Friday, January 6, 2012

Newt, Food Stamps, and Social Security

Another controversy from the GOP candidates about our community seems to be on the horizon and this time it has to do with the black community and food stamps. To be more specific, Newt Gingrich has made an olive branch request to share with the NAACP to explain his thoughts about “why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps”. Tagging along at the end of Newt’s comment was his additional expressed desire to also share his ideas on how to revise the Social Security program to help young people, especially African American males who are “getting the smallest return” for their contribution. Hold on, hold on a minute. Say what?

While the mainstream media has leaped on Newt Gingrich’s comments and claimed them as being yet another example of racist GOP comments directed at our community, it may be important to take a step back and really dissect what Newt is really saying.

First, Mr. Gingrich is right about the food stamp situation; we should be demanding jobs right now. In fact, we should be doing everything in our power to create jobs in our own communities. With the average black unemployment rate across the nation currently at 15.8% and rising despite the nation’s overall unemployment decreasing (down to 8.5% as of today), black Americans should be coming together in local places of worship, barbershops, beauty salons...WHEREVER we can... to develop plans for attacking this problem plaguing us. We don’t have to wait on sympathetic government or others. We collectively should be fighting and moving with extreme urgency to harness all of the financial resources at our disposal to encourage and support entrepreneurial startups in the African American community. The time has never been riper to this with the various small business programs that have been enacted by President Obama’s administration and Congress. If others won’t employ us, we should be fighting to employ ourselves. If people like Gingrich want to help us, we should not bite back.

Second, Mr. Gingrich is also right about black males’ Social Security contribution situation. With the average African American male dying by 70.9 years of age, black males are seeing only 5-8 years of Social Security benefits after contributing through their work for over 30 years!  And recent actions taken by some in Congress to increase the age required in order to receive those benefits means our men will see NOTHING for their service. Is this fair? Is this right? Do we agree with Newt that maybe some changes need to be made?

Remember, sometimes it takes a little reflection to understand what people outside of our beautiful African American community are trying to tell us. But once their meaning becomes clear, it is up to us and not mainstream media to determine how to react to what people like Newt are really saying.

We welcome your thoughts on this issue. Please provide us with your comments.