(FinalCall.com) – With a limping economy that has showed continued Black joblessness, a government that can barely fund itself and a political environment that has a zest for budget cuts and disdain for government programs, appeals to federal lawmakers for targeted urban employment don’t seem likely to get heard.
In its recently-released State of Black America 2011 report, the National Urban League reissued a comprehensive plan to help put urban communities back to work but the strategy is being jeopardized by the spiraling U.S. economy.
But the Nation of Islam, since the 1930s has warned of the need to go for self and do for self before being “dropped by the White man.”
With a limping economy that has showed continued Black joblessness, a government that can barely fund itself and a political environment that has a zest for budget cuts and disdain for government programs, appeals to federal lawmakers for targeted urban employment don’t seem likely to get heard.
For the Urban League plan to work, federal dollars would have to be funneled into areas and populations suffering from major unemployment–notably inner cities, poor neighborhoods and Black youth.
“The Urban League has always made a progressive contribution to the upliftment of our people in that they never fully accepted the premise that non-economic liberalism should be the only prescription for Black people. This report continues that positive effort,” said economist Cedric Muhammad, founder of Africa PreBrief, a service for frontier and Diaspora-based investors.
However “more jobs have been, are, and will continue to be created through an emphasis on collective saving, networking, and the financing of entrepreneurs,” he said. Focusing outwardly on government through legislation, no matter how sympathetic, misses the more basic and fundamental foundation of looking inwardly and practicing cooperative economics, he added.
The Urban League’s 12-point Urban Jobs Rebuild America Plan hopes to rescue those most affected by the country’s economic crisis and remedy some underlying causes of the recession, blunting its impact on urban communities.
The Jobs Plan addressed job creation in several ways:It aims to revitalize youth employment through its Summer Youth Jobs Program and Urban Jobs Academies; and advocates job creation in manufacturing, technology and broadband services, and the health care industry.It also calls for expanded loans to small businesses.
The report indicates that the unemployment rate for Blacks and Hispanics is 15.8 and 13.0 percent, respectively, despite one million new private sector jobs in 2010. The Black unemployment rate remains double that of Whites and Black joblessness has increased. (See related commentary on page 24.)
“Blacks have got to make a major economic adjustment. There are a lot of jobs out there but they require computer and other skills training,” said Dr. David Horne, a California-based African Studies professor and political scientist.
According to Dr. Horne, the statistics in the Urban League report, “Jobs Rebuild America: Putting Urban America Back to Work,” show Blacks are not really doing that well compared to Whites.
However, the issue is how are Blacks faring at all, and are Blacks willing to take independent steps like obtaining lists of available occupations and reasonably affordable training programs at local community colleges to reverse their joblessness regardless of what’s occurring with others, he said.
“Our goal should be what is going to educationally get our people ready to adjust to the 21st century economy because we can’t keep waiting for people to ‘offer me a job,’ ” Dr. Horne said. The Urban League report should be seen as evidence of the need for action and provides information about the challenges Blacks face, he said.
“We’d be wise to go back to The Muslim Program, where the Honorable Elijah Muhammad says at the end of Point No. 9, ‘We do not believe that America will ever be able to furnish enough jobs for her own millions of unemployed, in addition to jobs for the over 20,000,000 Black people as well,’” said Student Minister Robert Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 45 in Houston, Texas.Those words were written in the 1970s.
Robert Muhammad is a small business owner, urban planning consultant, and serves as the Southwest Region representative to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad introduced the Muslim Program in the 1960s, 50 years later, Blacks are still asking for jobs when they should be talking more about job creation through small businesses, which are responsible for creating 75 percent of all jobs in America, Robert Muhammad said.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says Blacks are partly to blame for the severe joblessness that they are experiencing. Any people that get three-quarters of a trillion dollars out of an economy, yet produce no food, clothing, shelter, transportation, or communication for themselves really are a dependent, slave-like people.
“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said do for self or suffer the consequences … We need to hearken to voice of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s representative, we need to get up and do what the Lord had told us to do and that’s something for ourselves,” Robert Muhammad said.
Though some Blacks try and have attempted on some levels to gain economic independence, they have come up against financial and political barriers that analysts say play out in discrimination and corporate tax incentives to establish companies overseas, rather than contract with small and so-called minority business owners to make U.S. products.
Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University, told The Final Call that if America had shut down for even a day, many Blacks would find themselves scrambling because of a lack of savings, lack of work and dependence on federal funds.
The conversation about jobs needs to include many things, he said.
“To begin with, job programs that have been created have been through policies along the orthodox or traditional norm, something like if the country reaches a five percent employment rate, then that’s how full employment is usually defined,” Dr. Boone said.
Black and Latino unemployment, however, is typically double or near double that of Whites, he said. “Blacks may be as high as 10 percent unemployment when the official doctrine is that indeed we have full employment. But there are two Americas we’re talking about here because this population is reeling under eight-to 10 percent unemployment when the rest of the country feels five percent is ok and everything is ok,” Dr. Boone said. That assumption eliminates attempts to get at the core problem of poverty and unemployment in the U.S., which are inextricably linked, he said.
Lack of employment creates poverty and the new paradigm needs to include a way that the American government and its people decide what government’s role is in ensuring that everyone who needs a job has a job, and that job is sufficient for shelter, food and even discretionary spending, said Dr. Boone.
“That means you’d be looking at not allowing a question of whether or not the minimum wage should be raised.That would be automatic.Cost of living issues like the high price of gasoline, rent, the marketplace pushing up, those would not be a question,” Dr. Boone said.
But while such changes and government largesse may be desired, it doesn’t appear likely. Many governors have been trying to cut state workforces, weaken labor protections for workers and eliminate collective bargaining. Federal lawmakers in the GOP and backed by the fiscally dogmatic Tea Party have been pushing for spending cuts and shutting down the government if no deal on a continuing resolution to fund the government was passed April 9 at midnight.
Elijah Muhammad, in the “Fall of America” in 1973, warned against keeping hope and faith in a country doomed by God to fall and a country still unwilling to grant true freedom. “Even today, after a hundred years of so-called freedom, he is still against you going free. This is your trouble today. You are deceived, and deceived by the enemy you think is a friend, but take note of what he offers you,” warned Mr. Muhammad.
“He is offering you only temporary enjoyment–and not a permanent enjoyment for your people. We want some earth, and not a temporary room in the house of our enemy,” he declared.