Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By:King Anyi Howell
Johnathan Gipson is a slim brotha who is casually dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. And he's a hustler. Okay, you might be thinking he's doing something illegal. But in the African American community, hustlers are go-getters who make their own way when they can't find one. And this 27-year old is doing just that in the swirl of street dancers and costumed super heroes that descend on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Gipson's hustle is bracelets. He sells jewelry of all colors that feature heart shapes, peace signs, and Bob Marley.
"When I first looked at them, I didn't really see the opportunity to make so much revenue, " Gipson explains. "But after being here on the boulevard so long I found that a lot of people have love for this merchandise. The more they digged into it, the more I dug into it."
He sells at least 10 bracelets a day. About $50 in income. For now, he's ended his job search. You hear that a lot in Los Angeles from African American males, like Hassan Cheney. He's a 26-year-old student at the Los Angeles Film School and he's applied to at least 15 businesses. But he hasn't found a regular job. So Cheney has decided to focus on his music to make money. He creates beats in a makeshift studio and earns $100 to $500 a beat by selling them to rap artists and R&B singers.
William Darrity is a professor of African American studies and economics at Duke University. He's studied unemployment in the African American community. The most recent job numbers from May show that the unemployment rate among African Americans tops 15 percent--that's almost six points higher than the national average. And he says hustling is more than just earning money. It can help folks stay motivated for a regular job later.
"There could be some way that people are experiencing trauma by being out of work and that could mean that they'll be less effective workers in the future," Darity says. "It's a natural response to trying to find some way to make income when you can't find more conventional or regular employment."
Gipson would agree. Sometimes, he only sells a couple bracelets a day, but that doesn't deter him from keeping a positive outlook on his hustle.
"You meet a lot of great people out here that actually respect what you do, coming out here everyday. They know that nobody is making you get up to come out here on your own," Gipson says.
But he admits he would like a steady paycheck. That way he can hustle at a regular job and have health insurance.Youthradio.org
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