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OP-ED: New York City is Moving on Up

NNPA NEWSWIRE — In December 2020, Mayor DeBlasio and the New York City Council announced more than 150 awardees of the Complete Count Fund. Each awardee received from $15,000 to $250,000 to engage in direct mobilization around the Census in their neighborhoods. The awardees and volunteers are known as Neighborhood Organizing Census Committees (NOCC). The organizations were strategically chosen to serve the most hard-to-count neighborhoods in the five boroughs.

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New York City must overcome many adversities to increase the Census count this year. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Destiny Hamilton, Jamaica Queens NAACP

Every decade since 1940, New York has lost at least one congressional seat due to an undercount in the decennial census. The census is a survey taken every ten years to count the United States population. The information collected is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, and how much federal funding each state will receive.

Crowned “The Melting Pot,” New York City is one of the most diverse places in the world. There are roughly 8.6 million residents in NYC and yet every decade, only a little over half of those individuals are actually counted in the census. This year the New York City Council and the City University of New York (CUNY) has allocated $19 million to community-based organizations across the five boroughs to mobilize and educate the community about the census. This funding is known as the Complete Count Fund. No other city in the nation has allocated such a large amount of funding towards census related work. The goal of the Complete Count Fund is to increase the self-response rate for the 2020 Census to ensure that every person residing in New York is accurately counted.

In December 2020, Mayor DeBlasio and the New York City Council announced more than 150 awardees of the Complete Count Fund. Each awardee received from $15,000 to $250,000 to engage in direct mobilization around the Census in their neighborhoods. The awardees and volunteers are known as Neighborhood Organizing Census Committees (NOCC). The organizations were strategically chosen to serve the most hard-to-count neighborhoods in the five boroughs.

The NAACP Metropolitan Council of Branches, under the leadership of Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, is amongst the many organizations to receive funding. Prior to receiving the funding, the New York State Conference was already organizing for the Census to serve their Civic Engagement Game Changer. Some of their Census engagement initiatives include hosting Census information sessions at local NAACP branches, tabling at events, and hosting workshops about the importance of the Census. Other awardees include, but are not limited to, LIFE Camp Inc., Rockaway Youth Task Force, African Communities Together, and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

New York City must overcome many adversities to increase the Census count this year. The idea of strangers going into communities to solicit personal information evokes fear for many residents. For the Black community, this fear stems from millenniums of violence and deception caused by racism and hatred. From slavery to the Jim Crow era, the United States government has proved time and time again that they are capable of manipulating Black people. Although social conditions for Black people have somewhat improved, there are still systems of oppression such as mass incarceration and police brutality that continue to evoke fear for black and brown people and make them hesitant to willingly share personal information.

Under the Trump administration, deportation has surged in New York City by 150%. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids in the city have also significantly increased. These raids and deportation efforts target immigrants of color in mostly Latinx communities. Once taken by ICE, the families are then placed in detention camps where they wait to face a judge and most likely be deported. Many undocumented immigrants come to the United States to live a better life, and they do not want to sacrifice by giving out personal information to unfamiliar faces.

Many individuals in New York City are also subleasing apartments. Due to family dynamics, there are more people living in their houses than stated on the lease. This situation causes conflict because those individuals do not want to fill out the Census, fearing that they will be evicted and forced to search for a home during a time where New York City rent is at its highest ever.

These struggles prove why a highly diverse group of individuals are needed to execute the groundwork and persuade unique individuals in New York’s historically undercounted neighborhoods to fill out the Census. The people from NOCCs live in and speak the languages of the communities they are based in. Therefore, they have the best ability to connect to individuals on a personal level in order to overcome the adversities that NOCCs have to educate the community about the Census. There are only 10 questions asked in the Census, and under Title 13, your information is not allowed to be shared with anyone. This includes ICE, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and the New York Police Department (NYPD). If information is shared, it would result in a fine up to $250,000 and jail time.

Now that you know about New York City’s efforts to ensure a Complete Count, let’s spread the word about the Census to others so NYC can move on up!!! #NYCcounts.

