Eastern States Forced to Provide Relief for Migrants While Native Homeless Problems Persist

By Kristina Lekova

Over the past several months, cities in the Eastern United States have experienced a significant influx in central American migrants. The increasing migrant population is partly due to the actions of governors in in southern states, who have been shipping the migrant population at their borders to northern cities. Governors from Arizona, Florida, and Texas continue to engage in a reckless and dangerous policy which may prove disastrous to the urban poor in these east-coast cities. Over the past year, 7,000 migrants were sent to Washington D.C. from Texas by governor Gregg Abbott, along with about 1,500 from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. These actions are part of an initiative to put pressure on the Democratic party federal border policies. Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis was one of the first to undertake this political op, when he devised a cruel scheme to ship asylum seekers arriving in Florida to Democratic cities along the east coast. Under the governor’s orders, Venezuelan migrants were rounded up in the streets of San Antonio and shipped to Massachusetts on private planes. These migrants were expecting assistance with housing and jobs upon their arrival, but were instead dropped off along the coast of Cape Cod with no housing or infrastructure in place to care for their needs. As a result, the eastern states have had to take on that burden themselves, and have struggled to adequately provide for these vulnerable groups of people. 

Hundreds of asylum seekers continue to require immediate social care and assistance. According to BBC, it will cost New York 1 billion dollars to provide for these refugees. Judging solely from the state’s spending, it is unclear where the funds to support the asylum seekers will come from. More than 17,000 migrants have arrived in the city from the southern border since April, causing New York City’s mayor Eric Adams to declare a state of emergency. State officials have introduced a plan for two emergency relief centers to provide temporary accommodations, but immigration advocates fear that these efforts do not adequately address the gravity of the need in these northern cities. Kathleen Cash, an advocate of the Urban Justice Center, has suggested that opening short-term municipal refugee camps while failing to honor the right of New York’s homeless population to receive shelter is a short-sighted and faulty approach. There is simply not enough funding or infrastructure for New York City’s homeless shelters to provide for such a drastic increase in needy individuals. While policymakers  

The situation in D.C. is potentially even more tragic. Much like New York, the country’s capital does not have enough space or funds to welcome the number of migrants being funneled into its borders from the southern states. As hundreds of buses come into Washington, it inhibits the state’s ability to provide food and housing for the vulnerable groups that already require assistance. It is apparent that the issue needs to be addressed locally by the southern state governors in cooperation with federal assistance, to aid the areas that are seeing an increase in needy migrants. In addition, the federal government should cut off relief funds to those states that are participating in these dangerous practices. It has been reported that millions of dollars in grant funding were provided to the Florida Department of Transportation to handle the migrant crisis, which the DeSantis administration used to fund the flights that carried migrants out of his jurisdiction and into Massachusetts.   

The political dynamics of the immigration issue, should not stand in the way of resolving the humanitarian catastrophe that New York and Washington, D.C. are currently facing. As eastern states welcome thousands of migrants, it is essential to remember that many of these asylum seekers are fleeing persecution and other severe circumstances in their home countries. It is worth considering that their decision to leave their home was not as a choice but rather as a socio-political outcome. “No one leaves their land because they want to,” says Kelin Enriquez, one of the Venezuelan migrants. Brilliant Minds Collective challenges policymakers at the local, state, and federal level to develop an equitable way to balance the needs of asylum seekers with the needs of the homeless and underprivileged populations that already exist in these northern cities. 

I Grew up in Harlem, NY: Opinion

By Shelley Wynter 

Co-Host of Word on the Street 

Airing nightly on 95.5 FM WSB 

7P-10P 

I grew up in Harlem, NY. In Harlem at that time, gangsters and hardworking Black men and women lived side by side. It was the “corner boys” who once ran after a man who stole my grandfather’s Black Buick, caught him, and beat him at the red light while someone ran upstairs and got my grandfather. It was the neighborhood gangster who told a stick-up kid to leave me alone after school one day because “he is gonna be someone one day”. 

I grew up around Black men and women who made money in separate worlds but spent those dollars alongside one another. This brings me to where we are in our politics as Black men and women. 

Why can’t we live in a world where those of us who want Capitalism, small government and less regulations, live alongside those who want big government, more socialism, high taxes and more regulation? Why can’t I, a Black republican, vote differently than you, my Black neighbor? 

I am part Garveyite (less government), part Malcolm X (white liberals are bad) and part Toussiant L’Ouverture (burn the entire thing down). I think like those Black men and women in 1980s Harlem who knew that the hardworking people needed the gangsters, and the gangsters needed the honest working man. They co-existed as neighbors in mutual respect for decisions made in life. 

