Say what you will about American Turbo-Capitalism; it sure creates jobs for people in certain arenas. Let's look at solving the colossal problem of the Black underclass; there are no shortage of "experts" who spend an inordinate amount of money & time discussing and writing papers on ways to stem the tide of poverty in urban & rural Black areas. The problem is that the poverty rate has increased in many areas, even as the economy has improved in other areas. After taking some time to ponder the issue, one word stands out:
Most people who read my blog are aware of the breakdown in many Black communities in the post-industrial & technological age, so I don't have to go too far back to bring anyone back up to speed... But ask yourself this: Was your grandfather white-collar or blue collar? What about his peers? Due to the economic & political climate of the times, Black men were able to provide for their families with a limited level of(organized)education. Even in time of explicit societal racism & discrimination, Black men were able to be the foundation for their communities.
Fast forward to 2007: There's a 17 year-old black male raised in a single parent home in Anyhoodville, USA. Due to institutional racism, he's attended sub par schools & never got the academic assistance that he needed in order to excel. He's not a good athlete & can't rap; Because of budget cutbacks, there are no vocational programs in his school. Last b.u.t. not least he's starry-eyed & money hungry due to Nigga Imperialism (most of contemporary hip-hop). Here are his choices:
A) ITT Tech
B) Work as a security guard
C) Clean up offices at night
D) A package
Unfortunately, in this scenario, too many of our youth pick a package over the other options. While the choice is a foolish one, the larger issue is the dearth of choices available to him. A young White male in a similar situation? Hell, he can always go to community college for two years & become a cop; better yet, he can start working for a landscaping company or go into the building trades through a family friend. Option 1 isn't culturally attractive to the Black kid due to police brutality and the erroneous perception that only White people should be cops, which continues the vicious cycle of brutality due to the police in your community acting as occupiers versus stakeholders. Option 2 is largely unavailable to the Black kid due to the lock-out of Blacks in the construction industry. Even a black female can change the economic fortune of her family in one generation by going to nursing school due to the lack of nurses in this country.
My point is that we must do a better job of creating more viable pathways for young Black men before they become involved in "the life". Now this is the part where most people insert "We need JOBS JOBS JOBS!", but that's not necessarily going to solve the problem (See our last period of full employment). What we need to develop are jobs/industries that create other jobs by virtue of what they do. Microloans have done wonders for the Indian subcontinent & Indonesia (See Muhammad Yunus & the Grameen Bank), b.u.t. we do nothing with it in this country for those who need it most. While I acknowledge that repayment could be an issue, the impetus to pay back your loans is a learned behavior, not an innate one. (Besides, if that was the case, nobody would get a student loan). If we were to help young Black men open convienence stores (an obvious need due to the lack of supermarkets, b.u.t. that's another story), it would help create jobs as well as increase community investment form the youth.
Another option is to get Black youth more access to the inner workings of industries that they support, like sports & entertainment. There needs to be a track for youth who want to be booking agents, tour support, lighting directors, etc.. so that they can tap into the billions of dollars that are spent through the music that they support. Through mentor ship & apprenticeship programs, they could get on the job training & real-life work experience. Sound crazy? Well, our current condition looks alot crazier...