Monday, January 14, 2008

Economics Not Politics is the Answer to Poverty by Akindele Akinyemi


While we are gearing up for a new election cycle in Michigan and across America we need to be reminded that in our urban communities we must forge a new direction if we want to begin to leave legacies for our children.

It makes no sense for the Black community to look the way it does. One major reason for this is the fact that we still lag behind Whites when it comes to annual income. On account of this, many blacks are forced to live in worse neighborhoods with poor housing, low-income school systems, and dangerous environments. According to the 2003 U.S. Census report, the median White income was $45,572, while the median for Blacks was $29,689. And although 10.5% of Whites in America were statistically in poverty, the percentage of Blacks in poverty was 24.4%.

I hope people are paying attention to what I am writing because we have a state representative election coming up here in Michigan and ask yourself are you going to send people from Detroit on a social platform that has gotten us nowhere or are you going to send people to Lansing on an economic platform? Any candidate I have endorsed already are supported by me because of an economic platform.

What causes high joblessness among blacks here in urban Michigan? Our schooling is weak, and the labor market places more value than it used to on reading and math skills. The blue-collar jobs that always paid well for less-skilled men are disappearing, and those that remain pay less than they used to…Also, suburban areas with strong job growth are out of reach to many of those living in poor black neighborhoods, due to transportation problems and lack of connections. This difference can even be seen among youth employment. The unemployment rate among Black teens stands at 37%, which is more than double the unemployment rate for White teens. It's so bad that I have seen children homeless right in front of CVS and Rite Aid over here in the Grandmont/Rosedale Park area in Detroit. Some of the students I am working with in a urban high school are living as squatters.

In addition to the environment being detrimental, many people blame this poverty issue on the fact that many black children grow up in a one-parent household with only a mother. According to the Economic Research Service branch of the USDA, “Among conditions relevant to poverty, Black high-poverty counties stand out most prominently in the fact that a third of all poor children under 18 in these areas were in female-headed households with no husband present…In general, poverty in female-headed households with children, but no husband present, is much higher than in other household types…It is difficult for female-headed families to attain adequate income, unless they receive child support, given the lower average wages of women and the lack of other wage earners in such a family."

Again, what candidate are you supporting? I am supporting a Presidential candidate that has strong moral Christian values as well as a State Representative. Of course I am supporting Mike Huckabee for President.

But more importantly, we have to stress the importance of marriage and relationship building in our community. We cannot sit any longer thinking we can raise children on our own. I do not care if you are a single man or single woman we began to lift ourselves out of poverty when we work together.

Again, I stress the importance of developing banking centers as well as getting our churches involved with financial literacy programs to help turn renters into homeowners. While politics is very important we need to understand the full power of economics to reduce poverty with quality education.

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