I was going to try and write a diary soon about how much I enjoyed meeting new friends and catching up with old friends in Minneapolis. I still hope to do so, even as it seems most folks are already posting theirs and I have no time to write mine. It's just part of the general situation in which I find myself. I've been so busy work wise that (as everyone knows) diaries are now far and few between from me. Even comments are becoming something of a hit and miss proposition, an endangered species.
Speaking of endangered species, let's rap for just a minute about Black people in America.
Because 1 in 6 of us don't have a damned job.
This is a mostly-cheat diary in the sense that I'm not going to engage in my usual approach of exhaustive analysis, or lots of links. I'm just going to (largely) repost this comment I just wrote in the diary MB put on the main page about the fact that the recession officially ended 2 years ago. I am also going to keep it short (think of it as a long comment) because I always get folks who say I take too long to get to the point.
So here's the point, in the tradition of my profession that says when writing you tell them what you're going to tell them first, then you tell them, then you tell them what you told them.
Nearly 1 in 6 Black people DO NOT HAVE A JOB.
I just looked at BLS, dreading what I would see, yet deep down knowing what I would see given the conversations I've been having from my little house in the 'Hood.
The OFFICIAL unemployment rate for Black Americans is 16.2%. (To confirm, click on the link, select the check box marked "Black or African American" and select "Retrieve Data." The official unemployment rate for Black people has increased back up to the 16.2% level from its 18-month low point of 15.3% in just 3 months.
In other words, we have had NO improvement in our collective jobs situation in the past 18-months for any sustained period of time, just continuing deterioration.
We are the ONLY group of Americans that has seen that big of an increase in our demographic's unemployment rate in the past 18 months. The white unemployment rate continues to hover around 8% having plummeted from 9% (its 18-month peak, in April, 2010). Things were also a lot better for Latinos although not great: they have a current unemployment rate of 11.9%, with its 18-month peak in November, 2010 at 13.2%.
Adding insult to injury, the official Black unemployment rate is now HIGHER, for the first time, than the U6.
(Go to this screen, check the boxes labeled "Unemployment Rate - Black or African American - LNS14000006" and "Alternative Measures of Labor Utilization - U6" and click the button at the bottom labeled "Retrieve Data" to confirm this.)
Looking at the Current Population Household Survey data for 2009 and 2010, you can see that unemployment for adults over 25 either decreased or remained statistically flat year to year between 2009 and 2010 except for ONE demographic group for which these numbers are collected:
Black people over 25.
Things are marginally more "fair" if you roll down the age to adults over the age of 16. Then, there were indeed increases in unemployment for whites, and Latinos, too.
Of 0.2%, each. (The unemployment rate decreased for Asians over the age of 16.)
Meanwhile, during that same period the unemployment rate increased for Blacks over the age of 16 by nearly a full percentage point (from 17.5% to 18.4%).
Household data not seasonally adjusted year to year from May 2010 to May 2011 also help demonstrate the trend: Black folks are more likely to be on the dust heap, as opposed to in the hiring queue at the same time that other racial demographic groups are seeing at least some improvement.
Hell, only 51.2% of us are even considered to be employed/part of the labor force.
I guess I should sing hallelujah, looking at these numbers, that the U-3 only has us at 16.2% now, given all that.
Or I would sing, except that number is changing in the wrong direction. It's going up, not down.
It seems to me that Black Americans are being, unintentionally perhaps but systematically nonetheless, labor arbitraged out of the job market in favor of everyone else. That's bad enough - but it's worse when I consider that there appears to be no notice apparently paid by anyone who actually is running around says they give a damn about unemployment.
And no, I'm not just talking about Republicans.
No doubt I'll be hearing the usual stereotype defenses about how Black people "need to get a better education" and "turn off the Nintendo" and "shouldn't have babies they can't afford" soon.
