The Economic Crisis and Black Youth

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YouthUnemployment and the economic crisis have been examined at length from a mainstream point of view, but additional demographic analysis is equally if not more critical. To that end, the Children’s Defense Fund and Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC) will release two studies on January 13, 2011 that will examine an important economic and lifestyle crisis facing America’s Black children today. The press conference will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and stream live via the Web at www.childrensdefense.org. Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund; Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone and Geoffrey Garin, president Peter D. Hart Research Associates will address the media to discuss findings of studies which demonstrate the devastating employment environment for Black youth today as well as their organizations goals and commitments given these findings.

 

“We believe this is the worst crisis for Black children since slavery; every Black adult should stand up and say ‘not on our watch.’ We will not allow our children to move backwards. We should all join together and create a movement for Black children and for all children to ensure that, truly, we leave no child behind,” states Marian Wright Edelman.



Under current conditions, disenfranchised Black youth are said to be in danger of falling further and further behind. In fact, according to a conference on Millenials held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., unemployment is affecting this generation, arguably, more than any other. If this is a long drawn out period of unemployment, and they don’t feel change and any answer or solution, frustration could be exhibited in various ways. Pew Research Center has noted that employment for native-born blacks decreased by 142,000 in the first year of the recovery and that the unemployment rate for native-born blacks increased from 15.4% to 16.3%. The figures are evident at the same time Pew actually reports an 8% increase in Black enrollment at higher institutions.



But it’s equally important to look at the attitudes of Black youth from an on-the-ground perspective as well. Hashim Warren, Interactive Producer of BET’s 106 & Park – the network’s youth driven afternoon programming – offers quite a current perspective. “Black youth are deeply engaged in technology and social media. In fact, the specs of their mobile phone are even more important in their circle than the brand of their jeans. However, those same young people are participating as users and not builders of tech and media. This is where the opportunity for Black youth to truly get a leg up on employment comes in. And there is enough awareness out there that no one needs to be given permission to build the next cool Android app. That is the gap that needs to be bridged. And the current school system cannot be relied on to do it.”
 
Given that the U.S. Census Bureau has indicated steady population growth of African-Americans while that of Caucasians declines makes the crisis within the Black demographic one that is undeniably important for the overall future of the United States.


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