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Op-Ed

America’s True Crime Problem

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Lee A. Daniels

By Lee A. Daniels
NNPA Columnist

 

It’s getting to be difficult to recall a week when, thanks to public exposure of videos, or tweets, text messages or emails, we’ve not seen another shocking example of police mistreatment of Black or Hispanic citizens under questionable circumstances.

Consider that, and then ponder these words about Black Americans and the criminal justice system: “There is too much crime and too little justice in the lives of black Americans today. But while the problem of crime is widely shared in the United States, the problem of injustice is not.”

And these words which closely follow them: “It is a paradox that black Americans, who suffer from crime disproportionately, have mixed feelings, at best, regarding its support of and confidence in the criminal justice system as it operates today.”

And, finally, these: “The only way out of this paradox is to address the problems of crime and injustice simultaneously: changing the nature of the courts, criminal punishments and law enforcement agencies and their agents, while honestly acknowledging the scope of the crime problem and working for peace in Black America.”

No, you won’t find those words in the agreement signed recently by the Department of Justice and the city of Cleveland requiring an extensive reform of the city’s widely-criticized police force. Actually, they were written 20 years ago by criminal justice scholar Christopher E. Stone, then head of the nonprofit Vera Institute for Justice, in the 1996 edition of the National Urban League publication, The State of Black America 1996. Stone, a founder of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, in New York City, is now president of the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

But they are as relevant today as then because the use of social media has undeniably revealed that some significant segment of cops – largely White ones but also some Black and Hispanic ones, too – view Black Americans not as citizens to protect but easy marks to prey upon.

What’s also been made clear, via a growing stack of Justice Department investigations of small-and big-city police departments, is that this predatory attitude and behavior, has long been part of the “culture” of policing itself.

For example, one of the high-ranking Miami Beach, Fla. cops charged last month with exchanging 230 emails filled with racist and sexist jokes and pornography, told a local news channel last year when the emails first surface, “That was the culture back then. It was just guys emailing each other. There was a good ol’ boy mentality back then.”

What that “aw shucks” pose tried to obscure was both the vile nature of the emails and that “back then” covered the years 2010 to 2012.

Who would expect officers with these attitudes to treat citizens of color fairly? Polls have long shown that Black Americans don’t.

The Justice Department’s scathing report on the management and practices of the Cleveland police force is the latest to show that police department’s racist practices toward Blacks and Hispanics is also both a cause and effect of bad policing: of the unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force and lethal force; of retaliatory beatings and the unnecessary use of Tasers, batons and chemical sprays; of the mistreatment of people who are mentally ill; of the use of poor tactics in dangerous situations that put officers and innocent civilians at risk; and of a lack of proper training and supervision of its officers.

The findings largely repeat those of a Justice Department investigation done a decade ago during the Bush administration that let Cleveland officials off the hook with a voluntary pledge to change departmental practices.

The new agreement requires specific measures to correct the deficiencies. Most important, it mandates the creation of a 13-member community police commission to oversee the reform effort. That body will have 10 members representing a cross-section of the Cleveland community and one member each from the Cleveland Patrolmen’s Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Black Shield Police Association.

Of course, the commission has much contentious work ahead of it in trying to solve the problems of the Cleveland police force. But the Justice Department’s involvement in forging the agreement, and those of other communities bedeviled by egregiously racist police practices, underscore the fact that reforming bad police departments requires the combination of federal government oversight and local government oversight and local-community oversight.

That requires that the right people be in charge of the Justice Department – which means having the right people in charge of the White House – if there’s to be any chance of solving the nation’s true crime problem: a criminal justice system built substantially on injustice, particularly racial injustice.

 

Lee A. Daniels is a columnist for the National Newspaper Publishers Association. His essay, “Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Great Provocateur,” appears in Africa’s Peacemakers: Nobel Peace Laureates of African Descent (2014), published by Zed Books. His new collection of columns, Race Forward: Facing America’s Racial Divide in 2014, is available atwww.amazon.com.

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OP-ED: Communities of Color and Other Buyers, Beware of Bold Promises from Health Insurers

A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “older Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults were nearly twice as likely to die of COVID-19 as older White adults,” and “cases among Black and Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries were 1.6 times higher than the rate observed among White beneficiaries.”

