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Melvin B. Miller

Stories by Melvin B.

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Battle over growing wealth disparity looms large in Democratic primary

The question now is whether blacks are willing to employ their might at the polls to support Bernie Sanders, a candidate with the temerity to confront the plutocrats to defeat economic policies that keep blacks impoverished. Hillary Clinton is certainly preferable to any of the Republicans, but now is the time to join the revolution to diminish the nation’s wealth inequality.

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A lack of civility tolerated at Boston Latin

Black students have every right to file an official complaint of racial abuse, but it is good to remember that it is also demeaning to be considered a whiner. Bigoted whites have every right to dislike blacks as long as they do not violate the blacks’ peaceful enjoyment of the academic process. However, polite society will tend not to embrace those with a disposition to reject others on the basis of race, religion or country of origin.

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No more honors for bigots

There is a common practice across America for communities to erect statues or monuments to honor the achievements of local residents. For those whose accomplishments are less prodigious, it is customary to place their names on buildings, public squares or streets. The objective is to imbed in the culture the character of the honoree to serve as a role model for future generations. But now protestors have begun to challenge the worthiness of some of those who have been so memorialized.

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Putting a best foot forward

Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up at a time when it was culturally expedient to induce youth to mature quickly. MLK was born on Jan. 15, 1929, the same year that the Great Depression began. This period of economic decay continued until 1941, and it created a sense of urgency about survival among Americans, especially blacks. The life expectancy for an African American born in 1930 was only 48.1 years.

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At war with guns

Conservatives tolerate the nation’s horrific gun violence in order not to jeopardize their right to amass substantial personal arsenals. Stricter gun laws might disrupt the conservatives’ plans. America has become a nation at war with itself.

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An outrageous defense of white privilege

Opportunities for African Americans in the new year are promising. The economy is improving and blacks appear to be more confident when confronting racial discrimination. Nonetheless, there should be no complacency about the latent opposition. Nothing illustrates the intensity of the white vs. black conflict more than the case of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas.

Will self-interest trump bigotry?

It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump’s supporters will move beyond the bigoted tone of that campaign to pursue their economic interests in partnership with blacks, Latinos and Asians.

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A new push for empowerment

Rarely do ethnic or racial groups mobilize at the beginning of the year to establish plans to improve their economic status. But Freeze Frame Black Boston has begun the process of establishing a black economic manifesto to do just that.

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Toward a spirit of common humanity

Fear, nativism and incivility seem to be on the rise in the United States with ISIS attacks and the vitriol of Donald Trump’s campaign for president dominating headlines. But as we enter the Christmas season, it may be in our best interest to remember the principle of “goodwill to all men.”

A bizarre attack on Obama

From the time that he first ran for president, some Americans have asserted that Barack Obama was not qualified. Opposing whites rallied behind the “birther” movement that claimed Obama was foreign born and consequently failed to meet the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural born Citizen … of the United States.” Also, some blacks complained that Obama was not authentic because his African ancestors did not experience the historical racial oppression in America. Now comes Professor Michael Eric Dyson to assert that if elected president, Hillary Clinton will accomplish more for blacks than Obama ever did.

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A shared burden for U.S. defense

With the ISIS inspired massacres in Paris and San Bernardino, the call for more U.S. boots on the ground in Syria has become more strident. The commitment of a massive number of troops from the volunteer U.S. military raises a moral issue. The upper class is sending the poor into battle to resolve the politicians’ foreign policy mistakes.

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The growth of politics of confusion

A fundamental principle of democracy is that citizens will vote out of office those politicians who fail to serve their interests. Over the years, conservatives have claimed that African Americans do not adhere to that principle but are captives of the Democratic Party. Now that whites with low incomes are becoming Republicans, the party of the well-to-do, there is considerable speculation about their motivations.

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The hard consequences of equality

What struck researchers as so unusual is that the increase among whites did not result from heart attacks or other illnesses, but was the consequence of suicides or alcohol or drug addictions. This indicates that middle-aged whites with limited education may be suffering from cultural ennui or psychological difficulties.

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Too outstanding to be marginalized

People of low social status in the United States and elsewhere have historically been limited to unskilled jobs. Back in 1940 the black population of Boston was only 3 percent of the total. It was then impossible to develop the political clout necessary to end racial discrimination in employment. However, the assertive dignity and academic achievements of African Americans prevented whites from reasonably characterizing Boston’s blacks as outcasts.

