Monday, January 4, 2021

Amid Warnings of Surging Worldwide Poverty, Planet's 500 Richest People Added $1.8 Trillion to Combined Wealth in 2020

Tesla CEO Elon Musk saw the greatest increase in personal wealth in 2020—reported to be the fastest wealth creation in history, according to Bloomberg.(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Bloomberg's year-end report on the wealth of the world's billionaires shows that the richest 500 people on the planet added $1.8 trillion to their combined wealth in 2020, accumulating a total net worth of $7.6 trillion. 

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index recorded its largest annual gain in the list's history last year, with a 31% increase in the wealth of the richest people.

The historic hoarding of wealth came as the world confronted the coronavirus pandemic and its corresponding economic crisis, which the United Nations last month warned is a "tipping point" set to send more than 207 million additional people into extreme poverty in the next decade—bringing the number of people living in extreme poverty to one billion by 2030. 

Even in the richest country in the world, the United States, the rapidly widening gap between the richest and poorest people grew especially stark in 2020.

As Dan Price, an entrepreneur and advocate for fair wages, tweeted, the 500 richest people in the world amassed as much wealth in 2020 as "the poorest 165 million Americans have earned in their entire lives."

Nine of the top 10 richest people in the world live in the United States and own more than $1.5 trillion. Meanwhile, with more than half of U.S. adults living in households that lost income due to the pandemic, nearly 26 million Americans reported having insufficient food and other groceries in November—contributing to a rise in shop-lifting of essential goods including diapers and baby formula. About 12 million renters were expected to owe nearly $6,000 in back rent after the new year. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk enjoyed an historic growth in wealth last year, becoming the second richest person in the world and knocking Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates down to third place. Musk's total net worth grew by $142 billion in 2020, to $170 billion—the fastest creation of personal wealth in history, according to Bloomberg. 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is at the top of the list, with a net worth of $190 billion. Bezos added more than $75 billion to his wealth in 2020, as the public grew dependent on online shopping due to Covid-19 restrictions and concern for public health. 

While Bezos and a select few others in the U.S. have amassed historic gains in personal wealth in the last year, the federal government has yet to extend much in the way of meaningful assistance to struggling Americans. The Republican-led Senate on Friday continued to stonewall a vote on legislation that would send $2,000 checks to many American households.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) denounced the proposal as "socialism for rich people" even though the plan includes a phaseout structure and individuals making only up to $115,000 per year—not those in the highest tax brackets—would receive checks. 

"Surging billionaire wealth hits a painful nerve for the millions of people who have lost loved ones and experienced declines in their health, wealth, and livelihoods," Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, told Bloomberg this week. "Worse, it undermines any sense that we are 'in this together'—the solidarity required to weather the difficult months ahead." 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Is Biden’s anti-Trump message enough to win over Black voters?

words by Charles Brooks   

The significance of the Black vote is on full display as both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris make their final case and last push for Black voters, particularly in the battleground states.  The path for Biden to reach the White House runs through these very same battleground states in Black America. The Biden-Harris team needs to reach those areas with large Black voters like Detroit in the battleground state of Michigan, Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, Milwaukee in Wisconsin and Cleveland in Ohio.  But the Democratic Party nominee is faced with the daunting task of having to reach the Black vote in numbers unseen since 2008 and 2012 when Barack Obama was elected. 

Right now – if you trust the polling numbers - five national polls have Biden ahead by at least 10 points over President Trump even though there’s been just a bit of slippage in these polls in the last month.    The polling in battleground states show a slightly different picture where Biden holds a steady but single-digit lead over Trump.    

While Black America clearly supports the Biden-Harris ticket, there’s still this stubborn lack of enthusiasm that has dogged Candidate Biden since the primaries. Again - if you trust and believe the polling, they point out these same challenges Biden has with Black voters under the age of 30.  The American University Black Swing Voter Project found Black support for Biden for this age group at 47%.  In another poll by CBS/BET found similar numbers in this age group with 42%.  But Biden’s issues for the Black vote doesn’t stop with the lack of voter enthusiasm. There’s still the age-old sentiment about the Black vote being taken for granted that Harris’ addition to the ticket apparently hasn’t resolved. We are seeing this issue particularly in those areas that are absolutely crucial to a Biden upset in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.  .  

The Biden-Harris campaign’s pursuit of the Black vote includes establishing outreach programs for Black voters like Shop Talk discussing the issues facing Black men, Make it Happen Mondays, where Black businesses and business owners discuss their needs; and there’s their Sister to Sister program dedicated to Black women.  In fact, the 2020 elections will mark the largest ad buy and paid outreach by the Democrats for Black media.  Kamau Marshall, the Director of Strategic Communications for the Biden campaign told Black Enterprise that it’s imperative to show Black Americans the damage Trump has caused to them during his first term. “No I think part of our job is to remind the Black community of this president’s incompetence resulting in a large number of deaths in the Black community related to the coronavirus and the economic effects of the virus for Black Americans. The man has also talked bad about Nelson Mandela and John Lewis and former President Obama, so what we have to do is show people who he is.”