The vitriol visited upon people like me is one of the most fascinating things you will ever see. Take for instance, calling me and other Black Republicans “slaves on a plantation”. How can it be a plantation with a small number of Blacks? Shouldn’t the other group made up of 90% of Black people be the plantation?

[Editor’s Note: Almost 29 million African Americans registered to vote in the 2022 midterm elections. Of that number, almost 20 million said that they were more inclined to vote for Democratic candidates.] -Pew Research Center 

How is it that I can be accused of selling out, when Black democrats vote every election for the same party who ignores you between election cycles and only gives you cursory attention when they’re seeking your vote. And what exactly are we selling out? People? How is that even possible? I live in the metro Atlanta suburbs, in a working-class neighborhood. I have nothing in common with Black professionals who live in Buckhead or John’s Creek, nor do I have anything in common with Black families in Pittsburgh. Except skin color. And for me, skin color doesn’t make us alike. One of the funniest things I always hear is “all skin folk ain’t kin folk” well, duh. isn’t it obvious? 

I am a student of the Art of War by Sun Tzu. In this book, Sun says ” If you have a smaller army, spread it out and appear to be bigger than you are and attack from several different areas thus appearing to be bigger” 

Based on this age-old battle stratagem, doesn’t it make sense that we vote on both sides of a two-sided system?  

Oh, and by the way, the Gangsters in my analogy are the Democrats and the Hard-working people are the Republicans.  

During the Civil rights movement, every southern segregationist was a Democrat. And every civil rights hero and sheroe sat down and negotiated with these men. They talked to and negotiated with rabid racists to get what they needed. How is it that today many of us won’t even discuss, much less vote for people with whom we can negotiate our needs. We are acting like children who don’t get their way and threaten to take their marbles home. The real world dictates that “enemies” “frenemies” and allies all talk and negotiate to get what they want. Except US…

“Are We Still Talking About Redlining?”

By Maura Mulholland

In an era of city planning and zoning laws, most Americans fail to understand how much capital investment determines the viability of certain homes and neighborhoods. Money flowing into and out of neighborhoods determines how many amenities, public funding, and private interest they receive, and the futures of these places are affected by how much potential they have in terms of a profitable return on investment. When these neighborhoods are labeled as “unprofitable”, or not worth investing in, they are doomed to be cast to the sidelines of society, with retail chains, businesses, and banks largely avoiding them for fear of limited profit margins. 

In the United States, neighborhoods with a high African American population have faced discrimination in property capital investment. This process is called “redlining”, and was a legal practice in minority neighborhoods for much of the 20th century that created an economic and social barrier that made social mobility nearly impossible. In the process of redlining, neighborhoods were assigned “value”, or the potential for a return on investment, that directly correlated with the racial demographics in the area. In white neighborhoods, it was easy to procure a low-interest mortgage, regardless of the applicants’ income level. For Black neighborhoods, even those that had upper- or middle-class incomes, loans and mortgages were nearly impossible to acquire, and often had absurdly high interest rates. 

The systematic sabotage of Black neighborhoods led to dire consequences for their residents. As Black and majority-minority neighborhoods faced a deficit in investment levels, food deserts developed. Large retail chains, including supermarkets, were unwilling to open franchises in majority-minority neighborhoods due to the racial makeup of the neighborhoods and the impractically high financial cost of establishing a business there. Because these neighborhoods did not have access to affordable, nutritious food, they commonly became dependent on fast-food chains and processed food available at neighborhood convenience stores. The health of Black communities suffered immensely as a result. 

The domino effects of the practice of redlining are legion. Poor nutrition caused by food deserts led to poor health, which led to higher insurance rates for people of color, which in turn led to a disproportionate percentage of people of color who lack health insurance. This lack of health insurance also contributed to a higher rates of Covid-19 in traditionally marginalized neighborhoods. Redlining and its effects have proved incredibly detrimental for communities comprised of minorities, and have only increased the stratification that exists between white and black communities. 

Looking Back: The Black Panther Party

By Maura Mulholland

The 1960s were a time of upheaval in U.S. history. The decade seared the idea of freedom into the American psyche, with the hippies, feminist movement, and civil rights campaigns enjoying immense public attention. But many of these attempts to rectify the wrongs of the American condition failed to achieve their loftiest goals, and more extreme groups rose to spread their own truths and directly address the problems they saw in the world. 

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) emerged in 1966 in Oakland, California. It was the brain-child of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, two students at Merritt College. The organization formed around the ideas of socialism and Black nationalism, particularly opposed to the scourge of police brutality on the Black community. The BPP had many enemies during this era, largely because of their focus on armed self-defense against oppressive figures. Many felt this outlook was extreme, but the BPP saw it as the only way to establish Black communities as an independent force, and to reverse the sidelining of Black opinions and narratives in the media and government. 

