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July 24th, 2008
09:41 AM ET

Recessions and black America

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET


We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

_____________________________________________________

CNN's Stephanie Elam examines the impact of a recession on blacks in the U.S.
CNN's Stephanie Elam examines the impact of a recession on blacks in the U.S.
Stephanie Elam
CNN Business News Correspondent

When I set out to do a story on the effect recessions have on black Americans, I was prepared for some dire statistics. I wasn’t pleasantly surprised. Here’s my biggest takeaway: as the unemployment rate increases for the population overall in a recession, the increase among blacks is roughly double. And when a recession hits, blacks take longer to regain employment after the economy recovers.

As if that isn’t bad enough, it was what I learned about younger black Americans that really left an impact. According to John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the unemployment rate for black teens is about twice that of white teens. In the recession that lasted from 1980 into 1982 – the black teen unemployment rate skyrocketed to 50 percent.

If young people can’t get a job, their future prospects are greatly limited. As Schmitt put it, people in this situation can languish in unemployment or low-wage jobs that don’t help build a foundation for future wage increases or better opportunities. The teenage unemployment rate for blacks is a huge indicator of the future.

No doubt there are several reasons for the disparity. For one thing, while the number of college-educated blacks continues to grow there is still a larger group that has a high school diploma or less. That’s the demographic that tends to suffer the most during a recession. Another problem is a decline in manufacturing jobs. In fact, most of the black American middle-class built its wealth through manufacturing and union jobs held in the fifties, sixties and seventies. At the end of the seventies, a quarter of black workers had manufacturing jobs. Today, that statistic is down to 10 percent.

A lot of the headlines at CNN are about Issue #1 – the economy – but it seems for many blacks in America the headline is even more specific: Jobs Wanted.


Filed under: Black in America • Economy • Stephanie Elam
soundoff (322 Responses)
  1. Steven

    God also told the nation of Israel in the Bible (Number 5:5-8) that when they sinned, they were supposed to confess their sin, give back whatever was taken (the principal) AND add a fifth part extra (20%). Now that's justice.

    Wouldn't it be great if America treated its "darker brother" with the same justice that God would use for all the years of virtually free labor afforded by slavery (1 Timothy 1:9-10, Jeremiah 22:13-19, James 5:1-9)? How does that look? A guaranteed no-interest home loan (Leviticus 25:35-37) program? Additional funding towards college/trade school scholarships?

    There are plenty of ways to level the playing field. The real question is: Is America willing to put it's money where its mouth is?.....

    July 24, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  2. Michael R

    I live in a part of the country where unemployment among black youths was at 50% before these hard times. I hate to think what they are now. The old saying first ones fired last ones hired is based on the very statistics shown in this article. I don't blame whites for being ignorant to these problems. I blame the leaders of the country for not bringing them to the forefront. The fact that racism still exists in employment practices can't be news to anyone commenting on this article. And unfortunately ingnoring the facts and statistics and convincing yourself that it is a non-issue will not help resolve the issue. We need systematic changes in our education system, we need systematic changes in our hiring and employment practices and we need major changes in our government that have allowed this problem to grow to such a huge problem in the first place.

    July 24, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  3. j-ca

    Why is CNN focusing on just Blacks. We all need jobs. We all see the problem and CNN is always the Master of the Obvious. What's the solution?? I don't think reporters are smart enough for that even though they think they are smart enough to point the obvious to us and then lecture us....

    July 24, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  4. Shauna

    I hope reading the post on here does this country good. Just read the post and you can see for yourself just where the lines cross when it comes to the topic of being "Black in America".

    Where I do agree with the fact that recession has hit everyone in this country. I also do agree that people of color (which i say does not only mean black people) are having a harder time. Saying this based on the types of jobs that are having the most lay offs.

    I do feel that life for black people have come a long way, but please do not forget that it was not more than 40 years ago that black and white people could not work nor go to school together. So when we say that everything is equal do not think this is a true. We still have to work just as hard if not harder to prove that we did not get the job just because of our race.

