Wingspan Portfolio Advisors - A snapshot in Corporate Corruption, Abuse, and Racism

"They've taken off their robes, and now they sit in corner offices in business suits;
however they still think THE SAME"
"For they WILL be evil people. For plain human people, both power and money can corrupt. For corporate "people" with no innate sense of fairness and no instilled morality, the corruption is a certainty."

Be careful about the employment you take. Especially in Texas. A state known for Oil, Cowboys, Start-ups and Crooks.

A bad employer can do more than hurt you emotionally, financially, or cripple any other career prospects. A truly bad employer can make you withdraw from the Job Market entirely. The experience one gains from working with a ruthless and cutthroat employer can leave one permanently scarred.

I speak from experience. More people should speak from experience. I had over several years of work experience when during a period of unemployment after a layoff, I heard about a small company in Carrollton, TX which was hiring for Bank of America as a third party vendor. That small company was Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, located at 4100 Midway, Suite 1110, Carrollton, TX 75007. After interviewing for a position with the company I was hired on the spot.

The first few weeks working at Wingspan felt ok. The work was not too difficult and the management told us constantly we could become permanent with hard work. So we worked hard. All of us. However, in a short time, I began to notice what I felt were very unethical business practices by the company. I was instructed to lie on more than one occasion when speaking to Bank of America customers regarding loan documents. Management was non supportive and were at times outright racist against the African American employees. I, along with others, started to notice many white employees being hired permanent whereas the black employees were not even though their work was of high quality. Management also became openly hostile to black employees as well.

I left the company feeling disillusioned with Corporate America.

The last few days I worked at the company and I saw the warped mentality and lack of ethics of managers who treated the blacks with such contempt and back-handedness; and it became so depressing I didn't know if I could ever work for another company again.

I had a realization that Corporate America is the white man's domain. It is his world. We only play in it. For the first time in my life I understand the importance of African Americans to become entrepreneurs in higher numbers than we are currently. We will never be treated as complete equals working for white people in traditional corporate America. No matter our work ethics, values, education or experience we will always be pushed to second tier. I became resentful of corporate America and to this day liken Corporate America to crooks and crony capitalism.

It took months of health issues from the stress from the job, dealing with the racist comments such as when one of the managers referred to the black employees as "roaches" openly and to one male employee in particular as "nigger". When you experience that you will never get over it. It will mold your perception of white people, especially Southern Rednecks in positions of power, forever.

That is why I wrote this blog. Don't let white people no-matter what titles "THEY" give "THEMSELVES" take your dignity. Stand up for your dignity. At the end of the day they may take your job, but don't let them take your dignity.

Disclaimer: As we live in a litigious society where Freedom of speech is often threatened and the wronged are "intimidated" into silence, let me add that the views contained within this article and Blog (all posts) are based on the  experiences and observations of the writer and others who have chosen to come forward to let their voices be heard. All comments, descriptions, headings referencing the personal character of Blog subjects and any other subjects on this blog, are based on the personal opinions, experiences and observations of the Blog Writer and other Third Parties who contributed. You are not expected to accept my word as "Hard Fact", but to read and make up your OWN MIND. In the Words of Fox News "I Report and You Decide".

This blog is a personal, informal blog where I converse in a casual conversational tone with you, the reader, as I would a friend being informed of my experiences. Again, all statements are based on my "personal Experiences", and please be reminded that as they are personal experiences, they are factual to me, but you, the reader, are meant to be informed of my experiences and left to decide on your own accord.  

Thank you for reading. 

If You Want Career Advancement, Don't Work For Wingspan Portfolio Advisors

Unless you're not a minority.

Only a favored few can advance at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. I witnessed this when I would see people, overwhelmingly whites, with no education or experience, advance quickly ahead of minorities who had both the education and mortgage experience. No one really would say anything out of fear of losing their jobs. Justin Belter and Melanie Pellegrino had all power in determining who would move ahead to that next promotion.

I can remember applying with many of my highly qualified minority coworkers for position openings that would become available. One day after clearly being very impressed with my qualifications, the HR Director at the time (Wingspan has gone through several) went specifically to Mr. Belter's office to get his "permission" to promote me. I had never seen anything like that. Isn't HR suppose to make those decisions going off of qualifications? Why didn't the HR Director at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors see something wrong in white males, who consistently had far less qualifications than black employees for the positions they were being awarded, say something? Because he would have been terminated. Good Ol'boys are called Good Ol'boys because they are expected to go along with the program. They benefit as well as everyone in their clique. At the end of the day the HR director of a small, micromanaged company like Wingspan, where the managers are 99% white males, southern born and bred, wanted to keep his job as well. So he simply "followed orders" and overlooked the qualifications of so many hardworking minority candidates who he knew never had even the remotest chance of moving up at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors.

