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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  March 19, 2015 11:30pm-12:01am EDT

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>> pilots will rest for a few days. thanks for joining us. latest news any time inside story is next. last year was a hard year in the way americans think about, talk about, and live out the realities of race. in the midst of police killings chicago gang wars marches and demonstrations, you might not expect things got slightly better when it came to security and equal justice under law. at the same time a growing
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economy and dropping -- the urban league finds in its annual report that black and brown families are on the wrong end of a huge gap in wealth. a big year and what it means to all of us. meanwhile, star bucks is asking if you wanted to talk about it over a cup of coffee. this is the inside story. the equality index of black america is up this year only slightly. with small improvements and
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declines declines. the index of hispanic america also rose in the urban league's estimation with improvements in all categories except civil engagement. let's look at the overall report. welcome to the program. >> great to be with you. why do this? why try to sum up the lived experience of tenss of millions of americans with a number like this. >> we thought that creating a number would help people understand a complex issue. and it's the complex issue of race ethnicity and its affect on everyday lives of americans and the numbers to quantify obviously a difficult set of conditions and circumstances. however, i think what the number does is create clarity. this year it includes a city by city index on unemployment and
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income and also a state by state index around education. and they highlight a few things. one, that unemployment particularly in black communities and major urban centers remains very high. 33 of the top 70 cities that we looked at had black unemployment. over 15%. on the latino side, the unemployment rate remains high in some communities but seems to have come down more quickly in others. this is even as we have a job creation scenario in this country where there are 200,000 -- there have been 200,000 jobs being created each month every month for a sustained period. that period being longer than any since 1975. >> is it reaching down into the
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neighborhoods? >> at this point the answer is not yet and why we highlight this is because we don't think that people should do a somer sault and say the recovery is here, the economy is fully back. it's not fully back. it's better than it's been but we've got more work to do. >> what's different about being an unemployed black american? what's different about being an unemployed latino. if other people are heading back to work with why aren't you if you've been out on the bricks for four months? is. >> therein lies the important question but we have decided that we think we should focus on the remedies. what effects. what should we do in the face of these numbers. so we recommend an increase in
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the minimum wage which would help employment because it's going to spur consumer spending which is the driver of our community. number two we like to see a broad, strong comprehensive transportation investment or infrastructure initiative. that means let's fix roads and bridges and infrastructure and build rail and by doing so we're going to put people to jobs people to work in jobs that pay quality wages and jobs that cannot be outsourced. >> throughout this half hour we're going to talk about the gaps and deficits. are there any performing cities or regions of the country where it's a good time? >> the cities we found that had black unemployment rates below 10%. omaha, nebraska and austin texas. they stood out as having low
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unemployment in all communities across the board. health disperty numbers are lowering just a bit and you have to give credit to the work that the president has done and it demonstrates that when you tackle a problem, a big problem with a big solution you can make a difference. >> you've been doing this study for ten years now. over that arc, are black and brown americans before off? is. >> mostly the same and perhaps a bit of a slide backwards. it's important that there's been an intervening event of a dramatic nature called the great recession. the great recession drove up the
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unemployment rate drove down the home ownership rate. really caused tremendous upheaval and economic trauma across the board. black and brown american are like the caboose on the train. >> but has it reduced the capacity for the wider community to say this is a priority. this is something we should fix. it's important to say that the recession had a dramatic affect on all americans and that it continues to have an affects because we have depressed wages. but for black and brown americans the disproportionalty -- come down across the board is lagging. an that's i think the most
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important point. the come back has been far slower. i'm hopeful that the months ahead are going to bring this unemployment rate down amongst black and brown americans even further. however, i believe we have to do things like raise the minimum wage. do a transportation infrastructure bill. and i would like to see more courage around a youth employment bill. when we had one in the 70s, 80s and # 0s, it created the opportunity to learn worth ethic for young adults. >> in addition to the work that the urban league has been doing, sociologists have been asking americans is there still atax for being black? is it harder to make it and get an education.
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and white americans say we have fixed that. can you put big initiatives like this in place when so many americans say we don't need that. >> we'll continue to work and try and advocate because it suggests in the face of michael brown, eric garner, all of these incidents, we as a nation have not solved all of the historic problems related to racial
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disparities. and overall unemployment rate in this nation in the 4% range and a black unemployment rate in the 7% range. now here we are, 15 or so years later and we have black unemployment rates in some cities exceeding 20%. it would have been unimaginable in 1999 to think of unemployment rates in the 20% range in many of these american cities so it goes backward. we have to have the will because i would suggest to you that the price of progress is far less than the cost of allowing these disparities to continue. when we return how do you
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take an american population of 40 or more than 50 million people and figure out how they're doing?
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i might have concluded that america gives everyone an equal shot and if outcomes are difficulty that shows different people are better at making the most of their opportunities but plenty say if millions of people are running in place and entire large groups in society are blind can
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>> some of the findings were striking. as we mark the anniversary of the end of the civil war. wide per sis tent -- persistent gaps -- black and white homes except it's $108,000 a year for white families. almost 65,000 for black families. let's say 75 grand a year the difference is in family wealth and assets held at the same income level is still huge. this year's report says that for every dollar of household wealth held by a white family a black family has about a nickel.
