Black Unemployment and Presidential Politics

Monday, July 09, 2012

President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Nevada Las Vegas on June 7. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)

Black unemployment is 14.4% and rose a full point in June. Kai Wright, editorial director of Colorlines and Nation contributor, discusses the presidential contest and the latest unemployment figures —particularly as those numbers vary by race.

Comments [45]

Al the Good from Long Island, NY

Today's Brian Lerher show was I guess par for the course at NPR, a prime example of race-mongering passing for commentary. In keeping with tradition, they and the Democrats never fail to exploit race and racial hatred for political power and advantage -- always have, always will. This is not opinion, it is fact: read any history book (i.e., one that actually retells history).

From the days of slavery through segregation to today, the Dems will exploit anything racial for political power. It's in their DNA. It's a sad legacy but one that they just don't want to shake. Lehrer's guest today once again proves the point.

Perhaps it's the Marxist agenda of exploiting any conflict for advantage by increasing the bitterness and hatred between groups, but the situation has gotten worst under Obama, not better. Everything is the race card. One cannot criticize policy but be termed racist.

Only an idiot would try to make that a criticism of these statements or deny existing racism. So useful idiots, take note. Maintaining the status quo of embittered politics does nothing but fan the flames. For further reading, see Nelsen Mandella and Martin Luther King. Read 'em and weep for this country.


Jul. 12 2012 12:09 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Whooooole lotta race-ignorance on this page. Lots more work to do.

Jul. 09 2012 02:21 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ blacksocialist from bk

1. I have never discussed this situation before today.

2. It's the only example I have personal & full knowledge of. I know how the applicant scored on the test. I personally observed his total lack of effort - I worked in the same small shop as he did.

3. No, it didn't reinforce my prejudices - I actually know many non-whites & there's nothing like knowing people to destroy preconceived notions of an ethnicity/race/group. The prejudice it reinforces are of those people that think blacks are lazy & dumb. This person in this case did nothing to dispel the notion. It leads to many people assuming a minority is an AA hire, not there by their merits.

4. It sticks in my craw because this person got to work in a great shop and he squandered the opportunity. Unlike many other shops, the journeymen were more than willing to teach the apprentices (they were highly talented, so they weren't afraid they'd lose their jobs if they taught someone else) & they were nice guys. As I stated earlier, they were willing to take their personal time to help and he couldn't be bothered.

Jul. 09 2012 02:05 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ ladyjay114

But it IS affirmative action, in action. The real story, on the ground.

I think the problem is that we're trying to put a bandaid on a leaking dam. The root of the biggest single problem, that affirmative action is trying to correct for, is the awful public schools - of course how to fix that problem is a whole other (highly contentious) discussion.

Jul. 09 2012 01:25 PM
blacksocialist from bk

david from fred: you state, "I am saying that affirmative action, as currently practiced, is highly flawed and often only reinforces people's prejudices". whose prejudices are being reinforced, yours? you cite one example, which you did a few months back as well, to buttress your argument and still have not answered my question whether it is indeed the only example you have. notwithstanding your statement that you do not believe that blacks are inferior, you maintain a childlike uniformed prejudicial view of AA because of one instance long ago (one which i dont believe by the way, much like i didnt when you brought it up months ago).

Jul. 09 2012 01:22 PM

@David: You're last example is not affirmative action. That's quotas.

An example of affirmative action would be Major League Baseball teams scouting and signing black, Latino and Japanese players.

Jul. 09 2012 01:00 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ blacksocialist from bk

"david from fred...... you used this same example a few months back.... "

?? - you must have someone else in mind

"dumbass racist"
You seem to have a reading comprehension problem.

What, specifically, was racist?

Jul. 09 2012 12:50 PM
blacksocialist from bk

david from fred...... you used this same example a few months back.... this is your only "evidence" of the flawed application of AA.... dumbass racist

Jul. 09 2012 12:43 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

That's the dirty little secret - this IS affirmative action. It's not supposed to be this way, but it IS.

Want another example? see regarding EEOC v. Daniel Lamp Company. The lamp factory had "too many" hispanics and not enough blacks. The only non-minorities at the factory were the owner & his father.

Jul. 09 2012 12:38 PM
The Truth from Becky

@David from VA: Sounds like we are almost on the same side of the issue, AA in this case, may have been applied incorrectly, depends, what was the race of applicants #1-29? Was there another Black candidate among the 29? The indignities, "dirty tricks" you mention still occur in 2012, and not just in that industry.