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African Americans clearly need better health insurance. But we can’t get lured in by companies that are more interested in taking money than providing real healthcare benefits.

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought issues of healthcare equity to the forefront of discussions of racial justice. Even when controlling for factors like age and income, communities of color have been much more severely impacted that white Americans.

A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “older Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults were nearly twice as likely to die of COVID-19 as older White adults,” and “cases among Black and Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries were 1.6 times higher than the rate observed among White beneficiaries.”

Access to healthcare and health insurance is a vital issue for African Americans. And it’s important to be on the lookout for healthcare companies that make big promises but fail to deliver.

In this context, let’s take a look at Oscar Health, an insurance company that tries to appeal to consumers by positioning itself as a tech company. But its track record is questionable at best.

The company has been investigated and fined by the NY State Department of Financial Services. During its expansion in New York, Oscar cut the number of doctors in its network by more than half.

The company also has connections to former Trump Administration officials. It was founded by Jared Kushner’s brother Josh, and its parent company, Thrive Capital, was partly owned by Kushner until he took a job at the White House. And the company is run by serial Wall Street investors who seem primarily interested in flipping companies for a profit.

Even more concerning, Oscar has been expanding into the Medicare Advantage program, where they can leverage taxpayer money to provide health coverage to our seniors. That means one of our most vulnerable communities could be opting into a company that has questions hanging over it.

African Americans clearly need better health insurance. But we can’t get lured in by companies that are more interested in taking money than providing real healthcare benefits.

So, before you make a decision about health insurance, please get more than one opinion or option.  There are healthcare insurance companies that are considerably more equitable and beneficial. Healthcare for all is both a fundamental civil and human right.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and Executive Producer and Host of The Chavis Chronicles (TCC) broadcast weekly on PBS TV stations throughout the United States. 

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OP-ED: COVID-19 Testing and Black America

NNPA NEWSWIRE — According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Black Americans (61%) now say they plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine (or that they’ve already received one), compared to only 42% in November, 2020. As trust increases, we need to also increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in our communities to create better health outcomes.

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Getting tested for important health issues - and understanding the results - empowers people to make informed and sometimes critical healthcare decisions. In fact, 70% of medical decisions are based on results from diagnostic tests.
Getting tested for important health issues - and understanding the results - empowers people to make informed and sometimes critical healthcare decisions. In fact, 70% of medical decisions are based on results from diagnostic tests.

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association

The COVID-19 pandemic across America and throughout the world is still a serious danger to public health for all communities, but especially for African American and other people of color communities. African Americans are still disproportionately negatively impacted by this deadly virus.

This is why more COVID-19 testing for Black America is so important in 2021: African Americans comprise 13% of the U.S. population, but more than half of all COVID-19 cases, and nearly 60% of all COVID-related deaths in the U.S., were in cities with large Black populations. Now that federal-government approved vaccines are available, it does not mean that COVID-19 testing is no longer needed.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is very concerned about the current state of health disparities and inequities that are realities for the majority of African Americans. Facts, data, and truth about the pandemic are vital to our future.

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Black Americans (61%) now say they plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine (or that they’ve already received one), compared to only 42% in November, 2020. As trust increases, we need to also increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in our communities to create better health outcomes.

The Black Press and the Black Church are two fundamental trusted institutions in our communities. We are pleased to learn about a new emerging partnership with Black church leaders which is creating greater access to much-needed COVID-19 testing in our communities. A partnership between Quest Diagnostics, Choose Healthy Life and the United Way of New York City is bringing COVID-19 testing and education to Black communities in cities across the U.S., and they are working with trusted voices in Black churches to increase participation.

The pandemic has also made it even clearer that Black Americans need access to additional resources to take control of their health. In Chicago for example, Black residents make up 30% of the population but account for 70% of COVID-related deaths, and the majority of Black COVID-19 patients who have died in Chicago also had underlying health conditions, like respiratory problems, hypertension, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for Black Americans, and Black people experience risk factors that contribute to heart disease like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol more often and earlier in life compared to White people. Thus, overall healthcare testing is needed throughout Black America.

