Huffpost Chicago
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Tio Hardiman Headshot

Unemployment and Violence in the African American Community

Posted: Updated:
Print

The University of Chicago recently released a study that revealed the fact that 92 percent of African American youth between the ages of 16 and 19 are currently unemployed in the state of Illinois; this information should serve as a wake-up call for the nation. However, when the information and data was presented to the public, it only appeared like another headline without any follow up in sight.

These numbers are real, and people should understand why the violence is so high in the African American community. As a matter of fact, more than 75 percent of the over 400 homicides in Chicago occurred in the African American community in 2013. This is bad all across the board. Additionally, some academic professionals do their best to avoid taking on the issue of poverty and a direct link to violence, suggesting that people should just change the way they think, or change their behavior with no resources. At least people with resources can schedule a visit to a counselor or psychiatrist, but the many unemployed youth do not have the resources to help them change their behavior.

How can we really expect the African American community to be free from violence when thousands of African American youth are trying to survive from day-to-day in their environment without any resources? There is no excuse for 92 percent of African American youth being unemployed when you have all of the so-called leaders talking good talk about bringing jobs to the community or to their city. This should be recognized as a state of emergency due to the fact that these young men and women need help right now. There is no way to help everybody, but 92 percent is way too high for any community. When there was high unemployment in the Italian and Irish communities, you had high levels of violence. We, as a people, cannot continue down the path of ignoring this lack of resource problem in the African American community.

One of the best ways to address this problem would be scheduling meetings with major corporations and small businesses in Illinois and speak with the business owners about hiring some of the young people and providing the businesses with incentives for hiring the young men and women. Do not get me wrong, here because we have to think about the Hispanic, Caucasian and Asian communities as well. The community at large should step up and rally around this issue immediately to show the young people that somebody cares about their well being. It's hard growing up in a distressed community without any resources, and this is one of the main reasons why some young men try their hand in the drug business. Once a young man or woman gets caught up in the drug game, then they are then turned over to the jail system.

This is a no win situation, and most of our leaders from the past, like Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm-X, would take on this issue until a solution is reached. It's now or never if we really want to help the masses of young men and women in Illinois. Some people may think this story is all about race, but it's more about class than race. Somewhere along the way, our leaders have not paid any attention to this major problem. There has to be a short term solution to this current crisis.