Bridging the Economic Divide in America

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In order to bridge the economic divide that has been going on for a long time and that is getting worse requires innovative solutions. Some of the countries that are succeeding in bridging  the economic divide are  those leveraging technology.

Such a strategy requires reaching out to the most economically disadvantaged communities. The simplest and the most cost effective strategy will be  to create a mini Silicon Valley / technology corridors close to disadvantaged areas by bringing government and private partnership to transform  these communities.

Those countries that realized that importance of  technological skills  include countries like Israel, Ireland, S. Korea and many more. Those that have employed technology effectively have improved their productivity and their standard of living for good. For the economically disadvantaged, leveraging technology is imperative. This will enable them to bridge the economic gap with minimum expenditure of capital and in a shorter time.

How to go about it? Simple, imitate other successful models used in the creation of the Silicon Valley in San Francisco , the Research Triangle in the North Carolina, and the Silicon Wadi (Valley) in Israel and many others places that systematically improved the living standards of their citizens and brighten their futures. The fact that there are many Indian doctors and engineers around the world is no accident, it was the work of visionary leaders in the 60s who planted the seed by establishing many IT centers.

To serve historically disadvantaged  communities  would require  attracting minority students to science and technology and providing vocational and advanced technological education to those suffering from unemployment and underemployment“African-Americans make up roughly 11% of the U.S. population,  but represent only 1-2% of the workforce at most Silicon Valley and tech companies. In addition, the race gap in wealth between the median black family and the median white family is  20 fold according to Pew research. Also the U.S. has the highest per capita incarnation of Black people in the world.  This is related to f lack of education that leads to gainful employment.

Why technology education?  International Labor Organization (ILO) in the past projected that there will  be 1.2 billion young people around the world looking for work and only 300 million jobs to go around.  According to Forbes Magazine over 90% of the 300 million jobs will be in science, technology and mathematics.

Thus  the most efficient way to address these gaps and the faster way to transform these communities once and for all is to leverage technology and provide  skill-based training. The alternative is to keep the status quo and see the racial polarization and eventually racial violence to continue. The most dynamic economies or communities are those who leverage technology. For example, Austin as a city, Silicon Valley in San Francisco, Research Triangle in North Carolina,  countries like Singapore, Israel, China, Taiwan,  S. Korea or most of the other  Asian Tigers did not happen by accident. Leaders with a vision made it possible.

To lift the people out of poverty once and for all and  make them a beacon of hope for others would require;  training people in the community in vocational and technology related fields and simultaneously inviting tech companies to relocate. The technology courses will be demand driven serving the Energy and the high tech industry especially in cities like Houston, and will be short and cost effective.

With proper foundation it will be possible to create/mint the necessary workforce to meet the needs of industry and to transform communities. Such an investment has rendered the highest return for real estate owners, industry and the community, as demonstrated in Silicon Valley and other similar settings.

It behooves one to make a note of the fact that  Silicon Valley, the Research Triangle, Silicon Wadi, and other successful institutions did not happen by accident. Visionary leaders created them and  transformed those communities.  The U.S. has the opportunity  to change the course of history. The question is does it have the gusto to dare such a drastic transformation or not.

 

Body cameras alone will not solve police brutality against Blacks

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Body cameras alone will not solve the problem with police brutality against Blacks. Eric Garner’s episode was videotaped. Bill Clinton successfully unseated George H. W. Bush by saying “ It’s the economy, stupid”. It is not only Police Brutality that President Obama has to worry about. It is economics. Most of the blacks killed by police are usually poor, unemployed or underemployed.

President Obama said the Eric Garner case “speaks” to the larger issues that we’ve been talking about now for the last week, the last month, the last year — and sadly, for decades. And that is, the concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them and dealing with them in a fair way.  He is right that there is mistrust, but  he is wrong about the primary cause of the conflict between Blacks and cops around the country. It is pure economics that he has failed so far to address.

The primary issue is minority unemployment and underemployment. I see many young African-Americans hanging out near car washes, near convenient stores and on corner streets seeking a means to make a living, while exposing themselves to the dangers of police suspicion.

The president’s recent immigration bill is also a cause for concern for Blacks struggling to make a living and competing for low skilled jobs. Many of the immigrants are low wage workers who will directly compete with low wage African-Americans. Most employers prefer Hispanicand others ethnic groups over Blacks primarily because immigrants demand less wages and are willing to perform tasks without question or demands.

