Tramontane /Julius Lester The Black ‘Lost Generation’ In The Wall Street Journal of September 8, a story appeared which should make everyone tremble with fear. The story concerned “a lost generation of black youth,” lost because the problem of unemployment among black youth “seems almost unsolvable.” In August of this year, 37.4% of blacks between 16 and 19 were unemployed as compared with 17% of whites in the same age group. Among blacks between 20 and 24, 22% were unemployed as compared with 10% of whites. The most devastating aspect of the statistics, however, shows that the rate of unemployment among black youth worsens, comparatively, the more education blacks have. A Department of Labor survey of October, 1979, showed that for high school dropouts, 31.6% of blacks were unemployed as compared with 16.4% of whites. Of black high school graduates, 21.3% were jobless as compared with 8.5% of whites. Of black college graduates, 17.1% were unemployed as compared with 4% white. Thus, while 16.4% of white high school dropouts were unemployed, 17.1% of black college college graduates were unemployed. When one considers that 8.5% of white high school graduates were unemployed while 17% of black college graduates were without jobs, it seems there are a lot of black youth with college degrees whom America regards as inferior to whites with or without a high school diploma. The moral is clear: A black, regardless of level of educational attainment, is still black, and judged accordingly. The reasons for black youth unemployment are not a surprise, and WSJ comments that “racial discimination is no less real even though it is seldom blatant anymore.” As the level of black educational attainment rises, the requirements for jobs are raised, so that blacks are disqualified for the very jobs they went to school to qualify for. Another major factor affecting the employment prospect of black youth is competition from illegal aliens, immigrants, and, white women. That blacks should now have to compete \(and feminist movement, which has encouraged women to seek careers. It would be unfair to blame feminism or white women for black youth unemployment. Yet, it is an undeniable fact that a white skin in America carries with it many privileges, while a black skin has debilitating liabilities. It is very difficult for blacks to empathize with the sexism encountered by white women as long as white women refuse to recognize that, despite sexism, they are privileged as whites. It is very difficult for a lot of blacks to care about ERA, when they know that its passage may mean even more black unemployment. Given that a white high school dropout has a better chance at employment than a black college graduate, how is it possible for so many whites to maintain that affirmative action is reverse discrimination? Without affirmative action programs, I shudder to think bow high black unemployment would be, because it seems evident that most whites don’t give a damn if we live or die. Such a statement is not rhetorically excessive. It is a definition of reality as blacks confront it daily. If the present generation of black youth is a “lost generation,” then succeeding generations can be nothing else. What can the present generation pass on to the next except a legacy of alienation, bitterness and rage? Hiding in that lovely phrase, “lost generation,” which calls up images of Hemingway in Paris in the twenties, is the most nefarious prospect for the future, because who “lost” this generation of black youth? They did not “lose” themselves. Indeed, more black youth are in college today than ever, because they believe a college degree will qualify them, at long last, for a tiny portion of the American Dream. They are not “lost,” and, anyway, it is not possible to “lose” a whole generation of people. Car keys can be lost, but not people. Let us be frank, then. A generation of black youth are being destroyed. This is not an exaggeration, because the statistics on black youth unemployment are proof of an unconscious attempt at destruction. The national indifference to black unemployment seems indicative of an unconscious desire for black destruction. As America continues through its cycles of inflationrecession, as increased computerization takes over white-collar jobs and robotization revolutionizes factories, the number of jobs will decrease and the competition for those jobs become more fierce. Blacks have not had economic viability in this country since slavery. Today, we are economically irrelevant, a drain on the federal budget, and a social threat. Is it paranoia to see that the passive destruction of the present generation through economic discrimination can lead in a generation or two to the active destruction of blacks? That’s not paranoia. It’s common sense. When The Wall Street Journal says that there is no solution to the problem of black unemployment, the voice of corporate capitalism has spoken loud and clear for those whose ears are attuned to the nuances and overtones. Endorsements . . . from page 3 agencies. This is simply too much power for any governor, but especially for one who already has tried to excise the meat and the bone along with the fat from state payrolls. Vote no. Lest we sound like a bunch of nay-sayers, we recommend approval of No. 3, which provides for a single entity within each county to appraise property for tax purposes. The amendment also disqualifies elected officials from sitting on the county board of equalization. If we’re ever going to have property tax reform, these two steps are probably necessary. And then there’s No. 4, which we should at least mention, in case your local bingo lobbyist has missed you. No. 4 would allow bingo games to be conducted by churches and other charitable organizations if approved by local voters. We could have bingo and non-bingo counties, just like wet and dry. There is something to be said for a little parish bingo game. On the other hand, those of you who worry about the growth of state government should remember the words of Tony Proffitt, the sage of the comptroller’s office. When bingo didn’t make the 1978 ballot, Proffitt sighed with relief and said: “Had the amendment been put on the ballot and approved, it would have given future legislators the opportunity to add layers of additional personnel, procedures and organizational units to state government. It would have meant, among other things, a new bureaucratic state agency to regulate bingo. nor at least three new high-paying jobs for friends who’d be appointed to the agency’s policymaking Bingo Board. Sooner or later, BOB would have needed a State Bingo Building and probably an adjacent parking garage to handle a swelling work force.” [Obs., June 17, 1977]. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23
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