33 year old "Senior VP" Justin Belter
at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors

 I also can't understand why anyone would send the intimate pictures of himself with his spouse smoking "guda" and drinking and getting SLOBBERED back to their boss, the EVP Jason Dickard? I have never seen anyone so close to their boss where they would post this kind of a picture to be seen not just by the EVP Jason Dickard but by ALL STAFF..

Photo Removed as my dignity will not allow me to show the poor woman in such a drunken state.





Way To Keep "It Classy",  Mr. Senior VP..
Why Put Your Wife Out There Like That?

We Could Have Done Without Seeing Your "Gut" dude.. Geez.
Wingspan Sure has high standards in promotions.. 
Is There a Labor Shortage of VP's?

Now who all wants to bet that if a black employee, ANY BLACK EMPLOYEE, at Wingspan would have sent pics of himself and his wife getting wasted like this to our managers, the VP's, that we would have automatically been rewarded not just with one promotion, but two all the way up to a SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT. Damn Near Overnight.

And who all wants to bet that if a black male, had managed to knock up his wife their would have damn near been a public company broadcast to cheer the guy on? Nah.. It wouldn't have happened. While "WE" were busy trying to keep our damn jobs, the white males of Wingspan were living the LIFE. While "WE" were being threatened, harassed and Terminated over any minor issue, The white males were clearly not held to the same standards. There was a serious double standard. 

This is where white privilege comes into play. In Corporate America, white corporate leaders look at younger white male employees as "Sons". There is an race based "affinity" there and because of this they are quicker to excuse errors, character flaws and lapses in judgment and open doors of economic advancement that would not be opened to fellow black employees. Black employees are simply viewed as "employees". The procedural aspect as it pertains to write ups, terminations, evaluations, etc. are mostly for "black employees". The white boys get "babied". They get away with much more. Far more than black employees would ever hope to get away with simply because of their white skin. 98% of Corporate Leaders in this country are WHITE MALES. They simply want people who look them sitting beside them in positions of power at the decision table. For wrong or right, this puts white males at an automatic advantage in corporate America. The "Affinity Advantage". Where everyone in leadership looks mostly like them. And desires them to share their positions of power with.
There are numerous studies on the internet and off which reinforce what I am saying. The power structure in this country has always been exclusively white and male. This creates a tremendous advantage for those starting off who are white and male. They are quickly trusted to handle greater responsibility than those who classify as minorities. Simply because they "Resemble" the existing power structure. That's why you can have scenarios where black employees are told if they leave work without permission they will be terminated, whereas white employees can leave work without permission and not face termination. The rules apply to both. However, they are only enforced with black employees.
For all of the purported "racial progress" we have supposedly made in this country, all one has to do is take one look at the board rooms and corporate leadership across this nation and they will realize America still has a long way to go. These positions are still overwhelmingly filled with WHITE MALES. I'm tired of being offered lower pay and lesser responsibility because I am a black minority than white males with the same and often fewer qualifications than I. Like Malcolm X said they say "go to school and get a degree" and when you get the degree they say "you're over-qualified". And without the degree they say "you're under-qualified". It's like you're damned if you do and damned if you don't if you're not a white male. Justin Belter started off with no experience, had average work quality and in a few years time was made Senior VP. From the pictures posted you can see how he spent a lot of his time. This is WHITE PRIVILEGE. Edward Snowden, the NSA Leaker and high school dropout, who managed to score a job making $122,000 a year with only his GED has NOTHING on this man when it comes to WHITE PRIVILEGE.

During my employment at Wingspan, the white males would literally walk in off the street, get hired (sometimes without even valid ID's), hung over from the night before, bitch all day about how inept management was, leave without permission early which for blacks would be terminable offenses, and HR, Justin Belter, Melanie Pellegrino and Jason Dickard would consistently take these guys and try to groom them for management. These same guys who honestly could have cared less about the job. That was the mindset of Wingspan Portfolio Advisors.

I would observe my white male coworkers not only bitch and moan about management, but become openly hostile with management and they would be coddled. I would observe the quality of their work and see how many people would have to work to correct their work, and yet they kept their jobs and had promotions ready for them if they wanted them.

I would see white employees who had trouble doing the job go under training one, two, and up to three times until they would be transferred to an easier position or have a position created for them. These opportunities were never afforded equally to black employees.

The Human Resources clerk at the time was a black male and he had access to the pay scale of all employees. He stated he became so disgusted at the enormous pay disparity he resigned. He said he simply couldn't work at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors anymore making less than white guys who had less experience and who had just started to work there.This is what many employees did. They just quit. The few who dared to complain had their days numbered. They would quietly be dismissed.

There was not just a little double standard at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. There was an enormous double standard at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. This was whispered about in circles by the black employees. We could see what was happening. However, many of us simply wanted to keep our jobs and Wingspan was the type of company that if you complained of racism, they would find a way to terminate you. For any reason. Justin Belter did this to other employees. He watched one black female until she came to work late one minute and he walked over and terminated her employment. On the spot. She had been a good worker. But she had taken exception to the way Melanie Pellegrino had yelled at her and she was tired of the verbal abuse. This was all it took to remove her. This showed the rest of us that we were not expected to have any dignity while working at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors.

