May 08, 2014
By Julianne Malveaux
During 2013, the U.S. economy experienced a reasonable level of growth. The 3.4 percent growth rate in the second half of 2013 represented a solid growth rate, but not enough to trickle down to those who live at the periphery of the economy. Those with low or stagnant wages might find that their lives have not improved by 3.4 percent. Indeed, the gains from gross domestic product growth may mostly be captured by the wealthy.
The first quarter of 2014 was an amazing disappointment. Instead of the modest growth of 3.4 percent from the second half of 2013, the economy grew by just one tenth of one percent. This is the one of the slowest growth rate in the five years of so-called economic recovery. Based on these data, the economy grew more than 300 times slower than it did in the last half of 2013. Some say we are growing at a snail’s pace, but even the most sluggish snail can do better than this.
Can we blame this stagnant economy on the harsh winter we have experienced? Between snow, hail, sleet and rain, housing starts have slowed. People who might hit the malls are staying home. People aren’t buying cars at expected rates. Since consumer spending drives about three-quarters of our nation’s economic growth, postponed spending dampens growth. But consumer spending has not slowed as much as GDP has. Spending on health care (thanks to Obamacare) and on other services suggests that consumers have had mixed engagement as spenders.
On the other hand, businesses aren’t spending as much as they might, and along with holding off on spending makes it difficult for them to add employees to their payrolls. It also impacts GDP. What are these businesses waiting for to persuade them to invest in the economies that went into debt for their survival? Banks aren’t lending as much as they might, and even consumer credit is tighter than it should be. Consumers are spending despite, not because of, sluggish economic growth.
Growth might be stronger if the job market were more robust. As we saw from Friday’s unemployment figures, unemployment isn’t dropping significantly. Wages are stagnant. Every measure that President Obama has introduced for job creation our Congress has rebuffed, including unemployment assistance. While economic growth is, at best, sluggish, there are many who have not experienced any recovery at all.
While macroeconomic indicators deal with overall issues of economic growth, few indicators are disaggregated by race or income status. The Obama initiatives to raise wages, lower unemployment and create jobs are important because they are modest ways to spread the wealth and to ensure that economic growth is more evenly distributed. After all, we know that those at the top garnered the most gains from money thrown at them because they were “too big to fail.” Are those at the periphery just too small to survive?
We can’t have sustained economic growth when those who depend on banks to provide funds for economic expansion are shut down. We won’t have sustained economic growth if (0fficiallly) one in 15 people, and one in eight African Americans cannot find work. Economic recovery is meaningless to someone who lost a home during the great recession, and is clawing back to survival. While those with mortgage challenges were promised relief, few of them have received it.
Some expect the economy to come roaring back in the second quarter, but I don’t expect the growth rate will be much higher than 3 percent. Further, the growth rate does nothing to close the wage and income gap that clearly slows economic growth. Who gains and who loses based on the growth rate? This is as an important an issue as is the issue of sluggish economic growth.
Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.
May 08, 2014
By James Clingman
The New York Times carried an article titled, “White House Hosts ‘Next Generation’ Young and Rich,” in its Fashion and Style section, of all places, on April 18. The piece revealed several issues we need to be aware of as we move toward 2050, the year demographers say White people will be the minority in this nation. Unless you are among the most naïve people in the world, you know why the rich kids were to the White House in the first place. So let’s look at the bigger picture and its implications for Black people.
The piece notes, “Policy experts and donors recognize that there’s no better time than now to ‘empower’ young philanthropists. Professionals in the field, citing an Accenture report from 2012, estimate that more than $30 trillion in wealth will pass from baby boomers to younger generations by around 2050.” What an interesting convergence of events. Whites become the minority and $30 trillion is transferred to their children. Another interesting point is the apparent need to “empower” the young philanthropists. Since when have billionaires needed to be empowered?
The sub-headline stated, “Including the Young and the Rich.” Since when have billionaires needed to be included? They have always included themselves. Money controls politics; it’s not the other way around. Thus, bringing rich kids to the White House for a tête-à-tête is nothing more than pandering, but the larger issue for Black folks is that we are not and will not be included in economic discussions as they pertain to control and empowerment. It ensures, as if that needs to be done, that while the political majority may be “minorities,” the overwhelming economic majority will remain in the hands of the rich kids. But as the saying goes, “I ain’t mad at ‘em.” They are taking care of their interests and their own people, while we continue to rely on charlatans and hucksters to show us the way to the next “maach.”
