is something that every single American citizen struggles with every single day, and it’s not our fault. We have been programmed like R2D2, except our programmer was racism, and unlike most robots we do not realize we are robots. We either choose to act on, but the more we educate people on these embedded flaws the better off we will be.

It’s no secret that the wealthy in our country abuse their powers, yet nothing happens. The majority of Americans agree that things need to change on a political level, yet nothing happens. I discussed lobbyists in an earlier blog and how important limiting their role within the political process would be. There are a lot of people who don’t know what a lobbyist is and or what they do. People complain that policies do not benefit them or anyone else. The sad thing is they are benefiting someone. The people who are benefiting are powerful corporations that had lobbyists inject a bunch of money into political campaigns. Not only do zoning laws separate the wealthy from the poor, so do the amount of opportunities afforded to whites, I mean the wealthy.

Wise brought to the surface the ugly history of white privilege and opportunity. He pointed out the systematic inequalities brought forth by the U.S government that limited the economic well-being of minorities over generations. Many minorities cannot earn a living wage in this country due to decades of limited opportunities still present today. This living wage means enough money to maintain a normal standard of living. As Wise pointed out, Walmart is the biggest redeemer of food stamps for their own employees. Think about that for a second. This means that the company is paying so many of their employees so little that the majority of them are still on government aide. Where are all of Walmart’s profits going, you ask? Six Walton (owners of walmart) heirs have the same collective wealth as 127 million Americans. The Walton family has more combined wealth than the combined wealth of 42 percent of American families. The Waltons have more wealth than almost half of our country. Guess who spends a lot of money swaying politicians?

The teachings of Tim Wise

By Nicolette Johnston

 

Author Tim Wise gives his speech titled "What do White guys know about race and gender?" on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at Kellogg Center. The speaker series was hosted by the Women's Resource Center. Justin Wan/The State News

Tim Wise is an activist addressing the issues of race and inequality in the United States. His experiences with race started early on, as his parents decided he would attended primary school in which most of his classmates and teachers were people of color.

He was able to realize that although as an individual he did not judge others according to their race, that he had reaped many benefits as a child growing up with white privileges.

He is a strong believer that if we are ever going to address racial issues in our country, we must first accept the idea that those who are “white” often experience advantages due to their race at the expense of others who may be “brown” or “black.

Even with an African American President, there is still a racial divide

1963_march_on_washingtonThere is no doubt that the United States has come a long way from the racial segregation and discrimination in the past, but it still does exist. Tim Wise explains a phenomena called “white privilege.” As a person of color, one would see its affects multiple times a day. However, those who are white have the privilege of ignoring racial issues. Since these issues do not seem to pertain to them, they tend not to acknowledge them. Further, since they benefit from being white, they may not even see the issues in which those of color face on a daily basis.

 “Why do black people run from the police?”imgres-1

Tim Wise explains that if you haven’t had enough personal interaction with black people in order to understand this question one woman asked him, then you are not mature enough to partake in the conversation.

SAD… BUT TRUE.

If he reviews the facts, Wise explains that black Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for drug related offenses such as possession of marijuana. Further, that they are five to nine times more likely to be incarcerated for it.

WHY?

Wise blames these results on the disproportionate implication of drug laws. As more young men acquire records for drug- related offenses and felonies, it makes it harder for them to do the things that those with white privilege have an easier time doing. It takes an effect on their ability to find jobs and housing and to take part in voting. The proclaimed war on drugs has managed to take down entire communities that have high concentrations of colored families while other “white” communities experience the same type of drug- related issues.
imgresThis is the type of SCAPEGOATING that our country is inclined to practice. If we blame others for problems that they didn’t even create, we no longer have to deal with the real issues at hand. Wise finds the inconsistency astounding, as those who are “white” continue to make excuses for the problems they face in our country. For instance, “black people have taken all the jobs.” Yet, “black people are lazy and never want to work.” It makes no sense, but still seems to be a popular opinion of many in the country who just don’t understand their white privilege.

So, where is the EQUALITY?

The United States is a country in which African Americans age 22-27 are 2.25% more like to be out of work. Further, a typical white household headed by a dropout has TWO TIMES the net worth of a household headed by a black graduate.

Racial discrimination and segregation has not disappeared. We cannot be colorblind because in order to fix the issues we face we must be able to see color as well as the advantages and disadvantages that accompany race. Tim Wise explains that although this is a dangerous time, it is also a promising moment to deal with injustices. Only then can we experience a nation in which EVERY HUMAN BEING is considered an EQUAL.

SEE FOR YOURSELF!

WATCH TIM WISE’S DOCUMENTARY “WHITE LIKE ME”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NynTIaCM988

Tax Fairness & Wealth/Income Inequality

Source: Huffington Post

Most people acknowledge the vast wealth/income gap in America.

Documentaries have covered it.

The New York Times has written a plethora of articles about it.

Politicians have even denounced it.

Realizing a problem is one thing. Solving that problem is another issue.

Anyone can talk about how terrible it is, or watch, and read, and listen to the awful effects it has on this country. We need to go above and beyond to offer solutions.

Unfortunately, there is no single answer when it comes to solving wealth and income inequality in America.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Source: efile.com
Source: efile.com

Instead, break the problem down. Look at a single issue as a piece to solving the puzzle of wealth/income inequality.

One piece of the puzzle that should be looked at is the lack of tax fairness in this country.

Theoretically, America has a progressive tax. A single American who makes over $413,200 from Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2015 has to pay a tax rate of 39.6 percent.

A single American who makes between $1 and $9,225 has to pay a rate of 10 percent.

Although it sounds fair on paper, things tend to work out differently when push comes to shove.

