On Monday, February 1, 2016, Pitt County Board of Education officials served notice, to all that care, that the economic exclusion of communities and people of color is totally unacceptable. Board members, the Honorable Mary Blount-Williams and the Honorable Mildred Council asked, during a Board discussion about awarding a building design contract, for details of expected minority business participation in numerous building projects expected to total nearly $25,000,000.00 of public spending. (Download http://greaterdiversity.com/Board_Meeting020116.mp4).
It is safe to say that they did not like the answers they received during the Board’s discussion of minority business participation in their building projects, past, present and future. It is also safe to say that their discussions will be repeated around North Carolina and around the country. Their discussions made it clear to all that the status quo of economic exclusion would not stand. Theirs is a Third Reconstruction Discussion. (See link No. 2 below for a 3rd Reconstruction article). The die is cast. The status quo will not stand. This issue, at this moment, will not go away.
In order for our elected officials to succeed in their efforts to create economic equity in our communities and businesses of color, voters of color must vote like never before. As we continue with this issue, voters of color must understand that this issue strategically addresses the issue of voter apathy by showing the direct connection between the politics of voting and economics.
On Saturday, February 6, 2016, in Martin County, North Carolina, the Alliance of North Carolina Black Elected Officials (ANCBEO) participated in a candidate’s forum and reported on the results of an economic disparity study conducted under the guidance of the North Carolina Caucus of Black School Board members (NCCBSBM). The Martin County gathering was hosted by the Eastern North Carolina Civic Group (ENCCG) and was very well attended by Black Elected officials. Many Black and White candidates competing for numerous statewide offices participated in the forum.
The economic disparity study was done under the supervision of Dr. Forrest D. Toms of A&T State University. He reported on the findings of the disparity study which concluded what most of us already knew; that any notion of equity in the spending done by North Carolina public bodies was a total fiction. The study confirmed that businesses of color are systematically excluded from billions of dollars spent by public bodies.
Although the report has yet to be posted, please monitor the website of the ANCBEO for its availability. (See link No. 3 below). Also, Dr. Toms is writing two articles that will outline the findings and conclusions of the disparity study. Greater Diversity News will bring you those articles when they are available.
The audience was both outraged and frustrated with the findings and many pledged to engage in the same type inquiry made by Council and Williams. They agreed to become a part of a pilot study designed to discover the diversity attitude and spending done by their public bodies. They agreed to use our survey document “Equity in Public Hiring and Contracting” as a guide when raising the issues with their public bodies. (See link No. 4 below). I should also note that the question of equity in public hiring and spending was also an official question asked of several candidates interviewed during the forum. Equity in public hiring and spending is truly a Third Reconstruction issue.
The issue of economic equity by public bodies and as seen by Black Elected officials is also being played out in Portsmouth, Virginia. It was highlighted when Portsmouth’s Mayor, Kenny Wright, persuasively argues that Portsmouth’s politics is about race. Interestingly, his pursuit of economic equity for people of color resulted in widespread attacks by people of historical power and privilege. (See link No. 5 below). As with the Pitt County Board of Education, economic equity is the issue of the Third Reconstruction.
The economic equity in public spending was raised in Portsmouth when Mayor Wright made the following observation: “That elite group controls most of the city’s economics, but it is losing power because the new City Council is asking why are we giving contracts to the same developers, the same law firms and the same architects,” Wright told the New Journal and Guide, a paper that focuses on African American news. This is the essence of the questions posed to the Pitt county Board of Education by its minority members.
Additionally, if it is not already clear, there is a major mobilization behind this initiative of addressing economic equity and it is important that the entirety of the communities of color get involved or more involved.
Last week we announced an important suggestion that resulted from our economic equity discussions. We announced that we’re asking these candidates and elected officials to support the creation of “Diversity Plans” in their particular public entities. This suggestion has been embraced with vigor.
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Peter Grear, Esq. writes for Greater Diversity News with a primary focus on political, social and economic justice. To support our efforts, to unite our politics and economics, please “Like” and follow us atwww.facebook.com/greaterdiversitynews, “Share” our articles and post your ideas and comments on Facebook or at our websites www.GreaterDiversity.com. Finally, please ask all of your Facebook “Friends” to like and follow our page.