NAACP report finds disparities in education, health, lending

Published 5:39 pm Friday, March 7, 2008

Black people still face unequal treatment in education, health care and juvenile justice and are more likely to suffer because of predatory lending practices, according to a new report written for the NAACP Southeast Region.

The report was released Thursday in Jackson at the opening of a four-day meeting of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leaders from seven states — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, said leaders of the civil rights group hope to emerge from the four-day conference “retooled, retrained and reinvigorated” on issues such as voting rights.

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Dr. Lonnie Randolph, president of the South Carolina NAACP, noted that the report came out on March 6 — the same day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Dred Scott case in 1857 that no black person, free or slave, could ever become a U.S. citizen.

“Those disparities that existed in 18 hundred and 57, unfortunately for African-Americans, those disparities have changed very little in spite of all the so-called progress we talk about,” Randolph said. “It amazes me when people say, ’Oh, we’ve made such great progress.’ They have very low standards.”

The report was published by the Community Policy Research and Training Institute for the NAACP. It says:

— Minorities are less likely to have health insurance and are more likely to receive insufficient care.

— Black students have a significantly higher school dropout rates than whites.

— Black people are more likely than others to be unfairly penalized within the criminal justice system.

— Southern states rely too much on locking up troubled juveniles.

— Black and Latino borrowers are disproportionally the victims of subprime lending practices.

Gloria J. Sweet-Love, president of the Tennessee Conference of the NAACP, said during the news conference Thursday that black children are being shortchanged by the federal No Child Left Behind program.

“We know in education we need to do more about making sure that you’ve got not only parents but best quality teachers, you’ve got counselors and you’ve got principals held accountable for the child’s progress,” she said. “It is never OK when little Johnny fails. Because if little Johnny fails today in third grade, just like Marian Wright Edelman says, that then becomes the pipeline from the crib to prison.”

Adora Obi Nweze, president of Florida NAACP, said she sees a disturbing pattern of black children being suspended or expelled from school — or even arrested — for relatively minor discipline cases.

“We now find our schools are having police departments and school resource officers as a mainstay in the school,” she said. “Certainly, that doesn’t speak well if, in fact, education is doing what it needs to do in terms of providing a high quality education for all children.”

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