Investigative Journalism that is as
Radical as Reality Itself.

The Tragic New Normal in American Cities

by JESSE JACKSON

What is the plan for our nation’s cities? Are they simply to simmer with a growing divide between the affluent financial district and the impoverished slums? Will another generation be lost while we wait for the inevitable explosions? The gulf between the realities of our cities and the foolishness of our politics has seldom been wider.

Consider gun violence. Over the Fourth of July weekend, Chicago surpassed 200 homicide deaths for the year. On that weekend alone, 10 people were killed and several dozen wounded in gun violence, including 5- and 7-year-old boys. The only grim salvation in the savage toll is that the city’s year-to-date homicide rate is rising at a somewhat slower rate than last year.

While this goes on, the Illinois state Legislature is gearing up to overturn the state’s ban on carrying concealed weapons. The last of its kind, the concealed-weapons ban was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. Somehow, the conservative justices concluded that the Second Amendment, which provided constitutional protection for state militias, now prohibits citizens from deciding to ban concealed weapons as part of cracking down on gun violence. The gulf between the reality on the ground and the crackpot ideology of the right-wing activist judges could not be greater.

Consider the economy. The youth unemployment rate in the U.S. is the highest it’s been since World War II. The Center for Labor Market Studies reports that 72 percent of Illinois teenagers —ages 16-19 — are unemployed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that less than 16 percent of black teenagers are employed. The official unemployment rate for African-American teenagers — which doesn’t count those forced to take part-time jobs or who have given up — stood at 43.6 percent in June, according to the BLS.

This is a human and national calamity. An entire generation of young people is coming out of school and ending up on the streets or on a couch in their parents’ home.

Yet at the national level, Washington and Wall Street are telling us that this calamity — a deep and enduring depression in our urban areas — is the “new normal.” The Congress is cutting jobs, not taking action to create them. In Illinois, those on unemployment are suffering a 16.8 percent cut in benefits. The gulf between the elite politics in Washington and the realities facing young people in our urban areas could not be greater.

None of this is inevitable. None of it is an act of God. These realities are the result of policy choices, of values and power expressed in policy. This cannot continue without a reckoning. If we choose not to invest in the young, we will pay dearly as they grow older. If we choose to starve the schools of poor children of color, we will suffer when they become adults without skills. If we choose to let companies stash profits abroad without taxes, we will lack the resources we need to build a strong economy at home.

What is clear is that Wall Street, Washington and the conservative judges feel that they can embrace this new normal without paying any price. These policies will not be changed by those who profit from them. They will only be changed if those who are victimized by them make it clear that they will not “adjust and accept.” The young, the unemployed, the poor, the abandoned urban communities must make their voices heard. Change will come only if they force the elites to face reality, not ignore it.

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow PUSH.

 

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

July 07, 2015
ANDRE VLTCHEK
In Ecuador, Fight for Mankind – In Greece – Fight for Greece!
Nile Bowie
Obama’s Pacific Trade Deal Trails Behind China’s Development Vision
Shamus Cooke
Unions Must Act Now to Survive Supreme Court Deathblow
Dave Lindorff
The Greek People Have Voted ‘No!’ to Austerity and Economic Blackmail
Mateo Pimentel
The Pope’s Letter: Neoliberalism and Fukushima
Raouf Halaby
Beware Those Who Speak With Forked Tongues
Ron Jacobs
The Grateful Dead: The Ship of the Sun Bids Farewell
Mel Gurtov
Keep It in the Ground, Obama
Colin Todhunter
The Warped World of the GMO Lobbyist
July 06, 2015
Steve Hendricks
Will FIFA’s World Cup Sexism Ever Die?
Binoy Kampmark
Oxi in Greece
Gareth Porter
How US Spin on Access to Iranian Sites has Distorted the Issue
Peter Bach
ISIL and Ramadan in the Rag
MICHAEL HUDSON
Greece Rejects the Troika
Paul Craig Roberts
A Rebuke to EU-Imposed Austerity
Robert Hunziker
Looking Inside Fukushima Prefecture
Quincy Saul
The View from Mount Olympus
ADRIENNE PINE, RICHARD JOHNSTON, FIONA WILMOT, et al.
Seven Reasons to Scrap the USA’s $1 Billion Aid Package to Central America
Norman Pollack
Capitalism’s Self-Revealing Practices
David Macaray
Could Justice Scalia Be the One to Rescue Labor?
Linn Washington Jr.
Storm Smashes Chris Christie’s Presidential Candidacy
Benjamin Willis
US and Cuba: What Remains to be Done?
Robert David Steele
he National Military Strategy: Dishonest Platitudes
Joan Roelofs
Whatever Happened to Eastern European Communism?
Weekend Edition
July 3-5, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World
Jason Hirthler
Going Off-Script in St. Petersburg
Rob Urie
Greece and Global Class War
DIMITRIS KONSTANTAKOPOULOS
The Future of Greece Without Illusions
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites
David Rosen
White Skin Crisis
Jerry Lembcke
Nobody Spat on American GIs!
Stavros Mavroudeas
The Greek Referendum and the Tasks of the Left
Andrew Levine
Dumping on Dixie Again
Richard Pithouse
Charleston (It’s Not Over)
Arun Gupta
What Does It Mean to Call Dylann Roof a “Terrorist”?
Michael Welton
The Tragedy of Harper’s Canada
Brendan McQuade
The Right Wing Resurgence and the Problem of Terrorism
Chris Floyd
Heritage and Hokum in Rebel Banner Row
Victor Rodriguez
Puerto Rico’s Economic and Fiscal Crisis: Made in the U.S.A.
John Halle
Four Thoughts on the Sanders Insurgency
John Feffer
ISIS and the Terrible Twos
Steve Breyman
Being David Brooks
Lawrence Davidson
Why Does Dylann Roof’s Kind Still Exist? 
Robert Fantina
Political Posturing in the United States
Binoy Kampmark
Austerity: Killing Greece (and the Idea of Europe)