On Aug. 16 some of the nation’s most notable observers of economics and the problems of the urban poor gathered in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts to discuss pressing problems facing the black community. The panel consisted of Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr, Charlayne Hunter-Gault,Lawrence Summers David Simon, Roland G. Fryer Jr.; Constance L. Rice, and Heather Boushey.
Now that work has changed and there’s a premium on skills, and we’re leaving our most disadvantaged and vulnerable kids behind, you see the gaps,” Fryer also said, explaining that it’s important to focus on closing the education achievement gap by the time students make it to the eighth grade. “If you compare 40-year-olds who had the same test scores when they were in eighth grade, the income differences fall from 33 percent to about 1 percent. The differences in unemployment go from about 200 percent difference to about 90 percent … If you do one thing, it would be to figure out how to equalize those eighth-grade test scores.
“Joblessness is here to stay unless we rebel because there’s no economic incentive to get rid of it,” Simon said.
So what can we all do to bring about change? For all of the panelists, it came down to accountability — both collective and individual. If ever asked to serve on a jury for a drug-related offense, think hard about the conditions that led to that trial, advised Simon.