Brother Lo, Co-Founder of BEJI and a member of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition expresses concern and dismay that the Coalition had been unable to secure a meeting with him since April to discuss the need to address COVID-19 issues in highly impacted Black and other communities of color.
Want to join BEJI in making a difference? Social and economic injustice is a crisis within our country and our City. To be included in justice we must build unity by bringing diverse groups together to be heard and take collective action. The Black Economic Justice Institute (BEJI) believes that together there is the will and ability to create a just society by speaking truth to power. Visit GoFundMe now to make a donation!
BEJI has created a resource page with a compilation of existing federal, state, and city resources. In responding to the spread of the COVID-19, BEJI is working with various organizations to address this public health crisis in a smart, strategic, and serious manner for Boston's Black community. These resources will be updated on a regular basis.
BEJI believes in direct action organizing.
Action organizing is based on the power of people to take collective action on their own behalf. BEJI focuses on direct action organizing.
BEJI believes in developing effective organizing leadership. We work to identify, recruit and develop leadership, build a community around that leadership and harness the power from the resources within our Boston community.
BEJI believes in the importance of educating and informing our community. We work to address constructive public response, devising public-communication strategies, providing practical information, educating and informing the public about economic justice.
The U.S. is home to roughly 2.5 million black-owned businesses, according to the Census Bureau. Although the vast majority are sole proprietorships or small-scale affairs, an increasing number have regional reach and national ambitions. Below, we resurface 10 black entrepreneurs who have recently been featured in Forbes and provide a directory of an additional 65 black-owned businesses to support. It is by no means an exhaustive list: We aren’t including numerous high-profile celebrity entrepreneurs like Oprah Winfrey or Rihanna or the many successful black business owners who sell services to other corporations, like World Wide Technology’s David Steward. These entrepreneurs and owners sell cosmetics, clothing, books, cars and financial products that you can buy. Fewer offer healthcare or consumer tech products, in part, because they lack access to venture funding. If you are interested in learning more about other black-owned businesses, or advertising your local Black-Owned business, visit our Black Businesses Nation page HERE
A settlement between Massachusetts and a company accused of ignoring rules for hiring minoirty and woman subcontractors highlights how hard it is for these firms to participate in state contrcts even when they are written into the requirements. Read More HERE
It is inevitable that Covid-19, like all economic, biological and natural disasters will have a disproportionate effect on Boston’s Black population. While direct payments from the stimulus bill passed by Congress will begin to help, economically, it will not raise up the Black community nor other communities of color to a level equal to whites. This is because Boston’s Black Community is much poorer than whites, a divide that is documented by the Boston Federal Reserve “The Color of Wealth” that found , Blacks in the Boston MSA have a median net worth (wealth) of $8 compared to whites, with an average net worth of $247,500. We are the ones who can least afford to lose our jobs, we are poorer than whites, we occupy insecure jobs at risk from forced shutdowns, have jobs that cannot be done from home, are on the front lines of home health care all while perpetually facing food insecurity, underemployment and chronic medical conditions. Health care disparity in the Black Community has been documented over and over, we have less access to health insurance, quality health care and little paid sick leave makes us more vulnerable to the health and economic effects of COVID-19.
Because we occupy jobs that are considered necessary, like grocery stores, pharmacies, aids and deliveries, we are more apt to work while sick because losing our income puts our families under additional stress and strain, now. Because our jobs are low paying, we cannot stock up on weeks and weeks of food and necessities, now we must venture out more and when we do, we use public transportation.
Even when times are good our fight is constant, we fight for our share of construction jobs, where data indicate that the City and State fall short in their obligation to hire our people. We fight for City and State contracts, where WGBH’s “ The Color of Public Money” reports less than one percent of municipal contracts are awarded to us and has been declining for years, we are left out, even while committees have been formed, studies have been conducted and Executive Orders have been decreed.
We have a plan to help our community. We are not sitting back, we have our churches, our societies, our connections, our families to mobilize, to help each other, now. We have begun by dedicating our weekly radio show to listening to stories and gathering data on our community needs. (The BEJI Report, on Boston Praise Radio & TV WBPG-LP 102.9 FM and the internet, from 8 to 10). We are in the process of distributing $20,000 worth of grocery and pharmacy gift cards. We have applied for all the grants and funds that have been made available to non-profits to continue this work. We must be included.
What will happen next when a City, that has a population consisting of 55% people of color, does not proportionality include us in the emergency philanthropic and government funding efforts? How will the City rebound when a majority of its people cannot work, cannot buy things, and cannot participate because we are tired and sick from our continuing fight while recovering from the disproportionate economic and health consequences brought about by COVID-19?
Brother Lo Banks and Priscilla Flint-Banks, Founders Black Economic Justice Institute, Inc.
BEJI is a (501 (c) 3) nonprofit oragnization
321 Blue Hill Ave.
Dorchester, MA 02121
Boston lost a giant last week with the passing of former City Councilor Chuck Turner. Chuck died last week after a long fight with cancer. Chuck Turner, who was 79, worked for decades as a community organizer in Boston and served on the City Council from 1999 to 2010. Chuck was a dear friend of BEJI founders, Priscilla, brother Lo and the whole BEJI community.
As reported by the Bay State Banner, Chuck was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Chuck came to Boston in the 1960s to attend Harvard University. He worked as a community organizer in Lower Roxbury, helping to found the Madison Park Development Corporation. For much of the 1970s, he worked on helping secure people of color in Boston jobs, with a particular focus on the construction industry. He founded the Boston Jobs Coalition, an organization that worked to expand access to employment for people of color in Boston.
The leadership of BEJI had known Chuck for decades. Our Chairman, Anthony Banks worked with Chuck since 1971 with the Black United Front. in 2014 through 2019 Chuck worked with BEJI and the Boston Jobs Coalition to expand job opportunities for all of Boston residents. As reported in the Banner, Chuck was widely seen as the driving force behind the city’s 1983 Boston Residents Jobs Policy ordinance, which originally mandated that half of all construction jobs on public building projects in the city go to Boston residents, that 25 percent go to blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans and that 10 percent go to women. The approach enshrined in the ordinance — seeking a greater share of jobs for not only African Americans but for Bostonians of all racial backgrounds and for women — encapsulated Turner’s inclusive approach to social change. Read more about Chuck Turner the memorial event, titled The Life and Legacy of Chuck Turner, which was held Thursday, Jan. 9 at the Roxbury Community College Media Arts Center.
Chuck was a gentle giant. A man of character who fought to make Boston a better city for us all.
We will miss Chuck... May he Rest In Peace and Power!
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