    Race is still something that holds people back everyday. So when you have the chance really talk about it. Do not just brush it under the rug. Just know that without learning about your past you are doomed to repeat it.

    July 24, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  5. ilene Cocoa FL

    there were too many posts to read, so my apologies if this is a repeat.

    lets think about how jobs come to be. A person needs a product or service. If they can do it themselves, they don't NEED to pay someone else. But if they believe they can earn more than it costs to pay someone to do that job, smart people will pay someone to do one job so they can earn more at another. In order for a person to get a job, they need to have a skill that is of value to someone else. More and more, jobs that pay more than a minimum wage require at least an AA degree or professional certification. Remember, everyone has a job, its just a matter of whether they can get someone to pay them for it. What I tell clients is to remember FANAFI – which stands for find a need, and fill it .... Create a job for yourself instead of waiting for someone to "give" it to you. Not very politically correct, but a lot more effective than waiting or whining.

    July 24, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  6. William M. Beards

    I have to question the stats being used. Every day on the news I hear that we have some 12 to 20 million illegal aliens in the US taking jobs that no one wants. We have 10 temp guess worker programs in place and need to expand them and create additional ones since we do not have all the people we need to fill these jobs. Remember the President of Mexico ( Fox ) saying that Mexicans take jobs that blacks will not take. I have to wonder what is going on with the reporting: surely both situations can not be correct or are they....

    July 24, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  7. Matt

    Kris,

    If you can't even get a job at McDonald's, you're either not trying, or you're not hireable.

    Justice – great comments!

    July 24, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  8. Shawn Love

    I am quite honestly appalled by some of the comments that I see here. Not every black person in America is lazy, popping out babies and longing to stay on welfare. In fact, in case people don't realize, we do have a black man that is running for President of the United States and doing a damn good job at it. There certainly are white people that do not want to get off of their welfare as well! I do not think that Cindy was stating anything than the facts that she disovered in her own research. Never did she make a comment that this information was all inclusive of all research ever done. She is simply pointing out that whether white America likes it or not, these disparities DO exist. Instead of complaining, oh, the black people always say woe is me (which since I am married to a black professional golf instructor) I can tell you that they do not – why don't people saying these comments actually look at the statistics and say why on earth do these disparities still exist? As a human being, what can I do to make sure that these disparities even out? Why don't they say – I am going to teach my children and behave like this is wrong. Surely, going around and saying black people always just want to spit out babies so they can stay on welfare is the exact mentality that black people struggle to break free from every day. People need to remember one simple thing – Treat ALL others as you would like to be treated, in action AND word.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  9. diane

    Why can't CNN do a program on Hispanics in America or Whites in America? Why can't we hear about their plight in America. These people have the same problems and issues as African Americans. I get tired of the media trying to stereotypes blacks to uplift white Americans to make them seems that they don't have the same social issues as African-Americans. If you going to do a story on African Americans then why is it the Soledad the spokes person for African American; you couldn't fine an African American reporter or journalist to do the story. In addition, why is it so important to continue to address black issues or concerns but never the hispanics, latinos and white Americans? Poverty is amongst all classes of people. The more you advertise and talk about the plight of African Americans the more resentful people become and believe everything that is being reported on television. Why can't we do a story on All Americans and discuss their plight in America? We all seems to be suffering from the high cost of gas, inflation, housing and job losses.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  10. Mike

    To Cindy from GA & Others:

    Where did you grow up? How were you raised? What types of environments were you exposed to?.....Now! change positions Not color! Now! How successful would you be in completing High School? College? or even leaving your neighborhood? and having successful friends.... Chances are slightly none. This is not a black or white issue, its about equal opportunity and its not a 50/50 dealt hand here in America dealt by Americans themselves.