These guys were extremely dirty. Very underhanded and cut throat and racist. They held racist biases against blacks, were uncomfortable working with blacks, and were suddenly, thanks to Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, in powerful positions where they managed black employees and where they could act out on their biases and prejudices and wield undue influence in the lives of their black employees. There was a LOT of verbal abuse. Racist jokes. With blacks being referred to once by Melanie Pellegrino as "roaches" and of course Justin Belter calling a black male coworker a "Nigger" forcing the guy to storm out the building.

Yet these guys were promoted. They were white males in Texas and of course they could do no wrong. No one can tell me that there is not a double standard in Texas. Blacks are at the bottom of the Totem Pole when it comes to Promotions, Hiring, Pay, etc. I know that there are good companies out there, however, I do strongly believe that what I experienced while working at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors is reflective of the work experience of many minorities, especially black minorities, who work in the state of Texas. I initially thought that Dallas would have been different. If this is as "good as it gets" in Texas, then I might as well get the hell out because I can't imagine being someplace where the racism is any worse.

I was wrong to believe that the lone one or two black faces in management, that you will find at any company in Texas or otherwise, meant that the company was inclusive of blacks. This is often not the case and these "lone rangers" who have been selected to grace the offices of management at these companies are usually just "Tokens". Tokens to be propped up before a court to show that the company can't possibly be racist. In Wingspan's case there was Kevin Conn. Yet Wingspan was very racist and unbelievably it was usually Kevin Conn they went to and ordered to perform very questionable terminations and other employment related matters when it came to the black employees. This earned Kevin Conn the reputation of a "Snake" in black circles.

I never did get comfortable working under Justin Belter, Melanie Pellegrino or Jason Dickard, because these guys would look at me and other black workers like a deer looks at Headlights. They were clearly uncomfortable working with black people. I now believe, looking back, that they had honestly never really been around blacks. They seemed very uncomfortable and would stand at a distance and stare at us.

I would often see Jason Dickard as well, walking the floor, with a scowl on his face, looking side to side, from black employee to black employee. This too made me very uncomfortable. But I labored on. The black employees of Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, I can honestly say, put forth five times the work as white employees, who were largely nonchalant and laid back. They would play. They would joke with each other. They would come to work out of dress code all the time. And we would later hear that they had been promoted. There would be no fan fare. Just whispers.

The racism at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors was "insidious". It was deeply rooted. Sometimes overt. Very subtle. The constant promotions of the lesser qualified white candidates would be whispered about. This was done on purpose. The company knew what it was doing. This hurt a lot of black employees deeply. Probably more deeply than the pay disparity which was also taking place at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. I can honestly say that on this one, HR was complicit in the racism because every white employee that started at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, many of them right out of college, working alongside black employees who also held college degrees and had years of mortgage experience as well, started off at a much higher pay rate than what we were earning.

These white employees were open about their salaries. They must have thought we all were making what they were. They were naive. Or maybe they weren't and they simply didn't care about the company being sued because of the pay disparity.

The problem with the HR Director going directly to Mr. Justin Belter, who was in his mid 20's at the time, far younger than many others he "managed" who also happened to have far more experience than he did in "everything" pretty much was that Mr. Belter was friends with several of the white males and he was uncomfortable with blacks. Justin Belter also had a reputation for being openly hostile to black employees, even referring to one black male as a "Nigger" forcing the guy to explode and quit on the spot. This resulted in many of the individuals getting promoted, as stated above, having less qualifications than blacks. Some of these people could barely speak a coherent sentence.

At Wingspan Portfolio Advisors my white coworkers were consistently moved ahead of me, and not just me, but many other minorities with relative ease. The position I had applied for with several other highly qualified black candidates went to a white G.E.D. recipient who had a criminal background, absolutely no mortgage experience and who "enunciated" like she was educated in the back of a Barn; and to boot she had an absolutely awful attitude. She was argumentative with everyone and nasty with everyone. Go Figure.. She won out for the promotion over several minority candidates who had more qualifications than her in every category one could imagine.

This is what we experienced working as black employees for Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. SHEER RACISM. 

I take it that very small, redneckish companies work far different than the much larger established ones where one's merit, experience and education holds more weight.

After Being Allowed to Play God with the Career Advancements of many of his higher (than himself) qualified minority subordinates, this guy jet sets off to a beach in Mexico.. When the vast majority of minorities working for Wingspan were without vacation time, sick time, health insurance and where we were constantly threatened if we missed "One Day" of work we would be terminated. Yet this guy starts with all the rest of us and because he is one of the "FEW" white guys working at Wingspan at the time, he is essentially quickly promoted to be an Overseer of all the rest of us who were even more highly qualified than he was..


