Exploited, Excluded: African-American Extreme Unemployment

The political narrative that is used to explain Donald Trump’s presidential win identifies the economic hardships experienced by many European-Americans as a result of globalization and hypercapitalism as the key. However, increasingly the “us-versus-them” mentality that was used to justify the dehumanization of Africans historically is beginning to be acknowledged as a key component as well. But the economic malaise that has resulted from globalization has been been spreading like a fungus for years creeping from the factories of the rust belt to the empty storefronts on Main Street. Also “racialized” animosity preceded Trump with pervasive and persistent attacks on Barack Obama before him (and by him) and even further back and throughout American history.

As the media consensus bemoans the polarization of American into the elite urban coasts and the working class rural middle they overlook one well-known fact in communities of African descent. The same people that are saying that property (corporations) are people once said that people (Africans) are property. The upshot is that in communities of African descent, in particular, and Communities of Color, in general, whether urban or rural the economy is broken. Unemployment soars in urban areas populated by people of African descent.

Chicago is a case in point but by no means the only case. While African-Americans comprise 29% of the city’s population they represent 52% of the unemployed and 40% of those who are not in the labor force (meaning locked up or given up on finding work). New York City unemployment for the community of African descent mirrors these demographics. We see the effect of disinvestment in African-American communities that results in displacement through gentrification and the detachment from work as a result of denial of opportunity that increases the vulnerability of residents due to limited legal economic options. One of the five injury areas that has inflicted communites of African descent and the descendants of Africans enslaved in the United States (DAEUS) is in the area of wealth/poverty.

We need to repair the injured individuals and rehabilitate the injuring institutions. Chicago is an example of the ongoing injury inflicted by the ongoing operation of injuring institutions.

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