BusinessWilliam Reed

BUSINESS EXCHANGE: Making a ‘Black Movement’ Mainstream

What are your political priorities? Who’s setting the agenda, opinions and issues to and among African-Americans? A point for blacks to ponder: No matter how right your cause or issue, it ain’t worth diddly-squat without adequate sources of funding.

A change has to come for blacks. But will that come from within or outside of our race? Did you know that billionaire socialist investor George Soros is the principal financial force behind Black Lives Matter (BLM)? Black Lives Matter is increasingly awash in cash, raking in pledges from liberal foundations and others eager to contribute to the current liberal grant-making cause du jour. The Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy recently announced formation of the Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF), to raise $100 million over six-years for the Movement for Black Lives coalition.

Known for their political displays and disruptions BLM has elevated its movement into the major social issue for Black Americans: their incarnations. Over the past four decades, our country’s incarceration rate — the number of prisoners per capita — has more than quadrupled. Today, roughly 2.2 million people are behind bars in the United States, and, on any given day, some 7 million people — about one in every 31 people — are under the supervision of the corrections system, either locked up or probation or parole.

This vast expansion of the corrections system has been called “the New Jim Crow” — is the direct result of a failed, decades-long drug war and a “law and order” movement that began amid the urban unrest of the late 1960s, just after the civil rights era. It’s a system that stigmatizes and targets young black men for arrest at a young age, unfairly punishes communities of color, burdens taxpayers and exacts a tremendous social cost. Today, African-American men who failed to finish high school are more likely to be behind bars than employed.

This is a major issue for African-Americans and major issue for the country. The United States spends $80 billion a year to sustain its system of incarceration — more than it spends on education, housing, and other important services that could prevent crime in our communities. The cost of incarcerating one inmate in fiscal 2010 was $31,307 per year

Blacks need to amass the funding necessary to root out racial discrimination in the system, as well as to ensure humane, constitutional standards for prisoners. If funders that care about our race will coalesce on this issue and how it matters to black families’ lives, they’ll meet toward using litigation and advocacy tools to help end this mass incarceration.

Blacks have mostly let get their brand of politics to get in the way of funding, such as labeling brothers David and Charles Koch as “racists” simply because they are white, conservative libertarians.

“Everything we do is designed to help people improve their lives, whether you’re talking about our business or our philanthropy,” Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden told the Atlantic. “We think a free society, consistent with classical liberalism and individual liberties, is the key to success for everyone, and that’s what drives a lot of our activities. And criminal-justice reform is good for all of us — the rich, the poor, and everyone else.”

Koch-affiliated organizations and entities have engaged with numerous Blacks, such as members of the Congressional Black Caucus and National Newspaper Publishers Association. They say their viewpoint is to “replace dependency with opportunity.” Surely to advance their message, Koch organizations should partner with the nation’s network of Black community news and information entities as mediums of connection and communication.

No matter what, it would be a positive step if the movements for Black Lives Matter can join forces with free-market capitalists to challenge America’s disparate systems of criminal justice.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.

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William Reed

William Reed is President and Chief Executive Officer of Black Press International. He has been a Media Entrepreneur for over two decades. A well-trained marketing and communications professional, Reed has a national reputation for his expert writing, speaking, organizational, research, management and motivation abilities, along with strong managerial, presentation and sales skills.

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