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PGA Tour and Wells Fargo Embrace Golf’s Color of Change at TPC Potomac

NNPA NEWSWIRE — At the championships outside of Washington, D.C., the game’s inclusivity proved discernable in key places if not yet on the course itself, where Howard University phenom Greg Odom Jr. stood out as the only Black player to participate in a field of 156.
The post PGA Tour and Wells Fargo Embrace Golf’s Color of Change at TPC Potomac first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

If there were ever a perfect marriage between a corporate sponsor and one of golf’s alphabet soup organizations, the Wells Fargo Championships at TPC Potomac Avenal Farm provided such a bond.

Wells Fargo, the namesake for the tournament and one of the world’s most prolific financial institutions, has again become embroiled in controversy over accusations of discriminatory residential mortgage policies and lending practices against its Black customers.

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour has worked diligently to ensure that, after decades of anti-Black behavior, it’s slowly and relatively quietly becoming one of the more inclusive sports in America – if not globally.

Both entities have forged a working relationship with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association of America’s 230-plus Black-owned newspapers and media companies.

Together, both entities are working to change negative optics for which both understand they are responsible for their reputations.

At the championships outside of Washington, D.C., the game’s inclusivity proved discernable in key places if not yet on the course itself, where Howard University phenom Greg Odom Jr. stood out as the only Black player to participate in a field of 156.

At the exclusive “Executive Club,” where corporate citizens enjoy birds-eye views of the beautiful 16th hole and 17th tee, a fantastic mix of about 525 patrons yukked it up.

They talked golf, dined on catered meals, swallowed Bud Light, Stella Artois, and Coca-Cola, and enjoyed a full bar.

Interestingly, the large and exclusive tent highlighted how the color of golf is changing.

“I don’t think the game, or at least the PGA Tour and some of its sponsors, see Black and white anymore,” Daniel, a D.C. lawyer, said as Stewart Cink botched a birdie put on 16 just as another downpour emptied the seating area just off the tent.

Daniel didn’t want his last name used because a rival law firm had provided him the expensive tickets to the Executive Club.

“I’ve loved this game forever but could never understand, even as a wealthy white guy, why there wasn’t this effort or idea that having Black people, all people, included would only make it more attractive,” Daniel remarked.

Even as Odom – who had little time to soak in leading Howard University to the PGA Works Collegiate Championships a day earlier – failed to make the cut, there were many opportunities to realize the newly found inclusivity that golf offers.

Near the Wells Fargo Welcoming Center at Avenal Farms, African American bank representatives greeted patrons.

They helped the thousands of fans in attendance find their way to and from parking lots, hospitality areas, the course itself, and shuttle buses.

Ticket takers, traffic enforcers, and executives worked while several took time to talk golf.

When Montgomery County, Maryland native Denny McCarthy strolled from the driving range, a small group of fans braving the early morning elements yelled encouragement.

That small group included Darryl McKinley, an African American who works for a bank not named Wells Fargo.

“First, I’m just glad the championships are here because I live about 30 minutes from here,” McKinley asserted. “But to see McKinley representing Maryland and Odom repping Howard University and all HBCUs is exciting on different levels.”

McKinley explained that the presence of McCarthy, who is white, and Odom, a Black man, had encouraged many like him.

“Denny is from here, so it lets you know that this area can produce champions,” McKinley explained further. “Then you have Greg, a Black man, a Howard University dude doing his thing and shining a spotlight on us in this game. What else do you need to see to be convinced that the doors are now wide open for everyone in this game.”

Though Odom missed the cut, it wasn’t just the amateur who had problems with the weather. Veteran Sergio Garcia fought both the elements and officials after hitting a tee shot that went astray from the rolling terrain at Avenal Farm.

Garcia became frustrated with an official after being assessed a penalty for taking too much time while looking for his ball that went into a hazard.

Players are allowed three minutes to locate the ball once they arrive in the general area where they hit it.

“You want me to swim through the river?” Garcia barked at the official. “I wasn’t looking for the ball there. I was looking for the ball once I got onto this side. Does that make sense?”

The moment also provided a glimpse of the change in golf for some.

“They never used to argue,” Alexis Battersby, attending the event with a group of other women, stated. “But, this is fun because the game seems more real to us,” she said.

Battersby, who said she would attend the entire weekend, joined a group of 12 Black women at the championships.