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a latino family about six cents. i'm joined by valerie wilson with the economic policy institute. what explains that vast gulf between what everybody is able to accumulate over time. >> it has a lot to do with a number of factors. one being when we look at -- it is a home. we know there are vast differences in terms of home ownership across races. we also know that there are vast differences in terms of you believe employment. and why that's important is because wealth serves as a cushion so when a family runs into difficult economic times, that provides a source of income in the in between time until
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they can get a new job. >> so if you have a spell of joblessness if you're laid off if you're black on average you're going to be out longer and use more of your savings up each time? >> absolutely. and one other thing we've seen is that african-americans were more likely to pull from retirement savings which is another major contributor to savings and wealth. and so you add these factors together and you can see why the wealth gap is to stubborn in terms of being able to narrow or close it significantly. >> a lot of people forget that difference between income and
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wealth. what difference is wealth in a family's long term life? >> wealth again, is a major determiner of economic mobility. so the ability of them to put their children in a better position than they were in and as we've seen the wealth gap grow and the tremendous loss of wealth for black house holds there's also been research showing that on average children of a middle class african-american family will be more likely to be in poverty as an adult themselves. >> how do you fix that? you can look back to statistics in the 70s and 80s saying the same thing. so all the policy objectivest
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we've set out and all the things we've tried don't seem to have worked. >> well the thing is policy doesn't tend to be durable. so we have periods of time where we have progressive policies that help to raise living standards, narrow gaps but then a period that follows where there's a lot of retrenchment in terms of what's been done. is the fact that policy is running count to what we need has a major impact on the advance and decline that we see over the longer term. >> you have prepared the national urban league report and it pays a lot of attention to the afteraffects of the great
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recession. all kinds of americans suffered in that set back. have black and brown families had a harder time bouncing back from it? >> i think so. and i think so because, again, you look in disparities in unemployment rates. everyone was hit hard by the great recession. all groups lost jobs. but for african-americans, i mean look at the african employment rate it's still above 10%. the national unemployment rate at 10% was at the peak of the recession when we were in crisis. african-american unemployment five years into recovery is still above 10% if the. >> anything that you saw in looking over the literature where you thought oh here's something we can build on? >> well one thing that i will say in terms of unemployment abwhat we've seen in the recovery. we know that 2014 was the
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strongest year in terms of job growth and in 2014 we saw that the unemployment rate fell more for african-americans and latinos. we is that true the share of the working age population were african-american and latino population. we compared that to the white unemployment rate that fell as well but that was because of people leaving the labor force. but aren't they also retiring? >> the improvement is because of an increase in employment and not fays people who are having difficulty finding a job are leaving in greater numbers. >> but that's got to stay that way for a while for that power
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to build up. >> absolutely. employment is just the foundation basis because most households gain income through working. that's the foundation. so the first step is getting a job and closing those unemployment rate disparities but the next step involves raising wages so that people can improve their living tads. all the things that are so important in america as part of the american
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you're watching inside story. having a conversation about race over a cup of coffee sounds okay. can you start it when someone hands you to cup of coffee? a coffee with a message race together. the ceo of starbucks launched a campaign to get americans to
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talk about race relations. it's been slammed as a cynical plot to sell more coffee others give him credit for talking. kareem abdul jabaar says it filled him with shock and awe. but i'm also in shock that he thinks this will actually work. our next guest agrees. joining me from detroit is the center for racial justice and invasion. isn't it a worth while thing to build down the threshold, make it easier to have a more oh i don't know, casual conversation about what this all means? >> absolutely ray. and i think it's important to be clear that at race forward, we
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firmly believe in the importance of dialogue around race. so as it relates to the starbucks campaign, that's a good first step. at race forward we however believe that it's only a first step and that it can be better. >> how do you take this out of if realm of gimmick and move it into something that might actually work? >> i'm not here to say whether it's a gimmick or not but we do believe that how this can work is by having training and training that happens at all levels of an organization and at our society that teaches us not to focus as much on the individual interactions but more the systemic and systematic symptoms of race >> a lot of neighborhoods in
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america you've got a starbucks filled with people staring at their phone screens or laptop or a newspaper. in many places largely white people sitting by the fireplace and largely people of color steaming the drinks and dishing out the pumpkin bread. is there a bridge where someone can say as they're handing someone a cup of coffee let's talk about this. >> ray, race is not a topic of conversation that should only be limited to people of color whether they are african-american latino asian, or native american. race is a conversation is that we all need to engage in. so whether you are a customer or whether you're an employee this is something that impacts your everyday life. >> sure. absolutely. as you look at the distribution
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of people of color at the top of the starbucks hierarchy, it's not a great picture. while if you look at the workforce, it's very heavily populated with minorities. is starbucks well placed among american companies to have a conversation like this? >> well i don't know that starbucks is any different than a lot of organizations. so when we talk about making this criticism about the lack of diversity and organizations and companies across the country, let's be clear that we not limit it to starbuckses. we see it in industries whether they're retail restaurant or involve domestic workers. we see this in lots of different places. so, yes, it exists but it's not unique to starbucks. >> one great pitfall of americans talking to each other
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about race is when one person introduces it to another it's too often heard as an accusation as if the response is almost what do you mean are you saying i'm a racist? it seems like there's no i don't know level ground for people to just stand on the same platform and have a heart to heart about what it does and doesn't mean. sometimes the apartment was just rented or the job was just given away before you got there for the interview. >> well ray, to that at race forward, this is why we believe that it's so important to focus on systems. because when you take individuals or lessen i should say the role of individuals in the picture, that defensiveness goes away. for example, based on what you just said if we do look broader at policies and practices, then we're putting policies and
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procedures in place to change those and then we're not focusing on what happened at an individual level. that's where we think this conversation should go. >> thank you for joining us. >> thank you so much for having me, ray. it's been a pleasure. >> that's all for this edition of inside story. we want you to talk back to your television. visit our facebook page and give us your feed back or follow us on twitter.
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>> appealing for international help. ahead u.n.-brokered talks that ends the country's political chaos. >> welcome to al jazeera live from our headquarters in doha. also ahead tunisia orders troops onto the streets as nine people are arrested over the bardo museum attack. israel's prime minister backs down over his pre-election promise ruling out a palestinian state. and sony denies


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