Saturday, May 2, 2015


It's time to help young people like this!
       The number of unemployed urban African American young people has reached epic proportions. The problem cannot be solved over night, but there are practical steps that could be taken immediately.
        I mentioned two obvious ones in my previous article: Congress should pass the American Jobs Acts and the Infrastructure bill, which together would put millions of Americans back to work. See GET WITH IT, CONGRESS! They should also pass the minimum wage act for the sake of the working poor.
        In addition, I would propose that every employer of any size in every city or town with a serious unemployment problem hire at least one unemployed African American within the next few days. This would include corporations, small businesses, schools, hospitals, churches, service agencies —every employer!  The mayor of each city should appoint a task force to promote the effort, to enlist the participants, and to coordinate and oversee the program, which would have to include a training element to provide applicants with the needed skills. There has to be an intentionality about such an effort, building upon the civic mindedness and humanitarian instincts of the entire community. What if every city across America would engage in such a program? Imagine the effect!

A scene from Baltimore's black ghetto
        Along with opportunities for employment another morale booster would be a well coordinated urban renewal project involving the residents themselves. Enlist them in cleaning up and fixing up their own neighborhoods. Turn boarded up, empty homes into decent and affordable housing, and find the funds to pay the participants for their efforts. Local businesses and private citizens could be expected to contribute to such an effort, as the whole community stands to benefit from the elimination of urban blight. It can be done! But it has to be intentionalized.  

         Many of the youth in poverty-stricken neighborhoods are high school drop outs, lacking in employable skills, often with reading and writing deficiencies. Churches, synagogues, mosques, and service organizations could organize volunteers to teach and train such youth and help them to find suitable jobs to match their skills. In the churches I have served the volunteers have derived as much satisfaction from such programs as the young people they have helped. The recipients of their outreach are always so grateful for what they learn.
        For too long we who are fortunate enough to have jobs and at least some degree of upward mobility, have ignored the problems of the poor and the jobless in our midst. The Freddie Gray incident in my home town of Baltimore has shaken our nation out of its lethargy. We can’t ignore the problem any longer. It’s time to act.
        I have suggested a few steps that could be taken to deal with the poverty and unemployment that is rampant in urban America.  Those who take the initiative will find there is plenty of room for creative ideas and thinking outside the box in the effort to make the American dream a reality for all Americans.
       As one sports figure once put it, "Let’s get to gettin'!"

1 comment:

  1. Excellent piece. Keep up the good work. Happy Blogging!