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Black Unemployment and Black Employers: Why Don’t Blacks Hire Blacks?

By Chico C. Norwood

According to the latest report released by the United States Department of Labor, the overall unemployment in America was 8.2 percent for the month of May. For the African American community the news is even bleaker. The report revealed that unemployment in the African American community sits at 13.6 percent, substantially higher than any other ethnic group.

Everyone wants to point the finger at President Obama.  It seems that Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West have made it their life’s mission over the past four years to blame President Obama for all of the ills in the black community. But before I throw my President under the bus, I want to offer a little food for thought and hopefully get a good conversation going.

When you point the finger at someone else it always seems to be pointing back at you.  So, if the African American community is pointing the finger at President Obama for not getting jobs, notice that that thumb is pointing back at us. While we’re blaming the President we should really start looking at ourselves.  The reality is that unemployment in the black community has been an issue since Lincoln freed the slaves. But I digress.

A fellow writer and I were talking one day and she pointed something out to me.  She said, “have you noticed that all of the black elected officials (in the Los Angeles area) have white communication’s/ press deputies.” After she said this to me I began to pay attention.

When Karen Bass was first elected to the California State Assembly she had a black communications/press deputy. I can’t remember her name, but after about a year this young black woman left and went to work for a hospital.  Bass did not replace her with another African American, although there were qualified Black writers out there. Bass replaced her with a white female. This white female press deputy stayed with her until Bass won her Congressional seat.  Of course, this young white lady had no problems finding another position because immediately after leaving Bass she surfaced several months later as the press deputy for L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel.   After Bass won her congressional seat her first hire for the Los Angeles communications/press deputy position was a young Caucasian man.

I telephoned L.A. Councilman Bernard Park’s office, one day, to obtain some information and I was referred to the communications/press deputy who was also a Caucasian male. A position he held up until several weeks ago when he was replaced by a young girl who, from my knowledge, is not African American. Both Caucasian males, like the Caucasian female who worked for Bass, did not miss a beat and have since moved on to greener pastures.

The reason I point this out is because I know several qualified black writers who could serve as press deputies who are unemployed and have been for a while,  have excellent writing skills, the professionalism, the media contacts and are familiar with the districts of these politicians to have filled the positions from the onset.

One day, I was speaking with the publisher of one of the local black newspapers in Los Angeles and learned that his office manager is Hispanic and the person who distributes his newspaper is Hispanic.  While driving down the streets of Los Angeles one afternoon I looked over to find a Hispanic male driving the van for the Los Angeles Sentinel, which touts itself as being the largest black-owned newspaper in the west.

Let’s take a look at the Los Angeles fast food industry for example. Visit any McDonalds, Carl’s Jr., or Jack-In-the-Box, even the one’s owned by African Americans and you will find the managers are generally Hispanic. Once a Hispanic manager is in place the majority of the employees suddenly all become Hispanic, even at the black-owned fast food franchises.

I ask you to think and think hard on the next few questions.  Have you ever seen a black bank teller at an Asian-owned bank?  Have you ever seen a black cook in a Mexican or Asian restaurant?   Have you ever seen a Hispanic waiter or cook in a soul food restaurant?  Have you ever seen a Caucasian bank teller at a black-owned bank?

I’m aware that there are supposed to be laws against employment discrimination due to race, but do you mean to tell me that in the majority of fast food restaurants in Los Angeles, where over 90 percent of the workforce is Hispanic, the owner or manager cannot find one black person qualified to flip a burger?  Do you mean to tell me that Black fast food restaurant owners cannot find or hire one black manager or ensure that the workforce at their restaurants are 50-50? There is not one Chinese restaurant that can find a black cook who can prepare Chinese food or a Mexican restaurant that can find a black cook to make Mexican food?

Let’s go a step further. Almost none of the top black professional athletes have black agents. I must give kudos to Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers because his agent is former Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher  Dave Stewart, who is black and played in the 1980’s and went on to work in management as assistant general manager with the Blue Jays , before becoming an agent.  Stewart negotiated Kemp’s eight-year, $160 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the biggest in franchise history.  According to an ESPN article, in the 2007 NFL draft 14 out of the first 15 players selected were African-Americans, but only one — Gaines Adams of Clemson — selected an African-American agent. I guess it’s true what my friend the late Howard Ransom use to say, “the white man’s ice is always colder.” But I digress again.

So, what is my point?  The point is Blacks won’t even hire blacks, so how can we blame the president  or expect someone else to hire us when our own kind won’t hire us.

The bottom line is that integration has proven to be a double-edged sword for the Black community.  We relinquished everything to assimilate into white America.  During the times of segregation and Jim Crow, as ironic as it may seem, we thrived in business because we had no choice. We had black banks (St. Luke Penny Savings, etc) black-owned pharmacies, black-owned insurance companies, cleaners, markets, etc., and we hired each other.  Today, in this day and age of “diversity,” which I call “new age acceptable segregation,” the black community owns nothing while other ethnic groups thrive because they support each other in their business endeavors. They hire each other, they do business with each other, they recycle their dollars into their communities and take our money out of our community; while, we are still slaves on the white man’s plantation looking for him to hire or take care of us; still looking for someone else to be responsible for us.  But why should the white man or anyone else hire us, when we won’t even hire each other.

I wish Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West would revise their agendas and begin to focus on black business owners, black professional athletes, entertainers, etc ., who have the resources to help put black Americans to work but choose to hire Whites, Asians and others to do the same job that an African American could do. If Caucasians, Asians, Hispanics, and Middle Easterners do not have to follow the rules when it comes to hiring, then why should Black folks.  It’s time we started holding our own accountable and taking care of our own.

About cnorwood

Ms. Norwood is the former managing and sports editor for the Hub City News in Los Angeles, California. She is a former staff writer and assistant sports editor of the Los Angeles Sentinel, the Los Angeles Watts Times and Rapid Publishing, publishers of the Lynwood Journal, Compton Bulletin and the Californian. An award-winning journalist she is the recipient of a National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Best News Story Award, NNPA Best Sports Story Award, an American Media Health Fellowship, Outstanding Young Woman of America and several other awards of merit. Her articles have been published in the Los Angeles Times, Ebony Magazine and other local and national publications.

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One Response to Black Unemployment and Black Employers: Why Don’t Blacks Hire Blacks?

  1. Ashanti Thompson Reply

    August 12, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Im glad someone sees this. There is a local restaurant I stopped patronizing for the same reason. i thought to myself, why would I support a black business owner who has never had a black worker (just one mulatto girl in five years) and I’ve never seen with a black woman. Whats the difference in me giving him my money or Applebee’s (who ironically has a black bartender, hostess, and two servers)? The funny thing is that when I asked a friend why black businesses dont hire blacks, he said “because they’re smart.” But the white servers were guilty of the stereotypes that barr us from getting jobs. They took 20 minutes to take our order, another 20 to bring the drinks, the order wasn;t right when the food came, and we had to get up and go to the bar to pay the bill. She was chessing it up when she should have redeemed herself.Its seems we give others understanding and empathy and refuse to extend it to each other.

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