Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

A Notice to the GOP

Nov 09, 2010

More often than not, virtually everything we as adults do is for the betterment of our children, and of course, their future.  Some of us work two/three jobs just to provide food and shelter, while others sacrifice their own dreams so that the next generation may attend college or perhaps even graduate school.  We collectively work towards a stronger, brighter tomorrow in the hopes that our children and our neighbors’ children will be afforded greater opportunities, and we all will progress as a society.  If this is the underlying premise for our individual and group advancement as a nation, how can we possibly justify the volatile environment we are leaving for today’s youth?  When more than 50% of those aged 16-24 were unemployed according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this summer, how can we even begin to validate partisan bickering and an obstruction of the President’s agenda?  My message to the GOP – we simply cannot.

Last week, my colleagues on the right celebrated victories across the country as they regained control of the House and garnered additional seats in the Senate.  Those of us with a progressive agenda may not be ecstatic over the notion of a Republican controlled House, but let it be crystal clear to anyone who attempts to hinder our development as a nation, that the people are here to hold you accountable.  When you obstruct or block legislation that will improve our economy and create jobs, you will be held accountable.  If you work to reverse reform that is already improving our lives such as health care, you will be held accountable.  And when you allow partisan politics to supersede your commitment to the people, you will most definitely be held accountable.  As you well know, elections do have results, and this most recent one allows you, the Republican Party, to prove that you can and will work to unite and improve the country for the sake of all of our children.

This past July is when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its stark findings on youth unemployment.  With approximately 51.1% of young folks aged 16-24 without work, the BLS stated that it is in fact the highest July rate on record for the series since they began keeping track in 1948.  Let’s put that in perspective for a second; more than half of all youth in the U.S. were unemployed at a time when businesses hire more adolescents than ever as young people are on summer breaks, or recently graduated from school.  If less than half of our kids can hope to find a job, what atmosphere of hopelessness are we creating?  With rising costs of living, how can these young folks ever save money for their own future and for their own families one day?  Are we in fact setting ourselves up for a doomed ‘lost generation’?

And it goes without question that the unemployment rate is even higher and more disturbing in African American, Latino and oppressed communities.  Earlier this year, National Public Radio reported (according to academics) that fewer than 14 in 100 young Black men had jobs.  And the Center for Labor Market Studies found that upper-middle class Black teens were even less likely to be employed than their low-income White peers (only 28 out of 100 were employed from families making $100,000 to 150,000/yr).

But perhaps the most staggering and sobering figure from NPR’s report was the discovery that the nation’s capital leads the way with the worst teen employment rates anywhere.  So as our newly elected officials head to Washington and take an oath to uphold the values of our foundation, let them never forget that we, the people are taking note of their every move.  And our children especially will remember those that improved their lives, and those that stood as roadblocks for political gain while they continued suffering.  

After all, the youth of today will be the voters of tomorrow.