Archive for March, 2009

Economic stimulus and the SBA

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Small Business Administration (SBA) loans should be easier to get (theoretically) in the future. According to the Associated Press, the SBA has eliminated fees for its 7a and 504 small business loans. In addition, $15 billion in TARP money will be used to buy current SBA loans from the banks, thereby freeing up capital that can be used for new SBA loans.

The TARP program, which stands for Troubled Asset Relief Program, has gotten a nasty reputation as a bank bailout program funded by the taxpayers. Although there was the expectation that TARP funds would be used to loosen credit to make new loans, the reality is that most recipients have used the funding to shore up liquidity and protect against loan losses.

Perhaps new program changes increasing the amount of each loan the government will guarantee from 75-80% to 90% will help. If the lenders have less risk, they should be willing to make more loans.

For more details, see the Congressional Research Report.

Ethnicmajority Business page.

If it doesn’t happen to a celebrity, is it racial profiling?

Friday, March 27th, 2009

So here’s the latest example of a shocking racial profiling incident that wouldn’t have made the news except that it happened to a celebrity, in this case an NFL running back named Ryan Moats. According to the Dallas Morning News, Moats was rushing to a local hospital with his wife to be at the bedside of her dying mother when he was pulled over at the entrance to the hospital by a police officer for running a red light. Moats tried to explain the situation, but the cop insisted that he find his insurance card or he would have the car towed. Nurses from the hospital and another cop even tried to plead his case to no avail. Twenty minutes later the incident was over, but too late. Moats’ mother-in-law had died. Fortunately Moats’ wife ignored the cop’s orders and went to her dying mother’s bedside anyway and was able to comfort her before she passed.

For most Americans, we take for granted that we will be treated with respect and dignity by law enforcement because they are after all public servants. Unfortunately some of us are treated like criminals without being given an iota of the benefit of the doubt.

Check out the video:
Part 1

Part 2

Ethnicmajority racial profiling page.

State civil rights initiatives challenged

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Finally some good news in stemming the tide against the sham civil rights initiatives that started with the passage of California’s Proposition 209 in 1996. Similar initiatives passed by Michigan in 2006 and Nebraska in 2008 prohibit using race as a factor in government hiring or contracting, and public schools with simply-worded ballot measures under the guise of “civil rights” initiatives.

According to the National Law Journal, a state appellate court has ruled that Berkeley’s plan to consider racial makeup of a neighborhood does not violate Proposition 209. In a separate ruling, the California Supreme Court has asked the state Attorney General for an opinion as to whether Prop 209 violates federal equal protection laws as part of litigation over San Francisco’s public contracting program.

These initiatives have functioned as Trojan horses against civil rights because they sound philosophically appealing to voters who don’t understand the ramifications of implementing them. They leave state and local governments without tools like affirmative action or minority business programs to mitigate racial discrimination problems, and don’t even allow the government to gather statistics or conduct research needed to determine whether there may be a problem in the first place. This effectively makes racial discrimination permissible because it is now illegal to even gather evidence to make your case. Fortunately the voters of Colorado figured this out and defeated a similar initiative in 2008.

Proposition 209 has hurt California’s schools, government, and business community. If the courts don’t overturn it, the voters should.

For more information, see the Ethnicmajority civil rights and affirmative action pages.

Exposing the co-conspirators of the economic crisis

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Leave it to Jon Stewart at Comedy Central to do what the rest of the news media is too afraid to admit: that they, especially CNBC have been complicit in bringing on the collapse of Wall Street, the housing market, the banking sector, and AIG. Stewart’s scathing, tragic yet sarcastically humorous commentary ripping CNBC for cheer-leading rather than investigating Wall Street has been right on point and should lead to follow up on this issue.

Why are we not holding the regulators of these industries accountable for gross negligence? The first reaction has been to blame the CEO’s of the companies, then Congress for deregulating the industries, then maybe the heads of the regulatory bodies like the SEC, FDIC, etc. Although there is plenty of blame to go around at this level, the heads of the regulatory agencies are temporary political appointees. What about the career bureaucrats at the SEC who were repeatedly warned about Bernard Madoff’s ponzi scheme and should have been able to stop him years ago?

Congress doesn’t want to investigate this because they will just make themselves look bad. And the media doesn’t want to dig deeper because it is too much work and doesn’t carry the entertainment bang for the buck that stalking a CEO’s helipad does.

The mass media stopped functioning as the fourth estate a long time ago. Now it’s up to the bloggers – and Comedy Central.

Here’s the video of Jon Stewart’s interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer:

The highs and lows of African American political role models

Monday, March 9th, 2009

The election of Barack Obama struck a huge blow for race relations in this country, and he is undoubtedly a role model for all Americans, not just African Americans. In spite of a failing economy and global tensions, he remains immensely popular both domestically and internationally.

Role models are so important, especially to young Americans, because they give them something to aspire to and show what is possible. On the other hand, highly visible figures who are not good role models have the reverse effect. They may reinforce negative stereotypes and discourage new generations from entering a profession.

Take a look at two politicians, who next to President Obama, have been the most visible African American figures, Roland Burris and Michael Steele. Burris was appointed to Obama’s vacated Illinois Senate seat by the now impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich despite a cloud of suspicion of “pay to play” politics. After insisting that he never did any favors for Blagojevich or attempted to bargain for the job and refusing to turn down the appointment, it has become increasingly obvious that he did not come into the job on merit.

Steele was elected to Chair of the Republican National Committee after a series of highly contentious votes. His chief competitors for the post were from Katon Dawson, head of the South Carolina GOP, who only recently canceled his membership in a whites-only country club, and Chip Saltsman, the Tennessee party leader whose claim to fame was distributing CDs of “Barack the Magic Negro”. Steele narrowly defeated Dawson on the sixth ballot by 91 to 77, not exactly a ringing endorsement. You get the feeling that the Republican party is in such turmoil, they had to resort to appointing one of only three African American members of the RNC to lead them. And Steele has not disappointed, declaring that he wants to bring some “Hip Hop” to the party. In fairness, Steele’s task may be insurmountable. The closest the Republicans ever come to Hip Hop is Frank Sinatra. Recently Steele criticized Rush Limbaugh’s remarks that he wished Obama’s economic policies would fail as “incendiary” and “ugly”, only to backtrack the next day after realizing how incendiary his remarks were to the party’s right-wing base.

America needs African American role models, especially in this time of great uncertainty. Too bad that for every Obama we get a Burris and Steele.

Ethnicmajority politics page.

New documentaries to advance social and racial justice

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I wanted to inform EthnicMajority readers of some new documentaries that have recently been released by California Newsreel. They look at contemporary civil rights issues such as housing descrimination, unfair incarceration and health inequities along racial lines.


Though its scrupulous investigation of a landmark case, this documentary uncovers the deep-rooted assumptions about race and crime that still permeate our society and undermines our justice system. The film convincingly shows how the ‘war on drugs’ has become a war on due process, waged against African Americans.


This documentary brings to light one of the bloodiest tragedies of the Civil Rights era after four decades of deliberate denial. The killing of four white students at Kent State University in 1970 left an indelible stain on our national consciousness. But most Americans know nothing of the three black students killed at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg two years earlier.


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