“I can see the door. I can see the door of opportunity. … But right now, it’s like, I’m just standing here.” That’s how 21-year-old Dorian Moody describes his efforts to break into the high-wage, skilled labor market that still makes the difference between poverty and economic security for so many families today.
In “Why Young, Black Men Can’t Work,” Colorlines Editor-at-Large Kai Wright explains the unique challenges black high school graduates face today as they enter the worst job market since the Great Depression. Dorian’s story illustrates compelling new research that settles the question of whether race, gender or class shape opportunity in the United States. The answer is all of the above.
Kai’s article anchors this month’s installment of “Life Cycles of Inequity: A Series on Black Men.” Each month, we’re focusing on a life stage or event in which the evidence shows unique inequities limit the opportunities of black men. Last month, we focused on implicit bias in classrooms and the school-to-prison pipeline. This month, we focus on early adulthood and the effort to enter the workforce.
As part of the series, filmmaker André Robert Lee is asking black men to speak for themselves about their experiences with inequity. This month he travels to Philadelphia, where out-of-work men struggle with the balance between their own agency and the larger systems that limit their opportunity. Listen to what they have to say. Meanwhile, Aura Bogado spends a day in Newark with men who are training for skilled labor jobs–a labor market that sociologists have found to be segregated starkly, keeping the best paying jobs for white men. Aura’s beautiful photo essay reveals the pride and ambition so many are quick to claim is lacking among would-be black workers.
We hope you’ll read, watch and share all of this content with your networks. And please join us on Twitter on Monday, June 30 at 2 p.m. to discuss your own experiences–and solutions.
Talk to you soon!
Editorial Director, Colorlines