This is nothing short of a human catastrophe and I don't see anyone noticing anymore, including those who say they are our allies. Our causes as a people are out of fashion, when it comes to talking about politics. For those that want to pretend that African-American perceptions that we are being systematically marginalized out of the country we built for hundreds of years, and that immigrants have it just as bad as we do, please take a look at those numbers and think again. I resent the unconscious racism it takes for us as so-called progressives to decry how horrible everyone else in America has it by name and how we have to do something for them right away by name BUT US.
I'm a big believer in being a team player politics-wise but at the same time, from all I can see given how much voice and text has been dedicated to this in the past 2 years, nobody running around saying how important politics are appears to gives a damn about what is happening collectively to Black people in America still, and still again.
Not even the Black people that supposedly represent us as politicians at the state and federal level.
IMO, if those who can't get elected without our votes collectively don't make addressing this jobs catastrophe in the Black community RIGHT NOW (not by jettisoning a whole generation of us in favor of spending money on better early childhood education, since I'm sorry but these numbers are as bad as they were when most of us didn't even graduate from high school in the 1960's) their most immediate priority, I'm on the verge of just refusing to encourage any of them to vote next year. As it is, encouraging them to hold out for an honest living has been hard enough.
I used to pray all the time for my people. Not that I don't pray for everyone or love everyone, because I do (except for my first MIL; I truly hate that woman.) But I pray for Black people in particular because it seems more and more every day that we are being erased from the Blackboard that is American consciousness - except as "subject" when people want to pontificate about crime and ignorance, or about Black dysfunction, or about turning off the Nintendo. We are being "erased" even though this country still has never done right by us collectively and the majority still keeps trying to pretend it really doesn't see us, deep down, as deserving of our condition because they believe the lie that it is mostly self-made injury rather than the natural product of hundreds of years of white supremacy and anti-Black hatred that had at its center the idea that we were less than human, therefore deserved nothing more than we got from America (which was, other than reduced life expectancy and a disproportionate likelihood of getting caught up in the criminal justice system even though others commit more crimes, a whole lot of nothing). I keep expecting the "lazy" meme to resurrect itself any day now - and not just on the Right. Black folks' current disproportionate suffering is certainly are not discussed in any plain sight I can find as those who are bearing an unfair share of what has been done to our country as a whole, with no end in sight.
First they took our historic neighborhoods, with the predatory lending and subprime lending and all that. Now, they appear to be coming after our human dignity as well, when we appear to be back to the bad old days of "first fired and last hired" - and continually fired even after everyone else is getting hired.
Eventually, if things keep going the way they are, Black folks unemployed, angry and desperate (but not desperate enough to demand our due from the country we largely built through our enslavement) may well become the new norm. And thus, our collective condition will become invisible and irrelevant, because it will be expected by America and much of its melting pot of other, non-Black peoples.
So, in the hope that all this can be avoided, I still pray. But I also chant. I meditate. I bust my ass, locally. I do whatever it takes.
But I don't write enough diaries like this, written in the hopes that people Never Forget. Written in the hope that maybe just one more person will realize how bad it is out there. Bad for people like my son, who hasn't had a job on the grid in more than 2 years despite resumes, beating the pavement, etc. He is becoming an Angry Black Man, for all that I try and steer him right. My arguments simply don't resonate like they used to, when I could point to something "objective" to show him that yes, it will get better for men like him soon.
Nobody gives a damn about what is happening to Black people in America.
Not even most of us.
They can't, when 1 in 6 Black people don't have a damned job.
I do need to add one thing, because it's very important.
There is indeed one group who deserves more attention than we do, by name, because they have it worse than we do and have for a very long time:
The invisible, born of this land throughout, Americans.
Yet the unemployment situation with Native Americans has been rendered even more invisible than ours, where the adult unemployment rates in some reservations well exceeds 50 or 75%. Indeed, the collective unemployment situation of Native Americans makes the disgrace of a 16.2% unemployment rate for Black Americans look positively luxurious.
Funny, isn't it, how the unique needs of the two groups ever legally enslaved in this country for any meaningful period of time somehow are the last folks our own allies usually bother to even mention publicly when it comes to discussing how to best solve our political problems?
Yes, I am feeling bitter right now. And my heart is exploding with pain and despair, and helpless anger.