Freedom Rider: Black Unemployment Ignored

Submitted by Margaret Kimberley on Mon, 07/27/2009 - 23:10
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
not hiring.  go away.by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The damage inflicted on Black America since the economic meltdown is absolutely unprecedented in modern times – but African Americans have yet to “develop an agenda and make the requisite demands” of power. In New York City, Black unemployment is “more than four times as high as white joblessness. “The trajectory for black America goes ever downward, even as the presence of a black man in the White House gives the mirage-like appearance of success for all.”
 
Freedom Rider: Black Unemployment Ignored
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“Obama downplayed the singularity of the black experience.”
Black Americans and their ever growing list of problems are not on anyone’s agenda. They are not on the presidential agenda, or the congressional agenda. Even the Congressional Black Caucus leadership takes a hands off approach to their constituents’ dire situation. Unless African Americans develop an agenda and make the requisite demands, economic prospects will continue to decline.
The news for black people is rarely positive, and the recession without end has only exacerbated an already terrible condition. According to the New York City Comptroller, black unemployment in that city is more than four times as high as white unemployment, a rate of 14.7% for blacks and 3.7% for whites. Black unemployment rose more than 9 percentage points in the past year, a 167% increase.When referring to unemployment statistics it must be remembered that the jobless no longer receiving benefits are not included in these numbers. To add insult to injury, no one in a position of power to change the situation will admit that racism is the cause of the disparity.
The New York Times will report the numbers, but manages to find economists and other experts who shrug their shoulders and express shock that the disparity continues to worsen. The reason for the unemployment free fall is apparently a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes.
“Black unemployment rose more than 9 percentage points in the past year, a 167% increase.”
The “r” word, racism, is like black people, off the table and prohibited from being discussed. Recessions give employers an opportunity to rid themselves of unwanted employees, and black and unwanted seem to be synonymous. The preference of many whites to be surrounded by more white faces is easier to justify when layoffs take place. Lo and behold, the cuts come at the bottom of the organizational chart, where the black faces are located, and not at the top, where a paler hue is the norm.
Black New York is doing very badly indeed. Not only are more black residents out of work, but they are losing their homes at an alarming rate. The cost of living, particularly the cost of housing, has driven many of them out of the city altogether. The black population of New York continues to decline, a fact which is not surprising, but is nonetheless indicative of numerous policies that have failed the country’s cities.
It is ironic that the NAACP annual convention met in New York City the same week that the dismal job numbers were released. Conventioneers happily took in the sights of New York City and enjoyed many receptions. Of course, they were pleased beyond words that the president of the United States chose to address them.
“The preference of many whites to be surrounded by more white faces is easier to justify when layoffs take place.”
If they anticipated words of significance or meaning, they must have been terribly disappointed. The speech was more boring and predictable than anything else. The president followed a now well worn pattern in which he acknowledges that a problem exists, in this case racism, but then proceeds to tell his audience not to complain too much about it. He added the now well known story of his single mother, a story told for the purpose of avoiding criticism from black people. He had a single mother after all and she struggled, and he became president. The biographical anecdotes tell the audience to be quiet and allow the rulers to rule without any input from pesky citizens with big ideas. 
The president is no fool. After all, he was in New York just a few days after the announcement of the unemployment numbers. So he did mention them, although very briefly, but as always he downplayed the singularity of the black experience and spoke of discrimination effecting gay people and Muslims and immigrants. He stuck with his “rising tide lifts all boats” meme and pleaded for patience because he is working so hard on the economy.
The unique circumstances of black Americans will get no attention from the Obama administration unless crowds stop adoring him and start making demands on him. The trajectory for black America goes ever downward, even as the presence of a black man in the White House gives the mirage-like appearance of success for all. If black people continue to lose assets, homes and jobs and fail to bring attention to their plight, then hackneyed speeches from Obama will be all we will get. 
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.

  

Share this

3 comments

I hope there is no more

Submitted by Willis on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 22:56.

I hope there is no more discrimination issues in the world. We have been dealing a lot with this in the past. When will the people grow up? free ads |job|memory foam mattress

There is no one or two simple

Submitted by emil300 on Thu, 08/06/2009 - 02:17.

There is no one or two simple strategies that will markedly alter the employment situation of black males, especially those with no formal schooling beyond high school.
But a diverse array of macro- and micro-economic strategies, both short- and long-term, will be needed to substantively boost the employment rates of members of this group, especially among the young
Regards, Emil frases celebres

Drupal theme by Kiwi Themes.