Getting tested for important health issues – and understanding the results – empowers people to make informed and sometimes critical healthcare decisions. In fact, 70% of medical decisions are based on results from diagnostic tests. Because there aren’t always obvious symptoms of a health issue, testing is one of the most effective ways to identify health concerns that may need to be addressed.

Quest Diagnostics is committed to creating partnerships with others to increase access in Black and other underserved communities. It’s time for the entire healthcare system to step up with similar commitments – with access to treatment and preventative care – to help Black communities move past this pandemic on an even ground with White America. Access, testing, and equity are keys to achieving and maintaining good health for all.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), and Executive Producer and host of The Chavis Chronicles (TCC) on PBS TV stations weekly across the United States.

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COMMENTARY: The Seven Last Words of George Floyd

NNPA NEWSWIRE — This year’s Good Friday is especially poignant for African Americans it comes in the middle of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the gruesome murder of George Floyd. The 9 minutes and 29 seconds that turned the collective stomach of the world have been seared into our shared consciousness and the legacy of this watershed moment is still playing out.

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It is customary on Good Friday to commemorate the seven last words/sayings of Jesus Christ in solemn worship. In that spirit today, I encourage us to reflect upon the seven last words of George Floyd based upon the police bodycam transcript. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
It is customary on Good Friday to commemorate the seven last words/sayings of Jesus Christ in solemn worship. In that spirit today, I encourage us to reflect upon the seven last words of George Floyd based upon the police bodycam transcript. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By John Thomas III, Editor, The Christian Recorder

The commemoration of Good Friday is a solemn and holy event for Christians. We cannot get to the resurrection of Jesus Christ without traversing through the crucifixion, death, and burial of God’s only begotten son. One of the dividing lines among Christian traditions is the context of Jesus’s Passion and death. When we separate Jesus from His worldly environment and circumstances—being persecuted as a Jewish teacher by a foreign empire and betrayed by compatriots who were threatened by His message and witness—we lose sight that Jesus, both fully God and man, was gruesomely murdered.

This year’s Good Friday is especially poignant for African Americans it comes in the middle of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the gruesome murder of George Floyd. The 9 minutes and 29 seconds that turned the collective stomach of the world have been seared into our shared consciousness and the legacy of this watershed moment is still playing out. In the same way that we cannot allow our faith to be sanitized, we cannot allow the death of Mr. Floyd to be stripped of the circumstances of institutional racism, poverty, and White Supremacy that led to his brutal death at the hands of one who was charged to serve and protect. It is customary on Good Friday to commemorate the seven last words/sayings of Jesus Christ in solemn worship. In that spirit today, I encourage us to reflect upon the seven last words of George Floyd based upon the police bodycam transcript.

1) Mama, mama, mama!

“When George Floyd called for his mother, he was calling for all of us,” said a friend of mine who is the mother of a young Black son. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He looked to His mother, Mary commending her to John’s care. We can only imagine how Mary felt to see the life slowly leaving her son’s body. In his last moments, Mr. Floyd cried out for the woman who brought him into this world as he realized he was being ripped out of it.

2) Please, man.

When Jesus was on the cross, He appealed to His tormentors to quench His thirst. Mr. Floyd appealed to the humanity of his tormentor to save his life. He was already on the ground and restrained. He was not a threat. This plea echoes the signs of the 1960s strikes when working-class Black people asserted their dignity by simply saying, “I am a Man!” It also echoes the appeal of Sojourner Truth for persons to see and value her humanity by saying, “Ain’t I a Woman?” In the eyes of his murderer, however, Mr. Floyd was not a citizen—much less, a human being.

3) You’re going to kill me, man!

Mr. Floyd told his murderer that he was dying and pleaded with him to stop. As the trial goes on, we are hearing the damning testimony of persons who all say they know they witnessed a murder. An assassination perpetrated by White Supremacy at the hands of the police. How many times have we heard deadly force being justified because of a perceived threat or a need to stand one’s ground?

4) I can’t believe this.

