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Table A-2 of the latest household survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells a miserable story about what it means to be young and black in America today.
BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN - Both sexes, 16 to 19 years - Unemployment - (seasonally adjusted)
May 2012 - 36.4%
May 2013 - 42.6%
(This is almost double the rate for young white Americans, holding steady at about 21.6% since May 2012.)
What's going on? 36% unemployment for young black Americans was bad enough already, to say the least, but what the heck happened in the last 12 months to make it so much worse?Nobody seems to know, and meanwhile President Obama is busy with other business, and far, far away.
Obama's foreign travel schedule these days can sometimes look like a globe-trotting college tour.
Nearly every presidential stopover includes a speech at a university auditorium, or if logistics demand, an off-campus venue filled with young faces. His weeklong tour through sub-Saharan Africa includes two events at South African universities; Obama will deliver another speech Sunday, at the University of Cape Town, where in the 1960s U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy dramatically declared that world challenges require the "qualities of youth."
"Don't lose those qualities of youth," Obama told the group of 650 young people at the Soweto forum. "Your imagination, your optimism, your idealism. The future of this continent is in your hands."
I don't know much about South Africa, but here in Los Angeles I can tell you that it takes a LOT of "imagination" to feel any "optimism" whatsoever about the prospects of young black Americans today.