    And yes it's a bad economy right now and many cannot find jobs but those who have been raised with good surroundings, exposure, and education will be the ones who get the jobs when the economy does recover. Now which side of the fence are you and your friends on.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  11. KAB

    Everybody is hurting right now. My family is a middle class white family and we now live week to week. My husband's supervisors at work are verbally abusive to him and the other men on the job. (I really don't think they would be able to say the things they say if there were a woman or a black on the job. – side note: This job has hired quite a few women and blacks, they don't stay very long. Most have claimed the work is way too hard for the money they are getting paid.) My husband stays for the medical benefits for our children. We both put in close to sixty hours a week, and we still can't make it. There is no time for a second job, nor is there a trust fund to fall back on. We are in trouble, like many others in the country. Once again, I feel this is not a racial issue.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  12. Kenya Johnson

    Everyone should just stop the nonsense. It is hard being black in America, it is hard being Latino in America and it is hard being a woman in America. That is just how it is, no one can change those facts. Yes there are a lof of black men that have babies and leave them to be raised in a single parent household and there are a lot of black women who have baby, after baby, after baby and are supported by welfare. But the thing is that this is not the reality of every black person in America. I am a single black mother of two black boys and I am not and have never been on welfare. I have a bachelors, working toward a Masters and I have a good job. So this goes to show that not everyone is looking for someone to blame for their circumstances and situation.

    But instead of being mad at CNN for doing a special that looks at the plight of Black Americans 40 years after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., write CNN and ask them to look at other cultures and races. I watched the first installment of the series last night and I dont think that it was a "woe is me" commentary. It looked at a spectrum of people including black women that were well educated, with no kids and not of welfare with very good jobs making great salaries. So CNN is not just looking at the disparity of black Americans, it is giving a glimpse to everyone, even other blacks, about the lives of different black Americans.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  13. Victoria

    It has been said that when America catches a cold, Black Americans catch pnemonia. What this series has successfully done is show the multi-faceted experience of Blacks in America. It showed people of all backgrounds that there is a lot more similarities between ethnic groups than we like to admit, especially in the midst of a recession. This is what Cindy and others who agree with her are witnessing.

    However, what they do not see is that for every white friend/associate that they know that is struggling, there are at least three times as many Blacks and other ethnic minorities experiencing the same thing that they have never met. The Black In America Series helped them to meet a few.

    I am impressed by CNN not only discussing this controversial topic and sparking this kind of discussion, but also pouring out funding to appropriately market and advertise this special to the masses. This kind of open and honest conversation is what America needs and although Cindy and I may disagree, largely because we don't share some of the same experiences, this debate is needed.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  14. Mrs. Danielle H.

    What disturbs me more than anything about this blog is the lack on intelligence, it appears that several whites seem to point the finger at all the wrong doing they believe blacks are self inflicting as a race. As one blogger says Blah blah blah ..... where is the intelligence in dealing and communicating about a subject that plaques this country.

    Instead of seeing the glass half full let's acknowlegde that it's half empty.

    As long as there are folks black, white, chinese and hispanic not willing to accept the issues we face as humans we will never move forward. It's so easy to retaliate and point the finger but ask yourself what have "you " done to contribute to the understanding and healing as humans, to bring the races together !! so you can sit there behind closed doors hiding behind a computer and recite your beliefs and blames about blacks on what you percieve to be the problems causing there own issues but would you be man or women enough to acknowlege that the glass is half empty.........

    July 24, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  15. Michael Times

    Cindy:

    It's not about color, it's about minimum wage.

    With the steep increase in minimum wage, businesses have cut back on help. A minimum wage is not supposed to feed and clothe a family of four, but rather an entry level wage someone receives with minimum skills or education.

    Once you get your minimum wage job, you go back to school, take additional courses and make yourself more valuable. The government can pass all the laws they want but they can't make a prince out of a frog except by regressive legislation.

    Mike Times
    Cleveland, Ohio

    July 24, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  16. Mrs. Danielle H.

    What disturbs me more than anything about this blog is the lack on intelligence, it appears that several whites seem to point the finger at all the wrong doing they believe blacks are self inflicting as a race. As one blogger says Blah blah blah ..... where is the intelligence in dealing and communicating about a subject that plaques this country.

    Instead of seeing the glass half full let's acknowlegde that it's half empty.

