By Ron Edwards
It took 15 years to tell us what we already knew
“Disparities Found in Contract Awards” was the Friday, Nov. 5, 2010 headline in the Star Tribune about a study kept under wraps for five years, a study which cost $500,000 and took five years to complete.
The disparity problem is also a moral and a justice problem. And it is all “legal,” institutionalized by the DFL and accepted by Black organizations no longer fighting for civil rights, as seen in the now-infamous 2008 statement of the former director of the Minneapolis Office of Civil Rights — that the City can meet its minority hiring compliance requirements without hiring a single African American.
This damning report, 282 pages with 17 additional pages of recommendations, tells a horrifying story of people of color, particularly African Americans.
The City has made it hard to get to the report. Even Dept. of Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel, during her appearance before the city council on November 4, admitted the difficulty accessing these 300 pages online, given the online access process established by the City. It took hard work, tenaciousness and persistence, but I have obtained a copy of this report.
Recall that I have I written numerous columns calling attention to and warning about this longstanding disaster (see my web log entry of August 28, 2009, in which I list 12 of the columns I’ve written on this subject since 2005).
We have been denied access to over $5 billion in projects, a denial that condemns African Americans to the kind of poverty and economic downturn that has ripped the heart out of the African American communities and other communities of color. When you deny people education and jobs, you condemn them to poverty.
The so-called protected classes — people of color and women — represent 22 percent of those eligible but only represent 5.5 percent of those receiving contracts and money from the City for minority and women-owned businesses and enterprises.
But what is even more troubling is the initial headline that I thought about using for this column: “Black folk work for slave wages.” Another deeply troubling aspect of the report is that, in this land of Hubert Humphrey and model liberalism, the City of Minneapolis has accepted African Americans receiving almost 40 percent less in compensation and salary than their White counterparts.
This has been going on ever since Reconstruction in the South and the wave of Blacks immigrating North. This has been known by civic leaders, civil rights leaders, and political and religious leaders, and executed most often by these same leaders and the Democratic Party.
It was no accident that the City of Minneapolis made no great effort over the past 15 years to analyze the obvious lack of access and lack of opportunity for African Americans in the very lucrative industry of contracts and enterprise opportunities.
Thus, in addition to Michael Jordan’s 2008 statement that the City of Minneapolis can meet its diversity goals without ever having to hire a single African American, he and others should have added that one other thing is guaranteed: Even if hired for the same work with the same qualifications and dreams, African Americans will not be paid the same wage as Whites.
This 300-page disparity study gives us a better understanding of why, over the years, figures are fudged, numbers changed, and documents become “unable” to be produced. The City and its various departments dealing with economic development and the awarding of contracts have not wanted us to know how they shortchange the African American community.
The report confirms the economic rape of the African American community and the denial of its access to the wealth of this city. And, my friends, this was not done by the Tea Party or a bunch of mean-spirited political hacks.
This was done, and is still being done, by the political cream of liberalism in Minneapolis. Hubert H. Humphrey, Cecil Newman and Nellie Stone Johnson, among others, would weep tears of shock and disappointment at this testament to the violation of justice and dreams of the African American community.
What will be done? As long as so-called Black leadership does nothing other than see that they “get theirs,” nothing.
The report’s recommendations have no teeth or commitment for corrective action. It reflects the words of 1948 segregationists: Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow will the Negro be given the opportunity to enjoy wealth and dreams. What and who does liberalism stand for in our time today?
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
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