According to the New York Times (5/12/2013), interest groups are shaping the immigration bill, but there is no plan to upgrade or train especially Blacks that will be displaced by waves of new immigrants for low skilled jobs. This undoubtedly impacts negatively  some poor and unskilled blacks that will be displaced.

The focus is not  to blame the Police or the new immigrants for the predicament of Blacks in America. African-Americans make up roughly 11% of the U.S. population,  but represent only 1% of the workforce employed by Silicon Valley and other high tech companies. In addition, the race gap in wealth between the median black family and the median white family is 20 fold according Pewresearch. Furthermore, the U.S. incarcerates more African-Americans than any country in the world on a per capita basis.

For unskilled or less educated blacks there is no route to escape lifelong poverty unless Congress and President Obama step up to create job training or education for this largely disaffected and vulnerable group.

Eric Ganter and Michael Brown are victims of economics, not just police brutality. Eric Garner was trying to make a living by selling loose cigarettes to support his six children and a wife. If he was trained as a welder, pipefitter, air conditioning technician, plumber or in some other trade craft, he would not have become a victim of police brutality.

The conflict between Blacks and police and Blacks and the rest of society is directly related to the lack of  gainful employment that forces some to gravitate to the wrong crowd and to other dangerous jobs such as selling drugs, hanging out in car washes, in the corner store, shop lifting cigarettes or other un-salutary behaviors

In  year 2000 under President Clinton, we proposed putting technology training centers in the Ghettos and Barrios to train minorities and other economically disadvantaged groups when another Immigration Bill was introduced to bring over one million tech workers from India and Taiwan to support the tech industries. The powerful technology lobby derailed the amendment and another opportunity to transform America and the minority community was lost.

Dula Abdu is a strong advocate for leveraging technology to bridge the economic divide. He is a former banker and economist. Currently runs a small technology center in Houston. He can be reached at dula06@gmail.com

Houstonians Show Genorisity and Solidarity

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Houstonians show generosity and solidarity to Ethiopians in Gambela. As you know, the Anuaks were a target of genocide in the past and recently land grab again instigated by the current Woyane regime. This solidarity and generosity by Houstonians demonstrates the importance of breaking ethnic barriers built by Woyanes to divide Ethiopians.

Unless we overcome these divide and conquer scheme, Ethiopia will never be free of its current and future quagmire. Many Houstonians including myself insisted that any fund raising to assist the victim of Woyane machination or eviction  in Gambela should be inclusive of all Ethiopians.

Please read the press release  below from the Anuak Justice Council expressing appreciation to all Houstonians for showing such solidarity to the victims of Woyanes.

December 13, 2014
PRESS RELEASE. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

(Vancouver, BC, Canada) December 13, 2014 will mark the 11-year anniversary of the horrific massacre of 424 Ethiopians of Anuak ethnicity in Gambella, Ethiopia. Even though it has been over a decade, it still seems like yesterday to the Anuak, especially to those who lost members of their families. Some of the victims remain in unmarked mass graves. The Anuak as well as the other people in the region have never really recovered from this traumatic tragedy, let alone the fact that no justice has been done.

Part of the reason for this is that the lives and livelihoods of the people surviving the tragedy have been in turmoil ever since. Seventy-eight thousand Anuak and others in Gambella have been forcibly evicted from their ancestral land in order to lease the land to foreign investors and TPLF/EPRDF regime cronies. The Anuak have never been consulted or compensated as would be done in a country where there was a rule of law.

Those who survived the 2003 massacre and the following three years of destruction, harassment, and human rights abuses, only had temporary relief before the TPLF/EPRDF began a master plan to remove them from their homes and land. Those that resisted quickly discovered that their lives were in danger. Those that complied, found it nearly impossible to survive in the resettlement sites designated to them by the regime due to inferior land, difficult access to water and absent services. Many were forced to leave Ethiopia in order to save their lives. They are now living in refugee camps in South Sudan and Kenya. Yet the ethnic apartheid regime of the TPLF/EPRDF continues to round up Anuak men in Gambella who are now in prison in Addis Ababa. With all of these actions, these past eleven years have been some of the most painful for the Anuak.

Today, December 13, 2014 these Anuak refugees and other Anuaks throughout the world, namely in Europe, United States of America, Canada and Australia will be holding a memorial service to commemorate this tragedy. As they remember what took place at mid-day eleven years ago and as they reflect on the needless loss of the lives of their loved ones, it will rekindle much emotion.