While the Black Panthers were admirable in their concern and advocacy for the Black community, there was and is a great deal of controversy surrounding the philosophies and actions of the group. One frequent accusation is that the Panthers were unfair and sexist toward the Black women in their midst, perpetuating misogynoir. While early publications of the BPP were centered on the Black male experience, by 1968 two-thirds of the Party was made up of women, and their leadership pushed a more egalitarian “womanist” narrative. Throughout the 1970s, the Panthers worked to promote women to leadership roles within the organization. 

The ideas that the Black Panthers pushed brought into the mainstream continue to power progressive activism today. Their unflinching focus on racism and police brutality in the North, which was largely ignored by traditional Civil Rights groups, inspired the formation of modern groups like Black Lives Matter. In addition, the Panthers dedication to mutual aid as the foundation of both community and organization has been copied by a wide array of modern activists. The Black Panthers’ community work has been replicated nationwide, with the installation of community fridges, mutual aid funds, and survival networks in cities all over the country. While the Black Panthers were often portrayed as violent radicals, their contributions to modern activism and neighborhood charity provide a more balanced perspective on their racial platform. 

Troubling Home Ownership Rates Continue

By Maura Mulholland

With the rapid increase in rental rates and housing prices, recent years have seen a drastic decrease in home ownership rates among younger generations. Millennials have already experienced the trials of the housing market, and with the new trend of inflation, it seems that Gen Z will have an even tougher time owning their own home. The lack of affordable housing is especially pronounced for young members of the Black community. African Americans trail thirty points behind the white community when it comes to rates of home ownership, with only forty-two percent of black families owning their own home. 

Even in eras where white ownership rates were high, African Americans still struggled to purchase and keep their own homes. After World War II, returning white soldiers moved their families from rented places in the cities to the new, expanding suburbs surrounding urban centers. While whites were able to acquire single-family homes with ease, Black families did not have these same opportunities. New suburban developments were often segregated, and white homeowners’ associations reacted violently to Black families moving into their neighborhoods. Racism also prevented many families from getting the loans they would have needed to afford a real-estate purchase. 

Black families have also been discriminated against in terms of the values of their homes. Banks and other financial institutions are infamous for appraising Black homes at a lower value than the same type of property, were it owned by a white family. The devaluation of Black homes only reinforces the racist myth that home values sink when Black people start moving into a neighborhood. The houses remain the same, but the value that the real-estate market places on the people who live in them decreases because of the color of their skin. 

One of the most recent barriers to Black homeownership is student loan debt. Forty-two percent of Black households have student loan debt, almost twice the amount of either Asian or white households. This financial obligation is compounded by the fact that half of Black renters are burdened by the cost of rent, spending thirty percent or more of their monthly income on housing alone. Thus, a system of institutional racism has emerged in which Black families are barred from owning real property, but find themselves paying exorbitant amounts in rent every month to white landlords who perpetuate the disparity in ownership rates. 

HBCU’s: Historically Black and Historically Successful

By Maura Mulholland

When it comes to Black education, HBCUs, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities, constantly emerge as pathways to success. These prestigious and historic institutions bring together Black students into a community where they can grow as both people and academics, and provide a positive environment for both social and academic aspects of student life. The success that HBCU students have at school has also translated into the workforce. Recent trends show that the average hiring rate of HBCU graduates grew 5.9% from 2016 to 2019, over four times the growth rate of the national average from non-HBCUs, which was 1.3%. 

In 2020, graduates of HBCUs faced more overall job resilience, with a hiring rate decline of 11.9%, a third less than the rate of the national LinkedIn average. This trend seems to be accompanied by higher hiring rates in general of HBCU graduates, and is especially prevalent in major companies, like Apple, Bank of America, and Estee Lauder. These companies, among many others, are recent additions to recruiting websites affiliated with HBCUs. Morgan State University, an HBCU in Baltimore, Maryland, saw a 263% increase in employer log-ins to its recruiting site between 2020 and 2021. 

Historically Black colleges and universities have also produced numerous famous alumni. In 2020, over 80% of Black judges in the United States graduated from an HBCU. While HBCU’s continue to produce graduates from its humanities programs, they have largely failed to establish pipelines to growing technological fields like robotics, computer sciences, and engineering. This is likely due to the historical emphasis on HBCUs as teacher-training institutions, pushing many of their graduates back into academia. However, HBCUs are, however, are beginning to catch up to other institutions in terms of representation in the hard sciences. As of 2019, almost 30% of STEM bachelor degrees held by Black graduates were from HBCUs. 

