Paul L. Jones, President Beaumont Chapter – NAACP 3260
Washington Blvd. Beaumont, TX 77705
NAACP Beaumont Newsletter Fall 2015 Volume I Issue 1
A MESSAGE from the PRESIDENT
Why Should You Join the NAACP?
By Paul Jones
Since I made a big commitment to lead the rebuilding of the Beaumont Branch NAACP, I have been asked by many, “what is the NAACP doing”? The core of that question really tends to be: “Why should I join the NAACP”? I am happy to answer both questions.
The NAACP is more than 105 years old and was founded on the beliefs embodied in the Constitution of the United States of America. The organization supports democracy, freedom and justice for all. Members of the NAACP, in keeping with the charge of our founders, stand against all forms of injustice. The NAACP will continue to fight for justice until all, without regards to race, gender, creed or religion enjoy equal status. The vision of the NAACP is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.
The next time you wonder or someone says, “Why should I join the NAACP,” my question is to ask them to please take an honest look at his or her environment. If that person can truly say that the playing field is level in their life, their family member’s life, in their neighborhood, in their community, in their city, in their state and in our country, then perhaps the NAACP is not the right organization for them to join. However, I believe a better question is how much more the NAACP could be doing if you joined and got involved in our mission of supporting democracy, freedom and justice for all. For those who really want to know what the Beaumont NAACP is doing, the following pages offer a brief snapshot of some of what we are doing at the local level and a huge list of things we could be making progress in if we would all join together in these efforts.
WHAT IS THE NAACP DOING?
In K-12 public education: we met several times with the new superintendent of schools and have met with three of the TEA-appointed BISD board members about the following topics (we have established a communication link to address education concerns as needed):
In-school suspension program
Tutorials (in school after school)
After school transportation (tutorial athletic)
Pupil-teachers ratio (elementary, secondary)
Reorganization of BISD Police Dept.
Incentive pay for teachers
Why are 10 schools on the state’s ”needs improvement list”? What is the improvement plan?
ACT and SAT scores are reportedly low nationwide due to increased numbers of minorities taking the tests. How can our students’ performance on standardize exams be improved?
What is the status of the TEA’s investigation of wide spread cheating on tests? Which schools have been identified?
What is the status of the bond construction fraud investigation?
What has been done to prevent fraud and embezzlement?
Will there be public meetings, participation and input on the trustee-voting map before it is presented for adoption by the board of managers?
When is the next school trustee election?
OTHER LOCAL NAACP EFFORTS
In Criminal Justice:
We are working with the Beaumont Police Department in an effort to have the make up of BPD better reflect the community it serves. As a result of our efforts,there has been much progress. We developed a BPD recruitment manual that outlines all requirements to become a police officer in Beaumont. The recruitment manual includes sections on opportunities and job benefits, job qualifications, job description, stages of the hiring process, rejections and disqualifications, frequently asked questions and practice test samples.
As a result of our work, there is an increased percent of minorities in the current Police Academy Class. The current Academy Class has nine cadets–four are black and five are white.
In Our Community
Political forums, Thanksgiving baskets for needy families, voter registration drives, thousands of dollars in college scholarships for deserving students, informational community meetings and more are standard service provided to and/or for members of the Beaumont community.
Furthermore, members of the NAACP, in keeping with the charge of our founders, handle racial and discrimination complaints on a regular basis and continue to stand against all forms of injustice.
Local, State and National Disparities
From where I am standing, I see disparities and an unleveled playing field in every direction I look.
Disparities In Education
A recent analysis published in The New York Times finds that the best predictor of a school’s score on standardized tests is the race and class of the student body.
Schools with predominantly white and wealthy students have a 1 in 4 chance of earning high test scores for multiple years while only 1 in 300 schools attended by poor children of color will do the same.
For comparison, 43 percent of preschoolers are white, but only a quarter gets suspended more than once.
African-American students are also more likely to be referred to law enforcement and to be arrested for something they did in school.
Furthermore, black girls are suspended at higher rates than girls of any other race. And students with disabilities, who represent only 12 percent of the student population, account for nearly 60 percent of those placed in seclusion or involuntary confinement.
Disparities In Economics
African Americans face challenges in every measure of economic status.
While African Americans make up about 13% of the U.S. population, they own just 3% of the assets.
The average total net worth of white families is $70,000 compared to just $6,000 for African American families.
One part of this gap is explained by the fact that African Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed as the average American.
The unemployment rate is 10.6% for blacks compared to 5.3% nationally.
Those African Americans who are employed earn about $13,000 a year less than whites.
Another source of the tremendous racial disparity in wealth is the racial gap in homeownership, the size of which has doubled in recent decades.
When African-Americans do buy homes, they receive the highest interest mortgage loans 30% more often than whites, even when their income and credit scores are the same.
This differential in lending terms cumulatively costs African American homeowners more than $6 billion dollars each year.
A predictable result of the disparity in wealth, home ownership and employment is that 24.5% of black families live below the poverty line, compared to 8.2% of white families.
Poverty statistics are even worse for black children.
