Connect with us

#NNPA BlackPress

Black Businesses Matter, But Will They Get Fair Share Of COVID-19 Aid Money?

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “African Americans never really recovered from the housing crash and economic meltdown and that reality is going to be a very important factor for Black people, especially since the U.S. may be going into some form of depression,” said Bill Fletcher Jr., former president of TransAfrica Forum and a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies. “I saw a report last week that shows the Washington metropolitan area could lose 35 percent of small businesses. Add a layer of race onto that—lower savings rates and profit margins and most small biz not able to sustain themselves for three months and the problem becomes clear.”

Avatar

Published

on

By Barrington M. Salmon, Contributing Writer, The Final Call
@bsalmondc

President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders announced the $2 trillion economic stimulus package—the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to great fanfare, touting the deliverables of different aspects of the provisions and their belief in its ability to slow the economic tsunami exacerbated by the novel coronavirus pandemic. One of the major selling points is a $1,200 one-time payment to adults.

The pandemic has cut a wide and deadly swathe through communities across the country, overwhelmed the medical infrastructures of places like New York City, Detroit and New Orleans, and brought much of America’s economic activity to a standstill. At press time the grisly tally in the U.S. stood at 356,942 confirmed cases and more than 10,524 deaths. New York is still the epicenter with more than 122,031 confirmed cases and almost 4,159 deaths.

In a desperate effort to blunt the spread of Covid-19, state governors have ordered as many as 230 million people to stay home, which has brought commerce to a virtual standstill. Along with the sudden and brutal decline of the much vaunted, record-setting stock market, the economy began a freefall dragging with it jobs, businesses—large and small—and the destinies and fortunes of tens of millions of American workers.

Compared to other small business owners, African Americans have generally had to face more daunting challenges such as smaller cash reserves to draw from, difficulty in securing bank loans and other financing and being sole proprietors or “mom and pop” establishments that are ineligible for most small business loans.

Businesses, big and small, have been savaged, with the hardest hit sectors being the travel and hospitality industries and the retail sector.

Financial planner and wealth manager Ivory J. Johnson acknowledged that Covid-19 has shaken up U.S. businesses and hit Black customers hard.

“It’s having a tremendous effect,” he said. “Cash flow just stops. Ten percent retail, 10 percent of restaurants, 20 percent of the population just stopped. This is the end of the business cycle, we’re at peak employment where wages go up, corporate money gets squeezed and they fire Bob,” he explained.

“People didn’t have time to pivot. For Black business, access to capital may not be there and Black customers are going to be hit very hard. It’s going to be a challenge for all businesses. You have to figure what you need to do now.”

He characterized the relief package as, “keep the light on money,” likened the U.S. economy to a Ponzi scheme with the U.S. government printing money “out of thin air,” and said now that corporations—who are carrying between $4 trillion and $10 trillion worth of debt—face an economic reckoning, the realization is dawning that the way they’ve been doing business is untenable.

“They are now seeing that this isn’t sustainable,” said Mr. Johnson, who for the past two decades has helped families and small businesses create and protect wealth, and who has guided them to see the benefits of developing a financial game-plan. “Nobody ever shoots Santa. People don’t care and weren’t complaining when they were making money.”

Mr. Johnson said the Covid-19 pandemic merely accelerated what has been happening to the economy, just at a slower rate.

“Here’s the reality: what happened is that they are creating money out of thin air, buying assets, feeding the Ponzi scheme,” he said. “They were rigging earnings, strip-mining stocks and buying back stocks, while the Federal Reserve pushed down interest rates and have been buying bonds and assets.”

Mr. Johnson, who founded Delancey Wealth Management. LLC in 2012, said 35 percent of small businesses couldn’t sustain a three-month shutdown, while 70 percent wouldn’t survive past six months.

He said the country is staring at the abyss. The unemployment rate during the Great Depression was 25 percent and financial experts are predicting that unemployment figures could reach that figure before all this is done. In late March and early April, about 10 million Americans filed for unemployment. The next jobs figures are expected to be considerably higher.

Veteran labor organizer Bill Fletcher, Jr. said there are a couple of layers to consider when contemplating the effect coronavirus will have on African Americans.

“One is the question of the impact of the crisis on Black America and Black businesses. One of the things that we’re going to have to deal with in this country, irrespective of race, is going to be trauma,” he said. “I think that it will have a particular type of impact on Black America—looking at illnesses and a further elimination of wealth, along the lines of 2008 crash,” added Mr. Fletcher.

“African Americans never really recovered from the housing crash and economic meltdown and that reality is going to be a very important factor for Black people, especially since the U.S. may be going into some form of depression,” said Mr. Fletcher, former president of TransAfrica Forum and a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies. “I saw a report last week that shows the Washington metropolitan area could lose 35 percent of small businesses. Add a layer of race onto that—lower savings rates and profit margins and most small biz not able to sustain themselves for three months and the problem becomes clear.”

