With nationwide unemployment among the general population said to be at 8.5% as of January 2012, it is at 18% for African- Americans and 11% for Hispanics. Historically, unemployment rates for African- Americans has always been higher than the national average; however, now with the economic crisis and the recession, it is showing a level experienced during the Depression era. For black males, unemployment is at 17.5% and for black teens, it is nearly at 41%.
Just as for blacks in America, Hispanics are also hit by the inequality. Unemployment rate for Hispanics in America before the latest release was at 13.2% and as of today, it is reported to be at 11% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. The question that comes to mind is why in 2012 and decades after the abolition of slavery, race is still an issue in America.
Looking at the statistical representations and our surroundings, the question serious-minded people should be asking themselves is why the so-called minorities are still at the bottom of the economic ladder; in a country considered the biggest democracy in the world and a model for many nations.
Even though, it is true our constitution guarantees the Equal Protection and while there are laws and regulations in place against discrimination, it is clear that in today’s America, race still plays adverse roles in the economic aspirations of the so-called minorities and their pursuit of happiness. Or else, why despite the laws against discrimination and hate, we still have a sector of the population both racially and economically marginalized.
After all, we live in a country where as we understand, every person irrespective of your racial background, is guaranteed a piece of the American dream if you work hard; and where as we are told there is no limit to your economic success, due to the opportunity presented by the capitalist system we so much admire and regard as better alternative to a welfare state and the socialist model.
The purpose here is not to attack or vilify a particular race but rather, to discuss the problem associated with racial issues in America and why the economic dilemma experienced by blacks and Hispanics today, may not be attributed to the government. The society at large and we as individuals are the real problems and the reason why blacks, Hispanics, and other so-called minorities, are both racially and economically isolated.
Charity begins at home as we all know and as far as we understand; but is it so in America? Take a minute and look around you, how diverse is your neighborhood? It is not impossible in America to find neighborhoods that are completely white, black, Asian, or Hispanic. The racial intolerance is obvious in our daily lives; whites are eager and quick to move out of a neighborhood as soon as they sense the arrival of blacks and other so-called minorities. The question is why the intolerance and what is your definition of color? I mean what makes someone white, black, or Hispanic?
It is clear no one chose their our own color or parents when we came into this world; we were born, grew up and found ourselves to be one color or the other as we like to define it, but is that what makes us who we are? It does not take the government alone to end racial intolerance in America; all the government can do is make laws and regulations against discrimination, the bulk of the job belongs in us as individuals to treat fellow human beings as a person and not based on color.
Many attribute the declining economic status of blacks and Hispanics to what they claim to be lack of education; the fact is that this is not true. I used to believe so until armed with a doctorate degree, I realized finding a job is a no man’s land. There are many blacks and Hispanics with college degrees today more than any other time in the history of our nation; despite their education, blacks and Hispanics lack the opportunities their white counterparts have. It is ten times harder for a black applicant to get a job than for a white and even when the black is well qualified, there is still a stigma attached to the color.
The question is when you have a situation like this, how possible is it for blacks and other minorities to overcome adverse economic issues that continue to hunt and drive them into poverty? As we all know by now government don’t create jobs, most jobs are created by the private sector meaning, small businesses and companies owned by individuals and corporations. But, even when there is a law in place, it is still not uncommon for a business owner to hire based on color; this is why today, there are establishments with no diverse workforce.
You enter into an establishment and all you see is a single racial makeup of staffs; without a visible sign you know right away minorities are not welcome. The situation is not limited to private businesses alone; it affects other fields such as medicine and law. Recently, a friend who is a Dentist recounted how a white patient called for appointment and upon arrival to the clinic and realizing the doctor was black, she turned and left immediately.
Another, an attorney told how once a white client called for service and after few minutes of discussion on phone, his next question to him was where did you train? And that was the last he heard from the client. Because of the racial bias, it is difficult for minorities to reach their economic aspirations and even despite education, blacks and Hispanics are having a hard time breaking through. Black lawyers with years of training are afraid that without white clients, their survival would be a forgone conclusion; even black clients are afraid to hire a black or Hispanic attorney because they are made to believe you only win in court with a white attorney.
Our personal relations with one another as human beings is in a mess and unwell; it is time to take the medicine and we as individuals and not the government have the prescriptions. Though, the reported job growth may look encouraging since the effort to revive the economy, the recovery is leaving a large segment of the workforce behind. Unemployment remains disproportionately high for minorities, blacks and Latinos continuously experience greater unemployment rates than whites and the overall average unemployment rate for all workers.
The issue is not only about the recession and the current economic bubble, while fighting two wars and other issue may have contributed to the general economic catastrophe in the country, it is wise to point to the fact that disparate unemployment rates and economic inequality, among blacks and Latinos pre-date the economic downturn. It has been an issue for decades and no one seem to realize where the problem lies. We all blame the government but what are we doing as individuals to improve race relations in America.
If the United States is really a great place for opportunity, rising growth and job growth then why is a particular racial group economically downgraded. To have confidence in the system, we as individual must improve race relations among ourselves. If you are a White employer and all what you see in your establishment are White employees then, you are not helping to improve race relations in fact, you are contributing to why Blacks and Latinos are economically depressed and unemployed.
The same goes for Black and Latino establishments that discriminate against Whites out of anger for years of mistreatment and racial intolerance; taking your frustration on the White race by refusing to give a White person an opportunity when you are privileged to do so, will do nothing but lead to further isolation. If you are an African American discriminating against other Blacks from Africa and the Caribbean, you are not helping race relations either. It is only when we learn to tolerate one another irrespective of the race and color that we can overcome the scourge of racial discrimination and economic deprivation.
The government and legislature have done their part, all they can do is make regulations against discrimination; for decades they have done just that and here we are in the 21st Century still talking about race relations in America and Black-Latino economic dilemma.
Soon after the election of Obama, analysts were quick to say we have overcome racial issues in America. However, It took the nation over 200 years after independence to elect a “Black” President and now some are already seeking his job and want him to be a one-term President.
The job of improving the lives of our fellow human beings depends on how we relate with one another irrespective of race; and for America to retain its place as a democratic model for the world, we all must be willfully blind to color and race.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is an expert in general law, foreign relations, and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘Murder of Diplomacy’ (2010) and ‘Wills Law and Contests’  follow on Twitter @san0670.
Categories: Race-Relations and Discrimination