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Monday, June 30, 2014

Thad Cochran's Mississippi ranks first in U.S. Poverty Areas

Photo 
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R) won last election with help of Black voters.
If you are a Black child living in French Camp, Mississippi, you are probably one of the poorest humans in the U.S., a place in the Deep South where kids under 18 will need special assistance to reach their fullest potentials. If you are living in Wyoming, Vermont, or New Hampshire, however, your chances of living in poverty are less likely.

Learn more about Mississippi poverty and politics at: http://thegrio.com/2011/08/25/why-is-mississippi-so-red-when-its-so-black/

Mississippi is where Republican Senator Thad Cochran won a recent election with the help of Black voters. (http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/it-looks-like-african-americans-really-did-help-thad-cochran-win/). Mississippi's Black voters have to ask themselves, "What have politicians done for us lately?" So do poor folks in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  where 30% of people live below the poverty line.

 
Alan Nunnelee, 112th Congress Official Portrait.jpg
U.S. Representative Patrick Alan Nunnelee (R) of Miss., 1st Congressional district

Wikipedia ranks French Camp, Mississippi one of the poorest places in the state, with per capita income of $5,047. French Camp is in Choctaw County and has a population of 393. About 17.1% of families and 64.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 70.5% of those under age 18. 
State Senator Gary Jackson (R), serving Choctaw County, is a minister and member of the National Rifle Association.

U.S. Census Bureau data from 2008 to 2012 cites one in four U.S. residents live in “poverty areas."  These areas of concentrated poverty refer to any census tract with a poverty rate of 20 percent of more. The number of people living in poverty areas increased from 49.5 million (18.0 percent) in 2000 to 77.4 million (25.7 percent) in 2008-2012. The 2012 American Community Survey five-year estimates show a U.S. poverty rate of 14.9 percent.


By state, according to the 2008-2012 figures, the percentage of people living in a poverty area ranged from 48.5 percent in Mississippi to 6.8 percent in New Hampshire.

While for most areas the percent of people living in poverty areas increased, some parts of the country moved in the opposite direction of the nation’s 7.6 percentage points increase. In Louisiana (-3.6 percentage points), West Virginia (-2.3), Alaska (-0.4), Hawaii (-1.0) and the District of Columbia (-6.7), the proportion of people living in poverty areas declined over the period. On the other hand, Arkansas (15.7 percentage points), North Carolina (17.9), Oregon (16.0) and Tennessee (16.0) had among the largest percentage point increases in the proportion of people living in poverty areas.
The report, Changes in Areas with Concentrated Poverty: 2000 to 2010, uses data from the 2000 Census and the American Community Survey to analyze changes in the spatial distribution and socio-economic characteristics of people living in such areas. More than half of people living in poverty lived in a poverty area, and about 30 percent of people living in poverty areas had incomes below the poverty level.
 
“Researchers have found that living in poor neighborhoods adds burdens to low-income families, such as poor housing conditions and fewer job opportunities,” said the report’s author, Alemayehu Bishaw of the Census Bureau’s Poverty Statistics Branch. “Many federal and local government agencies use the Census Bureau’s definition of poverty areas to provide much-needed resources to communities with a large concentration of people in poverty.”

Other highlights:
In the 2008-2012 period, in 14 states and the District of Columbia, 30 percent or more of the population lived in poverty areas. In 2000, this was true of four states and the District of Columbia.
Of the people living in poverty areas in the 2008-2012 period, 51.1 percent lived in central cities of metro areas, 28.6 percent in suburbs and 20.4 percent outside metro areas. (In the report, the term “suburbs” refers to areas that are inside metropolitan statistical areas but outside the central or principal cities.)
Many of the counties with 80 percent or more of the population living in poverty areas were clustered in and around American Indian reservations (in New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota and North Dakota) or in the Mississippi delta region (which includes portions of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas).
About 38 percent of all families headed by a female householder with no husband present lived in a poverty area, the largest proportion among all family types.
Blacks, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and those in the “some other race” category were the race groups most likely to live in poverty areas, at 50.4 percent, 47.8 percent and 48.3 percent, respectively. Whites, however, experienced the largest percentage point increase in the proportion living in poverty areas over the 2000 to 2008-2012 period. The percent of whites living in poverty areas increased from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 20.3 percent in 2008-2012.
Employed people saw a larger increase in the percentage of people living in poverty areas than the unemployed over this period — 8.0 percentage points versus 3.4 percentage points.
 
