My son is 19 and has been trying to get a job for three years...but nobody will hire him. I don't want to believe it's because he's black, but...
When my son hit 16 in March of 2011, I told him: "Welcome to the work force!" I took him around to various fast food joints and grocery stores where he put in applications for basically any and every entry level job you can name from dishwasher to bus boy to bagger to stocker to janitor. We both thought it would be a matter of time before he got an interview and then a job. However, here it is over three years later and in spite of our continued efforts to find a job for him, he still hasn't been hired.
My son is a great young man. He graduated from high school last year, made good grades and never got into trouble. Right now, he's attending the local community college, where he continues to do well. To put it bluntly, he's a model citizen.
One thing that really exasperates me is that one of his best friends of the Caucasion persuasion who I know well because he lives down the street from us and is roughly the same age, has already been hired at three different nearby places. All of which are places where my son also applied, including the place with the golden arches, which generally hires almost anyone white that walks in without a prison record. That young man from down the street is not nearly as intelligent, responsible, well-mannered, well-groomed or well-spoken as my son. Not even close. Yet, he gets hired repeatedly? And by the way, the reason he's had at least three jobs is because he keeps getting fired.
And you know the same idiots like Paul Ryan, who like to say young black and brown men are lazy and don't want to work, are the same bigots who won't hire a young black or brown man because they see them as untrustworthy, undesirable and scary. Extremely self-fulfilling, right?
My son is not alone in this ongoing struggle to find work. According to the Black Youth Project, 83 percent of black male teens in the country are without a job. And that's not because they don't want to work. It's because they're largely stigmatized and rejected by hiring officials at American businesses and by our society at large.
The fact that no one will hire my boy really bothers me and is having a very negative impact on his self-esteem. Just the other day he asked me, "Is something wrong with me?" Broke my heart.
When my son asked me that I told him, "No son. You're a wonderful young man. If they can't see that, something is wrong with them."
I imagine there are literally millions of disillusioned unemployed young black men and their parents wondering the exact same damned thing. And unfortunately, all too many of these young men are so deflated and desperate they turn to lives of crime. It's a sad and vicious cycle.
I'm of such sufficient means that my boy--no matter how frustrated or downtrodden he gets--won't need to become a criminal just to survive. But, all my son and millions like him are asking for is a chance to prove they can be some of the best, hardest working, most trustworthy employees in America. They're ready to prove the Paul Ryans of the world wrong. Too bad it's the Paul Ryans of the world who are seemingly best positioned to refuse to give them that opportunity and then berate them.