    As long as there are folks black, white, chinese and hispanic not willing to accept the issues we face as humans we will never move forward. It's so easy to retaliate and point the finger but ask yourself what have "you " done to contribute to the understanding and healing as humans, to bring the races together !! so you can sit there behind closed doors hiding behind a computer and recite your beliefs and blames about blacks on what you percieve to be the problems causing there own issues but would you be man or women enough to acknowlege that the glass is half empty....

    July 24, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  17. Laura

    I am so sick of hearing about how hard black Americans have it. The recession is hard on everyone. There has been so many concessions given to minorities that I feel they don't have a right to complain. The middle and lower classes, regardless of race, are all in the same boat, which is quickly sinking. We need help from our government to fix our economy.

    My husband and I are in our late 40's, all our kids have moved out, and we are barely scrapping by. We don't take vacations, we have a modest home, drive modest cars and still have problems making our monthly payments. I worry about having any money to retire when I get to be 65 or 70.

    TC, you mentioned how 200 years of slavery would have affected white Americans. Slavery was abolished 146 years ago, long before you were born. I seriously doubt it's stil affecting any blacks today. Stop using that excuse. We all face the same problems.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  18. Ben

    It does not take a genius to understand that the impact of a recession is greater on those that are considered to provide the least value whether actual or perceived. I have been there myself suffering through 5 layoffs over 20 years.

    Most us already know that the majority of those positions are filled by minorities (black, hispanic, etc). However, those statistics do not associate any causes for minorities being in those positions. The assumption that there is a disparity is true but again there is no associated cause so that statistics by themselves are just numbers that represent a demographic.

    I would really prefer to know why this disparity exists and what is being done then to read more numbers of how bad it is. We know how bad it is and how bad it can get.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  19. Dan

    A better study would be, are college educated blacks who come from college educated families more or less likely than the average person in the same situation to have a decent job. My intuition tells me that there would be no a significant difference among races, as no employer in their right mind would let go a qualified job applicant simply because of race.
    The problem in America has been, is, and will forever be, the difference in education among the races, not racist employers.
    That means that the haves (mostly white ppl) must do more to ensure that the have nots (mostly non-whites) that everyone gets a fair shot at getting a good education.
    Think about it, It's a lot cheaper, and less messy, to pay for someone's education that to put that same person behind bars.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  20. Stephanie

    This whole "Black In America" is all very typical and predictable. I'm a black female and I've heard this same old song all my life from our so called "Black Leaders" and the media. I always feel like I should be walking around with my head down in despair after one of these "in depth look at Black America". The media and the intellectual blacks have done a great job of stereotyping blacks and this Report by CNN is a prime example.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  21. Chuck - California

    Hello there, anyone home?
    I see Hispanics every day in the neighborhood, gardening, cleaning homes, painting and doing construction work; are they all here legally? Illegals take jobs away from the least educated and disadvantaged citizens among us. Blacks should organize and visit the White House and Congress. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, where are you now that we need you? I guess you are too busy lining your pockets with your organizations and don't have the time to help our black minorities. Chuck in California

    July 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  22. Justice

    Blacks have received more government help than any other racial entity in America. Instead of using it as a stepping stone to success, they have used it as an excuse to stop working, and live off of the government. Feeling, it is their entitlement due to the 200 years of slavery of their ancestors. This excuse is getting old, and no longer has any bearing, given the opportunities and reparations handed them.

    Immigrants from Asia, Mexico and other Hispanic countries have come here and earned their keep. They have worked hard and made their way up the economic ladder, overtaking Blacks. They take jobs that Blacks refuse because they feel it is beneath them. They want the riches, but refuse to do the work. They resort to crime and drugs as an easy way to attain worldly goods. Black men refuse to accept their responsibilities when fathering children, and Black women need to use birth control methods to reduce bringing children they cannot afford, into the world. This becomes a vicious cycle, and something has to give!

