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thepeoplesrecord:

Kenyan people victoriously pressure legislators to agree to lower pay after outcry against unfair self-promoting politicians
June 12, 2013

Kenyan legislators have agreed to lower salaries, a government commission said Wednesday, after weeks of demanding higher pay which sparked off public outcry and protests. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission said they have agreed with parliament that its members will get around $75,000 and not the around $120,000 a year salary that legislators of the previous parliament earned.

The legislators also will get a one-off $59,000 car grant to buy a vehicle of their choice and can claim mileage under the local Automobile Association rates. According to a statement from the salaries commission, the agreement was reached Monday.

Average income in Kenya is about $1,800 a year, which has fueled rage over the legislators’ salaries.

On Tuesday, activists spilled cow blood outside parliament buildings, calling members of parliament or MPs, MPigs and branding parliament “a piggy bank.”

Activists celebrated the agreement between parliament and the salaries commission.

“It’s people power. The people have won,” said activist Boniface Mwangi who has organized protests over the pay dispute. “This battle was a fight between the 349 legislators and the 42 million Kenyans and the Kenyans won,” Mwangi said. “I don’t think they are going to try and raise their salaries again.”

The legislators, who were elected on March 4, had threatened in April to disband the salaries commission for reducing their salaries. Last month, MPs voted to overturn a directive that reduced their pay, hoping it would force the government to pay the higher salaries earned by the previous parliament whose term ended in January.

But the salaries commission warned government officials not to pay the higher salaries saying it was illegal, and that anyone who authorized the payment could be charged with abuse of office.

Kenya adopted a new constitution in 2010 that intended to remove parliament’s powers to set their own pay, instead giving the remuneration commission the power to determine salaries for all public servants. Earlier this year, the commission cut the president’s annual pay from around $340,000 to $185,000.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has argued that although Kenya was among the world’s poorer economies, its legislators were earning more than those in France.

Many Kenyans see their legislators as lazy and greedy in a country where hundreds of thousands live in slums. Legislators often argue that they need high salaries to give hand-outs to poor constituents for school fees and hospital bills.

The efforts by the members of parliament to raise their salaries sparked public protests including one last month in which pigs were released outside parliament.

In January, Mwangi organized the burning of 221 coffins outside parliament to protest the attempt by the MPs to give themselves a bonus at the end of their term.

The decision to reduce the pay for legislators came after a public outcry when the previous parliament attempted to raise their salaries to $175,000 annually and award themselves a $110,000 bonus at the end of their terms.

The salaries commission says Kenya can’t afford the bill for government salaries, especially since parliament expanded from 222 to 349 members in March, and new positions of 67 senators and 47 governors and their staff were created.

When newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta opened parliament in mid-April, he told legislators that the bill for government salaries came to 12 percent of GDP, above the internationally accepted level of 7 percent. Kenyatta said 50 percent of revenue collected by government went to pay government salaries.

Kenyatta urged the MPs to grow the economy before they demand higher salaries.

Source

(via danielextra)

A generation ago, whites made up roughly two-thirds of the population in this rarefied Los Angeles suburb, where most of the homes are worth well over $1 million. But Asians now make up over half of the population in San Marino, which has long attracted some of the region’s wealthiest families and was once home to the John Birch Society’s Western headquarters.

The transformation illustrates a drastic shift in California immigration trends over the last decade, one that can easily be seen all over the area: more than twice as many immigrants to the nation’s most populous state now come from Asia than from Latin America.

And the change here is just one example of the ways immigration is remaking America, with the political, economic and cultural ramifications playing out in a variety of ways. The number of Latinos has more than doubled in many Southern states, including Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina, creating new tensions. Asian populations are booming in New Jersey, and Latino immigrants are reviving small towns in the Midwest.

Much of the current immigration debate in Congress has focused on Hispanics, and California has for decades been viewed as the focal point of that migration. But in cities in the San Gabriel Valley — as well as in Orange County and in Silicon Valley in Northern California — Asian immigrants have become a dominant cultural force in places that were once largely white or Hispanic.

“We are really looking at a different era here,” said Hans Johnson, a demographer at the Public Policy Institute of California who has studied census data. “There are astounding changes in working-class towns and old, established, wealthy cities. It is not confined to one place.”

Many of the immigrants come here from China and Taiwan, where they were part of a highly educated and affluent population. They have eagerly bought property in places like San Marino, where the median income is nearly double that of Beverly Hills and is home to one of the highest-performing school districts in the state. The local library now offers story time in Mandarin.

But the wealth is not uniform, and there are pockets of poverty in several of the area’s working-class suburbs, particularly in Vietnamese and Filipino communities.

“This is kind of ground zero for a new immigrant America,” said Daniel Ichinose, a demographer at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. “You have people speaking Mandarin and Vietnamese and Spanish all living together and facing many common challenges.”