While experts say the recent surge in HBCU hires may level out in the short term, it is clear that these institutions have established themselves as some of the premier producers of talented workers. HBCU graduates, like alumnae of women’s colleges, have faced proportionately more success in their fields than underrepresented students at other universities, likely as a result of their unique educational experiences. Whatever the long-term ramifications, the latest increase in interest in HBCUs has allowed them to increase academic funding, extend more recruitment offers of their own to high schoolers, and continue the advancement of the Black community. 

Unequal Treatment in the “Black League”

By Maura Mulholland

The NBA is overwhelmingly comprised of Black players. Since the 1990s, the majority of NBA rosters have been filled by African American talent. Despite black leadership within organizations and the Players Union, instances or racism from fanbases and league and team executives are still a regular occurrence. These altercations have been on the rise recently, with numerous players and administrative employees speaking out against biases inherent in the sport. 

Allegations of racism have recently emerged against Robert Sarver, the owner of the Phoenix Suns. Sarver, a white man, allegedly used the n-word repeatedly when quoting a Black player. When asked to stop, he argued that as an NBA owner, he should be permitted to use the word. The incident was witnessed and reported by former head coach of the Suns, Earl Watson. Since that time, Sarver has been cited by almost seventy current and former Suns employees for fostering a hostile work environment. According to sources, he frequently makes off-color racial comments, and exhibits misogynistic and inappropriate behavior, including making inappropriate sexual comments about his wife to employees. He has also been cited for claiming to “own” someone who works within the Suns organization. 

Beyond problematic administration, fans at NBA games have recently exhibited racist behavior against Black players. LeBron James has publicly complained about fans’ racism, especially the fan base of the Boston Celtics. On his HBO show, “The Shop”, James described an incident where a beer was thrown on him while leaving a Celtics game in Boston, a situation that he believes reflects the fan bases racial prejudice. Kyrie Irving, a visiting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, had a water bottle thrown at him at a Celtics game by Cole Buckley, a twenty-one-year-old student at the University of Rhode Island. Buckley was charged with one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. While Buckley was not charged with a civil rights violation, it was noted by investigators that race was likely a contributing factor to his violent acts. 

These very prominent examples fail to illustrate the levels of implicit and explicit racism that NBA players face on a regular basis. Since the first non-white player took the court in 1947, African Americans in the NBA have increasingly moved to the forefront of Black celebrity. While the league, pushed by the Players Union, has actively tried to root out racism within the Association, it continues to be a problem at both an administrative and fan base level. By holding anyone involved in professional sports accountable for any racist comments or acts, we can work towards a more inclusive league that reflects the contributions of African American players, coaches, and executives to professional basketball.

The Good and Bad of Black Charter Schools

By Maura Mulholland

The controversy surrounding charter schools has existed almost since their inception. Charter schools were originally conceptualized as an alternative to public schools, where teachers could experiment with new ideas in education. They soon became predominantly Black schools, as Black families jumped at the opportunity to both put their students at the forefront of education, and remove them from rampant racism in largely white public schools. Charter schools now run on a publicly funded “business model”, where they are more responsible for their students’ outcomes than public schools, in exchange for more funding. But have charter schools truly improved the educational experiences of the mostly Black populations they serve? 

Many critics of charter schools say that they have simply reinvented segregation. Charter schools mostly serve the Black community and other racial minorities, as many such schools are located in urban areas. Racial isolation within these schools seems to be concentrated within Black and Latino populations: at a typical Black student’s charter high school, three-fourths of their classmates are also likely to be Black. Instead of being governed by a publicly accessible school board, charter schools are run by private organizations, which give community members much less say over what happens in the schools that serve their neighborhoods. 

While there is suspicion surrounding charter schools, other members of the Black community have expressed their support for some charter institutions. Schools like the Barbara A. Sizemore Academy in Chicago teach an Afro-centric curriculum in an effort to decolonize the Black students they serve. Parents of the children at Sizemore also appreciate the extra care and attention that their children receive in charter schools, as it prevents them from “slipping through the cracks”, a phenomenon that occurs frequently in larger, traditional schools in big districts. This “leveling of the playing field” is supported by state funding which is often contested by white progressives: people who Black parents say should have no place deciding the futures of schools their own children do not attend. 

Whatever the case, charter schools have very powerful supporters, especially in big, urban school districts. Billionaire Eli Broad described a $490 million plan in 2015 that plans to educate half of the student body of Los Angeles in charter schools by 2023, and former California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have held charter schools more accountable to the state legislature. Brown oversaw the opening of multiple charter schools while he was the Mayor of Oakland. An ongoing issue for charter schools will be a lack of transparency that engenders mistrust. There are many in the Black community who question whose interest these intercity charter schools serve.