If you are one of the JP Morgan Folks out of Florida, Welcome to the Texas Way of Doing Business.
Wingspan Portfolio Advisors is again, a "very" small company where the management team are all related and very insulated from policies, rules and procedures other team members down the chain have to follow.

For the HR director to essentially overlook my qualifications, so that my lesser (than myself) qualified manager could pick and choose which "favorites" would get promoted showed that you cannot expect fairness at this company.

No matter the lies they consistently give in those meetings they have every 15 minutes which are often about nothing, where they often repeat what they said in the meeting 15 minutes prior; don't believe a word of it. These guys can't be trusted to do what's right. It's just a bunch of classless rednecks parading around as cultured and educated individuals and this couldn't be farthest from the truth.

My Racist Company Fires Minorities. What Can I Do About It?

by CBSNews

Dear Evil HR Lady, I work for a small family business where HR functions are handled by accounting and the department manager. I manage a very small workforce that contributes a great deal to the bottom line. I have recently conducted interviews for a position that is soon to be available. The problem is that the best candidate is a minority, and the owners of the business are racist. They are not overtly racist, they just put the microscope on every minority I hire, especially minority women. My direct supervisor is not a member of the family, but everyone else above me is. I feel that I would not be helping this candidate to hire her since I can guarantee that I will be asked to terminate her before her probationary period ends for "unsatisfactory performance." If I do not hire because my higher ups are racist, then am I guilty of discrimination? I have decided to hire the most qualified person, who is a minority, but I can count the calender days until I am instructed to terminate. What do I do?

Well, this is a sticky situation, isn't it? If the economy were humming along at full speed, I'd tell you to forget about these losers you work for and find a new job. Employers who don't treat their employees fairly soon end up without any good employees, because the good ones leave. That will happen to these people eventually, but in a bad economy, it's easier to keep people who normally wouldn't put up with you. However, I would start looking for a new job anyway because this isn't a place you want to be associated with.

But for the here and now, you need to take control of the situation. Your department contributes to the bottom line. That means other people are dependent upon your work for their paychecks. That gives you some leverage. Let's use it.

First, you need to have clear, objective, quantitative measures for success. This is a critical point. It needs to be established, in writing, what is expected of the new hire. Personally, I'm a fan of SMART objectives. These are objectives that are:

S--Specific M--Measurable A--Achievable R--Relevant T--Time Frame

Once you've written these up, get them approved by your boss and (to be safe) your boss's boss, who is part of the racist family. You need to have their approvals in writing, so that when the time comes you can effectively defend your new hire. Be careful with the SMART objectives: Make sure they're what you want to live and die by, because you'll have to do just that.

With the SMART job objectives in hand, go ahead and make an offer to your best candidate. Go over the details with her and explain that in the past many people have been terminated during the probationary period. Explain that these objectives are new, that they are designed to make sure everyone is on the same page, but again, that other people have been terminated during the probationary period. (And not that you asked, but I really dislike probationary periods. Having a probationary period says, "There will become a time in which you are no longer an at-will employee," but we'll deal with that some time in the distant future.)

To be fair to the candidate, you need to let her know that there is a possibility she'll be terminated. This is especially important if she's leaving another job. Explain that this is not going to be an easy job and that the family sometimes has a hard time accepting outsiders.

Then bring the candidate on board and work with her to make sure she meets the SMART objectives. If the powers that be want to fire her, you'll have solid evidence in your little hand that she has met all of the objectives. When they say, "But it's the probationary period, we can fire anyone at any time," you can say, "Yes, that's true, but this function is critical for the bottom line of the company. If I terminate someone who is clearly meeting the objectives we all agreed on, it's going to look like racial or gender discrimination. If she sues, we'll most likely lose, because how would we defend ourselves? Terminating her would be a poor business move, since she is meeting all the objectives."

Using the "we" form instead of "you" will help soften the blow that you're telling these people they're racist idiots. In fact, they probably won't pick up on it. All you're saying is that it "looks" like discrimination. If they still insist that she be terminated, this is where you need to draw your line in the sand. You need to refuse to terminate the person.

If the family wants to terminate, fine. But, don't you dare be the one who delivers the news. Why? Because often a defense in discrimination lawsuits is that the company can't possibly be racist/sexist/ageist/whateverist because the same person who hired did the firing. The argument is that if there were a problem with illegal discrimination, the person never would have been hired in the first place. Don't give them the opportunity to hide behind you.