There are two groups of people: those who are seeking power and those who already have power. It is pretty obvious what group the rich kids are in. By the way, I wonder if Bob and Sheila Johnson’s kids were invited to the billionaire soiree. There were no Black kids in the photos I saw. But maybe the Johnsons don’t have enough billions to qualify.
It is disheartening to watch Black people settle for so little from our abundance. No, we do not have the same resources as the rich kids, but we do have enough to command respect and to leverage economic and political benefits. But we have this “messiah complex” when it comes to leadership; we continually vie for the “HNIC” position in politics, religion, community activism, education, sports, and every other category, instead of establishing a cadre of proven, intelligent, unafraid, and un-beholden men and women to lead the way forward.
Our attempts to gain economic freedom, since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered, have not worked, which is another reason Black rich kids were not summoned to the White House. To politicians the Black elite are folks who have no independence. Heads of nonprofit organizations dependent on the largess of corporations owned by the rich kids, preachers who capitulate to the political whims of groups with whom they disagree on basic Biblical tenets, and talking heads who have been chosen by the rich kids to speak for Black people, are the ones called to the White House. They have no power; they only have influence.
In 2050 only the demographics will have changed. The real power—economic power—will still be in the hands of the rich kids featured in the New York Times article, and the so-called minorities will still be “maachin” and decrying voting rights infringements. The rich kids are planning for 2050 right now, and so are the top political players, while Black folks are celebrating the fact that we will be in the majority by then. What benefit will that bring us if we have no collective economic foundation from which to support ourselves and obtain reciprocity in the marketplace?
Land, labor, and capital, the basic assets necessary for economic empowerment, are what Black folks need to prepare for 2050. We don’t need a bunch of bought-and-paid-for puppets bloviating about issues that hardly affect us at all. We don’t need more photo opportunities, superficial press conferences with little or no follow through, and certainly not a continuation of endless rhetoric that rings hollow when it comes to our economic advancement. We are still economically enslaved in 2014, after all we have been led to believe by the HNICs, and if we don’t change now, we will still be economically enslaved in 2050.
In 2050 the rich kids will be in charge, and as the article cited, “Justin McAuliffe, a 24-year-old heir to the Hilton hotel fortune, was similarly impressed by the crowd. ‘Hilton, Marriott, and Carlson,’ he said. ‘That is cool.’” Cool indeed.
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.
May 01, 2014
By Jessica Huie
Founder of Color blind Cards and JH Public Relations
Success inevitably follows action. I began my adult life as a pregnant seventeen year old with no qualifications and no prospects living temporarily in a hostel in a dingy part of London. I awoke one night about seven months pregnant to find cockroaches crawling along the wall just inches from my face. Last week I gave a speech just minutes from the hostel at the esteemed British Library, one of the most respected and celebrated buildings in England, and what I explained to the audience was that the reason my life is now light years from the place it seemed destined, is through a series of actions which changed my life, and that of the baby girl who has grown into a beautiful, ambitious fifteen year old.
Following Monet’s birth I applied to college with a vague dream of travelling the world interviewing superstars.
I had no media contacts, no insight into the entertainment industry, but I had imagination. A degree at university followed college, and I commuted 80 miles a day three times each week to complete my studies, combining unpaid internships at magazines and PR companies to get as much experience as possible. I’d often leave my two years old daughter crying at nursery as I drove down the freeway in tears. Guilty in that typical absent mother way and uncertain of whether my pipe dream would be realized or whether the petrol in my car tank would be adequate to get me to my destination – knowing full well that there was no more money in my bank account until the following week’ pay check. It was a time of huge action and even greater uncertainty, but I clung to hope and faith.
Three years after I left the hostel, I found myself sitting in a plush Manhattan studio at 3am, interviewing superstar Mariah Carey for the cover story of the very magazine I had interned for. Flown to the USA from London courtesy of Mariah’s management, all expenses paid. It was one of many moments in my life where I have experienced a surreal moment of the power of action, work ethic, vision and faith.
Today I am founder of JH Public Relations, a London based PR company which represents a plethora of inspiring entrepreneurs, and Color blind Cards, the black greeting card company credited with putting greeting cards depicting people of color on high-street shelves for the first time in British history. The success lead to me being invited to No.10 Downing street by the Prime Minister to contribute to a round-table on how we can create a more enterprising country, a National Diversity Award and an invitation to the residence of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York and Prince Charles, Clarence House.