Pan-Africanism in the 21st Century

By Maura Mulholland

Despite misguided references to the “country of Africa,” the African continent is actually composed of fifty-four distinct countries. But despite social, cultural, and economic differences between these nations, Pan-Africanism has emerged as a solution to establishing African influence on the global scale. Some advocates have argued that Pan-Africanism promises a future where all of the inhabitants and descendants of the continent can coexist and stand together. 

The movement of Pan-Africanism emerged out of a sense of shared struggle. During the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the first uprisings against captors occurred when people from numerous tribes and linguistic backgrounds, who had all been thrown together indiscriminately in the hold of a ship, came together against the slavers. The practice of Africans from different backgrounds uniting in the face of these enemies, which continued on the American continents, was eventually consolidated into a body of thought by academics like Henry Sylvester Williams, and political leaders like Kwame Nkrumah. 

The evolution of Pan-Africanism was directly spurred by the development of African diaspora communities. The Haitian Revolution was a turning point in asserting the power that Africans were able to wield, and it began an effort to weld various uprisings within global African communities to a singular cause. Various Pan-African conferences surrounding the African diaspora communities in major cities also followed this revolution. The formation of the country of Liberia was the most major effect of this organization, as the American Colonization Society sent thousands of African-Americans back to the continent to establish a country of their own, in an effort to reclaim their heritage and reject the countries their progenitors had been unwillingly brought to. 

Today, Pan-Africanism continues in the form of social movements and in the creation of alliances that seek to encompass the whole continent. The African Union, whose goal is long-term economic growth in the region, and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which establishes a collection of countries involved in free trade, represent more individual nations than NATO or the European Union. In addition, the rise of social media, and the penetration of the Internet into Africa, has connected those involved in social movements on the continent with members of global diaspora groups. These online alliances have strengthened loyalty to the idea of a united Africa on the worldwide scale, and have increased awareness of social justice issues. 

The reigning mindset in African-American diaspora communities is that “Black is beautiful”. It certainly is, and the unity of that simple phrase reflects centuries of an ongoing effort to create a more cohesive community for Africans and their descendants. 

Covid in the Black Community

By Maura Mulholland

COVID-19 has been an all-consuming and destructive presence internationally for over two years. While it has impacted everyone negatively, certain groups have experienced the virus with more intensity than others. COVID-19 has further emphasized disparities between racial, ethnic, and class groups, and this has been reflected in death tolls and case counts throughout the pandemic. 

Black Americans are especially prone to discrimination when it comes to seeking treatment from the coronavirus. This is in large part because of discrimination and inequity within the medical system. 11.7% of Black Americans are without health insurance, compared to 7.5% of white Americans. A lack of health insurance makes a person much less likely to seek the medical treatment they need. As the pandemic spread, disparities in testing also became apparent. In Kansas, as of June 2020, only 4,854 of 94,740 tests were attributable to Black people, with 50,070 tests coming from whites. This highlights a massive lack of access to testing for Black populations, who at that time accounted for almost a third of COVID deaths despite being only 12.4% of the state population. 

Medical racism plays a major role in Black medical treatment, as well. Within hospitals, Black patients are more likely to be given older and cheaper medications for the same problems white patients have, and are also more likely to be discharged early when recovering from surgery, at a stage when discharge is inappropriate. These problems stem from widespread and misinformed beliefs in the medical field, for example that Black patients feel less pain than whites, or that they are likely seeking pain medications as a result of substance problems. These biases, implicitly or explicitly, have negatively impacted the care Black Americans have received during COVID.  

Beyond the abysmal disparities in the doctor’s office, social issues surrounding the pandemic have also negatively impacted Black communities. In one survey, participants were asked whether they had experienced harassment because of the spread of COVID-19, and due to perpetrators’ conclusions that they may have the disease. 22.1% of participants from major racial groups in the United States reported discriminatory behaviors relating to the coronavirus. 42.7% of participants in the same survey reported that people acted afraid of them. While this form of discrimination was most common among Asian-American and Indigenous populations, it took place most often in Mississippi, which has the highest relative population of Black Americans among the states. 

COVID-19’s toll on the planet has been astronomical, upending the routines of people from all walks of life. But for marginalized groups, especially the Black population, the coronavirus has only increased discrimination and sharpened the impact of existing social stratification. Taking responsibility for public health means addressing all aspects of the way science and society intersect, and means addressing both the medical disparities and social disconnects of the modern world