Lower income for all women, particularly those of color, means less money to support their families with necessities such as housing, food, education, and health care. Closing the pay gap is even more important for women of color who are more likely than their white counterparts to be breadwinners.

The long-term wage gap hurts families of color tremendously, forcing families to choose between putting food on the table or saving for a college education and retirement. On average, an African American woman working full time loses the equivalent of 118 weeks of food each year due to the wage gap. A Latina loses 154 weeks’ worth of food. The stubbornly persistent gender-based wage gap adds up substantially over the lifetime of a woman’s career. For women of color the loss of savings over a 30-hour-a-week to a 40-hour-a-week work lifespan is significant. A woman of color will have to live on one-third to 45 percent less than a white man based on the average benefits that are afforded through Social Security and pension plans. Research shows that a woman’s average lifetime earnings are more than $434,000 less than a comparable male counterpart over a 35-year working life.

Analysis done in 2012 by the Center for American Progress illustrates that the money lost over the course of a working woman’s lifetime could do one of the following:

—Feed a family of four for 37 years
—Pay for seven four-year degrees at a public university
—Buy two homes
—Purchase 14 new cars

Simply be saved for retirement and used to boost her quality of life when she leaves the workforce

Lifetime earnings are even lower for women of color because they face higher levels of unemployment and poverty rates. In March 2013 unemployment rates of black [women] and Latinas were significantly higher than their white counterparts at 12.2 percent and 9.3 percent respectively compared to white women at 6.1 percent. According to the National Women’s Law Center, poverty rates among women, particularly women of color, remain historically high and unchanged in the last year. The poverty rate among women was 14.6 percent in 2011—the highest in the last 18 years. For black women and Latinas that same year, the poverty rate was 25.9 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively.

Sophia Kerby, “How Pay Inequity Hurts Women Of Color,” Black Politics On The Web 4/9/13

Americanah took five years to write. ‘For a long time I’ve wanted to write about two things: a love story that doesn’t apologise for being a love story, in the grand tradition of the Mills & Boon novel; and I also wanted to write about race in America. I hadn’t felt ready until now.’ The title refers to an immigrant who has become Americanised – Ifemelu gets called ‘Americanah’ by her friends. Adichie writes with great affection for her subjects but she is not sentimental. Americanah is a dense story with a very light touch – it moves effortlessly between time frames and countries, making acute political points without haranguing.

Adichie has compared America to ‘a very rich uncle who doesn’t really know who you are, but all the same you can’t help being fond of him’.

‘I like America but it’s not mine and it never will be,’ she says now. ‘I don’t really have a life there. I travel and I speak and I sit in my study trying to write, but in Nigeria I have a life. I go out, I have friends, I feel emotionally invested in what’s happening.’

Last year Adichie was the youngest person to deliver the annual Commonwealth lecture at the Guildhall, and her TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) lecture on national identity, The Dangers of a Single Story, is one of its most popular. She is an eloquent person with big ideas, who is very interested in pan-African politics. ‘The idea of aid as a solution to Africa’s problems is something I don’t agree with at all. When you look at countries that have succeeded, aid didn’t do it. Aid creates dependency.’ She resents how applying for aid has become a job in itself. ‘It’s not looking for money to start a business, it’s writing a proposal so someone gives you money. Nigeria is not like that yet, and I hope we don’t become like that as it’s unhealthy. If we had electricity every day and it was constant and we had good roads and water, people would do things, they are full of initiative.’ It would, she believes, make a huge difference to productivity, self-esteem, motivation. Instead they are plagued by inconsistency in the most basic infrastructure.

‘I am very much a social engineer at heart,’ she says. ‘I love Nigeria and Africa and if you love a place that you know is kind of broken, you want it to be whole. I am always watching. For example, when I have my hair done I am watching the women in the salon, wondering how things could be better for them. The salon has to close at seven because they turn the generator off. And diesel is expensive so what they have to pay to maintain the generator is already taking a lot from what the salon makes, which in turn affects how much the workers in the hair salon are paid.’

There’s a comforting-to-white-people fiction about racism and racial inequality in the United States today: They’re caused by a small, recalcitrant group who cling to their egregiously inaccurate beliefs in the moral, intellectual and economic superiority of white people.

The reality: racism and racial inequality aren’t just supported by old ideas, unfounded group esteem or intentional efforts to mistreat others, said Nancy DiTomaso, author of the new book, The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism. They’re also based on privilege, she said — how it is shared, how opportunities are hoarded and how most white Americans think their career and economic advantages have been entirely earned, not passed down or parceled out.

