Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mobilizing Houston - A Vision of the Future

Wow, after attending the Urban League event on September 14th, it brought some awareness to things in the city that I wasn’t aware of. The events speaker, Professor Stephen Klineberg, provided some pertinent information that brings some reality to the reality of the Houston spectrum. Two topics that were the most concerning to me were education and career development not only the providing of jobs. In the black community of Houston of low income and certain segments of the middle class, the lack of awareness, access, understanding and familiar issues have put many of us in a category of a third world state. Things are happening around us, but we’re making any input. Why?

Here are some key items from Professor Klineberg’s Houston Area Survey I learned:

- In 2010, 67% of survey respondends agree that “There are very few good jobs in today’s economy for people without a college education.” In the 2008 survey, 74% disagreed that “A high school education is enough to get a job.” But when I hear this, I continuously wonder why schools with more minority students tend to have lower expectations and 4 year plans that don’t equip these students will the world’s extra high expectations.

- In a graph, he displayed the contrasting quarter centuries since WWII that really messed me up. The relationship between the increase in before tax incomes and the periods 1949-1979 and 1979-2003. In the 1049-1979 frame, the bottom 20% and other income levels were relatively steady and rising at faster rates than the top 5%. In the recent latter years, the top 5% income is raising at 68% while the bottom 20% is only raising at 4%. Wow. Dynamics change. I attribute many of it to capitalism, and the lack of GENUINE concern for the disadvantaged.

- More than 45% of high school drop outs are African American and Hispanic students in Houston that the survey attributes to social class versus race which is ESSENTIAL for our community to recognize. Many of us may consider that RACE is the prime factor, but it’s the economic class many minorities are in that creates the rift between them and us.

- Today’s seniors are primarily Anglos but have you ever wondered why? National Origins Quota Act of 1924 when immigration was dramatically reduced and newcomers were restricted almost entirely to Western Europeans who were Protestant. However, the Hart Celler Act in 1965 allowed immigration again for the first time to large numbers of non-Europeans based primarily on allowing them to reunite with family already in the states, professional skills or refugee status.

- I draw the conclusion that seniors are more inclined to vote and make an impact on long term decisions than the younger generations. Yet, Houston has taken for granted that we are a majority minority city! Among the other major immigration capitals, Houston is in the forefront. Of our youth and young adults in school, minorities account for about 80% but mostly low income. What does this mean? In the long term, our adults leading will be minorities yet uneducated and incapable of mobilizing the city to make a difference. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

- In another graph, he displays that while the rate by which African Americans are gaining a HS diploma has grown, a college degree is still less than Anglos and Asians and just about ties with US born Latinos. In my opinion, the enhanced level of educational pursuit encourages more worldwide awareness on issues that affect our communities and our own lives. Why? Because we move from survival mode of our low income state to actually living and capable of providing CHANGE that we can be a part of.

At the end of the presentation and the discussion, the question was posed: what are WE going to do about it? One phrase that sticks in my mind from Professor K’s presentation is this that we are entitled to our own opinions regarding politics, religion and other world issues. However, we are NOT entitled to our own facts. Regardless of the sample size of the survey he presented, I take it seriously that in a majority minority city that we are rationing our effectiveness and power with the belief that we HAVE no power simply because we LACK the facts. I’m interested in making an impact in the city that encourages minorities that are not educated to be educated by other educated minorities similar to them to lead by example.

With the upcoming election of our Texas governor position, I highly encourage us to get out and vote, but let’s dialogue in our communities about how to continue to be a network amongst each other. Your local representatives are holding town halls that many of our faces are not attending. Let’s begin to be the change instead of expect others to present the change for us.

Helpful Links: << details of the Survey quoted above << organization that hosted the event
* also helpful to Google information about the candidates - Rick Perry & Bill White

October 4 - last day to regist to vote
October 18 - first day of early voting
October 26 - last day to ballot mail
October 29 - last day of early voting
November 4 - election day