What Should He or She Care About? – Part One

I voted for Barrack Obama twice. I did so, in part, because I hoped our first Black president would make addressing the multiple problems of African Americans one of his highest priorities. Sadly he has not done that.

Actually a White president from Texas, Lyndon Johnson, was much more vigorous, and public, in his efforts to address these problems.

I think addressing these issues should be a high priority of any presidential candidate we vote for. Here’s why.

According to an August 7 report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for adult Blacks is 9.6%. For Whites it is 4.6%.

For White males, aged 16-19 years of age, the unemployment rate is 20.6%, but for Black youth the rate is 31.1%.

According to a recent report from the Henry K Kaiser Foundation, 10% of White Americans live in poverty. For African Americans the number is 27%.

The American dream has always been that, with hard work and diligence, poor Americans can move up to the middle class. However recent facts refute that expectation, particularly as it relates to African Americans and Hispanic Americans.

The Urban Institute did a study of trends in the gap in family wealth among White, Black, and Hispanic households. Their report says that, in 1989, White households had 5 times more in retirement savings than Black or Hispanic households. In 2013 Whites had 7 to 11 times more in retirement savings.

The amount of income you have depends greatly on the amount of education you have. Generally, those with college degrees, get higher wages than those without degrees. According to data from the US Census Bureau, among those 25 years or older, 29.3% of Whites (non-Hispanic) had a four year college degree while just 17.7% of Blacks do.

This college graduation rate gap may be influenced by the differences in the way White and Black students are treated in grade and high school. Recently the Graduate School of Education, of the University of Pennsylvania issued a report on the expulsion or suspending rates at school districts in 13 southern states. They reported that, on average, just under 25% of the students are Black, but Black students were nearly half of those who were expelled or suspended. Large numbers of suspended or expelled students drop out and do not even get a high school diploma.

And then there is the criminal justice system. According to a study by the ACLU, one in three Black men can expect to go to jail in their life time. For White men that number is one in seventeen.

The ACLU report notes that “The War on Drugs has been a war on communities of color. The racial disparities are staggering: Despite the fact that White and Black people use drugs at similar rates, Black people are jailed on drug charges 10 times more often than White people are. Black people are also three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people are.”

The Jury selection process may be part of the problem. Lawyers for defendants, and prosecutors are permitted to dismiss prospective jurors with”peremptory challenges”. This means the person challenged in this way will not serve on the jury, and with few exceptions, the attorney or prosecutor need not give any reason for dismissing the potential juror. Studies done in several southern states found that prosecutors in those states were 3 times more likely to dismiss Black jurors than White Jurors.

A recent report published in the Journal of the American Economic Association notes that, if juries in death penalty trials were unbiased, the rate of appeals court reversals of death sentence convictions of Blacks and Whites should be the same. However, the report notes that the death sentence conviction reversals for Blacks is 3% to 9% higher than for White defendants. This suggests bias in the trial courts.

We need to seek and support residential candidates who make correcting these problems a high priority if he or she is elected.

More Later


2 thoughts on “What Should He or She Care About? – Part One

  1. Hi,

    I’ve been getting your emails and have found them very balanced and informative. However, I don’t know who you are. Could you send me a link to your biography information?

    Kate McCarthy


    • Hi Kate,

      Thank you for being interested.

      I don’t really have a bio up anywhere for people to go to. But here are some key facts about me followed by a description of what drives me.

      I’m 76 years old.

      I was born in New York City but moved to California in 1970.

      I got a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Middlebury College in Vermont.

      I worked for the state of California for 22 years before retiring in 1992.

      With the help of the River City Democratic Club, in 1988 I founded a civil rights lobbying organization called the Lambda Letters Project. We helped people write to California state legislators, and the Governor on bills that related to the following issues:

      LGBT issues
      Economic Justice issues
      Legislation that affects People of Color
      Legislation that affects women

      Lambda Letters closed in 2004. In that same year I founded California Communities Institute (CalComUI)which had the same mission as Lambda Letters but with a less expensive business model. I regretfully closed CalComUI this Spring because of bad health.

      What Drives Boyce Hinman?

      Sometimes people ask me why am I working so hard on civil rights and social and economic justice lobbying while most people my age (74) are out playing golf, or tennis, or are traveling.

      To explain, let me tell you a story about Margaret Fell, one of the early leaders of the Quaker church. Margaret Fell was a wealthy woman and probably led a pampered life. One story about her says she believed that she got a calling from God to go into the dungeons, where debtors were sent, (In England in the 1600ds) and to minister to the people there. The dungeons were filthy and rat infested. The story says she asked “why me”. The answer she got was “I only have you to send”.

      I have attended liberal Christian churches most of my life. These churches taught about an all powerful, and all loving god. However, a few years ago I came to the concclusion that, given the amount of evil and suffering in this world, there could not be such a god. In fact, if such a god existed, that god would be guilty of gross negligence.

      So, this world is filled with evil and injustice. Most Christians believe they have a responsibility to overcome that evil and injustice as best they can, but, fundamentally, God would be their back-up and fix whatever they, in their imperfection, were unable to fix.

      But, if there is no god, then who is there to send. I have concluded there is no one to send but me and you and you. Only we can fix the problems of this world. We have no god figure to clean up our mess. And if we people of good will won’t try to fix things, then probably no one will. The likely outcome for everyone is pretty ugly to contemplate.

      So, for those who have been working with me on this good work over the years, please accept my sincere appreciation. For those who have not so much, I hope you will join the effort. There is only you to send.

      Boyce Hinman


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