Black Men and the Recession:  Keeping the Focus Despite The Odds



            There is a saying that when White people are in a recession, that Black people are in a depression and that is quite true in this current economic recession. 

People of color, especially Black people, and most particularly Black men are feeling the full brunt of the economic recession that has often resembled a depression that mirrors the “Great One” of the 1930s. 

Articles in mainstream publications, including the Washington Times and others, highlight the impact that the recession has had on Black men with almost 50 percent unemployed or living in reduced circumstances, thus affecting their ability to work and to provide for their families.

“For many of us Black men, this recession has been both humbling and, at times, humiliating having to accept employment that’s both clearly beneath our talent and ability to earn. The added pressure and stress of being unable to meet the needs of your family can hit your manhood pretty hard,” notes Cedric Fisher, Principal, DesignGroup Studio, LLC.  “However, it is easier to tolerate if we accept it as a temporary season of pruning and right-sizing, and look toward a future of new growth, wisdom and confidence in your ability to persevere in the hardest of times.” 

            While Black women, who are employed heavily in the education and healthcare field where the lay-offs are not as rigorous, have not been as impacted by the economic recession and have historically been able to “get by on so little for so long.”  Black men have had to become much more resilient in their efforts to keep their heads above water during this period of recovery as the limited resources that have usually surrounded them continue to diminish.

“It’s times and opportunities like this that show us what we as Black men are made of. Only the strong and creative will survive. A lot of this is about attitude. You may lose a few things in the transition, but do not lose hope. Reinvention of oneself may be in order. This too shall pass so don’t quit on yourself. There is no failure except in no longer trying,” adds Fisher. 

With reinvention in mind, Fisher has been working on a multifaceted seminar series called the Health Education Business (HEB) Summit that highlights opportunities for information exchange and community empowerment.

            Clearly the words of poet Langston Hughes who chronicled much of the suffering of Black people in his oft recited verse, “What Happens to a Dream Deferred” rings true even today as the dreams of Black men are deferred because the economic recession, and the depression that affects people of color, has caused those dreams to be directed elsewhere for survival.

“As the economy attempts to rebound, I started running 30 minutes a day to clear my thoughts before I even look at the computer and it has opened my mind to greater possibilities and I have shed 10 pounds in the process,” comments Guy Madison, Principal Consultant, GM Consulting. “The economy has led me to find more partners that bring as much or more to the table as I do and has improved my value proposition in the process.” Madison is leading a number of initiatives to assist minority-owned businesses and non-profit organizations to increase revenues and funding in this economic recession.

            When racism and discrimination were rampant, Black men forged their own way and issues like economic recession were mere words when the needs of their loved ones took precedence.  That mindset to persevere and carry on despite the odds is reflected today in the actions of many Black men who are forging paths to progress despite the economic recession.  From starting their own businesses to addressing niche opportunities that help others, Black men still believe in the battle cry of the Civil Rights movement that “we shall overcome.”

Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.


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