Meanwhile, back inside the Executive Club, Daniel, the lawyer, offered a course for Wells Fargo and the PGA Tour.

When told Wells Fargo provided the Black Press with unlimited access to the event, he shook his head in approval.

“That’s a start,” he asserted. “They have to do many things to improve access for their African American customers and engage Black people the right way by doing more with you guys (the Black Press).”

He said the PGA Tour’s efforts are more pronounced.

“You got Odom playing here, and I’m certain they would like to see more people of color on the course,” Daniel stated.

“But, I’m also aware that in the corporate offices and other places within the PGA Tour, there are African Americans – men and women and who knows, LGBTQ individuals, who are working important jobs.

“But, if I’m you (the Black Press), I keep pressing. I’m never satisfied, and neither should African Americans until there’s concrete proof that the efforts have been sustained and the word ‘diversity’ isn’t needed in our vocabulary anymore.”

The post PGA Tour and Wells Fargo Embrace Golf’s Color of Change at TPC Potomac first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Standing on Shoulders of Giants, April Ryan is Opening Doors for Others

NNPA NEWSWIRE — April Ryan covered Obama’s two terms as president and wrote about more history when Kamala Harris became the first Black vice president and Ketanji Brown Jackson earned confirmation as the first African American female on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The post Standing on Shoulders of Giants, April Ryan is Opening Doors for Others first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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

After 25 years working as a White House correspondent, April Ryan has seen it all.

Before he became president, Barack Obama invited Ryan as a guest of his for a Congressional Black Caucus dinner.

She covered Obama’s two terms as president and wrote about more history when Kamala Harris became the first Black vice president and Ketanji Brown Jackson earned confirmation as the first African American female on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ryan also joined a host of other journalists and minority women to draw the ire of former President Donald Trump, who infamously railed at the decorated journalist in 2018, calling her a loser.

“After what I’ve seen, no,” Ryan remarked when asked whether anything surprises her anymore.

“I hope I don’t have to be surprised anymore. I’ve seen 25 years of ebb and flow, and, at the end of the day, it’s about people and reporting for people.”

Ryan noted that she once worked for a “boutique” news organization, and now she’s achieved near unparalleled success at theGrio, where she opened up the news department and the White House Bureau.

On Saturday, April 30, Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group and theGrio honored Ryan for 25 years of distinguished and passionate service as a White House correspondent during a star-studded bash, “A Seat at the Table: A Celebration of Black Media.”

The bash took place at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture and immediately follows the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) Dinner at the Washington Hilton.

Ryan, a Baltimore native, and Morgan State University graduate, serves on the board of the WHCA, only the third African American in the organization’s more than 100-year history to hold such a position.

“It’s been 25 years, so what an honor,” Ryan said.

She added that the secret to her longevity is simply keeping her head down and doing the work.

“It’s not about me. It’s about the story,” Ryan insisted.

“Along the way, people found out about me, but if you’re true to the story and telling all sides, that’s where my longevity has been.”

With fake news, misinformation, and social media wreaking havoc on traditional journalism, Ryan maintains that she’s praying for a middle ground.

“There’s always been opinion, but now the line is obscured more than ever, and there’s misinformation,” she asserted.

“People are in need of facts. They don’t need lies and entertainment. They need facts. We’re in perilous times where the gas prices are higher than they’ve ever been. We’re looking at stores, and they can’t keep stuff on the shelves.

“We’re dealing with a pandemic, and we’re watching one conflict on television when there are several around the world.

“The World Food Organization says it can’t meet the demand for food. We are in a crisis. It’s a pandemic, and people are wearing masks, and then they’re not wearing masks. We need facts, and I don’t have the stomach for entertainment when the stakes are so high.”

An honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta, Ryan has earned numerous journalism awards, including the 2019 Freedom of the Press Award from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Last year, Ryan earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Social Justice Impact.

Backing up her often-professed love of her hometown, Ryan has served as a mentor to aspiring journalists, and she’s assisted the development of up-and-coming broadcasters.

She’s authored “The Presidency in Black and White,” “At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White,” and “Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.”

“I watched history, and now I’m scribing the first woman of color who identifies as Black as vice president,” Ryan stated.