Widows will try to describe what fathers, brothers, sisters, or other relatives were like to their now grown children and try to explain how a regime that is supposed to protect its citizens could do such a horrible thing to their own people. It is difficult enough when you are in a stable environment, but it is all the more difficult being in a refugee camp, trying to find ways to move on with such few resources.

In the midst of this darkness, out of the hearts of the Ethiopian community in the greater Houston Area, has come an unexpected source of hope and encouragement—a large monetary gift to help the Anuak who have been displaced. In their letter of explanation they say: “We would like to kindly request that this small token be allocated to our fellow Ethiopians that have been uprooted from their land and homes by some greedy land grabbers who have little to no regard to their fellow mankind.”

The funds will be divided between Anuak in refugee camps in South Sudan and Kenya and Anuak in Gambella. The Anuak Justice Council (AJC) has chosen to distribute the funds to both refugee camps in conjunction with the December 13th memorial gatherings in both camps; but in Gambella, no commemoration is allowed, other than privately, so we are still working out the best way to distribute the funds.

Mr. Ochalla  Abulla, Chairman of the Anuak Justice Council (AJC) was very moved by this generosity, “This gift has been a tremendous encouragement to the people in the camps, but what these Ethiopians did when they reached out to the Anuak should now be an example to all of us, including the Anuak, to reach out to others beyond their ethnic groups. The impact of this could be huge and could inspire us as a nation to help our people—not only those from our own groups. There are some other examples of Ethiopians who are already doing this. Some Ethiopians have formed small groups of five members who all contribute $20 a month to support the family of some of our Ethiopian political prisoners who used to be the breadwinners of their families.”

AJC Vice Chairman, Mr. Ojulu Lero, added his thoughts, “This gesture is reconciliation in itself! These people have reached out to the Anuak and now the Anuak can reach out to other people like the Majangir or the Oromo who can reach out to the Amhara or Tigray who can reach out to the Southerners or the Afar and so forth. It reminds me of the recent SMNE forum in Washington D.C. that encourages us to talk to each other rather than about each other. In this case, these Ethiopians from Houston helped others rather than only helping themselves. If we all follow this model of action, it will be another way to unify the Ethiopian people.  Once the people are unified, the leaders will be more unified.”

As the Anuak in South Sudan and Kenya come together on December 13, 2014, they will know they are not alone. They will be thinking of those fellow Ethiopians far away who have torn down a wall of isolation through their gift of love. These funds will be put to good use, but the impact of it will live on as building blocks to a New Ethiopia. The power of love can break the walls of hostility and division like nothing else.

May the actions of these and other Ethiopians like them, inspire our people to reach out to others with love, humility, and generosity. May God deeply comfort the Anuak during this time of remembrance of the massacre of December 13-15, 2003 as well as all Ethiopians who have lost loved ones over these past years at the hands of the TPLF/EPRDF. May He also bring freedom to all political prisoners from every region throughout the country who are locked up simply for trying to bring justice and freedom to Ethiopia.

______________________________________________________________

If you have any questions or require further information, please contact Mr. Ochala Abulla, Chairman of the Anuak Justice Council (AJC): Phone: +1 (604) 520-6848 E-mail:Ochala@anuakjustice.org

http://www.anuakjustice.org/141213-Anuak-Remembrance.htm

Dula

Remembering the 2005 Massacre – By Al Mariam

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 Prof. Alemayehu has written a remembrance of the Woyane massacres of 2005. Let us not forget,  it will repeat many times more unless we are willing to stop it. We have the power to stop it, but we failed to rise up to the task instead we keep giving lip service to the plight of our people.  The Diaspora has the tools to make a difference, but it has failed its moral responsibility to do so and allow the continued subjugation and humiliation of the Ethiopian people.  Click to read article: Please click here to read Al Mariam’s article: Remembering the 2005 Massacre

It is nice to read such blogs and to watch ESAT, unfortunately, these are reminders of the situation, but not a solution. Solutions come with action and organizations. If our community really wants to do something, please read my 2005  article entitled : “How to defeat Meles”. Of course, the personalities changed,  Meles is deal,  organizations such as CUD and UEDF don’t exit, and some of  tactics may have to change too, but the concept remains the same and sound in overcoming the current stalemate with Woyanes.  Please click to read the article: How to defeat Meles