It was a normal lunch-break in 2007, from my glamorous career working for one of Britain’s biggest PR agencies where our clients included stars like Simon Cowell, when I went searching for a greeting card for my then seven year old daughter Monet. She was going through a phase of disliking her afro hair and beautiful brown skin, and I was looking for a card featuring the image of a brown skinned princess. I could not find one in the shop, in fact I could not find ONE card featuring the image of a black, Asian or mixed-heritage person in ANY of the shops on Britain’s busiest high-street. On a business level it seemed to be a huge commercial oversight, and on a social level I felt passionate about the importance of my daughter and every child having access to positive images, which represented their identity. How can we nurture a sense of self-love, pride in identity and self-esteem in our children if they are taught by society that they are not beautiful and enough just as they are?
In that moment Color blind Cards was born.
It has been a struggle. The buyers need convincing that there is a big enough demand for cards which feature black faces to justify giving them space on shelves, and running two businesses with two children is not easy, but the mission to put diversity into the high-street is worth the struggle.
We have now launched our USA version of www.colorblindcards.com and ship from the USA to the USA and our cards and gifts can be personalized online.
Numbers don’t lie and with the support of our community we can illustrate that we do deserve representation in the shops we support every day with our cash. I hope you’ll help us in our mission and enjoy the cards and gifts with your families as much as we enjoy creating them.
LAWT News Service
In a room full of representatives of banks, non-profits, community advocacy organizations, elected officials and volunteers, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, underscored the importance of community banks, minority and women-owned financial institutions, and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to low and moderate-income individuals and communities.
Waters recently spoke at the Annual Shareholders meeting of Clearinghouse CDFI, a local, mission-based community development lender. Her remarks focused on the importance of CDFIs and minority-owned depository institutions, as well as her work to strengthen them in the aftermath of the economic crisis. She also discussed a number of important federal initiatives in which she has taken a leadership role. These include efforts that evaluate bank performance in meeting the needs of all borrowers, consumer financial protection measures, and the establishment of the Offices of Women and Minority Inclusion (OMWI), which monitor the number of federal contracts going to women and minority-owned businesses.
Waters said, “I believe that CDFIs and minority-owned depository institutions are instrumental to our community’s success. Given that most are characterized by local ownership, local control, and local decision making, these community institutions foster economic growth and help to ensure that the financial resources of the local community are put to work on its behalf. Community development financial institutions help build wealth and keep it inside the community – something that is critically important to ensure that the economic opportunity that is facilitated by these entities is anchored in the areas where it is created.”
April 24, 2014
Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing Company (JPC), recently named Mitzi Miller as the new editor-in-chief of EBONY magazine, effective immediately.
Miller, most recently served as editor-in-chief of JET magazine, a post she had held since May 2011. Wendy Wilson, the current managing editor of JET magazine, will now oversee the day-to-day operations of JET magazine.
“Mitzi is a gifted editor with tremendous energy and passion, and her strong editorial background will catapult the EBONY brand to greater heights,” said Rogers. “We are thrilled to have Mitzi in our JPC family and are excited to see the new direction she will bring to the magazine.”
“I am extremely humbled to be trusted with the responsibility of leading the number one African-American publication in the country,” said Miller. “Amy Barnett is an exceptional editor, and I am honored to succeed her as editor-in-chief at EBONY. I am excited about all the possibilities as I assume my new role.”
While at the helm of JET magazine, Miller revamped the iconic 62-year-old brand with the magazine’s first and only successful redesign, re-launch of the Jet website and an increased social media presence. An award-winning journalist and bestselling author of five books, Miller is regularly a featured guest on several national television programs, including ABC’s “Good Morning America,” TV One’s “News One Now with Roland Martin,” MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” and CNN’s “CNN Newsroom.”
Prior to joining JET, Miller served as the editor-in-chief of SET Magazine. A former associate editor at JANE Magazine, she began her editorial career in 2001 at HONEY magazine. Miller holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida A&M University and currently sits on the Jack & Jill of America Foundation Board. Her recent accolades include recognition among The Root 100 honorees for 2013, Florida A&M University’s 125 Outstanding Alumni of the Quasquicentennial, and Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine’s 2011 40 Under 40 roster.
Miller succeeds Amy DuBois Barnett, who is leaving EBONY after serving as editor-in-chief since 2010.
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