The way that whites, often unconsciously, hoard and distribute advantage inside their almost all white networks of family and friends is one of the driving reasons that in February just 6.8 percent of white workers remained unemployed while 13.8 percent of black workers and 9.6 percent of Hispanic workers were unable to find jobs, DiTomaso said

DiTomaso concludes, based on her research, that most white Americans engage, at least a few times per year, in the activities that foster inequality. While they may not deliberately discriminate against black and other non-white job seekers, they take actions that make it more likely that white people will be employed — without thinking that what they’re doing amounts to discrimination.

"The vast majority assumed everyone has the same opportunities, and they just somehow tried harder, were smarter," DiTomaso said of those she interviewed. "Not seeing how whites help other whites as the primary way that inequality gets reproduced today is very helpful. It’s easy on the mind."

So white Americans tell a neighbor’s son about a job, hire a friend’s daughter, carry the resume of a friend (or, for that matter, a friend’s boyfriend’s sister) into the boss’s office, recommend an old school mate or co-worker for an unadvertised opening, or just say great things about that job applicant whom they happen to know. But since most Americans, white and black, live virtually segregated lives, and since advantages, privileges and economic progress have already accrued in favor of whites, the additional advantages that flow from this help go almost exclusively to whites, DiTomaso said.

DiTomaso’s work does confirm that networks — not just the kind you build over awkward conversations, finger foods and watered-down cocktails but the kind you’re born into — matter, Austin said. It also points to just how different forms of inequality feed one another. Family-and-friends segregation feeds job and income inequality. That in turn feeds neighborhood and school segregation. That then leaves some kids less likely to receive a quality education and escape from the cycle, he said.

It’s not that black workers don’t attempt the same sort of job assists within their own networks, said Deirdre Royster, an economic sociologist at New York University and author of Race and the Invisible Hand: How White Networks Exclude Black Men From Blue Collar Jobs.

African Americans ask neighbors, significant others, the significant others of neighbors, relatives and friends about open jobs, too. But since black unemployment rates were far higher than white rates before, during and after the recession, the number of people in a typical black social network who are in a position to help is far more limited.

According to Royster, there’s an additional twist: When blacks are aware of a job, they describe the job, the boss, the company and its preferences and needs. Then they follow up with a warning.

"They give the person looking for a job all sorts of information and then they say, ‘But don’t tell them I sent you,’" said Royster.

Black workers are aware of something that researchers are still trying to explain: White bosses often worry, lack of statistical evidence aside, that black workers are more likely to sue them or band together in the workplace and try to change things, Royster said. That seems all the more likely if the black workers already know one another, she said. And many white hiring managers still assume, consciously or unconsciously, that black workers bring undesirable workplace habits and qualities, Royster said.

Janell Ross, “Black Unemployment Driven By White America’s Favors To Friends,” Huff Post Black Voices 3/29/13

Ms. Magazine: How does your feminist identity influence the way you think about food/food politics?

Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper: I am always looking through the lenses of black feminism, critical race feminism and decolonial feminist world-systems analysis when I try to understand food in every aspect. I simply cannot look at food as an “everyday mundane object.” I understand the meanings applied to food as something that represents an entire culture’s ideologies around everything. For example, food can tell me a society’s expectations about sexuality, gender roles, racial hierarchies of power and ability.

Ms. Magazine: Why should people consider food a feminist issue?

Dr. Harper: Oh, that’s a great one. First, I think feminism is really broad, so I’m coming from the perspectives of black feminism and decolonial feminist world-systems analysis. So, that is how I define “my” feminisms, for now at least. I think one cannot understand structural oppression within the food system without understanding how structural sexism shapes one’s relationship within the food system, from seed to plate. For example, what does it mean that tomatoes coming out of Mexico since NAFTA have come to North Americans “cheaply” due to the exploitation of indigenous Mexican women and the myth that indigenous women are “more tolerant” of harsh chemicals and sun exposure than light-skinned mestizas who are usually found working in the tomato packing plants? Check out Deborah Barndt’s work on that.

Avital Norman Nathman, “The Femisphere: Foodies and Food Politics,” Ms. Magazine 3/12/13
thesmithian:


The cover stands out for its cast of black and Hispanic caricatures with exaggerated features reminiscent of early 20th century race cartoons. Also, because there are only people of color in it, grabbing greedily for cash. It’s hard to imagine how this one made it through the editorial process. Compounding the…problem with the image is the fact that race has been a key backdrop to the subprime crisis. The narrative of the crash on the right has been the blame-minority-borrowers line, sometimes via dog whistle, often via bullhorn…the record is clear: minorities were disproportionately targeted by predatory lending, which has always gone hand in hand with subprime. Even when they qualified for prime loans that similar-circumstance whites got, they were pushed into higher-interest subprimes…minority borrowers were disproportionately victimized in the bubble. But BusinessWeek here has them on the cover bathing in housing-ATM cash, implying that they’re going to create another bubble.

