“Twin Cities Still Worst in U.S. for Black Jobseekers” (Star Tribune headline, July 2, 2012). “New report shows little change from 2009 unemployment rates.” — Economic Policy Institute. That is a repeat of the June 18, 2010 report of the Star Tribune of the same Economic Policy Institute report released to Congress showing African Americans 3.1 times more likely than Whites to be unemployed in our metro area.
Since 2005, I have written 24 columns on this “worst” in the country and why including my 2005 column, “Black share of upcoming $5 billion in construction: Zero.” I continue to ask, where are the plans and actions to reverse this “Blacks need not apply” reality? It could not exist if the city’s vision included offering a seat at the table of equal access and equal opportunity to everyone, Black and White.
The city’s Black leadership in government agencies, churches, corporations, foundations and education continue to not act to ensure equal education, jobs and prosperity. One result is the violence in our city in the shadow of where the new Vikings stadium will be — a stadium project for which local Black workers are not qualified, according to both Black and White contractors.
Even three- and five-year-olds are not immune to the violence, killed by bullets fired into homes from the street. Violence is being built ever deeper into the fabric of our city. As I wrote six months ago, “When a city and its institutions lose their commitment to humanity and to equality and diversity for all of its citizens, the city loses another piece of its soul and its future.”
Why aren’t liberal-thinking politicians (so-called progressives) and liberal-thinking institutions (so-called think tanks) discussing, developing and enacting a plan of corrective action? Failure to immediately address the 2009 findings of the Economic Policy Institute has caused harm and damage to the African American community.
Will there again be inaction? Will harm and damage again prevail?
The headlines reflect a dangerous trend, confirming our reporting that far too many African Americans in our community see no future on the horizon for full inclusion and an opportunity at the table of contracts and for economic uplift of jobs for the African American community.
Some reading this column will be tempted to suggest we need to be patient, that it will take at least another decade (and miss the stadium). How many will continue to hide behind that fiction?
Martin Luther King, Jr. answered in 1963, almost 50 years ago, with “Why We Can’t Wait.” And yet in 2004, then-justice Sandra Day O’Connor suggested “another 25 years.” One would think Blacks arrived in Minnesota in the 1970s. We all know better.
The Vikings stadium exposes the raw truth: Simple skills are not enough. What will our young men and women do when they are told their “job training” doesn’t qualify them for stadium work? As I’ve asked for a decade: Where is the plan and its enactment to correct this outrageous deficiency in denying African Americans the opportunity to obtain modern skills that will start them on the path to some semblance of parity with their White counterparts in the marketplace?
Black civil rights leadership of a time long passed argued for this, champions like Newman, Johnson, Childress, Alsop, Dr. Thomas Johnson, Judge L. Howard Bennett. They were a part of the Great Commitment in the drive and desire for equal opportunity and for an opportunity to enjoy equal footing (education, jobs, housing).
Who today fights for equal opportunity, fights for the right of employment, fights for the right to provide for one’s family and provide a future for their children? Where is the vision for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren?
Who today cares that they are in last place and living once again the shameful position of policies that deny them opportunity and equality? Proof of caring is in executing plans. Where are the plans?
Where are today’s White champions, the Humphreys, the Floyd B. Olsons, the Kelms (Elmer, Tom), the Wendell Andersons, the Charles Horns, who worked so tirelessly with their Black counterparts mentioned earlier in this column to provide equal opportunity and a sense of meaningful and honest inclusion? Where is that commitment today?
What a shameful and dark day in the history of liberalism, particularly amongst the Democratic Farmer Labor Party, compared to what they set out to achieve after the merger of 1944.
Columns referenced above are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm. Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.