The question is why is the unemployment rate for black Americans still so high? Why does this situation exist and persist? The short answer is a combination of poverty and a general overall lack of education is what makes the unemployment rate double what it is for white Americans. Both the lack of great public K-12 education for poverty stricken children and the lack of resources to get a college education are two of the biggest reasons the unemployment rate for black Americans is so much higher than the general population. As our society as a whole becomes more educated, the black race continues to fall further behind. As the education system becomes more balanced for people of all races, genders and sexual orientation in terms of the quality of the content delivered becomes equal throughout we will achieve equity from an educational standpoint. Many of our societal problems and issues will subside, or diminish greatly.
Poverty stricken adults, have to think about how to survive the day, week, or month. It is impossible to think beyond that. They worry about how to pay the electric bill and the rent in the same week. They work overtime to be able to pay for the most basic things. Many can’t afford to own a car or a house or have any kind of savings, or a bank account at all for that matter. They cash their check at the corner store on Fridays and they are broke on Monday. There is no going out to lunch with the co-workers on the company. The only kind of bonus they get from their employer is a turkey at Christmas time. The law of nature and self-preservation kick in. Instead of getting an education, they believe, “If I have to get a job to help my family to have the basics, food and shelter, then education can take a back seat.” This lack of education makes the poverty stricken black community disposable. They end up working low-level positions, in at-will employment, making them a dime a dozen. They can be hired and fired on a whim.
There are many explanations beyond education and poverty, as to why the unemployment rate is the way it is for black Americans. Some say there is a lot more road to cover, therefore it is just taking longer to snap back. Others say black people experience longer unemployment lengths than other races. Other explanations include, “The résumés of black workers, on average, are less competitive…they are less likely to have a college education… [And] are more likely to have been convicted of a crime” (nytimes.com, 2015). With all of these different explanations, there has to be something that our society can do to improve the lives of this group of citizens.
The one thing that isn’t mentioned when explaining unemployment is this: Black people have been notorious for bucking up against, “the system” or refusing to “work for the man,” leaving them unemployed by their own doing. Some believe the only people in power are white, that no matter what they do or how hard they work they won’t be able to be anyone of importance. They feel discouraged. Personally, I was encouraged. I knew I could do it too. I could find success just like any other person. The color of people’s skin did not matter to me. It was inconsequential in my mind. I became educated, worked hard, was persistent and accountable. I didn’t believe, “the man” could keep me down. I believe we all work together to accomplish business goals. I believed my hard work would pay off. And, it did. Boy, how it did!
What I urge everyone to think about is their circle of influence. Ask yourselves, is what I am doing going to make our society better for all? Let your circle know they can get a grant or a loan to go to college. Tell them to do what they need to do to survive, but to make time for school. Preach to your circle, let them know education should take a front seat! Stay in school. Get a college education. I just learned you can take two semesters of community college while you get your high school diploma or GED. You don’t even have to have a diploma to get started in college. School, work, study! Make progress within your circle of influence. Impact those who are closest to you. With that, you can create a ripple effect. With your pebble of influence, you can create waves. Waves of change.