    There ARE very responsible Blacks, who have recognized this problem and are doing something about it. They're enhancing their education, and working hard to get ahead. THIS is how you break this cycle.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  23. J

    Tired of CNN. Done with them. African americans won't be satisfied until all are below them. When the tables turn they won't give other nationalities any help. It's pieces like these that show why Fox news is better. Just look at Detroit as an ex. The black community lets the mayor get away with anything.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  24. Ron

    Did anyone notice that the program stated 70% of black children are born out of wed-lock and that 50% of black children do not graduate high school? Could this be the reason for so much poverty, crime, and under-achievement in the black community. It is so easy to point the finger at someone else; however, it it much more difficult to accept responsiblity for your own choices. Yes, some bigot could not hire you for a particular job but he has no control over whether you CHOOSE to marry the woman that has your child, he has no control over whether you finish high school, he has no control over what type of father you are to your children and husband you are to your wife- Only you control that. Those whom you blame you give power to and I refuse to give power to anyone over my life. Anybody, agree with me holla back!

    July 24, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  25. Sarah

    I read this article and wondered..........why are you writing about blacks? What about hispanics? or Whites? or Asians? It's because they are going to play this "we were slaves" thing forEVER! It's the chip on their shoulder that's been handed down from generation to generation. It's the individual who makes the decision about their life. If a black person decides that he is being picked on because he's black, that is creating racism. They are the ones that are keeping racism alive in their own minds. It does not exist anymore. Get over it and work hard like everbody else.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  26. Maryland Here

    This entire blog is astounding to me. First of all, Obama does not represent the entire black community – lets get that out of the way right now.
    The amount of hatred and ignorance that you people are displaying is beyond belief!!!!!!! It is no wonder some of you do not have jobs! Who would hire people with so much hatred, ignorance and arrogance in their hearts!
    There are a lot of generalizations going on in this blog. If I thought the way that you people are thinking – especially you Cindy and a few others who seem to think that all black people do is have children, abandon them, and create violence and have attitudes.
    God will look out for his people, his people with pure hearts, and make sure that they have jobs and are well taken care of. The rest of you, I hope that you ask God for foregiveness after some of the things that I've read because if this is the way that you really feel about black people -individual or as a whole, you are going straight to H_ _ _! Do not past go, do not collect $200!

    July 24, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  27. Kaleah, GA

    I think the main point of the article is being missed. Things are hard for everyone today. Statistically things are harder for the black community as a whole.

    Education would lessen the blow, but as the documentary and many analysts have pointed out, in poor communities, there is a poor education system in place, meaning the education that is available is not adequate when compared against education systems in wealthier neighborhoods. Because a larger part of the black community is considered to live in poverty, a larger percentage of them receive poor education when compared against other education systems.

    The problem is that America as a whole is not addressing the issue or acknowledging the problem, as so many of the comments demonstrate, and the black community is not doing what it can to improve the situation.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  28. kris

    I'm mixed , black and white, the comments from some of these white posters really scare me, they only prove to me that racism is still alive and well. I'm a full time student and a parent. I've been looking for a job, any job, since April and haven't received one call yet. It's not like I'm applying for CEO, I'd be happy to work at Mc Donalds. Maybe it's because I'm a minority, maybe not. It's just funny that when I go back to these places where I have applied they usually have hired an older white person or someone with one tooth who resembles a crackhead.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  29. C

    Soledad – you are a great journalist. This story line "Black in America" was disappointing, no flow, and what was the point! We know black people are hurting and affected by many economic and social factors in America.

    What is needed is a story line that is uplifting, hopeful, and show the progress/CHANGE that has been made in America. Blacks have come a long way, despite all the setbacks/adversity in America. Let's talk about what has change and what needs continuous progress for Blacks in the future.

    Just Friendly Advice.....

    July 24, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  30. SSgt T.

    Yeah blacks, take responsiblity for yourselves! Slavery ended 200 years ago! Forget about the fact that segregation existed until the 1960s! Take responsibility! Get a job! I don't care that you are working 2 jobs as a single parent already. You're not working hard enough! This is America! Don't blame me! I don't care that you grew up in a home where your parents had no education, your school was underfunded, and there were no positive role models in your community. I made it why can't you? This is america and everything is equal for everyone! Racism doesn't exist and if it did, it shouldn't affect you anyway! Affirmitave action is racist against me! I don't care that it was implemented because of the discrimination in hiring practices for minorities AND women. And why is there a black history month? Forget that for years american history ignored the historical accomplishments and contributins blacks made to this country! I need a white history month!

