The results are interesting in light of the well-documented economic struggles among African Americans, including unemployment rates that are nearly double those of white Americans. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, black unemployment stands at 15.3%, compared to just 8% for white Americans. Black public figures and political leaders have been calling on the Obama Administration to use targeted economic policy in order to alleviate racial disparities in wealth and employment, but to no avail thus far.
Within the black middle class, there is a pervasive, yet untold story about the challenges that many African Americans feel, educated or not, as they attempt to navigate their way through predominantly white institutions. While many are quick to blame the black community for their plight, without regard to the effects of 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow, the truth is that there are millions of African Americans who work hard, abide by the law, get as much education as they can and try to do the right thing. In fact, this represents the majority.
What is sad is that those within our community who are working hard to do the right thing and play by the rules still see far too many cases where the white man down the hall gets breaks that we would never receive. In academia, I've seen countless universities turn down dozens of qualified black faculty and then tell us that we're not being hired because we're simply not good enough. In nearly every industry in America, it is not uncommon to see companies that have never hired an African American to certain positions, with such glaring disparities receiving barely a peep from public officials.
This year, the Obama Administration has taken stands to improve workplace rights for women and the gay community. It is hopeful that our nation's first black president and attorney general will take a look at the abundance of issues that relate to racial disparities as well. The silent majority of black Americans experiencing workplace discrimination should not continue to remain silent forever, and we must push our elected officials to speak up.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your e-mail, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.