Dangerously Unemployed: Black, Educated and Gifted; The Talented Tenth
I have a friend who was born and raised in one of the most impoverished cities in America, with one of the highest crime rates in the US. Despite coming from a city that reflects all of the debilitating reasons why a child would not go forward, she has attained two Ivy League degrees. After she graduated from law school, she was unable to find a job and as such, she went back home. She is apart of a fellowship program; that allows recent law graduates, who have not found a job, to receive a monthly stipend through the school. In exchange, they have the opportunity to work for an organization to hopefully gain the experience and connections necessary to land a job. She has been tirelessly looking but to no avail.
She had a fellowship at a large organization, one of the only places in her impoverished home town that represents some sort of enterprise. However, while the organization services a city that is over 80% African American and Latino, the law department at the organization is 100% White. My friend was told that they did not have any full time positions available in their department. As she was leaving her fellowship however, they were bringing in a new lawyer who has just finished law school. She of course was a young white female. In her own hometown, where the majority looks like her, she is excluded.
Her story is not unique or new. Black college graduates are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts. And of those blacks college grads that are employed, more than half are underemployed. But what does this mean for the black psyche?
We tell our black children that college is their key to a better life. And once they have accumulated thousands of dollars in debt, trying to achieve that American dream, they find out it’s a lie. Of course we have our anomalies to the system that are very successful. But for the average everyday Black American, simply trying to make it, it is disheartening. I have seen many of my brothers and sisters spirit destroyed. They feel as if they did everything that they were supposed to do. They went to college and finished. They filled out hundreds of job applications, tweeked their resumes and cover letters and yet nothing. The belief then becomes that they did something was wrong, or that something is wrong with them. Many will step into that dangerous zone of feeling inadequate and/or hopeless.
But I am here to tell you, that you are not the problem. The very core of this American system is flawlessly racist. Yes we are in a “depression” but the truth remains, people hire those who look like them. And until be begin to develop our own black enterprise, we will continue to have doors closed on us. Unfortunately, America is ran by white men, for white men and blacks will never have a piece of that pie, so we must bake our own. So to the 12.4% of unemployed black college graduates and the 55.9 % of underemployed black graduates, lets come together and create.
Unlearn our individualistic mentality that tells us that I must lookout for Self and instead understand that WE must look out for US. Where is our 21st century Talented Tenth? If you think that is you, then meet with other like minded individuals and start the revolution.