I realize that this opens you up for termination. This stinks. But remember, you're a strong contributor to the bottom line. Remind them of that. Stand firm. Don't give in to the temptation to do something wrong to preserve yourself. Sometimes, you've just got to do what's right. News Link
Wingspan Portfolio Advisors Blogspot

Wingspan Portfolio Advisors Sued For Discrimination, Retaliation & Abuse of Its Black Employees

Denny et al v. Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, LLC

Plaintiffs:Roslyn Denny  and Bonita Winslow 
Defendant:Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, LLC
Case Number:3:2011cv01094
Filed:May 24, 2011
Court:Texas Northern District Court
Office:Dallas Office
Presiding Judge:Sidney A Fitzwater
Nature of Suit:Labor - Other Labor Litigation
Cause:28:1332 Diversity-Employment Discrimination
Jurisdiction:Federal Question
Jury Demanded By:


Access Link Below For More Information:

Department of Justice Releases Damning Report On City Of Ferguson Missouri

The Department of Justice on Wednesday released the much-anticipated report of its investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri, police department. While the DOJ did not charge former police Officer Darren Wilson in connection with the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot dead in August, its separate, 102-page report reveals some shocking insights into racial tension between the department's majority white cops and the community's black residents.
Some experts said the costs of correcting the damage may cause the city to consider eliminating its small police department, and contracting with another law enforcement agency.
Here are some of the worst offenses detailed in the report:

Ferguson officials routinely sent racist emails:
There's a double standard within Ferguson officials who see blacks as lacking "personal responsibility," yet it was common for officials to write off tickets for their own friends:

Officials used racial slurs against residents:

A woman once called Ferguson police to report a domestic violence incident, but the police ended up arresting her instead:

The DOJ investigation shows that Ferguson officials' bad actions have significant, life-altering, consequences for residents:

the only people who will attempt to defend the actions of the Ferguson police dept. will be racists themselves...using a whole bunch of misdirection to point away from the facts that the police did criminal actions and perpetuated a hate campaign to which the residents in the area finally rebelled through the ferguson riots....something that we "white folk" should know about since we rebelled against unjust rule by someone named King George...

Born and raise in the South and none of this surprises me in the least. The black community as well as the poor have many reasons to distrust pigs, don't trust them myself. My opinion and I have every right to hold and express it.

Laurel Lee ·  Top Commenter
Sue sue sue. Sue the city, county, state, the police dept, individuals like judges and prosecutors who scammed the poor and minorities while bailing out their family and friends, sue er'body involved in this terrorism of Americans! Sue for BILLIONS. And no, we won't bail out the state. They should go bankrupt and every poor and minority citizen should receive a check to help them relocate out of that hellhole.

A Peek Into Oakland California's Shocking Black Statistics

In 2001 the Oakland Police Department released one of its first batches of stop data. The findings were that African Americans were 3.3 times more likely to be searched than whites. Racial disparities were also evident in whether or not the encounter resulted in an arrest.

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, was running the ACLU of Northern California’s Racial Justice Project back then. She called the disproportionate searches of African Americans by the Oakland police “unacceptable.”

That was before the City of Oakland was sued over patterns and practices of misconduct, including racial profiling, and before a more than decade long reform effort began under the watch of a federal judge.

New stop data collected and recently released by OPD shows that not much has changed with respect to the racial disparity in stops, searches, and arrests. As Ali Winston and I reported in this week’s issue, 59 percent of all stops carried out by OPD from April 2013 to October 2014 were of African Americans, although African Americans only make up 28 percent of Oakland’s population. African Americans made up 73 percent of stops in which an officer claimed to have “reasonable suspicion” that a person is engaged in a criminal activity. The rate at which African Americans were stopped because of reasonable suspicion is much higher than for other races.

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African Americans also made up an overwhelming majority of persons stopped solely because they were identified by an officer as being on probation or parole. Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail is the fourteenth largest jail in the United States, and California’s prison system is the largest of any state. In Santa Rita Jail, it’s estimated that 55 percentof the prisoners are black. In the state prison system, 29 percent of inmates are black. 

Reflecting the reality of a legal system with a disproportionate number of African Americans under some kind of court supervision, half of all adults on probation in Alameda County are black, and 29 percent of the state’s prison inmates released on parole are black, many of them residing in Oakland under the watch of the OPD.

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A person can be stopped and searched by a police officer simply for being on probation or parole, and OPD’s stop data shows that probation or parole status is the most common reason given by Oakland’s police officers for searching an African American they have stopped. No other racial group is searched most of the time for probation or parole status. In fact, OPD’s data shows that more African Americans were searched simply because they are on probation or parole than all other racial groups combined were searched for any reason.

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For several decades now researchers have used stop data from all over the United States to test for racial profiling practices among police departments. The majority of studies show that, controlling for other factors, the race of a person influences why they will be stopped, and whether or not they will be searched and arrested. In other words, when it comes to policing, race matters in a way that harms non-whites, especially African Americans.

For example, a recent study by criminologists at Southern Illinois University and George Mason University lumped together the stop data from 27 different data sets to conduct a “meta analysis” to determine whether or not a person’s race influences a police officer’s decision to make an arrest.

“The research supports that race does factor into the arrest decision even when accounting for legal and other factors,” Tammy Kochel, one of the authors of the study explained to us in an email.