Source: The Washington Post
Source: The Washington Post

In 2012, the average tax paid by the top 50 percent of earners was 14.33 percent, according to the IRS.

How fair is that?

The country’s richest people tend to earn from their various investments.

Investments are taxed at a much lower rate than income. The nation’s wealthiest residents also are eligible for many other tax breaks. Some may surprise you.

These factors lead to Warren Buffett paying a lesser tax rate than his secretary, or Mitt Romney paying taxes at a 14 percent rate.

Tightening up restrictions and closing these loopholes would create a fairer America.

FDR. Source: History.com

This doesn’t mean the tax rate has to be at a WWII level, when Franklin D. Roosevelt taxed top earners 94 percent.

There are other options. With a concentrated effort, a difference could be made.

It’s time for America to start putting the puzzle together.


 

By: Jackson Rioux

A Solution to the Wealth Inequality

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And by poor I mean everyone who isn’t part of the 1 percent. Wealth allocation in America has become so inflated and one-sided that the elite 1 percent own 50 percent of America’s riches. Americans have had to endure this corrupt economic model for years.

Enough is enough.

Here are a couple of ways to remedy the mass inequality and even the playing field for all.

The wealth gap between middle class workers and grossly overpaid executives is outrageous and yet these average employees are still paying higher taxes. The government’s duty is to serve the people, therefor they should alleviate inequality and poverty by instilling a fair tax system that cuts down on the top earners and helps build up the bottom. In order to cut down on inequality, wealth redistribution is essential. With that said, a progressive tax should be imposed on all in order to better reshape this country into a fairer nation. Under progressive taxes, those who earn more are taxed higher and those with less income pay less in taxes. The economic resources gained from the tax cuts on the rich could be put to use by using it on improving public education, medical research and other societal functions. During World War II, President Roosevelt put forth a 94 % tax rate for top earners. Since then, the U.S. has experienced decreased progressiveness in its tax policies over the years and as a result income inequality greatly increased by allowing the elite access to capital.

While the methods and ideas brought up may not be the solutions that will ultimately fix everything, something must change! All we want is just a fairer world to live in.

-Quenton

 

 

Employer of Last Resort

WPA pic 1
Source: History.com

It seems so simple.

Unemployment is high.

The strength of our American infrastructure is low.

Yeah, it seems so damn monumentally simple to connect these two elements and benefit everyone (not just the unemployed). We did it before and we can do it again.

Back in 1939 (when the dinosaurs roamed) a program was implemented by the president at that time, Franklin D. Roosevelt called the Work Progress

Source: Wikipedia.com
Wikipedia.com

Administration. This program attacked two major problems of that time; unemployment and the lack of a descent infrastructure (sound familiar?). From the time of the program’s inception until its demise (1935-1943)  it ultimately provided  some 8 million jobs. Oh, and it did more than that! By putting  people back to work this program restored their dignity and their  faith in their government as a entity that does care about their safety and well being.

On the news we are constantly reminded of the failed health of our

source: wheresmy jetpack
source: wheresmy jetpack

economy and of our failing infrastructure. Oh, I’m sorry,  what do I mean by infrastructure?

Well, the infrastructure is our roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, railways, and anything else essential to our health, wealth, and economy. With that being said, how can we explain not investing in our people and our home?

We may see the homeless and unemployed on our streets but do we see the shear neglect and disrepair of our streets? Boom! Put it together people. Its the ole “two birds-one stone theory”. We can fix two problems

source: Brookings.com
source: Brookings.com

with one solution, get your federal and state legislatures to lobby (yes, i said that bad word,lobby) for a new New Deal. Instead of spending money on fixing other countries, tell your representatives to FIX US! Next year will be voting time so, catch the politicians’ ears while they are listening. Tell them our people are hurting and our roads are hurting, Fix Us! Think about it.

submitted by Braxton Gray

When Unemployment hits close to home

When Unemployment hits close to home

The national unemployment rate is misleading and it’s used as a political ploy. The media loves to state how much the unemployment number has “dropped” down to 5 percent, a significant reduction compared to the Great Recession numbers of 2008, which were more than double that figure.  What isn’t factored into that number are the countless millions who are so hopelessly out of work that they’ve given up looking for employment.  My father falls into that category.

My father was laid off in 2012, after 40 plus years in the printing industry.  His company had to scale down their workforce to keep their bottom line in check, and who do you think was first on the chopping block? Employees who were the closest to retirement age, of course.  Why keep a workforce on with higher accrued salaries when you can just hire kids right out of college and pay them an entry-level wage, which they’ll gladly accept.  This man, who worked his butt off to provide for my mother, myself, and my two sisters all of his adult life, was promptly given the boot and sent on his merry way.  This Navy veteran, who fought for our country during the Vietnam War and sacrificed time away from his family to keep our borders secure and the American people safe.

And how has our country re-paid this man?  By treating him like another expendable number.  To watch my father apply for job after job, and either not receive a call or e-mail back, or go to the interview only to be told he’s over-qualified. (Translation: You’re 62 years old, and 3 years from retirement, you think we’re going to hire you?)  To watch him make countless calls to the unemployment office with no new news or have to file extensions just to stay afloat.  To have him and my mother rely on her part-time job and their credit cards just to get by month after month.  I don’t think I can ever truly express into words how much that has pained me to watch them endure that or the disgust I feel towards our government.  Luckily, they both turned 65 this year and are now on Medicare and are receiving their pensions.  But my mother will most likely continue to work part-time into her 70’s to supplement their income and wages that they’ve lost.  But hey, Big Government, that’s the American dream right?  Why don’t you stick those unemployment numbers where the sun doesn’t shine, be truthful to the American people, and come up with a solution for the unemployed in this country.

Kevin Hayes