Here in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk,” policy (government sanctioned racial profiling) was the main topic the mayoral candidates addressed during the primaries in September 2013. It was a diversion from the real problem in New York City and in America. The Real Problem: The national unemployment rate for August 2013 was 7.3%. For whites it was 6.4% and for African Americans it was 13.0%. In 1954 the unemployment rate for whites was 5%. For African Americans it was 9.9%. For at least the past 59 years the unemployment rate for African Americans has been double that of whites. [FYI: August 2013 unemployment rate for Hispanics 9.3%, Asians 5.1%.]
The unemployment rate for the “stop & frisk” target group (African American males ages 18 to 29) today is about 20.9%. If we lower the unemployment rate for that group to the whites’ rate of 6.4%, there would be no one to stop and frisk. The target group would be at work instead on the street.
The unemployment rate gap in America has to close. (See Black Unemployment Rate Consistently Twice That of Whites) Federal, state and local governments need to commit to that. What we hear from politicians is, “We’ve got to create more jobs.” Something needs to be done about access to the jobs. Whites control access to most jobs. White men dominate almost every industry. As long as that is the case, whites will continue to have the lower unemployment rate and the higher paying jobs. Magazines like Ebony and Black Enterprise make it seem as though things are better than they are. They do encourage entrepreneurship and that is the best direction.
On November 30, 2009, the New York Times published an article, “In Job Hunt, College Degree Can’t Close Racial Gap,” saying that race remains an obstacle in the job market. Having an MBA from a top school doesn’t help your chances if you are African American. That has got to change and politicians need to step up and show they have the backbone to make some bold recommendations. But, Democrats are too afraid to tackle this problem. Republicans are too ______. They want to keep “stop& amp; frisk,” in New York City. It feeds the prison industrial complex.
A white friend of mine told me what he witnessed several years ago. A young Black man walked through the doors where he worked, college degree and resume in hand, looking for a job. This was a small Wall Street stock brokerage firm in Manhattan. My friend told the young man to have a seat and summoned his boss. The boss talked with the young man right there in the lobby and had him complete a job application. My friend overheard his boss tell the young man there weren’t any openings but he will keep his application and resume on file. “You’re just the kind of person we’d like to have here,” the boss was heard so say. When the young man left, the boss tossed the application and resume into the waste basket and went back to his office.
The Black job seeker did not know that he had just been discriminated against nor how many times that happened to him during his job search. Just as we, African Americans, were told by our parents that we have to be ten times better than the white guy in order to be considered equal, we have to apply for ten times as many jobs in order to get one serious consideration.
I recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama, citing the statistics I mentioned and asked what he intends to do to close the gap. I know he won’t do anything. Unfortunately, the Conservative Tea Party Republicans are waiting to crucify President Obama as soon as he even hints that he wants to do something that specifically helps African Americans. He knows that. We know that. He needs to risk it.
To my knowledge no one has ever worked on the real solution … Close the Unemployment Rate Gap. I have never heard an African American politician or any politician say anything about it. Will you step up the plate or ask your local, state and federal legislative representatives to read this and take action? <>