Category: Your Voice Written by Larry Buford
Do you hear what I hear? Yes that’s Christmas music on the radio, and Thanksgiving hasn’t even been observed yet! Each year it seems we take a little more from the Thanksgiving tradition by focusing on commercialism. This year many retailers are not even waiting for ‘Black Friday’ – they’re opening their doors Thanksgiving night! What gives? Is Santa slaying Thanksgiving, and ‘sleighing’ turkeys (like Theo Turkey) to usher in Christmas ahead of schedule?
The American Thanksgiving holiday is sandwiched between our two highest-grossing commercial holidays – Halloween being second, and Christmas first. This year in America alone Halloween spending reached almost seven billion dollars, all for candy, costumes, and parties. An estimated 160 million people celebrate Halloween.
Christmas, on the other hand, is a day known for giving with the expectation that something will be given in return to the degree that someone had to remind us to “keep Christ in Christmas.” The Bible quote, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” [Acts 20:35 KJV] goes out the window when it comes to Christmas. People get indignant thinking: “You mean to tell me I got you a gift (or card), and you did not get me one? How unthoughtful…the thanks I get!” What’s the point? If that’s the spirit, why don’t we all just keep our gifts to ourselves and keep the score even?
These days it seems that Thanksgiving has more Christ in it than Christmas. Turkeys aside, it’s a time of reflection without the pressures of commercial shopping. Can you imagine someone saying, “If I give you a turkey, will you give me one?” No, that’s not the spirit. This is the time when families come together one special day each year to gather around a common table to give thanks not for the turkey – we can get that anytime – but for showers of blessings from heaven. Where the tradition of the turkey may bring us together, God’s love keeps us together. We give thanks to God, and show our gratefulness when we show love towards one another. When we look around the table this year and see loved ones we thought we’d never see again, seniors who may not be here much longer, and the little ones – we should give thanks. When we consider the times where there is so much to be concerned about, and yet we’re all under the same roof comforted by one another’s presence – even the spirit of loved ones no longer here – we should give thanks. This is the season when we can truly give of ourselves if at no other time, assured without obligation that giving is the thanks.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 12:03
Category: Your Voice Written by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil
I've spent the last three years of this column sharing with you important facts about African-Americans' consumer power. And, I know those of us who are certified black-belts in the time-honored martial art of shopping, are fired up for the Black Friday super sales with our artillery of cash and/or credit cards in hand. But first, let’s breathe deeply and think about this, especially in light of recent allegations of retail establishments questioning purchases made by Blacks, which have brought the very essence of our purchasing power under assault. Now, more than ever, it's important for us to understand what it means to be a Conscious Consumer – particularly during the busiest shopping season of the year.
These are a few important questions you should ask yourself before making any consumer decision:
1) Did I find this service or product in my neighborhood?
2) Does this company, network or business hire people who look like me?
3) Do I see positive images of myself reflected in the content this company or program promotes?
4) Does this company have a history of supporting causes that better my community?
5) Am I still willing to spend my limited time or hard earned dollars with this company if the answer to any of the above questions is no?
With that in mind, Nielsen’s Holiday Spending Forecast expects this shopping season to be financially stronger than last year, with dollar sales up about two percent. Even though an increase in sales is predicted, 68 percent of shoppers who responded to the survey still feel as though they’re in a recession. Twenty percent of U.S. consumers say they have no cash to spare. Forty-eight percent report living comfortably or spending freely. Fifty-two percent of consumers are only buying on the basics.
Thirty percent of us across all income ranges say we’ll spend between $250 - $500 on gifts this year. Twenty percent of consumers estimate they will spend between $500 - $1,000, with just six percent predicting that they’ll drop more than $1,000. How, where and on what are we expected to spend our money? Dollar stores are expected to enjoy a banner season, with 12 percent of consumers in households earning $50,000 or less, reporting plans to shop in these channels, versus four percent of consumers in households earning $100,000 and up. Twenty percent of those consumers in the $100,000+ category say they will be shopping more online, compared to 15 percent of consumers in households earning less than $50,000.
The 10 hottest holiday items for 2013 are as follows:
- Gift cards
- Tech products
- Video games
- Sporting goods
- Alcoholic beverages.
