NYC Politicos Fight Record African American Unemployment Levels

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In an effort to combat record unemployment levels for African American males now placed at over 50 percent, leading New York Politicians are working on strategies to offer incentives for corporations to create more jobs. At the same time, the elected officials demanded for Federal money for what some called a “national crisis.�

The demands by the elected New York City lawmakers and the strategies they plan to pursue are being coordinated through a series of “Empowerment Breakfast Meetings� held at the Brooklyn-based House of the Lord church.

In a meeting held last Saturday, Rev. Herbert Daughtry, the senior pastor, declared that without a job, thousands of African American males lose self esteem in addition to livelihood.

New York City Council Member and mayoral candidate, Charles Barron, asked: “Why can’t they take a couple of billion dollars and put it into infrastructure - a ‘Rebuild New York’ program where they hire us, the new majority? Rebuilding the roads, the bridges - if we built pyramids, we can fix potholes!�

Many attendees seized the opportunity to express their frustration with the record unemployment levels during the question-and-answer session. Andre Mitchell urged officials to focus on serving formerly incarcerated individuals returning to the community. “They come out and want to do right, but every door is closed and their hands are tied,� stated Mitchell. “That’s what keeps recidivism going.�

Councilmember Barron noted that some of the $10 million Council allocation would be devoted to such programs. The Council would also work on incentives to corporations to hire the formerly incarcerated and also to put more money into training programs.

Khalil Mustafa, who served 22 years behind bars spoke about struggling with unemployment and homelessness. He recalled his own efforts to obtain employment, and the plight he sees others in similar circumstances as they try to sell CDs rather than dope. However, even then, they’re harassed and arrested for attempting to make a living in this manner.

Barron’s colleague in the Council, Letitia James, pointed that there were abundant jobs in her own Downtown Brooklyn district alone: waterfront development, renovation of Brooklyn Bridge Park, expansion of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and, of course, the proposed arena. “This is billions and billions of dollars of construction work and everyone is saying ‘great’ and the City Administration is talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. But jobs for who?�

James accused the construction industry of maintaining a pattern and practice of discrimination that must be dealt with. “How can we talk about job opportunities when the construction trade industry has consistently turned their backs on us?� she asked.

Bill Perkins, the Deputy Majority Leader in the Council said record high Black unemployment levels was a “national problem.� He referred to the $10 million allocation in the City Budget to deal with unemployment, won after vigorous lobbying by the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus as grossly inadequate. He called for a radical surgery. “And the radical surgery cannot take place on the basis of a $10 million dollar allocation in a $47 billion City Budget,� Perkins declared. “It ultimately requires a federal non-discriminatory full employment policy.�

Council Member and Congressional candidate Yvette Clarke called for the need for the African American community to acquire the kind of education that would elevate their “level of consciousness where they know what it means to participate in their own empowerment.�

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