But does the anti-Trump message provide enough motivation to generate the much-needed vote totals to serve Trump his eviction papers via ballot box? Why not highlight features of the Biden plan for Black America like the billions he wants to spend on affordable housing and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)? Or his plan to forgive student loans and have free college tuition? What about the $1.3 trillion he wants to spend on infrastructure and jobs? Or his proposals to finally end the crack versus powder disparity, ending cash bail, or ending the use of private prisons? Despite a plan that covers areas such as healthcare, criminal justice, wealth/income inequality, education, housing/homeownership, voting rights and climate – their campaign message seems to be framed more around an anti-Trump message that includes a much-needed return of normalcy and civility to the White House. But is that enough?

Now in the throes of the last hours of the 2020 election, the Biden-Harris team is making a strong final push for Black voters with drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, with former president Barack Obama joining Biden at a drive-in rally in Miami, Florida.  The Biden-Harris team also made several visits to Florida, with Harris making three visits herself to South Florida including, Miami Gardens  - the city with the largest Black population in Florida, as Biden made visits Fort Lauderdale and Tampa to rally Black voters. 

Well, come election night, we’ll see if their anti-Trump campaign message prove to be just enough to thrust Biden-Harris to the White House or will the aftershocks of defeat bring more contentious debate around the missed opportunities in 2020...and the lessons wasted from 2016. 

Further Reading:

Live Election Results, from the Guardian

Preliminary Exit Polling, from the New York Times

Preliminary Election Results, from CNN

The Black electorate could decide the 2020 election, from The Guardian

Related Posts

Will Trump’s racism crush his strategic appeals for Black voters?

Biden picks Kamala Harris - can she be the difference the Democrats need to win in November?

Who will Biden pick?

Will Biden take Black voters for granted?

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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Will Trump’s racism crush his strategic appeals for Black voters?

words by Charles Brooks


Photo credit: Black Voices For Trump Facebook page

For the last four years, Trump has not only railed against the Democratic Party but Black America  as well.  He has attacked and offended many with insults and dangerous racist rhetoric.  His racial politics advances a racist narrative along with a public policy that’s equally damning and harmful. That’s why his 2020 re-election campaign’s paradoxical outreach to Black voters is so odd and rather peculiar but seemingly strategic.  

Candidate Trump promised a New Deal for Black America — With a Plan for Urban Renewal.   A “ten-point plan” addressing education via school choice , safe communities where safety is a “civil right”, and equal justice with promises to “apply the law fairly, equally and without prejudice.”  His 2016 New Deal also promised tax and financial reforms to create jobs, along with a $1 trillion infrastructure investment.

About a year ago, Trump launched “Black Voices for Trump" where Black folk highlight his “accomplishments” with Black America.  They hold campaign events across the country, pointing to Trump “wins” in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), criminal justice reform via the First Step Act , low Black unemployment along with his anti-poverty program - Opportunity Zones. 

But Trump’s pursuit for Black voters doesn’t end there – there’s his newly released plan for Black America called, The Platinum Plan.  Here, he makes campaign promises of tax cuts, increases in education opportunities, lower healthcare costs, and criminal justice reform.  There’s also promises to deliver 3 million new jobs, create 500,000 new black owned businesses, and increase access to capital in Black communities by almost $500 billion.  He even wants to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan and ANTIFA as terrorist organizations, make lynching a national hate crime, and make Juneteenth a national holiday.

Although introduced as a plan for Black America, The Platinum Plan reads more like an executive summary than an actual plan. Reading through the “plan” you get the sense this was hastily crafted and hurriedly put together with vague language compelling far more questions than answers.  For example, the “plan” contains exactly 39 bullet points spread over two pages but only seven with any mention of cost allocations. Many of the remaining bullet points appear to be more goal oriented and aspirational.  

For example, the plan in part reads “Reach even greater levels of historic employment and wage growth for the Black Community set in 2019, so that anyone looking for a job gets one” or “examine barriers to employment” or “Increase activity in opportunity zones including benefits for local hires” or “Examine alternative ways to build credit including rent, utilities, and phone bills” or “Champion federal policy reforms to advance home ownership initiatives” or when it comes to the HBCUs, the plan states: “Continue to protect the vital role of Historically Black Colleges & Universities".  There’s more but I think you get the point. 