One in three black children lives in poverty. This number has improved from 1991 when 1 in 2 black children lived in households under the poverty line but, if the rate of change simply holds steady, it will take more than 20 years for the percentage of black youth living in poverty to match the national average.
Disparities In The Criminal Justice System
Incarceration Trends in America
From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people
Today, the U.S. represents 5% of the world’s population and has 25% of world prisoners.
Combining the number of people in prison and jail with those under parole or probation supervision, 1 in every 31 adults, or 3.2 percent of the population is under some form of correctional control.
Between 1987 and 2007, state spending on corrections grew 6 times the rate of spending on higher education.
Racial Disparities in Incarceration
African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population.
African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.
Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 60% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics together make up approximately only one third of the U.S. population.
According to Unlocking America, if African American and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today’s prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50%.
1 in 6 black men have been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, 1 of every 3 black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime.
1 in 100 African American women are in prison.
Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (as reported by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).
Drug Sentencing Disparities
About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug.
5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites.
African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (As reported in the Sentencing Project.)
Disparities In the Political arena
When analyzing the demographic makeup of Beaumont, disparities or under representation in the political arena is something that should not be happening. One way to fix this is to simply voting!
WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO?
(We must stop asking others to do for us what God has given us the ability to do for ourselves!)
According to the 2010 census, the demographic makeup of the Beaumont population was then 35% white, 47% black and 13% Hispanic.The census indicated that there were increases in the Hispanic and black populations and a decrease in the white population. What do these numbers mean?
These numbers tell me that African Americans in Beaumont, Texas, have been blessed with unique powers, the power of numbers. The power of being in the majority means that we have the power not only to demand a level playing field where there are disparities, but to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
In BISD African Americans makeup more than 70 of the student population:
1. We need to seek and elect the right candidates who are willing and capable of serving on our local school board and willing to fight to make sure all children have a fair opportunity for the best education available.
2. We need an effective mentoring program (for students and new teachers) in every elementary and middle school.
3. We need to demand that the right administrators and the right teachers are in the right job.
4. We should demand teachers, administrators and the community find a way to deal with students disciplinary issues that do not lead to criminal records and/or incarceration of our students.
5. We should strive to attend School Board meetings every third Thursday, at 6:00 p.m., at 3395 Harrison St. in BISD Board Room.
6. Parents and guardians of students should join and attend PTA meetings.
African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population and African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites:
1. We should demand that Jefferson County establish a well-funded public defendant department and make sure that everyone accused of a crime has fair and qualified legal representation.
2. We must push for diversity of our grand jury. It is critical to have a completely diverse grand jury to insure that it is representative of the total community. It is very important to have diversity to make sure that the various segments of the community are represented to balance the investigation process.
3. When you get jury summons, it is critical that you serve.
4. We must elect judges that have the best interest of all its citizens at heart, who are fair and just in their judgement with a good understanding of people of color, and we must monitor and record their actions, when they don’t do the right thing and strive to “un-elect” them.
Despite historically high unemployment, Blacks have shown resiliency in our ability to persevere as consumers. Black buying power (spending) continues to increase, rising from its current $1 trillion level to a forecasted $1.3 trillion by 2017. The ongoing population growth and increases in educational attainment are key factors in the increase of African- Americans consumer power. Furthermore, blacks tend to spend their income at a faster rate than other populations. We should think long and hard about every dollar we spend:
1. The NAACP position is that the employment makeup of any employer should resemble the community they serve. This is especially critical for public employing entities as a City, County and School District.
2. When you walk into a place of business to spend your hard earned money, you should take quick inventory of what you see: does the employment makeup look like the community, not just at the lower level jobs, but throughout the organization?
3. Does the company/business give back to our community?
When we look at the demographic makeup of Beaumont, disparities or under representation in the political arena is something that we should not be experiencing and one problem we can solve by simply voting. We have the power to determine who gets elected to any position in our city council, county commissioners’ court, school district board of trustees and as legislative representatives at the state and national levels. We must make our elected official accountable, no matter who they are.
1. Know the job description of your elected official.
2. Know who represent you at all levels of government and their contact information; call them often.
3. Call them for street problems, drainage problems, abandon building problems, environmental problems and other issues challenging peace, safety, equal opportunity, etc.
4. Attend City Council meetings every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in council chambers on the first floor of City Hall.
5. Attend Jefferson County Commissioners Court meetings every Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the Jefferson County Court House.
Please remember these powerful quotes:
“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”
President Lyndon B. Johnson
“The oppressors will never stop pressing you until you make it cost them something.”
-Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.
WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO?
Please try to remember that the Beaumont Branch is predominantly a volunteer organization. We have one part-time secretary as our only paid staff. My sincere thanks go out to all of you who volunteer to help in achieving the mission of the NAACP. Those of you who have joined and/or supported the organization with contributions are appreciated dearly. THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO. Please, continue to charge it to my heart as I continue to beseech you and others to do more, especially in volunteering your time. This truly is a very worthy cause toward a better Beaumont, better Texas and better America.
–PAUL L. JONES