Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Black Lives Matter - It’s More than Police Killings

By David Muhammad
Guest Blogger

I have struggled with the theme of “Black Lives Matter” in the protests against police killings of Black men in America. I totally agree with the sentiment, but I have just had trouble with the message that seems so basic and demands a low bar. Then after an argument with a friend who thought the theme was ridiculous, I found myself defending it and eventually fully embracing the notion that one of our biggest challenges is that so many people in this country devalue the life of Black youth. But it is much more than police killings.

I watched the March and rally organized by Reverend Al Sharpton in the nation’s capital recently. Toward the end of the event, he brought up numerous families of the countless Black men murdered by police in cities throughout America. It was a stage full of pain. The mothers of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Amadou Diallo and many more. It inspired great emotion and passion.

Somehow, the everyday injustice in America does not evoke the same response. Gross racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions, incarceration, violations of probation and parole, and sentencing destroy millions of Black lives. Though the magnitude is much greater, it does not inspire the level of anger that a video of a White officer murdering a Black man does.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s Impact on Youth

By Kathleen Kelley
JPI Intern

(The White House)
There are 6.7 million opportunity youth in America, which is defined as young people ages 16-24 who are out of school and out of work.  The period directly after high school can be very tricky to maneuver and even harder for those without a high school diploma or a GED. Nowadays, for most jobs, a high school diploma is not enough to obtain and keep a good job.  If this Congress can take some action on legislation before it, this country can help these kids, get the help they need around work.

On July 22nd of this year, President Obama signed into the law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which replaces the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition held a meeting held on Tuesday October 21st to review the provisions of WIOA that directly benefit youth, and especially opportunity youth.

WIOA is a bipartisan act that is also the first legislative reform in 15 years of the public workforce system. The enactment of WIOA provides opportunity for reforms to ensure the American Job Center system is job-driven, responding to the needs of employers and preparing workers for jobs that are available. WIOA strengthens the public workforce system and creates partnerships that sustain it by unifying and streamlining services to better serve job-seekers. The Act empowers local boards to tailor services to their regions employment and workforce needs.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Community Policing to End Racial Profiling

By Povneet Dhillon
JPI Intern

(NY Post)
Recently, we have mourned the loss of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Charles Smith, Darrien Hunt, Kajieme Powell and Cameron Tillman – all men of color, all killed by the police. It seems impossible to count all the accounts of “use of excessive force,” all the “paid leaves of absence” and all the times that it seems we have not moved past the stark and startling injustices of the Jim Crow era. U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder expressed the frustration of our inability to facilitate discussion needed to promote positive racial relations in a powerful statement:  “though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”

During the Jim Crow era, society regarded people of color as the lesser class. This was epitomized in public spaces, which were segregated between Whites and people of color. As enforcers of the law, police officers were expected to maintain the borders at all costs. One disturbing story of how the Jim Crow justice system works comes from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Christopher Lollie, a black father, made the mistake of sitting in an undesignated space. Mr. Lollie had just gotten off work and was waiting to pick up his children from school. A security guard walked past the other parents and told Mr. Lollie that he was sitting in a private “employee only” space. In an act of deviance evocative of—though perhaps not as memorable as--Rosa Parks, Mr. Lollie refused to leave.