About the American Community Survey
The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about all communities in the country. The American Community Survey gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results.
Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation’s people. Questions about jobs and the economy were added 20 years later under James Madison, who said such information would allow Congress to “adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community,” and over the decades allow America “an opportunity of marking the progress of the society.”



 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Maya Angelou: a glorious life of sharing


Homage to Dr. Angelou

Maya Angelou was a relevant, sermonizing, power poet. Here are excerpts from my hour long interview with her in 1979 at the University of Cincinnati.

JOHNSON:  How are you able to write on universal themes?

ANGELOU: There's a statement that was made by Terence, a playwright, in 154 BC, ..."I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me." Now that means when somebody weeps, or someone laughs, or is cold, or happy, that is universal . Human beings do that. I write through the Black experience. That's what I know and love.

JOHNSON: When you write, do you take notes or just remember everything?

ANGELOU:  I had an assignment to cover George Jackson's funeral, and I stood in the street...your eyes are a camera. I just looked at everything. I try to make myself like blotting paper. I take it all in. Every sound. I absorb it. Then, when you go back to write, the selection of what you have absorbed is sometimes the difficult part. You've absorbed the entire thing, but then that old woman with that bag in that hot street filled with black people in West Oakland, that scene was just incredible. People upon the roofs, looking like black rifles upon those white roofs, just standing straight like that! It was a fantastic look.

I wrote "Rehearsal for a Funeral" for Harper's, and when they looked at it them said, "Oh no, we can't use this. Oh, no." So they said, "We can edit it," and I said, "Oh no, that won't happen. No, Jack. You'll pay me and that won't happen." So I took my piece back, and I took my money, too. Then I gave it to Black Scholar with the understanding that not one word be changed, because it's a prose poem to George and all the Georges, to Martin and Malcolm, to Medger, to our men and women. It's "Rehearsal for a Funeral" because it just keeps happening.

JOHNSON: How were you able to do that, to say, "Look, this is the way it's going to happen?" I know you're famous and all that, but how are you able to say, "Look, this is what's going to happen, this is how much money I'm going to get, and it's not going to be edited, period?"

ANGELOU: I'm not greedy. Every human being is worthy of his or her hire. Everybody should be paid and paid well, and I mean everybody. That's rule number one. Two, when I say I'm not greedy, I mean I will not live at any cost, even if my life is not worth everything to me. Do you see what I mean? Someone to tell me, "If you don't do this, I will kill you." I would have to say, "Do it. That's your next job. Do it!" There is some thing that I will not do. I will not live at any cost. If I have a piece of work, and it's going to be poorly done, then I'll take my work back.

Each person has his or her style, just as all the fingerprints are different. Each person has his or her own rhythm or series of rhythms. Sometimes you'll read one person's work and you'll say, "That sounds just like..." You don't even have to see who has written it. You'll say, "That James Baldwin, without a doubt."

I've never gotten anything the first time, hardly the fifth. When I write a poem, for instance, I wanted to write a poem about hopscotch. I write everything I know about hopscotch. And then I reach for the rhythm of the thing...it took me about six months to write "Harlem Hopscotch."

"Phenomenal Woman" took me about two months to write. It's really a song, too. My mother really inspired me for that poem, and all the sisters and friends encouraged me to write it.

I don't know if I was born with it, the ability to write. I think it's hard work learning the craft. I believe that every person in the world is talented, everybody's born with talent, every human being. I think that talent is like electricity...electricity makes no demands. It does not judge.

People, I believe, get often, not always, but often what they work for. What are you prepared to work for? Are you prepared to survive and be serious about it, really serious? I look at other races, and then I look at my own, and my own is an incredible race because we have a vitality, a spontaneity, we have something that we treat cheaply as if we had a contract on tomorrow. We have great love of life, and we don't sit around and talk about survival.

...Think. Think us out of this miasma. Think. This mental machine will do anything you will tell it to do...Use it. ...You can think, you really can. That machine in there is fantastic, phenomenal!