Blog Posts Related to the African American Community
- Posted byon November 21, 2011 at 5:49 PM EDT
Compared to their representation among the U.S. population, African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated for drug offenses. These two groups have consistently higher proportions of inmates in state prison who are drug offenders compared to whites - about 50% higher.
Over the past two months, we have met with African American leaders across the country – in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles – to listen to what they had to say. We discussed their concerns and ideas, and we outlined the Obama Administration’s approach to drug policy, presenting our view that it is guided by three indisputable facts: Addiction is a disease that can be treated; people can recover from drug addiction; and new interventions are needed to appropriately address substance abuse and drug-related crime. Simply put: We cannot arrest our way out of our Nation’s drug problem.
Addressing drug addiction as a public health issue will help us break the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration. And in keeping with a balanced public health and safety approach, the Obama Administration is taking unprecedented actions to restore balance to how we address our Nation’s drug problem and its disproportionate effects on communities of color. As Director Kerlikowske has said, the “War on Drugs” metaphor is not something that captures the complexity of the problem, or our innovative response:
- This last fiscal year, the Obama Administration spent $10.4 billion on drug prevention and treatment programs compared to $9.2 billion on domestic drug enforcement;
- In August of last year, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law that dramatically reduced a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine, which disproportionately affected minorities;
- The Administration also advocated for, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission approved, the retroactive application of these sentencing guidelines which became effective on November 1st.
- We are supporting the expansion of drug courts, which place roughly 120,000 non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of prison each year;
- The Administration is implementing the Second Chance Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and provides resources for common sense, evidence-based approaches to reducing crime;
- The Administration has worked to clarify rules regarding the eligibility of housing authorities to allow ex-offenders access to public housing and ensure that they understand that they have the discretion to lease to all but two types of criminal convictions: Individuals convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine in public housing and registered sex offenders; and
- Attorney General Holder has also contacted State Attorneys General to urge them to review the legal collateral consequences of their State laws being placed upon ex-offenders that may burden their successful reentry into society.
- Posted byon November 10, 2011 at 7:07 PM EDT
Yesterday, the White House welcomed leaders from throughout the African American community for our first-ever African American Policy Conference. Participants heard from President Obama, senior administration officials and cabinet secretaries on a wide range of issues, such as the economy, the environment, and healthcare reform.
To coincide with the conference, the White House released a report entitled, “The President’s Agenda and the African-American Community.” In the report, we describe the ways we’ve worked together to address the challenges many African American families face. Many of these challenges have existed for decades. The economic crisis, followed by the worst recession since the Great Depression, only made things worse.
Under the leadership of President Obama, a broad coalition came together, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus and many of the groups who were represented at the White House yesterday, and we have been able to improve the lives of millions of Americans. We have made healthcare more accessible and more affordable. We have made our schools better equipped to prepare our children for the 21st-century, and made college more affordable. We have made it easier for small and minority-owned businesses to compete for federal contracts. We have invested in cities, and attacked the cycle of poverty that traps too many African American young people.
As President Obama said, when he dropped by for a surprise visit in the afternoon, we continue to be driven by “the fierce urgency of now.” He thanked the participants in yesterday’s conference for their support of the American Jobs Act, the only jobs plan which independent economists have said would create nearly two million jobs immediately. And he reiterated that if Congress is unable or unwilling to do its job, the Obama Administration will find ways to act without them, because when it comes to getting our economy back on track, we can’t wait.
- Posted byon November 9, 2011 at 9:53 AM EDT
Today, Wednesday, November 8, the White House will host an African American Policy in Action Leadership Conference, bringing community leaders from across the country together with a broad range of White House and Cabinet officials for an in-depth series of interactive workshops and substantive conversations on the Administration’s efforts and achievements in the African American community. Participants will include community leaders, professors, faith leaders, civil rights leaders, and elected officials, will have the opportunity to interact with Administration officials on pressing issues that directly impact African Americans. discussion topics include job training, access to capital for growing businesses, strengthening the economy through the American Jobs Act, reforming our nation’s education system, protecting civil rights, community development initiatives, and strategies targeting poverty.
When President Obama took office, the economy was shedding nearly 800,000 jobs each month and millions of families were unable to make ends meet. African Americans were hit especially hard by the recession, struggling with significant economic losses, including near-record high levels of unemployment and low incomes compared to the national average. Since day one, the President has fought to restore the strength of middle class, protect the interests of the low-income families, and allow those hardest hit by the economy still have access to the American Dream.
- Posted byon November 1, 2011 at 12:07 PM EDT
Today is truly an historic day for America as President Obama is announcing the establishment of Fort Monroe National Monument -- a historic fort in Virginia’s Tidewater region that was integral role to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military -- as the 396th unit of the National Park System.
With the strong support of the people of Virginia, from the congressional delegation to Governor McDonnell to Mayor Ward and the citizens of Hampton, President Obama has ensured that this historic fort, a symbol of the long struggle for freedom for African Americans, will be preserved as a national park for generations to come.
Fort Monroe is one of 101 projects that I have highlighted as part of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, representing what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
This Thursday at 1:00 pm EDT, we will release the final 50-state report outlining some of the country’s most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the great outdoors. As part of that launch, I’ll be participating in a live web chat, where I will answer your questions about the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, Ft. Monroe National Monument, and how conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives are strong economic engines for our nation’s economy.
Click here (email@example.com) to send me your questions in advance or tweet them to me at #askken.
I look forward to answering many of your questions on Thursday at 1:00 pm ET.
- Posted byon October 26, 2011 at 6:57 PM EDT
War, famine and drought are currently devastating 13 million people in the Horn of Africa. The worst drought the world has seen in 60 years is devastating farmlands, uprooting families and killing tens of thousands in Kenya, Ethiopia, Dijibouti and Somalia. If long-term changes are not made soon, there will be more extremism, more threat and more instability in this part of the world.
In a special "Open for Questions," USAID Administrator Raj Shah and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council Gayle Smith shared their knowledge, took your questions and explained how Americans can contribute. Aired live on whitehouse.gov/live, Office of Public Engagement Director John Carson moderated the conversation and took questions from the audience, as well as Twitter followers who used the hashtag #askFWD.
You can jump to see answers to specific questions posed by the audience and Twitter followers by clicking on the links below.
Watch Open for Questions: Crisis in the Horn of Africa here.
- Posted byon October 26, 2011 at 11:11 AM EDT
President Obama has made historic investments in making college more affordable for millions of students. But many people who took out loans to pay for their education are struggling to make monthly payments on those loans, making our tough economic times a little bit more challenging. We can't wait to help these people keep up with their student loans.
Today, the Obama Administration announced steps we are taking to help borrowers better manage their student loan debt by moving forward with a new “Pay As You Earn” proposal that will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million people. Starting in 2014, borrowers will be able to reduce their monthly student loan payments from 15 percent to 10 percent of their discretionary income. But President Obama realizes that many students need relief sooner than that. The new “Pay As You Earn” proposal will fast track the initiative to begin next year.
The questions below will help you understand income based repayment and find out if you are able to take advantage of these changes.