Report from Harlem
Program #DAVA005. Recorded in New York, NY on September 09, 1994.The new code words for racism are "welfare" and "crime." Reagan's fictitious welfare queen is back. She's driving her Cadillac and collecting extra checks while decent (read "white"), hard- working people struggle to make a living. In reality welfare, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, constitutes 1% of the budget. Corporate welfare, on the other hand, costs taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, but the politicians and media don't talk about that. Crime is another issue. It dominates the media. It's a way of talking about black men. The public's perception of crime is high, while statistics indicate crime is lower. It doesn't matter. The official response is more and more prisons, stiffer and stiffer sentences, capital punishment and three- strikes-and-you're-out. The U.S. leads the world in prison population. Harlem is a devastated African-American community. Homelessness, unemployment, poverty and abandoned buildings are widespread. In terms of health care, conditions are appalling. Harlem Hospital leads New York City in tuberculosis cases, with 24 times the national average. One medical journal reports that males in Bangladesh—one of the poorest countries on earth—have a higher life expectancy than black males in Harlem. The average black man growing up in Harlem will be dead by the time he's 49. Death rates from cancer are 50% higher today than 20 years ago. Yet crime dominates the media. It's a way of talking about black men.
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