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
New “State of Black America” report expresses concern about black clout in once-white suburbsBy The Associated PressWith more blacks moving from city to suburb, the National Urban League says it isworried states may improperly seek to stem the political clout of African-Americans asthey spread into historically white districts.The leader of the 101-year-old organization also says he is troubled by complaints frombig-city mayors such as those in New York and Detroit who contend large pockets oftheir residents were missed in the 2010 census. Blacks historically have been more likelyto be missed in the decennial count and preliminary numbers for 2010 suggest that couldhave 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-rightsgroup paints a picture of African-Americans at a crossroads following decades ofprogress from the 1964 Civil Rights Act.It notes growing equality between blacks and whites in employment, even as blacksremain more likely to be poor and jobless in the current economic slump. And it citesa wider black influence in politics — particularly in the South and the suburbs — thatbuoyed Democrat Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008, before waning enthusiasmin 2010 led to tepid black turnout and widespread wins for Republicans and tea partyconservatives.With new census figures showing blacks less concentrated in inner cities and spreadingto suburban communities, Morial says African-Americans must be vigilant against subtlediscrimination when states redraw their political maps.In Michigan, for instance, mostly black Detroit could see its clout diminish in Congressafter losing a quarter of its population. Black lawmakers say they want to make surethat redrawn political maps — which are being guided by the Republican-controlledMichigan legislature — reflect the growing minority population in other cities and suburbselsewhere in the state.In Virginia, where almost a fifth of residents are black, African-American members ofthe state legislature are calling for a second U.S. House district that would favor blackcandidates. But some redistricting experts say that redrawing lines to do that could bedifficult, partly because blacks are somewhat spread out in the state.The outcome ultimately may depend on the Justice Department or a federal court, whichmust preapprove redistricting plans in Virginia and several other Southern states toensure 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 ofthe black suburban vote,” Morial said.The “State of Black America” report also urges Obama and Congress to increase federalaid for jobs in the nation’s hardest-hit communities, many of which are disproportionatelyminority.Among the recommendations:–Spend $5 billion to $7 billion to hire up to 5 million teens as part of a Youth SummerJobs Program that would improve opportunities for urban young people, who have higherrates of unemployment.–Create “green empowerment zones,” which would offer tax incentives to manufacturersof 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-Americansincreased over the last decade to 37.7 million and ranks as the third largest racial andethnic group, after whites and Hispanics. Since the 2000 census, many blacks haveleft big cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New York for the suburbs, especially in theSouth. Both Michigan and Illinois saw their first declines in the black population sincestatehood.The Census Bureau’s preliminary comparison of the 2010 count to a set of independentgovernment estimates based on birth and death records suggests that the census figure forblacks could have been undercounted by 1.5 to 3.8 percent.Victoria Velkoff, an assistant division chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Estimatesand Projections, said in an interview that it was too early to tell whether there was a blackundercount in the 2010 census without additional analysis, now under way.In 2000, the Census Bureau determined it had undercounted blacks by roughly 2.8percent, many of them in dense urban areas. That assessment was based on the agency’scomparison of the 2000 count to independent birth and death records.New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing already have saidthey will contest the 2010 counts for their cities. Those challenges are mostly aimed atgetting a higher population count that would bring a larger share of federal dollars to theircities for schools, roads and health care.