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The Truth About Economics In America: Accountability

In response to Occupy Atlanta

Dear Editor:

As leaders in the black community, we are taking accountability for the actions of our youth – teaching them to put down the guns, to stop selling drugs and to stop using crime as a means of creating income and to create business from the ground up at the street level. We turn to the leaders of the other races, to other nationalities and to the leaders of religious communities to do the same - to take accountability for the action of people as well. Hate crimes are increasing and racism is once again showing it’s ugly face. But what is most common in our communities in America is our parents talking about other races, people of color in negative ways which are passed on to our children. White Americans and the black Americans blaming the Latin Americans for job loss, saying the Mexicans are taking all of our jobs. The Occupy Atlanta movement saying 99 percent are suffering because of the rich one percent.

What? Now is it a sin to be rich living in America? I thought that was the “American Dream.” Is this not what we were all trying to do? We are all trying to build a better life for our children. Why not identify the individuals, the corporations and investment groups that created this economic breakdown and bring them up on charges for endangering the American economy? Identify those that received bailouts from the government, and boycott the banks, Wall Street investors, auto industries and other corporations the American people thought would give money (in the form of loans) and jobs back to America. As we bailed them out, they would bail the America people out.

As a difficult economy is forcing many to seek out blame for these hard times, a new form of racism and classism has developed. Many say the Mexican population is creating economic problems for America. What are you saying? That Mexicans work better than other Americans, making them more hireable as employees? Or are you saying that Mexicans work for cheap, taking jobs that we, as Americans, do not want to do? This is the reason why they are taking American jobs. Making statements like this and saying a thing like this in front of your children is creating this atmosphere of mistrust and hate among the citizens of Atlanta. The targeting of black youths by law enforcement daily, as crime rates show that more than 58 percent of the jail population in Cobb County, for example, is black at the city and county levels. Why? Are the black citizens of America committing more crimes than other races living in America or is this the results of racial profiling, which the police at every level claim, they are not doing? Yet, we all know the truth about that.

If you see a group of white youths walking down the street or riding their bikes, or a group of all white teenage males riding four deep in a car, it's just kids out having fun. But if you see a group of black kids in the streets, it's a gang and they must be stopped, ID checked and in most cases they are arrested. For that reason most of our black youth run when they see the police. When we see a group of Latino mothers with their children walking in the streets or in the local store, they are automatically called illegal aliens and should be deported. Many say "they are taking our jobs."

The truth of the matter is Christopher Columbus, who is credited as discovering America, came from Spain. The Spanish are the ancestors of the people we call Mexicans today. How can we call them illegal? That’s like saying the American Indian can have American citizenship. What? It is their country. We all know that story in history, how the American Indians fought for more than a hundred years for this land which we call America. The truth of the matter is that Georgia was formed as the 13th colony by Great Britain as a military buffer zone for the defense of the Carolina colonies by James Oglethorpe. Georgia is the first living proof that Prison reform works, as Great Britain emptied out its jail giving freedom to those who settle in Georgia and help to start this new colony. Thus was Georgia born? So if you say you are 5th generation Georgian, then what you are saying is that chances are your family came from the prison system of England. And this is not a bad thing, as most came from the debtors' prison for hard economic times, such as the times we are living in today.

Most of the Mexicans that we all talk about are fleeing their country just as the early Georgians did generations ago. They came here looking for a new life and new opportunities to build a new life. If you are black living in Georgia chances are you are the descendants of slaves, who were brought here for their economic value of farming the land and building this great country which is now America. My point is that our history may vary from person to person; the facts remain, that we are all American and we all must come together as one nation of people, if we are to overcome these hard economic times. The only way we can do that is together. Hate crimes are increasing, violent crimes are increasing, if we want America to be the nation we all dream it could be, then we must stop hating one another and start loving one another, no matter the color of your skin.

