“It’s a very shocking number. Like, if anybody else see them numbers, hopefully they’ll come together, like we need do something,” said Dvante King, one of the teens who earned less than $1,000 from his part-time jobs last year.
The study says that across the nation, 17 percent of black males between the ages of 16 and 19 had jobs, but the numbers dropped in Illinois to 12% and down to 8% in Chicago. This creates an economic crisis of major proportions, since joblessness is a consistent factor in the high rate of violence in the city.
“We do the studies because I don’t think most people realize how bad the problem is and understand why this should be a priority issue. They think, “Oh, summer jobs for kids. That’s a nice thing.” It’s not a “nice thing.” It’s a required thing,” President of the Chicago Urban League Andrea Zopp said.
Diane Latiker, who works with the city to help teens find jobs, says that it’s important that we start investing in our young people to help them out.
“Nothing is being invested to give those young people whose jobs are being taken, nothing is being done to create jobs for them,” Latiker said.
Dr. Boyce Watkins, a Finance Professor, says that the government must get involved to help teens and parents must do so as well.
“Black teens, especially males, are the most neglected group of people in America,” says Dr. Watkins. “If they were white, this would be recognized as the crisis that it is. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop and nothing good happens when we condemn our children to sit around with nothing to do.”
Dr. Watkins recommends that parents encourage their teens to join programs that develop entrepreneurship so they can create their own economic opportunities. He also suggests that African Americans be more vocal on these matters.
“If you say nothing in politics, you get nothing,” says Dr. Watkins. “The people in Washington won’t care about what happens to your child if you don’t make them. Secondly, black people must learn to create their own jobs, that’s the only way to a brighter economic future.”