From the Archives: This Way to Fair Share: The Politicians, Political Parties and Votersby Greater Diversity News June 25, 2021
This week we look at the necessary parties and the roles that they’ll have to play if economic equity for voters of color is to become a reality. The issue of fair share was a major topic of discussion at our January Voter Rights Forum in Greenville, NC. I wrote about it the following week.
On January 14, 2016, I wrote about the evolving initiative that has been designed to raise the issue of economic equity for Black businesses when public bodies are funding building projects. Our position is that officials and candidates that Blacks vote for should make this issue a priority and have it serve as an accountability measure in evaluating candidates that Black votes help to elect to office. (See link No. 1 below).
The evolution of our economic equity initiative took a major step forward when two members of the Pitt County Board of Education raised it at their February 1St board meeting during a discussion about a contract awarded as a part of a major building project. I wrote about their discussion and attached a link to a video of the board’s discussion in my article of February 11th. (See link No.2 below). The Black board members were disappointed to find little or no attention had been given to Black business participation in the board’s building project.
Attention should be paid to the national, ongoing discussions of economic inequality. Generally the discussions revolve around raising the minimum wage. This is a good idea but far less than what Black businesses and communities need to address the crippling poverty that has always been a major condition of our people. For Blacks, economic inequality has been a 400 year history of exploitation, exclusion and brutality. Today, major candidates speak to economic inequality but there doesn’t appear to be any move by either of our major political parties to address the issue with the attention and urgency that people of color need.
When addressing economic inequality it is abundantly clear that much of the apathy of Black voters stems from their frustration with the limited economic progress that has been made since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. This point is important because Black communities need a massive turnout of Black voters in this year’s elections to defeat widespread voter suppression. Without aggressively explaining and stressing the connection between economics and voting we’ll leave thousands of needed votes on the sidelines.
In coming weeks our readers should look for further development of the Pitt County Board of Education and for ongoing coverage of the issue of economic inequality as other elected officials and community leaders raise the issue with their elected bodies. The Pitt Board members have made themselves very accessible to me as I cover their efforts to achieve fair share for their constituents. Additionally, the feedback that I’m getting from other elected and community leaders have been universally supportive and many more efforts with numerous other public bodies are in various stages of development.
As we continue our discussions, ideas are being generated to increase our effectiveness and long term chances of success. One popular recommendation is that all public bodies be requested to include a specific dollar amount of all building contracts to fund minority business outreach. Another important recommendation is for all public bodies to create “Diversity Plans” for jobs and the contracting for goods and services. These plans should provide a detailed framework and guidance on how to achieve fairness in public hiring and spending.
We’ve touched on some of the roles that politicians and political parties should play in promoting economic equity and fairness for people of color. However, the most important role in the creation of economic equity is the role that voters must play. If voters lead candidates to believe that economic justice is not a major issue in their decision to vote, candidates will not adequately address it. However, voters should demand that all politicians and parties that they support treat economic equity as a priority focus, and demonstrated that priority by highlighting equity initiatives as a part of their individual and party platforms.
With nearly 700 Black elected officials in North Carolina the economic equity argument should be had with public bodies all over our state. Evolving this effort will lead to systemic changes and result in the creation of many business opportunities for Historically Underutilized Business (HUBs) and job opportunities for people of color. There is an effort underway to use the process going on with the Pitt County Board of Education as a template to help educate and guide other officials and activist as they address the spending policies of their particular public bodies.
To help create the template I will periodically cover the above referenced link to the video of the February meeting of the Pitt County Board of Education. We are also planning a public forum on economic equity with the Pitt County Board members serving as presenters. We’ll provide specific details as they become available.
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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.