An Open Discussion on Money & Racism in the US

Rascism

 

 

 

 

money

Racism and Money are both topics that spur much dialogue, debate, research, controversy, and a plethora of emotions.

Although some people believe that we are now a “post racist” society, there are many who still believe that because of historical institutional contexts, racism still very well exists in today’s society.

Moving along to the subject of money,

even typing the phrase “money in America” into Google brings forth a wide array of topics, resources, and information from images of the US dollar, to articles on the use of money as a form of social control, to money and politics, and even wealth inequality in America.

So let’s once again combine the two concepts “Money and Racism.” When I first think of these two concepts together, my mind instantly tries to make a correlation between the two and prompts instant questions like: Is money one of the institutional ideologies that contribute to racism? Is money one of the major reasons for the proliferation of racism in America? How did money and racism contribute to the success and decline of slavery in America? Does racism play into the economic disparities among racial/ethnic groups in the US? Is money a system of social control that involves racism in some way?

Again, there are certainly opposing views and opinions about all of these questions. In my opinion, our capitalist society yields both positive and negative influences on our economic and social positions as a nation, and racism definitely plays into this. We cannot deny that there is economic disparity within this country that is directly tied to racism. We also cannot deny that there are systems of oppression in place that contribute to the disparity of wealth but also contribute to the inability for certain people to progress economically. This means that our ideal of capitalism that we hold so near and dear in society is tainted and distorted.

One thing I believe that we can and should do is discuss this issue in a civil manner. While I continue to explore the correlation between these two concepts, feel free to take a look at other viewpoints/sources of info. on the web and comment that I have provided below.

I believe this to be a fascinating topic of discussion that is long overdue on BBS. Will you contribute to the discussion? Your contributions are strongly encouraged!

  1. American Money: The Economic Origins or Racism from BET News :   http://www.bet.com/news/national/2013/02/05/american-money-the-economic-origins-of-racism.html
  2. Racism is About Money and Power: The Race Card Project : http://theracecardproject.com/racism-money-power/
  3. Racism Influences How People Deal with money: Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/5795514/racism-influences-how-people-deal-with-money

Seattle’s Mayor Proposes $15 per hour for Minimum Wage

Yesterday, Seattle’s mayor Ed Murray announced a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. If implemented, the minimum wage would continue to increase over the next 3-7 years until it reaches $15 per hour for workers. This plan comes as part of a nationwide push from the Obama Administration to combat inequality.

At a recent press conference Murray stated that Seattle can potentially “lead the conversation and the nation to address this growing problem of income inequality”.

Seattle is the first major US city to make this kind of commitment but the hope is that others will follow. The plan must still be approved by Seattle’s City Council.  If the plan is approved, it will give small businesses with fewer than 500 workers seven years to implement the plan. Large businesses would have three years.

Harvard Endowment

Harvard earns enough money on interest from its endowment that it could offer free tuition to all students and still make profit on the interest.

 

I think that says enough on its own. There is also the fact that university endowments are tax exempt, and not required to spend any of its endowment… Harvard is an anomaly among universities, as it is the largest around, but its not unusual for universities to have huge coffers of excess cash:

Rank School Endowment Change from 2012
1 Harvard University $32,334,293,000 6.2%
2 Yale University $20,780,000,000 7.4%
3 University of Texas System $20,448,313,000 12.0%
4 Stanford University $18,688,868,000 9.7%
5 Princeton University $18,200,433,000 7.4%
6 Massachusetts Institute of Technology $11,005,932,000 6.8%
7 Texas A&M University System and Foundations $8,732,010,000 14.3%
8 University of Michigan $8,382,311,000 9.0%
9 Columbia University $8,197,880,000 7.1%
10 Northwestern University $7,883,323,000 10.7%
11 University of Pennsylvania $7,741,396,000 14.6%
12 University of Notre Dame $6,856,301,000 8.3%
13 University of Chicago $6,668,974,000 1.5%
14 University of California $6,377,379,000 7.0%
15 Duke University $6,040,973,000 8.7%
16 Emory University $5,816,046,000 6.5%
17 Washington University in St. Louis $5,651,860,000 8.1%
18 Cornell University $5,272,228,000 6.6%
19 University of Virginia $5,166,660,000 7.9%
20 Rice University $4,836,728,000 9.5%

via: cnn

One might wonder what good is it actually doing to have universities with these kinds of assets NOT doing anything to alleviate any of the financial burden on students that attend there. for instance, if you have 5 billion dollars a year flowing into your school, why are students, (who could eventually contribute back to the endowment in the future) forced to take out loans in the multiples of thousands to attend? It would be trivial to bring the cost down to levels that thousands of alumni have enjoyed in the past, which would help the students, the university, and society and the country as a whole.

Retirement Planning through the Years

Retirement planning has been at the forefront of my thoughts as of late. As my 30th birthday approaches and I begin to take serious steps to plan for my future, I started doing some research on important information to consider when beginning and continuing savings and retirement plans. Below are some important milestones recently cited in Black Enterprise magazine’s investing section. Kevin Chadwick, Managing Director of Northwestern Mutual in Austin Texas, offered the following advice:

“getting to retirement is no longer the end goal, it’s a turning point onto a new road.  It’s important to know the different milestones of your life and what you can do to keep future goals on track.”

In your 20’s

  • Manage debt
  • Start a 3-month emergency fund
  • Establish a budget (mint.com is a good program designed to help you identify your expenses and create a budget)
  • Invest regularly into a 401(k) (keeping in mind that you should be saving at least 10% of your income)
  • Set money aside for a home purchase and consider life and disability insurance

In your 30’s and 40’s

  • Consider getting life and disability insurance if you’re married or have children
  • Balance college savings for kids vs. retirement
  • Continue building an emergency fund to 6 months
  • Assess long-term care needs

In your 50’s

  • Develop permanent retirement plans
  • Decide when and where you want to retire
  • Determine the maximum retirement contribution amount for your age group
  • Estimate retirement expenses

In your 60’s and beyond

  • Coordinate pension or government benefits with savings to build a retirement paycheck
  • Optimize social security (annuities) (talk with a representative of the social security administration to get full information on eligibility and benefits)
  • Consider paying off mortgage or other outstanding debts

For more information: visit www.blackenterprise.com/money

Circular NO. 3591

 “Circular No. 3591, Re: Involuntary Servitude, Slavery, and Peonage.” Francis Biddle to All United States Attorneys, Dec. 12, 1941, File 50-821, Record Group 60, Department of Justice, National Archives.

 

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERALWASHINGTON, D.C.
December 12, 1941

CIRCULAR NO. 3591

TO ALL UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS:

RE:Involuntary Servitude,
Slavery, and Peonage
A summary of the Department files on alleged peonage violations discloses numerous

instances of “prosecution declined” by United States Attorneys, the chief reason stated
as being the absence of the element of debt. It is apparent that these determinations
were reached after considering the facts at hand only in accordance with the case law
under Section 444, Title 18, U.S. Code, which holds that debt is the “basal element of
peonage.” It is further disclosed that only in a negligible number of instances was
consideration given these complaints in light of:

(a) Section 443, Title 18, U.S. Code, which punishes for causing persons
to be held in involuntary servitude, regardless of the existence of
a debt.

(b) Section 51, Title 18, U.S. Code, which punishes for conspiracy to

deprive citizens of rights secured to them by the Constitution,
particularly the right to be free from slavery and involuntary
servitude.

(c) Section 52, Title 18, U.S. Code, which punishes persons vested with

official authority who aid or cause others to suffer deprivation of
rights secured to them by the Constitution, particularly the right
to be free from slavery and compulsory servitude.

(d) Section 88, Title 18, U.S. Code, the general conspiracy statute,

which may be employed in combination with Section 443 or Section 52.
It is the purpose of these instructions to direct the attention of the United

States Attorneys to the possibilities of successful prosecutions stemming from alleged
peonage complaints which have heretofore been considered inadequate to invoke federal
jurisdiction. It is requested that the spelling out of peonage under Section 444 be
deferred in favor of building the cases around the issue of involuntary servitude and
slavery under Sections 443, 51[,] and 52, disregarding entirely the element of debt. If,
however, it is found that a claimed debt is the basis of the intimidation to compel one

to the service of another, a separate count under Section 444 should be included in the


- 2 -
indictment. Evidence of such debt, of course, may likewise be employed as an additional
circumstance to prove intimidation under the counts based on Sections 443, 51, and 52.
In any event the Government should henceforth emphasize and depend upon the issue of in-
voluntary servitude and slavery in lieu of peonage (debt plus involuntary service) in
prosecuting this type of case.

