OPINION | EDITORIAL

The Black Press of America is Facing Another Deadly Assault from Trump’s Tariffs on Canadian Newsprint

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. (President and CEO, NNPA)

Amid the rush to comprehend the ramifications of a full-scale international trade war initiated by the errant and backward tariff policies of the Trump Administration, there are results of the tariffs that need to be challenged by Black America. The financial sustainability of the Black Press of America is now facing a catastrophic and a possible deadly impact, because of these new tariffs.

The current dispute over the rising costs of the paper product termed “newsprint,” because of tariffs on Canadian newsprint threatens the future of member publishers of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and could further isolate and disenfranchise African American businesses and communities in cities and towns across the United States.

Import duties the U.S. Commerce Department is now applying to Canadian-made newsprint is already increasing costs enough to prompt layoffs and scaled-back news coverage by some of the nation’s major dailies and weekly publications. If these tariffs remain in place, scores of newspapers with smaller circulations, notably those that serve African American communities, could be forced to cease publishing a print edition or close altogether.

During the past 191 years, the Black Press has survived, endured and overcome past firebombing and improvised explosive attacks, as well as other deadly manifestations of racial violence. The newsprint tariffs appear to have been put in place by the Trump Administration after being encouraged by the interests of a single paper mill in Washington State called NORPAC.

NORPAC argues that Canadian government policies give Canadian paper producers an unfair advantage in the U.S. market. NORPAC says the added duties, or tariffs, at the border are protecting it. NORPAC can fight for its self-interest but the U.S. government has an obligation to consider the impact the tariffs are having on the nation as a whole, and in particular the impact on African American owned newspapers and businesses.

We forthrightly oppose the Trump tariffs on newsprint and demand an end to the disastrous trade policies that are hurting our businesses and communities.

Given that newsprint and labor account for most of the cost of running a newspaper, it is easy to see how jacking up the price of newsprint by more than 30 percent could spell the difference between these publications eking out a modest profit or going out of business. Around 2,000 newspapers have closed or morphed into something else in the last 15 years.

The NNPA is proud that its 215 member-publications are moving forward even in the face of these new contrived dangers and obstacles in the marketplace. Our newspapers enliven and inform the debate within African American and other communities that we serve and help to empower with news, information, and the reaffirmation of the vitality of Black cultural genius and excellence in all fields of endeavor.

Our printed editions are especially important in communities where people are less likely to be able to afford or take full advantage of broadband Internet access. However useful today’s technological innovations are in sharing information, for many people, there is no substitute or affordable alternative to the local weekly newspaper of, by, and for the African-American community. Our newspapers are the lifeblood for our communities.

The tariffs threaten more than local newspapers. Newsprint is used for promotional materials by retailers and civic groups. It is used by book publishers and printers. Often these are small businesses serving local communities. If newsprint goes up in price, printers will get fewer contracts and have fewer customers. Ironically, the tariffs NORPAC wants in place will actually threaten paper producers and a range of related business. A coalition of these businesses, the STOPP Alliance, estimates some 650,000 jobs could be at risk—all to help one company that has no allies or supporters within the U.S. paper industry.

(NNPA)
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, says that the NNPA opposes the Trump tariffs on newsprint and demands an end to the disastrous trade policies that are hurting our businesses and communities. (NNPA)

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is reviewing the facts in this case and is expected to announce its recommendations on what to do with the tariffs later the summer. In the meantime, members of Congress from both parties have introduced legislation to suspend the tariffs immediately.

The STOPP Alliance has also created an online petition to urge the ITC to end the tariffs. Consider adding your voice to this effort by clicking on this link. After all, the threat the duties on newsprint pose to daily and weekly print publications serving communities in urban and rural areas is especially acute.

If there was ever a time when the country needed a range of authentic and “trusted” outlets to share news and perspectives, it is today. In today’s world, the newspapers that serve African American communities will continue to play a crucial role. Errant trade policies and duties championed by a single company must not be allowed to diminish the meaningful role of the Black Press of America.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) based in Washington, D.C. Dr. Chavis can be contacted at dr.bchavis@nnpa.org. Follow Dr. Chavis on Twitter @DrBenChavis. This article was originally published at BlackPressUSA.com.

Consumers, Multi-Nationals and the Rust Belt

By Basil Wilson

New York City is regarded as the financial capital of the world. It serves as the home of the leading international investment banks. On a daily basis, Wall Street engages in multi-billion transactions. This conjuncture of financial concentration and transactions accentuated in the 1990s and was instrumental in extrapolating the city and the state out of fiscal difficulties.

