Melanie Hunter, CNS News, March 29, 2013
Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder Bob Johnson said Tuesday that the nation would “never tolerate white unemployment at 14 or 15 percent” and yet unemployment for the black community has been double that of white Americans for over 50 years.
“This country would never tolerate white unemployment at 14 and 15 percent. No one would ever stay in office at 14 or 15 percent unemployment in this nation, but we’ve had that double unemployment for over 50 years,” Johnson said while speaking at the National Press Club about the gap between whites and blacks in America.
“The national average is 7.7 percent, and African-American unemployment is 13.8 percent. To be honest, it’s probably greater than that when you count the number of African-Americans who have simply given up on finding employment,” said Johnson, who is also founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies.
In 1972, the unemployment rate for African-Americans was 11.2 percent in January of that year and as low as 9.4 percent in December of that same year. It dipped as low as seven percent in April 2000. The unemployment rate for blacks in February 2013 was 13.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Johnson said the challenge was to figure out why the unemployment rate for blacks has been so high, “and if that doesn’t change, somebody’s going to have to pa — 34 million African-Americans are not going to leave this country, millions of African-Americans who don’t have jobs.”
“Somebody’s going to have to pay for them. Somebody’s going to have to take care of them, and if somebody’s going to have to take care of them, that money’s got to come from somebody. And whoever’s paying for it is going to be upset about it, and they’re going to start looking for somebody to blame,” Johnson said.
According to the poll Johnson commissioned, which was conducted by Zogby, 50 percent of African-Americans blame the “failure of the education system for minorities/African-Americans” for high unemployment among blacks, while 48 percent say the “lack of corporate commitment to hiring minorities/African-Americans” is to blame for unemployment in the black community.
Twenty-five percent of respondents blame the lack of government policies for the high rate of black unemployment. Eighteen percent don’t blame anyone or anything, and twelve percent aren’t sure.