    -sarcasm generator- off

    As a side note, as a young black man in this country, I have been racial profiled, thrown headfirst into a brick wall by police as a teen, and usually do not get common respect when I go out until it's revealed that I am in the military. Just goes to show that despite the ignorance we face everyday, some of us do press on and do contribute to this country in a positive way. Just don't EVER try to think that we buy the lie that it's equal for everyone...

    July 24, 2008 at 1:43 pm |
  31. John

    In reading the comments, it's clearly evident that racist views are spurned on the basis of the claims that CNN feels is newsworthy.

    The problem with blacks in America is that as a divided race, they refuse to separate themselves from those within their race who openly support and incite militant ideals and historical perspectives that fuel them. The same faction exists among the white population, characterized as "white trash."

    There are plenty of African Americans who have have earned the respect of everyone. But it is an immutable fact that no one, regardless of color, who actively demonstrates anti-social behavior and negative values will rise to any level of recognition in this country other than what such groups presently hold.

    There are blacks in America and then there are blacks. What's needed is to separate one from the other in the minds of Americans.

    As for blacks feeling the effects of recession worse than others, such an assertion comes as no surprise whatsoever. Again, statements like these are not directed at all blacks, but merely the sector of the black population who constantly feels oppressed with an overwhelming voice for entitlement and unwarranted compensation.

    I care no more what this particular group of divided black Americans is suffering than I do their white counterparts. They live in the manner they choose, with absolutely no regard for their own race or others. Only if the recession were reach a level that would encourage them to leave the country would I stand in support.

    I have unending respect for many progressive and upstanding black Americans, some of them close friends, but the particular group of blacks for which this story was created is absolutely unworthy of consideration.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  32. Josh

    I agree that this is going off topic...

    The only thing I can comment on is that I am a proud white male that is going to graduate from a college next fall, I will have a ton of debt (no help, financial aid or other) but as it was explained to me...my education can never be re-possessed!

    Wow, some of these statistics are staggering. I wonder if only half the african-americans are graduating high school are the parents responsibility...do ya think!

    Until you can be responsible for yourself don't expect me to pick up your tab...I don't care what color you are. This is about being a leech on society! If you want to get a head in life you have to work for it! I am tired of being accused as a white person being responsible for slavery! Was it wrong yes, but instead of using all of your energy on this over and over and over, why not use it as motivation to put yourself ahead of the pack. There is always a way!

    July 24, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  33. KBB

    TC, interesting analogy, but the flaw in your analogy is the exact reason why people are "tired of hearing about it". Remember, the one who was raped is long gone....of course you don't just "forget" about them, but the children & grandchildren of the "raped" have to move on at some point wouldn't you agree?

    July 24, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  34. MG

    I have a Black father and a White mother and was born in 1966...
    I am half Black but this society sees me as African (hyphen) American.
    I am half White but this society sees me as Black.

    I see me as me.
    I make no excuses and blame no one for things I have the power to change.
    I am a degreed, experienced and capable technical professional.
    I have just experienced my 2nd job loss in an 8-yr period.

    Life is a challenge and a struggle.
    I am now recalibrating my skillset so I can better compete in this new world economy.

    If you are Black in the USA don't worry about the other side, they will not accept us regardless of our efforts to be accepted.
    Accept yourself.
    Love yourself.
    Better yourself.
    And most importantly, support each other and reach out to each other.
    We are the solution to our own issues.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  35. Dave

    There is actually a lot of truth to this. The people of any ethnic group who are in manufacturing and service jobs will be hit hard by recession. What groups younger people today more than race is socioeconomic class. As a military member, I pose this – are a white Army Segeant and a black Army Sergeant more bonded, connected, and understanding with each other or with superstar athletes like Peyton Manning and Michael Jordan just because they share skin color? If you spent anytime in the military, you know its the former – you get paid the same, share similar lifestyle, stressses, etc. Of course there are plenty of cultural differences but what you have in common is more predominant. Unfortunately, it is the stresses of military life that force people to make color secondary. Most people don't have to go through that extreme method of bonding and thus cannot get past skin color.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  36. Randy