This economic bonanza was not always the case as in the 1970s and much of the 1980s, the city was falling apart. Violent crime and drug runnings had become rampant. The homicide rates became increasingly perilous, the city’s fiscal health was affected by the burden of short term dept and pundits like Roger Starr argued for the shrinkage of the welfare state.

What was occurring in New York City had much to do with the mobility and internationalization of financial capital. The city thrived on the garment industry and other forms of labor intensive manufacturing. The garment industry at its zenith employed over 500,000 workers. The workers were protected by a strong union movement and enjoyed some economic security and were paid a living wage. Thousands of immigrants, internal migrants and Puerto Ricans were absorbed in the thriving industry. But as is not peculiar in the development of capitalism, technological changes and the search for maximum profits brought about a decline in the garment and labor intensive industries in New York City and upstate New York.

Some economists felt that the city was unresponsive in accommodating the needs of the garment industry. Technological changes forced a different lay-out in the manufacturing and productive needs of the industry and the governmental bureaucrats were slow in meeting those changing needs of the industry. The garment industry sought new grounds and geographically moved south to the states that had right-to-work laws and where labor was less costly and more compliant to roving capital. Later on the industry moved outside of the United States and established factories in Mexico, the Far East and to places where labor was readily exploited.

The garment industry is one example of the development of international capitalism. Capital and industry were not fixed to any geographical space and with the reduction in the cost of shipping, multi-nationals perfected the system of the supply chain. Production did not have to be concentrated in any one country and the supply chain was internationalized and a high level of specialization became typical of multi-national capital.

United States corporations and the United States government fostered the development of the global system. Under the Bush administration and completed by the Clinton administration, the North American Free Trade Association was created in the 1990s and resulted in the integration of the United States, Canadian and Mexican economies. Other regional entities emerged in the search for economies of scale. For example, the establishment and recent expansion of the European Union, Mercosur in South America. CARICOM, despite its limitation, is another example of regionalism and an attempt to create larger markets.

Prior to stepping down as the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama was pushing for the ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership which would bring together the principal economies of the Far East excluding China. The Republican Party prior to Trump, in conjunction with multi-national capital favored free trade but the Democratic Party with the support of the union movement was vehemently opposed to the TPP and blamed free trade and roving capital for the existence of the Rust Belt. Huge chunks of manufacturing in the United States had been moved overseas and left behind devastated countries stripped of economic vitality.

The presumption of Trump and even the Sanders faction in the Democratic Party is that globalization has to be reversed if jobs are to be returned to the Rust Belt. Thus the country which created the global system based on the roving nature of multi-national capitalism is now dismantling the system of its own creation.

The notions of America First, isolationism and protectionism will mean fundamental changes in the American component of the world economy. The war of tariffs underway that pits the world against America has significant ramifications for consumers in the American market.

In the global system, under laissez-faire runnings, there are winners and losers. The Rust Belt has lost out but American consumers have benefited from the importation of low price goods and have prospered under low inflation and below normal conventional prime rates for mortgages and car loans. With the tariff war with China, the European Union and NAFTA, the American consumer will feel the rise in prices and as in the case of Harley-Davidson, the lay-off of American workers based on the inability of American exporters to compete in what will become non-competitive markets.

The Trump administration has romanticized early twentieth century America and is operating on the premise that the protectionist policy will enhance prosperity for American capital and American workers.

Integrated industries like automobiles recognize the fallacy of the Trump policy. Automobile production has become quite specialized and component parts are made in different parts of the world and tariff barriers will not only disrupt the supply chain but also increase the cost of the automobile.

As the Trump administration turns its back on multi-lateralism and globalization, economies like China and Germany and the countries in the Trans Pacific Partnership are forging ahead without America with understanding that globalization has played a significant role in the reduction of poverty in the twenty-first century. America finds itself temporarily trapped in the world of Trumpean dogma and quicksand. Democracy requires a sophisticated, literate electorate. And the 2016 Presidential election is a clear example of how an ignorant candidate can capture the imagination of the backward elements in the society.

Trump's Immigration

By Derrick Johnson
BALTIMORE—Recently, the NAACP, alongside members of the Congressional Black Caucus, gathered on the steps of Capitol Hill to demand a halt of the Trump administration’s continued attempts to force Thomas Farr—a known racist with ties to the late segregationist Senator Jesse Helms—into the federal judgeship of North Carolina.