Earlier research on racial profiling has exposed the unequal treatment that non-whites, especially African Americans and Latinos, receive from the police. For example, a 2004 study using data collected through the Police-Public Contact Survey found the following:

“...young black and Hispanic males are at increased risk for citations, searches, arrests, and use of force after other extralegal and legal characteristics are controlled. Additional analysis show that minority drivers are not, however, more likely to be carrying contraband than are white drivers.”As for OPD's recently released data, a Stanford team led by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt is using the information to determine why there are such enormous racial disparities in Oakland.

So are Oakland’s police racially profiling? Or is the disparity due to factors beyond the control of the city’s cops, like the structural inequality of the courts and prisons, and economic problems afflicting the black community like unemployment and poverty?

For community organizers like Cat Brooks, there’s no need to wait on Stanford or gather more data. “I don’t think we need more research and more studies,” said Brooks, who is co-chair of Onyx Organizing Committee, in an interview. “It can’t be denied that black and brown folks are being profiled and targeted by the police.”

But Brooks also said the problem of police profiling isn't happening in a vacuum, and that in order to understand racial inequality at the hands of the law, we have to look beyond just the police. "We are looking at police racial profiling as if it’s an isolated piece of our society, rather than looking at it as one of many features of institutional racism that impacts black people’s lives everyday," said Brooks. "When you put it that way, of course black people are being profiled, the same way blacks are being pushed out, displaced from our homes,and locked out of job opportunities."

End Wealth Inequality And Grow Employment in America

Recent studies indicate that the wealth gap between whites and blacks is growing in Wisconsin and throughout the country. The figures paint a grim picture as we celebrate Black History Month in February.

For example:

• The wealth gap between white and black households is at its highest level since 1989, when whites were 17 times wealthier, according to a report from the Pew Research Center.

WalletHub measured financial inequality among racial groups in each state and the District of Columbia, analyzing 21 key metrics, ranging from the median household income to unemployment rate. The results show that Hispanic and black Americans remain firmly entrenched at the bottom of the economic ladder.

And lest we think Wisconsin is progressive in this regard, the WalletHub study showed the Badger State among the worst in several key indicators, including wide gaps between races in median household income, home ownership, poverty rate, educational attainment and the number of people insured.

Racial equality continues to be couched in moral terms that often ignore economic reality, according to findings in PolicyLink research.

"Equity — just and fair inclusion of all — has always been a moral imperative in this country, but a new consensus is emerging that equity is also an economic imperative," the report finds.

It adds that "scores" of economists and financial institutions are beginning to realize that "rising inequality and low wages for workers on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder are stifling growth and competitiveness ..."

"Solutions" to the problem vary from raising the minimum wage to gaining more entrepreneurial opportunities for minorities to an outright end to institutional racism.

The wealth gap has existed for the entirety of black history in this country, from the days of slavery forward. Much progress has occurred since those dark days, but much still needs to happen before wage and wealth equality comes to fruition, particularly now that "minorities" are becoming the majority in this country.

One thing is certain — it likely won't be a matter of a rising tide lifting all boats. The Pew Research report shows American households — of all races — still struggling to recover from the most recent recession of 2007 to 2010. During that period, median net worth of American families decreased by 39.4 percent, from $135,700 to $82,300. Rapidly plunging house prices and a stock market crash were the immediate contributors to this shellacking, according to the report.

While the economy is slowly coming out of that mess, there remains no easy fix for income inequality. The key likely lies in public policies that promote a more level playing field and that create opportunities for everyone across a broader spectrum of jobs.

One thing is certain, according to the reports: We must seek to end income inequality to better the country and its economy.

"Advancing equity — ensuring that all people, regardless of their race or zip code, have the resources and opportunities they need to reach their full potential — is both the right thing to do and a smart economic strategy," according to PolicyLink.

An end to racial inequality isn't just a nice, fuzzy feeling for a month during the year. It is a necessity for economic growth.

Black And Latino Chicago Teens Face Barren Job Market, New Report Finds

The difference between life on the streets and having a future is a summer job, several teens testified at a recent Chicago Urban League hearing on the city's high youth unemployment rate.

"Summer jobs took me out the streets," said Juan Cortes, who grow up in Chicago's West Lawn neighborhood and lost friends to gun violence. "When I would be working, they would be on the streets."

Cortes, 18, is lucky. He was able to find employment through the Latino Organization of the Southwest. The nonprofit helped the now expectant father go to school for his commercial driver's license.

But many of his peers, especially black and Latino youths, aren't so lucky. They remain jobless even as the nation's unemployment rate, at 5.6 percent, is at its lowest level since the start of the 2008 recession, according to a new study.

The report called, Frayed Connection: Joblessness Among Teens in Chicago, found that just 13 percent of Chicago teens aged 16 to 19 held a job between 2011 and 2013. That's down from more than 32 percent at its most recent height in 1998 to 2000 and a decrease from 15.6 percent in the two immediate preceeding years of 2008 and 2010, which coincide with the economic downturn.

