FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail