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Black America in a Depression: In Need of a Stimulus Plan

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Hardy L. BrownLast week, The Black Voice News reporter Chris Levister reported that the African American community is suffering an unemployment rate equivalent to that of the great depression. This is an accurate picture of what Black America has faced since we had full employment during enslavement. At every turn since then people have developed policies that appear neutral and fair in writing but accurately discriminate in application. For the past sixty years, the Black unemployment rate has been double that of our White citizens whether in good or bad economic times with the current statistics bearing the same bad news. As reported by Levister, the unemployment of Whites is at 9.5% and Blacks at 15.7% with the overall rate standing at 10.2% for the nation.

According to the most recent report given to us Monday, the unemployment rate has shown a drop of 2 percentage points and according to my research assistant Christopher Kyle Davis the trend is that Whites have dropped to 9.3% and Blacks are at 15.6%. Whites are being hired at a higher rate than Blacks and if this trend continues, it will keep with the status quo in this country that is unacceptable to me. This still leaves the Black community unemployed at a rate double that of Whites. Here in the Inland Empire, the total unemployment rate is 14.6 percent. According to Levister, the unemployment rate of Black males between the ages of 16 to 24 is 34.5%; that is a travesty.

Now we have economists saying that the recession of the nation is turning the corner after the bailout of Wall Street where very few Blacks are employed even though our tax dollars were used to help them out. These same economists have said that the nation was in a recession when the unemployment rate hit 7 percent. Well the Black community has been in a recession for the past 50 years and is currently beyond a depression (if there is such a place) yet our policy makers refuse to address this issue in our community. We have made every effort to address the bankers, investors, stockholders, car makers, teachers, police, firefighters which are all special interest groups. Now I am sure you are saying Blacks are included in these groups however, we are not represented on par with our representation with the population. In all of my research on these groups, over the past several years, none have ever come close to their representation in the communities they serve. Yet the policy makers say to us “be patient” while the majority community is fixed. I think we have been waiting too quietly while the others are screaming and demanding they be saved.

I think we need to write up and demand our own stimulus program for the government to save our small businesses to provide employment in our community. Our inner cities and rural farmers are being left out of the current federal funding in a big way. I know of some funding of small programs but not at the level of other groups. We live in older homes that need weatherizing, cars that are older but due to high unemployment could not take advantage of the cash for clunkers program. Our businesses are too small to qualify under most small business loan programs and do not meet some of the required qualification barriers set in place by agencies. So we need our own stimulus program to meet our unique situation.

I urge congress to look at a domestic plan that will include a special stimulus package that will address this problem in the African American community. I urge our local representatives to request the administration use the unused stimulus money to help us develop short and long range plans that will become self-sustaining. Some of us still believe in the American Dream and the election of President Barack Obama rekindled that dream but we woke up in a nightmare of unemployment, foreclosure and lost savings that has continued to remind us of being kicked off of the sharecropping farm. Let congress reawaken that bright dream of prosperity and that “you can make it if you try” attitude we once had. To the Black community let us get busy and write down our ideas to expand our businesses by employing others. Let us collaborate and to combine our talents and resources to make an argument to show that we are serious. As the Black Press has said for almost two hundred years “for too long we have allowed others to speak for us” let our voices be heard.


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