A recent study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research gives a sobering professional outlook for African-American college graduates. In 2013, more than 12 percent of Black college graduates between the ages of 22 and 27 were unemployed — a figure that more than doubles the national unemployment average for all ethnic groups in the same age range.
The numbers decline slightly for Black students working in S.T.E.M. industries, but the same disparity exists between our students and those from outside of our communities. As gaps in wealth and opportunity widen for Black folks and the rest of America, two points crystallize about the state of our cultural and economic priorities; more Black folks attending predominantly white institutions hasn’t made us richer, and anyone earning a college degree should be thinking more of job creation than job eligibility.
These alarming statistics make entrepreneurship in Black communities more of a matter of crisis survival than lofty, out-of-the-box thinking. If African-Americans are to create any model of wealth with its dollars circulating in our communities, it requires more Black people and more Black institutions partnering to incubate and cultivate a generation of professionals in a select range of fields.
The historically Black college must be at the absolute center of this partnership.
At their genesis, HBCUs were a byproduct of racist segregation policies against newly freed slaves and, in some cases, an easy target for wealthy white philanthropists to ease their racial guilt. But the tenacity of African-Americans forced these schools to be more than training ground for teachers, preachers and farmers; they became the engines of Black innovation, scholarship and theoretical development. Out of HBCUs came Black America’s greatest generation: the writers, artists, scientists, scholars, pastors, physicians, engineers, activists and lawyers who, after graduating in the mid-forties and early fifties, changed American history in the sixties and seventies.
Their objective was to shift the nation’s conscience to recognize African-Americans and capable, civil contributors to society, and their work was not in vain. The window of opportunity for African-Americans has been thrown open in government, business and entertainment, but these are areas where one or some African-Americans “making it” can give the false impression that all African-Americans have arrived. The resulting racial tension of Black folks still seeking equity and inclusion against the undercurrent of anti-Black animus has revealed itself in an uptick of racially based violence, economic neglect and disparity in the penal system against our people.
Source: Black Voices
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