Support HIRE’s campaign against Minnesota’s ‘economic apartheid’
The time for talking is past. Last year the Economic Policy Institute reported that the Black unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was as much as three and a half times that of Whites. According to their study, the worst unemployment disparity between Whites and Blacks in the entire United States exists right here in the Twin Cities metro area.
The latest Labor Department job statistics reported that White unemployment was less than seven percent while Black unemployment stood at 22 percent. And since these stats are always a bit off and based on those still looking for work, it’s probably safe to assume that the unemployment rate for Black Twin Citians most likely exceeds 25 percent.
In plain English, the stats are saying that Black folks are being discriminated against in Minnesota even more than in other metro areas.
And this news is not new. The Spokesman-Recorder and the other local media have reported on this rather consistently over the last two years. So far there have been blue ribbon panels and a forum; even the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has conducted a hearing on the issue.
We don’t need another hearing or study — we know what’s happening. There is cheating going on. White employers are not hiring Black people. And it can’t be blamed on Blacks having lower levels of education. Studies have proven that Black folks with college degrees are passed over for Whites with degrees. And there have been occasions in which a White with a criminal record was hired over Blacks with clean records.
This disparity is proof that the job discrimination can’t be blamed on harmless oversight. Predominantly White-led companies, corporations, institutions and municipalities are purposely discriminating.
No doubt it’s true that Blacks have been left out of some jobs because there are few Blacks qualified to perform them. Make no mistake — this is a sign of discrimination as well. Historically, certain jobs in the construction trades were unattainable because the doors to enter them were barred by discriminatory requirements.
And for Black folks who say we ought to focus on Black business and hiring our own, I say that’s admirable and a great goal. But Black businesses alone can’t fill the employment needs of Black people. Right now we need to force open the doors of the places that are producing the jobs.
Yet there has been so little protest! The Black community has been eerily silent. Ironically, many of the same folks who have nothing to say have criticized the Occupy movement because they were concerned supposedly with “White” folks’ issues. Of course, the great financial bailout of the banks affected us all.
But the important point is this: Record-breaking unemployment disparity is “our” issue, yet we have not taken to the streets. Folks all over the country should have heard about our struggle by now.
And let’s be clear that this is not just an economic issue — this is a moral issue. The Black church ought to be at the forefront of this movement. Nobody who says they believe in a just God should be able to sit this out.
Nobody who sits in the pews on Sunday praising a just and loving God should be able to sit this one out. Those who continue to brag about their faith and how much they love God, but who fail to join this fight for their brothers’ and sisters’ well-being, show themselves to be liars and hypocrites, and the truth is not in them.
Minnesota has been exposed. Liberalism, which encourages the veneer of justice, has failed us. We need all people of good will to help us overcome this injustice and to help fight for real justice and progress and not just the appearance of justice.
HIRE Minnesota has called this “economic apartheid.” I agree with their assessment. They have gone as far as to draft their own Sullivan Principles in an attempt to force business and government to be fair.
Many of you may recall that during the days of apartheid, corporations did business in South Africa because labor was made cheap by the country’s racist laws. The Sullivan Principles demanded that employers pay Black workers equally as well as promote them. It also called for an end to separate facilities on job sites.
I say let’s join HIRE on February 21 at Zion Baptist Church at stand up against this grave injustice. (See full meeting notice on page ??)
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to [email protected]