Mr. Floyd’s disbelief that a transaction with an alleged counterfeit bill could cost him his life at the hands of someone who he had worked with. The shock from emergency personnel who clearly saw the signs of distress yet were not allowed to render assistance. The horror of rookie police officers out on their training patrol witnessing a superior crushing the life out of a restrained suspect. We all cannot believe the cruel brutality of White Supremacy—yet it plays before our collective eyes daily with its deadly consequences.

5) Tell my kids, I love them.

Mr. Floyd had a life before he became a martyr, a slogan, and a t-shirt image. He was a friend, a son, and a father. Behind every victim of racism is collateral damage—grieving children, a heartbroken community, the lost potential of what could and should have been. Even though his death has become a symbol of the cost of institutional racism for Black people, Mr. Floyd was a real man with real people who mourn him and were robbed of his presence in their lives.

6) I’m dead.

Between 1920 and 1938, the New York branch of the NAACP hung a flag outside of its office emblazoned with the words, “Another man was lynched today.” In 2015, the flag was revived and updated to say, “Another man was lynched by police today.” Jesus’s death was a public lynching complete with a gambling show. The world has borne witness to Mr. Floyd’s lynching—many anguished, others cheering, and some nonchalant—in the same way that the spectators watched Jesus hang His head on Golgotha as the sun set.

7) I can’t breathe!

The most well-known phrase that embodies how White Supremacy has strangled the life out of Black people globally through the trans-Atlantic slave trade (Maafa), colonialism, apartheid, segregation, and a litany of other terms associated with White Supremacy and anti-Blackness. It was first seared into our memories when we watched Eric Garner have the life choked out of him. On May 25, 2020, over 600 years of global anti-Blackness were distilled into a single moment when a white cop literally ripped the spirit out of a Black man. We remember that Jesus committed His spirit to God as his lungs collapsed from the crucifixion.

Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, Freddy Gray, Philando Castille, Bothan Jean Janisha Fonville, Mr. George Perry Floyd, Jr., and Jesus.

Today as we commemorate one who paid the ultimate price for our eternal salvation, we must also remember those who daily pay the price of the legacy of the brutal and inveterate violence of White Supremacy. Our prayer to make it “on Earth as it is in Heaven” is only as good as the witness and daily steps we take to make sure that Jesus, George Floyd, and so many others have not died in vain. Amen.

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OP-ED: The American Rescue Plan — Changing the Course of the Pandemic for All Americans

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The American Rescue Plan also addresses inequities in access to pandemic resources by making significant investments into small, Black businesses by providing $50 billion for new and existing small business relief programs. This legislation bolsters the Paycheck Protection Program with an additional $7.25 billion in funding to support small businesses and non-profits that were previously excluded.

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We will continue fighting to ensure that, in the short term, Black communities have access to all the tools necessary to recover from the economic and personal devastation wrought by this pandemic; and in the long term, address the impacts of historic disparate treatment against communities of color.
We will continue fighting to ensure that, in the short term, Black communities have access to all the tools necessary to recover from the economic and personal devastation wrought by this pandemic; and in the long term, address the impacts of historic disparate treatment against communities of color.

By U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC-6)

It has been a little more than a year since COVID-19 was officially discovered within the boundaries of the United States. It has been devastating to communities of color.

The statistics are sobering. Blacks represent only 13-percent of the U.S. population, but account for nearly 24-percent of age-adjusted COVID-19 deaths. In January, nine percent of Black workers or 1.8 million people in our communities were unemployed. One in five Black households are struggling with food insufficiency, and more than a third of Black renters are behind on their rent payments.

President Joe Biden has responded to this world-wide pandemic with The American Rescue Plan (ARP) which he signed into law last month, just 51 days after he took office. The ARP will help change the course of the pandemic and deliver immediate relief for hard-hit communities of color. This transformative law invests in a national vaccination program and the safe reopening of schools. It distributes $360 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments to keep front line public workers on the job and help maintain essential services. These targeted investments will directly benefit your communities and help them return safely to normal.

The ARP also provides direct benefits for you and your family. It delivers immediate relief to families by devoting $1 trillion towards economic recovery for working families including direct relief payments, extension of unemployment insurance benefits, increasing child and earned income tax credits, and increasing SNAP benefits.

