Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Addressing Black Unemployment

Among other things, a major concern of black studies is to care about the struggles of black people. Not just the historical struggles, but the ongoing ones. Consequently, it's hard not to give serious thought to the increasing and distressing problems with black unemployment and underemployment.

For now, we don't have a lot of answers. But one step might involve raising awareness about what folks are struggling through in these tough times.

Consider Krissah Thompson's Milwaukee struggles with African American Unemployment
For black people in Wisconsin, the jobless numbers reached a new high in October, the month Matthews lost his job. The unemployment rate for African Americans surpassed that of every other state, reaching an average of 22 percent for the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationally, the unemployment rate is 10 percent, but according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, nearly one out of every two black men in Milwaukee is not working, compared with 18.1 percent of white men and 22.1 percent of Hispanic men.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote about the disproportionate struggles of African Americans in his article Black in the Age of Obama, noting that the unemployment rate for black people is twice that of white Americans.

Some commentators and politicians have been doing more and more to call on Obama to address the problems of black folks and unemployment in direct ways. So far, Obama has resisted and decided to focus on the nation as a whole. The Congressional Black Caucus disagrees with his approach.

Last week, Maxine Waters was part of a group of caucus members who boycotted a Finance Committee meeting in order to draw attention to the economic woes of African Americans. Waters explained that
The 10 African-American members of the Financial Services Committee have cooperated with the leadership, we have cooperated with the administration, we have supported the bail out and now we’re saying, what do we get for all of this cooperation? What are we delivering to our communities? And the answer is little or nothing.

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