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Luke (rt) and his good friend Larry Weishuhn are both in their mid seventies and still enjoying the great outdoors, maybe more now than ever! Photo by Luke Clayton
April 16, 2024

OLDER SPORTSMEN HAVE MORE FUN

Category: Outdoor Life Author: Super User
Luke (rt) and his good friend Larry Weishuhn are both in their mid seventies and still enjoying the great outdoors, maybe more now than ever! Photo by Luke ClaytonThere was a time back when I was in my twenties and thirties that I thought I would be hanging…
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April 13, 2024

Close-to-home fun

Category: Outdoor Life Author: Super User
As an outdoors writer for the past 39 years, I’ve become accustomed to “gallavanting” around the country fishing, hunting and collecting material for my articles. Lately though, I’ve been sticking pretty close to home. Kenneth Shephard with a good “eater…

How to disappear the struggle of 14 percent of the U.S. population

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Jim Opionin By Jim Powers
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May 22, 2023 - Statement From the Texas Legislative Black Caucus

"This afternoon, the Texas House of Representatives voted 83-62 to pass Senate Bill 17 on third reading. SB 17 (Creighton) would ban diversity, equity, and inclusion offices at public colleges and universities. Texas currently leads as one of the most diverse states in the nation that has touted our many top-tier research institutions within our public higher education systems. The impending consequences of the state disinvestments in SB 17 are clear: students will seek education elsewhere, faculty will be forced out of the classroom, and billions of dollars will be lost from research funding."

 

Latest numbers by the Pew Research Center indicate that people who identify as black make up 14.2 percent of the U.S. population, an increase of 30 percent since the year 2000. While the absolute numbers are relatively small, that 30 percent increase appears to have gotten the attention of the governments of several Southern states, most recently Florida, and most aggressively by its Governor and presumed Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis signed a bill into law recently which bans public colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs. The law includes a ban on courses that teach “identity politics,” AKA Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Texas is working on a similar bill.

Just to be clear, CRT is not a course, but a framework to study the existence and impact of systemic racisim. The hat trick that DeSantis and many others on the Right use to justify these laws is to insist that systemic racism no longer exists in American society, if it ever did, so such studies are designed to give a distorted view of the history of the U.S. It is an attempt to make the continuing struggle of 14 percent of our population disappear by erasing it from history.

The struggle against systemic racism reaches back to the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, and to no less a luminary than Martin Luther King, Jr. who devoted his life to fighting for racial equality and justice. Throughout his career, King consistently spoke out against the deeply rooted issue of racism in American society. His words and actions reflected a profound belief that systemic racism was endemic and needed urgent attention and reform.

King's speeches and writings vividly illustrate his unwavering conviction that racism was deeply entrenched in American society. From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the March on Washington, he championed the cause of racial justice, emphasizing that discrimination was not merely isolated incidents but rather a pervasive and systemic problem.

King wrote numerous articles and letters that shed light on his views about the endemic nature of racism. In his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," written in 1963, he addressed fellow clergymen who criticized his approach to the civil rights movement. In the letter, he described the injustices and prejudices faced by African Americans, emphasizing that they were not isolated incidents but symptoms of a larger problem. He argued that racial discrimination was a deeply rooted issue that required urgent action and societal change.

Despite the advances in racial equality that we have made over the subsequent decades, there are numerous metrics that indicate systemic racism persists in our society.

First, there is a significant wealth and income gap between racial and ethnic groups in the United States. On average, Black and Hispanic households have lower wealth and income compared to White households. This gap is indicative of systemic barriers and discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, and access to quality education.

Secondly, racial disparities in educational outcomes persist, with lower graduation rates and limited access to quality education in predominantly minority communities. Disparities in school funding, resources, and discipline practices contribute to unequal opportunities for success.

Studies have also consistently shown racial disparities in hiring, promotion, and compensation. Discrimination in the job market limits economic opportunities for racial minorities and perpetuates systemic inequalities.

One of the most obvious disparities is in the criminal justice system which disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities at various stages, including arrests, sentencing, and incarceration rates. Studies have shown that Black and Hispanic individuals are more likely to be arrested and receive harsher sentences compared to White individuals for similar offenses.

Racial and ethnic minorities have long experienced significant health disparities, including higher rates of chronic illnesses, lower life expectancies, and limited access to quality healthcare. These disparities reflect systemic barriers in healthcare access, socio-economic factors, and historical injustices.

Residential segregation remains prevalent, with minority communities often facing limited housing options and higher levels of poverty. Discriminatory practices such as redlining, racial steering, and exclusionary zoning have contributed to the persistence of housing disparities.

Finally, voter suppression efforts have increased rapidly over the last decade and disproportionately affect minority communities, targeting them through measures such as strict voter ID laws, purging of voter rolls, and reduced access to polling locations. These practices undermine the democratic participation and representation of marginalized groups.

The factors I’ve mentioned don’t capture the entirety of systemic racism in America but should be sufficient to establish the fact that it continues to exist, despite the efforts of Governor DeSantis and the Florida legislature to make it disappear. And one of the most effective ways to do that is to make the facts unavailable in our education system. This political hat trick will only hide the real infection while it continues to eat away at equality for all in the U.S.

If we want our democracy to survive, we must resist efforts hide the existence of systemic weaknesses in our society.

Jim Powers writes opinion columns. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.

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