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The TPP & Communities of Color

* If not resisted, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is poised to become the largest Free Trade Agreement in U.S. history dwarfing pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The AFL-CIO warns that literally millions of American jobs are in jeopardy if the TPP continues on its current trajectory. This will adversely affect almost all working class people in the United States (and abroad), but communities of color will be hit the hardest.

* As Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report has pointed out, the African American middle class in this country is largely the result of black workers fighting for union-wage jobs in the manufacturing industry and in public employment. These are some of the first jobs destroyed by so-called "free trade" deals like the TPP which free large corporations to ship jobs around the globe to wherever workers are the most exploited. Look no further than Detroit for an example of how this plays out. Good-paying manufacturing jobs are shipped overseas; middle-class families lose their livelihoods; there is a ripple effect of less business going to local small businesses as their customers become unemployed; there's also both less revenue in the form of taxes and fees for public services, leading to additional public sector layoffs; simultaneously, there is an increased demand for underfunded public services; and all this exerts a downward pressure on wages and benefits across the board.

* All working class Americans are hurt by this, but people of color are often the first fired and last hired, and on average typically have much less accumulated wealth than whites, making it even more difficult to weather the storm. A couple of years ago Pew Charitable Trusts released a report finding that nearly half of all black Americans born into solidly middle-class families in the 1960s have since plunged into the ranks of the working poor as adults forty years later. There isn't a "cultural" reason for this; it's the direct result of anti-worker policies that have hit people of color the hardest first.

* Of course, communities of color abroad are brutalized even further. The TPP's race-to-the-bottom will affect people in countries that aren't even party to the TPP. For instance, one study predicts 100,000 textile job losses across Central American countries and many see the TPP as a deliberate strategy for undercutting wages and worker movements in China.

* NAFTA was a major driver of forced migration from Mexico to the United States, as rural Mexican families were forced almost-overnight into impossibly competing with a flood of imports of taxpayer-subsidized corn, wheat and soy from the United States. The TPP will spread this phenomenon to new countries, and in furthering the global race-to-the-bottom in wages, is likely to cause additional offshoring of jobs not just from the U.S. but throughout the Americas.

* This is all without even getting into the disproportionate impacts the TPP is likely to have on communities of color in the U.S. and globally in terms of environmental justice, indigenous sovereignty, consumer safety, medicine prices and other areas.