We have heard Trump’s repeated proclamations of being the best president for Blacks but given his propensity to mislead the facts or just plain lie – closer scrutiny actually shows a far different picture than the one he’s painting.  For one, his anti-poverty initiative, opportunity zones have come under increasing criticism where Black businesses and communities are not benefiting as claimed.  His “accomplishments” for HBCUs has invited scorn considering Trump’s absentee role as legislation worked through Congress.  The same absentee role he’s taking with the lynching bill that now just sits in the Senate’s dusty bin. While Black unemployment did fall to historically-low levels during the Trump presidency, the role of Trump’s economic policies is debatable considering the downward trend that began during the Obama administration.     

On criminal justice, Trump signed the First Step Act into law, yet funding, implementation and execution of the law remains problematic.  For Attorney General, Trump nominated Jeff Sessions described as a career racist and then Bill Barr, widely considered an “architect” of today’s mass incarceration policies.  They implemented new criminal justice policies as several initiatives established during the Obama presidency were now rolled back – gone.      

The truth is, Black folk supported Trump in 2016 and again in 2020. Since receiving 8% of the Black vote in 2016, Trump got a 10% approval rating amongst Blacks in 2017, 11% in 2018 and 10% in November 2019.  Trump even posted a high of 23% just months ago in February 2020.  In fact, there are now reports indicating an uptick in Black support for Trump.  And yet, despite Trump’s covert racism, his approval rating with Blacks stands at 14% .  This figure could prove significant enough to Trump’s reelection chances if the 14% holds and somehow translates into an increase of Black support at the polls beyond 8%.

Meanwhile – remember when Trump asked Black voters back in 2016, what the hell do you have to lose?  Well, four years later, there’s the loss of millions of jobs, businesses and healthcare due to his feeble response to the pandemic health crisis for one. There’s also the loss of harmful public policy, particularly around law and order.  Oh yea, there’s not only the loss of the public insults from the Trump bully pulpit but the incessant lies about what he has done for Black America. 

Further Reading:
Has Trump failed Black Americans, by Rashawn Ray and Keon L. Gilbert

Visit the Blacks for Trump page on Facebook here and see for yourself...

Further Reading on 2020 elections

Live Election Results, from the Guardian

Preliminary Exit Polling, from the New York Times

Preliminary Election Results, from CNN

Related Posts

Please support and visit The Brooks Blackboard's websiteour INTEL pageOPEN MIND page, and LIKE and FOLLOW our Facebook page.

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Friday, October 30, 2020

The Ballot Or The Bullet-The Impact of Malcolm X on SNCC/The Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee


P.O. BOX 380-122, BROOKLYN, NY11238

Facebook: Malcolm X Commemoration Committee

973-202-0745; 917-346-8142


The Malcolm X Commemoration Committee Presents, "The Ballot Or The Bullet-The Impact of Malcolm X on SNCC/The Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee"

On Saturday, October 31st, 2020, the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee (MXCC) will host another powerful virtual roundtable, ‘The Ballot Or The Bullet-The Impact of Malcolm X on SNCC/The Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee"

This roundtable will take place at 5pm on Facebook Live!

Special guests for this engaging dialogue will be former SNCC members Prof. Sam Anderson, author of The Black Holocaust For Beginners, Mae Jackson, who was also a founder of Third World Women’s Alliance and Art Without Walls, and their advance man for ‘Black Power,’ former SNCC field secretary Mukasa Ricks.                      

This month’s political spotlight will be Imam Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown.  Imam Jamil was also the former national chair of SNCC!  Imam Jamil was framed for the 2000 shooting attack on two Fulton County Deputy Sheriffs, in which one was killed. He was sentenced to Life in Prison in 2002.He has always maintained his innocence. Another person, Otis Jackson, confessed to the deed years ago. The courts have yet to entertain his confession.

Jackson surfaced again just recently. This time, he not only restated his confession, but did so under oath in an unrelated legal proceeding. Supporters of Imam Jamil are fighting tirelessly to get the courts to admit the confession on the Court Record and to secure the Imam’s release.

Imam Jamil is now 77 years old. He has suffered from Multiple Myeloma and a minor stroke since his conviction. Supporters say his continued incarceration, especially in light of the new evidence, is cruel and unusual punishment, and he should be released in the interest of justice.

To contribute to the Imam’s commissary, please forward your contribution to

The Malcolm X Commemoration Committee has been doing these monthly webinars with these political prisoner spotlights to take the place of their annual Dinner Tribute to the Families because of the Covid19 Pandemic.

The Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee was founded in the Spring of 1960 under the tutelage of Civil Rights champion teacher and organizer Ella Baker at Shaw University in North Carolina. They have often been referred to as ‘the shock troops’ of the Civil Rights Movement because of their robust and energetic Civil Disobedience Campaigns. SNCC, however, was much more. They were genuine organizers who went into the most dangerous areas of a very violent segregated Southern landscape and transformed the lives of the people they organized, training people to not just participate in those Civil Disobedience Campaigns, but to become the leaders of those campaigns.