The United States Attorneys are instructed, therefore, to consider such complaints

in accordance with the following statutes and authorize prosecutions where any one or more
of the following conditions exist, regardless of the existence of debt real or claimed:

(a) Section 443, Title 18, U.S. Code
carrying or enticing of any person from one place to another
in order that he may be held in slavery or involuntary servitude;
causing another by force, fraud or intimidation to enter and
remain in another’s employment;
causing one to be held by threats, as well as by force,
and whether such threats are of prosecution, arrest or imprison-
ment or by threats of bodily harm;
holding another by threats of prosecution, even under a valid
law; the validity of the law not justifying its use for the criminal
purpose of causing compulsory service by intimidation;
where one does not stay in his employment of his own free will
but only in accordance with the will of his master or employer, in-
voluntary service exists. [sic] — “service” does not necessarily mean
labor, i.e., a man may be in that state if he is held to be made to
work but escapes before he has begun such work;
by falsely accusing another of crime and carrying him before a
magistrate in order that he may be convicted and put to hard labor
in consequence of which such person is convicted and put to hard
labor, the false accuser at the time having the purpose or design
to hire such person or to enable some other person to hire him.
(b) Section 51, Title 18, U.S. Code
If two or more persons conspire or combine to do any of the
acts outlined above, they are guilty of a conspiracy to deprive
the person, if he is a citizen of the United States, of the free
exercise or enjoyment of the right and privilege secured to him
by the Constitution of the United States to be free from involun-
tary servitude, and are indictable accordingly.
(c) Section 52, Title 18, U.S. Code
This section is applicable to public officers, judges, sheriffs,
local constabulary, etc., who act under color and in the name of
their authority in perpetrating any of the acts listed above in viola-
tion of a person’s rights [sic] to be free from involuntary servitude and
slavery as secured to him by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
For a discussion of the applicability of this Section to colorably
official action, see Circular No. 3356, Supp.1. [8]
In the matter of control by one over the person of another, the circumstances

under which each person is placed must be determined, i.e., the subservience of the
will of one to the other. Open force, threats or intimidation need not be used to cause
a person to go involuntarily from one place to another to work and to remain at such

work; nor does evidence of kind treatment show an absence of involuntary servitude.


- 3 -
In the United States one cannot sell himself as a peon or slave — the law is fixed and

established to protect the weak-minded, the poor, the miserable. Men will sometimes sell
themselves for a meal of victuals or contract with another who acts as surety on his [sic] bond to
work out the amount of the bond upon his [sic] release from jail. Any such contract is
positively null and void and the procuring and causing of such contract to be made violates
these statutes.

It is not necessary that the defendants be themselves charged with holding a person in

a condition of compulsory servitude, a showing of aiding in holding or returning one to that

condition is sufficient.

Procedure
1. The United States Attorneys should contact local law enforcement officials by letter,

circular, conference, or any other means found effective for seeking state wide [sic] cooperation
and advise them that the practices outlined above will be prosecuted by the Federal Government.

2. In those states where legislatures have enacted criminal statutes to enforce labor

contracts, United States Attorneys from the various districts therein should promptly notify
the local magistrates, sheriffs, and other law enforcement officers, that such laws are re-
pugnant to the provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
and that action to enforce such statutes may subject the local officials to federal prosecution.

3. In the interest of consistency and uniformity in the method of investigation, the

Federal Bureau of Investigation has been requested to direct all original complaints in this
field to the Civil Rights Section of the Criminal Division of the Department for clearance and
instruction before embarking upon a formal investigation. No investigation or prosecution of
these cases should be commenced through the offices of the various United States Attorneys
without Departmental sanction. Because of the importance of unified and consistent prosecu-
tion policy in these cases, it is further requested that no indictments under these statutes
be sought without obtaining authority from the Department.

