Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Are African Americans Being Properly Represented (In The Grand Scheme of Things)?

From politics, to healthcare, to education -  the survey says...

I write this post on a day when at least three items hit me dead in the face. I wasn't looking for them. Each of them, blatantly, presented themselves to me - in plain sight.

While I realize that this is a political blog, I  have to wonder if there is some sort of politicking going on behind the scenes that continue to try to discredit, or exclude African Americans from being represented positively in this journey we call life.

On this day, three such examples fell straight on my lap.  (Four if you count last week).  So, guess what?   With something so obvious, I had to write about it and wonder if it's just me, or are these things really happening?

From housing and education, to music and culture: 
African Americans in 2014.  Has much changed?

I finished up earlier today on a conference call with Arizona officials who 'celebrated' the enrollment of individuals signing up for affordable health care through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

Reporters were told that "the demand for health care in Arizona is strong with 1.8 million people alone signing up for either health care or Medicaid."  Of that number 1.3 are 35 year old or less.

We were told that an all out effort is underway to continue to promote the Affordable Care Act.  February 15th will be National Youth Enrollment Day (youth are needed in order to keep the program's health costs down) with campaigns being planned at various community colleges.

Said Arizona State Representative Ruben Gallego "It will be a top priority to make sure that every American will be able to sign up for that coverage."

Then there was Sue Voelker, a resident of Arizona who found a health care plan that met her needs. Sue is white.  She shared with reporters that she's had a cushy job for many years working as an IT professional before being diagnosed with a connective tissue disease called Marfan. Her health care was no longer covered by her employer.  Through the ACA she was able to find health care that met her preexisting condition status.  She has a Gold plan with a $500 deductible, and a $50 copay for Urgent Medical Center treatment, should she need it.

Good for her.

When the question was asked about how many African Americans in Arizona had signed up, a reporter was told, "We don't have the answer to that question."

Disheartening, to say the least.

When there was the push by the White House to extend unemployment insurance benefits  the main character in this story line was, again, a white woman who made the claim for why Congress should extend emergency UI benefits for Americans. 

Katherine Hackett is her name.  Hackett is from Moodus, Connecticut. Per the White House she wrote to the president as someone who will be affected by the failure of Congress to extend unemployment insurance. Katherine’s benefit covers her mortgage payment and health care, leaving little to cover the rest of her expenses. Katherine continues to search for work, and in the meantime has been forced to cut back on necessities like food and home heating. Katherine’s two sons serve in the U.S. Military. 

Were there no African Americans who could give their story, make the case - in prime time - for why unemployment benefits should be extended? 

We all know that African American unemployment is the highest of any American group.  Shouldn't at least one African Americans make the case for why UI should be extended?

Exclusion everywhere?

Later in the day I see this on the Internet.

It's an ad at a local Giant in the Shaw neighborhood welcoming Howard University students back to school at the start of Spring semester.   While Howard is a predominately African American university (with a diverse population that includes Caucasians, Asians, and Latinos), the ad shows a white woman, excluding the predominantly African American student body. 

Needless to say, some thought the ad should represent the majority demographic of the school.  And who could fault them?  (Some did). 
Jamie Miller, a spokesperson for  Giant offered this explanation.  "Unfortunately an incorrect stock photo was used in the ad and we apologize for this oversight. We wish all Howard University students a successful semester."
That incident got me to wondering, so I searched other school's web sites to see what their 'welcome back' photos looked like. 

I came across the below picture on a predominately white university website with two African American students depicted in an ad for the school's upcoming Homecoming week celebration this month. 
Go figure. 

Perhaps Wells Fargo bank could learn a thing, or two, from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Wells Fargo applauds their diversity in the below brochure. To their credit, they actually have African Americans working in their branches (depending on what area you're in), but the brochure doesn't display this fact. 

Wells Fargo boasts their diversity by excluding African Americans in brochure.
The brochure includes Latinos, gays, and Asians when talking about the financial institution's diversity, but does not list African Americans.

Why aren't African Americans being represented in the brochure to reflect that there are actually African Americans working at Wells Fargo? 

Why doesn't the current administration include the stories from African Americans when speaking about education, healthcare, and unemployment?

Will not folk pay attention if the face isn't that of the majority? 

Are gay people more deserving?  No. Are white people more deserving?  No.  Are Latino and Hispanic people more deserving? No.

This continued practice has me bewildered and at a loss for closing words, only to say that we cannot keep claiming to be the place for opportunity for all, while not recognizing an entire population of people in that fight for opportunity - for all.

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