Located in eastern North Carolina, this federal district under this judgeship has one of the highest densities of African American voters than any other part of the state, making Farr one of the worst possible candidates that could be considered. Sadly, instead of representing an anomaly, Farr instead represents the archetype for federal judge nominees put forth by the Trump Administration. Whether it’s nominees that refuse to publicly support the Brown v. Board decision that desegregated our public schools or individuals with ties to known racist organizations, what we are seeing are people whose attitudes reflect norms more associated with the era of Jim Crow than our time.

It cannot be ignored that Trump’s White House is engaged in none other than a war against civil rights. Though this is a battle we had hoped to have ended by now, it is not a fight we are afraid of nor is it one we will lose. We have waged war against the foes of civil rights for over 109 years. We fought hard against the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to the office of Attorney General and we will continue to fight against Trump’s nearly all-white and mostly male federal judge nominees. Mr. Sessions’ redirection of the Department of Justice (DOJ) away from its civil rights commitment under the Obama Administration to an agency that condones police brutality and other racially based injustices is hardly surprising. We knew he would push the DOJ to withdraw its support for our legal cases against voter suppression and he did. The simple point is that these moves against civil rights cannot be divorced from his boss—President Trump.

Over the past few months, the NAACP has sued the Trump administration on its failure to properly prepare for Census2020. This failure to prepare for the Census means that communities of color, including wealthy communities like Prince Georges County, Maryland, our partner in the lawsuit, will likely be once again undercounted. When this happens, our communities lose out on political representation, federal dollars, and resources that are rightfully ours. We’ve also taken the fight to this administration on the decision by Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education to basically throw civil rights under the bus and arbitrarily determine that the department no longer has to investigate complaints of discrimination in our schools. We are also committed to ensuring that DeVos plans for privatization, plans that would destroy our public-school system, never come to completion.

There is a direct correlation between the racism emanating from the White House and the expansion of attacks on the humanity of persons of color. This is clear not only from Trump’s poisonous rhetoric that disparages people, cultures, and nations, but also in the policies that emanate from his office. The infection of blatant racist speech and behavior began the day after Trump was elected and it has continued to spread, giving inspiration to closet bigots and encouraging implicit and explicit racial biases that pervade from the golf course to the coffee shop and every space in between.

During our 109th Annual Convention July 14-18 in San Antonio, Texas, the NAACP will bring together some of our nation’s most brilliant minds, activists, and legislators, as well as powerful voices from the hip-hop community to map out the agenda for moving forward. Our goal is to unite our voices into a powerful symphony that resonates with communities of color and inspires them to join us in standing against government-sponsored hate. This year’s theme is simply “Defeat Hate—Vote.”

We’ve extended an invitation to President Trump to attend our convention and once again he has declined. His refusal to address the nation’s premier civil rights organization and its hundreds of thousands of advocates is, by default, a refusal to speak to the entirety of the Black Community. Regardless, we remain “unshook” and “woke,” in terms of the challenges we face and must overcome in this administration and we’re up for the fight.

All we ask of you is to join us to “Make Democracy Work.” Pledge to vote by texting NAACP to 40649.

Derrick Johnson is the President and CEO of the NAACP. Follow him and the NAACP on Twitter at @DerrickNAACP and @NAACP.

What Happens to a Dream Deferred?
By Basil Wilson 

The African American poet, Langston Hughes, has to be considered one of the greatest poets in American history. We look to poets to give us some insight into the world in which we live and Langston Hughes had a profound understanding of the societies in which he lived. His poem, “What Happens to a Dream Deferred” seems so appropriate at this time. Hughes’ searing words, “What Happens to a Dream Deferred / Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun/ or fester like a sore and then run” So if the events that have taken place in Jamaica and the United States in the recent fortnight make the words of the poet most poignant.

The movement of labor from the First World to the Third World and from the Third World to the First World invariably creates tremendous fissures in the bodypolitic and in civil society. The horrific double murder in Mount Pleasant, Portland, Jamaica is a shocking reminder of what can occur when the first world meets the third world. The couple, Hallford and Florence Anderson had returned to Jamaica from having lived in Manchester, England for decades. The couple was returning to a presumably pastoral village in a parish where crime is relatively low. The disclosed information at this juncture is that someone had gained access to the couple’s credit card and was using the card unlawfully. They returned to England and then back to Jamaica and provided the police with information about the credit card fraud. The evidence is that the couple was brutally slain because the criminals involved were silencing the aggrieved couple.

