Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Ta-Nehisi Coates On Reparations (via NPR): ‘We’re Going To Be In For A Fight’

Below is an interesting discussion from today on NPR's Tell Me More.

So, if I say I want to talk about reparations for African-Americans - you say what? It's about time, that's ridiculous - who cares? - it's never going to happen - or maybe even, what's that? Outside of academic circles and the occasional gathering of Black Nationalists, it would seem that very few people talk about reparations for African-Americans these days.

But that is about to change. In a 15,000 word essay for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for the magazine, describes generations of government-directed or sanctioned efforts to deprive black people of the ability to generate wealth. And, as well, he describes black people's efforts to overcome that. He describes this as a moral debt to African-Americans, and says until it is paid, this country cannot be whole. He joins us today from our bureau in New York to talk about this piece, which is already getting a lot of attention. It's called, "The Case For Reparations." And Ta-Nehisi Coates is with us now. Welcome, thank you so much for joining us.


‘One Nation Underemployed’ Shows Blacks Still In Crisis

From NPR:  The National Urban League's new "State of Black America" report finds that African-Americans are still struggling to find jobs, but there's plenty they can do to recover from the recession.

MARTIN: Thank you so much for joining us, Professor Overton. So, Marc Morial, the report is titled "One Nation Underemployed." Why do you focus on underemployment? And I mean, one of the issues we've been reporting on quite extensively in recent years is that the unemployment rate for African-Americans and Latinos has been consistently high. So why are you focusing on underemployment?

MORIAL: Underemployment is sort of a component of the economic challenges we face. So underemployment means a person may be working but - for example, they may be in a full-time job, but want to work in a - or maybe in a part-time job - may want to work in a full-time job. Or they're working, as a woman I recently met, as a cashier at a grocery store, happy to be employed, but qualified to - and spent 24 years as a teacher. So this underemployment problem is not fully captured by simply looking at the joblessness rate or the unemployment rate. And we think it is something that is part of the picture of the recovery since the great recession.

One of the points raised is that African American families should increasingly encourage our children to move into some of the professional fields in which we are overly-invovled as consumers, and under-involved as producers. Such fields include the various STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields:

OVERTON: I think so. One piece here is STEM and the importance of STEM. You know, African-Americans are much more likely to use Twitter, to have a mobile phone than some others, but they are underrepresented in terms of producing in the technology area. And so there's a Joint Center report that found that if we were to increase the rate of STEM-related degrees among African-Americans and Latinos to the same rate as Asian-Americans, we'd add about 140,000 new STEM degree holders every year. That would benefit the economy. It would also go a long way in terms of inequality.


How African Americans See Their Lives

The well-being of the black family has been the subject of public debate. Ebony and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation are out with the Survey of African American Families. NPR's Tell Me More takes a look.

Joining Michel Martin for this conversation are Ron Lester of Ebony Magazine, who led the survey study, and Dr. Gail Christopher of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  The Kellogg Foundation provided the financial support for the study.

While there was more detailed information and findings from the actual study shared during this NPR discussion (full transcript), the following early exchange - for me at least - gets at the major highlight, and the contradiction we must continue to work through as a community:

MARTIN: OK. So, Gail Christopher, one of the numbers that stuck with you was that 88 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with the quality of their lives, and that number actually disturbed you. And you wrote actually a whole piece about this for Ebony magazine in a column accompanying the poll results. Why did that disturb you?

CHRISTOPHER: Well, I think that the satisfaction with the quality of life reflects being lulled into, in some cases, too much complacency. The actual facts about our economic situation and about the achievement gaps in school and the overrepresentation in suspension rates and the incarceration disparities tell us as a community that we have a lot of work to do. And we have to be not satisfied if we're going to drive for the kinds of social change that's required.



Walter Mosley: To End Race, We Have To Recognize ‘White’ Doesn’t Exist

Walter Mosley is interviewed by NPR's Michel Martin about his collective body of literature, his writing practices, as well as his newest book,  "Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore".  Mosley also talks race, specifically that race is a social and political construct - indeed with real life implications.

From NPR:  Walter Mosley's writing inspired Hollywood filmmakers and a generation of black writers. He's now being honored at the National Black Writers' Conference. He talks about the award and his new book. 


Redefining Philanthropy: How African-Americans Give Back (NPR)

Below is a brief NPR discussion to help people think more broadly about philanthropy, and its place within the African American community. Research shows that African Americans give a higher percentage of their income to charity - one form of philanthropy - than other groups.

While this is important to understand and appreciate in its own right, we should also be thinking about the potential of our giving when combined, and directed toward some of the more fundamental challenges facing our community - high quality early learning programs (and child care more broadly) for our children, weekend Saturday schools, our own cultural institutions, community-focused businesses and social entrepreneurial efforts, etc. I'm really interested in learning more about the ways people are doing this sort of collective and targeted giving. Tracey Webb mentions this approach in passing, and I look forward to learning more about this.

In the meantime, here's the recent brief NPR discussion...

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation released a study in 2012 showing that African-Americans give a larger share of their income to charities than any other group. Tracey Webb, founder of The Black Benefactors and, talks to [NPR] host Michel Martin about African-American philanthropy.

A portion of the exchange...

WEBB: I want that to be seen as philanthropy also - trying to shift the image and just thinking about philanthropy just for the wealthy and the elite. I want people to know that philanthropy is giving of your time, talent and treasure, whether you have $20 or $20,000 or $20 million - that that's a form of philanthropy, and it's a form of giving back.

MARTIN: Why does ethnicity matter in something like this?

WEBB: We're seen as recipients of philanthropy and not always the givers. And I just wanted to help to change that narrative. I think that's very important.


Are African-American Men ‘Invisible?’

President Obama recently called on the nation to rally around young African-American men. But is that easier said than done? Listen as host Michel Martin asks a panel of dads on NPR (approximately 18 minutes)...

  • Eugene Robinson, Writer for The Washington Post, and father of two
  • Leonard Pitts, Columnist for The Miami Herald, and father of five
  • Gregory Ellison, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Emory University, and father of three

The transcript is also available at NPR.