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Has the NAACP become an association committed to partisan politics and not its membership?
The NAACP recently opposed the ordinance in Ocala, Florida, that made wearing sagging pants punishable with a $500 fine and 60 days in jail. The venerable organization’s leadership threatened to bring a lawsuit against the city, arguing it disproportionately impacted blacks. In response to pressure, the town’s city council repealed the ordinance this week with a vote of four to one. Sagging pants wearers are again free to roam Ocala exposing their often dingy drawers or worse — their bare-bottomed butt cracks thanks, in part, to the local NAACP. For this the NAACP believes it has done the black community a social justice.
While the NAACP was properly aligned with the 60s Civil Rights Movement that brought institutionalized racism crashing to its knees, the organization seems to have lost its way on the issues that impact blacks in America today. The NAACP is fundamentally wrong on its positions on school vouchers, minimum wage hikes, and amnesty for illegal immigrants — to name a few. The organization appears to only be an arm of the Democrat Party apparatus and misses the opportunity to be the voice for those in need of advocacy. Take school vouchers as an example.
Since the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, desegregating public schools, most inner-city public schools have been underperforming and leaving the mostly black student populations not proficient in reading and math and consequently unable to compete in the American labor workforce. Black teen unemployment jumped to 38 percent as of January of this year. (After public schools were desegregated, white families simply moved their students to private or parochial schools. The public schools were then basically ignored, becoming modern-day detention centers for blacks. That remains true today.)
In Durham, North Carolina, “about 2,400 students from low-income families would receive up to $4,200 a year in taxpayer funds under their voucher program to help pay for tuition at private or religious schools.” More than 4,700 students had applied for vouchers for the 2014-15 school year before the program was stopped.
Instead of supporting the vouchers that would free black students from these modern-day detention centers and give parents the choice to move the state’s dollars for their students to a better performing school across town, “State NAACP President Rev. William Barber called the voucher plan ‘old wine wrapped in a new wineskin,’ saying it smacked of 1970s-style efforts in North Carolina to evade court orders calling for the desegregation of public schools in the state.” Notwithstanding the nonsensical nature of his comment, Rev. Barber and his NAACP defeated vouchers in his state, but the kids remain stuck in failing public schools. This is not a victory for black students, Rev. Barber!
To add insult to injury, the NAACP endorsed the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015. They argue “the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would generate more than $32 billion in new economic activity, translating to 140,000 new full-time jobs as higher sales lead businesses to hire more employees.” Unfortunately, they are wrong. Rather, government intervention in wages has proven to hurt the labor force and not help it. Studies show that when minimum wage is increased, companies hire more teenagers and fewer adults, thus crowding out the adult applicants from the entry-level jobs needed to acquire the skills and discipline to advance. From the Cato Institute: “The popular belief that minimum wage workers are poor adults (25 years old or older), working full time and trying to raise a family is largely untrue. Just 4.7 percent match that description. Indeed, many minimum wage workers live in families with incomes well above the poverty level.” Again, towing the Party line to pay a higher minimum wage sounds compassionate, but the argument distorts the truth and will not achieve the purported result. Blacks lose.
Finally, the NAACP, along with the Congressional Black Caucus, supports amnesty for illegal aliens, the biggest job killer for blacks. Illegal immigration is one of the largest contributing factors for the decline in the labor force participation rate among black Americans, according to Peter Kirsanow from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. The participation rate was 12 percent for blacks and 80 percent for whites, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In 2008 (which was under the Obama Administration), the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights examined the impact of illegal immigration on blacks. The Commission’s witnesses “were unanimous that illegal immigration has an adverse impact on black employment, reducing job opportunities and depressing wages — especially for black men.”
“The reason illegal immigration hurts blacks is quite basic,” they said. “Blacks, particularly black men, are disproportionately concentrated in the low-skill labor market and are disproportionately likely to have no more than a high-school diploma. Likewise, illegal immigrants are disproportionately male and also disproportionately likely to have minimal educational levels. Both groups compete with one another in the low-skill labor market (and the competition is most fierce in some of the very industries in which blacks historically have been highly concentrated).”
The Caucus and the NAACP should recall the words of Fredrick Douglass, who said in 1853, “The old avocations, by which colored men obtained a livelihood, are rapidly, unceasingly and inevitably passing into other hands…Every hour sees the black man elbowed out of employment by some newly arrived emigrant, whose hunger and whose color are thought to give him a better title to the place.”
Having said all that, how can they call themselves the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People when so many of their positions on critical issues facing the black community promote disenfranchisement for the very people they claim to represent? It is high time the venerable organization focuses on the advancement of black people and not the advancement of their partisan politics.
Marc Little is the author of The Prodigal Republican: Faith and Politics. His web site is The Prodigal Republican.