4. To assure emphasis on the issue of involuntary servitude and slavery in considering

these cases on the one hand and to minimize the necessity of relying upon the element of debt
to fix jurisdiction on the other, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been requested to

change the title on its reports from “Peonage” to read “Involuntary Servitude and Slavery.”
Henceforth, Peonage will be considered as secondary to involuntary servitude
and slavery investigations.

FRANCIS BIDDLE
Attorney General

Girls Who Code Summer Program

Fifty-seven percent of bachelor’s degrees are earned by women, but just 12 percent of them are in computer science. Convincing girls—especially right before they apply for college—that they need this skill set in the 21st century is the most important goal of the Summer Immersion Program.

A FREE 7 week course to jump start young women into tech careers

Applications due by Feb. 27th

Women use technology as much as men so why are there so few of them choosing computer science? The article explores it in depth, but I think that surely it has to do with the preconceived notions of what is appropriate for women and how hard it can be to penetrate the technical sphere. I know from personal experience that males who work in technology can be condescending, disrespectful and just plain old ignorant, no matter how technically proficient they are, and they defend their “territory” with great zeal, which could leave anyone with a distaste for the entire profession.

But this program run by Girls Who Code, is trying to help and I’m all for it. Anything that puts people in a position to win has my support and I see no reason for any young lady not to at least give it a sniff, because i believe that you don’t know what you do and do not like if you’re not exposed to it and don’t give it a chance.

I only wish that I had have seen this sooner, then I would have been able to encourage more young ladies to get involved in this. I continue to  try to interest every child and parent in coding. It will be the difference between the have’s and the have nots in the future as we move into a world where there is an increasing divide between the computer users and the the people who create the things that computer users use.

Moving Forward with More Pre-School Programs

pre-school

President Obama made it a point to talk about his plan for increasing access to pre-school initiatives for states across the nation as part of educational reform. State-funded pre-school has been a long-time topic of interest and emphasis for democrats over the years.

“However, more recently, the idea of government funded pre-school programs have become a bipartisan issue with red states such as Oklahoma and Georgia being seen as the model for providing opportunity and access for this educational endeavor.”

Being the skeptic that I am (well can sometimes be), I wonder about the source of the change of heart? Is it because they finally realize that providing access to pre-school gives many underprivileged children the opportunity to be on a leveled educational playing field? (AKA, part of the push for educational quality reform). Or, do they feel that it provides a good educational foundation giving children the opportunity to begin learning necessary educational and social skills from a young age? Or, dare I say it, is there some sort of hidden agenda involved?

As an educational professional I can see how important pre-school (particularly pre-kindergarten and head start) programs are and the benefit they would bring to many young people. I am not sure if this idea of “universal pre-kindergarten” will actually work out for us, but I am happy that many elected officials (regardless of political party) are making strides in providing more funding and programs to benefit the masses.

Reducing recidivism with financial incentives

this article via (http://freakonomics.com) U.S. prisons are costly, overcrowded, and filling up with people who don’t belong there. A simple economic bonus system for reducing recidivism could change that. caught my eye.

Prisons are expensive. The war on drugs fills prisions with people. We pay for prisons. Prisons make money for corporations. We have a public school to prision pipeline to keep these corporations profitable because we are pumped with fear daily.

Now that that’s out of the way, the incentive is to keep people going back to prision so corporations can keep making money, but it offers no benefit to the community in which these criminals come from. I don’t think you should go to prision for 20 years for smoking weed, but that’s another subject.
The article talks about changing the incentive from a reincarceration based system to a reformation based one:

“There’s a better way. Instead of encouraging incarceration, incentivize performance. How might the performance of the department of corrections be measured? By recidivism. A drop in reincarceration would offer evidence that well-performing prisons are not places that breed more criminals but provide rehabilitation instead.”

It’s all motivated by money, but still it’s a worthy cause. Redirection of the money will change the fortunes of millions of incarcerated people, and have a large impact on society as a whole. After all the current prision system is purely evil, personally speaking and academically speaking, its horrifically dysfunctional. Any system that purposefully prepares children for incarceration is sociopathic.