The Rev. Lionel Gantt,

Cobb SCLC Stop the Violence and Incarceration Movement 2011

Rev. Lionel R. Gantt October 24, 2011 at 09:41 AM
The economic of racism and profits from crimes in this country are still at an all time high. We as a nation of people profit so much off the criminal justice system, that we have students studying law than medical fields and more of our youth selling drugs than selling news papers. In GA in our prison system - we have over 48,000 inmates in the system at any given time, at a rate of $17,505 per inmate the GA prison system produces over $853,000,000.00 a year. This is not talking about fines and payment from probation and parole systems Statewide, traffic tickets, lawyer fees, court costs and the list goes on and on. IS ANYBODY COUNTING THIS MONEY? We as black people make up over 60% of the population that is paying these cost in fines, probation and court costs.
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino October 24, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Thank you brother Gantt...I agree...let's stop finding someone to blame and scapegoat.
Mark Tinker October 24, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Please. You must not live intown. Believe it or not, ACCEPT it or not, most arrests occur because CRIMES ARE COMMITTED. Just like I can't choose my parents, I can't choose the race of the dude who smashes in my car window for a pack of cigarettes or holds me up on my way home in EAV. You have some valid points, but maybe you should refer back to your opening statement.
Rev. Lionel R. Gantt October 25, 2011 at 04:24 AM
I thank you for your comment, as we are taking accountability for our youth, that 2% who would use crime as a means of creating income. Yet the facts show that that same 2% of the white population use crime as a means of producing income as well. We find that every race of people have that same criminal population. There is more dope in in East Cobb than in South Cobb, but you don't see dope boys selling dope on the streets in East Cobb. Why because people who got money, use that money to conceal their crimes, and pay their tickets and fines. 90% of those incarcerated were living below the poverty level when arrested. So it is our goal change this through proactive means the use of education and economic empowerment 65% of those who complete our classes do not repeat back in the system. Family and community is our goal. America is in the economic fight for our life and it will take all of us working together to save this nation. I believe that in the end, we all want the same thing. Most of my friends who are white feel as you do, they don't hate black people and as workers in corporate America they take men at face value. I ask that non-violence be used to counter violence, the law works in most cases, but you do not have to commit a crime to go to jail when you are black living in America.
Rev. Lionel R. Gantt October 25, 2011 at 04:41 AM
Bro. 68% of the prison population is black in America, yet they say we only make up 11% of the population of the United States. There is something wrong with this picture. 80% of the black and white kids I know are hard workers, Educated good citizen living Atlanta, Cobb and the surrounding areas. Every black man is not a drug dealer or in a robbing crew. My children are in college, work every day, my baby girl just came back from the war, happly married, as most of our black youth are good people. What you see on the News everyday is what they love to use to sell News.
Mark Tinker October 25, 2011 at 02:13 PM
I agree that there is something VERY wrong with this picture, and although I appreciate the rhetoric, we've heard it before, let me clarify a few things: 1. Your comment that "every black man is not a drug dealer or in a robbing crew" suggests that as my opinion. Definitely not. However, in this part of the city, the robbing crews appear to be all black. (All elephants are gray, but not all gray things are elephants.) 2. I am basing this opinion not on the evening news, but my personal experience while living in the city. I have observed personally, and through friends and neighbors, "hard-working folks," who are constantly terrorized by these thugs who look to take what is not theirs. I do not have the time, nor the inclination to debate you on this at length. As a hard-working, middle-class white American, of course I have heard this all before. Police harassment, racial profiling, economic reasons for crime... On and on. It doesn't wash. Intelligent people, black and white, take your points into consideration, then realize they do not account for the consistencies in crime demographic that we see in our everyday lives. I am pleased to hear that you and yours are doing well. I have friends of many different races who take care with their families. We have a lot in common. For those who don't, however, I feel that a column such as yours does a disservice by providing excuses instead of addressing the real problem.
Mark Tinker October 25, 2011 at 02:44 PM
P.S. The Patch has a police/fire section. Check it out. Are you suggesting that The East Atlanta Patch runs those stories to "sell the news?" P.P.S. I still don't think you live intown. This is the EAST ATLANTA PATCH. If you live in Cobb, I suggest you spend a little time on Moreland- your opinions may change.
Rev. Lionel R. Gantt October 26, 2011 at 05:43 AM
The SCLC Stop the Violence and Incarceration is willing to unite with you and others in your community with our Stop the violence programs to weed out crime in East Atlanta, We stand with you and " Say NO TO VIOLENCE" in East Atlanta. I will start movements in that area ASAP! education and economic empowerment is our greatest weapons in this fight and with you and the people of East Atlanta you all are our most powerful asset in that community. This is a Statewide effort. Thanks for your voice.
Mark Tinker October 26, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Thanks but no thanks. I do not agree with most of what the SCLC stands for, including their position on gun control. We will continue to defend ouselves; our community organizations are already united, standing, AND weeding out crime. Goodday, Sir.
Scott M October 27, 2011 at 02:16 PM
The point of Occupy was missed. It's about the income disparity caused by the system that enabled the wealthy to increase their portion of the wealth and income in this country, and those who benefitted who used their already formidable power to push the government to give them more. Hundreds of billions were given to the financial firms because they created risky investment schemes that tanked the global economy because their own financial fates were completely tied to the rest of the banking system which carried the money that the rest of us were saving for retirement & education.