Many of you may have already received the $1,400 direct payment per eligible member of your household. Because of misinformation that is being shared via social media, I want to clarify that this is the second of two payments. The first $600 payments per eligible person were distributed in December and January. These two direct payments deliver on the $2,000 per person in pandemic relief that Democrats campaigned on last November.

The American Rescue Plan also addresses inequities in access to pandemic resources by making significant investments into small, Black businesses by providing $50 billion for new and existing small business relief programs. This legislation bolsters the Paycheck Protection Program with an additional $7.25 billion in funding to support small businesses and non-profits that were previously excluded.

It allocates $15 billion in flexible grants to help the smallest; most severely impacted businesses persevere through the pandemic. It deploys community navigators to increase awareness of and participation in COVID-19 relief programs for small business owners who currently lack access, especially underserved entrepreneurs without banking relationships, lawyers, accountants, and consultants. And, it provides $28 billion for a new grant program to revitalize hard-hit small restaurants and other food and drinking establishments.

The American Rescue Plan is the first piece of legislation passed by the 117th Congress and signed by President Biden to rescue our economy and repair some of our faults that are being exasperated by COVID-19. On March 30th President Biden rolled out his American Jobs Plan. That plan proposes to: Fix highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade ports, airports and transit systems; deliver clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid, and high-speed broadband to all Americans; build, preserve, and retrofit more than two million homes and commercial buildings, modernize our nation’s schools and child care facilities, and upgrade veterans’ hospitals and federal buildings.

These actions demonstrate President Biden’s and Congressional Democrats’ commitment to building America back better than it was before the virus visited. This is not the end of his build back better plan. There is a third iteration on the way.

During his victory speech last November, President Biden pledged to always have the backs of the African American community. We will continue fighting to ensure that, in the short term, Black communities have access to all the tools necessary to recover from the economic and personal devastation wrought by this pandemic; and in the long term, address the impacts of historic disparate treatment against communities of color.

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OP-ED: Prophetic Politics and Black America: “What Will You Do unto the Least of These?”

NNPA NEWSWIRE — It is, therefore, a reaffirmation of my faith in the oneness of God and the oneness of humanity that I must join to publicly support my African American clergy leaders in Washington, DC and across the nation who dare to remind even some of our own local African American elected officials that we all should stand for helping those among us who are less fortunate, poor, homeless, malnourished, imprisoned, returning-from-prison, and destitute.

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The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in his theological genius, courage, and prophetic utterances, challenged all of us when he clearly stated, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Black church leaders uphold the tradition of speaking truth to power. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in his theological genius, courage, and prophetic utterances, challenged all of us when he clearly stated, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Black church leaders uphold the tradition of speaking truth to power. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO

If it were not for the Black Church in America, our long struggle for freedom, justice, equality, equity, and empowerment would not have made the progress that has been accomplished over the past 500 to 400 years. I speak in the tradition of my Presbyterian great-great grandfather, The Reverend John Chavis (1763-1838) in North Carolina and The Reverend Nat Turner (1800-1831) in Virginia.

Depending on when you define the beginning of the international Transatlantic Slave Trade will give you a deeper insight on why the religious, political, and historical perspectives of people of African descent still matter in the United States and across the African Diaspora in 2021.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in his theological genius, courage, and prophetic utterances, challenged all of us when he clearly stated, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Black church leaders uphold the tradition of speaking truth to power.

It is, therefore, a reaffirmation of my faith in the oneness of God and the oneness of humanity that I must join to publicly support my African American clergy leaders in Washington, DC and across the nation who dare to remind even some of our own local African American elected officials that we all should stand for helping those among us who are less fortunate, poor, homeless, malnourished, imprisoned, returning-from-prison, and destitute.

To that end, a group of distinguished African American clergy leaders and other community leaders on March 9, 2021 sent an urgent letter of concern to The Honorable Vincent C. Gray, DC Ward 7 City Councilmember and former Mayor of Washington, DC. I consider Vincent Gray a friend that I have admired over the past years.

The ministers expressed their strong objection to an effort that Councilmember Gray is leading to terminate the contract of the service provider currently running the short-term housing program at The Horizon in Ward 7.