more, at the Columbia Journalism Review.

thesmithian:

The cover stands out for its cast of black and Hispanic caricatures with exaggerated features reminiscent of early 20th century race cartoons. Also, because there are only people of color in it, grabbing greedily for cash. It’s hard to imagine how this one made it through the editorial process. Compounding the…problem with the image is the fact that race has been a key backdrop to the subprime crisis. The narrative of the crash on the right has been the blame-minority-borrowers line, sometimes via dog whistle, often via bullhorn…the record is clear: minorities were disproportionately targeted by predatory lending, which has always gone hand in hand with subprime. Even when they qualified for prime loans that similar-circumstance whites got, they were pushed into higher-interest subprimes…minority borrowers were disproportionately victimized in the bubble. But BusinessWeek here has them on the cover bathing in housing-ATM cash, implying that they’re going to create another bubble.

more, at the Columbia Journalism Review.

(via mylovelylifelongings-deactivate)

In contrast to the largely Japanese and Chinese origins of Asian Americans in the first half of the century, today Asian Americans are highly diverse in their national origins. Asian Indians, Koreans, and Filipinos, for example, are among the fastest growing segments of the Asian American population. There has also been a general shift away from the largely working-class origins of the late nineteenth - early twentieth century Asian immigrants.

While there is considerable socio-economic diversity within the Asian American population today, it is also the case that many post-1965 Asian immigrants come from professional, white-collar and highly educated backgrounds. The middle-class background of many Asian immigrants in conjunction with the phenomenal growth and success of some Asian economies, has lent support and credence to the popular image of Asians as a “model minority”: a group that is culturally programmed for economic success.

The middle-class image does not, however, do justice to the realities of the socio-economic diversity within the new Asian immigrant stream. In fact, many analysts characterize the Asian American population today as polarized, consisting of two sharply disparate socio-economic segments. In contrast to those admitted in the 1970s, recent Asian immigrants have been less select and more diverse in their socioeconomic origins.

Further contributing to a movement away from a purely middle-class profile is the entry since the mid-1970s of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos whose levels of education and training are, on average, lower than that of the other post-1965 Asian immigrant groups. Thus, while economic polarization is apparent within Asian ethnic groups, it is also one that can coincide with ethnic boundaries. In other words, there are important differences in the socioeconomic profiles of Asian-origin groups. For example, the income levels and poverty rates for Vietnamese Americans contrast sharply and negatively with those of Japanese or Filipino Americans.
Nazli Kibria, The Contested Meanings of “Asian American” (via pedagogyoftheoppressed)

Hoxby says some college administers had confided to her that they had reluctantly come to the conclusion that the pool of low-income students with top academic credentials was just limited, and there wasn’t much they could do to change that.

But in an analysis published with Christopher Avery in December, Hoxby has shown that this conclusion isn’t true. There is in fact a vast pool of highly talented, low-income students; they just aren’t ending up in top schools.

"The students whom they see are the students who apply," she says, of admissions officers. "And if a student doesn’t apply to any selective college or university, it’s impossible for admissions staff to see that they are out there."

Hoxby found that the majority of academically gifted low-income students come from a handful of places in the country: About 70 percent of them come from 15 large metropolitan areas. These areas often have highly regarded public high schools, such as Stuyvesant in New York City or Thomas Jefferson in the Washington, D.C., area.

Low-income high-achieving students at these schools have close to 100 percent odds of attending an Ivy League school or other highly selective college, Hoxby says.

The reasons are straightforward: These schools boast top teachers and immense resources. They have terrific guidance counselors. Highly selective colleges send scouts to these schools to recruit top talent. And perhaps most important, students in these schools are part of a peer group where many others are also headed to highly selective colleges.

Hoxby and Avery found that top students who do not live in these major metropolitan areas were significantly less likely to end up at a highly selective school. These students were far less likely to find themselves in a pipeline that ended at an Ivy League school.

Transportation systems do not spring up out of the thin air. They are planned—and, in many cases, planned poorly when it comes to people of color. Conscious decisions determine the location of freeways, bus stops, fueling stations, and train stations. Decisions to build highways, expressways, and beltways, have far-reaching effects on land use, energy policies, and the environment. Decisions by county commissioners to bar the extension of public transit to job-rich economic activity centers in suburban counties and instead spend their transportation dollars on repairing and expanding the nation’s roads have serious mobility implications for central city residents. Together, all these transportation decisions shape United States metropolitan area, growth patterns, physical mobility, and economic opportunities. These same transportation policies have also aided, and in some cases, subsidized, racial, economic, and environmental inequities as evidenced by the segregated housing and spatial layout of our central cities and suburbs.
Excerpted from Highway Robbery: Transportation Racism & New Routes To Equity, edited by Robert Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson, and Angel O. Torres