Nationally, 26.6 percent of teens were employed between 2011 and 2013. Illinois teens fared slightly better than the national average with an employment rate of 27.6 percent between the years of 2011 and 2013. Nonetheless, the state employment rate for teens between 2011 and 2013 was markedly lower than what was seen in the late 1990s, when youth employment levels were at 49.5 percent.

The study, which utilized data from the American Community Survey as well as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey, paints an even bleaker picture for Chicago's black teens, particularly males. Only 10.5 percent of all black teens in Chicago held jobs in 2012 to 2013, down from 16 percent in 2006 and 2007. And just 9 percent of black teenage males were employed in 2012 to 2013, which is down from 14 percent in 2006 and 2007. Latinos fared better with 21.2 percent holding jobs in 2012 to 2013, while 30.3 percent of white teens were employed during the same time period. According to the report:

In Chicago, Illinois, and the U.S., minority male teens, Black male teens in particular, faced severe challenges in obtaining any type of paid employment. Between 2006-07 and 2012- 13, the employment rate among Chicago's Black male teens declined from 14 percent to just 9 percent; the lowest employment rate among their peers among the major race-ethnic groups. A startling 91 percent of teenaged Black males in Chicago were jobless in 2012-13. In Illinois, the employment rate among Black male teens dropped from 18 percent in 2006-07 to 11 percent in 2012-13. In comparison to their peers nationwide, Black male teens in both Chicago city and Illinois had much lower employment rates in 2006-07 and 2012-13. In the entire U.S., the Black male teen employment rate declined from 24 percent in 2006-07 to 17 percent in 2012-13, a decline of 6.6 percentage points. 

White teen employment in Chicago did not decline as sharply (as Illinois or the nation) since a disproportionate share (indeed most) of the city's resident White teens were enrolled in school while most of the teen employment decline in the city has occurred among out-of-school teens. This issue should be explored more carefully in the future.

Several factors contribute to Chicago's teen employment numbers, said Paul Harrington, the study's co-author and Drexel University's director of the Center for Labor Markets and Policy. The poor pace of job creation in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis is one factor, he explained at the Friday hearing.

Those job losses, Harrington added, hit young people the hardest, particularly in Illinois. The state lost 400,000 jobs over a three-year period and only saw 270,000 positions return. Illinois only created 67 jobs for every 100 lost, ranking the state "43rd in the country with ... its ability to create an economic comeback," Harrington noted.

Compounding the issue is the fact that teens are competing with older workers, he added. Many workers 55 and older who saw their pension "go bust" during the recession were forced back into the workplace and into entry level jobs once reserved for teens and young adults.

"When the economy got beat up, it was really the youngest people that bore the burden of that economic downturn," Harrington said.

Household income is another factor at play when it comes to teen employment numbers, according to the study. Just seven out of 100 black Chicago teens with household incomes of less than $20,000 were employed in 2012 to 2013. Meanwhile, employment levels were greater among Chicago youths with higher household incomes. Employment levels were at 25.1 percent for white teens and 16.6 percent for Latino teens with household incomes between $20,000 and $39,000. Employment rates continued to climb with household income levels. White, Latino and black teens with household incomes of $100,000 to $149,000 had employment levels of 41.1 percent, 29.8 percent and 17.7 percent, respectively. This trend was seen at the state level as well.

"Higher income kids come from households where work is common and that allows a teenager to network in the labor market in ways that low-income teenagers can't," Harrington explained.

Youth testifying before the panel of elected city and state officials shared how the ability to get a job improved their lives. Many testified that summer jobs kept them off the streets, out of trouble and allowed them to contribute to their households. That, they say, is why elected officials should continue to fund -- not cut -- summer jobs as well as create year-round job opportunities.

"I do feel like it is very important that elected officials should provide support for summer youth employment, because it gives youth responsibility," said Mallory Hardin, 23, who works at a Target store in the South Loop. She received job training through the Chicago Urban League.

Jobs, she added, provide youth with more than just money. It teaches them how to dress appropriately for a job interview, and subsequent work, along with ways to become a productive member of society.

David Elam said his job with the Chicago Area Project (CAP) helped turn his life around. Before getting involved with CAP in 2011, Elam turned to the streets because he thought it was a "quicker way to earn a living."

"I wasn't even out on the streets a week before I got into trouble. I knew at that point it wasn't for me," said 24-year-old Elam, who became involved with the group while on probation. Now he works full time as a youth organizer with the West Garfield-based group Fathers Who Care.

"They gave me a chance," he said of CAP, adding that sometimes youth just need to know someone cares.

Harrington called creating jobs for youth an investment that offers "strong economic returns." Working teens, he said, are more likely to attend and graduate from college. They also are more likely to have a job and earn 20 percent to 25 percent more when they enter adulthood, according to Harrington.

"Getting kids jobs when they are 15, 16, 17 years-old matters a lot," he added.