As the epic decade that was the 1960s advanced, the continued racial terrorism of the south, such as the bombing of 16th Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963 where four Black little girls were killed, for instance, moved many within SNCC away from a total commitment to NonViolence. Inspired by Malcolm, many began to move instead to consider armed self-defense and to think more in terms of the global revolutionary trends.

For more information about the work of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee

Please call 973 202 0745. 

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

RETREATING FROM POLICE REFORM IN NYC: NYC City Council pressured to weaken new anti-chokehold law

Words by Charles Brooks 

Photo credit: NYC Mayor's Office
Just three months ago, New York City finally  passed a law criminalizing the chokehold practice  ensuring a level of police accountability unseen before the recent wave of public uprising. New York City Council Member Rory Lancman, introduced the measure after Eric Garner’s chokehold death in 2014. The fact that it took six years to pass the anti-chokehold law should give you some indication of the level of opposition to the new law waged by the mayor, New York Police Department (NYPD) and their union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Union (PBA). Right now, legislative efforts are underway to weaken, undermine and outright repeal the new law. 

For one, there’s a lawsuit filed by 18 police unions arguing the new law is “invalid and unenforceable” and violates the New York’s State Constitution. Just to give you an idea of the scope of police opposition – the lawsuit includes unions representing officers from NYPD, Port Authority, Tunnels and Bridges, along with the officers from the court system. In addition to the lawsuit, New York City Council Public Safety Committee chairman, Donavan Richards has already introduced amendments to revise key language in the law while there’s another proposal to outright repeal the newly signed law. 

These latest attempts to revoke this measure of police accountability have been framed around a work slowdown by NYPD officers who contend the new law compromises their safety. Unable to withstand the pressure from the New York Police Department, City Council Public Safety Committee chairman Donavan Richards relented by introducing an amendment

The bill would amend Local Law 66 of 2020 to provide that restraining an individual in a manner that restricts the flow of air or blood by sitting, kneeling, or standing on the chest or back in a manner that compresses the diaphragm is a misdemeanor under such law if the restraint is performed recklessly and causes injury due to asphyxiation . 

With this new language, the new law becomes remarkedly weaker where proving “recklessly” becomes immensely more subjective to prove as the officers’ intent comes into play. Bear in mind “recklessly” is the same language that created the loophole allowing the Department of Justice to not file federal civil rights charges against former NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using the chokehold resulting in Garner’s death. Although, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill into law in July, he not only supports the proposed changes but along with the NYPD has always maintained a position that the chokehold ban was sufficient

However, chokehold complaint data shows quite a different story. The Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) investigates public complaints on police misconduct in New York City. According to the CCRB, there were over 3,000 complaints over a 20-year period from 2001 to 2000 – nearly 1,000 since Garner’s death in 2014. And yet despite the data to substantiate the chokehold ban’s ineffectiveness, opposition by the mayor and the New York Police Department not only persisted but hardened. We witnessed their opposition when, not even in the wake of Garner’s chokehold death, could a law be passed to criminalize the chokehold practice. 

Photo credit: December 12th Movement
For years, community relations with NYPD has been characterized by protest demonstrations and public demands for police accountability. Accordingly, attempts to undermine the new anti-chokehold law has been met with a number of protest demonstrations led by the December 12th Movement. They’ve initiated a public campaign to not only mobilize black communities in and around New York City but to inform them as well. So far, several street demonstrations targeted the offices of the Council Public Safety Committee members; I. Daneek Miller, and Adrienne Adams, who also happen to serve as co-chairs of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus along with the committee Chairman Donavan Richards. In addition, they held a nearly two-hour ZOOM webinar where invited panelists discussed the chokehold issue from a number of different perspectives. 

Viola Plummer, the December 12th chair moderated this important virtual discussion with panelists: NYC Council Member Inez Barron, Attorney King Downing, former NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, Dr. Susan Williams of the Freedom Socialist Party, Father Frank Morales of the All Souls Episcopal Church, New York State Senator Elect Jabari Brisport, Hawk Newsome of Black Lives Matter of Greater NY, and New York State Assemblyman Charles Barron. They spoke of the historical context and background, the amendment – the proposed change in language and its significance, the immense political pressure to change the law, the scale of police intimidation and subsequent trauma experienced by those living in the community. 

By now, we’ve seen one chokehold incident after another and not just in New York City. We’ve seen the data on chokehold complaints revealing the inadequacy and failure of the 1993 chokehold ban. We’ve seen the evidence of trauma again and again in communities and neighborhoods when black folk fall victim to the chokehold or any other form of police brutality. We’ve also seen police officers acquitted. We should also see that opposition and resistance to the anti-chokehold law is essentially an endorsement for maintaining a police culture rooted in their impunity to wage a campaign of unabated intimidation.

Additional Reading and resources:

See the contact list for all New York City Council members here.

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