Nielsen has traditionally been on point with holiday spending projections, successfully predicting five out of five category trends last year. The information is gathered from consumer surveys of more than 22,000 households of all demographic groups across the country and an analysis of 92 product categories with over $99 billion in sales. Lots of us enjoy making putting smiles on faces with a little “holiday cheer,” so beer, liquor and wine sales are expected to contribute between $60 million and $70 to the bottom line this season. Snacks and candy are expected to bring in $199 million and $95 million in sales, respectively. Sales of holiday treats like cheese, jams and jellies are also expected to jump. We love our canine-American and feline-American family members; so, pet care is expected to grow by 5.3% and pet food 1.4%.
Now that we’ve talked about this year’s holiday shopping trends, are you among the 22 percent of U.S. consumers who have already begun holiday shopping? Or, do you find yourself among the 60 percent who love the adrenalin rush of crowds and last minute deals – or, just master procrastinators?
African-Americans are frequent shoppers, savvy digital users, high volume owners of smartphones and users of social media and voracious consumers of media – in other words, powerful consumers. We cannot expect different results if our consumption patterns and habits don't change. It's just that simple; no matter what time of year it is.
So, happy holiday shopping, but remember, the final decision to be a Conscious Consumer is yours to make. As always, I encourage you to choose wisely. And, don’t forget to chat with us on Twitter or Facebook so we can keep the conversation going.
Follow Us on Twitter @NielsenKnows #AAConsumer13
Like us on Facebook: wwwfacebook.com/NielsenCommunity
Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to www.nielsen.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:52
Category: Your Voice Written by George Curry
The first federal minimum wage of 25 cents an hour was established in 1938. Since then, it has been raised 22 times. It’s time to increase the floor for the 23rd time, from its current $7.25 to at least $10 an hour.
According to the Center for Economic Policy Research, the value of the minimum wage peaked in 1968. If the minimum wage had been indexed to the official Consumer Price Index each year, the minimum wage today would be $10.52. The last time the minimum wage was raised was in 2007, when it was raised from $5.15 to $7.25.
Still, there is resistance. Republican leaders say raising the minimum wage will cost jobs. But opponents, such as Washington Post columnist Jared Bernstein, argue that rather than job loss, employers compensate by charging higher prices and increasing productivity. Another common myth is that employers shouldn’t be forced to pay young people the minimum wage. But 88 percent of workers who would be affected by raising the minimum wage are at least 20 years old and a third are at least 40 years, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
The federal minimum wage is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. There are approximately 3.6 million workers, or 4.7 percent of all hourly paid workers who are at or below the federal minimum wage of 7.25 an hour. Employers are allowed to pay students and the disabled – defined as those “whose earning or productivity is impaired by age, physical or mental deficiency, or injury” – less than the minimum wage. It also places limits on workers who derive part of their income from tips.
A study by the Congressional Research Service found that 40 percent of those earning the minimum wage or less work in “food preparation and serving related occupations.”
Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities testified before Congress in February: “I would note that over recent decades, the minimum wage has been allowed to erode and is now 20 percent lower, after adjusting for inflation, than in the late 1960s. For this and a number of other reasons (relating in part to globalization of the economy), wages for low-paid jobs have fallen.”
A fact sheet by Economic Policy Institute found, “A disproportionate share of minorities will benefit from a minimum wage increase. African Americans represent 11% of the total workforce, but are 18% of workers affected by an increase. Similarly, 14% of the total workforce is Hispanic, but Hispanics are 19% of workers affected by an increase.”
Washington State has the highest state minimum wage at $9.19, indexed to inflation. California enacted a law that will raise its minimum wage to $10 over three years. Some cities have wages that are even higher. The minimum wage is $10.55 in San Francisco. And in the recent election, New Jersey voters approve a constitutional amendment increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25.
Where city or state minimums exceed the federal standard, workers receive the higher wage. The movement to increase the federal minimum wage has stalled in Congress. In March, the House voted 233 to 184 against raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015, with all Republicans voting in the majority.
Two Democrats, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California have sponsored legislation, called the Fair Minimum Wage Act, to raise the federal minimum wage. The hope to overcome past opposition by adding some sweeteners for small businesses, including allowing them to deduct the full cost of equipment and expansion up to $500,000 in the first year.
In his State of the Union address in February, President Obama proposed a federal minimum wage of $9.