As the letter points out, that program has been delivering an essential service to families in desperation and facing homelessness. And the social service provider that the city entrusted to provide this essential service, CORE DC, has been lauded by city officials as a dedicated and ideal partner.

It is therefore troubling that anyone would want to end this, particularly since the program is a bedrock of stability for those most in need, as well as a transformative centerpiece of Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s effective fight against poverty in the nation’s capital city.

The ministers argue that Councilmember Gray’s effort has nothing to do with the exemplary services CORE DC continues to provide. Instead, the ministers say this is all driven by Councilmember Gray’s opposition to a completely unrelated project involving the federal government’s plan to contract CORE DC to provide critically needed reentry services for men returning home from periods of incarceration in federal prison.

We hope that is not, in fact, what’s unfolding, particularly at a time when a pandemic has exacerbated the desperation of individuals who are on the economic margins of society, but the ministers are nevertheless adamant in their plea.

“The effort to dismantle this program is troubling enough on its own,” the ministers write. “But it is even worse in light of the fact that you have openly – and at times inexplicably – taken a hostile stance against CORE DC regarding the organization’s plans to open another facility in Ward 7, a residential reentry center for returning citizens.”

I am hopeful and prayerful that Councilmember Gray will respond affirmatively and will heed the requests of church and community leaders to support CORE DC and The Horizon residential facilities in Ward 7 to continue to offer critical needed services to DC’s homeless and those returning citizens from prisons and jails.

There will always be political differences among elected officials. Yet, differences of opinion about public policies among elected officials should never rise to the occasion to permit a turning of backs on the poor and the homeless. In other words, those who are privileged to make decisions that will impact the quality of life of others should always be concerned about the least of those among us.

All of the major metropolitan areas in the United States are facing the challenges of homelessness and poverty. While we live in the richest nation in the world, we cannot afford to lose sight of our mutual civic and moral responsibilities to be our “brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”

The following biblical scripture reference should apply to all urban public policymakers: “What you do unto the least of these, you do also unto me.” That is why I use the term “prophetic politics” as the act of political decision-making as a reaffirmation and practice of one’s faith and commitment to serve all of humankind fairly and justly.

The Black Press of America grew out of the Black Church 194 years ago with the publication of Freedom’s Journal in New York City in 1827 by John Russwurm and The Reverend Samuel Cornish. We knew back then as we know today that we must continue “to plead our own cause” to demand freedom and equality. This also means that we are obligated to plead with each other to treat one another fairly and equitably as well.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and Executive Producer and Host of The Chavis Chronicles (TCC) on PBS TV stations across the U.S. and can be reached at dr.bchavis@nnpa.org.

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OP-ED: Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The United States acknowledges the February 26 statements from the Ethiopian Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs promising unhindered humanitarian access, welcoming international support for investigations into human rights violations and abuses and committing to full accountability.  The international community needs to work collectively to ensure that these commitments are realized.

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We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through action at the UN and other relevant bodies.
We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through action at the UN and other relevant bodies.

By Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The United States is gravely concerned by reported atrocities and the overall deteriorating situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.  We strongly condemn the killings, forced removals and displacements, sexual assaults, and other extremely serious human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have reported in Tigray.  We are also deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian crisis.  The United States has repeatedly engaged the Ethiopian government on the importance of ending the violence, ensuring unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray, and allowing a full, independent, international investigation into all reports of human rights violations, abuses, and atrocities.  Those responsible for them must be held accountable.

The United States acknowledges the February 26 statements from the Ethiopian Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs promising unhindered humanitarian access, welcoming international support for investigations into human rights violations and abuses, and committing to full accountability.  The international community needs to work collectively to ensure that these commitments are realized.

The immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces from Tigray are essential first steps.  They should be accompanied by unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflict and a commitment to permit unhindered delivery of assistance to those in Tigray.  The United States is committed to working with the international community to achieve these goals.  To that end, USAID will deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Ethiopia to continue delivering life-saving assistance.

We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through action at the UN and other relevant bodies.

The United States remains committed to building an enduring partnership with the Ethiopian people.

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