Jul. 09 2012 12:29 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

@David from Fredericksburg VA

The situation you describe IS NOT affirmative action. Choosing an unqualified candidate simply because they are the 'right' color is not affirmative action. Sounds like the const. company needed to improve their minority numbers in order to qualify for certain bids. Whose fault is that? Putting incompetent people into a position, training program, apprenticeship, whatever benefits no one in the long run because they don't stay in those jobs. So what you are perceiving as affirmative action was probably a consent decree.

You may think I am splitting hairs but you won't believe the number of times I have heard people recount set asides due to 'affirmative action' which almost never occur. I think HR reps are cutting themselves a break and not being honest with applicants who don't make it or the applicants themselves are 'making up' reasons why they didn't get hired.

Your experience is accurate but it wasn't a case of affirmative action.

Jul. 09 2012 12:25 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ The Truth from Becky

I didn't imply he was less intelligent - I damn well said it. I am not backpeddling in any way. Something like 35 people took the test - he scored dead last. I'm not guessing that he scored dead last - I got this information from a member of the apprenticeship committee.

I actually think blacks from the prior generation would be even more offended than I was. They had to walk through fire to get & complete their apprenticeships. They were called terrible names by the Journeymen at that time and they had nasty tricks played on them (such as having a bucket of roof cement slid at the foot of the ladder as they were climbing down).

This was an unacceptable situation. It needed to get fixed. Affirmative action as IMPLEMENTED (at least by the mid-80's) was NOT and is not the correct answer.

Jul. 09 2012 12:17 PM
The Truth from Becky

"Black youth will never do the work that the illegals do, sorry."
Jul. 09 2012 11:32 AM

John from the O: Really? How many white youth do you know that are picking fruit? Cleaning homes? You are now invisible, your comments are more than ridiculous!

Jul. 09 2012 12:08 PM
The Truth from Becky

@John from VA - NJ or VA, potato potah-to! The experience still shaped that experience in your psyche, then until now and I never said you thought it was "unnecessary" but you are clearly affectd that the position was given to this particular Black applicant, you imply that he was less intelligent and than ALL the other 30 people on the list because of it (AA), gimme a break with the back peddling.

Jul. 09 2012 12:03 PM

First, about family structure: Unemployment leads to less marriage opportunity, not the other way around. It was the loss of jobs that caused the decline of the traditional black family and the welfare state. The manufacturing industry was the largest employer of black men and when the factories shut down the black economy went with it - including many black owned mom-and-pop stores that relied on employed blacks.

Also understand that the loss of wealth during this recession has resulted in an increase of the divorce rate of whites. The legal industry has suffered greatly during this recession except for one area: divorce law.

@the_hme from Jersey City: The "entitled" black communities you describe in your post is representative of those in Northern states because its the exact opposite in the South. Its interesting to hear the unemployment rates raised during the discussion were those of major metropolitan cities: New York, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, etc. We never hear what the black unemployment rates are in places like Atlanta, Birmingham, Dallas and other southern cities where Black entrepreneurship rates are much higher. They're probably much lower.

Jul. 09 2012 11:59 AM
john from nyc

I am sorry if I offended imigrant the imigrant community. My parents were imigrants from germany after WWI. My mother worked for a wealthy family taking care of thir children and my father worked in construction with skill he brought from Germany. During the depression he washed cars on park avenue, and my mother washed floors for rich people. They later bought a delli business. I dilevered newspapers, groceries, and made things of wood for spending money. There is no shame in beginning at the bottom of the job market. I have nothing but high regard for all imigrants because they appreciate this great country.

Jul. 09 2012 11:56 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ The Truth from Becky

I didn't say affirmative action wasn't necessary - especially when it was introduced. I said that it is poorly implemented & exacerbates, rather than helps, prejudice.

BTW - the experience I related occurred in New Jersey - not Virginia. I actually find things better here in Virginia. I think part of why things are better is lots of new developments, leading to far more diverse neighborhoods than in the Northeast.

Jul. 09 2012 11:54 AM
Belinda from White Plains

Too bad Brian was unable to find an articulate, eloquent black person for this segment. Sorry, Kai, nothing personal, but I would have like to have heard more depth in the discussion.

Jul. 09 2012 11:51 AM

hmmmm....Not entirely, Kai.

