"Straight outta Compton" is set to be released in the movie theater near you soon, and it is taking America by storm. The movie is a story about a group of friends that grew up in a poor neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles and the struggles that they faced. As a result, the group NWA emerged from the streets in the mid-1980s and revolutionized Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood. Now, for many, the stories that they told were shocking and difficult to understand, and yet for some, it was the story of everyday life. Police harassing innocent people, crime rates out of control and the idea that as a young black male, you had two choices, either spend time hustling on the street or spending time in jail. Now, although the album came out nearly 30 some years ago, the reality for many people that find themselves dwelling in the inter-cities across America is that nothing has changed.
Recent headlines have shown once again that everything is beautiful in Barak Obama's America. Unemployment once again continues to fall, it just fell to 5.3 percent, which, according to CNN is the best that it has been in years and companies continue to add jobs — 223k in June alone. As a result, the stock market, being an indicator for the health of the nation, is near record highs. Sounds pretty good, right? It is, if you believe in those numbers and in those talking points. Of course, shadow stats reports there are also other numbers that indicate that the real unemployment rate is near 25%. Well, it is difficult to know what to believe, what with the revisions and the different ways of calculating the numbers and all, but in a recent article, money. CNN has noted that — "There are also concerns about the labor force participation rate, which measures how many Americans are employed or looking for work. It hit a 38-year low in August. That means a lot of people aren't working or have given up trying to look for work." So, what it is? Happy times have returned once again to America? or more and more people can't find work? It is very confusing.
Now, let's just say that the official stats from the US government are correct. Why not? The government wouldn't lie to us, right? Probably not, although the boys inside the beltway are famous for being able to hide behind words. See, it's not being called war anymore, it's called "Kinetic Military Action", and military aggression isn't called that anymore either — it's called "Bringing Democracy". But back to the official stats and how great things are, and hidden inside those really real numbers, Atlanta Blackstar reports that — "…that (5.3) percentage masks the unemployment disparities between white Americans and minorities across individual states. Right now the national unemployment rate for white Americans is about 4.6 percent, for Hispanics, it’s 6.5, and for Blacks, 9.1."
The article continues by saying — "On the record, Washington, D.C., hit the peak of Black unemployment with a 14.2 percent rate. New Jersey followed with 13 percent, South Carolina was at 12.8 percent, and Illinois at 11.5 percent. Tennessee holds the lowest state of Black unemployment, which is equivalent to the highest rate of white unemployment in West Virginia." They explain this by noting — "Historically, Black unemployment has exceeded white unemployment nationally in every single month since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping records. It has been at least two-thirds higher, every month."
As an example of just how stacked the deck is — "A famous 2009 study by Devah Pager, Bruce Western and Bark Bonikowski used actors, one Black, one White and one Hispanic, to apply for entry-level positions in New York City. The study found that blacks without a criminal record had the same chance as whites with a stated criminal record. The authors wrote — “The findings suggest that a black applicant has to search twice as long as an equally qualified white applicant before receiving a callback or job offer from an employer”. The people at Atlanta Blackstar say that this study proves that the state of black unemployment is not linked to inactivity but to the discriminatory behaviors of employers across America. Blacks with degrees, no criminal history, and previous work experience are still less likely to be called in for job interviews or hired compared to white or Hispanic counterparts. Maybe that is true, maybe it is not. But what is definitely true is that the rage and anger and even hopelessness that is being felt in black communities across America is starting to rise to the surface.
As riots in Ferguson continue marking the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, the city remains in a state of emergency. But the real state of emergency is that of the well-being of America. Media is refusing to talk about the issues of class inequality, the availability of jobs and systemic racism. Instead, people are fixated on the scandals coming out of Hollywood. But what is more important- "Who has the biggest butt?" or "Will I be able to put food on the table tonight?" Although people in suburbia might have trouble understanding the reality of the situation in the ghettos, we are all one link in the chain that connects society, and ignoring problems won't make them go away. Just like Dr. Dre said in an interview in 1989 — “We’re letting people know that America’s not a bowl of cherries. People expect it to be all sunshine and palm trees. I don’t see any palm trees where I’m from.”
So, what do you think dear listeners- "Have things in America changed over 30 years?"