Scott M October 27, 2011 at 02:18 PM
These firms deliberately deceived people to get them to take out loans that they couldn't afford based on the premise that property values would always go up, and even in some of the best of cases, people who took out mortgages in good faith have homes worth half what they were four years ago and retirement funds worth half - right when a huge portion of the Boomers are about to retire. In the midst of this, asking someone who makes over $250k a year to pay slightly more in taxes , or corporations who received those billions in bailouts to do the same (or at least not lay off 10000's of workers when unemployment is over 9%), to have health -insurance-reform be called "socialism" & watch politicians of both big parties bow and scrape to corps because they have even more power - do you not think some people might be angry?
Scott M October 27, 2011 at 02:36 PM
There are people involved in the protests who think its about getting back at the rich as a class, or think its about "anti- capitalism", but it's not, that's a terrible mischaracterization by both them and this column. It's about waking to the undue level of corporate influence on our politics, especially as it's done over the rights, well-being and finances of actual human citizens of this nation. I agree with much of the article beyond that, but it's just that it's not about the rich - perhaps the 99% *concept* is perpetuating that view - but as was featured in an msnbc article, a some 1%ers are joining in because they know - an mild increase of taxes for them means relatively little - a smaller summer home - versus having food on the table or funds for their child's tuition. I think Mark misses some of the point about systemic problems and institutionalized racism, but all the same, it doesn't excuse the action of any individual committing a violent crime or theft. On the other hand, when people insist on this approach ~that~ much, I have to wonder if their point is just to say "Black people are inherently criminals". Thanks for the space to reply.
Mark Tinker October 27, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Thanks for that lengthy comment, Scott. I was fairly succinct in mine. If I had meant to say something else, I would have said it.
Rev. Lionel R. Gantt October 30, 2011 at 09:55 AM
Scott M, this income disparity that you are talking, is the same income disparity we as a nation of black people have been living with from the first slave ship we landed in this country. It was always about the money/economics, even the American Revolution was about money”No Taxation without Representation” There has always been unfair economics for blacks. Most of the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were made for the unjust treatment of Black Americans in human and civil rights. As I said before "Now that Wall Street have come to their street; they all now see what we as a nation of black people have seen all along" Unfair economics. Thank you for your words of this update and thank you for your voice. I believe the Occupy movement is just the beginning; America is on the move now, but The Occupy movement must be willing to work with other organization like the SCLC, NAACP and others to reach its goals. The only way we win this fight is together.
Rev. Lionel R. Gantt October 30, 2011 at 10:39 AM
Thanks Bro, that was the whole point of this Letter, to have the other races and nationailities take accountability of their own people as well. Did you hear about the Jackson Miss. Killing of a hard working 44 year old black family man, by 7 white young men, out for fun "said lets go out and kill us niggers" more than a hate crime/ as after they beat him they then ran over him? We must end hate, and violence of all kinds. I will do my part in reaching out to our youths to stop the violence and the use crime for profit, but you must also reach out to your people, Like the Maddoffs and business men who make off with millions of other people money. Take accountability for all the beating, raping, hanging and the home and church burning of countless blacks by white Ameircans that were never brought to charges for their crimes and there is no stats of limitation for murder and rape, yet white offenders go unpunished for their crimes and have the nerves to sit here say "these Thugs" I think you should look a little closer to home for that, "thugs" the white man can never hide his unjust treatment of the American Indian, the Latin and Asain American and he can never hide his treatment of the Black American "All in the name of MONEY" History is my witiness. Thank you and Have A Good Day Sir!
Tonto October 30, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Where does Opra Winfrey, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Herman Cain, Collin Powell, Diana Ross, and legions of other filthy rich black people fit into this ?
Rev. Lionel R. Gantt October 31, 2011 at 04:34 AM
In America with hard work you can reach your goals. We have a host of Football players, actors, B-Ball players, Rappers/Singers and business men who have made it and we have a host of Government workers, Police officers, Preacher and Teachers on every level of life. We have some of the best Educator in the world. But look at Opra Winfrey story, look at the Michael Jordan story, look at Hermen Cain story which is still playing out, look at the Collin Powell story of blacks in the U.S. Army everything we get in this country is hard worked for just like you. But the only thing that comes out of people mouths is black on black crimes, drug deals and all kinds of negative talk about welfare and health care, when the truth of the matter is that it’s more whites using welfare, Medicare and unemployment than blacks. Everybody need help from time to time, this is why our government set up these programs to help Americans. We are all Americans and we must come together and stand together as one nation are we will no longer be the America we all dreamed America could be. All this blaming this race, or that President, Ragan, Bush, Obama you cannot do. Everything they did as a nation or President was cleared by the people and their representatives in city government, county and federal government. These bills and laws were all passed by your government and your courts. You voted for these people who are leading this nation. Why not get up and do something positive to help the country?

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