Fastfood counterhelp and other minimum-wage 'entry level' jobs, which used to be staffed by housemoms and high school kids, are now overwhelmingly staffed by immigrants - illegal and otherwise. By not enforcing existing employment law to prosecute the unlawful employment, our government, Federal, state and local, are pushing our own minorities into a very tough place.

American agribusiness took advantage of NAFTA and created a vast number of out-of-work meso-Americans who, with little else to do and no way to live where they were, migrated here and have depressed our wages and put our own 'job starters' out of work. There illegal entry is also in the process of bankrupting our hospitals and reducing the effectiveness of our educational system.

Ross Perot had it only half right. The sucking sound of manufacturing jobs heading to Mexico (which was drowned out as manufacturing fled to China) was matched by the tramp, tramp, tramp of millions of uneducated, physical labor types coming to el norte.

Jul. 09 2012 11:49 AM
The Truth from Becky

JBuz...are you trying to compare the situation from WWII to now? or the 1970s? C'mon and you said it yourself, when "you and your parents CAME, here", sorry there is no comparison, can't change the facts, the playing field of opportunity has NEVER been the same for Black Americans.

Jul. 09 2012 11:48 AM
The Truth from Becky

David from Fred VA: I think you exaggerate a lot! It "sticks in my craw" as well that Affirmative Action was "necessary" to force whitebusiness owners to hire minorities!

Jul. 09 2012 11:44 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

caller david: congratulations! you've bought into the republican belief that shifting funding to charter schools and vouchers is the answer to the declining quality of public education. the current "success" of many corporate charters (who enjoy major tax benefits to run these schools--education is profitable!) isn't very impressive. why not fight to improve local schools?

as to where the president sends his children--what gives you the right to tell him where to send his children? has any sitting president sent his children to public schools?

you seem to be conflating so many issues.

Jul. 09 2012 11:44 AM
The Truth from Becky

John from the illegal immigrant parents: Why bother to write anything at all? _ You are trying to stereotype a whole race of people based on the boys from your old neighborhood that beat you up as a kid! There is a group in your culture that I am sure you would take offense to being associated with.

Jul. 09 2012 11:42 AM

People should not get offended by other people's comments and then curse at them on these forums. At least I expect a mature conversation. Oh well, we just need to ignore those comments.

Jul. 09 2012 11:41 AM

Most immigrants work hard, as my parents did when we came after WWII, because they have no other choice, and because they came from a world where the family had to work together very hard just to survive.
Many of these people who come from villages had no concept of "weekends" or "divorce" but only work, work, and more work. Where they came from there was no welfare and such, just work or starve. So naturally, America is open to those who have no other choice but work and family.

Jul. 09 2012 11:39 AM
john from nyc

although racism will continue to be a factor, there is no reason to believe that black imployment will improve under present ecconomic conditions. Many service jobs are being filled by immigrents, legal and illigeal who can add, work a cash register and are willing to work for a minimum wage. As long as there are more qualified prospects. including college graduates with BA degrees there is no reason why a prospect with a poor work ethic, no math basic math skills will gain employment. Less than 30% students in NYC community colleges are able to pass remedial instruction and qualify for college.

Jul. 09 2012 11:38 AM
john from office

Jobs that require poor language skills, an inability to dress properly and wear sneakers, are fewer and far between. Sorru.

Jul. 09 2012 11:36 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Kai, is wrong AGAIN about black economic competition with underground immigrants. Sickening...

Jul. 09 2012 11:35 AM
bubble gum from New world

Brian, your caller is absolutely right. illegal immigration is particularly bad for African Americans. And stop using politically correct terms such as "out of status."

Jul. 09 2012 11:34 AM
charlene from Boston, MA

People need to be trained not only to do jobs, but to create jobs whether it's inventing a role for themselves or starting a company.

Jul. 09 2012 11:33 AM
Maggie from Brooklyn

The connection between family structure and unemployment is that if young people receive no guidance at home, they don't even know how to navigate the job market, from how to present themselves to how to look for a job. There is a whole culture surrounding "employability," that middle class people take for granted but that the dozens of workforce development programs in this city spend a lot of money and time trying to impart to people who didn't have to good fortune to grow up around it.

Jul. 09 2012 11:33 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yesssss, caller. Underground immigrants stress black employment. (They SHOULDN'T, but they do.) Black leadership has no adequate stance, because where they really lead us is over the cliff...

Jul. 09 2012 11:33 AM
john from office

Wow the caller who spoke about the family was right on the money and his views were just glossed over.

