Benjamin Todd Jealous is president and CEO of the NAACP.
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EThis summer, minimum wage workers in California abandoned their posts at fast food restaurants and retail stores for spots on the picket line. They joined workers in cities across the country to demand an increase in the minimum wage.
The United States has 5 percent of the world’s people but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. For the sake of our families and future we must do better. Our nation leads the world in the incarceration of our own citizens, both on a per capita basis and in terms of total prison population. The problem stems from the decades-old “tough on crime” policies from the Nixon/Reagan era. We are stuck in a failed “tough on crime” mind-state that is characterized by converting low-level drug addicts into hardened criminals by repeatedly locking them up when they should be sent to rehab for drug treatment.
Coming the day after the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the new unemployment numbers show that unemployment is still high ‒ and remains much higher for African Americans. One thing hasn’t changed in the last half century: if you’re a person of color, you’re more likely to be unemployed. Even though the Black unemployment rate fell by .05 percent this month, it still sits at nearly 13.3 percent, nearly double the overall rate.
One year later, the Trayvon Martin tragedy still stings ‒ and some people are still throwing salt on the open wound. Last week George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman, posted a tweet comparing Martin to De’Marquis Elkins, 17-year-old Black teenager charged with fatally shooting a 1-year-old baby. The tweet showed a photo of Elkins side by side with a photo of Martin, both making inappropriate gestures, with the caption “A picture speaks a thousand words. Any questions?”