    Here's the deal.
    Step 1: Teach our children to keep their pants on until they're responsible enough to raise and care for a child. Most 21 year olds do not qualify for this. More importantly, teach them how to use contraceptives, and make them available for them. We’re all human, it’s going to happen.
    Step 2: Teach our children how important an education will be for their future and their family’s future.
    Step 3: Teach our children that they must be responsible for themselves; not their parents, teachers, coaches, or the government.

    I work for a large Fortune 100 company, and all of my co-workers, regardless of their race, sex, age, or sexual preferences understood these 3 guiding principles. These people are successful both financially and socially. I'm white, and I only see these people as co-workers and often friends, skin color or other differences do not affect my opinion of them. They have only themselves, and in some cases the support of their families, to thank for their success. In dealing with any part of their life that has been faced with adversity they have blamed nobody, and taken the steps to move on.

    Obviously the media is the driving force in keeping the idea of Racism going. Soledad, enjoy your paycheck knowing that you continue to reinforce the idea of Racism and allow some of the Black population a mental crutch to use in blaming everybody else.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  37. K. Jackson

    I viewed the program on being Black in America. I am a black man of 52 years and I believe that this story has already been told. I have lived what you presented. This is a deeply rooted problem where I notice that many (NOT ALL) black people never reach back do address some of the little things that matter to all black people. I believe that many of the affluent that aren't involved should step up. The bottom line is money.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  38. Brian

    Get rid of all the illegal's in this country, and that would give a lot of labor jobs to all teenagers, no matter what their color is.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  39. mj

    Lets have an article written on how many other races outside of African-Americans who have abortions. I bet the numbers would be alarming. Children cost money, and are life altering. Where would other races, especially white americans be if they kept all the babies they aborted. It would be "recession and white in america" too. The truth is in this society abstinence isn't at the cornerstone of our top priorities. It takes a special person to take responsibility for their actions, and not run in hide. So, it's a little offensive when I consistently hear people beat up on Blacks, and Latinos. People don't have money to get abortion every other month, because I was being a slut at a frat-party, with another guy each week.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:35 pm |
  40. Rob of Philly

    Wow this is getting pathetic. I am sick of seeing all these articles and 'hoopla' over nothing.

    Black are trying to create equality, but in the meantime they are begging for attention and sympathy. Why not feel sympathy for immigrants who come to this country with NOTHING and become successful through honest HARD WORK.

    My dad came to this country with 100 dollars back in the 70's from Beirut, Lebanon after his father died when he was the age of 18. He now is one of the most well known business brokers in the north east region. To add to this.... he did not graduate from high school nor went to college... oh yeah and did not even speak english proficiently.

    Instead of bringing our country closer together, these issues being brought up are doing the complete opposite.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:35 pm |
  41. JMob

    This recession has affected all races in the US. But for African Americans................WHAT RECESSION!

    July 24, 2008 at 1:34 pm |
  42. Lawrence

    Hello, while a generally agree with most of the opinions posted here, there's still no denying the fact that lacks are still at an disadvantage.
    To some extent some of you are right, black people are there own worst enemy. This is however, only your (exaggrated) portrayal of the black community. There are many blacks with ambitions of sucessful
    careers only to be shut out by the rising costs of college education and
    the dreadful public education system that blacks are exposed to.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm |
  43. Chad

    The Economy is not so bad...I've been at my current job for the last 8 years and I'm not worried about losing my job at all. Actually, I should be getting a raise next week. Thanks to housing prices going down, I can now afford a larger house. Maybe I'll get something near a lake. Interest rates on new vehicles are also low so I'm thinking of buying a hybrid soon. I'll probably take the money I'll save on gas and buy that new I-phone everyone's talking about.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm |
  44. JT