The Alternative Schools Network commissioned the report. ASN's executive director Jack Wuest wanted to show the desperate employment gap facing black and Latino youths.

"It's not hopeless," Wuest said, noting that the testimony shows the benefits of investing in youth employment. "We know it works and there has to be a commitment and prioritizing [of] funding so there is more of these [opportunities], and not less."

Wuest urged the private sector to do more to create jobs for youth because "we know the governmental sector, which has provided jobs ... is kind of the employer of last resort for kids."

Commissioner Evelyn Diaz, of Chicago's Department of Family and Support Services, echoed Wuest's sentiment. She said businesses must understand and see the value in hiring youth.

"I think we need to do a better job of that," Diaz said. "That's the only way we are going to make a dent in that 91 percent number [of unemployed black male teens]. We will never do it with just the public sector alone. It has to be public and private, and it has been a very difficult case to make; to get the private sector to care enough about hiring young people."

Aricka Flowers contributed to this report.

Economics and progress during Black History Month

Each February there are celebrations, assignments, contests and even deals and promotions as Black History Month comes in. And while we look back at historical figures, enjoy recitations of speeches and dressing up to act out historic events and personalities, perhaps in 2015, this month can be devoted to looking forward. It’s time we not only examine the accomplishments of the past but also seek to write a bright future.

The harsh reality of Black existence, whether unemployment, deaths from cancer, AIDS, suicide or gunfire, poverty, homelessness or hunger, demands that we use every available moment to meet these challenges head on. It was the meeting of challenges that made the venerable ones we remember worthy of remembrance. And the purpose of Negro History Week, as envisioned by Carter G. Woodson, was clear. “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated,” he warned.

Dr. Woodson, born in 1875, founded Negro History Week in February 1926. He chose the second week of February in honor of two men who had influenced the lives of Blacks in America, the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. A historian as well as a writer and journalist, he founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Among the first to study Black history, he also founded the Journal of Negro History in 1916 and is recognized as the father of Black historical studies.

Let’s look to the father of Black History observances for some wisdom: “They still have some money, and they have needs to supply. They must begin immediately to pool their earnings and organize industries to participate in supplying social and economic demands.”

In the 20th century Dr. Woodson recognized the need for Black economic endeavors and entrepreneurship as part of the solution to the problem of Negro suffering and degradation. It is time we took hold of that idea.

Columnist James Clingman once called for “Reclaiming Black Dollars during Black History Month.” “There was a time in this nation when Black people did all the things we are discussing today pertaining to economic empowerment, business development, and business support,” he wrote in a column in 2013.

“So why the emphasis on reclaiming what we had prior to the mid-1960’s? Just take a look at the latest projections of Black income in this country—$1 trillion annually! Is that enough reason to get back to basic economic empowerment via the dollars that make their way through our pockets and purses? Although it is called Black buying ‘power’ we must understand that it is only power for those with whom we spend it. Thus, we must get back to spending more of our dollars with our own businesses, just as other groups shamelessly and unapologetically do every day,” he continued.

“Whenever this topic comes up Black folks seem to have some uneasiness about it. Some of us think it won’t go over well with other groups, that they will think we are being unfair and discriminatory. I have never heard the brothers and sisters from India called unfair because they set up and support their grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, and anything else they may need. Nor have I ever heard anyone accuse the Chinese people of discriminating by carving out China Towns in major cities, eating at their own restaurants and hiring their own family members and others who look like them,” added Mr. Clingman, a longtime advocate for Black business development and pooling of Black resources.

In recent years, reports and studies about wealth, income and housing have shown reasons for grave concern. A State of the Dream study by United for a Fair Economy pointed out that between 2007 and 2010:

• Black families lost 27.1 percent of their average net worth

• Black families had a higher debt burden

• Black families had slightly more than $17,000 in retirement accounts compared to $109,000 for the average White family

• The average net worth of Blacks was $97,995 compared to $629,736 for Whites

Yet Blacks are a large and growing economic power in the U.S. and that will increase over the next several decades as the population increases, according to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. Blacks currently make up 13.1 percent of the U.S. population.

“This proportion is expected to increase from 13.23 percent in 2015 to 14.71 percent in 2060; in case of African Americans with one race or in combination with other races, the proportion is projected to increase from 14.39 percent to 18.41 percent during the same time frame,” the group noted.

Seeing the continued challenges and potential opportunity, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam reintroduced Muhammad’s Economic Blueprint in 2013 as way to combat poverty and want in the Black community. The plan calls for 16 million Black wage earners to donate 35 cents per week, $18.20 per year to The monies donated will be used to purchase land and create jobs and industry. The Nation of Islam’s “do for self” program and history of teaching Blacks to not look to the U.S. government for jobs is an example of why the program is a practical and viable solution for Black America in 2015 and beyond.

We should study history all year round—but this year, let’s declare and begin to assert some economic independence.