A few months ago, an estimated 5,000 unemployed souls braved the unrelenting, Dirty-South to attend a job fair in Atlanta where ninety companies were reportedly present. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 8.6 percent.
The black unemployment rate is nearly double at 15.5 percent, down from 16 percent in October – this includes 17 percent for black men, 13.8 percent for black women, and (gulp)… 39.9 percent for black teens.
Remember the unemployment rate doesn’t take into account those individuals who are either underemployed or have conceded rejection. So, in reality, black joblessness is somewhere along the lines of 30 percent. Why are so many African-Americans being shunned from full-time employment?
What do employers see or not see in us?
What’s our motivation for trying to embark upon a new career when every statistical number says blacks are being ignored in the job market?
“You got children, you got kids, you got bills,” said Derric Clayton, a former security guard with three children whose been seeking work since May. “You’ve got to stay somewhere. You don’t want to be homeless.”
In giving reasons for non-hire, a Chicago-based employer let the cat out the bag recently by citing a plethora of racial stereotypes in describing blacks as “uneducated,” “unskilled,” “unstable,” “illiterate,” “dishonest,” “lack initiative,” “unmotivated,” “involved with gangs and drugs,” “don’t understand work,” “lack charm,” “have no family values,” and are “poor role models.”
Now, those of us with common sense understand such racial stereotypes are completely untrue.
After all, the job market is saturated with legions of intelligent African-Americans equipped with college degrees and ample work experience. Still, perception is typically construed as reality. To bring about positive economic change, it’s imperative we take the steps necessary to invert our professional reputation.
We can start the correction process by condemning commercial forces that advocate and profit from the perilous sale of gangsta rap, misogyny, excess tattoos and all other filth counterproductive to landing gainful employment.
In addition to the aforementioned stereotypes, we can’t underestimate the rising economic power associated with globalization and outsourcing. With so many jobs being shipped overseas, labor intensive positions that once paid $20 per hour are now offering only $10. Without a college education, it’s very difficult to secure above average wages.
Compounding matters is the disturbing fact black dropout rates have skyrocketed in recent years while college enrollment has subsequently descended; specifically in the case of black men.
If morale isn’t low enough, studies have shown African-Americans equipped with college degrees are hired at a far lower rate than their white counterparts; regardless of GPA and/or experience.
Then there’s the theory claiming some employers simply refuse to interview candidates with black-sounding names. Imagine that? The Tyrones, Chiquitas and Alfonsos of the world don’t stand a chance.
High prison rates among people of color have played an even bigger role in the decimation of Black America as ex-convicts receive no love from employers.