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HomeEntrepreneurshipRayshard Brooks Spoke Of Difficulty Finding A Job Before His Killing

Rayshard Brooks Spoke Of Difficulty Finding A Job Before His Killing

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Photo: EPA

Criminal justice reform is necessary but if every Black person in jail suddenly walked out, their community couldn’t employ them and the cycle would likely repeat. Criminal justice reform doesn’t address the root of the problem: Black unemployment. Rayshard Brooks gave an interview in February to Reconnect, a company which focuses on fighting incarceration. He outlined the difficulties that he, a formerly incarcerated person, had securing work. Black people with terminal degrees face employment discrimination and certainly those who’ve served time have it much worse. All of this points to the need for vibrant Black businesses that can hire their own, which can only happen if we buy Black.

“You go to filling out your application and you get to this question, ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime or have you ever been arrested?’ And, you know, you sit in there like, ‘oh my God … ‘I hope this doesn’t, you know, hinder me from getting this job’… Then you finish up the application and you have some employers that come back to you: ‘Well Mr. Brooks, unfortunately, we can’t hire you due to the fact that you’ve been incarcerated or you’ve been … arrested for this and that.'” Those were the words of Rayshard Brooks in February, when he spoke to Reconnect. They are difficult words to hear and yet they must be heard. Black people cannot employ their own and the consequences can be deadly. In 2014, for example, it was found that nearly half of 20- to 24-year-old black men in Chicago were unemployed and not in school. Those young men represent unlimited opportunity for the illegal drug, an industry always hiring.

Prisons are, largely, a warehouse for those whom industry deems “superfluous.” During World War II, a severe labor shortage benefited Black women, who’d generally been domestic workers before. Overnight, factories were hiring Black people, a population they’d never welcomed before. In that climate, there was no incentive for mass incarceration. Today, however, corporations routinely post record profits and yet, those young Black men in Chicago remain unemployed. Unlike the factories during wartime, Fortune 500 companies today don’t need them and they certainly weren’t looking to hire Rayshard. With so many “extra” people walking around, naturally, mass incarceration is not only a viable option but it has also become a cash cow.

Black people shouldn’t look to white companies to solve their problems, nor should there be an expectation for Wall Street to care about anyone, other than shareholders. Black unemployment is a concern for Black people to solve and until that charge is taken seriously, mass incarceration will prevail. Until Black men and women can be employed by their own, they will be subject to employment discrimination. Until Black people have the power to welcome young Black men en masse into the workforce, the corners will continue to hire them. Criminal justice reform is necessary but Black people must not be duped into thinking that it will treat the root of the problem.

About Post Author

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D'Juan Hopewell
D'Juan Hopewell
I care about Black Power. Period. Currently working on creating jobs and funding new startups on the South Side of Chicago and writing here and there at HopewellThought.com. Follow me @HopewellThought.
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