The weather was very nice Monday and Hardy II asked me to attend the Westside Action Group meeting held each week at the San Bernardino Boys and Girls Club on Ninth Street. I asked Justin Lee my grandson and caretaker if that was something he wanted to do. He agreed that it would be nice since he would like to leave the house as well. Most people do not know that when I leave the house it is more than a notion to get ready. It means eating and drinking water at a certain time because of my ALS/PLS swallowing condition, which is a slow process. Then I have to make sure the weather is really warm enough for me because what is warm to others might be cold weather to me and it makes my muscles stiffen if I am not properly dressed.
I also wanted to go in order to see my friends Don Griggs and Sylvester McGill and as it is the beginning of Black History Month, WAG is a big part of Black History in San Bernardino. When I arrived, they were in the middle of discussing one of our community’s biggest problems: saving our Black children, especially our boys. That has been a problem for us for some time and leading the discussion was A. Majadi, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club with others chiming in like Carolyn Tillman of San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools office , Dina Walker of Blu Education, Hardy Brown, II of Black Voice Foundation with suggestions and comments. It was a very healthy debate and the WAG organization was doing what it was designed to do by offering a platform for open and honest debate by community members.
Our community does have many problems facing it with higher unemployment than any other group leading the top of the list. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for African Americans stands at 13.8% in California, our Black men are 14.5% unemployed and our women have a 13.2% unemployment rate. This is well above the 7% unemployment rate for Whites.
Oh yes, WAG was talking about our youth problems. Well our Black youth between the ages of 16 to 19 have a 37.8% unemployment rate of which the boys unemployment rate is highest at 43.3% and 33.2% unemployment rate for our girls. WAG and the community must see this as totally unacceptable. I know we have other issues that contribute to this lack of stability in families, not enough community resources, low expectations in schools, lack of government and private foundations understanding and outreach with credible community organizations in the Black community. We know that crime and high drop out rates in our community are other solid indicators of why WAG had to spend so much time discussing this critical issue in our community.
I was equally encouraged to hear A. Majadi talk about having a session this Saturday to explore solutions to help stop this downward spiral of our youth. This is refreshing because according to the newspaper headlines in the region the Inland Empire will be suffering with the highest unemployment in the state for some time to come.
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