New "State of Black America" report expresses concern about black clout in once-white suburbs

The intern blog below is a commentary on the impacts of the newest edition of the “State
of Black America” based on the article that can be found below the commentary.

The “State of Black America” 2011 edition was recently released and much of the
information it provided was not good news for the black community. One of the
issues that it comments on is the fact that many blacks are moving to white, majority
Republican suburbs. This leads to the fear that the black vote will not matter as much as
it does in urban areas and have a negative effect on black candidates. In Virginia, a plan
to redistrict will hopefully fix this problem, but first it needs to be approved. Another
problem that it states is the likelihood that the black population was undercounted in the
2010 Census by a small, but significant percentage in New York and Detroit. Fixing this
would lead to more funding for schools, health care, and other important things in the
black community.

New “State of Black America” report expresses concern about black clout in once-white suburbs

By The Associated Press
With more blacks moving from city to suburb, the National Urban League says it is
worried states may improperly seek to stem the political clout of African-Americans as
they spread into historically white districts.
The leader of the 101-year-old organization also says he is troubled by complaints from
big-city mayors such as those in New York and Detroit who contend large pockets of
their residents were missed in the 2010 census. Blacks historically have been more likely
to be missed in the decennial count and preliminary numbers for 2010 suggest that could
have happened again.
“We have to give consideration as to whether there is an undercount,” Marc Morial,
president and CEO of the National Urban League, told The Associated Press.
In its annual “State of Black America” report being released Thursday, the civil-rights
group paints a picture of African-Americans at a crossroads following decades of
progress from the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
It notes growing equality between blacks and whites in employment, even as blacks
remain more likely to be poor and jobless in the current economic slump. And it cites
a wider black influence in politics — particularly in the South and the suburbs — that
buoyed Democrat Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008, before waning enthusiasm
in 2010 led to tepid black turnout and widespread wins for Republicans and tea party
conservatives.
With new census figures showing blacks less concentrated in inner cities and spreading
to suburban communities, Morial says African-Americans must be vigilant against subtle
discrimination when states redraw their political maps.
In Michigan, for instance, mostly black Detroit could see its clout diminish in Congress
after losing a quarter of its population. Black lawmakers say they want to make sure
that redrawn political maps — which are being guided by the Republican-controlled
Michigan legislature — reflect the growing minority population in other cities and suburbs
elsewhere in the state.
In Virginia, where almost a fifth of residents are black, African-American members of
the state legislature are calling for a second U.S. House district that would favor black
candidates. But some redistricting experts say that redrawing lines to do that could be
difficult, partly because blacks are somewhat spread out in the state.
The outcome ultimately may depend on the Justice Department or a federal court, which
must preapprove redistricting plans in Virginia and several other Southern states to
ensure that minorities’ voting strength is upheld under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“We will be closely watching to see if there is an effort by states to dilute the impact of
the black suburban vote,” Morial said.
The “State of Black America” report also urges Obama and Congress to increase federal
aid for jobs in the nation’s hardest-hit communities, many of which are disproportionately
minority.
Among the recommendations:
–Spend $5 billion to $7 billion to hire up to 5 million teens as part of a Youth Summer
Jobs Program that would improve opportunities for urban young people, who have higher
rates of unemployment.
–Create “green empowerment zones,” which would offer tax incentives to manufacturers
of solar panels and wind turbines if they open plants in high-unemployment areas.
–Expand small-business lending.
According to census figures released last week, the population of African-Americans
increased over the last decade to 37.7 million and ranks as the third largest racial and
ethnic group, after whites and Hispanics. Since the 2000 census, many blacks have
left big cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New York for the suburbs, especially in the
South. Both Michigan and Illinois saw their first declines in the black population since
statehood.
The Census Bureau’s preliminary comparison of the 2010 count to a set of independent
government estimates based on birth and death records suggests that the census figure for
blacks could have been undercounted by 1.5 to 3.8 percent.
Victoria Velkoff, an assistant division chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates
and Projections, said in an interview that it was too early to tell whether there was a black
undercount in the 2010 census without additional analysis, now under way.
In 2000, the Census Bureau determined it had undercounted blacks by roughly 2.8
percent, many of them in dense urban areas. That assessment was based on the agency’s
comparison of the 2000 count to independent birth and death records.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing already have said
they will contest the 2010 counts for their cities. Those challenges are mostly aimed at
getting a higher population count that would bring a larger share of federal dollars to their
cities for schools, roads and health care.
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