One would presume that in the rural community of Mount Pleasant one would be safe from dastardly crimes. One would imagine a village where the pastor and the church brought a sense of community to the pastoral village and safety and security would be a collective enterprise. But what we are witnessing in Jamaica is an uncontrolled acquisitive society where in some quarters any dastardly deed to advance one’s material position is justified even if it means taking a life. In such a runaway acquisitive society, life is no longer sacrosanct. Thus the returnee couple, their Jamaican Dream has been ended in Shakespearian tragedy.

The murder of these returnees is no longer a rarity. A number of these incidents have occurred in recent years as returnees with the assumption that they are rich are easy target for the indigenous vampires that are very much an integral part of community life in Jamaica. Incidents of this kind will force returning residents either not to return or to return to live in gated communities.

The presence of immigrants in Britain has been unnerving to their indigenous citizens of Britain. It is the influx of “aliens” from Eastern Europe and parts of the former British Empire that led 52 percent of British citizens to vote in a referendum to leave the European Union. This influx of migrants has led a marked impact not just on British politics but in France, in Germany, in some of the Scandinavian countries and it has sparked a rise in ultra nationalism that is reminiscent of the 1930s when Italian and German governments rationalized the genocidal treatment of those defined outside of the sphere of the respective nation’s citizenry.

The same tendency has emerged in America where the United States shares a border with Mexico. At the Southern Border is where the Third World meets the First World. On the American border it is no longer Mexicans pouring into the United States illegally looking to fulfill the American Dream but refugees and illegal aliens from Central America seeking political and economic stagnation of some of the Central American countries.

The Central Americans camping on the Southern Border are not from Costa Rica or Nicaragua but are predominantly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. These fleeing residents are running away from societies where the rule of law is in serious disrepair. El Salvador and Honduras in recent years have the highest homicide rates on the planet. The omnipresence of gangs, the prevalence of institutional corruption in the criminal justice system has made the preservation of social order into being a mountainous challenge for these developing Central American nations.

This problem on America’s southern border has been a vexing issue for the Bush administration in the first decade of the twenty-first century and for the Obama administration in the second decade of the twenty-first century. Both Bush, the Republican and Obama, the Democrat, expanded the capacity of the Border Patrol and Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE). Critics of President Obama dubbed him the deporter-in-chief. Nonetheless, neither the Obama nor the Bush administration failed to differentiate between economic refugees and political refugees. It is the international obligation of nations to duly consider those seeking refugee status from political persecution or domestic violence. The ultra-nationalist Trump administration embarked on what they chose to call an immigration policy of zero violence and no longer to process Central Americans who were fleeing from domestic violence. The Attorney General of the United States without any forethought implemented a policy of separating children from their parents with the objective that such severe punishment would end or slow down the rush of Central American refugees to the Southern Border. Instead, the cruelty and heartlessness of the policy shocked the conscience of the American nation. The policy of zero tolerance remains intact but the separation of children from parents supposedly will end.

The new immigration doctrine represents an extension of Trump’s philosophical tenet of “America First”. People from outside the sphere of white America are referred to as “shit holes” or people coming to infestate the purity of American society. This neo-fascist creed is indicative of an ideology that millions of Europeans and Americans fought to make a world that is more humane and more tolerant.

America since the 1970s embarked on a policy of mass incarceration of its own people. America has under incarceration more people per 100,000 than any other country in the world. With people in prison, in jails, on parole or probation, the figure of over seven million is staggering.

The new policy of zero tolerance for refugees will open another front for mass incarceration. The military entities in America have already been given instructions to create internment camps to hold an increasing number of illegal immigrants running from the harsh conditions of life in Central America.

What happens to a Dream deferred? The American Dream in terms of its commitment to democracy, the rule of law and humanitarian efforts is certainly drying up like a raisin in the sun. There are dialectics in different parts of the world and where the First and Third World clash, a sense of decency seems to have evaporated. The rise of ultra-nationalism in Europe and America represent an imminent danger to the future of global society.

Caribbean Heritage Month, a National Observance Recognizes the Contribution and Presence of an Immigrant People to America’s Prosperity

Consider this fascinating example of reality which dates back centuries and binds together the people of the Americas. Millions of people who trace their origins to the islands and coastal states in the Caribbean archipelago, speak in different tongues, dance to a plethora of drummers; express themselves in poetry and drama that feature a multitude of distinct styles and productions; and are separated geographically by wide a wide expanse of waters that flows from the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. But what it comes down to it is that the differences pale in comparison with the ties that bind together the small countries and the colossus next door: the U.S.