What comes out of this crisis will be equivalent to the aftermath of a war, he said.

“It’s not like coming out of a recession with the infrastructure intact. Even if the number of people who die isn’t as high, we’re looking at high levels of devastation economically,” Mr. Fletcher explained.

Marc Morial is one of a number of critics who don’t believe the package goes far enough and said he and others in the Civil Rights and business communities will have to push just as hard as they have to ensure that more is done for African American businesses. He said he doesn’t have to look too far to see the impact of the pandemic on small Black businesses owners in New York, where he lives.

“My barber is closed down. That’s where three people work. It’s their livelihood,” he said soberly. “Every barber shop, every hair salon has been closed down.”

Mr. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said he, other Civil Rights organizations and their allies fought fiercely to ensure that Congress wouldn’t pass a bill that completely ignored African American businesses at perhaps their time of greatest need.

“The $2.2 trillion recovery relief plan is a down payment,” Mr. Morial told The Final Call. “In the best case scenario, it will offer two months relief for small business owners and four months relief for unemployed worker. There is a need for them to go back. We fought hard in discussions, along with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), to ensure, for example that lending platforms would be open to non-profits, sole proprietors and mom and pop stores.”

“The language is broad and inclusive, and the execution may take a while. We have to lean in on this opportunity hard. African American business owners shouldn’t sit around and wonder if they should apply. Apply! We have to put pressure on the process for it to serve us.”

Mr. Morial said, “There will definitely be a need for more money and we’re working with Rep. Karen Bass to see what the next package will look like.” President Trump signed the bill March 27.

Ron Busby, President and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), played a similar role as Mr. Morial pressing lawmakers to include provisions favorable to African American businesses.

“I want readers to understand that in the 700-plus page bill, nowhere was the word, ‘Black,’” said Mr. Busby, who serves on the Pfizer Small Business Council, National Newspapers Publishers Association Foundation Board of Directors, and White House African American Leadership Council. “It is a race-neutral bill, has nothing to do with Black people. The U.S. Chamber advocated to keep it race neutral to ensure that the bill would get support. Congress felt it would be easier to get passed that way.”

Mr. Busby said while $2 trillion seems like a great deal of money, $349 million will go towards the Small Business Administration’s Payment Protection Program (PPP).

“That also seems like a great deal of money but it’s not enough funding,” he said. “It will be very difficult for Black and small businesses. We fought for small, Black-owned businesses, fought for a couple of things—to ensure that businesses wouldn’t be cancelled because of supply chain issues and problems with developing products and widgets because of the epidemic. We also fought to get a ‘front-pay’ program where businesses would get paid in the next 15 days.”

“The federal government is notorious for slow payments of 60, 90, 120 days— and most Black-owned businesses are more interested in and dependent on cash-flow. They (negotiators) pulled it out at the last minute but they said they will continue to pay businesses through the disruption.”

Mr. Busby and other observers say most Black businesses have small payrolls and use what is called 1099 workers and contract employees, but if business owners apply for the PPP, it will pay 100 percent of their payroll for the next three months. Some aspects of the plan are still vague, saying he’s not sure how the wording will be received at banks, he added.

Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and Rep. Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania told The Final Call that the good news is that small businesses including those who work as 1099 employees, beauty and nail salons, painters and others who are self-employed will have an opportunity to participate.

“April is when they can first apply,” she said. “The good news is that dollars are available. It’s first come, first serve. It was important for us to make sure that individuals who work as contractors weren’t left out. We can’t make a commitment that everyone will get in but people should prepare their packages, go to the Treasury website and download the application package.”

Rep. Beatty, who is vice chairman of the Small Business Committee and serves on the Committee on Financial Services and the Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions subcommittee among others, said she has worked very closely with Chairman Nadya Velasquez and other committee members.

“CBC members have stepped up. We’re teaming up and working together but there are a lot of devils in the details, especially those not in the traditional SBA,” said Rep. Beatty, who has served in Congress since 2013.

She said she and some of her colleagues met with Civil Rights leaders and will continue to do so as all of them try to stay ahead of this crisis. Congressman Evans said providing economic distress loans, the PPP and $10 million for minority development agencies is very important and underscores the importance of small businesses.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and it’s very important in terms of what these programs will mean,” he said. “We will probably need more money and jobs as ways to build wealth. Closing the income and wage gap and stabilizing and building Black businesses is a priority for Rep. Karen Bass.”

Rep. Beatty agreed with Mr. Morial and Mr. Busby that there’s much more that needs to be done to make sure that African Americans have a safety net during these calamitous times.

“The old adage is that when America gets a cold, African Americans get pneumonia,” she said. “What’s happening with coronavirus has exposed so many disparities. Disparities are being shown by the media. In Detroit, for example, 14 percent of the population is African American but 40 percent of those dying are African American. The increasing numbers of people who are incarcerated, homeless. We need to look at the total picture of disparities.”

