The Poverty Report

Urban poverty affects too many people to ignore.  Weave blogger Steve Peraza is exploring the problem's many dimensions and thinking through possible ways to solve it.

Shared Sacrifice?

100 Warren BuffetMr.

The Poverty Tour

97 The Poverty Tour logoWhen will our mainstream news media start paying attention to the problem of poverty? African-American activists like TV talk show host Tavis Smiley and Yale philosopher Cornel West believe that the time is now, and have been working to put the poverty issue back on the map.

Campaign Poverty

90 Will poverty in the United States be a campaign issue in 2012? I sure hope so…But I also hope any national debate about this issue is less about partisan politics and race-mongering and more about helping the hungry find food, the homeless find homes, and the unemployed find jobs. Right now it looks like we’re going to get a heavy dose of political theater, with the national media headlining all acts.

In Memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

77 “The Drum Major Instinct"

April 4, 1967. New York, N.Y.

This morning I would like to use as a subject from which to preach: "The Drum Major Instinct." "The Drum Major Instinct." And our text for the morning is taken from a very familiar passage in the tenth chapter as recorded by Saint Mark. Beginning with the thirty-fifth verse of that chapter, we read these words: "And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came unto him saying, ‘Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.’ And he said unto them, ‘What would ye that I should do for you?’ And they said unto him, ‘Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.’ But Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye know not what ye ask: Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ And they said unto him, ‘We can.’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.’" And then Jesus goes on toward the end of that passage to say, "But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your servant: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all." 

Debating the Tucson Tragedy

76 As the nation mourns the mass killing in Tucson, the partisan political machines have shamelessly played the blame game. On the frontlines have been journalists, some of whom I admire, others I loathe. But this time around there’s nothing to applaud about what’s being said in the aftermath of the blood bath. It’s all finger-pointing, all platitude, all smoking mirrors. 

Huckleberry Finn and the N-Word

75 Remember when the NAACP issued a moratorium on the word "nigger?" Is it not ironic that their ally in this fray would be a white literary critic from the Deep South? Indeed the NAACP and Dr. Gribben come from two very different positions in this debate, but they reached a similar conclusion: popular culture would be better off without people saying "nigger." I think they're both wrong. Words cannot be buried, NAACP, and Huck Finn cannot be sanitized without undermining the main thrust of the work, Dr. Gribben. Besides, getting rid of the word "nigger" is not going to eradicate racism. It will only add another veil behind which racists will hide.

Will the Poor Have Their Day in Court?

New York Chief Judge Jonathan LippmanFederal and state courts in America are required to provide legal representation to defendants in criminal cases if they cannot afford their own. Should the same right be afforded poor defendants in civil suits?

New York Chief Justice Jonathan Lippman believes that it should. According to an article in the New York Times, Judge Lippman will propose legislation that would require the New York State to provide the indigent with legal representation in civil cases. His motivation: “the ideal of equal access to civil justice.” His goal: “a comprehensive, multifaceted, systemic approach to providing counsel to the indigent in civil cases.”

Look beyond Income? Part I

How do we look beyond income when debt is on the horizon? Last week the Insight Center for Community Economic Development published “Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth and America’s Future,” a report written by Mariko Lin Chang discussing the disparities of wealth among women of diverse races. The eye-grabbing stat was that the median wealth for black women was $100, for Hispanic women $120, and for white women $41,000. (Subtle, no?) Equally compelling was the fact that more than half of all single black and Latino women either have no wealth or have negative wealth. That is, either their assets equal their debts or their debts exceed their assets… 

SUNY under Fire

UUP activistsHigh school juniors and seniors in New York beware! The State University of New York is privatizing…At least that’s what the United University Professions, a higher education union, has declared in criticism of Governor David Patterson’s most recent budget cuts and proposed higher education reforms. Since the start of the year he has stopped the flow of $153 million to SUNY, and the Governor’s Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act, which will empower the boards of trustees for SUNY and CUNY to determine tuition rates, promises to wreak havoc on the existing SUNY financial structure. The cuts have already caused hiring freezes, fewer course offerings, and large class sizes. (I currently TA for a two hundred and fifty student survey of American History from 1877 to the present—a whopping one hundred students more than the typical survey).

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1948 the United States signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document represents an international effort to define the relationship of nation-states to their citizenries; that is, to set a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” Among these are articles related to “economic human rights,” as specified in Articles 23, 25, and 26 (cited below):