(Special to The Root) — No matter what you thought about his policies and proposals, it was hard not to be proud of what Barack Obama accomplished in 2008. It took centuries of struggle, but seeing a black man become president of the United States was as powerfully symbolic as it was unthinkable only a few decades ago.
And yet we knew then that for all the symbolism, the black community had a long way to go to achieve the same level of economic success that so many other Americans enjoy. In 2008 there was reason to hope for a brighter future. Four years later, that hope is dashed.
The statistics are staggering. The unemployment rate among black Americans rose in October to 14.3 percent. For the 18- to 29-year-old demographic, the unemployment rate is even higher: 21.4 percent. That’s astonishing, and it doesn’t even tell the whole story.
Hundreds of thousands of young black men and women have given up looking for work altogether and, thus, are not included in the statistics.
Sometimes we forget that behind each of these numbers and each of these statistics are real people with real struggles. The effect of chronic unemployment can be seen in every black American neighborhood.