Why are nearly 16% of African-Americans unemployed?

   Unemployment in America continues to hover between 8.5 to 9.5% depending on data gathered by the usual laundry list of polls.  Based on a population of 300,000,000 people, on the low end (8.5%) to the high end (9.5%) there are between 25,500,000 to 28,500,000 Americans out of work.  Those numbers are staggering.  Keep in mind, most polling data is based on the number of people who are actively seeking work and doesn’t count those who are not actively looking and/or have given up completely. 
   African-Americans make up approximately 15% of the population in the U.S., so there are approximately 45,000,000 African-Americans in our country.  The unemployment numbers in the African-American community is 15.8%.  That means that approximately 7 MILLION African-Americans are unemployed in the United States of America.  SEVEN million!  That means 1 out of every 6 African-American in the United States is unemployed.  Placed in the general unemployment numbers, the number of unemployed African-Americans account for nearly 25% of the TOTAL of ALL unemployed Americans.  These ratios are difficult to wrap your arms around.  Granted, there are many compelling reasons as to why these numbers are what they are … lack of education (thus the lack of employable & marketable skill sets); lack of personal transportation and/or less access to public transportation to get back & forth to a job; child care issues, inability to pass criminal background checks and pre-employment drug screening; housing challenges (for too many, finding living arrangements is a day-to-day task); family dysfunction and too many other obstacles to mention.  Are some of these wounds self inflicted?  Of course, some of them are.  In case you haven’t looked at my profile, I am African-American and I will be the first to admit that we African-Americans have some internal issues to address and correct.  However, that is a conversation for another time and space.  (Stay tuned for that one.)
   Perhaps there are some more sinister reasons as to why these numbers are what they are.  I can not accurately recall the number of times when I have personally gone on job interviews to only see the disposition of the interviewer change dramatically when they realize I’m the candidate whose resume they reviewed and who they eagerly invited to come in for an interview.  They weren’t expecting ME.  I can honestly say that of the number of times that I have personally experienced this scenario, not ONCE was I offered a job or at minimum, a second interview.  Now I’m sure this will illicit the usual responses of me being accused of playing the race card.  For the record, I AM playing the race card.  But for the sake of having a healthy discussion about this subject, I’m willing to take the race card off the table as well as taking the other aforementioned challenges off the table.  
   With those components removed, how is it explained that 15.8% of a demographic that makes up 15% of the total population of the U.S. is UNEMPLOYED?  If it is not an issue of race, if it is not for a lack of education, lack of personal and/or public transportation, child care issues, the inability to pass criminal background checks & pre-employment drug screening, if not for housing challenges and family dysfunction then WHAT are the reasons, America, why so many African-Americans are unemployed in disproportionate numbers?  Certainly no case can be made that all 7 million unemployed African-Americans have the aforementioned issues that are obstacles to employment.  Does anyone have an answer?

Check out this story from The Huffington Post: In Black America, the Depression rolls on

Peace, peace ...

Craig Riggins
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