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Roxbury man makes history

Clifton R. Wharton Jr. probably will not be celebrated as an ethnic hero during Black History Month, but his achievements deserve such accolades despite the fact that he is not so well-known. According to a journalist writing in The New York Times of March 27, 1988, “Clifton Wharton had become something relatively new under the American sun: a black member of the Establishment rather than a member of the black Establishment.” Wharton’s memoir, “Privilege and Prejudice: The Life of a Black Pioneer,” provides an elaborate account of his arduous trek.

Changing of the guard

During his 32 years as a Boston City Councilor, Charles Yancey sought numerous improvements in the community. With a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s degree from Harvard University, Yancey well understood the importance of higher education. He pushed for modern libraries in his district and every year he had a successful program to provide books for youngsters in order to encourage reading.

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Hold the police accountable

Any police officers who are reluctant to perform their duties because of fear of criticism should find another kind of work. At the salary levels now available to the police, citizens can no doubt recruit and train a competent police force that understands their primary duties as public servants.

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A compelling case for an intact family unit

Many black children begin life with a great disadvantage. About 72 percent are born to unwed mothers. As a result, about 91 percent of them will live in woman-headed households. There is a high incidence of poverty in that kind of household. In addition, it is believed that boys growing up without a father present suffer more developmental problems than girls.

A moral divide

A solution for Charles Street AME Church

Charles Street AME Church is unable or unwilling to repay its loan from OneUnited Bank, and one of Boston’s major law firms has provided pro bono legal services to facilitate a major default on one of the nation’s leading black-owned banks.

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The 99 percent movement lives

Four years after the Occupy Wall Street movement, 99 percenters are backing presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is advancing a vision of shared prosperity in the U.S.

The way to get ahead

Costas Cavounidis and Kevin Lang of Boston University have produced a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research that demonstrates the impact of bias on unemployed blacks.

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Vote Tito Jackson for District 7

The re-election of Tito Jackson is critical for the economic progress of greater Roxbury at a crucial time.

A free market held hostage

Conservatives opposed Obamacare that provides health insurance for the indigent on the basis of preserving economic “free market” theories. Now they are no longer interested in opposing monopolistic pricing that flouts those principles. One has to conclude that the conservatives have little interest in the welfare of those who are less affluent than they.

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Distorting history in Texas

A McGraw-Hill textbook in public schools stated that Africans were brought to Texas from the 1500s through the 1800s as workers on large plantations. There was no mention that the blacks were enslaved although the book mentioned that many Europeans also came as indentured servants.

Commentary: Roxbury residents were right to reject shelter

The condemnation of the bridge to Long Island was disastrous for the people who relied on the refuge for the homeless there. Long Island was an opportune site because there were no abutters who had to endure the disturbance of those with addiction or social problems. The Radius Hospital on Townsend Street in Roxbury was an extremely inappropriate alternative.

The fall of a divisive symbol

For generations, South Carolina has been at the forefront of America’s racial conflict. Now Gov. Nikki Haley has mitigated that role by removing the Confederate battle flag from a place of honor at the state capitol.

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Vote on the candidate’s merits

African Americans have developed a wonderfully democratic attitude over the years. A candidate for public office will not benefit substantially from the achievements of his or her family. Similarly the alleged misconduct of family members will not be an impediment. For example, Andrea Campbell candidate for Boston City Council from District 4, has a pristine record and voters should evaluate her without any consideration of the possible misdeeds of family members.

A formidable challenge

Once they are elected, city councilors representing Boston’s districts tend to hold their seats until they voluntarily give them up. But Charles Yancey, who has been elected to 16 two-year terms, might be facing his political demise on Nov. 3.

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The true cost of incarceration

The federal and local governments in the U.S. spend $80 billion per year to maintain this high rate of incarceration. Until recently, little was known about the economic and social impact on families with one of the members in prison.

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Even black PhD’s lives don’t matter

The brutal police assault on former tennis star James Blake underscores the fact that social status does not make blacks immune to police aggression.

Judicial abuse of power

A new study highlights how bail in the nation’s court systems has a disproportionately negative effect on the poor.

New rules invalidate the Massachusetts business model

The National Labor Relations Board ruled that when an employer exercises considerable control and direction over a so-called contractor, then the employer is held to be a joint employer with the staffing company.

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A culture of impunity for the rich

Those wealthy enough to own controlling shares of corporations are able to influence elections and are also exculpated from personal responsibility for crimes and regulatory violations.