The EPI study stated, “When describing who would see a raise if the minimum wage were increased, it is important to look at everyone who earns between the current minimum wage and the proposed new one, as well as workers earning just above the new minimum wage (who would likely also see a small pay increase as employers move to preserve internal wage ladders). The typical worker who would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015 looks nothing like the part-time, teen stereotype: She is in her early thirties, works full-time, and may have a family to support.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2013 16:32
Category: Your Voice Written by Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit branch NAACP
Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy announced that charges are being filed against Theodore Paul Wafer in the shooting death of Renisha McBride. The prosecutor announced he is being charged with second degree murder, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm during the attempted commission or commission of a felony.
The community has been patiently awaiting the outcome of this investigation conducted by the Dearborn Heights Police Department and evaluated by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. Often, many of us are very anxious and impatient when it comes to justice being equally applied in every situation. The shadow of Trayvon Martin and his untimely and what many believe unnecessary death in the state of Florida, continues to haunt many in the African-American community.
This particular case had the appearance that it might have been headed down the same road. While no trial has been held, and Wafer has yet to be brought before the court, anxiety is still high as the jury is still a long way out. Let us all remember that we are still very in the preliminary stages of this matter. We are pleased that the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Dearborn Heights Police Department stood together as they brought charges against Mr. Wafer. This is a healthy sign of unity in both communities.
The declaration of the intoxication of McBride on the night of her death to many is a major distraction. It is unfortunate that some in the news media have chosen to give more headlines to her intoxication as opposed to the tragic termination of her life. This smells to some like a lack of sobriety should justify homicidal impropriety. Intoxication is no justification for reckless and irresponsible shooting and ultimately destroying a life. A very viable life! One should be able to seek help from his neighbor, whether sober or intoxicated. The law in this case has been applied to the facts as we know them at this time.
We support the efforts of both the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and those of the Dearborn Heights Police Department, in the acquisition and the administration of justice in this most tragic situation. We believe that justice will be served in this matter as we continue to monitor this situation.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2013 16:34
Category: Your Voice Written by Rev. Wendell Anthony
The relentless plague of senseless violence and the thoughtless reactions from some community residents, is a human tragedy for us all. Violence, guns, and unnecessary deaths are destroying the very fabric of our society. Most recently, the unfortunate and premature death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride in the city of Dearborn Heights is a case in point. It appears this young woman was merely seeking help following a car accident as her cell phone went dead. After knocking on a neighbor’s door, instead of being aided in the situation or police called for an investigation, she was shot fatally in the head. Have we become a society where we are no longer our neighbors’ keeper?
This shooting must be investigated at every level. Following the lead of the Dearborn Heights Police Department and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, we must bring to justice any person found guilty of this tragedy. This death appears to be an overreaction to a young woman in need of help. Was this a racial profiling? Was this shooting warranted when the evidence indicates that Ms. McBride had no weapon, created no disturbance, threatened no break-in, or demonstrated no disrespect to the household in question? So before anyone tries to invoke the issue of “stand your ground,” let us first of all stand on the facts. Since when has knocking on the door for help due to car trouble provided the justification to commit a deadly offense?
At the same time we are outraged over the tragic shootings at Al’s Place Barbershop on Detroit’s east side. Nine people being shot is an outrageous misfortune. Three persons were killed in what was reminiscent of the gangster-like days of Al Capone and his crew. When has going to the barbershop to get your hair cut become a justification for getting your life cut off? Losing at dice is still no reason to lose your life. We as a community are compelled to address these issues devastating our neighborhoods. The disregard for human life and the callous insensitivity for children, women and the elderly should leave us all demanding more from ourselves and those who enforce the law. Our streets must be taken back. Criminals should not be given safe haven. Nor is there any nobility in keeping silent when evil is on the loose.
We call upon the Detroit Police and the Wayne County Prosecutor to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice, and hold them accountable for their deadly deeds. While the families cannot be made whole due to their personal loss, they can be given justice in the attempt to address their personal needs. Justice must prevail regardless of what community has been violated. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “An injustice to anyone anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
‘Was this a racial profiling? Was this shooting warranted when the evidence indicates that Ms. McBride had no weapon, created no disturbance, threatened no break-in, or
demonstrated no disrespect to the household in question?’
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 14:05
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