Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream. At the time, King’s dream may have seemed more like a ‘pie in the sky’ fantasy, rather than a look into what could be a more positive future for people of color. Still, the civil rights leader dared to act on that dream and thank God, through the efforts of men and women of the past and the present, I might add, his spectacular dream became a reality.
Integration became commonplace in American society. Segregation is unlawful and American’s are now accepting of the contributions of African American neighbors, friends and co-workers. This is not to say that prejudice and racial bias in America has totally disappeared and it begs the question; how is it that African Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population, but account for 21% of the nation's unemployment?
The plight of African Americans, when it comes to unemployment, could arguably stem from the economic crisis, which is affecting everyone in the United States, regardless of race. This is partially true. The real estate market with its pervading troubles has a disparate effect on minority groups. African Americans and Hispanics were each affected by the bursting of the real estate bubble. However, the disappointing numbers reflected by the loss of jobs for African Americans is more than a sign of our poor economic times.
African American men are unemployed at an alarming high percentage, a whopping 19%. What’s more is, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that Black unemployment will last well into 2014 and perhaps beyond. The projection is that unemployment among African Americans will remain at 10%. Further bad news exists for middle class African Americans. There is a chasm between the net worth of Caucasian households as compared with those of African Americans. The gap is wider now than it was back in 2005. Think of the difference like this: White Americans have lost 16% of their net-worth in these difficult economic times. African Americans have lost 53% and Latino Americans have dropped further into the financial abyss, having lost 66% of their net-worth.
Statistically, African Americans are more likely to be government employees (thirty percent more likely). Public sector jobs are on the decline, so African Americans in those chosen professions may expect more negative financial developments.
Hopefully, the sad financial turn of events upon African Americans and other minorities does not represent a slight crumbling of Dr. King’s dream. Dr. King’s dream was not that African Americans are chosen for employment in deference to Caucasian Americans, but that African Americans are equally considered. Small businesses and giant corporations should hire the most qualified employee for the job, of course. However, it is difficult to believe, given the statistics, that America's businesses can not find a higher percentage of qualified African American candidates than are being employed.