“Now, I see someone who identifies closely to Thurgood Marshall, this amazing Black woman who is authentic in herself with her braids, beautiful brown hue, and voice that comes out of the wisdom of our ancestors and our culture and history.”

Ryan said she’s also honored that the WHCA will honor Ethel Payne and Alice Dunagan, two Black Press alumni who blazed trails as White House reporters.

“I stand on their shoulders. So many of us stand on their shoulders,” Ryan said.

“They are brave women, and I thank them because if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be in the room.”

Ryan counts daughters Ryan and Grace as her life’s “greatest work.”

“I’m a Baltimorean. I grew up, and I’m still here,” Ryan declared.

“I can’t leave, my family is here, and I know that there’s this vibe here.”

She said Baltimore is primed for a comeback, much like the recent rise of Detroit, which had for decades been mired in problems that stemmed from local government mismanagement and other woes.

“Baltimore is a real community, and I’m an HBCU baby who grew up on the campus of Morgan State, where my mother worked until she died,” Ryan related.

“My heart is here, and I want to see Baltimore come back like Detroit. I see Morgan State’s renaissance, and it’s like a Phoenix – one of the most beautiful schools in the country, and it’s in the heart of Baltimore City. Like Maya Angelou said and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson repeated, ‘and still I rise.’”

The post Standing on Shoulders of Giants, April Ryan is Opening Doors for Others first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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President Biden Announces Clemency and Pardons for 78 People, Details New Steps for Criminal Justice Reform

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Helping those who served their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and decrease crime,” said President Biden.
The post President Biden Announces Clemency and Pardons for 78 People, Details New Steps for Criminal Justice Reform first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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

President Joe Biden announced he’s using his clemency powers for the first time, issuing commutations for 75 drug offenders.

Biden also issued three pardons, including to the first Black Secret Service agent to work on a presidential detail, who had long professed his innocence.

“Helping those who served their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and decrease crime,” Biden stated.

The president added that those receiving clemency had “demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back and contribute to their communities.”

The clemency recipients include Abraham Bolden, an 86-year-old former U.S. Secret Service agent and the first African American to serve on a presidential detail.

In 1964, authorities charged Bolden with offenses related to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file.

His first trial resulted in a hung jury.

Following his conviction at a second trial, even though crucial witnesses against him admitted to lying at the prosecutor’s request, the court denied Bolden a new trial.

He has maintained his innocence, arguing that he was targeted for prosecution in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the U.S. Secret Service.

Bolden has received numerous honors and awards for his ongoing work to speak out against the racism he faced in the Secret Service in the 1960s and his courage in challenging injustice.

Betty Jo Bogans also counted among those cleared by Biden.

A jury convicted the 51-year-old in 1998 for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine in the Southern District of Texas.

Authorities said she attempted to transport drugs for her boyfriend and his accomplice, neither of whom were detained or arrested.

At the time of her conviction, the White House said Bogans was a single mother with no prior record who accepted responsibility for her limited role in the offense.

“Because of the harsh penalties in place at the time she was convicted, Ms. Bogan received a seven-year sentence,” the White House said in a statement.

In the nearly two decades since her release from custody, Bogans has held consistent employment, even while undergoing treatment for cancer, and has focused on raising her son.

Administration officials signaled that the president would no longer wait on Congress for needed criminal justice reform.

Biden announced a $145 million plan to provide job skills training to federal inmates to help them gain work when they are released.

He added the implementation of new steps to support those re-entering society after incarceration.

Those steps include a new collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Labor to provide job training; new grants for workforce development programs; greater opportunities to serve in the federal government; expanded access to capital for people with convictions trying to start a small business; improved reentry services for veterans; and more support for health care, housing, and educational opportunities.

“As I laid out in my comprehensive strategy to reduce gun crime, helping those who served their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and decrease crime,” Biden remarked.

“While (this) announcement marks important progress, my Administration will continue to review clemency petitions and deliver reforms that advance equity and justice, provide second chances, and enhance the wellbeing and safety of all Americans.”

The post President Biden Announces Clemency and Pardons for 78 People, Details New Steps for Criminal Justice Reform first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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