One million strong

Farrakhan has called for another march on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, to present to Congress proposals to improve conditions for racial minorities in America.

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Towards mental health

The growing awareness of mental illness in the United States is helping many families maintain mental health.

A lesson not yet learned

In past decades, blacks have fought for their rights for democratic representation. In the case of Carlos Henriquez, who lost his Massachusetts House seat under legally questionable circumstances, blacks did not mount a defence.

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The greening of America doesn’t include workers’ pay

While many corporations are embracing sustainability, few are advocating paying their lowest-paid workers a sustainable wage.

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A strategic blunder for "Black Lives Matter" demonstrators

In a strategic error, “Black Lives Matter” demonstrators forced Sanders from the stage when delivering a speech in his campaign for President.

Vote Tuesday, September 8

The Boston 2015 preliminary balloting will be held September 8. The only contested races for district City Council seats that will appear on the ballot Sept. 8 will be in Dorchester’s District 4 and Roxbury’s District 7. Regardless of the anticipated outcome, it is important to vote. Be somebody and be counted.

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Consistent voter turnout is key to building real political power

Although their numbers are in decline, Republicans have executed a strategy to maintain political power by dominating state politics, occupying the governorship in 31 states and controlling 28 legislatures. African American voters have gone to the polls in high numbers during presidential races, but have failed to do so in local elections, ceding political ground to Republicans.

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Holding police to a higher standard

Insulting, hostile and violent police supported by oppressive criminal justice systems have had a devastating impact on urban black communities. It is no wonder that the slogan “Black Lives Matter” has gained such acceptance and support.

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Conservative ideology strangles Social Security

Conservative opposition to government intervention in capital markets has hamstrung Social Security, barring the program from investing in U.S. or foreign corporations and limiting its capacity to earn interest.

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Too much collateral damage in war on drugs

Despite the substantial expenditure of funds, it is estimated that no more than 10 percent of the illicit drug traffic is interdicted. There is an ongoing debate, about whether we have lost the war on drugs.

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Racial conflict obscures common concern over wealth

The Confederate flag was removed in Columbia on July 10, 2015. At that time the wealth and income disparity in America was as great as during the Great Depression of the 1930s and, with their greater population, the number of white Americans living in poverty was almost twice the number of blacks. Let the fall of the flag mark the date when Americans of limited income began to work together for the general good.

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Trouncing Trump

The riposte to Donald Trump’s remarks by the Hispanics was so effective, African Americans should now look beyond the tired strategies for protest that were developed in the civil rights era.

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The Charleston massacre: A symbolic act of racial hatred

It was no accident, according to Sanders, that Roof drove 120 miles to launch his attack on June 17, exactly 193 years later to the day that Denmark Vesey’s revolt was crushed. Before he pulled the trigger, Roof is reported to have said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go.” Roof left one person alive to tell the story. The intention was to strike terror in the hearts of African Americans.

Meaning of Texas’ Juneteenth lost in Boston

Juneteenth was originally a celebration for Texans. Efforts to extend it beyond the Lone Star State create a historical conundrum. The date that should be celebrated for the legal abolition of slavery in America is Dec. 6, 1865, for the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

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Obamacare: Health insurance for all Americans

In a dispositive 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court recently rescued 6.4 million Americans in 34 states from the loss of their health insurance. The Affordable Care Act, derisively referred to as Obamacare by its opponents, included language that would deny benefits to those otherwise eligible but who had purchased their insurance from the federal marketplace instead of state-owned exchanges.

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The challenges to successful fatherhood

For many black men, Father’s Day was a time for poignant memories rather than unbridled joy. Life in America for many blacks is challenging and full of frustration. The standard for attaining full manhood always seems just beyond reach, and black males are frequently blamed for many of society’s ills. Also, the criminal justice system is unjustly severe. A recent study by USA Today finds something that blacks have always observed — there is a “staggering disparity” in the arrest rates of black men across the country.

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Police brutality fuels growing anger

Reports about police brutality against blacks are now so common that even fervent advocates of aggressive law enforcement are beginning to question police behavior. The once common attitude was to assume that the person victimized by the police had broken the law and thus deserved such mistreatment. Even many blacks had acquired that point of view. But now modern video technology has made every citizen a witness to the violent incidents. The recent killing of Usaamah Rahim in Boston foretells some of the perils to society created by excessive police aggression.