In an ideal America, our president would have told us Tuesday night about his plan not only for fixing the jobs crisis but also for making it so that the crisis wasn’t twice as bad for black people (15.8 percent unemployment versus 8.5 percent for whites).
But this isn’t an ideal America, and he didn’t. But then, who thought he would? The good news is that there is a way to make serious headway with the black unemployment problem, and it’s getting more attention by the year.
The problem is that it doesn’t sound very sexy in terms of name. “Prisoner re-entry programs” sounds pretty dull compared with “black agenda” and such. But much of the disproportion in black unemployment is because of how hard it is for ex-cons to get or keep work — when, as we all know, a grievous disproportion of ex-cons are black.
Newark, N.J., is an example of what feeds into the kind of statistic that we dream of Obama addressing in a speech. Each year about 1,500 unmarried, semiliterate drug addicts with no job skills come home from prison to Newark.