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Study: Blame minority woes on government


By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer 39 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Flawed government policies and negative stereotyping of minority men have limited their economic opportunities, a new study says. It urges improved health care and education for minorities and less media consolidation.

The study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research and policy group that focuses on issues that affect minorities, examined the impact of U.S. policies on men of black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American descent.

It said the media and entertainment industries overrepresent minorities as criminals and whites as victims and law enforcers. Blacks are twice as likely as white defendants to be subject to negative pretrial publicity, it said. For Hispanics, three times as likely.

Meanwhile, federal laws such as the No Child Left Behind Act have hurt minorities by driving good teachers away from high-poverty schools to better-funded ones where whites are more highly represented, the report contends.

"We have a duty to stop now and reverse course," says the report, which was commissioned by a group led by Oakland Mayor-elect Ron Dellums.

It comes as Democrats seek to plot a legislative agenda after regaining control of Congress in last week's elections for the first time since 1994.

Democratic congressional leaders have pledged to raise the minimum wage and step up oversight of government agencies.

On another subject the report addresses, the
Federal Communications Commission is reviewing the hotly disputed issue of whether to ease government rules to allow for more media consolidation.

Two FCC members, both Democrats, have criticized the idea of consolidation under fewer owners as a threat to minority and niche programming.

The Dellums commission is opposing FCC proposals that would allow media conglomerates to own more broadcasting stations.

Dellums, a Democratic former congressman, said government leaders should be mindful of the plight of lower-income people after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina exposed racial and class divides.

"If you look at this election, not only
Iraq but Katrina was on the minds of many voters," said Dellums in a telephone interview. "Katrina exposed the stark reality of the vulnerability of urban life."

"We will have to address the question of the plight of young men of color as the crime rate rises, as the school dropout rate continues to rise, as the poverty rate continues to rise," he added.

According to the report:

_Minorities generally receive inferior health care because they can't afford medical insurance and health facilities are either subpar or nonexistent in their communities.

_White families are more than twice as likely as black families to be upwardly mobile; black families are more than twice as likely to be downwardly mobile. The report attributes higher unemployment rates for minorities in part to poor schooling, discrimination and a mismatch between where they live and where jobs are.

_Minority youth, who make up 23 percent of all Americans aged 10-17, comprise 52 percent of the prison youth population.

The commission recommends that Congress make it a top priority to establish universal health coverage — and that all states extend health coverage to all uninsured children through the age of 18 who are not covered by state Medicaid or other insurance programs.

The report calls on the government to increase the minimum wage and the availability of student loans, and to re-examine sentencing requirements that imprison nonviolent offenders for long periods.

Labor groups such as the AFL-CIO also are committing to help, with plans to offer job training, create distance learning centers and provide mentoring by role models including former NFL players. The program will begin in New Orleans — which bore the brunt of devastation from Katrina — and then be expanded to other major cities.

"The AFL-CIO recognizes the bleak employment prospects for the young men documented by the Dellums Commission," said Richard L. Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. "The labor movement embraces the report's recommendations and is committed to taking decisive action to improve the environment for them."

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