The following is an op-ed by Deven D. Anderson, Black Youth Vote!
It's a critical time in America. The recession has been tough, especially for young Black Americans. With an unemployment rate for young Black males over 18 percent, young Black men are still hemorrhaging and the people we put in office to represent us are just starting to take notice.
Earlier this week the US Census Bureau released "Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010," a report that underscores the spiraling rate of poverty and decline of the median household income for Americans, especially Black Americans. This is the third consecutive year that the household income for African Americans declined and, according to the report, 10.7 million African Americans lived in poverty in 2010.
As for young people, we're the hardest hit by a depressed economy. The New York Times recently reported that young people between the ages of 25-34 are depending more on their parents for financial support. This is the same population experiencing high unemployment at 45.6 percent.
Earlier this week President Obama sent a much-needed American Jobs Act to the Hill for passage. This legislative package is an attempt to address the economic hardships faced by Americans across the country and is expected to cost $447 billion.
President Obama's American Jobs Act includes the "Pathways Back to Work Fund" which provides summer jobs for programs for low-income youth and year-round employment for economically disadvantaged young adults. Additionally, the extension of the payroll tax will help 20 million African-American workers and the new tax credit for hiring the long term unemployed will have a significant impact on the Black community.
The American Jobs Act also takes a step in the right direction in preventing employers from discriminating against the long term unemployed, which will benefit young adults as well as Black males – the members of the Black community who are chronically unemployed.
Black Youth Vote! is cautiously optimistic about this bill. We're happy to see our elected officials finally prioritize job creation and hope that this bill will begin to create jobs with livable wages for our community. However, one thing we know is the political process; and sending the American Jobs Act to Capitol Hill is merely a step in an on-going journey.
It is important that Black youth take the necessary steps to compel our elected officials to remain focused on creating jobs. Whether you're Democrat, Republican, or Independent, you must pay attention and make sure that our decision makers constructively move on social policies that will aid in the upward mobility of marginalized communities.
Below are effective ways to be involved:
- For more direct action on the American Jobs Act visit www.civilrights.org
- Connect with a local community organization to serve as "community watchdogs" to prevent wasteful spending.
- Register to vote and Educate members in your local community on issues that affect your community as a conversation with action ahead of the 2012 election.
- Stay updated by following us on Twitter: @blackyouthvote, Facebook: Black Youth Vote!, Email:
Young people must control of our own future and get busy making the government work for us.
Deven D. Anderson is Senior Program Associate of Black Youth Vote!, a youth and young adult initiative of the DC-based National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (www.ncbcp.org). Deven is available for interview contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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