Zeville Preston, a member of New York City’s Black Business Empowerment Committee (BBE) was scathing in her criticism of the relief package.

“This bill is D.O.A. (dead on arrival). We need something of value. Black blood and bodies built this country and as usual, once again, we find ourselves at the back of the line,” she said. “We’re 22 percent of New York City’s population but we are less than two percent of business and get less than two percent of the contracts, numbers which have declined over a five-year period. Black businesses dying on the vine and the governor cares not at all.”

“This is to put CBC on notice. They want people to think they did something, and they did nothing.”

A March 20, 2020 letter sent to the CBC points to 94 proposals to help African Americans that the body sent to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with only three speaking directly to Black people and only money allocated to Historically Black Universities and Minority Serving Institutions has a dollar amount attached to it: $450 billion. In their letter, the BBE expresses frustration and dismay: “The CBC’s 94 initiatives totaling $459 million basically leaves the Black business community with nothing, especially in New York state where all other ethnic groups and White-women’s participation far exceeds Black participation,” it states. “BBE is most disappointed that the CBC saw fit to argue the case for minorities, women and small businesses while neglecting to propose funding specifically for Black businesses. Harlem’s BBE finds this unacceptable!”

Ms. Preston said BBE is reaching out across American cities to see if business owners and others in the Black community are having the same issues.

“We’re figuring strategically to speak in one voice,” she said.

#NNPA BlackPress

Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

Avatar

Published

on

Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

Continue Reading

#NNPA BlackPress

Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Avatar

Published

on

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

Continue Reading

#NNPA BlackPress

She Bought Freedom for Herself and Other Slaves Today a Park is Named in Her Honor

Alethia Browning Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised. 

Avatar

Published

on

Alethia Browning Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

In her early years, Alethia Browning Tanner sold vegetables in a produce stall near President’s Square – now known as Lafayette Square – in what is now Northwest Washington, D.C.

According to the D.C. Genealogy Research, Resources, and Records, Tanner bought her freedom in 1810 and later purchased several relatives’ release.

She was the first woman on the Roll of Members of the Union Bethel AME Church (now Metropolitan AME Church on M Street), and Turner owned land and a store at 14th and H Streets, which she left to her nephews – one of whom later sold the property for $100,000.

Named in her honor, the Alethia Tanner Park is located at 227 Harry Thomas Way in Northeast DC.

The park sits near the corner of Harry Thomas Way and Q Street and is accessible by foot or bike via the Metropolitan Branch Trail, just north of the Florida Ave entrances.

“The first Council legislative meeting of Black History Month, the Council took a second and final vote on naming the new park for Alethia Tanner, an amazing woman who is more than worthy of this long-delayed recognition,” Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie said in 2020 ahead of the park’s naming ceremony.

“[Her upbringing] itself would be a remarkable legacy, but Ms. Tanner was also active in founding and supporting many educational, religious, and civic institutions,” McDuffie remarked.

“She contributed funds to start the first school for free Black children in Washington, the Bell School. Feeling unwelcome at her predominately segregated church, she & other church members founded the Israel Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. When the church fell on hard times and was sold at auction by creditors, she and her family stepped in and repurchased the church.”

Born in 1781 on a plantation owned by Tobias and Mary Belt in Prince George’s County, Maryland, historians noted that Tanner had two sisters, Sophia Bell and Laurena Cook.

“Upon the death of Mary Pratt (Tobias had predeceased his wife) in 1795, the plantation, known as Chelsea Plantation, was inherited by their daughter Rachel Belt Pratt,” historians wrote.

“Mary Belt’s will stipulated that Laurena be sent to live with a sibling of Rachel Pratt’s while Sophia and Alethia were to stay at the Chelsea Plantation.”

Tanner sold vegetables at the well-known market just north of the White House in Presidents Park. It is possible – and probable – she met Thomas Jefferson there as he was known to frequent the vegetable markets there along with other prominent early Washingtonians, according to historians at attacksadams.com. 

“There are also White House records suggesting she worked for Thomas Jefferson in some capacity, likely doing various housework tasks,” the researchers determined.

Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised.

“Self-emancipation was not an option for all enslaved peoples, but both Alethia and her sister Sophia were able to accomplish this, almost entirely through selling vegetables at the market,” the researchers continued.

“Alethia Tanner moved to D.C. and became one of a significant and growing number of free Black people in the District. In 1800, 793 free Black people were living in D.C.

By 1810, there were 2,549, and by 1860, 11,131 free Black people lived in D.C., more than the number of enslaved peoples.”

Historians wrote that beginning at about 15 years after securing her manumission, Alethia Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

All in all, Tanner would have paid the Pratt family well over $5,000. All accomplished with proceeds from her own vegetable market business, they concluded.

“Alethia Tanner, it’s an amazing story of resilience, hard work, and perseverance,” D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter said at the park’s dedication.

“I just learned about this history through this, so it shows how when you name a park, you really educate people on the historical significance.”

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending