L.A. Black American Community Demands Jobs
In 2007, the unemployment rate among blacks in the greater Los Angeles area was 8.3 percent. By 2010, it rose to 19.5 percent.
“Renew, rebuild, restructure. Jobs, jobs, jobs!” was chanted passionately at the Black American Political Association of California Conference held early Saturday morning.
As the unemployment rate among blacks staggers at nearly 17 percent nationwide, the black community has taken a stand to not only keep their community united, but discusses plans to “support their own.”
The black community struggles to not only address the high unemployment rates, but must also deal with the recent Supreme Court order to release inmates from prison and into the probation system.
The California Courts have about a 29 percent black demographic in the penitentiaries. California has been ordered to release 11,000 prisoners over the next three months, and 34,000 prisoners over the next two years. BAPAC members discussed community-based programs that can offer career services to the released inmates and that can hopefully stimulate the overall economy of California.
“I am a firm believer that no one can take care of their own, but themselves," said Maxine Perryman, Chief Executive Officer of the Personal Involvement Center (PIC). "So with the recent release of several thousands of these individuals into society from prison, we can mobilize and work together to create jobs for individuals involved in the criminal justice system.”
Perryman explained that the goal is to start small. “We hope to begin with 500 jobs to ex-offenders," she said. "That can include staffing administrative types of work. We are relying on about 100 small businesses to hire these people. We have the program in place already, but there is no financial vehicle.”
With small business suffering in a turbulent economic climate, California (and the nation) may be caught in a vicious cycle of low job creation. Los Angeles City Councilman Robert Farrell proposed a simpler approach to the members of BAPAC in attendance.
“I’d like to appeal to everybody, if you have the capacity, hire somebody," Farrell said. "I ask businesses up and down the state to hire 10 people. But is there a way that everyone can help one person? Somebody you know in your family, in your church. Who does each of us know that we can call and offer a job? Perhaps to serve food, to do laundry… there is someone in your network now that you know that can cause another ten people to be hired.”
Other initiatives proposed came from rebuilding projects in Los Angeles in conjunction with President Barack Obama’s “Project Rebuild,” which the administration claims will rehabilitate and modernize the U.S. through refurbishing foreclosed or abandoned homes and businesses.
Roland Wiley, an architect at an established firm and member of BAPAC, is involved with the various county projects. He explained that the Los Angeles International Airport will soon begin a major construction project and the L.A Metro has already begun to diligently create more transit lines for public use. Both plans have already or will create jobs in the city. More than $40 billion has been invested into the Metrolink and he hopes that the number of jobs created will be proportionate and sustain the community.
However, Wiley ended his presentation on the transportation projects in Los Angeles on a different note. He said members of the community should take their money to their local shops.
“Where you spend your money helps your community," Wiley said. "If you are wondering why Beverly Hills looks better than where you live, it’s because you are shopping in Beverly Hills. So it is extremely important we spend in our own communities and support local businesses.”
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