Baraka: Jobless rate for young black men is a national disgrace. What we're doing | Opinion

By Ras J. Baraka

Posted Feb 23, 2018


The U.S. economy is recovering from the great recession, yet the recovery has barely touched young black men. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately one out of every three black young men is unemployed, while white youth unemployment is roughly half that rate. Nationally, nearly 7 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are out of school and not working. T

hat's a national disgrace. Roughly 7,000 of these young people are in Newark alone, the majority of whom are young men of color.

President Obama launched My Brother's Keeper in 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to ensure all youth can reach their full potential. My Brother's Keeper Newark is our city's response.

We seek to build on Newark's growing prosperity and bring together a broad coalition to ensure that all young men, particularly young men of color, can achieve their full potential, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or the circumstances in which they are born.

The daylong summit, in partnership with My Brother's Keeper Newark and Prudential Financial, will provide local boys and young men of color and other underserved youth between the ages of 16 and 29 with a chance to interview with employers looking to hire on the spot, immediate access to community resources and social services, connection to mentors, and a chance to participate in career preparation and leadership development trainings.

Some of the companies offering immediate employment include: Prudential, Starbucks, AutoZone, and Whole Foods.

Everyone has a role to play in ensuring all of our young people have equal access to opportunity. In order to improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color, we have united Newark's businesses, philanthropies, nonprofits, schools, colleges and universities, government, clergy, community and youth organizations in support of tomorrow's leaders.

In Newark we are building pathways for our young men to enter into internships while they are in high school, so they can have that ability to improve their lives. The college community has already started building out programs to prepare Newark students to enter into their universities and graduate ready to participate in our growing workforce. This opportunity summit is going to improve the access to job readiness skills, workshops and exposure to the options that they may not even know are out there waiting for them."

One of our goals is to reengage disconnected youth who may be over age and/or under credited with services that help them acquire their high school diploma, high school equivalency or complete vocational/career training.

Newark's Opportunity Summit will feature booths focused on local employment opportunities and career pathways. It will include workshops and hands-on activity centers such as Dress for Success, mentoring, resume workshop, Technology & Social Media, Entrepreneurship, Hip-Hop Development, Barber Shop, professional headshots, and more.  A Community Resource Section will feature booths focused on public benefit screening and enrollment, career and technical education, high school re-engagement, youth organizing opportunities, legal support services, and more.

Changing the life path for boys and young men of color begins with recognizing racial and economic injustice exists.  We are challenging that injustice by empowering young men and boys of color with education, social service, mentoring, training and, employment opportunities.

My Brother's Keeper is impacting young people and enabling them to achieve the potential needed for their own success and the future of Newark. It is another step toward our mission to create inclusive growth for Newark and its residents.

Youth can register for the Opportunity Summit or find more information at or call (973) 877-3092


Ras J. Baraka is mayor of the City of Newark.

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