The Fourth of July, Black Unemployment and Senator Barbara Lee

July 2, 2010                                               
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, released the following statement today after the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued the June jobs report showing that unemployment is down to 9.5 percent:
“Today’s unemployment number continues to show signs that the economy is improving, however, the pace of our nation’s economic recovery is further evidence that government action to stimulate the economy and create jobs must remain a top priority. “The unemployment rate for African Americans remains unacceptably high at 15.4 percent. Likewise, African American and Latino teens are unemployed at 46.4 and 35.7 percent respectively, compared to an overall teen unemployment rate of 29 percent. “These gross disparities continue to underscore the urgent need for Congress to enact measures targeting communities that have been disproportionately hit by the economic slowdown and lag behind in the recovery. [emphasis mine] No specific measures are mentioned in the statement so I have to wonder whether people have just run out of ideas. The more time passes, the problem worsens and hope dwindles which causes some hopes to dwindle. It’s a vicious cycle. I really do not like or intend to comment regarding politicians but I believe it’s our duty to discuss policies that have disparate impact on law abiding, tax-paying ‘minority’ Americans.
“Last night, the House of Representatives approved a supplemental appropriations request that included $1 billion for youth employment programs, which will create 350,000 jobs for young people ages 14 to 24. I urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly approve this measure when they return to Washington D.C. after July 4th holiday. “ [emphasis mine]
Earlier this year, the Congressional Black Caucus criticized the President for not taking enough measures for economic issues affecting the black community. However, the President doesn’t have total control of what’s happening in Congress and to a significant degree it’s Congress’ fault for not being able to reconcile certain differences while children are literally living on the street with parents and families continue to face foreclosures. I find it ironic that one party states that the unemployment measure was not passed because  it would add to the deficit. So does supporting big corporations, with exorbitant tax breaks and the TARP bill bailout, who are the major market participants laying off employees contributing to the increase unemployment, no one wants to discussed how much that added to the national deficit. It’s o.k. to help corporate America, just not American citizens.  Anyway, many believe the President does not address these issues that affects the broader American people and more specifically Black Americans, from the Halls of Congress, to the Black suburbanites, the criticism is voiced:  
June 25: 2010:  Black Congress, critical of Obama, to convene in D.C. to set black agenda : Indybay

March 11, 2010:  Congressional Black Caucus: President Obama’s not listening – Lisa Lerer and Nia-Malika Henderson – POLITICO.com

I can understand the perceived divisiveness that speaking of Black and other minority issues can be. Especially when the broader American economy is suffering, which entails some White Americans who are impacted as well. However, just as Black and other minorities have been impacted the most, treating them with the a broader policy may actually cause them to slip through the cracks without providing a solution. Thus, when confronting a specific problem, it’s reasonable to work towards specific solutions though it will cause others who are not in the target group to feel comfortable with the notion.

As one woman states in July 2, 2010, 13A, USA Today’s paper:

…most years, I took great pleasure in reading the powerful Frederick Douglass speech, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” [sic] Though delivered in 1852 during slavery the words have rich meaning for me, even today.

“What to the American slave, isyour 4th of July,” he thundered to a crowd in Rochester, NY. “I answer, a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celbration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity…yourshouts of liberty and equality a hollow mockery.” [emphasis mine]

The speech is a scathing indictment of U.S. hypocrisy.  If you called me on July 4, I would probably read you some of its rich and powerful passages. Our nation has come a long way since 1852, but for many African Americans, shouts of liberty are still hollow mockery. Unemployment is a scourge on all Americans, but the black unemployment rate, at 15.3% in May, is nearly twice the white rate. Every economic indicator–income, wealth, home ownership–screams inequality.”  ●●Julianne Malveaux

Harsh, yet truthful words for a harsh reality.

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4 Comments »

  1. Ford Said:

    @BL1Y
    Sadly, grad programs of every stripe try to recruit black college grads to their programs regardless of the student’s chance for success and a career. Law has a better chance of success because the degree prerequisite is lax compared to engineering, med school, and business masters degrees.

    That said, the jobless rate for minorities isn’t just in law, but in every industry.

  2. BL1Y Said:

    The increase in the black unemployment rate is largely due to law school diversity initiatives. Black college grads, or which there are desperately too few, are lured into law school where they can expect their chances at a job to quickly vanish.

    • A Law School Victim Said:

      It’s an ironic twist, a diversity initiative with prospects of upward mobility only to be be put in a worse position than you were before. Ayeh.

  3. Mark F. Said:

    Actually, the reason unemployment numbers improved a bit is because they don’t count the hundreds of thousands of discouraged workers who would like to work but have stopped actively looking.


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