Actually, that was part of the message contained in the last Proclamation President Barack Obama signed to hail Caribbean Heritage Month, before he left the White House. He spoke to the rich legacy of those contributions by Caribbean-Americans to the prosperity, peace and security of the country.

“The legacy of Caribbean-Americans is one of tenacity and drive; it reminds us that in America, with faith and determination, anything is possible,” was the way he put it. “This month, (June), let us honor the resilient heritage and rich history of Caribbean Americans, and let us reflect upon the diversity of experiences that unites us as a people.” The historical record supports the president’s contention.

From Crispus Attucks, the first casualty in the 18th century defense of freedom and for the independence of the new nation and Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary, Prince Hall of the Masonic Lodge that bears his name to Marcus Garvey, the leader of the largest mass movement of Blacks in the 20th century the evidence stands undisputed. Also on the scroll of honor is Claude McKay, the 20th century Harlem Renaissance poet whose words were like a launching pad for progress and partnership: “strive on to gain the height although it might not be in sight.” President Obama appropriately referred to the Jamaican-American man of letters in his Heritage Month Proclamation. Then, they were the modern icons --- the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in the House of Representatives whose intestinal fortitude in the 1970s helped to pave the way for former U.S, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to become the first woman to capture the presidential nomination of a major party, Eric Holder, who stepped down recently as U.S. Attorney General and General Colin Powell, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who later served as U.S. Secretary of State among them-- all from the Caribbean who have written their own chapters in American history and in the process helped to shape the fortunes of the world’s richest super-power.

They are but a few examples on a long list of contributors who made a substantial and positive difference to America’s well-being. Little wonder that successive presidents in the past 15 years acted at the urging of members of the U.S. Congress, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee included, and designated June as the month during which the country pauses to celebrate the presence of West Indians on its soil.

It has become a deserving fixture on the nation’s calendar. For almost thirty days it recognized the unique and vibrant culture of immigrants from the English, Creole, Spanish, French and Dutch-speaking nations and territories. It also underscored the undiluted determination of the millions of immigrants from the sub-region of the Western Hemisphere to live out the American dream and continue to play their roles in the positive transformation of neighborhoods, town, villages and cities across the country.

We are pleased that President Trump has commended the Caribbean-American Community in his declaration of Caribbean American month 2018. ‘Caribbean-Americans embody the American spirit, with their talents and hard work contributing greatly to America’s economy. They protect our citizens as law-enforcement officers, serve our communities as public officials, and mentor the country’s young people as educators. Through their tremendous athleticism and determination, they have brought pride to the hearts of the American people as members of numerous US Olympic teams. Their leadership and resolve have made incredible contributions to our society.

As trailblazers, Americans with Caribbean roots have sewn their own unique thread into the fabric of our Nation. Dr. William Thornton, a native of the British Virgin Islands designed the United States Capitol and is generally considered the first “Architect of the Capitol”. Jean Baptiste du Sable, the first permanent resident of Chicago, was born in Haiti. Widely recognized as the “Founder of Chicago, his prosperous trade settlement has become one of the most iconic cities in the world.

This month, we acknowledge the numerous contributions of Caribbean Americans to our Nation, including those of the more than 4 million Caribbean Americans who live in the United States today. We are also deeply grateful to the many Caribbean Americans who have served or are currently serving as members of our Armed Forces.’

Caribbean immigrants account for at least 55 per cent of the Black foreign born in America and they control an annual buying power of at least $29 billion. Half of them are naturalized American citizens and millions of them routinely vote in federal, state and local elections. Their interests and accomplishments are reflected in the personal and professional success stories written in government, private industry, civil society and other spheres of daily life. Their diverse culture manifests itself in an ethic that emphasizes hard work, scholastic attainment, religious worship, the rebuilding of neighborhoods that have fallen on difficult times; and in the delivery of social services, especially in health, transportation and the civil and criminal justice systems.

Like the rest of America, they have experienced their own share of challenges and nightmares that run the gamut from disruption of families and poverty to becoming victims of crime and economic dislocation. In the current political environment in which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, inveighs against immigrants from the Western Hemisphere, Syria, Iraq and other parts of the world, West Indians share the anxiety of those who are being threatened with deportation and the anti-immigrant tirades of the current occupant of the White House.

We have to stay vigilant and engaged on the policy of separating children from parents, and the constant drumbeat of false information about immigrants coming to the US and why. We are an integral part of this country who have played a significant role, and will continue to play an active role in the progress of the country.