By Alexis Garrett Stodghill
Writer Amy Wesgaw recently published a piece on Technorati questioning what role working from home will play in reviving America’s economy. In her heartfelt essay, she outlines many of the frustrations of struggling with unemployment, and the increased stress for those overworked in the smaller labor pool. These new facts of life have transformed what was once something only for stay at home moms into a desirable source of income for everybody. For the black community, developing work from home expertise could make or break us economically.
Stories about how African-Americans have been hit harder by the recession than other groups abound. Our unemployment rate is over 16% — almost twice that of the general population. For black men and teens, these rates are even worse. Black adolescent joblessness is at roughly 40%, and African-American men have been deemed “the recessions biggest victims.”
Very few government agencies are doing anything to address these problems. The city of Milwaukee is the first locale to make an attempt to help black men with specially designed programs — and this initiative started a month ago. At this rate, more efforts have to be made by our leaders if there is any hope of eradicating what for black America is a Great Depression. We must unite to better capitalize on our considerable financial power and inborn cultural creativity. Generating work from home opportunities can be a substantial tool in combating our economic plight.
This is where learning from an expert like LaShanda Henry comes in. As the founder of the web sites Sistasense.com, Multiple Shades of You Online, and Black Business Women Online, Ms. Henry earns her living from home building online destinations — and teaching black women how to be Internet entrepreneurs. Henry provides services to them like graphic design, but also supports and nurtures her clients so they can learn how to make money on the web.
This enables LaShanda to create a win-win situation for herself, her clients, and African-Americans at large. Through selling her skills from home and empowering other black women to do the same, she empowers us to circulate vital knowledge and resources within our ranks.
LaShanda was not always a work from home expert. She decided to make that leap of faith when she became pregnant with her son. “It is the best decision I could have made,” she told The Atlanta Post. “I am now making more than double what I made before and more importantly I’ve been able to watch my son grow up.”
Now in her early thirties, Henry represents a wave of new African-American business leaders whose empowering skills can truly lift all boats. She may not have realized it, but LaShanda was part of the 60% growth spike of black-owned businesses founded between 2002 and 2007. According to a 2010 Washington Post article analyzing this trend, some researchers fear that the recession will crush this historic development. Others think rampant joblessness will lead minorities to work even harder to create their own jobs.