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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Jeffrey Hassan of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF)
November 11, 2016

African Americans face large gaps in income, education, beliefs


As a group, African Americans in Minnesota are doing poorly, says Jeffrey Hassan of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF). Some national surveys show that Minnesota African Americans rank either last or next to last in the entire country when the factors of income, poverty, homeownership and education are combined.

Hassan references a January 2016 report by the State Demographic Center that describes the economic status of Minnesotans, broken down by 17 cultural groups. The report uses a number of measures, among them, education levels, median household income and percent living in poverty. Somalis, Native Americans and African Americans rank among the lowest groups in education level and household incomes and among the highest groups in percent living in poverty.

In its own 2011 report, AALF identified five gaps in education that must be addressed to have an effect on the achievement gap: preparation, time, teaching, leadership and belief gap. Hassan discusses the belief gap and says a recent survey about parent engagement in education shows that 60 percent of parents surveyed felt they were somewhat or mostly confident in making educational decisions for their child. But only 20 percent of teachers surveyed were confident in parents' ability to make those decisions.

Hassan examines some of the structural and institutional reasons--including slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining and incarceration rates--why the education gap and income gap persist between whites and African Americans.

Formed in 2008-2009, AALF is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that brings together more than 1,200 African American leaders in the Twin Cities from all different sectors. The organization tries to address gross disparities and inequalities affecting Minnesota's African American community. Its current priorities include health and wellness, economic development, and education. 

For the complete interview summary see: link to interview

Individual Responses:

Ellen Brown--I have read only the summary this morning but, on this topic, encourage you to invite Alexs Pate of the Innocent Classroom to talk with you all re the expectation gap. Will send his contact info in a separate email.

Alan Miller--A meaningful, far-reaching and intelligent presentation.  Unfortunately, in most respects we have NOT progressed, except for a few in the minority bloc.  And with the election of our non-thinking loser of the popular vote as President, I see little hope for progress in the next few years.  Education, of course, is of primary importance, along with employment.  We must strive to survive.  "We shall overcome" never had more significance.

You might glance at the thoughts of an 82-year-old on my blog,

Scott Halstead--It is extremely difficult to improve the standards of living of people that have been oppressed for long periods of time.  There needs to be a support/eduction to educate the young adults that did not complete high school, provide technical education so they can make a living wage while providing community support with extra education education and other assistance for their families.  I would also include parenting classes, mentoring on jobs and in the community.

A big issue is the financial cost.  While some Minnesotan's believe that inequality and related problems are a metropolitan concern, that is not accurate.  There are employers throughout the state that are utilizing disadvantaged individuals in many types of business because they are good workers and they can pay them much less while they retain more $ for the business owners.  

Minnesota needs a much more comprehensive plan than just early childhood education to improve the lives of those that have lived under poor conditions for long periods.

How do we pay?  We need to retain our young adults.  Large numbers are seeking education out of state and not returning even though MN needs employees.  We are paying large educational costs with no return.  We can't afford a tax structure that chases away the wealthy!  We do need better alternatives for financing long term care.  We do need major changes to our health care system that is vacuuming up excessive financial resources without providing better outcomes.

Paul Hauge--A very well done report- it could be distributed even more widely to the legislative members and maybe they would realize the importance of getting something done for minorities.

Tom Spitznagle--Excellent interview.  Several very critical social issues affecting minorities were identified and thoughtfully discussed by Jeffrey Hassan.  Successfully addressing them is one of Minnesota’s greatest challenges.  No society can afford to have significant segments of its population undereducated and/or unable to fairly participate in the economy.  The downsides of failing to effectively address these critical issues include higher crime, higher government support costs, a less-harmonious local culture then could otherwise exist for all to enjoy in addition to being just plain morally irresponsible.


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The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman




The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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