    With every generation comes a new understanding of their surroundings. I was brought up in a semi-racist family my parents were brought up in a very racist family and I am raising my children with as little racism as possible. My children are in a large daycare which have several black children. My 6 yr old has never come up to me and asked why their skin was different than ours. At such a young age it does not matter they will play together because they are children having fun. If families and societies would quit pointing out our differences regarding race we may be able to surpass this. The best written comment in here is from Calvin who is not looking for hand outs or blaiming the "white man", but who is looking for an education. I came from a poor family, but they excpected a lot from me and I expected a lot from myself. I paid for college while working full time which led to an education and a good paying job. I chose not to have a family until I could afford a family.
    If we start expecting more from our children and quit pointing out our differences we may be able to see racism and racist people being the minority and until the black community takes charge and expects more from themselves then there will always be more sob stories than success stories.
    I will continue to surpress my own racism that was instilled upon me so my children will never need to ask me why their skin is different than ours. If more people focus on the similarities rather than the differences we may be able to get pass this within the next couple of generations. As someone said in an earlier post 'slavery was around for 200 years' so it is not going to go away in 60 yrs. Once we have decided racism is no longer an issue maybe we can focus on the real cancer of society–religion and those who decide that theirs should be pushed onto everyone.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm |
  45. Victor (Brockton, MA)

    Has anyone heard of systematic racism??? well it still exists. True that the economy is hiting everyone hard, however it effects African-Americans (AA) more. When there are layoffs, AA have a much harder time trying to reestablish themselves, why? because of systematic racism that isn't spoken about, but it occurs, the 'good ol' boy network' is still alive and kicking in the US. But most white Americans refuse to see it. They are blinded by the fact that maybe the 'right person' got the job, which may not always be true. Yes Affirmative Action may get AA the job interview, but that's when the good ol' boy system kicks in and an AA losses out because of a 'hook up'. SYSTEMATIC RACISM STILL EXISTS.

    people on WELFARE should be subject to random drug tests, regardless of color. I think that if we as a taxpaying people are giving our taxes to help them out, there should be a system in place to ensure that they are not using drugs!

    July 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  46. Josh

    As a plain jane heavily-taxed upper-middle class white boy I wish I had had just half of the opportunities that blacks had when I was growing up. I would have gone to college for free, I would have been the first person selected for the one job that fifty of us were competing for, I would be invited to attend every high-rolling dinner party in the country because I'm a successful minority and when I finally made it to where I am now, I'd have people encouraging me to run for President. If only I were black.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  47. prakash

    Recession... recession... This is the time to think about improving your skills. It's not the matter of black or white, Do hard work and get a good job and in future create opportunity to others with your own view.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  48. William:San Antonio

    Someone responded that the reason a recession affects blacks more is because thet have low paying jobs. That is true but it is true for whites/latinos/etc... if they just have a high school diploma or not one at all. So what is the solution? School. Then go to college or a trade/technical school that will get you more than a minimum wage job. Most high school have some type of vocational program aas well to teach a trade. People need to quit whining and come up with ways to get kids (all kids) through high school. Please don't tell me that the education system is unfair. I sat in the same classrooms with the same teachers for 12 years with black kids. And anyone can go to college or at least a junior college if they really want to. Unless they are trying to raise 3 kids without a father. Another option is to join the military. They will help you learn a trade and pay for college.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  49. Savannah

    I am from the deep south and yes racism is still a part of life as it always has been, but I also work in an employment agency that places people in jobs. I can say only in my location that there are jobs, but we are unable to place most young black americans, due to their lack of education ( high school diploma) or their criminal record. You can not blame them and say they do not want to work- Cause they do. If their parents had payed enough attention to keep them in school and off the streets I could see more young black americans in the workforce. Not saying we do not have some young white kids in the same boat , but personally in my line of work I see more young black Americans in this situation. You know when SAM's Club took 3000 applications and could not even hire 250 people from them due to lack of education or criminal backgrounds it more then just a recession.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm |
  50. Vince - Phoenix,

    I am always flabberghasted by the reaction of some so-called Americans when racism is shown to still exist in our great country.

    (and you say WE are the ones with the chip on OUR shoulders).

    amazing

    July 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm |
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