I just had a Mexican in my office, has two jobs and a wife and kids. Will now open a store in Brooklyn. How about opening black stores and businesses. Yes it is hard, but better then not working.

It will not happen because Black Americans will not work 80-90 hour weeks.

Black youth will never do the work that the illegals do, sorry.

Jul. 09 2012 11:32 AM
jenny from Nassua County LI

Most of the white business owners that I know are pretty racist toward blacks.

Jul. 09 2012 11:31 AM

Don't blame only MALES! Blame females too, and blame a welfare system that forced men, in those days mostly Black fathers, out of their homes in order for the mothers and children to get welfare! Again, it was government policy that broke up the inner city black family!

And then came the feminist movement, no-fault divorce laws, and labelling fathers as villains just as jews were in German Nazi society. The fact is that females are EQUALLY TO BLAME for the destruction of family life which naturally destroyed the socioeconomic fabric of the society.

Jul. 09 2012 11:31 AM
The Truth from Becky

Caller David, the Black family structure does not have anything to do with the disproportionate number of Black unemployment. You are blending two different issues, please do not distract from this important issues by spouting negative stereotypes.

Jul. 09 2012 11:30 AM

The caller, David, is filling in his prejudice with scant evidence. Hiring and jobs is a matter of networking - who you know more than what you know. Was the VP who told me 'people hire people they like" prejudiced? A little but not so much that I let it stop me.

Jul. 09 2012 11:30 AM
fuva from harlemworld

That caller criticizing family resources and bad education is citing SYMPTOMS of problems that HE'S not addressing. What's the source of these crises?

"Economic stress stresses families" says it all.

Jul. 09 2012 11:30 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

I believe that affirmative action - as it is ACTUALLY practiced - only exacerbates the situation.

It continues to stick in my craw that the only black applicant was pushed to the top of the hiring list for a construction trade apprenticeship even though he scored DEAD LAST on the test (So, whoever was 30th applicant, lost his job to a less qualified candidate).

Then, to add to the insult, he made NO effort to learn. He was offered extra help - highly talented journeymen offered him extra help after work & he couldn't be bothered. I worked with this person, I am not going by rumor.

I ended up leaving the trade because of slow working conditions. He is still working - making journeyman's wages & doing things like taking the coffee order. This, because he is incompetent, not being discriminated against.

I am NOT saying that blacks are in anyway inferior to anyone else. I am saying that affirmative action, as currently practiced, is highly flawed and often only reinforces people's prejudices.

Jul. 09 2012 11:29 AM
the_hme from Jersey City, NJ

Perhaps because I have grown up and lived in predominantly black and other minorities towns, I have this view of black people that basically makes me feel that they "expect" everything. We went to school (elementary and high school) and I cannot remember who went to college. I worked to pay for Community College and transferred to a 4-yr University and even though it took me much longer then the average white person, I did it. Then after they do not go to college, they expect to get "good" jobs, which obviously as scarce because companies will not hire if the demand for their products is low. Then they live on the government help and complain that they cannot find jobs, when they have just made the wrong decisions all along. To top it off some women and men are aggressive in their communities, so they create bad communities that do not help create an nurturing environment. Therefore, they have the highest non-married couples, fatherless families and then of course this leads to the low rates of graduation from high school and the cycle I just described.

Jul. 09 2012 11:28 AM
pliny from soho

more public sector jobs equal higher real estate taxes.

Jul. 09 2012 11:24 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Could Mr. Wright explain what kinds of experience should be counted as experience relevant for jobs but aren't, as he mentioned? Are they not as likely to be counted for blacks as for whites, or are black job applicants less likely to have these specific kinds of experience?

Jul. 09 2012 11:22 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Kai (and any other interested person) should read this study by the Insight Center before coming back: Laying the Foundation for National Prosperity: The Imperative of Closing the Racial Wealth Gap", here:

And it's NOT just current racism and bias. It's the legacies of centuries of racist terror and economic exclusion, which have many effects.

Jul. 09 2012 11:21 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, the Civil Rights Movement did NOT change many critical things. This is the next step in race discourse. Kai won't be leading it. But Brian WILL be inviting him back to NOT advance the discussion.

Jul. 09 2012 11:17 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Black unemployment and income innequality has been higher for the longest. The source of this problem goes back centuries. Kai is alluding to it, but not addressing it full on. Problem requires direct address.

Jul. 09 2012 11:11 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.