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By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
When Ashley Johnson, an artist from Chicago, heard about Taglit-Birthright—the program offering trips to Israel for young Americans of Jewish descent—she wondered why a similar program didn’t exist for people of the African diaspora. She Googled “birthright” and “Africa,” and was pleased to learn that one did—at least in theory.In 2005, Walla Elsheikh, a former Goldman Sachs associate whose father had been a Sudanese diplomat, heard a friend rave about a Taglit trip. She registered a Web site with the name Birthright AFRICA. She let the idea marinate, and nothing much happened, until she got a Facebook message from Johnson.
The two began a correspondence and eventually decided to launch the program together. In October, 2016, Johnson, who is thirty-three, and Elsheikh, who is thirty-eight, travelled to Ghana, where they met local entrepreneurs and saw relevant sights: everything from the notorious Cape Coast Castle, the center of the transatlantic slave trade, with its “door of no return,” to W. E. B. Du Bois’s last home, in Accra.
Elsheikh, who grew up in Uganda, Sudan, and Sweden, said, “Ghana is really seen as the gateway to Africa. Birthright AFRICA is built around the Ghanaian principal of sankofa—in order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’re from.” The organization has, to date, financed a trip enabling seven young Americans to make the journey.
One evening, a City University program called Black Male Initiative, which supports access to higher education for students from underrepresented demographics, held a fund-raiser, in part for Birthright AFRICA. The m.c. was Jeff Gardere, also known as Dr. Jeff, a popular TV psychologist (Orion TV’s “Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court,” Reelz’s “They Got Away with It”). Lots of B.M.I. students attended the event, which featured an open bar and trays of chocolate desserts. Guests could be overheard chatting about clubbing (“We used to slow-jam at Leviticus back in the day”) and medical appointments (“Black men don’t like two things: prostate exams and therapy”).
All CUNY B.M.I. students of African descent between the ages of eighteen and thirty are eligible to apply for free Birthright AFRICA trips. Those who make the cut, Gardere said, explaining the program to the crowd, will first visit the African Burial Ground National Monument, in downtown Manhattan, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C. Then, he said, dropping his voice to a whisper—“we’re going to give them ten days in Ghana.”
At Gardere’s prompting, guests began to raise their hands and pledge donations. An employee of Brooklyn College said, “A hundred dollars!” Gardere encouraged the crowd with impromptu personal incentives—“You wanna meet Phaedra from ‘Real Housewives’?”
Meanwhile, prospective Birthright AFRICA applicants were learning about the program for the first time. Jaleel Thomas, a young man in a suit, who was from Chicago, said he was intrigued. “I have a potential internship with Deloitte this summer,” he said. “But if you say, ‘Hey, Jaleel, I want you here in Ghana for ten days,’ I will make it happen.”
Devon Simmons, a tall criminal-justice student at John Jay, is the first graduate of CUNY’s Prison-to-College Pipeline, and he was interested in Birthright AFRICA’s international opportunities. “I just came back from study abroad in Cape Town, doing some research in regards to incarceration over there,” he said. “Next stop is Cuba, this summer.”
Elsheikh, Birthright AFRICA’s co-founder, is still in New York, but Johnson, now the program director, moved to Langma, Ghana, last year, in order to oversee ground operations. Elsheikh said, “Some of the scholars who made the trip were so into this myth” fuelled by the negative image of Africa presented to Americans. Making the trip “changed their life trajectory.”
The myth was further fuelled when President Trump referred to Haiti and some of the nations of Africa as “shithole” countries. “So it’s that much more relevant to dispel,” Elsheikh said, “particularly for people of African descent. Because it really hits your soul.” Johnson said, “We are not pushing a political agenda. But it’s inherently political to educate and empower black people.”
On the evening of the B.M.I. fund-raiser, a New York State assemblyman named Michael Blake gave the closing comments. “Don’t tell us our kids are not exceptional!” he shouted. “And I say to you, in the words of the great philosopher Fat Joe”—the Bronx’s own—“Nothing can stop you, you’re all the way up!”
READ MORE AT: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/02/12/roots/ampPost Views: 997
By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
The yawning wealth gap between black and white families is one of the starkest legacies of America’s history of racist social policymaking. As far as simple statistical comparisons go, I can’t recall any representations of it as striking as this chart from a recent report by the left-wing think tank Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. As it shows, the median white household headed by a high-school dropout is wealthier today than the median black household headed by someone who went to college. The latter category includes those who at least attended a two- or four-year college, but not graduate degree holders.
That’s how much of a head start white Americans have. The median black American who pursues higher education is still poorer, judged by net worth, than a white person who never finished 12th grade.I’m guessing that this stat is driven partly by debt—net worth measures a household’s assets minus its liabilities, and black students tend to borrow heavily to attend college. Nonetheless, it’s part of a larger pattern that Demos and IASP identify in which black families tend to have a net worth that’s lower, or roughly equal to, white families who have made what a lot of people might consider worse life decisions. Two-parent black families have a lower median net worth than white single parents ($16,000 vs. $35,800); black Americans younger than 55 who work full time have an only slightly higher median net worth than whites who work part time ($10,800 vs. $9,200). They also note research showing that black families tend to spend less than whites in similar income brackets, so thrift doesn’t appear to be the issue.
What accounts for these differences then? One major factor is that middle-class white families have been able to accumulate some wealth over generations, whereas black families have been less able to do so thanks to policies like redlining that prevented them from buying homes and building equity. (This, as you might remember, was the crux Ta-Nehisi Coates’ case for reparations.)
“Many popular explanations for racial economic inequality overlook these deep roots, asserting that wealth disparities must be solely the result of individual life choices and personal achievements,” the authors write. “The misconception that personal responsibility accounts for the racial wealth gap is an obstacle to the policies that could effectively address racial disparities.”
In other words, people need to understand that even when black families make the “right” choices, they still end up behind.
To read more Click or Copy link below:Post Views: 586
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
“Time for an Awakening” for Sunday 1/14/2017 at 7:00 PM (EST) 6:00 PM (CST) guest was Organizer, and The Adinkra Group CEO, Diallo Sumbry. We talked about The Adinkra Group, and it’s deal with the Ghana Tourism Authority to promote tours and investments in Africa for Black Americans, along with related topics. Then we transitioned into current news topics along with reflections on MLK, the day before his Birthday observance. In 2018, from the need to develop a new mindset in our communities, to our political and economic empowerment, the solution to these problems must come from us. Let’s also talk about some solutions. You can join us and be part of the conversation on this and other related topics. Information, insights and dialogue from a Black PerspectivePost Views: 796