In African-Americans’ continuing & national efforts to get their brother Luther or cousin Marcus off their couch and into some kinda piece of a job, the Congressional Black Caucus has been representin’ of late. Their target? Well, it’s former CBC member — the ultimate HNIC — The New Godfather of Soul… yes, you know him as…Barack Obama. And the CBC is actually putting some ideas on the table.


Congressional Democrats began insisting jobs lead Washington’s agenda in late summer, and some have loudly complained that the White House is in the way. The Congressional Black Caucus has gone completely off script. Ten CBC members on the House Financial Services Committee not only tried to hold hostage one of Obama’s top legislative priorities, they charged that the White House has for weeks dismissed their concerns over black economic woes.

It’s not every day that the CBC bucks a Democratic president. Yet, Rep. Maxine Waters, who spearheaded the CBC revolt, promised more of the same. “Since last September, we have continuously voted for bailout and reform for the very institutions that created this devastation, without properly protecting the African-American community or small business,” she said. “That stops today.”

CNN Money:

“We’re so focused on ‘too big to fail’ that we’re treating this issue as ‘too little to matter,'” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus’ jobs task force. “We have a serious problem, and the army of the unemployed is growing darker by the month.”


Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., argued that many of those programs are wasted money. She said a large amount of government dollars are spent on funding private post-secondary schools that are targeted to urban communities, and she believes the schools are “rip-offs.”

“They’re soliciting people to sign up for training on job titles that don’t widely exist like ‘nurses assistants,'” said Waters, also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “That money should be used for training for jobs that will be around in the new economy like green jobs and new technologies.”

Furthermore, Rep. Cleaver noted that 50% of the nation’s foreclosures are on homes owned by African-Americans, which makes the jobs situation for blacks all the more urgent.

“If you’re in a training program and you have a notice that you’ll be kicked out of your house if you don’t make your payment in two weeks, chances are high that you’re going to quit the training program,” Cleaver said. “We need some immediate help from a program where the government funds municipalities and non-profits to hire individuals to do real work right now.”

African-Americans are suffering hard in this recession. And it’s in part due to the increased competition for good jobs or any job. Plus add some racism and you get this:


“Black men were less likely to receive a call back or job offer than equally qualified white men,” said Devah Pager, a sociology professor at Princeton University, referring to her studies a few years ago of white and black male job applicants in their 20s in Milwaukee and New York. “Black men with a clean record fare no better than white men just released from prison.”


In 2009, the unemployment rate for college-educated black men 25 and older (8.4 percent) is nearly double that of white men who graduated from college (4.4 percent).

So, why are black workers suffering so much in the labor market? Perhaps the lack of opportunities and job training in urban communities is partly to blame. A number of studies also suggest that racial discrimination is at play. A 2008 study found that white, Hispanic and Asian managers hire more whites and fewer blacks than do black managers. According to a University of Chicago study, blacks with an identifiably black speech pattern earn 12 percent less than whites with similar skills. Meanwhile, “job applicants with “white” names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews than those with African-American names”: Although whites with a higher-quality resume have a 30 percent higher callback rate than whites with a lower quality resume, blacks with top credentials receive little or no benefit from their pedigree.

I don’t normally quote from other sources as much but I wanted to make sure you’ve got all the facts on your plate. It’s bad out there. Real bad. African-Americans helped Obama into office, it’s true. But we deserve help as much as anyone else. And in fact, we need more help than some other groups because of lower access to savings, higher risk for bank, housing & job discrimination and lower access to job training & educational opportunities. Ultimately, if we can get black people back to work, the whole country benefits because it will boost consumer spending, housing starts and lower neighborhood crime & instability.

Obama’s job speech was, well, a great start at addressing real people’s needs on the job front. I get that healthcare has sucked the air out of the Oval Office. But now that healthcare is turning the corner, my hope is that Obama will follow the lead of the CBC. Because seriously, you do NOT want to get on Maxine Waters’ list. While it’s the GOP that’s bitchin’ about using some of the TARP money that’s returning from banks to help normal Americans — the thing is that average Americans aren’t complaining. The Stimulus is working because it applied money using strategy and goals. It’s saved or created jobs. It would be great to see government funding — our tax dollars — actually go to programs that our brother Marcus & cousin Tyrone can benefit from, direct-like.

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